Playing with light (beams)

My burst of enthusiasm to improve my knowledge of post-production continues, with time spent today learning how to apply beams of light to add a bit of drama to my images, particularly in low-light conditions.

Once again, I dived into the plethora of Yutube tutorials (which was always going to be a challenge given the attention I devote to instruction, and all the hip, fast-talking instructors who set themselves up as post-production gurus).

The techniques varied hugely. From simply adding and tweaking brush strokes, to the more complex approach of creating new layers, applying a radial blur and doing a whole lot of fiddling (which I did successfully once and got a headache).

Still, I concluded, a useful tool to add to my “bag of tricks” as a tourism photographer.

That said, as with the other techniques I’m gathering, I expect it to be used sparingly. Too many light beam pics in your portfolio and you run the risk of being seen as a “one-trick wonder”; too many light beams in a single image and you’re looking like a kid in a candy store who doesn’t know when to stop.

While the photo (above) saw me applying the light rays quite obviously, the ones below – all of which were captured in the darkened churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia, saw a gentler touch. I expect to refine the technique – particularly in terms of the subtleties needed to make the light beams look realistic – the more I use it.

Otherwise, for those looking to learn more about adding light rays to your photos, subscribe to my blog and drop me an e-mail. I’ll be happy to share the bookmark links to the tutorials I’ve referenced which now allow me to confidently apply this technique.

Before (raw) and After (Finished pic)
Above and Below: Using light rays to highlight the subject and colour the setting
Subtly using light beams to highlight the subject
Drawing attention to the subject

Next Up: Layer Blending.

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A successful promotional photograph starts with knowing what you want it to say and who you want it to appeal to - before you even bring the camera to your eye.




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