Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Whether you’re an experienced photographer or a beginner, there will come a time when you capture a photo that you know has the potential to be transformed into a stunning portrait with the help of your favorite software program. Let me show you how (in less than five minutes!)
Choose Your Cat Photo
Your photo will often be a simple shot, like this one of Toulouse; caught as he steps up into view on our deck railing, intent on something beyond the edge of the frame.
A simple shot of a cat (or cats) in the centre of the image gives you room to darken the area around them as well as make your adjustments like the black and white filter I add to Toulouse.
Make a copy of your digital cat photo. This is essential. Never use the original, always work on a copy. If your filters or layers are a success you can save the second photo with a different name and your original is preserved.
It’s all about what the layers add to the image, both in terms of visual interest and in helping to convey the story of subject(s) and scene within the frame.Irreverent PhotoBlog
What You Will Need
- Select a photo from your digital library – this can be from your smartphone, DSLR or compact camera.
- Open it in your photo editing software such as GIMP, Photoshop Elements or Affinity Photo
- If you want to add an overlay there are lots of free overlays online. Search ‘Overlays for Photos‘
Exploring Photo Adjustments
Import your photo then give yourself permission to explore and have fun!
For Toulouse’s shot I first selected the Black and White option in Affinity Photo. Most software has a similar colour removal function and you can adjust coloured sliders to change the tone. These can make a real difference without any further adjustments and is a good first step to try.
Then if you want to take your adjustments further look for your Layers panel or Menu. This may be along the top or the side depending on your software. The menu is usually a drop down selection with strange names like Colour Dodge, Darken, Saturation and Difference.
Duplicate your image Cmd/Ctrl J then click on the duplicate layer and select your Layers menu. Scroll down to active the different effects. I used the ‘Vivid Light’ layer in Affinity Photo which is stunning. Try this, or a similar adjustment on your own cat photo, I know you will be pleased with the results.
Add Fun To Your Masterpiece
Finally, I could not resist adding this fun layer to Toulouse’s photo. Instead of leaping into the frame with a dramatic filter flourish, he jumps up surounded by bubbles! This effect is simple to achieve with an overlay. I use Luxe Lens overlays (not expensive)where you are spoiled for choice from bubbles to sunsets, lens flares to stars but you can use any photo you like. Keep it simple so it doesn’t overshadow your cat who is the star!
- Open your cat photo
- Open an overlay
- Copy overlay onto photo
- Adjust overlays transparency to show the photo
- Click the overlay layer and using your ‘eraser’ tool rub out the effect from your cat.
You can find my full tutorial on overlays and layers here
Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can create impressive cat photographs and fun movies with the camera they carry.
She is a Professional Member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.