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Photoshop Dark Photo Effect
Tutorials Photo Effects 47567 Views August 2nd, 2012

Learn how to darken a photo using Photoshop adjustment layers and filters from this easy to follow tutorial. You can use this dark photo effect to transform your images into works of art. The effect can be applied with great results to portraits or people photography. I am thinking about making an action with this photo effect, that way you will avoid all those nasty steps. In fact all that matters is the customization you make for each adjustment layer.

To darken an image you have to reduce brightness but at the same time you have to adjust the contrast to obtain good looking results. The color tone is also an important aspect so set the colors, the saturation, add a photo filter and so on.


In this new Photoshop tutorial I will show you how to darken a photo and to obtain a more obscure photo effect, with less saturated colors. As you can see in the preview image the idea is to make de background dark and to lighten some areas/models. By adding this shady effect, you can clearly see that the mood of the image changes dramaticaly. This photo effect works great especially for people photography, action photography, portraits and so on.

Actually I have tried to recreate the effect achieved by Brooke Shaden in one of her photos, from the serie "Frozen in Water" that you can see below. This photography shoot is all about beauty in darkness. It is a mixture between light and dark to create this misterious look.

Dark Color Photo Effect in Photoshop

Here is the before and after applying the photo effect preview image. As you can see the we have reduced the brightness, increased the contrast and also changed the color tones and the hue/saturation levels. All I can say is that even if the process is the same, you have to adjust the levels depending on the type of photo that you have.

First we have to pick the photo that we want to transform. I picked up this image Nereid 2 simply because it has the water and water reflection elements. And also because of the yellow tone color and other things that will explain later on.

Color Adjustment

Name this first layer Original Image Layer so that we can refer to it in the following steps. Let's start with a simple color adjustment; as you can see the image has a yellow/orange color tone that we want to change, to look more like the "Frozen in Water" image.

To do that press the button Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer that you can find in the bottom area of the Layers Tab. So press the button and choose Color Balance/b> with the following settings:

Here is the before/after color adjustment preview image. As you can see we have increased the blue color, cyan and magenta. But remember that these settings apply only to this image; you have to adjust the settings according to your image. It may not be necessary to make color adjustments!

Hue/Saturation Adjustment

Press the button Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer but this time choose Hue/Saturation; we are doing that to decrease the saturation level and take the colors to more neutral tones. Again you may choose not to use this adjustment!

Brightness/Contrast Adjustment

The most important adjustment layer is the Brightness/Contrast that we are adding in this step. We simply darken the entire image by decreasing the brightness and at the same time increasing the contrast level.

Part 1Part 2

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9 comment(s) for "Photoshop Dark Photo Effect"

3:57 AM Tuesday, August 07, 2012
3:59 AM Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Thank you so much, I have been searching for this kind of tutorial for a while, I love the Brooke Shaden effect. reply
PSD Dude
4:01 AM Wednesday, October 10, 2012
I wanted to try this Brooke Shaden effect on other images but I don't have enough time :) if you practice the tut pliz upload your result! reply
7:02 AM Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Thanks a lot for the tutorial.
Was looking despertely for this kind of tutorial.
manas reply
7:03 AM Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I am glad you find it useful :) reply
1:24 AM Thursday, November 21, 2013
Here is a darken photo effect made in Photoshop by Melissa Simons ( reply
1:27 AM Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Ty for posting my pic I'm trying to get back into doing photoshopmanips reply
2:20 AM Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Hi! Awesome Tutorial! Did you ever create the action for this look? I would like to purchase it! reply
2:27 AM Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Sorry for the late reply but I didn't have an answer until now :) Here is an action that create a similar yet better effect:

Soft Focus Shade Effect Photoshop Action


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