I just came across an interesting painting video that talked about the spotlight effect that is sometimes used. I liked the ring effect in the Monet painting in video.
I thought it would be fun to play around with this in some of my photographs as, in the video, that author does make an attempt with one of his images but not very subtle. I suppose it was to demonstrate the effect clearly.
Can you spot the effect in the above image. I have made it just a little stronger so that it might show better, There is a light ring around the runner and it is just a little lighter in centre.
The first part was to make a layer that I could use in a lightened type of blending mode. I knew the lightened modes tended to work above 128 so I set the background to 130 grey. I used the elliptical marquee tool to create a circle and then stroked it with a grey setting of 230 with a 100 pixel width. With the magic wand, I selected the grey in the centre of the circle, and with paint bucket set to a grey of 165, filled it in to add a little more brightness than the background. A Gaussian blur of 28 to soften edges was used.
I can use the transform function to change size and shape.
I can always use the curve tool to move the 3 tones up and down to suit effect as in image above here. The 2 big spikes are the background and middle tone in the centre. The outer ring is the smaller spike on the right. The above image shows the curves before and after, that moves the centre tone lighter and corresponding spike to the right. This way I can control 3 parts separately.
When you can see both original and altered, the effect seems to show up more. But when you turn the final effect off and on then it becomes less noticeable and even the original now appears a little dark at focal point.
Here, the effect is more noticeable but when not viewing the original, it looks better.
This was just an hour playing around and I do like the effect for some images.
There lighting effects in Photoshop but this is an easy way to add a little focal interest to the image. While I used more of a ring a circular spotlight would also work. The Overlay added a little more drama as it could also darken background (move left spike more left with a curve)
Here the link to the painting video I mentioned.