the smell of my desperation has become a stench

That Lovely Glow Effect

Many have asked about how I get certain photos to look fuzzy or warm and mashed potato-y. And perhaps it’s time that I come clean and admit that it has nothing to do with the camera or how I take pictures.

It’s all about cheating in Photoshop.

Jon originally taught me this technique, and although I only use it on a small percentage of my photos, it’s a great way to add dimension to what would otherwise be an ordinary picture.

This techinique is all about taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary!

Here’s a photograph of me at age three, and I’m so irritatingly sweet that you just want to slap me, don’t you?


1. Open your photograph in Photoshop.

2. Color correct your photo layer however you like to color correct, perhaps a bit of contrast or color balance or selective color, whatever.

3. Duplicate the photo layer.

4. Use the filter “Gaussian Blur” on the duplicated layer. For a photo of this size, set the radius to 5 pixels. For much larger photos, you can go much higher with radius size.

5. Set the duplicated, blurred layer to “multiply” either through the pull-down at the top of the layers palette or by double-clicking the layer and setting the General Blending, Blend Mode.

6. The result will be a little dark and you can play around with curves or lightness or whatever technique you want to use to lighten the photo.

7. Extraordinary!


One hour after this photo was taken I swallowed that gold chain around my neck. Thus began my ongoing, illustrious relationship with constipation.

  • joh3n

    2003/01/31 at 3:14 pm

    The most important question: did it taste good?

  • Alyssa

    2003/01/31 at 3:21 pm

    Once while trying to reach the unreachable booger, I wedged a Q-Tip up my nose. To this day–17 years later–my mother still keeps the Q-Tip container out of my reach.

    For those not familiar/comfortable with Photoshop, I have an action that does all that for you, just email me (click on my name above) and Iíll send it to you.

    Thanks for the hours of uncontrollable laugher, Dooce.

  • Alyssa

    2003/01/31 at 3:24 pm

    And for the laughter, too.

  • uh-oh

    2003/01/31 at 3:37 pm

    now i wonder how long it will take before this effect becomes extremely played out on everyone else’s blog.

  • Heather #2

    2003/01/31 at 3:54 pm

    How completely thoughtful and giving and sharing of you. You’re such a fucking sweetie!

  • ed f

    2003/01/31 at 3:56 pm

    i’m so glad i didn’t write in to ask about that trick, but yes, i have admired it religiously. you have a way with photos, young grasshopper. nice to see you back in ackshun. cheers cheers. thank god it’s friday, one thing cool about The City of Lost Angels: Tequila ‘n’ Taco Bars. yum yum….

  • Alex

    2003/01/31 at 4:01 pm

    Aha! Another layer and gaussian blur –the mystery is solved!

    Hmm…the only thing I accidentally swallowed as a kid was a mouthful of FILTHY Lake Michigan water. It was the same week all the beaches in Chicagao were closed because the lake was too contaminated.

    Because of that incident, I now know what “evil” tastes like….

  • Terry

    2003/01/31 at 4:37 pm

    Aha! And there is where the toilet paper/poop stuff comes from. It was ingrained at a young age.

  • Scott

    2003/01/31 at 4:38 pm

    When I was little I used to stick peanuts up my nose and my mother would have to get me in a headlock and pry them out with a toothpick. One time she couldn’t get one or two out and I had to go to the emergency room. Thankfully I remember little of this.

  • jing jing

    2003/01/31 at 4:51 pm

    Thank you, Dooce! Now, can you tell us how your mom managed to find an outfit to perfectly match the potrait backdrop or is that the magic of Photoshop too? Either way you are a little ray of Mormon sunshine!

  • Desiree

    2003/01/31 at 5:01 pm

    Well thank God for explaining that – I thought I was either have serious eye troubles (and am cancelling that eye doctor appointment as I write this) and/or drinking too heavily at work (so I guess no one is on to me!).
    EdF: the only tacos worthy in LA are Tito’s.

  • peggy

    2003/01/31 at 5:04 pm

    Dang! Anybody who says this isn’t the web’s best site about pooping and/or not pooping – human and canine – has, well, shit for brains.

  • rosebaby

    2003/01/31 at 5:14 pm

    no but seriously. after all this poop talk you have me counting my daily efforts. now i know for a fact i poop more than you people.

    i swallowed a really cool amber bead i found on the sidewalk in kindergarten. never really occured to me to go digging for it. my parents are probably thankful for that.

  • shotwise

    2003/01/31 at 5:18 pm

    The secret is out, and the day is mine! Thank you for the run-down, Dooce. And thank you too, Herr Gaussian!

  • the propagandist

    2003/01/31 at 5:42 pm

    i do that EVERY time i get arrested too.

    can’t let The Man touch my sparklies.

  • kindle

    2003/01/31 at 6:08 pm

    Ah, the secret is out. I had been wondering about that for some time. It’s a great trick.

  • john

    2003/01/31 at 6:22 pm

    When I was 6 I got the brilliant idea to drink a drink from the windshield washer squirter on my parent’s car. Got my friend to push the button while I licked it up. Must have been cars back then didn’t need a key in the ignition to do that, at least I think they do now. Somehow my mom found out that I did this I pulled me out of center field right in the middle of a T-Ball game to take me to the hospital for the joy of a stomach pump. Didn’t swallow any of that again…

  • the mighty jimbo

    2003/01/31 at 6:48 pm

    thank god! now i can sleep at night.

  • the mighty jimbo

    2003/01/31 at 6:52 pm

    and you might want to think twice about swallowing things that leave you constipated. just a suggestion.

    then again, if that blockage is what’s pushing all these stories out of your brain, by all means, stay away from the metamucil.

  • the posterboy

    2003/01/31 at 7:03 pm

    Wow, thanks. I was wondering how you did it. And it wasn’t even hard. You’re the best! 🙂

  • anna jr.

    2003/01/31 at 7:07 pm

    dude, you are THREE in that picture? what are you like 4 feet tall already?


    the fact that you ate your necklace reminds me of a story…..

  • Billy

    2003/01/31 at 7:19 pm

    I did that Gaussian effect thingy one time and ended up in 1963. You gotta be real careful when you push these damn buttons.

  • anna jr.

    2003/01/31 at 7:25 pm

    i mean, you are so TALL!

    also wondering how the necklace came out….sorry, i can’t help it.

  • Bill

    2003/01/31 at 8:25 pm

    I always love to pump up the color saturation, it makes everything look rich and realer than real.

  • April

    2003/01/31 at 8:26 pm

    Why the hell did I never think of Multiply?! Damn it. I’m turning in my Photoshop Master card.

  • Tracy

    2003/01/31 at 8:31 pm

    Brilliant. Photoshop truly is the application of gods.

    I stuck a button up my nose once. Thought my grandmother would find it amusing. She didn’t.

  • Irk

    2003/01/31 at 8:38 pm

    Comments about poop and the post wasn’t even about poop! I’ve discovered that when you switch to a mostly-liquid diet, your body really takes note when solid food is introduced.

    Thanks for sharing that trick, Dooce. As much as I like Photoshop, all those buttons and dials and blinky lights scare me a bit.

    I’ve never swallowed anything or stuck anything up my nose, but my mom used to scrape the wax out of my ears out with a bobby pin.

  • melanie

    2003/01/31 at 8:54 pm

    a.) that’s an awfully … mature hairstyle for a three-year-old.

    2.) i stuck a screw up my nose once. ouchies.

  • Jenny

    2003/01/31 at 9:19 pm

    Nice bangs.

    I had bangs for 18 years. I FINALLY started to grow them out about a year ago and they’re past my chin. Any parent who lets their daughters endure the pain of straight across, curtain-like, half of the head covering bangs past age five is NOT doing a very good job.

  • Minnie

    2003/01/31 at 10:03 pm

    When I was around 3, I inserted a peanut in my ear to see if it’d fit. It did. That was also the day I was introduced to that monstrosity called the otoscope.

    That’s a super cute pic of you, btw.

  • Ryan

    2003/01/31 at 10:35 pm

    at the ripe old age of seven, i proved it was possible to inhale tictacs. three of them are still embedded somewhere in my lungs. i think they’re the orange flavour…

  • nessa

    2003/02/01 at 6:20 am

    when i was five, i stuck those little green seeds from those ‘helicopters’ (or ‘whirlygigs’ if you prefer)that fall off trees. the logic being, of course, that i would push them out to look like boogers. however, i mangaged to push one way up into my nasal cavity, causing a massive nose bleed and a very unpleasant trip to the ER. my dad bought me a candy bar for “being such a trooper.” mmm. butterfingers.

  • stacy

    2003/02/01 at 8:57 am

    a diffusion filter will give a similar effect, or if you don’t want to spend the money, you can get a blank filter and dab a tiny bit of vasoline around it.

  • bushra

    2003/02/01 at 9:12 am

    i swallowed a pound coin as a kid, and then my gold tooth when i was 19. haven’t seen them since.

  • sourbob

    2003/02/01 at 9:41 am

    I was more a “sticking things up the nose” kinda kid myself. Still at least one nickel in there, I’d bet.

    Thanks for the photoshop tip, though.

  • moose

    2003/02/01 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for the tip.

    1. a tiny red high-heeled shoe from a Barbie not my own
    2. a bur on my mitten
    3. a bee on my pbj sandwich.
    Never saw any of’em again.

    I once knew a little boy who stuffed blue playdough up his nose. Getting it out was gross.

    What is it with these urges to fill crevices?

  • moose

    2003/02/01 at 1:37 pm

    I made it sound maybe like I stuffed all those up my nose. I swallowed them. None on purpose. Am I forgiven yet?

  • Jason

    2003/02/01 at 1:46 pm

    What happened to the font?

  • rebecca

    2003/02/01 at 2:22 pm

    oh cool.. i did that a few days ago in paint shop… good tutorial =D

  • James

    2003/02/01 at 3:59 pm

    I think the effect is identical to soft focus – achieved in a similar fashion to a technique I found in the Photoshop Wow Book once. Which is why all your photos look like stills from a French Seventies soft-porn film. But with dogs and children. Oh Lord.

  • sheila

    2003/02/01 at 7:14 pm

    Ah….childhood. I ate the acrylic pompom off a red hat (age 5?). Sad day for my parents when I started to pass it….

    Some might cute dimples you’re sporting.

  • Garth Milo

    2003/02/02 at 4:23 am

    Cool Site. Love your pictures.

  • SuSu

    2003/02/02 at 9:24 am

    Hey dooce… Is it rude to ask what kinda windfall of cash you came into with your “gobs of gigs” campaign? I think you should keep the paypal account open and we should all contribute a dollar evertime we wet ourselves laughing 🙂

  • K8Lin

    2003/02/02 at 1:59 pm

    i ate my mother’s wedding ring as a baby; it never returned.

  • Richard

    2003/02/02 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you. For showing us the light! 🙂

  • ms lauren

    2003/02/02 at 5:58 pm

    what if i told you i pulled my braces off on the carpet, then swallowed the brackets to keep from being found out?

    would you still love me? even if i got caught?

  • Jie

    2003/02/02 at 6:48 pm

    yes, Photoshop works wonders. my camera sucks but thanks to Photoshop, now my pictures look half-decent.

  • shy

    2003/02/02 at 7:45 pm

    so i’ll admitt that i am embarrassed that i didn’t know this… i thought it was some ‘lighting filter’ thing. thanks, dooce! i’m about to do the same with the photo of my adopted shitzu.

  • Frankenstein

    2003/02/02 at 8:38 pm

    I always just did the gaussian blur bit and then set the fade to 50%.

    Though your method is a bit more sophisticated.

  • allisonic

    2003/02/03 at 7:10 am


Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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