If you want to draw more attention to the subject in your photo, proper post-processing is certainly one of the ways. Blake Rudis of f64 Academy shows you a pretty useful trick to achieve this in Photoshop. You can use radial gradients to create a kind of a “spotlight” and draw your viewers’ attention exactly where you want it to go. You can use it on all kinds of photos, no matter if your subject is a person or an object. It’s a subtle technique, yet it can make a big difference.
This method works for a Gradient layer that goes from solid color to transparency.
Start by opening the image and adding a new “Gradient” adjustment layer. It will be linear by default, but you should change it to “Radial.”
You can change the color of the gradient in the layer adjustments, and this is where you also can move the “spotlight” and place it on your subject.
At this moment, this won’t look very good, but you should change the blending mode to Soft Light or Color and reduce the opacity. Here’s the before and after:
The second method uses two colors for the gradient. You can edit the gradient and choose the one with two colors, instead of the one from color to transparency. You can edit the colors too, and select the ones that best suit the scene. You can darken and lighten the particular parts of the image, and thus shift the viewers’ attention to particular elements in the photo.
You can also change the size of the gradient by moving the “Scale” slider, and adjust the size of your “spotlight” to the size of the element you want to emphasize.
For the portrait photo Blake edited as an example, he reversed the role of the “spotlight.” He used it to darken the background and push it away so that the model is more prominent.
Basically, using Radial Gradient helps you direct the viewer’s attention to your subject more, or even shift it completely. It seems handy to play with it, experiment and see what you can get. As long as you don’t overdo it, it can really make a difference for your shots.
[Radial Gradients in Photoshop | f64 Academy]