Foreground Lighting Photoshop Tutorial


Step 1: Open a portrait photo

First, open an image of a portrait with a busy background that you would like to apply this effect to. This effect will make the background darker to add focus to the subject.

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Step 2: Add an adjustment layer

Now we’ll need to add an adjustment layer that will make the image darker. In the Layers palette, click on the New Adjustment Layer button.

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There are many ways to darken the image, but the simplist methods are shown below. We don’t recommend using the Brightness/Contrast tool in Photoshop CS2 or older because they produce poor results. The Brightness/Contrast tool has been greatly improved in Photoshop CS3, but if you’re an experienced Photoshop user and you want more control, we recommend using the Levels or Curves tool instead.

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If you picked the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, simply reduce the brightness and increase the contrast. As you adjust the settings, focus on the background instead of the subject because this effect will only be used to darken the background.

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If you picked the Levels adjustment layer instead of the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, start by moving the middle input slider towards the right. You may play around with the other input sliders and adjust the output levels to get the effect that you like. Remember to focus on the background instead of the foreground because this layer will only be used to darken the background.