Take your Photos from Blah to WOW with Lightroom and Photoshop

Would you like to get started with black and white (or color) fine art photography, but don’t really know how to get the results you want? I will give you some insight in the process to take your photos to the next level and let you see how you can make the most of the not so ideal situation. I will explain how you can take your ordinary photo and transform it from this . . .


to this!

Img final

Take your Photos from Blah to WOW with Lightroom and Photoshop

For the creation of this photo I used both Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop (Note: any program that handles layers will also work including GIMP or Photoshop Elements). The beginning photo is just a black and white conversion of the color photo, as shot. It is important that when you go out and shoot, you have an idea of the final image in your head. If you are at a location, take a moment and think of what you would like to see as a final result. This way, it will take you less shots to get your winning photo.

First step the photography, how was this photo created?

This photo was shot with a Nikon D3000, Tokina 12-28mm f/4 (IF) DX AT-X PRO and Haida ND3.0 (10 stop neutral density filter). That’s right, it’s not a full frame camera! With good light conditions you don’t need one, spend money on lenses instead. I was aiming at an exposure time of minimum 25 seconds, to make the clouds and water smooth. I metered 1/60th at f/14, 100 ISO, so that would give me the 25-27 second exposure (with the ND3.0) I wanted.

You can find exposure tables online, and sometimes you get them with the filter you buy. If all the conditions were perfect (which wasn’t the case) I wanted to shoot until sunset, expanding my exposure time to over 1 minute. But clouds rolled in (wasn’t forecast) and ruined the light. After a few shots, I got what I wanted and was heading home.

Next step, post-processing your image

First load the photo in to Lightroom and give it some minor adjustments to contrast and clarity. Increase the contrast a bit and reduce the clarity of the bottom part of the photo (the water). This can be done with a graduated filter (keyboard shortcut “M”) and moving the clarity slider to the left.

Now move over to Photoshop to take care of the sky (you can export it directly from Lightroom, right click on the photo and select edit in Photoshop). I was aiming for a nice movement in the sky, but the clouds weren’t going fast enough for my maximum exposure time. So we are going to replicate that with the help of photoshop.

Duplicate the image and select the sky, using the magic wand selection tool (W). Use the current layer and a brush seize of 30 pixels. When you’ve got your selection (it won’t be perfect but that is fine), click on the add layer mask symbol. (below the layers on the bottom right side of the screen).

You can make the layer mask more accurate with the pen tool (p). Click on the edge of a building (and later on the bridge) and work your way around the skyline, by clicking on every corner. The pen too will automatically draw a straight path from one point to another. When complete (you have to get all the way back to the first point you made), right click on the image and select “make selection” (feather 0, and make new selection) hit OK in the new window. Now fill your selection with black and you have a nice and clean layer mask of the sky.

Add motion blur to the sky

Now you can add a zoom blur to the sky layer, so you get a nice washed out cloud formation. Here is how to do that:

  • Select the duplicated sky layer then select Filter -> Radial Blur
  • In the menu select Blur Method -> Zoom, Quality -> good and amount 70 (you can add more, but that depends on the photo) – don’t hit OK yet!
  • Nest select where the Blur Center is positioned in the right window by clicking and dragging it around (somewhere in the middle for this photo)
  • Hit OK
  • After this you need to clean up the layer, because it now runs over the buildings
  • Hold CMD (alt on win) and click on the layer mask for the sky. Click -> selection -> inverse (you now have everything but the sky selected and hit delete.

Now you should have something like this:


As you can see the sky is now very pleasing, full of movement. When you look closer you can see that all the wires from the bridge are gone. We will have to fix that next. The wires aren’t straight lines, so the selection process of these is a pain – but worth the effort.

Using the pen tool (P) you can select all the wires on the background layer (which took me quite some time). You can do this one by one. Select one complete wire and duplicate the selection into a new layer. When you have all of them, merge all of these layers to one and place it above the duplicated sky layer.

You could also use the Magnetic Lasso Tool (L) to select all the wires but because of the low contrast in some places it won’t work, and you have to correct it later on.

Using the pen tool is a complete chapter, and I’m feeling that explaining how to use the tool takes too much focus away from this tutorial. It can take some time to master but I highly recommend reading tutorials on how to use the pen tool. You will need it for this image, but for the most of the images you can just make straight selections.

Here is my selection of the wires:


Now you can add some adjustments to the contrast in the wires and bridge, using a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. I used: Brightness +3 and Contrast +24


Final adjustments in Lightroom

From this point we leave Photoshop and continue in Adobe Lightroom. You could, however, do the same in Photoshop with dodging and burning, but I like the workflow of Lightroom more and used it to get to the final stage of the image.

From here it is basically just adding and removing light (exposure, contrast, white point) to selective places in the photo and checking for some dust particles. I can go into the details here, but it’s your vision of what you would like to achieve with the photo. Use the gradient filter (M) and the adjustment brush (K) in Lightroom to add and remove light to selected areas of the image. You have to “color” the photo to your wishes and crop it when needed. You are in fact painting with light.

Here is what I came up with for the final image:

Img final

“Catch the light” – Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

Do you have any additional tips for processing for that wow factor? Please share in the comments below.

The post Take your Photos from Blah to WOW with Lightroom and Photoshop by Martijn Kort appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Textures Made Simple

A contribution from Lori Peterson

One of the most intimidating editing for some photographers is integrating textures. Textures can transform the mood and overall effect of an image. It can bring about a change that makes the image go from a nice photograph to a piece of fine art. There are an abundance of textures that can be found on the Internet and yet photographers are sometimes hesitant to use them because they feel overwhelmed or don’t understand that using them can actually be very simple. Once you get used to using textures you can usually decide what tones you want to bring in and how you want to use them.

We are going to do two edits on the same image with the same texture but use two different techniques. Typically I will change the technique I use based on the amount of editing I think the image needs in order to really use the texture. You can use multiple textures and stack them in Photoshop and change their opacity. You can even vary which technique you use on each layer. The fun thing about Photoshop is that if you use layers you can play around with your image. If you don’t like the effect, you simply delete the layer!

We are going to start by opening and image and a texture.

Image 1

Now we will just drag the texture on top of our image. Size it over your image by using CTRL + T and dragging the corner to make it fit.

Image 2

I typically will change my blending mode to screen or multiply (depending on the image) so that I can see the image underneath.

Image 3a

Now we need to remove the texture off her and her skin. We can do this one of two ways.

First of all we can just add a layer mask and then remove it off of her and her skin using a soft brush.

Image 4

It can be tedious to do it that way because as you get into parts of hair and closer to where her skin meets the texture you will need to make your brush smaller.

If you prefer, you can remove the texture this way instead:

Once you overlay your texture, go ahead and change the opacity so that you can see underneath the texture. Add your layer mask, you will need that to correct any mistakes or to refine the technique we are about to do.

Make sure that the texture itself is what is highlighted. Select your lasso tool and then go around your subject. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it will take you a little practice to get the hang of it!

Image 5

Once you have your subject highlighted using the lasso tool, then go up to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

Image 6

Push the slider all the way over to the right.

Image 7

This will blur the texture on the subject. It doesn’t blur the subject!

Now we need to refine the removal of the texture off our subject, which is much easier now that the texture is blurred.

Click on the layer mask and use your soft brush at a lower opacity to take off the parts of the texture you really want to remove. Since it has been blurred already, it’s not as difficult and tedious to remove.

Image 8

Then you can change your blending modes to fit the look you are trying to get for your image. You can also stack textures and leave the parts that you want or remove the parts you don’t.

Textures can really enhance and change the look of your overall image. They can bring more depth and more color. They can change the mood. They are fun to experiment with and once you learn how to use them fluidly you can really do a lot in Photoshop to change your images.

This was my final image using the Tendons texture overlay.

Image 9

Here’s the before and after so you can really see how the image changed.

Before After Image

Lori Peterson is an award winning photographer based out of the St. Louis Metro Area. Her dynamic work ranges from creative portraits to very unique fine art photography. Lori’s work can be seen at http://www.loripetersonphotography.com and also on her blog at http://www.loripetersonphotographyblog.com. You can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LoriPetersonPhotography.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Textures Made Simple

Techniques for Working Textures Into Your Photography


Where do you begin when you are considering using textures in your photography? I suggest you begin with the absolute best photo possible. Adding a texture to a bad photo does not make it a good photo. You want to make sure you have it exposed correctly, composed well, have a clear subject and not too much in the competing in the background competing. Textures work best with photos that are not too busy to start. Once I have chosen the photo I am going to work with, I do all of my edits before I add the texture, including adjusting the colors and sharpening.

In this article I’ll share some of my techniques for working textures into your photography.

Sharpening your image

You want to sharpen your photo before you add the texture. This is so that your subject is sharp and the texture isn’t over sharpened compared to the subject. You want the texture to enhance your photo, not compete with it. When I sharpen the photo I use the high pass filter as opposed to the unsharp mask. I like this method best because it defines and clears up all the edges of your subject without over-sharpening all the fill areas. Below is how I do this and the settings:

  1. Duplicate your background layer and while that duplicate copy is still highlighted, go up to the Filter menu and select: Other > Highpass filter
  2. Set the filter radius between 6 and 10 pixels (or higher) depending upon how sharp you need to have your photo, but be careful not to over sharpen.

    Sharpening highpass pop up

  3. Next change the blending mode of this layer to “Softlight” or “Overlay”. Overlay is stronger than Softlight, so test out each option to see what works best for your image.


Finished image with texture and vintage paper applied

Once I am finished adding my textures to the photo I might do a final sharpen at the end if needed.

How to erase texture and still retain tone, plus a few extras

Once you are finished with your edits and sharpening, you are ready to add the texture. One concern people have in adding texture is how to erase the texture from the subject without it being obvious. You wouldn’t want to have the face of a baby be texturized, for instance, but you would want the face to match the rest of the photo in color and tone.

5 Steps:

  1. Place the selected texture on your photo. Do this by going to: “File > Place” in the top menu. Then select the texture image you want to use. It opens up as a new layer on top of your photo, ready to resize. Do that, then I right click the texture layer and choose “rasterize”, so it will no longer be a Smart Object. Change the blend mode and opacity of the texture layer to suit your image, such as “Softlight” or “Overlay”. At this point you are just manipulating the texture and not worrying about erasing it yet.
  2. While the texture layer is still highlighted, there are a few techniques you can do to the layer before you move on. Adjust the levels, curves, and the saturation of the texture layer to make the texture more vivid or pronounced, but not more opaque. I work in Softlight mode a lot as it brings out some of the texture without changing the mode.

    Levels curves saturation

  3. Once you are happy with the way the texture is working with the image, duplicate the texture layer and apply a Gaussian blur set to about 60 pixels to the bottom texture layer so it gives you the exact tones of the texture. Get to the Gaussian blur box by going to “Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur”. Next, turn off the bottom layer that you just added the blur to.

    Gaussian blur

  4. Add a mask to the top layer. With a soft black brush, set to about 30% opacity, ybegin to brush off the texture in any areas where you don’t want it. By using a low opacity you can slowly build up the amount you are removing. If you remove too much simply change the brush to white ,and wipe some of the texture back on. Make sure while you are doing this that you have the mask box selected (it will have square brackets around it) not the image itself.

    Sharpening mask

  5. Once you are happy that the texture is removed from all the important areas – select the mask box, hold down “Shift + Alt” and drag the mask box from the top texture layer to the bottom texture layer. Now you have applied the mask to the blur layer, and you have inverted it at the same time. Turn that layer back on and you will notice the tone where you erased the texture has the same coloring as the rest of your photo.

    Sharpening finished

Using vintage papers in your photography

Working with vintage papers is another fun aspect of textures that you can use in your photography. I get vintage papers from several great sources including my own family documents from the mid 1800’s, flea markets, online searches, Etsy, etc. I have curated several collections on my website for sale if you don’t want to go through the trouble of searching for them yourself. I especially love vintage French papers because of their wonderful scripts, markings, and fancy headers.

Part One

Working with the vintage papers is the same as working with textures. Place the paper on your photo in the approximate location that you want to use it. You will notice in the sample that I have placed it on the top of the many textures I have used in this photo, but you can place it on any layer that you want, to get the look you are trying to achieve.

Textures vintage paper

Part Two

Next, adjust the layer using the darkening blending modes: darken, darker color, color burn, linear burn, and multiply. Experiment with them all to see which one works best on the photo. The goal is to make the paper part of the document disappear, and have just the writing remain. Then just adjust the opacity to suit your taste. You can add a mask to this layer if you want to strategically erase some of the text which I do quite often.

Vintage paper texture

Finished image

Finished image

I hope you will give some of these techniques a try whether you are new to textures or have been doing them for years. If you do, please share in the comments below!

Further reading on using textures in your photography:

  • How To Create Your Own Unique Textures and Apply Them To Your Photography
  • Textures Made Simple
  • How To Apply Textures To Your Photographs

The post Techniques for Working Textures Into Your Photography by Denise Love appeared first on Digital Photography School.

What’s new in Photoshop CC for Photographers

Photoshopcc for photographers opener

The new Photoshop CC hasn’t launched without a lot of controversy. There are some very valid reasons not to like the fact that the only way to get your hands on this new release is via the Creative Cloud. However, putting delivery methods and subscription software issues aside, let’s look at what is in the new Photoshop CC for photographers so you can see what you’ll get if you upgrade or what you’re foregoing access to if you don’t.

Photoshop CC has a few new additions and one update that will be of interests to photographers. There’s little here that you can’t live without but some of these additions you may want to live with!

Liquify as a Smart Object

In previous versions of Photoshop the Liquify filter was one of the few filters that you could not apply to a Smart Object layer. That meant that any changes that you made using the Liquify Filter were permanent changes to the image which could not be undone, and they couldn’t be easily altered or blended back into the image in a non-destructive way. Now it’s possible to apply the Liquify Filter to a Smart Object layer so that the edits that you make to the image using the liquify filter can be edited later on if desired. They can be removed by disabling the filter, they can be blended using a layer blend mode, masked and edited.

Photoshopcc for photographers 1

ACR as a Filter

New to Photoshop CC is the ability to apply changes which previously could only be made in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) to an image from inside Photoshop. The new Camera Raw Filter lets you apply ACR edits to a layer and even to a Smart Object layer in Photoshop. This makes almost all the tools in ACR available to be used in Photoshop as an editable filter. To access this feature, choose Filter > Camera Raw filter.

Photoshopcc for photographers 2

Squaring up objects with Upright

While not technically an addition to Photoshop, the Upright feature is new to Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) for Photoshop CC. So, if you have Photoshop CC, you have access to Upright in ACR (and as a filter adjustment via the Camera Raw filter too).

The Upright tool can automatically straighten an image and remove keystone distortion which is apparent when shooting tall buildings, for example. It is found in ACR in the Lens Correction panel – click the Manual tab.

Photoshopcc for photographers 3

Fix blurry images

The new Shake Reduction filter in Photoshop CC helps deal with blurry images. It won’t fix them all and, of course it’s always preferable to get the image sharp in camera, but it can fix some burry shots particularly those captured in good light with a zoom lens and it can help sharpen text in images.

To find the tool, choose Filter > Sharpen > Shake Reduction.

Photoshopcc for photographers 4

ACR features in Photoshop CC

In addition to the Upright feature available in ACR there are other new and improved features in ACR that you can access if you have Photoshop CC. These include the improved Spot Removal tool which can be used like a paintbrush to select an element in an image to fix – this makes it easier to use where the problem area is not circular. In addition the new Radial Gradient tool lets you add a radial gradient to an image to apply fixes and creative effects.

Photoshopcc for photographers 5

A Better Upsampling algorithm

You may already know that there are problems inherent in enlarging images because Photoshop needs to make additional pixels where pixels did not previously exist. The new resizing algorithm in Photoshop CC improves the results when you are enlarging an image.

Choose Image > Image Size and enlarge the dialog so that you can see things clearly on the screen. Set the final image size, for example if you want to enlarge by 200 percent set 200 percent as the width and height. Click the Resample checkbox and from the dropdown list choose the new Preserve Details (Enlargement) option. The preview image shows the result of upsizing using this option.

This new algorithm helps you enlarge images for printing retaining the sharpness in the image and avoiding pixelated edges.

Photoshopcc for photographers 6

Updated Smart Sharpen Filter

Sharpening has been improved in Photoshop CC with changes to the Smart Sharpen filter. To see it at work choose Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen and again enlarge the dialog so that you can see the effect on the image. You can now adjust the Amount and the Radius for the sharpening. Typically radius should be in the region of 0.5 to 1.5 pixels for most images. You can also choose to reduce noise as you sharpen. The shadows and highlights area allows you to fade sharpening, for example, in the shadow areas applying it more strongly to the highlights where noise will be less visible. You can also select to remove Gaussian blur, Lens blur or Motion blur if these blur issues affect your image.

Photoshopcc for photographers 7

Adaptive wide angle

The new Adaptive Wide Angle Filter helps you remove problems encountered when shooting with wide angle lenses. Choose Filter > Adaptive Wide Angle and choose the problem to correct from the Correction dropdown list. Set the sliders for the Focal Length and Crop factor to remove distortion. You can also draw on the image to add constraints. These lines should be positioned over objects in the image that you want to be straight. Photoshop will use the constraints to determine the correction to apply to the image and, as a result, you can remove much of the distortion problems with an image. This filter can be applied using a Smart Object layer so that the results will be editable.

Photoshopcc for photographers 8

Behance integration

Behance is a community where you can showcase your work so that others, including businesses looking to find creatives, can find you and examples of your work. If you use, or plan to use, the Behance online creative community then you will appreciate that you can now post images from Photoshop CC direct to Behance. To do this you choose File > Share to Behance.

Photoshopcc for photographers 9

Regular Program Updates

One benefit of the new Photoshop CC which Adobe is encouraging is program updates. Delivery via the Creative Cloud means that Adobe can now deliver program updates as they become available rather than having to wait for the next new release. This means that fixes for problems can be rolled out more quickly. Of course this can be a double edge sword – if you’re on a slow connection or you have a capped internet service – the frequency and size of these can be time consuming and expensive to download and install.

Photoshopcc for photographers 10

New Pricing for Photographers

Adobe copped a lot of flak from users over the bundling and pricing of its Creative Cloud applications. As a result, it was recently announced that users with Photoshop CS3 or later could sign up for the Photoshop Photograph Program. This limited time offer (it expires December 31, 2013), gives you access to Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, Bridge CC, 20GB of cloud storage and a Behance ProSite. It requires an annual commitment and is USD $9.99 plus taxes billed monthly (check the website for the cost in your local currency).

Photoshopcc for photographers 11

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

What’s new in Photoshop CC for Photographers

So You’re Going to Shoot A Wedding: Part 3 of 3 [editing, etc.]

It’s done. You survived it. It was the longest day of your photography career, you’re exhausted, and all you can think about is how right I was (it’s cool-I get that a lot). But…….You. Did. It. And chances are you didn’t get locked in a bathroom, or miss the kiss, or have a complete equipment failure, or faint face-first into the cake. You shot a wedding. What’s next?


Back-up everything. Possibly several times

As no-brainer as this is, when I shoot portraits, I’m not a diligent about it as I should be. I’m more of a “cross my fingers/hope for the best/fly by the seat of my pants” kind of gal in most areas of my life. But a wedding is different. Good luck explaining to a new bride that your laptop played a vanishing act with the images and you need her to re-do the whole wedding for photographic purposes. It’s my greatest fear. My greatest fear used to be a complete equipment failure at a wedding, but then I had that happen a few weeks ago and somehow survived it, so I’ve graduated my fear list a bit. As soon as I get home from a wedding, no matter that I can barely see straight, I upload everything to my computer, and then back-up everything to an external drive or disc. Additionally I don’t erase my memory cards until I need them again and I have cloud storage. Because I’m neurotic like that. Weddings are often thousands of images and this takes both time and space. Having both of those things is yet another factor in the expense of wedding photography (see: never shoot a wedding for free). In most other areas of my life, I am totally okay with just hoping for the best and surrounding it with good thoughts. But this isn’t one of them.


Give a sneak peek

These images are going to take you a long time to go through, edit, and deliver. Unless you have some sort of crazy amazing one day editing process, which if you do, I’m going to need you to email that to me immediately. While everyone is anxious to see pictures, no one is more anxious than a still-glowing bride. Give them a little taste and buy yourself some time to ice your camera-strap-indented neck and regain clear vision. Social media is a fabulous option for this if it’s available to you. That way everyone can see them and fawn over how great the images are, giving you a little boost of confidence and the newly minted couple a little attention-both of which work in your favor for the long editing road ahead. (Oh friend, it’s a long road.)


Decide if you are interested in doing this again

Every wedding I have ever shot has led to at least one referral. In general, I don’t photograph weddings. Yet, there I am, every summer, finding myself wanting to pass out from heatstroke with a 10 pound black box in front of my face. Why? Because I’m a sucker. I suppose I could tell you that it’s because I love weddings and true love and all that, but the truth is: I’m a sucker. Throw a few compliments at me and I’ll do about anything that doesn’t involve roller coasters. I hate roller coasters. (I also hate those rides where you spin on something that’s spinning. I’d like to have a long talk with the guy who thought that was a good idea for your internal organs.) Even if you didn’t hand out a single business card……even if you don’t have a single business card…..they will find you. Unless you were a miserable human being to be around (I don’t judge-I’ve been there), you will get a call about another wedding. Decide right now if this is something you ever want to do again so you can handle that call that will come later. There is nothing wrong with saying no, thank you. It might not be your cup of tea. Or quad carmel latte (I’m becoming a really expensive coffee date lately). There is also nothing wrong with having loved it. The point is that you need to decide quickly because there is literally a barista of sorts waiting on your order and she has a whole line of impatient people behind you and a smoke break coming up.


Don’t overdo it

The last wedding I shot came in at just shy of two thousand images. There were 26 guests, and that’s including the dog ring bearer. I shot for less than 4 hours. I’m an over-shooter. I know this. In my defense: WHAT IF I MISS SOMETHING??? For this said wedding I have no less than 40 images of “the kiss”. Truth? They all look the same. Don’t get me wrong-it was an amazing kiss. Record books, in fact. But, those 40 images I shot in probably 30 seconds of time all look pretty much the same. Yet I want them to see every one!!! What if they love one that’s slightly different than another?? What if the clouds moved just a bit and it makes for the best of forty? I don’t know. What I do know is that to the average person, all 40 of those images look exactly the same. Pick one, edit it to loveliness, and move on. No one knows you have forty of them. And likely, no one cares.


Deliver the images with deserved fanfare

I personally don’t do any printing; if you book a session or a wedding with me, your flat fee includes my time, the finished (edited) high resolution images on a disc, and a full printing and usage release. This is how I have been doing it for years and I find that not having to mess with an 8 10 print of this one or a 5 7 of that one or marking-up my printing costs to cover everything is a much easier way of doing things. And easy works best for me because I am a terrible insomniac (see numerous references to coffee above) and when I get overwhelmed with work (which is often), I go lock myself in my closet and cry a little. However, just handing over a disc feels like a near let-down when I’ve been editing for weeks and, as previously mentioned, spent an extremely long and tiring day just shooting the images. I like a little fanfair, and because wedding photography is such an investment, I think my clients should get a little ribbon and bow. Or maybe a horn section. Depends on what I have access to at the time. I like to put together a “highlight” slideshow of 50 or so of the images that the couple can send to their friends and family to watch online. Additionally, I usually put together a little gift of sorts to give along with the disc-maybe a large print that I put in a readymade frame or for a smaller wedding, I might print off 4 6 prints of each image and put these in a pretty box so theycan make awedding album easily. It honestly just depends on the couple and what I charged. My goal here is only to hand them over something more lovely than a cold silver flat circle.


Wedding photography was never my goal, nor do I consider myself a wedding photographer. I have never advertised or marketed for it, though I have shot about 70 of them in the last decade. It’s tough-I’m not set-up to be a wedding photographer, both from an equipment and time perspective, yet I find myself doing several a year even still. All joking aside, I don’t EVER take on a wedding just for the money or just out of wanting to do something wonderful for a loved one. Every wedding I have ever shot I only ended up there because I truly felt that I was the best person for the job. Many times I was right (this isn’t a time to be humble), but a couple times I was wrong and it makes for a painfully long event day and editing process.


The reason wedding photography is met with such passion by veterans and hobbyist alike is because it’s a big deal; there are no re-dos, no second chances. It’s a type of photography that is all it’s own. So only shoot the weddings where you feel confident that you and the couple feel similar about the end vision. Only shoot the weddings where you genuinely like the couple; if you wouldn’t want to have a beer with them, you’re not going to want to spend a 10 hour day with them. Only shoot the weddings that will give you more than a paycheck, whether that be experience, a day of fun, or that good feeling of doing something wonderful for someone else and knowing you did a good job. It doesn’t matter if you believe in true love or soul mates, it doesn’t matter if you feel like weddings are too over-the-top and unnecessary, it doesn’t matter if one of the biggest highlights was the free piece of cake (I’m a big fan of cake), what matters is that you went in there knowing that you were the person for the job, that you stayed there feeling like you were doing a great job, and you left there happy to have done it.

me at jillandty

Tired and glad for it to be over, but happy to have done it.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

So You’re Going to Shoot A Wedding: Part 3 of 3 [editing, etc.]

An Introduction to Photoshop Compositing for Beginners

by Sarah Hipwell


What is compositing? Simply, it means to combine two or more images to make a single picture.

As a photographer, I’m constantly coming up with different concepts that I feel might make a good photo. But it is not always possible to get the perfect shot in one session. There have been numerous occasions while on a shoot where the light was not bright enough for the particular shot that I had in mind. On other occasions the background was too distracting. This is where the ability to create composite imagery in Photoshop is a huge advantage.

To produce a composite image in Photoshop, you need to isolate the subjects from the background of your various source photos. When I started out, I used the pen tool to help isolate my subjects. Now, I use the ‘quick selection’ and ‘refine edge’ tools which are superb and are a much faster way of doing extractions, especially for isolating hair!

But for this tutorial, I’m going to use the pen tool to create a path which I then save this as an alpha channel selection. I believe the pen tool should never be overlooked as an excellent way for beginners to increase their proficiency level with Photoshop. If you are new to using the pen tool, it does take a bit of getting used to but after time, you will pick up speed and accuracy. The big plus side to creating paths in this way is that they are re-editable and non-destructive.

I have highlighted three key features:

  1. Selection. Good selections are critical for compository work
  2. Composition.
  3. Uniform color balance and light.

Here’s the method:

  1. The Pen Tool – With the Pen Tool selected in the toolbar, choose a starting point on the photo, click and drag around the area to be selected. This will create a path outline to be saved in the Paths Palette.
  2. Place the images – When I want to bring other images into a composite, I prefer to Place them into the file. What this means is that the image is brought into your psd file on a separate layer as a Smart Object. The photo can be moved into position, made larger or smaller without affecting the quality.
  3. Match Color – When all the elements of the photo are edited and in place, I use Match Color tool as an effective way to balance the color between the two images.


I took the photo above for a concept shot titled ‘Recycled toilet paper’. I wanted a bright blue sky with white fluffy clouds as the background. The above shot did not have the background that I wanted. So I waited a couple of days and I got the shot I wanted. See below:


I made my selection using the pen tool to isolate the toilet rolls and clothesline. Zoom in up to 300 – 400% to get a good outline, as shown below.


Holding down the Alt/Ctrl key enables you to move anchor points and direction lines and again make any edits to your lines and curves.

When you have finished plotting your anchor points, you can then save this outline in the Paths Palette. This selection can then be added as a layer mask. It should resemble the black and white image on the right below.


I imported the new sky background by going to the File menu and select Place. The image then appeared as a Smart Object and on a separate layer. I had to reduce the size but the quality of the image was maintained.

When I was happy with the position of the new sky background, I merged all the layers onto one. I used a keyboard shortcut (Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E) to achieve this. The reason for this is that the next adjustment isn’t non-destructive so that if I want to redo this edit, I would have to delete the layer and repeat the above step again.

The final adjustment was to go to Image menu and select Match Color to make sure the color is balanced between the two images. Using Image>Adjustments>Match Color I played with the two sliders to get the color of the image more uniform in appearance. See the link below where I uploaded the final composite image to iStockphoto.com


See more of Sarah Hipwell’s work at her website – SarahHipwell.com

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

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An Introduction to Photoshop Compositing for Beginners

Using Image Watermarks In Lightroom

Custom lightroom image watermark opener1

The Watermarking feature in Lightroom was significantly overhauled in Lightroom 3. As a result you can now add sophisticated watermarks to your images on export either to disk or via the Print and other modules.

Not only can you add a text watermark to an image but you can also add an image watermark – and that’s what this post is all about – making and using images as watermarks in Lightroom 3 and Lightroom 4.

Create the Image

To use an image watermark in Lightroom you will need an image and for that you’ll need an image editor. You can use anything that can create .png images – Photoshop and Photoshop Elements are obvious contenders but basically any photo editor or painting program will do.

Unlike text watermarks you can’t set the color of an image watermark in the Watermark dialog so you need to get it right before you begin. For that reason I create two – one black and one white – which cover most situations.

Custom lightroom image watermark 1

I do this in Photoshop working on a transparent layer – the reason is that I want this transparency to appear in the watermark when it is placed over the image. So, even if I use a fill layer behind the watermark so I can see the design as I work, I’ll hide this before saving the image.

Custom lightroom image watermark 2

When saving the image I’ll save it as a .png format file – this flattens the image to a single layer but retains transparency – something that the .jpg format does not.

To create the image as a watermark open a module that has Watermarking such as the Print module. Click it to enable it and then choose Edit Watermarks from the dropdown list.

Custom lightroom image watermark 3

Click Graphic in the top right corner to select that as the Watermark Style. When prompted select the image to use. This image is dark so I chose the white version of the copyright watermark image.

If you cannot see the image, scroll down to the Watermark Effects area and adjust the Size so you can see the image. Set the desired size and placement using the Size, Anchor and Inset settings. Typically you will use the bottom left anchor point (or the bottom right) and move the image a little in from the edge of the photo.

Custom lightroom image watermark 4

Once you have the position and size correct you can save this as a Watermark you can use anytime in future by clicking the Custom dropdown list and choose Save Current Settings as New Preset and type a name for the preset.

Custom lightroom image watermark 5

In future you can select and use this watermark in any of the panels in Lightroom that support Watermarking such as the slideshow module here:

Custom lightroom image watermark 6

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

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Using Image Watermarks In Lightroom

Correcting Perspective in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

Photoshop perspective correction opener

Sometimes you’ll capture an image that should be rectangular but is anything but. In this example I shot an image of a 6 x 6 inch sheet of paper for a project. The aim at the time was to have a reference image before the project was shipped.

Photoshop perspective correction step1

Later I found I need to do more with the image and because it had been shot so casually the proportions were all wrong and the image does not look like a square sheet of paper. I also no longer have the project so reshooting is out of the question.

Luckily Photoshop and Photoshop Elements both share a similar tool for adjusting perspective which will go a long way towards fixing an image like this.

To do this choose Filter > Lens Correction in Photoshop and then click the Custom tab to access the custom tools. In Photoshop Elements choose Filter > Correct Camera Distortion.

Photoshop perspective correction step2

Make sure the Show Grid option is checked and you may want to adjust the grid size so it is useful for determining the straightness of the edges in the image.

The Vertical Perspective adjustment will fix this image’s perspective problems so drag it to the left to increase the width at the top of the image to adjust for the incorrect perspective.

Photoshop perspective correction step3

When you do this you may notice that the image has some geometric distortion. In this case it’s barrel distortion and the edges of the subject are billowed out.

To remove this adjust the Remove Distortion slider to counteract the distortion. It won’t be possible to get it perfect but it will be possible to reduce it to acceptable levels.

Photoshop perspective correction step4

In this same dialog you may occasionally want to adjust the Vignetting slider if your lens causes dark vignettes in the corners of the image. In most cases you will drag to the right to slightly lighten the edges of the image.

Photoshop perspective correction step5

Once you’re done click Ok to return to Photoshop.

The only problem that cannot be fixed in the lens correction filter is the one that would stretch the image so the subject looks closer to its original proportions which are of a 6 x 6 inch page.

For this you’ll need to click the Move tool and drag up or down on the image to stretch it.

If you need to stretch the image beyond the current image canvas dimensions, do so and confirm the change. Then choose Image > Reveal All to reveal the area of the image off the side of the canvas. While the final image isn’t perfect it looks a lot better than the original.

Photoshop perspective correction step6

This same tool can be used to adjust perspective on buildings which show a keystoning effect where the building appears to be narrower at the top than at its base.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

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Correcting Perspective in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Masks 101

Photoshop masks 101 before after

When it comes to fixing images in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements the ability to use masks to do your edits is invaluable. By using a mask instead of, for example, the Eraser you get an edit which can be changed or even removed any time in the future.

However masks aren’t easy to use or even understand when you first get started. In fact they can be downright scary. To help you get started here is a quick and easy technique that can be achieved using masks. Doing it will show you a situation in which a mask is a good editing choice. You will see how to add a mask to a layer and how to use it to edit the image. By the end of the process you will be on your way to understanding how to use masks in your photo editing workflow.

The effect that I’ll be creating is one that you see in a lot of wedding albums and advertisements. It is an element of color in an otherwise black and white image. It can be achieved using masks and that’s what we’ll do here.

Start by opening an image that has some colorful element of interest that you can show in color while you turn the remainder of the image into black and white. Here I’ll turn this graffiti image black and white and leave the bike in color.

Photoshop masks 101 step1

Make sure your Layers palette is visible. If not, choose Window > Layers to display it.

Photoshop masks 101 step2

Right click the Background layer in the Layers palette and choose Duplicate Layer and click Ok. This makes a duplicate of the image layer.

Photoshop masks 101 step3

With this layer selected, choose Image > Adjustments > Desaturate to turn the image into black and white.

Photoshop masks 101 step4

Notice that the Layer palette contains a black and white layer and a color layer. The black and white layer is at the top of the stack which is why you are seeing a black and white image.

At this point we’ll add the mask so we can use it to bring back the color in a specific are of the image. To do this with the Background Copy layer still selected choose Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All.

Photoshop masks 101 step5

This adds a white filled layer mask to the layer – notice the white box which appears in the layer palette next to the image thumbnail – that’s the mask.

Photoshop masks 101 step6

A word about masks

Right now all you need to know about masks is that you can paint on them with black, white or shades of gray.

When you paint with white on a mask you reveal any content on the current layer – in our case that is the black and white layer.

If you paint with black you’ll reveal the content on the layer below the current layer – in this case the color layer. You might like to think of it as poking a hole in the top layer so that you can see part of the layer below.

If you paint with a shade of gray you’ll be seeing part of the layer below and part of the current layer. The hole that you’re punching through the top layer will be semitransparent.

Bring back the color

To work on this image, select the brush tool and select a small brush with a hardness of around 75%. Make sure black is set as the foreground color and click on the white mask thumbnail in the Layers palette to target the mask. It should have a border around it as in this image:

Now paint on the photo over the areas that you want to bring back color in. Instead of seeing black paint on your image as you might expect to see, you will see the color coming back.

Photoshop masks 101 step8

Look at the mask thumbnail in the Layers palette and notice it has some black markings in it where you painted on the image.

If you make a mistake and paint back too much color, switch the paint color so that you are painting with white and paint out the areas that you want to return to black and white.


If you are working with a mask and find that the brush is painting black or white paint on your image it is because the image thumbnail is selected in the Layers palette and not the mask thumbnail. When you select the mask thumbnail it will have a small white border around it so you can tell it is active and selected.

The benefit of using a mask for this type of effect is that you can paint the effect on or off the image as desired. This gives you a lot more flexibility in editing your image. While this is a very simple example it does give you a starting point for learning to use masks in your photo editing.

When you save this photo, save it as a psd format file if you want to be able to come back later and adjust the mask – the psd format saves layers and layer masks.

If you are familiar with using Adjustment Layers in Photoshop you could apply this effect using an adjustment layer to desaturate the image and paint on the Adjustment Layer’s mask to bring the detail back. If you are not familiar with using Adjustment Layers then the process that I have outlined will give you the same results but just a different way of achieving it.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Photoshop Masks 101