I LOVE taking a good shot and making it look awesome!
Do pictures lie?
Maybe a little, but the original image of the shark above, on the left, was not the scene as it appeared to the human eye either. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Just as an artist can render a scene using any manner of techniques or styles: realism, pointillism, abstract, etc, I too, can express my creativity in my colour correction techniques, and even a few enhancement tricks. Like sun rays.
For the colour correction technique used on this female reef shark, go here...for creating rays of sun, read on...
"Sometimes a well placed ray of sun just makes the heart sing."
Want to know how to easily add rays of sunlight to your beautiful underwater shot? With a custom brush. Here's how:
I've chosen this shot of a sea turtle because there are already faint rays of sun streaking through the water behind him.
Most of my underwater shots would not be amenable to adding rays of sun, because a lot of my photography is shot in deeper water. This photo, however, was taken in shallow water, and there are very subtle streaks of sun rays shooting down behind the turtle, making this image a great candidate for adding or enhancing sun-ray effects, while maintaining a natural look.
Creating the File
It doesn't matter if the new file is RGB or Grayscale.
Creating a Brush Pattern
Select the Elliptical marquee (M) from the tool bar. Notice that I have created the selection near the top of the file, to give the rays I am creating lots of room to spread down. I have also created the elliptical selection quite wide, horizontally, in an effort to spread the rays across the image to some degree.
You may choose to create a perfect circle selection (hold the shift key down while dragging the elliptical marquee tool), if you require light rays coming from a smaller or more specific area, like light rays through a cave opening, for example.
Because the "sun rays" look a little choppy to me, I will run the radial blur a second time, using the exact same settings (this may be done easily by going to Filter, and clicking the function at the very top of the list. This spot is reserved for the last filter function used in Photoshop, with the settings saved). This time I have a much cleaner set of sun rays.
Creating the Brush
Now we are finally ready to create the brush.
Your brush should now be a part of your brush library. Create a new layer on top of your image, and test your brush. Choose the desired foreground colour (I use white). If the effect is too strong, remember that the opacity of the layer may be reduced to soften the effect.
Enjoy, and happy diving!