photo-i DVD
a guide to digital


Let there be Light



With imaging applications we can get carried away with producing all sorts of special effects - effects that once took hours or even days to create in a darkroom, are now achieved with a few key strokes. But once the novelty of effects for effects sake has worn off, we are left with our photographs and ideas, this is where the real creativity for photographers begins.

The Paint Shop Pro 7 Lights filter

The Photoshop 7 Lighting Effects filter

A sound knowledge of lighting technique is essential for any photographer. But often knowing all about lighting doesn’t mean you are going to have the right gear at hand for those impromptu moments. You can use a clever lighting filter in Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro that can simulate a full set of lights. In the PSP Menu strip select Effects > Illumination Effects > Lights.and in Photoshop select Filter > Render > Lighting Effects... I should stress that these are simulated lighting effects, but with some tweaking you should be able to create some stunning effects. For this tutorial I will use the PSP version, you should be able to apply similar settings in Photoshop.

Grab shot

Use the clone tool to remove straps etc.

The subject in our sample picture (my eldest daughter Lucy) was a quick grab shot. Before we get on with re-lighting the picture there is some tidying up work to be done. Use the Clone tool (press the letter N) to remove distractions such as straps and background items. When cloning skin be careful to select similar tones, otherwise you will be left with a blotchy complexion.

Use up to 5 lamps in PSP

Use as many lamps as you want in Photoshop

Looking at the Lights palette in more detail, in PSP you can use up to five lamps, (in Photoshop you can use as many lamps as you want). Select a lamp by clicking on the numbers or by clicking on a lamp point. Each lamp can be turned on or off and repositioned anywhere in the preview area. To move a lamp further back you will have to zoom out on the preview, do this by clicking the small magnifying glass. In Photoshop drag the small bulb icon onto the picture and then define settings for that lamp, other placed lamps show as coloured dots. The only problem with the Photoshop version is that you can't zoom the picture in or out, this makes placing some of the outside lamps awkward. To remove lamps, just drag them onto the dustbin (trashcan). As with Paint Shop Pro you can save your light set for use on other images.

Using Paint Shop Pro. Before moving on to the main part of the Light palette, set the Darkness value to about 90 (100 is black) then move over to the Light source. Each lamp has its own values, select the light colour by clicking on the Colour swatch and then choose a colour from the Colour palette. The Intensity is like having a dimmer switch, Direction swivels the lamp around, Horizontal and Vertical moves the lamp up, down, left and right, Smoothness controls the quality of light, Scale sets the area covered, Cone is for setting the beam width, and Asymmetry sets the distance of the beam. Alter the values and see the effect on the preview.

When you are satisfied with the result then save your settings in the Save As… box, the settings will appear in the drop down list, you can then reapply the settings to another image.


January 5, 2008

© Vincent Oliver 2008
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