Adobe’s latest AI masking tools are great, but you don’t need them for this very simple relighting technique. It’s the opposite of AI. It's a very basic, even crude masking technique that relies on subtlety and judgement, and the only deep learning you need is your own.
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This relighting technique is effective on so many different images of so many different kinds that it can quickly become addictive. You can use it to add some light and shade and contrast to images that don’t have any, and to emphasis end enhance any lighting already present.
I took this shot in a wood near where I live in early Spring, when for a few precious days the wild snowdrops were in bloom. The trees were bare, allowing the low sun through in patterns of light and shade.
The trouble is, the original shot lacks any sense of lightness or color, so my plan was to add some of my own, using a radial gradient to emphasise that patch of sun in the center.
I have just a few tips for radial gradient relighting:
1. A horizontal elliptical gradient is usually the best shape for natural lighting effects – you may have to tilt it to follow the natural direction of the light.
2. The default feathering is usually a little harsh, making the edges of the gradient too obvious. You can increase the feathering with the slider in the tools panel or by dragging the outer edge of the mask.
3. You’ll almost certainly need to move the mask around and resize it to make the effect look ‘right’. Very often, the mask will not end up where you thought it would.
The adjustments I chose were to make the sunlit grass and snowdrops lighter, with a fresher green color to suit the Spring mood. For a summer meadow you could try warming the colors instead.
There’s no rocket science in this relighting technique, but who says photography and photo editing should be difficult?
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