Category Archives Photography Tips & Tricks

It’s #TravelTuesday right here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, which means that I, Dave Williams, get to drop in again and share a little something with you all! Aren’t you lucky!

Well, here in London, it has stopped raining for a few minutes, so what better time to drop a top tip for shooting in the sunshine. In the upper half of the world, the days are getting longer, the sun is getting brighter, and the cocktails are tasting better. When we don’t perhaps have the time to shoot during the golden hour times the sun can be something of a hinderance, but that’s only if we let it be. With these tips, you can overcome the hurdles it presents and make the most of shooting at the time when we’re all told as photographers not to! Here goes!

The dynamic range in this shot at the Vatican is immense, but still, with seven bracketed shots and the right post-processing, we have all the detail across the entire spectrum

Shooting bracketed shots, three is usually enough, and merging them into an HDR image goes a long way in reducing the glaring highlights and dangerously deep shadows caused by bright, direct sunlight on a summer scene. I’m not talking over-processed, high-vibrance, unrealistic HDR here, I’m talking about using the benefits of a High Dynamic Range to bring balance back to a photo which would otherwise have a lot of contrast and, therefore, not show off your scene. Using the Merge to HDR function in Adobe Camera Raw is the most straightforward way to do this—just select the images you wish to merge, then Right-click and choose Merge to HDR.

This blend of 2 bracketed shots was just enough to expose for the highlights and the shadows touching down in Utah

High Dynamic Range shooting and processing is absolutely ideal for bright, sunny conditions where you lose details and where your image loses quality. You can have a potentially amazing composition of an amazing subject, but if your image is clipped or your shadows are hiding awesome details, then you’re letting your image down straight from the get-go. That’s what I’m trying to tell you, though—it doesn’t have got be that way! There are people out there who are still put off by HDR’s history of being a bit too “in-your-face-surreal,” but it’s just not like that anymore. Well, not unless you want it to be!

Any excuse to show goats in a tree! The three bracketed shots here are blended to keep the look as realistic as possible, with no high saturation and no surrealist look

When you shoot with your iPhone, turn on HDR or use Auto-HDR on a sunny day to capture well-balanced images, and when it comes to your DSLR or other camera make sure you know how to shoot bracketed images. Over on KelbyOne.com, you can learn all about the specifics of how to merge your images using different techniques that give different results, and I urge you to start doing it now that the sun’s back out!

Much love

Dave

Happy Tuesday! For my post this week on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider for #TravelTuesday I’ll share with you a little trick to create a rainbow in Adobe Photoshop.

A real rainbow in a photo is a pretty cool thing to catch. Here’s a little selfie example: –

This was taken in a little valley at the neck leading into the Icelandic Westfjords in 2016. Now, if you look carefully and cast your eye aside from the beautiful English gent you’ll notice that there is actually a rainbow in that shot ;)

We’ll take this as a brief rainbow study and see what we need to try and simulate with our fake Photoshop rainbow. Note that the rainbow is pretty thin, extremely transparent, and not as saturated as we’d perhaps expect. We need to keep these observations in mind with our editing, let’s do it.

First off, crack open that shot. I’m using a moody skied drone shot from Old Harry Rocks, Dorset, England.

Let’s get straight into it and get that rainbow in there. Firstly, let’s create a new Layer with CMD + SHIFT + N (Windows: CTRL + SHFT + N)

Working in this new Layer, hit G to select the Gradient Tool. From the Toolbar up top open the Gradient Picker, click on the Gear icon, and select Special Effects and hit OK.

From the Gradient options, select the rainbow on the right named ‘Russell’s Rainbow.’

Now, change the Gradient Type to a Radial Gradient.

With this Tool, create a rainbow with a realistic arc. I find that a nice wide circle works best. When we do this we’ll see the entire circle, so concentrate on the portion which is in the sky and we’ll deal with the rest shortly.

In the Layers Menu, change the Blend Mode to Screen. Now select the Rainbow Layer with CMD + A (Windows: CTRL + A) and then hit T to use the Transform Tool to resize and reposition the rainbow. Here we need to think about what we figured out earlier – rainbows are thin!

And now bearing in mind the rest of what we learned, we need to desaturate the rainbow and make it more transparent. We can usually achieve this in one go by using the Layer Opacity Slider. I’ve taken mine right down to 25%.

And that leaves us just with the piece of rainbow that’s currently sitting in the sea! Rather than Photoshop in a pot of gold, let’s fade it out. Normally a rainbow won’t go right down to the ground, there’ll be a bit of a gap. Let’s do it that way in our image. Hit G to select the Gradient Tool again, and go back to the gear icon and select Reset Gradients and hit OK. Now check the black and white gradient named Foreground to Background. We will work on a Layer Mask so go ahead and create one from the Rainbow Layer. Now, making sure the Linear Gradient is selected in the Toolbar, make a line from the bottom to the top of the rainbow and note what happens. The most effective line in this case is from just below the horizon to just above it, which causes this to happen: –

As always with our post process it’s hard to decide when we’re finished, but at this point we are in fact done!

You can take this method and apply it to any image it fits, and I would love to see what you do with ti! As always, tag me on Instagram where I’m @capturewithdave so I can see your rainbows!

Take care,

Much love!

Dave

It’s that time of week again here at ScottKelby.com – it’s #HybridDaveTuesdays on #TravelTuesday – and this week, I’m going to answer a question I’ve been frequently asked, and then I’ll break it down a bit more!

Take a look at my posts on Instagram, and you’ll notice a theme: they’re all geotagged with the coordinates, along with a marker pin denoting the country right there at the top of the caption. It look’s a bit like this:-

 

 

The question I’m most often asked is not “How do you do it?” but “How do you remember?”

We live in a world where you can have GPS right there in your D-SLR, but mine doesn’t have that, so I have to have a system for remembering where I take photos, particularly those in the middle of nowhere or of something potentially nondescript in and of itself.

The first and primary thing I tend to do is, when using my D-SLR, I will also take the same photo with my iPhone with my geotagging turned on, thereby marking the shot on a map. It’s so simple, and it’s a really good reminder of what was where when I’ve been away on a trip taking hundreds of photos one after another. There are, of course, things which stand out in my memory, but those things which don’t can be easily tagged on a map right in my pocket.

Here’s an example, starting with the (festive, because it’s nearly Christmas) D-SLR shot:-

 

Of course, we know this is the Rockefeller Center tree, but suppose we didn’t. All we’d need to do is take a shot at the same place on the iPhone (or another brand, whichever, but preferably an iPhone!), and then go into the photo on the phone and swipe up:-

 

Right there, it’s sitting on the map, showing us the exact spot the photo was taken. It’s a GPS solution to tagging photos that we already have right there in our pockets.

My second option is simpler still: once you’ve taken a photo, have a look around and see if there’s a sign you can shoot – a street name, a tourist sign, a shop name, anything that will jog your memory later would be great for getting a praise location for your photo.

 

 

This is a Svalbard reindeer, the smallest reindeer sub-species. He’s looking down my lens from the edge of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen. The glacial water flowing off into the sea through Adventdalen is pretty familiar, so as a reminder, in this instance, here’s what I did:-

 

Easy, right? Too easy to be telling you about? Well, it’s one of those things – it’s simple when you know what to do, but if you don’t do it, you’ll end up racking your brain trying to remember the name of a place you took a photo, so you’ll thank me when you start doing this!

I hope this was useful. Remember to check in here every week to see what other wisdom I have to impart from the world of travel photography and retouching, and you can reach out if you have any questions or topics for me by searching for me, Hybrid Dave, across social media :)

 

Much love

Dave

Hello one and all, and thanks for dropping by again for #HybridDaveTuesdays on #TravelTuesday here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider. I’m Dave Williams and I’m here once a week to share something with you from the world of Photography and Retouching, and this week it’s a little note on noise in your images and using the Reduce Noise Filter. Let’s get going!

So, last week I told you all that I was in Tromsø, Norway, and despite the -12 celsius conditions and occasional blizzard I persevered and got some awesome nights of Aurora and had some stunning views before me through the fjords and snow blanketed terrain. One image in particular though, the view from my hotel, was the inspiration for this post. Here it is:-

 

The view from the Magic Mountain Lodge in Lyngseidet, Norway

This was a snapshot caught right at the start of the day before a long drive north. The light was very low, the ISO was very high, and the grain in the image is testament to that. For me the most noticeable noise is up in the snow around the mountain to the right. So sometimes it’s good to leave the noise there, it’s quite a good characteristic to have, but often in the world of commercial photography it’s just not acceptable.

The Reduce Noise Filter

Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise

This tool has been hanging around in Photoshop for a while. It’s generally pretty good but it’s worth noting the name. It’s called the Reduce Noise Filter, not the Remove Noise Filter. The reason I point this out is because it’s pretty hard to remove the noise in an image without losing detail. This is because Photoshop is taking a look at an area of the image and trying to determine which pixels don’t fit, then replacing them with an average of the surrounding pixels. Make sense? So if I have a 9×9 grid with a white pixel in the centre and black pixels surrounding the edges, the noise filter will notice that the white pixel is the one which is out of place and stick a black pixel there. What this does on a larger scale is pretty catastrophic if you think about it. We invested in an awesome camera which we use to shoot RAW, capturing the precise colour and tone of each individual pixel, then we stick it through a noise reduction process which changes each one of those pixels based on it’s neighbour and spews out an average which it’s decided works better. That’s what you need to have in the back of your mind when you use noise reduction, along with this:-

“Nobody ever threw away a photo of their relative, their wedding, their partner, or their cat because it was noisy.”

-Hybrid Dave, 2017

So let’s break it down. One type of noise that the Reduce Noise Filter can deal with is Color (I think that means Colour) noise. This type of noise is red, blue and green dots scattered across your image, often in the form of splodges rather than individual pixels, but it could be either.

When using this filter it’s best to reset the sliders to zero each time to start off, thereby effectively hitting the reset button on the filter and seeing the preview with no filter applied.

Back to the Color Noise, with the slider at zero give it gentle progress to the right until the color noise starts to blend with the rest of the image. Be careful not to slide too far!

 

 

Luminance Noise is next up on the list here. Unlike Color Noise, Luminance Noise is made up of dots which are grayscale, anywhere between white and black. Here’s a closer view from the bottom right of the image showing these dots:-

 

Removing the Luminance Noise comes as a two part process, with the Preserve Details slider activating once you move the Strength slider. What happens here is you effectively smooth out the image using the Strength slider, then bring the detail back with the Preserve Details slider. With the Strength slider set to zero, slowly move it to the right until you’re happy with the effect it’s had on the Luminance Noise. Once you’re happy here, start increasing the Preserve Details slider to bring back the detail without reintroducing the noise. This is simple to understand, and easy to use once you do understand, but without that prior knowledge of what’s actually going on it can be just a random set of sliders being moved up and down. Let’s move on…

 

 

Switching the radial selection from Basic to Advanced will open up the option to apply the noise filter to single channels of colour. It’s the exact same principle as the Color filter, but applied to Red, Green, or Blue only. If you’ve noticed that only one channel needs the filter more than the others it’s a handy tool to have, and it comes with the Strength and Preserve Details sliders right there.

The last thing to look at here is the box entitled Remove JPEG Artefact. This tackles the problem caused by compression in JPEG files. Each time a JPEG is saved the quality gets worse, and it wasn’t great in the first place! This check box will do what it can to reduce the noise caused by the processes a JPEG file is put through in order to try to preserve it from the compression effects.

So that’s my breakdown for you all today on the Reduce Noise Filter right there in Adobe Photoshop. It’a a fairly simple tool, but understanding it will help you to better utilise it, and I hope I’ve helped.

As always, I’d love to see what you’ve made, and I’m on Instagram and Twitter if you want to reach out. Keep an eye on my Instagram story today and tomorrow, I’m currently in the air heading across the pond to New York City to have a little look at how they do Christmas over there!

Much love

Dave

Winter is coming people!

It’s that time again, I’m back to share my weekly dose of photographic wisdom under the lovingly crafted hashtag – #HybridDaveTuesdays

This week it’s something I feel I have a good standing to talk about due to my love of cold places. I’m going to tell you about shooting in the cold in the form of a list. If the internet has taught me only one thing it’s that everybody loves a list, right? By the way, I realise that winter is only approaching in the northern hemisphere and I’m kinda excluding half of the population of the entire world, but I’m finding peace from that with the knowledge that you southerners are about to have your Christmas BBQ’s fired up!

So here goes!

 

Here’s some snow…… it’s authentic Finnish

 

Tip #1 – Never delete anything in camera!

Snow is a funny old thing. It tricks our cameras as well as our eyes. There WILL be shots you look at of snowy scenes on the back of your camera that look terrible, but then when you get them up in Lightroom or Camera Raw they’ll look amazing following a tweak or two.

 

Tip #2 – Keep your gear cold

When you take your gear from cold to warm (like in and out of a hotel or rental car) it puts a strain on it. Once it’s cold, keep it cold. It can short out the electrics if condensation forms inside the camera. The worst thing you can do is to actively try and warm your gear up or try to make it warm near the heat vent or under your ski jacket. Furthermore, if you see that shot and pull out your camera but it instantly fogs you’ll have nothing to show your friends! I remember shooting in Finnish Lapland where I visited the Wild Spirit Animal park and just after meeting Romeo the wooly pig and before meeting Spike the Husky I was taken into a small, round cabin with a fire burning inside for a hot drink to warm me up. I left my camera outside on a pile of wood so it stayed cold and was ready to shoot again as soon as I was back out.

 

Cold enough for an Arctic Fox

 

Tip #3 – Except your batteries. Keep them warm!

There’s some science here. I mean, I don’t know what it is, but it’s here! So basically, if your batteries are exposed to the cold they’ll lose power quicker. I’ve experienced this first hand, it definitely happens. I was shooting the northern lights in the Icelandic Westfjords up on top of a mountain. I couldn’t feel my face, it was that cold. Whatever was happening to my batteries due to the cold happened pretty quick. The power was just going. What I discovered is that if I kept my batteries in my inside pockets my body heat kept them going for longer.

 

Tip #4 – Then warm your gear back up slowly!

I learned this the hard way! Kirkjufellsfoss, shown below, is an iconic Icelandic waterfall with it’s namesake mountain right behind it. Take a look here though – I have a nice wide lens mounted on my Nikon D810 but the middle of the shot is all hazy and soft. This is a direct result of having moisture build up inside the lens. It’s virtually impossible to remove in post because it ruins a whole portion of the image. Bottom line is to consider ways to warm your gear up slowly. Put it in the boot of the rental car where it’s that little bit colder and far from the heating, and put it inside your bag (closed) when you take it indoors so that it gradually adjust to the new, warmer climate. If your camera does get moist for any reason, keep it somewhere dry and of a consistent temperature, and leave ALL of the ports wide open to give the moisture an easy escape.

 

Kirkjufellsfoss, with Kirkjufell in the background – Iceland

 

Tip #5 – Overexpose for white snow

What our eyes see as pure, white snow filling the landscape, our camera sees as overexposed and so brings your camera down a notch or two. To combat this, it’s a wise idea to shoot a little over. It’s the number one tip you’ll always see on advice for shooting snow but it’s easily overcome so just be mindful of it and shoot over – you can always bring things back down in Photoshop if you’re way too bright. On a sidetone, your Auto White Balance will often change things a little towards to blue end – another thing to bear in mind. If you’re the type to use a grey card or a light meter then fine, but I’m not and I consider it all in post.

 

Some snowy bushes in Iceland

 

Tip #6 – Don’t concentrate only on snow

There’s so much more going on and snowy scenes are in themselves very romantic, I find. This shot below is of a couple stood alone outside the beautiful House of the Roundheads in Riga and although they’re only a tiny feature of the images, they add to it just enough. As with everything you shoot, snow has a tendency to get very ‘samey’ and breaking it up with details, much like you would when shooting a wedding, you’re giving it a new perspective and engaging your audience and lifting interest.

 

House of the Roundheads – Riga, Latvia

 

Tip #7 – Shoot the fauna

Even if it’s hard to find some! There are two animals which epitomise Iceland – horses and puffins – and here’s 50% of that combo! Shooting animals helps give a sense of their hardiness to the testing climates they find themselves in and if you get it right, showing their character, it can give the viewer an intense connection!

 

An Icelandic Horse

 

Tip #8 – And the flora

Good luck finding some! Much like the animals, showing the hardiness of the plant life can create a connection between the viewer and the image. It mixes up and breaks up the images of snow scene after snow scene too!

 

Lapland

 

Tip #9 – Capture the festivities

There’s a 50% chance (hemispherically) that winter means it’s Christmas! Alongside this, there’s so much going on and it all tends to give contrast to the cold. Warm fires, hot chocolates and fairground rides – it’s all beautiful, especially when you capture it right. Going to a Christmas market with a camera can yield some awesome results.

 

One of many Christmas markets in Berlin, Germany

So there’s 9 tips for shooting in the cold, I hope you can use them! Right now I’m in Tromsø, Norway, way up in the Arctic Circle (oh the power of the internet!) and you can check my progress on my Instagram story or on Facebook to see the snow I’m seeing :)

 

Until next time!

Much love

Dave

 

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

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