If eyes really are the windows into one’s soul, then it probably helps to keep those windows bright and clean. It’s amazing how much of a difference bright, energetic-looking eyes can make to a photo. Indeed, a lot of pros in fashion photography use a subtle trick: They brighten the whites of the eyes, making them seem to come alive. You can achieve the same effect with any photo editing program. As usual, I’ll show you how to do this in Adobe Photoshop Elements.
There are any number of ways to brighten the photo, but today let’s try “screening” a duplicate layer. To do that, choose Layer, Duplicate Layer, and click OK on the Duplicate Layer dialog box. Then go to the Layers palette on the right side of the screen and choose Screen from the drop-down menu.
Notice that the entire photo is now dramatically brighter. That’s not exactly what we were trying to do; we just want to make the eyes brighter, not the whole image. We’ll fix that next.
Before we get to that, though, let me point out that if you have a photo editing program that lets you use masks, this process is a little easier. You could simply add an opaque mask to the whole photo and erase the area over the eyes. Since Photoshop Elements does not support masks, we’ll have to do this a little differently. It’s not much harder; it’s just a little less efficient.
Making Do Without Masks
For starters, we want to erase most of the top layer, leaving the bright, “screened” section in place around the eyes. To do that, select the Eraser Tool from the 16th cubby from the top of the toolbar on the left side of the screen. We want to erase broad swaths of the photo quickly, so increase the size of the brush. In the Tool options palette at the top of the screen, increase the size to about 100 pixels, and then quickly wipe the photo to restore the bottom layer, careful to avoid erasing the subject’s face. (Depending upon the size of your photo, you might need to make the brush bigger or smaller to efficiently erase around the subject’s face.)
Fine-Tuning the Face
Now it’s time to carefully finish the erasure of the top layer, working around the eyes to leave them intact. When you’re done, you should get something like this.
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John writes: “This is the most photographed tree in Prince Edward County, but usually in good weather. I thought I’d go there on one of the coldest days of the winter. The shoreline was frozen and the ice was pushed ashore and piled high by the waves. It was beautiful.” John used a Canon Digital Rebel
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