I know it’s been in Photoshop since forever, and in many cases, there are faster and better selection tools, but to this very day I still wind up using the Magic Wand tool a decent amount. One of the reasons I get good results when I do use it it is the basis of this little-known tip — it’s how to control how much the Magic Wand actually selects. Here goes:
Above: Let say you want to select the floor area in front of the chair, for example. If you click the Magic Wand on the floor, it selects a lot of the floor, but because the color tones are somewhat similar, it also selects part of the door frame, and the door and sidewalk outside and part of the beach and…well…you get the idea. The trick here is controlling how big a range of colors the magic wand should select.
Above: See that field called “Tolerance” up in the Options bar (I circled it here in red)? That’s what controls how many color tones the Magic Wand selects, and the default Tolerance setting of 32 always seems to select too much. Lowering that number lowers how many different color tones out the Wand will select. Here I reset it to 20 (which, by the way, is what I leave the Magic Wand set to as my default — if you type 20 in there, it’s sticky and will stay at 20 until you change it to something else or reset the tool using the reset button).
Above: By just lowering the Tolerance from 32 down to down, and clicking in approximately the same area, look how much less the Magic Wand selects now. No door frame, no door, no sidewalk, no beach, etc. It didn’t do a perfect job, but it’s a lot better (I would probably use the Quick Select tool for this job in reality, but I just wanted you to see how much the wand selects at different tolerance settings). Now let’s look at something a bit more real world.
Above: Let’s say I want to select that blur frame to the right of the chair. I clicked the Magic Wand right in the center of the dark and lighter blue areas, and it only selected the lighter blue side of the frame, as seen above). In this case, I would have liked it to select both sides; the dark blue and the light blue tones as well.
Above: I increased the Tolerance to 48 so it will select more colors; I clicked in the same place, and now look — it selected both sides of the blue frame (as seen above).
In short: think of the Tolerance settings as an “Amount” slider for the Magic Wand. In fact, if you want it to act more like a slider, click and hold directly on the word “Tolerance” and you can drag left or right to change the Tolerance amount just like you would with a slider.
Hope you found that helpful. :)
Here’s to a kick-butt, a fantastic week, full of opportunities and fun. :)
For those of you who have read any one of my books, you already know that the introduction I write at the beginning of each chapter seldom has anything to do with what is actually in that chapter. I put these quirky chapter intros in there as kind of a mental break between chapters, and well…I’d be the first to admit, they’re kind of whacked.
I generally write these late at night, usually, while I’m tired after a long day at work, and well that alone explains a lot. Anyway, I’m doing a major update on one of my books right now, and when I got to a chapter about Landscape Photography, and read what I had written in the previous edition, I realized…there must be something very wrong with me. To prove that point, I’m going to run that very chapter intro below, because…well…there must be something wrong with me. Here we go:
I think one of the most appealing things about being a landscape photographer is not only are you coming back with amazing photos, but you get to experience some of the best of what nature has to offer while you’re doing it. I’ll never forget this one time I was shooting in Montana’s Glacier National Park. I got up around 4:15 a.m., so I could head out early and be in position before sunrise. When I reached the lake overview, it was still pitch dark, and I remember setting up my tripod and watching it blow right over in the freezing wind that whipped off the lake. I just laughed and set it right back up, attached my camera gear to the ballhead, and realized that I’d better not let go of the rig or it, too, might blow over.
I didn’t want to give up my spot, because I had a pretty good vantage point (at least it looked like a good one in the dim moonlight). So, there I stood, out in the freezing, bitter cold, where each gust of wind was like a thousand knives jabbing right through me. I’m standing there shivering in the piercing cold, and then it started to rain. Not snow. Nope, that would have been pretty. It was rain. A driving rain that felt like an army of Lilliputians were firing their tiny arrows right into me, but I just stood there in the bone-chilling cold like a wet, frozen statue, with my cracked, frostbitten fingers barely able to grip my tripod. I silently prayed for the sweet mercy of death to come upon me and relieve me of this frigid hostile misery.
It was just then when I looked over and saw another photographer, who had just set up his tripod about 14 feet from me, slip on the ice that had formed on the overlook. I stood there and watched as he and his tripod, expensive camera and all, slid down the side of the embankment. I could hear him moaning for help, but I just couldn’t stop smiling as I looked over and saw his Tamrac camera bag on the overlook beside me. I nearly pulled a muscle as I tossed his gear-laden bag full of lenses and accessories into my rented SUV and quickly drove away, thinking to myself, “Man, this is what it’s all about.”
Well, there ya have it. I wasn’t kidding about the ‘wacked’ thing now, was I?
If you’ve read this far, well…I can’t believe you hung in there, but I’m grateful you did and I totally dig you (in a non-sexual way). Now, if this “wackness’ resonated with you (so, you’re messed up, too), I actually published an entire book of nothing but my handpicked favorite chapter intro from over the years. Yup, it’s a book of nothing but Chapter Intros (without the chapters).
If you’re a KelbyOne member, you can download the eBook version absolutely free from your Creative Toolkit on the member’s Website (it’s in the ‘Perk’ category in the sidebar on the left; click on Toolkit and it’s on page 2 in the list of perks).
If you’re not a KelbyOne member, you can buy the Kindle version on Amazon for $9.99, which is incredibly overpriced, but worth every penny. Here’s the link. You’ll be a better person for buying it, and if you do, as a sidenote I could use a review on Amazon. It’s rated only 3-1/2 stars since I got a one-star review from a guy who complained there was no training in the book, which is absolutely true — and it says so right on the cover. It literally says these words right on the cover:
There are no tutorials, no learning. Just intros. I’m not kidding. Buy it anyway.
In fact, on Amazon, the title is actually slightly different (same book though) than the one on the KelbyOne Website. On Amazon the title is “
Buy This Book of Chapter Intros Even Though You Won’t Learn Anything
He bought it anyway yet was upset because he didn’t learn anything. He wrote that (wait for it…wait for it…) it had no tutorials, no learning, just intros. Sigh.
So, if you buy it, and somehow actually like the book (hey, it could happen), I would love for you to share your review on Amazon. If you hate it, you can still post a review of course, but please only because you hated my quirky stream-of-conscientiousness chapter intros, not because it had no tutorials and learning stuff, ’cause if I read another one like that, I’m going to freakin’ jump out the window. ;-)
Here’s wishing you a weekend full of wacked stuff (in a good way), and a bunch of chapter intros that have no basis in reality. :)
-Scott Author of what may be the greatest useless book ever!
Last week on my live video podcast ‘The Grid,’ I had the honor of clicking the ‘Launch’ button to start the kickstarter campaign on one of the most innovative ballheads ever‚ the “Platyball.” Best of all it’s from Larry T. and the team behind the beloved Platypod who are just some of the best folks out there.
Their goal was to raise $18,000 to fund the launch and initial run of Platyball. Within just a few days, they’ve already raised over $232,000. It. is. on. fire! Larry and his family put their heart and soul into this project and I couldn’t be happier for them. I love it when the good guys win.
Check out their launch video below.
Here’s the link if you want to get in on their kickstarter, and get yours in the first batch that ships.
I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of interviews over the years, but this one with Roger and Joey from from the Lensrentals Podcast was one of my very favorites ever. It was just so much fun. Check out this comment below from when I shared the podcast this weekend on my Facebook page:
I’m putting the link below — let it run in the background while you’re retouching, and let me know what you think. It’s definitely not you’re average interview. LOL! :)
Hope you can give it a listen (and thanks to Roger and Joey for being such cool guys!
No Photoshop needed for this trick — it’s nuthin’ but Lightroom!
I got a lot of great feedback on this technique I shared last week over on our sister-site LightroomKillerTips.com and I think what’s surprising is that the entire technique is done right inside Lightroom, and it’s super quick and easy.
Those four cities are my next stops for my “Ultimate Photography Crash Course” full-day seminar. San Diego on Feb 12, Phoenix the next day on Feb. 13th. Then I’m in Houston on the 23rd and on to LA on the 25th. Come on out and spend the day with me – it’s 100% money-back guaranteed — you’ve got nuthin’ to lose and everything to gain. Here’s the link. See you there!
Here’s wishing you a great week ahead, everybody! :)
P.S. I got a chance to spend the past few days at the NAMM (Music Gear) show out in Anaheim, California and I’ve never felt more at comfortable or more at home anywhere. Why? Because almost EVERYBODY there was wearing a black t-shirt with a logo and jeans. It was like “Planet Scott.” LOL!!! I had such a blast, and yet, I didn’t buy anything (well, I bought some new t-shirts), but much to Kalebra’s chagrin, I did come home with a shopping list, which does include a guitar. :)
I wish I had written this post that I’m going to point you to today with time-lapse images showing different locations and how they look before dawn right through sunrise, and how the colors change so dramatically over such a short period of time.
I want to highlight this great post from photographer and tech author Jefferson Graham for two reasons:
(1) I’ve been working on an update to one of my books this week and I was writing about one of the benefits from shooting in a city before dawn is that the city lights are still on (see Jeff’s perfect example above), and that alone makes a big difference in the shot, not to mention the better light and color you get before dawn.
(2) Erik Kuna and I were talking about this on a Grid episode recently and how so many photographers show up at sunrise — right after the light starts to turn ugly and the first tourists appear. They basically just missed the great light and the tourist-free scenes.
If you’re not following him on social, you oughta — he posts a lot of cool stuff, and in particular videos of photo walks in various locations where he gives you really interesting ideas of places and things to shoot. Here’s a link to this Twitter feed and his Photo walks YouTube channel. Give him a follow.
That was our topic yesterday on our podcast ‘The Grid” and our guest was photographer and author Marc Silber. Lots of really great info (sadly, I didn’t bring much to the table on this one, but Marc, Erik and our viewers added a lot and make it a great, really helpful episode. I embedded it below in case you’re looking for something to listen to tonight that will help move you forward photographically this coming year.
Hope, you can give it a look (a listen)? :)
Have a great weekend everybody, and here’s to a more creative 2020!
If you take an honest look at your photography from last year, and you don’t feel like you really pushed yourself forward in your work, I have something that might really help you push and stretch yourself in 2020. It’s about going outside your comfort zone and doing things you maybe haven’t done before or perhaps even thought of doing. It’s about making the most of the year, so in 2021 you can look back and see real progress — something very real and tangible.
OK, ready to push yourself? Let’s do this:
Put One Of Your Prints Up For Sale
Just one. It’s a start. There are elaborate ways to sell your prints online, everything from SmugMug to Zenfolio, but of course, you can just do a simple Facebook post; show the image you’ve chosen to sell; list your price, and let buyers contact you in the comments. iI you don’t have your own printer, get MPIX or BayPhoto to do the printing and ship directly to your client for you. Remember — it’s not other photographers who will be buying your prints — it’s people who will be thinking, “That would look perfect in my dining room!” so stop judging your work as a photographer would see it. There are people out there who would love to have one of your prints hanging in their home.
PLAN B: If you don’t feel like you can sell one of your prints at this point, your backup plan is to make a large print (16×24″ or larger) and gift it to someone. When you experience their reaction, you’ll start to realize the value of a print.
Invest In Your Photography Instead of Investing In More Gear
Whatever camera gear you already own can take great photos. Your phone can take great photos, so surely your DSLR or Mirrorless can, so instead of buying more gear, invest in your photography. Instead of a new lens, buy an airline ticket to someplace you’ve always wanted to shoot. Maybe a landscape location somewhere out West, or a trip to Europe (I saw roundtrip flights from Florida to London in January for $364 on British Airways. Yes, it’s cold there in January, but you can make some amazing pictures in the English countryside; dress warm). If you want to take great fashion shots, fly up to New York and hire a real New York model (it costs less than you’d think), and a hair and make up artist (costs more than you’d think, but worth it). If you’re into food photography, hire a food stylist and make your food photography shot of the year.
Invest in yourself; invest in creating great images, instead of buying more stuff.
Enter one your images in a photography contest
Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to be one of the judges in photography competitions all over the world. I’m currently one of the judges for the Malta International Photo Awards (link), and I can tell you that in most cases, when you talk with the winner, they always say the same thing, “I never thought I would win.” If you’re thinking that same thing, you’re in good company.
Many contests are free to enter (including the Gallery Competition we hold for KelbyOne members), and some you might have to spend $20 or $30 to enter one of your images. This comes under that category of “Investing in yourself.” If you don’t win or don’t make one of the finalists, don’t worry — they don’t post a list of the people who didn’t win. They don’t call you out. The only person who will know you didn’t win is you, but on a personal level, it’s still a win because you did it. You entered. You put yourself out there. You went outside your comfort zone. And of course, there’s always the possibility that you will win. Hey, you never know.
Learn that Thing On Your Camera You’ve Always Wanted To Learn
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to shoot flash. I don’t mean just learning how to make it work wireless — I mean learning how to make beautiful portraits with flash. Or maybe you’ve wanted to learn to shoot in Manual mode. One I would recommend would be to learn how to set-up custom shooting modes on your camera, so you can stop messing with settings and start focusing on composition (it’s easier than you’d think; more powerful and fun than you’d imagine, and I’m doing a blog post to take you through exactly how to set it up, and unlock its power, shortly here on the blog). Maybe it’s how to use Exposure Compensation, or how to do Custom White Balance. Whatever that thing is that you’ve wanted to learn Camera-wise, don’t let another month go by not learning how to do it. This is probably the easiest one to do on this list, but it’s a substantial step forward.
Do Actual Real Honest-to-Goodness Practice
Not going out and shooting with a friend. Not just doing a photo walk. Not doing the same stuff you always do. None of those really push you forward. Shooting the things you’re already good at is fun, and photography is supposed to be fun, but it doesn’t make you better. It’s just fun. If you actually want to get better, you have to do what musicians do, and what golfers do, and what painter’s do. Real practice. Pick something that you want to get really good at, and do it again and again and again, until you’ve nailed it. I remember a quote from top pro photographer and educator Joel Grimes. At one of his workshops, a student in his class came up and showed Joel a composite he had created from what he learned in the workshop. Joel told him (I’m paraphrasing here), “I am impressed — that looks great. Nice job! Now go do that 300 more times.” Such great advice.
The thing about doing real, honest-to-goodness practice is that when you do go out shooting with a friend, and you’re out there just for fun, the experience is actually more fun because your results are so much better. Instead of getting 8 “keepers’ from your shoot, now you’re getting 30. Practice isn’t just for dancers or musicians or athletes. This, alone has the power to transform your work in the coming year.
The Rest is Up To You
The ball’s in your court. You can end 2020 where you ended 2019, or you can be in a totally different place with your photography; doing things you never thought you could do; making images you never thought you could create; selling your work, and growing in your love of the craft.
I wish you great success in 2020, and I hope these ideas gave you a few jumping-off points to help make this coming year your most successful one.