Meet Amanda! I am a "Pioneer Woman" of sorts, although not nearly as talented, witty or culinarily gifted as the real one. I grew up in the suburbs or on military bases, but ended up in country on a cattle and chicken farm an hour from any sizeable town. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to four children, ages 11 to 4.
My photography journey started last spring, and it has quickly become a passion. Most of my subjects are my kids, the cows, my mother-in-law's flowers and my weeds (they're prettier in a picture than in real life). I enjoy editing (with PSE 7) and continue to learn daily. The tutorials I write are very basic and well documented so that brand new users can learn how to use their editing software.
I recently started a photography resource blog, PhotographyHaven where you can find lots of free actions, tutorials, workshops and more. You can view my personal pictures at Moving Forward or my Flickr stream.
Today I am going to show you a VERY simple way to give your photos a quick, soft focus effect, plus a little pop in color, which sometimes is all a picture needs. I edit with Photoshop Elements 7, but these steps can be done in both PS and PSE.
If you wonder what's up with all the screen shots, I'm a very visual learner and when I was trying to learn PSE, so many times steps were mentioned but weren't shown and I was like "where do I change the blending mode?!" So, I documented this tutorial the way The Pioneer Woman documents her recipes (LOVE that she does that!).
The BEFORE shot (SOOC except for Web resizing):
Step 1: Open your picture in the Full edit mode of your PSE. Make a duplicate layer of your image (easy way: press Control and J at the same time).
Step 2: Go to (1st) Filters, then (2nd) Blur, then (3rd) Gaussian Blur. After you've done that, another box will pop up.
Step 3: Set the radius to around 20 for a high resolution image, 6-10 for low resolution one. That says 20, you just can't see it. ;-)
Step 3.5: If you want a lighter, dreamy look, you can lower the opacity of the layer down to like 30% (image below) and be done. Flatten and save. However, I want some color pop, so I moved on to step 4.
Step 4: Set the (1st) Blending mode to (2nd) Soft Light. Any of you saying "oh, that's where we change the blending mode!" like I did?
Step 5: Lower the opacity to suit your tastes.
Step 6: Flatten. A quick what to do it without going to the top menu is to click on the double arrows (1st) and then on Flatten (2nd).
After saving your image as a JPG, apply watermark if you like (read previous post for a tutorial on watermarking) and then run Rita's Web resizing and drop shadow action if you're posting on your blog.
The AFTER shot (doesn't have vignette yet):
And, I'll go one step further: Here is a side by side comparison for you.
If you're sitting there thinking "Gosh, that wasn't much of a change," well, you're right, it isn't. It is a slight edit that is simple and fast, but definitely improves the photo. Sometimes slight edits are the best edits. Take it from me, it is easy to do too much to a picture!
I hope this was easy to understand and helps you in the future. If you'd like to see more pictures with this effect, you can go to my Flickr page; I've used it on most of my cow pictures like this one.
If you use this on your pictures, I'd love to see it. Just leave me a comment with your blog address and I'll go visit to ohh and awww over it.
Almost forgot. If I had stopped at step 3.5, here is what the image would look like. Soft and dreamy for sure!