Photoshop Technique – Improving your water

5 11 2008

I’ve written about intensifying your water before, but I have found a better technique that I thought I would share. This really makes your water a lot more dynamic. To show you a before an after effect, have a look at one of my recent shots called “At Last”.

On the left you can see the effect of intensifying the water, and on the right you can see the image with all of the post processing except for the water intensifying technique (click on the image above to see the detail)… or you can view the original image at Flickr here.

So how do you do it….. It’s actually pretty simple and involves 3 steps

1) Create a new layer with a relatively high contrast B&W version of your image… you can do this using a B&W adjustment layer or your favorite B&W converter… I LOVE Nik Silver Effex.

2) Experiment with the Blend mode… you will want to look at typically overlay, softlight or hardlight blend modes.

3) Once you find one that gives you the “oommph” that you are afterwith the water, Add a layer mask and invert it (cntrl+I on PC) and then paint the effect just over the water.

Thats it… Often on water I will also add a colour balance adjustment layer and add a touch of blue and green to the mid tones and shadows.

I hope you find this useful




9 responses

5 11 2008

Awesome work and great explanation, Brent. One quick question: Doesn’t the b/w layer being on top–even w/ a different blending mode–result in black and white water? (Excuse my ignorance.)

6 11 2008
Brent Pearson

Hey C

If you leave the blend mode to "Normal", then you are correct, butif you use other blend modes, then NO, it doesn't leave you with b&W water.

Pick an image and give it a try and you'll see what i mean. Just duplicate anything, convert to b@w and change the blend mode.


6 11 2008

Awesome, will do–thanks. I realize I could’ve (and should’ve) given it a try first but I’m swamped with work right now and couldn’t get to it. Thanks for your help.

6 11 2008

Great tip Brent. Great example of how to use masking. Will have to test it out on my seascape shots.

8 11 2008


Spectacular scenary, as always. I wanted to concur that this trick works excellent in bringing out the details and gives it the right oomph. I developed this method when I was processing a landscape, and while trying to figure how to pop the surface of the mountain, I found that if you made a BW layer and blende it like Brent did.
Thanks for sharing this, Keep the good stuff up!


14 11 2008

Great technique! Thanks for sharing

26 11 2008

Thanks for the explanation. I stumbled upon this after looking at your flickr stream. As a very new very naive photographer this has helped me greatly as photoshop techniques would have to be the hardest thing to pick up on. Thanks again.

8 01 2009

Goodonya Brent! This is impressive, as are all of your tutorials that I’ve read so far. I’m bookmarking these for future reference. Many Thanks!

21 09 2011
Landschaftsfotografie - gute Tutorials zur Bildbearbeitung (Teil 1) - Design by FM

[…] Post Prosessing Forsaken B&W – Bildbearbeitung eines s/w-Porträts mit schönen Detailkontrast Intensifying Water – auch als Video – mit zwei einfachen Schritten, Wasser […]

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