Artists have been working hard at capturing light for centuries. They know that light and the way light plays off of their subjects is what makes a painting or image spectacular. Fortunately, we can harness the accumulated knowledge of the centuries to improve the lighting in our photographs! Photoshop has a great feature that lets us take advantage of the masters and apply their lighting to our photos.
It’s called the Match Color Adjustment. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1. Choose an image that you’d like to improve. Something that’s a little dark or dull works well for this technique.
Step 2. Find an image of a painting that has the colors and feel that you’d like for your photo. Resolution doesn’t matter. You can do a Google search for Impressionist Art or Old Masters Paintings and see what you get. The painting I chose is above. I liked the light in the sky and the colors.
Step 3. Open both images in Photoshop, and make sure your photo (not the painting) is the active document (click on it if you’re not sure).
Step 4. In the Menu Bar choose Edit> Adjustments> Match Color (it’s way down near the bottom). You’ll get a dialog box that looks like this:
Go to the Image Statistics box at the bottom and click the down arrow to the right of the Source box, then choose your painting image from the drop down menu that appears.
Make sure the Preview box at the right is checked and adjust the sliders until you like the look.
- The Luminance slider will make the image brighter.
- The Color Intensity slider will make the colors more vibrant.
- The Fade slider will fade out the effects. This is good if you like the look, but it’s just too much.
- Check the Neutralize box and see if you like that better. It’ll take any color cast away and you might like the look better. If not, leave it unchecked.
You can click the Preview box on and off to see your “before” and “after” looks.
If you don’t like the first look, try another painting. You might want to save yourself a little folder of painting images that work well for you. This can be much faster and more customizable than using actions, so give it a try next time you have a photo you want turned from dud to dream!