Golden hour photography is notoriously gorgeous – the glowing reds, yellows and oranges are hard to resist. Although sometimes, your outdoor shots just don’t quite give off those warm and cozy sun-kissed vibes that you want from them. Photoshop can help! In just a handful of minutes you can take your backlit photos from drab to absolutely spectacular. Here’s how:
First, create a new layer over your image by going to Layer > New > Layer.
Now go to your gradient tool and then click on the drop down menu circled in red to create your color scheme for your faux sun.
Choose any of the pre-made gradients, it doesn’t matter which, so you can change the colors into the ones you’ll use!
Select the far left tab on your gradient scale and double click on “Color” to change it from red to white. Do the same on the right, changing the color from green to a bright red.
To complete your gradient, click the middle and choose a vibrant orange color. Then play with the sliders to create more white space and until it looks like it would make suitable sunset colors, then hit OK.
Now, take your mouse and draw a line outward from the center of your image while in Radial Gradient mode (circled in red).
Choose your Elliptical Marquee Tool so you can make a selection around this area.
Hold down your Shift key so that the circle stays perfect and select an area around your white/orange center, then hit the Add a mask button (circled in red). This will be the radius of your sun.
For this blend mode, select Screen.
To smooth the edges of this circle, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and play with the slider until it looks good to you.
Feel free to move the sun wherever it looks best in your image! Now, you’ll want to add some color correcting throughout the rest of your image. Click the “Create new fill or adjustment layer” tab (circled in red) and select Curves.
Select the Red channel and bring the curve upward. Similarly, on the Green channel tick up the curve just slightly and on the Blue channel, bring it down just a touch for more yellows in your image.
Since this applies color changes to your whole image when we just want them around where the sun is, go ahead and click on your layer mask and then press Command+I to invert it. Then select a large, soft-edged paint brush in white and feather in the areas around your sun.
To fix your color balance and bring out some more reds and yellows, go to “Create new fill or adjustment layer” (circled in red) and select Color Balance.
Bring up your reds and yellows for bright color!
As a final step, make sure you are clicked on your top layer, then go again to “Create new fill or adjustment layer” and this time choose Solid Color.
Choose a dark blue color and then select the blend mode “Lighten.” This will make all areas of your photo that are darker than the selected blue become tinged with that blue hue.
And finally you’re done! Happy sun setting!