Photoshop Tips: Polarizing and Adding Fog

For most my images, I don’t do a ton in Photoshop (although, I’ll admit, it’s probably more than the average). I pull in my image, crop/straighten, adjust levels and color balance. Then, for certain images I may add additional blur to the background or sharpening to the foreground, dodge or burn or add a vignette, adjust saturation and brightness and contrast..

However, recently I’ve added a couple more techniques to my repertoire and thought I’d share them with you here.

Adding Steam & Fog

I got a couple questions on my Copper post on how I made the steam rise from the pot. The same technique I use there, I also use on the fog floating around the dragon eggs and the flog filling the sky in the deer image. It’s actually a pretty simple process.

  1. Open your image in Photoshop
  2. Edit as you normally would
  3. Create a new layer
    1. Layer> New> Layer
  4. Make sure your color’s are set to the default, black and white swatchCapture
  5. Create Clouds
    1. Filter> Render> Clouds
  6. Adjust the opacity of the cloud layer (adjust til the effect is just a bit stronger than you’d want it to be)
  7. Erase out the parts of the layer where you don’t want fog (a really useful tip here is to adjust the opacity of the eraser as you go, i.e. for the outer part of the Copper Pot image I would have my eraser at 100% because I didn’t want the steam to show at all, bu the area right around the pot, where I want less concentrated steam, I might use 50 – 70%, then in the area above the pot, where I want the steam most visible, yet still faint, I may use 20 – 40%)Capture
  8. Continue adjusting the opacity of the layer and erasing out areas at different opacities until you achieve the exact effect you want

 Polarizing without a Filter

If you’ve ever played around with the sun icon slider when uploading and image to Instagram, you’ve polarized an image. The editing process in Photoshop to Polarize an image is an imitation of what a polarizing filter attached to your lens achieves. The goal is to “darken skies, manage reflections, or suppress glare,” or in my case (since my pictures aren’t taken outside), darken the background, supress glare while leaving color vibrancy intact, and lighten shadows.

Take, for example this Church Interior. I took the image, edited it in my normal way. Was happy enough with the outcome, and got my post ready. Then I posted to Instagram, used the sun slider and was like “wait, I like that so much better.” So I looked up what that editing button does, and learned how to replicate it in Photoshop. The background shadows were darker, the foreground was lighter, the cross sharper, the window had more tonal range, and the reflection on the ground remained unfazed.

BeforeChurch Interior

AfterChurch Interior

Any interest in using this technique on your images? Just follow these steps (there are a ton of Polarizing techniques out there, this is just 1 of them, if this doesn’t suit your fancy, just google it and you’ll find other options).

  1. Open your image in Photoshop
  2. Edit as you normally would
  3. Create a duplicate image layer (only edit on this layer)
  4. Desaturate
    1. Image> Adjustments> Hue/Saturation> Pull the Saturation slider all the way to the left
    2. or ctrl + U
  5. Invert
    1. Image> Adjustments> Invert
    2. or ctrl + I
  6. Change blend mode to OverlayCapture
  7. Gaussian Blur 40 – 70 px (whatever looks best to you)
    1. Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur
  8. Adjust Levels (to your liking)
    1. Image> Adjustments> Levels
    2. or ctrl + L
  9. Erase/delete out the areas you want the original image to show through

Let me know if you have any questions.

For more Photoshop tips:

{P for Photoshop & Polarizing for day 16 of the A to Z challenge. See all my posts for this challenge here}

9 thoughts on “Photoshop Tips: Polarizing and Adding Fog

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