Bring Summer in 6 Quick Steps (At Least in Your Photos)

I really miss summer time during the last days. Autumn is no longer that beautiful time of a year when everything is colorful and photogenic. Instead there is too cold to go outside and take some photos.

To make those chilly days at least little warmer I´ve decided to write an article about post processing of one of the summer photos.
Hope that it makes your Monday sunnier!

The picture below is a rollover. If you move the mouse on the picture you´ll see the photo before editing. (It may last little longer to load the "before" photo.)

Resource Photo
If you decide to follow this tutorial you can download the photo below. Please use the photo only for your learning purpose and don´t upload it anywhere.
But feel free to use the same method on your own photo and upload it whereever you want :)

Resource photo

Magical Bokeh
The bokeh in the background and foreground was achieved thanks to very low depth of field. You can get this bokeh with any lens with low f-number. The cheapest variant (which I use) is 50 mm, f1.8 lens. It costs arround $100 which makes it one of the cheapest lenses on the market.
Despite the low price the quality of the image is amazing. I´ve already written about this lens in the article "Why is 50 mm Lens So Awesome?" if you want to know more.

Another reason why I love having bokeh in my photos is that it creates beautiful, supernatural atmosphere - you capture something which can´t be seen with eyes but only through viewfinder.

Post Processing
During editing you´ll basicly use only four tools:
  • Levels,
  • Gradient Map,
  • Selective Color,
  • Color Balance.
Besides from it you´ll also use High Pass Filter for softening and sharpening and apply texture with more bokeh.
Let´s get started!

1. Softening and Sharpening
When I edit photos I always start with softening and sharpening of the photo. To do that I use High Pass filter. The method is detailed described in the article "3 Favorite Tools in Photoshop" and I won´t talk about it here. Better move on another step :)

2. Make Eyes More Dramatic
According to me in most cases eyes should be the focal point of your portrait photography. That´s why I almost always add more contrast to them - make the irisis lighter and makeup arround eyes darker.

Add new layer on the top of all layers and fill it with #808080 grey color. Change the Blending Mode of this layer on Overlay. Grab the Dodge Tool (O) and paint gently over the irisis. Then grab the Burn Tool (O) and paint arround the eyes.

As I mentioned above be gently with the Dodge and Burn Tool. It looks weird if the irisis are too bright and everyone can tell on the first sight that they were dodged. And you surely don´t want that.

On the following picture you can see how the eyes look before and after this step.

3. Lightening and Contrast with Gradient Map
As you may notice in previous articles I really like using Gradient Maps for color adjustments. I wrote about this adjustment tool more in the already metioned article "3 Favorite Tools in Photoshop" and it´s possible that in the future I´ll write another one.

First let´s start with lightening the image. Add new adjustment layer Gradient Map on the top of all layers and set the gradient as shown below.

Change the Blending Mode of this layer on Soft Light.

To increase contrast of the picture add one more adjustment layer and choose basic Black, White gradient. Change Blending Mode of this adjustment layer on Luminosity.

On the following picture it´s seen how the photo looks after these two adjustments.

4. More Lights Please!
Since this should be summer photo it needs more warmer tones. Add new adjustment layer Color Balance and set it as shown below.

I really like the green dot in the top right corner of the picture. But so far the picture is unbalanced. The top right corner is too bright because of the dot. During editing I had two options how to add balance - first darken the dot and bring some details in it or second create fake light on the left. From the preview picture you can see I decided for adding more light.

Adding diffused light to the photo is very easy - you just paint few big light dots. Grab the Brush Tool (B), select some big, soft round brush and lower the Opacity on 15%. Pick color of the dot on the right and paint the light on the left.

To get you the idea of what to paint you can look at the picture below. There is this "light layer" with black background to be better visible what I painted.

And here is how the light looks on the photo.

5. It needs more lightening and warm colors.
I think that the photo would look better if it´s even more lighter. To do that add new adjustment layer Levels on the top of all layers and set the Input Levels on 0; 1,16; 255 and the Output Levels on 17; 255.

You´ll use two adjustments to bring more warm tones into the picture - Gradient Map and Selective Color.

Add new adjustment layer Gradient Map and set it as on the following picture.

Change Blending Mode of this layer on Soft Light and lower the Opacity on 70%.

For even more summer tones add new adjustment layer Selective Color and set it as shown below.

After this step the picture looks like shown below.

6. More Magic Please
As I´ve already said in the beginning of this article I love bokeh for its magical atmosphere. In this step you´ll add few more to fill quite empty left part of the photo. Download some bokeh texture (you can download one of mine here) and drag it into your photo. Change Blending Mode on Screen and voila you´re done with editing.

Summer Action Available! 
Another 6 Ways How To Bring Summer Back
If you think that editing photos in "summer style" doesn´t give you the summer mood you can try six following, (boring because not related to photography :) ) things:
  1. Watch some stupid summer comedy.
  2. Go to solarium and be there long enough to burn your skin.
  3. Listen "awesome" last summer pop music hits.
  4. Spray yourself with repelent against mosquitos and enjoy that smell.
  5. Prepare bath with salt in it.
  6. Be desperated that you´re too fat into a swimsuit.
If you want to get summer look of your photos you basically need to add warmer tones and make the image lighter. As you can see from the article the basic Photoshop tools can make this work very easily.

Hope you like the article. I´d like to see you to write another possible ways of bringing summer back in comments. Don´t forget that you can win!

Have you all great Monday!
- Jarka