Category Archives Photography Tips & Tricks

I’m Dave Williams, a.k.a., Hybrid Dave, and I’m here every Tuesday for #HybridDaveTuesdays at ScottKelby.com. Some of you know my friend Dodge, but some don’t. So, let’s talk about Dodge.

Dodge and Burn tools are commonly used among Photoshop professionals—the world of design and retouching holds them as basics—yet many hobbyist photographers and retouchers don’t quite get it. But, not getting it isn’t a problem—you may know what a spark plug does, but wouldn’t be expected to understand its inner workings, right? So, why should you be expected to understand the Dodge tool if you’ve never sat in a design class? If you’ve never used it, then this post is an introduction for you, and to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t because the Dodge and Burn tools haven’t always been as good as they are in the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop. I know I keep talking about them, but it’s those Adobe boffins, again! They’re good!

So, let me get back on track and introduce you to Dodge. If you select the Dodge tool, you’re going to use it to brighten areas of your image. You use the tool as a brush and paint into those areas with it.

It’s named after an old darkroom technique, which has been carried into the age of the lightroom. The term “dodge” derives from blocking a part of your negative to block it from the light, resulting in a lighter exposure. It may seem a bit counter-intuitive, and you may have re-read that sentence to check you got it right, so try not to overthink it, but look at it this way:

In a darkroom, you start with a negative slide and a white piece of paper. As you expose your paper to light, the developing image gradually becomes darker. So, to create areas which are lighter in the post-process technique, you block (or dodge) the light so that the white paper remains and doesn’t darken.

Crystal clear? It’s upside down thinking because it’s a technique originating from the world of negatives. Let’s not overthink that, though! Just remember: dodge = brighten.

So, here’s a little example: I shot this image in Arizona, somewhere in the Sonoran Desert National Monument area, whilst waiting for the sun to dip towards the horizon to get some drama on the cacti dotting the landscape. The light is pretty balanced, resulting in an evenly exposed shot, but I want to tweak it a little and add some highlights by dodging the main chunk of cactus on the right.

The Before shot

To do this, with the image open in Adobe Photoshop, we should work non-destructively and create a new layer to work on. With this layer selected, press Command-Option-J (PC: Ctrl-Alt-J), and it will replicate with a dialogue box opening giving the option to name it. Name this new layer “Dodge” and hit Return (PC: Enter).

 

Next up, open up the Dodge tool by tapping the O key or selecting it from the Toolbox. If you hit O and landed on the Burn tool or Sponge tool, hit Shift-O to cycle through to the Dodge tool. You’ll see this Options Bar appear up top:

If you look around, you’ll see there’s a drop-down menu labeled “Range,” which allows us to target either Shadows, Midtones, or Highlights with our adjustment. In this example, I’ll tackle the Shadows and Midtones, brightening them but leaving the Highlights as they are. The Exposure field is expressed as a percentage, and as a general rule of thumb when adjusting a landscape, you should set it at around 50%, but for a portrait, go down to around 15%. It really is done “by eye,” after painting a stroke and seeing what effect it has, then making adjustments to your settings as necessary.

What’s worth noting when using this tool is that every time you let go of that mouse button, or every time you pick up your pen from your tablet, it starts again. To add one layer at 15%, paint once; to add another layer at another 15%, paint again. I’ve painted over the entire cactus stalk here at 15% on Shadows and 15% on Midtones and this is my result:

The After shot

The result is subtle, but it’s there. We can use this tool to draw attention where we want it—the stats show that the viewer’s eye is drawn to the brightest parts of our images. In terms of portraits, we can brighten facial features where we need to. It’s a multi-use tool, and a great one to have in our box.

So that’s Dodge. Have you met my friend, Burn? He’s just like Dodge turned upside down, darkening the bright areas ;).

Much Love,

Dave

#Love #Me—two of the current top three hashtags on Instagram. Perhaps that follows suit with what many of the population think of hashtags being overused as narcissistic, vain, attention-grabbing props, but let me tell you that that isn’t (always) the case and the correct use of hashtags can boost your performance and reach on Instagram. Your chances of tantalizing and captivating new followers, collecting likes, inducing comments, and generally increasing engagement are vastly increased with the correct use of hashtags.

Here’s how they work: 

Every post on Instagram can be accompanied by a caption and up to 30 hashtags. It’s down to these hashtags, along with geolocation data, that photos are discovered by non-followers and potentially appear in the Explore section. Basically, if you want to achieve maximum reach and target a specific, active audience in order to grow, then you need to wise up to hashtag use (coupled with posting things that people actually want to engage with).

The problem is this: Let’s say you’re a travel photographer, like me. If I post a photo, I could hit the caption with the hashtag #travel and expose it to Instagrammers, searching among the approximately 205,296,724 (give or take) photos bearing that tag, and the audience that comes with it. To help with the point I’m going to make, in the time it took to write that last sentence, and progress to this one, there are now 205,296,962 posts with the #travel tag—138 photos posted with one tag within the space of fewer than 30 seconds. So, before the lesson, here’s the point: if you post using a popular tag, you potentially open yourself up to a massive audience, but that audience is very, very quickly lost because that photo of yours shoots straight down the Most Recent feed, constantly replaced by other posts. There are 205,297,745 now—another 783, as well as our initial 138, since I typed out the first number! So, in the time it’s taken me to compose this one paragraph, there have been nearly 1,000 posts onto Instagram with the #travel hashtag, and if we also use it, we’ll likely just get lost in the feed. Let’s beat that!

The trick is this (and there is a trick!): if we want to beat the system, and keep our posts in a place where they are more likely to be seen by people searching tags, then we need to use a less-common tag, but one still appropriate to our post. How about this for an idea to get started: let’s say that our post fits the Travel category and that photo is this one.

I took this shot last November in Eastern Iceland.

This photo could be accompanied by #snow or #reindeer, just as a couple of examples of tags which fit the content. But, in order to get maximum exposure to the people who search the category, we could also use #IcelandTravel #VisitIceland #BestOfIceland, which span between the categories of Iceland and Travel, or get more specific and go for something like #MyStopover, which is a hashtag drawn up specifically for photos of Iceland as a marketing campaign by IcelandAir.

Keeping up? So, if we use a less-common hashtag, we’re still hitting an active, searching audience, but that audience will see our photo for a longer time in the feed than one we post in #travel. If we were to take a moment when posting to consider hashtags and use #ig_iceland or #absoluteiceland, instead of #travel, we’d really open up our reach and our opportunities.

Here are a few more examples:


Rather than #Instafood, how about #CleanEating?

 


Rather than #Instatravel, how about #Italian_Vacations?

 


Rather than #DogsOfInstagram, how about #SquishyFaceCrew? (Credit to Kaylee Greer —with permission.) 

The more specific the hashtag, the more engaged the users are! Let me know how you get on, and go check out my Instagram feed to see my tactics—I’m @HybridDave.

Much love,

Dave

Hi Gang: Friday I did a post on “How to Shoot Awesome Fireworks shots!”  and today it’s how to Edit them in Photoshop (that way you’re prepared for the editing, now, too!). The video includes a really simple trick for creating your own custom “Fireworks Show Finale!” So cool you’ll drop your hot dog. That sounds bad but you know what I mean. 

Check out the video I made for you below:

Pretty fun stuff. Hope you get some awesome shots!.

Our offices are closed tomorrow for the Holiday…but…
We’ll be back on Wednesday for another gripping episode of “The Grid” and you don’t want to miss it because…well…you just don’t want to miss it. Ya know. Missing it is bad. Etc.

Have a great Monday, and be safe tomorrow and get back here Wednesday in one piece.

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Are you coming out to my full-day Lightroom seminar in Nashville or Richmond this month? Ya oughta. It’s a pretty fun day, and you’ll learn a bunch, and you’ll have the opportunity to buy a really expensive bland convention center lunch. Here’s the link with details. 

instatall
You guys have probably heard me talking about the role “size” plays on the impact of your images, especially when they’re viewed on the Web, and this tip really reinforces that concept.

Last night I was working on a post for our other blog (LightroomKillerTips), about some new Lightroom presets from “The Creativv” and while I was on their site I saw a post they had written about an Instagram tip —  something I hadn’t realized they added when Instagram recently added the ability to post landscape images (instead of just square images), you can now post images in Portrait (tall) mode as well.

The tip is — if you crop your image to a 4×5 ratio (a built-in cropping preset in Lightroom), your image then takes up pretty much the entire screen (see above right).

Compare the impact of the image on the far left, with the full screen portrait image on the right (note: if you scroll down, you’ll still see the caption for the image, but if you want more impact and engagement, I believe the one on the right will bring a lot more of both).

Here’s the link to their post (with the step-by-step cropping Lightroom details):

IMPORTANT: There’s one thing they didn’t mention in their post that had me scratching my head for a moment, and that is — once your image is in Instagram, you need to tap that little landscape/portrait button in the lower left corner of the image to switch your image to portrait orientation (from square). In the preview, this will show a gap on either side of your image, but when you post it, the gap doesn’t appear (as seen above right).

Also, thanks to all the awesome feedback I’ve gotten from my “How to Build Your Audience on Instagram” online class — as an educator, that type of feedback has us walking on air.

JOIN ME TOMORROW — If you’re a KelbyOne member, tomorrow at 2pm New York Time we have a live broadcast with two of Canon’s awesome super techie guys doing a live Q&A exclusively for KelbyOne members. Keep an eye out on your email for the link to come join us — we’ll be answering questions about the new Canon EOS 1D X Mark II, and anything else you can ask to stump our DSLR and DSLR video gurus (Rudy and Brent know this stuff at a terrifying level).

Hope you find that Instagram tip helpful (and thanks to Creativv for sharing it). :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Why did Adele cross the road? To say “Hello from the other side.” ;-)

Happy Friday, everybody! Today I’m going to share five very short trailers (each around a minute or less) for online classes you can watch this weekend over at KelbyOne.com, including three classes from me.

BTW: If you’re not already a KelbyOne member, you can watch all five of these classes (and all the rest for that matter), for $19.99 (the cost of a one-month membership). Well, truth be told, you could just sign up for a 10-day free trial membership and watch them all for free (but don’t tell ’em I told ya). ;-)

Here they are:

Above: Location Lighting
That’s my class on location lighting – shot in four difference places for four different types of shoots. I’m using the Elinchrom ELB-400 battery pack and flash, but as many people online have said, you don’t need that set-up to learn a lot from this class.

Here’s the link to the full KelbyOne online class

Above: Shooting Fashion on Location with Frank Doorhof
This is an awesome class from Dutch fashion photographer Frank Doorhof, shot on location in Amsterdam, on how to shoot, pose, and work with models. Frank rocks!

Here’s the link to Frank’s full online class at KelbyOne

Above: How to photograph and create fun Holiday Cards
In this brand-new class RC shows you how to make way cooler Christmas Cards this year by not only creating the images yourself (instead of using the Mall Santa), but using Photoshop to create something really clever, really unique, and something your friends will be talking about.

Here’s the link to the full online class on KelbyOne

Above: How to design Holiday Cards in Adobe Illustrator (with Pete Collins)
I know I said it’s only 5-trailers, but this one kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous one since these are Holiday-specific classes. Pete shows you how incredible easy it is to create really clever custom holiday cards in Adobe Illustrator (and if you’ve never used Illustrator, but you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, this is your chance to start using it).

Here’s the link to the full online class at KelbyOne

 

Above: Location Lite: High end look – low cost budget
I called this class “Location Lite” because the goal was to make it look like we shot on locations, but we really did it on the cheap and indoors, keeeping our budget at $300 (including the hot shoe flash itself, the modifier, and even the background). I’m hearing from so many people who have fallen in love with this class – you’ll dig it.

Here’s the link to the full KelbyOne online class.

 

Above: Retouching Brides
If you’re a wedding photographer, this one’s definitely for you, but even if you just do portraits, you’ll pick up lots of Photoshop retouching techniques in this class that you can use in your portrait work.

Here’s the link to the full KelbyOne online class.

There ya have it – lots to watch this weekend, and hope you learn a lot. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Make sure you check out my portrait lighting “fix” tutorial today over on LighroomKillerTips.com – I show how to take a technique we normally use for Landscape photos and repurpose it for portraits (see below).

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