using curves in photoshop

by Elena Blair

Darkening the background of an image can really create depth and draw attention to the subject. I will show you a quick and easy way to darken the background of an image using curves in Photoshop.

Here is the original image with all my usual edits except the darkening of the background:

using curves in photoshop photo

Now I will create a curves layer and bring down the midtones by grabbing the very middle of the curve and pulling down to the right bottom corner until I get the desired amount of darkening in the background. The curve will like something like this:

using curves in photoshop photo

This is what the image will look like at this point:

using curves in photoshop photo

Now I create a mask by clicking on the mask icon, and invert the mask by clicking command I on my MAC. Here is a screen shot of where to find the mask icon and what it will make your curves layer look like in the layer panel.

using curves in photoshop photo

Now use a soft white brush at about 60% to paint in darkness into the background.

Here is the finished image. Have fun trying this out!

using curves in photoshop photo

using curves in photoshop photoElena Blair, Washington
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Elena Blair is a custom portrait photographer in Seattle, WA. She specializes in newborn, maternity, baby, child, and family photography, however photographing her two small children are the reason she became a photographer so capturing them is her first priority. He style has been described as natural, organic, and sentimental. She is a Canon girl, shooting with a 5D Mii and a couple of lenses. Elena is also a NICU nurse, but only very part time. She is very active in her kiddos cooperative preschools and enjoys spending the majority of her time with her family. She loves traveling, good wine, and good company.

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3 Responses to “using curves in photoshop”

  1. Nov 27 2013 at 7:42 am #

    Great tip, Elena! So easy yet so effective! Thanks for sharing it here. :)

  2. Nov 27 2013 at 8:20 am #

    I use PS Elements…can I do this with elements? I’ll have to play around with it.

  3. Ellen K
    Nov 28 2013 at 9:57 am #

    So simple, but it really makes a difference!

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