How I Add Atmosphere To Some Of My Shots Using Photoshop

A lot of times, what appears to be light effects in my work is actually done in post production, using Photoshop, to enhance or exaggerate existing light sources in an image. I actually get asked a lot about this, and decided I would do a "blind video" on the subject. That is, I would add atmospheric type of effects to an image that I hadn't practiced on, thus showing the full process I go through as I figure out what I want to do with it.

This is one method I use on some shots, and in this case an indoor photo shot at ƒ2.2 or so. As such, a soft ethereal mood, added with Photoshop, fits very well.

The key things to remember about adding these type of effects:

  • Subtlety is paramount to everything. When you start to add these effects to an image, it starts to feel good and you keep going and adding and going and adding until, often, you've totally overkilled it. The most subtle of effects can have the most profound impact. Keep things scaled back more often than not.
  • Enhance existing light sources in your image with effects, because it will look far more realistic. If you add flare or haze effects from a direction where there is no obvious light source on your shot, it will often look fake really quick. 
  • Be mindful of how light effects (haze, flare, etc) change your overall tone and contrast, and adjust your image accordingly. Hazy looks reduce contrast by a little or a lot, so you often get a better result if you boost contrast under your haze effect layer(s).


You can noodle around with the Before and After images below:

Hope you enjoy this simple process, and you can see the final image here.

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Great article…..

Nino Batista's picture

Glad you like it!

larry lewis's picture

yr just a monster ice in the veins photoshop mamba

Paul Stonehouse's picture

Truly great tutorial, albeit way to fast for my skill levels to totally grasp...but after I watch it about 5-6 times I will get more of a handle on it...great work Nino

Nice one...
Thank You for sharing.

Nissor Abdourazakov's picture

thanks for sharing!

Lunga Shezi's picture

Great idea...and beautiful photo.

James Pardon's picture

Wow, you really know your way around PS. Love your video/tutorial style, it's not formulaic just flows. thanks again

Nice tutorial!

I do the same exact thing but for cars mostly. Done out of necessity for magazine layouts to add some copy text on top of the photos. :)

Jason Ranalli's picture

Great article. I had no idea you added some of these things to your work because you do it so well that it's subtle.

Nino Batista's picture

That makes me smile, and makes me feel good - thanks! I actually do work hard to keep my post work subtle, especially with "special effects". So....appreciated!