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How to Create a Sunset in Photoshop

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Shooting later in the day gives you the opportunity to add a warm “sunset Style” to your image in Photoshop. In today’s episode we show you how to Color your image to give it that warm “sunset” feel.

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Choosing the Correct Photo

In order to make this effect appear real it is important to choose a photo that has the correct lighting. The first thing to look for is the placement of the sun. You will want to use an image that was shot later in the day, when the Colors in the sky warm up a bit. Next it is important that the Light source is visible in the image. A backlit image will work best, but you can also use images that are side-lit.

Coloring the Image

To create the sunset effect we are using a combination of Levels and the Gradient Tool. First we have to make the image look like it was taken later in the day, and that means making the detail darker. Then we add Color into the Shadows using the Red Channel and the Black Point on the Output Slider.

After adding red to the Shadows we warm up the Highlights and use a Gradient Tool to center the effect over the Light source.

How to Add Movement to Your Photo

To finish this photo we add a bit of Motion, making it look like the camera was moving with out subject. For this specific type of Motion we need to use a Radial Blur because the movement stems from the center of the image. If the movement came from the camera “panning”, we would use a Motion Blur.

In the Radial Blur settings be sure to change the default from “Spin” to “Zoom”. Then choose the correct amount and the Blur Center. This dialog does not provide a preview, so you may need to test a few different settings before getting it perfect.

After the Radial Blur has been applied we use a Layer Mask to hide the blur from the center of the image and over the subject.

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