Editing Halloween Photos
I will admit right up front, I do not upload a single Halloween photograph without first doing at least a little touch up work in Photoshop. Digital editing is a great way to enhance an image, and below I will share a few tips for achieving some stunning results.
A Solid Starting Point
First, I will warn that nothing can replace a good, unedited shot. Do everything in your power to make sure the lighting, composition, colors, etc. are as good as they can be before snapping the picture.
Touch Up Instead of Reinvent
Once you have your photo and after you have loaded it into your image editor of choice, resist the urge to over-edit. Afterall, your origial photo is already stellar, right? Up the contrast and saturation a little if you want more visual punch, but don’t overdo it or you will end up with a garish, pixelated mess. Adjust the colors if you need to add or remove a color cast, or if you need to warm or cool the image, but in general don’t try to make an orange pumpkin green. Unless you really know what you are doing, it will end up looking unnatural.
Ease Up on Special Effects
It is a phase nearly everyone goes through at first. Find a cool effect, apply it to everything in abundance. I was guilty of it myself (you might notice some of my vignettes are pretty heavy).
Also keep in mind that this particular piece of advice applies especially to photography. If you are using a photograph as a base for a more artistic digital painting, you may need to make extensive use of special effects.
Darkening the edges of your image can lend a dramatic, old fashioned, or claustrophobic feel to your Halloween photography. It can be used to obscure details on the outside and draw attention towards the center. Generally, a subtle vignette works best, while a heavy one can look cheesey.
Applying a vignette in Photoshop is easy:
- Go to Filter → Lens Correction… If you are using a version prior to CS5, you can find Lens Correction… under Filter → Distort.
- Adjust the Amount slider to your liking.
To do this in a non-destructive manner:
- Create a new layer and fill it with white.
- Apply the vignette to this new layer.
- Set the vignette layer’s blending mode to multiply.
- Adjust the opacity and/or duplicate the layer for fine-tuned control over the effect.
Is your image too clean looking? Grungy overlays scream “horror”, and as an added benefit can serve to hide flaws in your Halloween photograph. Be careful, however, not to make the overlay so heavy that it completely obscures your subject.
Here is how I usually go about applying a grunge effect in Photoshop:
- Duplicate your layer (ctrl + j). Go to Filter → Noise → Add Noise…, and adjust the slider until you have just enough noise to be noticed.
- Create a new layer and fill it completely with white. Make sure your background color is black. Go to Filter → Render → Fibers… Set the Variance to between 5 and 10, and the Strength anywhere above 20.
- Set the fiber layer’s blending mode to Multiply, and adjust the fill or opacity until it looks right.
- Create a layer mask on the fiber layer, and hide areas where the effect is too thick using a soft brush.
These are just a couple of the techniques you can use when editing your own halloween photography. Experiment with your image editor and have fun!