In the world of digital photography, post processing is just as important as finding the right composition and pressing the shutter button. In landscape photography it is the photographer’s job to invoke a feeling or emotion within the viewer as if they are actually standing in the location that the photo was taken. To achieve this, close attention to detail must be executed in the editing process.
One way of creating appealing landscape images is to accentuate the light that already exist within the photo. This can be done in a number of ways including dodging and burning or with the help of a plugin. Lately, I’ve been finding myself using the Oniric Plugin by Composite Nation to create mood in addition to traditional dodging and burning methods.
What Is Oniric ?
Oniric is a non-destructive glow plugin for Photoshop. It is a highly customizable glow generator that creates life like light that can be applied to any image in photoshop to enhance drama. Landscape and commercial photographers will find Oniric especially useful.
The plugin is very easy to use which makes it a great choice for photographers who do not want to do too much editing in Photoshop. Great results can be achieved with the movement of just a few sliders and since the plugin is non destructive, users can always go back and tweak the glow at a later point in time. When you find a look that you like you can save it as a preset so it can be recreated again in the future.
Types of Glow
Oniric can generate two different types of glow which have their own practical uses. My personal favorite is the Diffuse glow which simulates natural light. This is a great option for landscape photographers who want to enhance the light that is already in the scene.
The second type of glow is streaks. This glow is a great option for graphic artists and compositors and looks best when applied to individual elements of a scene such as text or a piece of an image like a flashlight. The image below was generated using the streaks glow method.
How to use the Onirc Plugin
To get started you must first choose the type of glow that you want; diffuse or streaks. Once you set the glow type, you will have access to a handful of sliders to craft your desired look.
The intensity slider is like the opacity slider in Photoshop. It controls how intense the the effect of the following sliders become. The threshold slider allows users to control what parts of the image receive the glow. It is essentially a luminocity mask. When the slider is set to the left, only the very brightest parts of the image receive the glow effect. As you drag the slider to the right the brightness threshold drops so slightly darker parts of the image begin to glow as well.
The Radius Slider controls how far the glow reaches into the scene from the initial glow source. As the slider is moved to the right, the glow travels further from its source. The Exposure Slider controls how bright the source of the glow is. When you just want to accent the natural light in a scene, you may want to leave this slider set to zero. If you want to create a little more mood or a blowout, bump the exposure slider to right a little bit.
Lastly, the Light Dispersion Slider can be used to help create some interesting looks. The slider is sort of a special effect adjustment. It’s not needed to create good results but it can help create unique effects. To create a low contrast glow set the intensity slider somewhere between one and fifty, then set the dispersion slider between 1 and 20. This will create a soft light over the entire scene which can work really well for high key images. For more dramatic adjustments on backlit subjects, try pushing the Light Dispersion slider to the right. Take note that these settings can create interesting rainbow effects but will not look good on every image. I have found adding a layer masks to control where the dispersion effect is happening can be quite helpful.
You can add a color cast to the glow using the colorize feature. This ensures that your glow fits into the color scheme of your image. When you turn on colorize, you have access to the hue, saturation and luminance sliders to to further craft your light.
The plugin has built in masking capabilities, but I find that I prefer to work with the standard photoshop layer masks instead because they offer a little more control.
The X-Ray view allows users to see what parts of the image are being referenced to create the glow. This is essentially like viewing a layer mask in full screen.
Oniric is incredibly useful software for photographers and graphic designers who want a non destructive way of streamlining their workflow. It is the perfect tool to create dreamy landscapes in photoshop. The plugin creates realistic glow effects that can greatly enhance the natural light in a scene and helps give your images a finished look. Oniric creates incredible results all on its own, but combining the plugin with traditional dodge and burn layers for foreground elements often yields the best results. For $119, it is one of the most powerful and useful plugins on the market. Feel free to ask me any questions about the plugin in the comments below.