A touch of surrealism
There's millions of ways to add a little surrealism to your pictures. I have found that adding just a hint of it can work wonders on just about any photo. I'm going to mention some of my favorite ways to do it. You have to experiment to find the things that work the best for just your work.
!. Using an outside plugin.
I have a few plugins that I like to use to add a little extra to my pictures. One of them is Flaming Pear's Flood. It gives you the chance to create a surreal but beautiful water area in a chosen part of your photo. It also lets you create ripples and add beautiful reflections as well.
Another plugin I like to use is the free and amazing plugin "virtual photographer". It has a wide variety of different effects, and you can use it to create dreamy moody diffuse looks as well. Perfect for adding a little surrealism.
2. Selective blur and diffuse.
By using blur in a creative way you can take your pictures to new heights. You can go for the more traditional "depth of field" Or selective the areas you want affected yourself. By adding this to example a model's head, shoulders, or legs, or even a distant object, you create a slight mystery. Only blurring the background is also a great way to add focus on the main person/object.
3. Crazy colors.
Photoshop is amazing with color, it gives you so much room to play! By using the "invert" option on different blend modes and playing with saturation and hue you can change the entire mood of the picture. My favorite way to do this is using photoshop's "selective color" . It let's you treat one tone at a time and it also give you a lot of control.
4. Selective color
Pick one or two tones and push the saturation either way down to black and white or only push it down a little. By doing this you can put the focus on a different tone and make it stand out, while at the same time creating an interesting effect. You can spice this up further by adding some diffuse glow. Sometimes combining the crazy and surreal with the soft and romantic can give spectacular results.
5. Adding textures
Here's your chance to be really creative. ANYTHING can be used as a texture, and it's very easy to create them yourself. You take a picture of a surface around you, a table, some rust, wood, leaves, anything. And then you play around in photoshop until you're happy with the results. After that you combine it with your photo by using different blend modes.
6. Imaginative cropping
Try cropping your images in a different way. By doing that you can add focus to a different part of the image or even adding focus in a very different way. The depth and dynamic can change and by cropping it the right way you can turn your every day picture into something almost surreal.
7. Explore Photoshop's hidden secrets.
Tons of things I now use a lot in my work is things I accidentally stumbled upon while experimenting. I still from time to time try out different treatments and tools in different ways and many times end up with something impressive that I return to later. There's so many things you can add to your image if you only take some time to try different things out. Not everything will look good on every picture but sometimes you find a combination that just works.
It doesn't take a lot to spice up a photo. Sometimes the subtle treatments give a stronger effect. You can also try mixing several different things and see how they look together. The most important step is the last one, to explore and experiment. You can't go wrong by challenging yourself and your art a little:)
Photo credits: Andriy Dykun.