1. The lens flare
Some eager designers believe that a lens flare – that bright halo or streak of glowing sunlight – adds drama and spontaneity to an image. However, this is rarely the case. Even if it occurs naturally when taking a photo, a lens flare in an image is simply cheesy, and often only serves to cover up important details of the image. The same applies for other sparkling highlights. If you absolutely must use these, be as subtle as possible.
2. The ethereal glow
Occasionally, photographers will edit their photos to give the scene they’ve captured a soft, glowing light, because they believe it makes the image look more mystical or romantic. Unfortunately, the opposite is true – this 80s style effect removes a lot of the effective detail in the photograph and makes it look a bit like a cheap romance cover. For a subtler effect, try desaturising the image slightly or changing the colours to black and white.
3. The spot of colour
Speaking of black and white, a recent editing trend is to remove all hue from an image except for one striking spot of colour – usually a red rose, a single green leaf or a bright piece of clothing. This technique is now so prevalent that it has become a cliché – best leave this style to postcard companies. Instead of highlighting one spot of colour, consider adding a single-colour filter over the whole image, or try sepia tones, which give a more classic feel.
4. The art filter
Art filters are those Photoshop tools that – among others – let you emboss images, add “movement streaks” and blurs, turn the images into mosaics or give them the appearance of having been painted on canvas. While art filters that are used properly and appropriately can be attractive, they tend to be abused because they so easily create an unusual effect; some people even apply several filters at once, creating a mess of the original image. Again, subtlety is the key here – think about what you want to achieve with an image and then carefully apply an appropriate filter.
To learn more about Photoshop, consider the part-time University of Cape Town Photoshop short course, which starts on 19 September 2011. Visit www.GetSmarter.co.za for more information.
This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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