Today I wanted to share a relatively quick but effective way to edit an image that was taken in the very last fading light of the day, and make it look like it was taken during perfect golden hour sun. In doing so, we'll add a lot of depth and drama to this image.

NOTE: This trick really only works well on images that aren't totally flat lighting.
See below, how there is some rim light along the older boy's right side? That's what's going to cue our eye to directional light and make all this more believable. 

Let's get started! 


STEP 1: Let there be light! 

I used Magic Warm Glow from the Weddings add-on brush pack ($12 for 15 brushes, here) as a graduated filter to bring in a soft, glowy, warm light. I tried to mimic the direction of the actual light based on where it was hitting the older boy. I did two similar graduated filters at slightly different angles til it looked right. 

STEP 2: Narrow it down.

I wanted to create something of a funnel of light sweeping across, so I used Add Dark Matte from the Strokes Master Collection ($60 for 69 brushes, here) again as a graduated filter. I like Dark Matte on backgrounds because it reduces some of the contrast and makes the background less distracting.

And in the bottom right I used a few graduated filters of Darken and Add Contrast from the Master Collection. Because it's in the foreground, I like a bit more contrast. 

STEP 3: Set the subjects apart.

I quickly brushed Define Edges along the edges of my subjects, which enhances highlights, contrast and clarity to make a nice separation between subjects and background. At the standard 60%, this was too subtle, so I right clicked on the brush dot and selected Duplicate to double the effect over the same area. 

STEP 4: Warm it up!

Increased temperature toward yellow using the slider. Instant gratification! 

This felt a little green/yellow to me so I also shifted the tint to magenta a bit to get better, pinker skin. 

STEP 5: Fine-tuning

I added some more of that lovely Magic Warm Glow (this time with a brush) because generally light will spill over behind your subjects a bit.

Here I used Subtle All-Over Brightening on both kids' faces, and Brighten & Add Contrast in a swath across the entire area that is in focus, including the kids. 

And the free Embolden brush on their clothes (check out the enhanced detail and color on the overalls! I love Embolden for clothes!)

STEP 6: Finishing Touches

Spot Detail Enhancer for faces, Quick Eye Enhancer for eyes, and I dragged the yellow hue slider to the orange side to add a little more peachy color to the image (golden hour tends to create those pinker tones.) 

Finally (and arguably I could have skipped this step) I added a little line of Magic Warm Glow to the grass in front of their feet to add that little bit of extra depth. 

That's it! I hope you guys liked this little tutorial, let me know what you think in the comments---would you use this trick? :)

SOOC Image by Joy Of Life Photography

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  1. Jacqi Dill

    Oh. Em. Gee. So thankful for this blog tutorial! Looking forward to more! Miss you, Liberty! ❤

  2. Anne

    This is so great! I need to get some of those brushes, I am a Lightroom newbie and barely know how to use presets but I love yours so far! Thanks for the tutorial, please keep them coming!

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