Removing Flare (Tutorial)

Started Dec 20, 2004 | Discussions thread
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gonzalu Forum Pro • Posts: 10,389
Removing Flare (Tutorial)

Credit for this tutorial goes to "cspringer" over on the Retouching forum. I am puting this together here because of how valuable it is. I asked for help with a picture having a nasty flare spot and his solution was elegant, functional and OH SO EASY!

SInce it was completely textual, I decided to do a tut based on how I actually followed his instructions to fix my image.

This particular one is done on a B&W image. Color Flare is a lot different and should be attempted only if you have a strong will (I do and it still killed me) The image was converted via channel mixer. Then, before any other adjustments, the flare corrected. Here we go.

Open it it up ange get it as good as you want it

Next, we do our B&W convertion

I like Channel Mixer. You can do whatever method you like at this stage.

Now, let's begin on that flare. As per cspringer, the method involves multiple layers which will serve as sort of adjustment layers but we will actually paint with light as he calls it

Zoom in on the desired area to see what you are doing better.

Notice we will need at least as many of the paint layers as there are different levels in the background of the flare areas. In my case, I can get away with 3 or 4.

Do this:

Click on the background layer and press CTRL+SHIFT+N to create a new layer. Chose the blend mode to Soft Light and check the box to fill with 50% gray.

Now change the layer mode to Linear Burn. Add a Reveal None (all black)layer mask. Then duplicate it 3 times by pressing CTRL+J 3 times.

The fun begins now. I hope I get this right or I will shame cspringer with my poor skills

The idea is to paint white in the layer mask of each layer to reduce the effect of the flare in each particular area beneath the flare. I will start with the first layer and paint over the dark coat of the person on the right, facing away from the camera.

Select a soft brush. Use your "[" or "]" brackets to adjust the size of your brush quickly. Set the mode to normal and the opacity to 30%, flow to 50% and enable airbrush mode. Now, while in the Layer Mask, paint in white (hit D, then X on your keyboard to reset the color to Black foreground and White background and then swapping them)

Paint carefully over the desired area. Don't worry if it is not perfect. We can always correct it later.

Here is what the mask looks like (press ALT while clicking on the mask to toggle revealing it on or off)

Okay, now do the rest of the layers, one each for the different areas and adjusting opacity to suit. For me, I have the background building wall, the baby's hat, the baby's face and the baby's coat.

As you can see, I could have done much better. But, at this magnification (300%) it should not be very obvious at 100%. At this point, we are done... here is a quick before and after comparison

Major difference

Okay, now save it before it is too late. You can always go back and redo ANY of those layers... the original image is styill there for you to play with.

Click back on the bottom layer and add a BRIGHTNESS / CONTRAST Adjustment Layer and do some final adjustments.

Resize and sharpen for the web or whatever you like. We are done.

Thanks to cspringer for the tips and to Psycho Jr. for the encouragement. If there are any mistakes or questions, please accept my apologies in advance. Just post here and I will do my best to correct or explain anything.


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