Step 4 – Balancing Lightness
If you look at the photo of the ground you notice the bottom part is lighter than the upper part. It causes that the photo looks flat and perspective isn’t distinctive enough. You’ll fix this problem in this and some of the following steps.
Let’s focus on darkening bottom part of the GROUND. Add new adjustment layer Levels on the top of all layers. (You can find the button “Add adjustment layer” on the bottom part of your Layer palette next to the “Add layer mask” button you’ve used in some of the previous steps.)
Set the Input Levels on 0; 0,2; 255. Grab the Paint Bucket Tool (G) and fill the layer mask of this adjustment layer with solid black color. It causes that the adjustment becomes invisible.
Grab the Brush Tool (B), lower its Opacity on 5%, pick white color and start painting over the areas you want to make slightly darker (by painting with white you’re making the adjustment visible again). On the following photo you can see the areas you should focus on.
Step 5 – Adding Vignette
To add more dimension to your photo manipulation you’ll add vignette in this step.
Note: Adding vignette is a great way to add dimension to your photo manipulations. But don’t over do it! There should always be very smooth transition between darker edges and central part of the image.
Add adjustment layer Levels on the top of all layers and this time set the Input Levels on 0; 0,7; 255.
You want to darken only the edges of the picture and the central area should remain the same as before this adjustment. To achieve that activate the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) and select rounded area in the center of the image. Below you can see where I mean.
Make sure the layer mask of this adjustment layer is activated (click on it) and go to Select > Modify > Feather. The path may differ depending on what version of Photoshop you’re using. You can also simply press Shift+F6 to activate it. Set the value Feather on about 50 pixels and press OK.
Feathering makes the edges of the selection more softer.
Now press Shift+F5 on your keyboard to activate Fill window and select Black in Use list. Press OK.
Adjustment disappears on the part you’ve filled with black color which means that borders are darken and centre remains the same.
On the following picture you can see how your photo manipulation should look like so far.
Step 6 – Adding Mist
If you read some of my previous tutorials you surely know how much I love using fog in my photo manipulations. It adds great magical atmosphere in a minute.
Download the fog brushes listed in the beginning of the tutorial and install them in Photoshop. The ones I used are paid but feel free to use any fog brushes you’re comfortable working with. If you don’t know how to install brushes into Photoshop you can take a look at this tutorial.
Add new layer on the top of all layers and name it FOG. Grab the Brush Tool (B) and select one of the fog brushes you’ve just installed. Hold Alt on your keyboard to activate the Eye Dropper Tool and pick some very light bluish color from the picture.
Note: Try to avoid using pure white or black in your pictures. Both colors look harsh and rarely look realistic. Try using e.g. very light yellows or dark browns instead.