photoshop creative

Soften the effects of a flash

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
December 21, 2015

Learn how to make your indoor flash photos appear more flattering and natural


1. Add a Curves adjustment


Select the Curves adjustment from the ‘Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer’ icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Add two anchor points around one square in at either end of the diagonal line.

2. Brighten the background


Drag the top anchor point to the left in order to brighten the image and then do the same with the anchor at the bottom. Ignore the results for now, as you really only want to brighten the background here.

3. Select the layer mask


To remove the effect from your foreground subject, select the blank layer mask in the Layers palette. Pick the Brush tool and ensure you have a large-sized brush with a soft edge.

4. Preserve the foreground


Set brush Opacity to 80% and ensure your subject to remove the Curves effect. If you go over the background, change the brush colour to white and paint over to bring it back.

5. Warm the colour tones


Remove the cold blue tones with a Photo Filter adjustment layer. In the dialog box, select Preserve Luminosity and choose the Warming Filter from the drop- down menu. Increase the Density slider slowly.

6. Soften the shadows


Flatten the layers via Layer>Flatten image and select the Dodge tool. Select Shadows in the Range and keep Exposure around 10%. You can now lighten dark shadows by painting over them.