Christmas Magic in Wonderland
Christmas is a magical time for children. A time when the wonders of their imagination come to life. I don’t decorate much at my home anymore but look forward to spending time with my son and his family. In March 2014, I was blessed with a little extra money and a bit of magic was planted in my heart. I thought it would be a ton of fun to host Christmas for our family at a water park resort. It took a lot of planning and coordination that resulted in our fun-filled family Christmas vacation at Great Wolf Lodge. My husband and I, our son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren loaded up with all the presents and a small Christmas tree and headed for Grapevine, TX. The resort is huge and it was filled with children. Happy children. I don’t think I heard any whining or complaining the entire four days and three nights! In addition to the indoor waterpark, there were games for the kids with stations on every floor, bedtime stories in their pj’s every night in the lobby, movies, we had dinner in a giant Gingerbread house, and snow! Inside! It was a magical, wonderful time.
We have tons of photos. Professional and candid shots taken with my camera and several cell phones. I was able to get several in the lobby with the “snow” falling. All the kids loved it. You could see and feel the excitement in the air. Of course, some of the crowd comes through in the photos too. Today I’ll go through some editing steps I took to scrap one of my favorite snow photos.
The Original Less Than Stellar Photo
My original photo isn’t that great. It’s a little too dark with a lot of activity in the background. It was also taken on a cell phone with a less than stellar camera so it’s a little grainy too. And you can only see a few of the larger snowflakes. But I like the expression on my granddaughter’s face as she’s catching snowflakes. It takes me right back to that day, so I decided to use it anyway.
Brightness and Contrast
Firstly, use a copy of the photo (Ctrl + J). Always work with a copy! Then I adjusted the Brightness and Contrast using Enhance> Adjust Lighting> Brightness/Contrast.
As you can see below, the photo on the right is quite a bit brighter than the original photo on the left.
Shadows and Highlights
I adjusted the lighting in the shadows and highlights next using Enhance> Adjust Lighting> Shadows/Highlights.
In the image below you can see the photo on the right is a little better still. The highlights on her face, hands, and clothes are brighter and you can see a little more detail in the shaded areas under her neck and hands.
In the next image, you can see each step side by side. The original photo is on the left, then with the brightness/contrast adjustments made in the middle and finally with the adjustments to the shadows and highlights on the right.
A busy background is distracting but it is very easy to blur the background and put the focus where it belongs. Using the Quick Selection tool you can easily select the area to blur. A large part of this photo is actually dark so I selected the face, arms, and hands then used Ctrl + Shift + I to inverse the selection. The selection area doesn’t have to be perfect. You can use Refine Edge to Feather the selection. This will soften the transition to the blurred area.
Then I used Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur to blur the background area. The amount of blur needed varies depending on the photo.
Use the slider to add as much blur as needed. Check Preview to see the effects on your photo. When you’re satisfied with the Radius click OK.
Since the snow doesn’t come through well in the photo I used an action I already had to add snow. The snow was part of the “magic” so I definitely didn’t want to leave it out. The snow action I used is part of the Winter Wonderland Collection by Urban Bloom Actions for Photographers.
Here’s the photo with the added touch of snow magic. I mean look at that face, she’s obviously feeling the magic!
I chose not to blur the background in my completed layout. I cropped the photo and flipped it horizontally so that the area of the background showing actually works quite well. That’s my final tip. It’s not always necessary to blur a busy background it depends on how you’re going to use the photo. If you can improve the composition, add focus and remove distractions by cropping I think that’s the way to go. I tend to like photos close and tight anyway.
The Winter Magic collaboration at Scrapaneers this month is gorgeous! The designers went above and beyond, to say the least. The portions used in this layout are brought to you by Studio Flergs and Heartstrings Scrap Art.
The Winter Magic Giveaway
A huge THANK YOU goes out to all the amazing designers who contributed to this Mega Collection. Winter Magic is perfect for your winter and holiday photos, but it also has a gorgeous color palette that is fitting for memorializing those everyday moments too. Ready for a peek at what you can collect during the month of December?
Winter Magic download links are no longer available.