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In honor of the start of reading week and as a toast to the future, I'm going to be doing a quick Adobe Photoshop tutorial today on how you can ameliorate the lighting in a photo!  Lighting is such an important aspect of photography, so in order to make sure your subject stands out, you can take a look at this tutorial! Before we get started though, please take a look at The Color Shop! It's an amazing collection of Photoshop curve and action sets made by Nirrimi Firebrace and MexicoRosel that you can buy. For this tutorial, you need to download the free collection "The Fixer Collection" here. Anyway, let's get started!

1. Open up your photo in Photoshop (I use PS6), etc etc. Fix the brightness and color of your photo via the Adjustments drop-down menu.

2. Load The Fixer Collection action set by clicking the top right button on the Action toolbar. This will lead to a drop down menu where you can select "Load Actions...". Load the downloaded actions and while selecting your Background layer (i.e., your original photos), apply the Darker action by pressing the play button (the "play triangle") on the Actions toolbar. Adjust the opacity of the Darker layer as you like it. Now press the mask button at the bottom of the Layers toolbar.

If you're new to masks, just keep reading. If you're not, then you can skip this part. Continuing on, you will see a white rectangle appear beside your "Darker" layer, and your brush colors will become white and black. When black is selected, it will erase your masked layer. When white is selected, it will redo the masked layer. Feel free to make as many mistakes as you want, because you can always correct it by changing your brush from black to white, or vice versa. 

When I use the Darker action, I will usually erase the background behind the subject to make the subject stand out more. This also gives the photo more contrast!

Notice that the originally white mask layer changes when you erase parts of your layer. Black means that the layer has been erased while white shows the area that is still covered by the Darker mask.

3. Apply the Lighter action, adjust its opacity, and click the "mask" button. You can use the black brush to erase lightened areas. At this point, I like to keep the face and most of the background lightened to create more contrast with the subject. If you want some things to stand out, I suggest keeping them masked with the Lighter action. 

4. Merge all layers by right clicking any layer and clicking "Merge Visible"

5. When I'm editing photos of people, I usually like their eyes and eyebrows to stand out. Select the "burn" tool which is circled below, set the "Range" to shadows, and set the exposure quite low. Now trace parts of the eye you want to darken, such as the pupil, eyebrows, and eyelashes. You can also use this tool to increase the contrast between specific areas or make prints more vibrant.

6. To create more contrast at the eyes, you can "highlight" the white areas of the eyeball. Just click the burn tool and hold it until you see the tool for highlight, as shown below. Set your "Range" to midtones, exposure to whatever you like, and brighten the eye whites. You can also brighten jewelry or other details if you want them to stand out.

7. Adjust the brightness and/or contrast and finish up all your loose ends. Voila, now you're done!

Hopefully this helps in some way! If you have questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section. This was written a tad hastily, so sorry if it doesn't make sense in some areas!


  1. I'm going to try this right now!!

  2. i will most def have to try this now[:
    thanks for the little tutorial of what you know!

  3. This is a really great tutorial! Many people don't like to share their secrets, but I think those who do are confident about their personal stance and style. Keep it up, Alyssa! x

    crystal dots.

  4. I love the last part where you highlighted your eyes! it work really great for mine! <3 :D


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