It’s been an interesting few weeks since my last post. I’m hoping to become more active on this blog and in the next few weeks I’ll be organizing things and trying to make it more of what I want it to be, sometimes with all the various social media networks this blog gets pushed to side and I want to turn it into more of an interesting and engaging place to check out!

With that said, I thought I’d post a tutorial that goes along with the photo that I worked on today. It’s similar to a photo I posted for Earth Day earlier this year and had a few people request a tutorial for. I’ve used this technique a few times in these images:

it’s quite simple and doesn’t require too much time or Photoshop knowledge.

Step 1 :  The photos

In order to give the effect of having something bright emitting a soft glow, I take my photos in a darkened room and change my camera settings to about a 1/6 second exposure. I took two main shots of myself holding a fishbowl that I filled with yellow christmas lights. In order to make the final image look like I’m cupping a floating sun, I took two identical photos just switching which hand I held the bowl with. 

 Here’s the starting image:

Here is after adding the second image (opposite hand holding the bowl) and then using a layer mask to get rid of any parts I didn’t want:


Then I expand my scene by taking additional photos of the wall and floor. To make sure my shadows stay as similar as possible, I always move my camera to face the next area and then return to the spot I was sitting at and resume the pose with the light. You don’t have to expand your scene but I always like lots of negative space 🙂

Step 2: The Editing
After you’ve added your layers to expand your frame (or not) now it’s time to add the effects!  The first thing I do is colour over the lighted bowl with an orange-yellow colour, this helps to cover up the wires or shapes of the bowl and lights.

I found this stock image on DeviantArt and it was the perfect sun for the image I had in mind., DeviantArt is a great resource for stock images, just make sure you read the description on the image, some artists don’t approve of non-deviantart related use and some just want a link back to see what you’ve done.

I add the sun onto the image as a new layer and then change the blending mode to “SCREEN” (you might need to play around with h the blending mode to see which you like the most). I changed the opacity to about 85% just to give it a bit of a transparent “gaseous” look. Then using a layer mask I got rid of any harsh lines or unwanted parts to the layer.

Almost done!

The next few steps are optional and really depend on what kind of image you want to create. In the case of this image I wanted to heighten the glow effect, so I added a radial gradient, changed the colours to a mustard yellow and then the blending mode to Linear Dodge and the opacity to 23%. This adds a nice glow to the whole image and can make your shadows pop out.  Play with the colours. blending modes, and opacity to see which you like the most!

This next part is totally optional but I thought I’d include it just to show the progression to the final image.  I like to add a bit of depth to the wall behind me by adding in a vintage wallpaper texture. I’ve had the texture for a few years and can’t seem to find the source link. You could look up vintage wallpaper textures on any stock website and add it to your image. I add mine as a new layer, change the blending mode to overlay and then lower the opacity. Then with a layer mask and soft brush on black I get rid of the wallpaper covering up the main part of the image (me in this case). 

I also added a texture to add some fine details, the texture came from Flickr user Les Brumes.

That’s it! Now you can hold as many floating, flaming planets, orbs and objects as you like!

I hope that you enjoyed reading this tutorial and that if you end up trying this technique on one of your own images, you’ll post a link in the comments!