Category Archives Photoshop

Hard to believe it’s just a little over a week away, but we’re so excited — this is going to be HUGE and I want you to be a part of it. Check out this short video trailer below to see if it’s right for you:

These are the dates:

Tuesday and Wednesday | July 14-15, 2020

This live-streamed event is open to everyone, everywhere, and you can register today at – sign up right now to get the best pricing (it’s so affordable, anyone can attend).

Have a great Monday (stop snickering), stay safe; look out for each other, and we’ll see you online. :)


P.S. Over on my Lightroom Blog today I shared “10 Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts I Use Every Day”here’s the link if you’ve got a sec.

…and if I ever thought twice about it or second-guessed it, tonight something happened to me that totally solidified why subscriptions plans like Adobe’s are such a good idea.

I’m going to give you the short version of this story, but it’s not real short, but stick with me; keep an open mind, and you might wind up seeing things differently (even if you’re “furrowing your brow” going into it). I put some photos in here just to keep things for being “too texty” but the one that most ties into this story is the one below (taken with my iPhone, no less).

SPOILER ALERT: I left a special bonus pic for you at the end of this post, but you’re not allowed to just scroll down there for medical reasons.

Above: My home studio. it’s only three months old, and still needs lots of work yet, including a lot more acoustic tile, bass traps, and certainly more guitars, right? Like me, it’s a work in progress.

Besides being a photographer, (and fake Olympic athlete), I’m also a musician and I have a small recording studio in my home (part of which is seen above). I got into all this to record my own original songs, but I got somehow sucked into what has now become my hobby, which is to faithfully recreate my favorite songs from scratch. They wind up being mostly “big hair” rock songs from the 80s, but also some newer songs from Bruno Mars, or dance songs from Earth, Wind, and Fire. I’ve done Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” (from the movie “A Star is Born”) and the orchestral theme to Game of Thrones, playing all the instruments myself, and recording it all into Logic Pro X on my iMac.

Photo by Brad Moore.

I Need “Real” Bon Jovi and “Real” Bee Gees

Anyway, the key to all this is that you can go online and find the original isolated vocals tracks for tons of songs, and these tracks are the original vocals — just the vocals — no instruments whatsoever. So, I download an isolated original vocal track, and then I learn how to play the parts for all the different instruments that make up that song (that takes a while usually), then I record me playing each one of them. I play all the lead and rhythm electric guitars, the acoustic 6 and 12-string guitar parts; the bass parts (on a real bass), drums (on my electronic drum kit), all the piano and synth parts, horn parts, strings, percussion, cowbell (it needs more), and so on.

Photo by Brad Moore.

My whole goal is to make it NOT sound like a Karaoke track — I want it to sound as close to the original as possible, which I can tell you is a total pain in the butt. I want to get it to where if I played it for you in my car, you would swear it was the original. It takes me a LONG time to get a song to that level — about two weeks for one song on average. Sometimes more, like when I did Bohemian Rhapsody (that one kicked my butt). I’m really kind of anal about getting all the exact right sounds; getting every drum lick exactly like the ones on the record; using the right amps; cymbals, synths, mics, the right piano sound, and so on. I know. It’s a sickness.

Photo by Alan Hess.

My struggle is you can’t always find the real original vocals for the song you want to do, and in few instances, I’ve gone ahead and recorded an entire song knowing I didn’t have the real original vocal track. I those cases I use an isolated vocal Karaoke track instead. Each time I use a Karaoke vocal track, instead of the original vocals, a little piece of me dies inside because no matter what I do musically and/or mixing wise, it just never sounds right without the real original vocals.

Photo by Brad Moore

I got lucky a few times recently

Within the last months, I actually found two isolated vocal tracks to songs I recorded over a year ago using the Karaoke vocals — Saturday in the Park by Chicago, and Separate Ways by Journey (which I literally ran across this weekend). When this happens, I go back to those songs I recorded and replace the Karaoke vocals with the real ones and I just cannot tell you how happy it makes me. Seriously, just through the roof, crazy happy. It’s me at “full happy.”

Photo by Brad Moore

I still have three songs that are dead to me

They are fully done; I put in all the time, learned all the solos note for note, sweated every guitar sound and keyboard pad, but they have the Karaoke vocal tracks, and I cringe when I hear them, so I just don’t listen to them anymore. They are: Shakin’ (by Eddie Money); Home Sweet Home (by Motley Crue), and I Need to Know (By Mark Anthony). I search the Web for the original isolated vocals tracks for these about every week for who knows how long now. No luck, yet. The struggle is real.

So since I can’t seem to find these tracks out there, last night I start doing more online research (not my first time) about how to isolate vocals from a an existing music track. I eventually run across this kid on youtube (thanks Alex Rome) who is raving about this isolation software he found that totally blew his mind, and it’s what all the pros now use, etc., and he was just going on and on about it, so I went and downloaded a trial copy of it. It’s a fully functional trial copy, but you can’t save the file it creates, but you do get to try it all out which is cool.

Photo by Brad Moore

So, I gave it a try on both Shakin’ and Home Sweet Home

The software is called “iZotope RX 7.” I have to tell you — it blew my mind! It was so much better than any other software like it I had tried. It was pretty remarkable and so darn easy to use. It was almost like magic. Granted, the extractions are not absolutely perfect, but they’re close enough that I can clean a vocal track easily enough to where it would sound just about spot-on in my mix (and lightyears better than the Karaoke vocals I have in place now).

Photo by Brad Moore

After 15 minutes into the trial, I knew I had to buy it!

So, I go to their site, and I hit the “buy” button. That’s when I saw the price. The full version is $1,200. $1,200!!!! My jaw just dropped. My heart sank, too, because I knew, great as it is, there was no way in h*** I was going to spend $1,200 for it. I get it — it’s pro-level software, and I want to just use it for my hobby, but I also know if you want to buy what the actual pro’s use, it’s gonna cost ya. The problem is —  I just can’t justify spending $1,200 for what I would be doing with it (I don’t sell these songs — I don’t even post ’em anywhere. I just do it for friends and family).

Photo by Brad Moore

It’s different in my photography life, where I do use pro-level software, like Photoshop. Back when you could buy Photoshop, it cost $799 for it alone. Lightroom, when it came out, was $300 to buy it. So to buy both Photoshop and Lightroom was (you guessed it), around $1,200. You literally either wrote a check for $1,200, or you didn’t use Photoshop and Lightroom — it was that simple. So, where does this all lead?

What I need…is a subscription plan

If I could subscribe to iZotope’s full version for $10 a month, it would be the fastest $10 I spent all year, but unfortunately they don’t offer a subscription plan at this point, so the reality is — I’m not going to get to use iZotope RX 7, and that makes me sad. Recording these dumb covers means a lot to me, but I don’t have a legit business case to use it. Yes, I know, I’m being a baby — I want pro-level software, but I’m not willing to pay the pro price. And while iZotope does offer a standard edition for $400, I don’t want the standard edition — I want the full version (not iZotope RX 7 “lite”), but this whole situation just brought Adobe’s move to subscription-based back to the top of my mind, and how lucky we are that we can have access to pro-level tools for our photography, even if we’re not working pros. We can use the best photo editing software on earth for our hobbies, or for whatever, for less than the cost of the chicken wing appetizer at Applebees. That’s sayin’ something, but we take it for granted (and we dang well shouldn’t).

So, I’m back to hoping that one day…

…I get lucky, and somebody posts the vocals-only track for one of those three songs. Now, if the folks at iZotope would offer a subscription plan, then I’d be all set, and I could do the isolating for those songs myself. The only problem is — if they did, I doubt it would be just $10 a month. Probably more like $40 or $50. I tell ya this; I’d probably do it for a year, just to have access to it, and to get all the songs done that I’d want to do for 2021, and then unsubscribe for year until I needed it again. Hey, ya never know, right?

I hope that gave you some perspective on why subscription plans make so much sense today, and why I’m glad Adobe went in the direction they did. Subscription plans provide us with way to use to software that we couldn’t make a reasonable financial case for using, and I’m all for that. Also, a high-five to Adobe for making their photographer’s bundle only $10 a month. That’s insanely cheap. Note to the folks at Izatope — Adobe’s got the pricing thing down. Do that! ;-)

Above: I had to do it — here’s a bonus photo one from back in the 80s when I was playing full-time. That’s me on the far left, and my wife Kalebra in the middle. In the right corner, that’s Scotty — my dear friend and drummer I still play with on stage to this day. I thought having that hair cut would get me in Duran Duran. Sadly, it did not, but things worked out OK anyway.

Have a great week everybody. I have a feeling it’s about to get a whole lot better for us all really soon. See ya tomorrow right here. :)


P.S. If you’re at all into guitars (and if you stuck it out this long, you probably are), I’m the guest this week on the new BigScotty Guitar Podcast, and we talk about guitars, guitars, and more guitars (it was so much fun). Here’s the link if you want to give it a listen in the background while you’re retouching.

I know Photoshop feels like a very mature product, but 30 years? It can’t be 30 years already, right? (this getting old thing…well…it’s not for the young).

How lucky are we that for the past 30 years this program has existed — it touches most every visual part of our lives; if you see a Web page, a billboard, a video, a movie, a TV show, an ad, even an email, at some point it probably was touched in some way by Photoshop. It’s that much a part of our lives.

I came a little late to the Photoshop game – when I first saw it, it was already on version 2.0, and shortly after I started really using it, it was already at version 2.5 and it was already a mind-blowing program back then. I think one of the most amazing things — one of the things that makes Photoshop such a special program to this day, is that its a program without walls. You never say, “Photoshop can’t do this.” Instead, you say, “I wonder how you do this in Photoshop” because even though you might not know how to do a particular thing you want to do…you know Photoshop can do it. The limit isn’t the program — you don’t hit its limits — and that is truly something.

To get a feel for that Photoshop magic, take a look back with me at this video Adobe’s own Terry White did a while back where he’s showing the first version of Photoshop (Photoshop 1.0). It’s amazing to see the features that were in that first version that are still a mainstay of our workflows today, but it’s also awesome to see how far we’ve come since then. Check it out below.

Last week, in honor of Photoshop’s 30th anniversary, Terry also did a live Webcast showing his Top 30 favorite Photoshop features of all time. It’s so good! You’ll learn some cool things along the way, including features you might not even know where there. I’ve embedded that video below:

I hope you’ll join me in wishing Photoshop, the coolest program ever made, a big “Happy 30th Birthday!” :)

Here’s wishing you a kick-butt week!


P.S. My Prague travel photography workshop I announced here on Friday sold out Friday. If you want to get on the early notice list for my upcoming workshops, head over to and sign up there. That way, you’ll get a heads-up before I announce my next workshop to the public (and it’s a pretty incredible one, so you’ll know to know early).

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 #TravelTuesday this week I, Dave Williams, want to give you a quick twilight tip. It’s only for those of you with patience, mind!

I just visited Zermatt, Switzerland, which is made entirely of chocolate! Okay, maybe it’s not made of chocolate, but it’s on that same league of fantasy. The town itself is a beautiful, Alpine skiing paradise, and it’s car-free which makes it all the more exciting. Everywhere you go requires walking unless you want to take an electric taxi (think more golf buggy) or ride a bike. It meant I had to walk up the slopes to the edge of the village to get this selfie: –

And it’s this selfie which inspired me to get this shot: –

But here’s the thing—and if you were watching my Instagram story you’ll know already—this isn’t one shot.

The key to this scene is that the upper half was taken during golden hour, and the lower half was taken during blue hour. It’s a simple process but it involves patience! I found my spot, got my composition sorted, and from that point on I couldn’t move my camera one bit.

I found a fence post, which was sturdy and out of the way, so if any tourists appeared (which they did) I wouldn’t have to move out of their way. I needed my frames to line up exactly and if there was the slightest deviation it would ruin the entire process. I stuck my Platypod Max on the post, securely holding my Nikon D810 and Tamron 24–70mm f/2.8.

The process from here on is simple. First, I took a shot for the sky, using a 10-stop filter to smooth out the clouds (though they were barely moving), and when I had the shot I wanted I simply had to twiddle my thumbs for a little while and wait for the darkness to fall and the lights of the village to come on, then get my second shot without the filter. The removal of the filter was a little tense; I was so scared of moving the camera! But when it was done I was left with these two images: –

All that was left to do was open them in Adobe Photoshop, place one image on top of the other on separate layers, and then use a layer mask to select the components I wanted from each image. Following this, I used the adjustment brush to paint some highlights onto the Matterhorn and the Toblerone mountain in the background, and then straightened everything up using the church spire as my guide for this.

Simple! Taking separate shots at twilight to combine golden hour and blue hour works wonders on an urban scene, and I strongly recommend working on your patience and trying it yourself.

Much love

It’s #TravelTuesday with Dave (that’s me) right here on, and today is all about why we should have a crack at compositing!

I’m going to refer to the work of a good friend in this post, as well as touch on the reasons why compositing can enhance our work. What I’m going to refer to can be found here on Layers Magazine. It’s by JR Maddox, and it won him a Guru Award at Photoshop World in 2013, so it’s serious business!

Compositing, first of all, is what we’re doing when we combine elements from two or more images together in Adobe Photoshop to create something a little different. It could be something taken to a radical extreme, or it could be something as simple as switching out a sky or just adding the moon, for example. When we create composite images we use layers, layer masks, blend modes, and a whole host of other features. Take a look at this example: –

A photo merge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature “Billandy.”

Here we see a composite image of two people, both shot in the same place with the same light, blended together to form a human-hybrid. JR explained that one of his sources of inspiration for this project was Mr. Potato Head. With this project, JR used the Lasso tool to select the components of the face and body that he needed, then blended those images together. He made the point that he had no firm plan, just a loose idea, and at many points throughout the process, he had no idea what would stay and what would go or what would be used from each of the two images. When it came to blending the elements together he used tools such as the Warp tool in Free Transform and ensured the colours were correct using the Curves Adjustment Brush.

Here’s one of the images he began with: –

A photo merge of husband Bill and wife Mandy to create this beautiful creature “Billandy.”

This kind of project can translate across the board in photography and applies to every genre, and it’s amazing what you can create if you put your mind to it. Whether it’s as part of a personal project or something bigger, it’s well worth broadening your skill and knowledge base in getting a grip on compositing. This example from JR is a great demonstration of what’s possible.

There are tons of resources out there that’ll help you learn how to get a grip on compositing, including KelbyOne and Photoshop User Magazine.

For those in the photography community who aren’t aware, we sadly lost JR this past week, and he is sorely missed. As he was a friend of mine, I didn’t receive the news well and one of the first things I did was call my mum. She said this: – “Life is short. If you want to do something, and you can afford to do it without hurting anybody, do it. You don’t know how long you have to get it done. And when it comes to the people you have in your life, remember this: We love our family; they’re given to us and they’re so special and important, but our friends are the ones we’ve made a decision to have in our life and they’re just as special and important. Give love, treat people well, be the best person you can be, and whatever it is you want to do according to the above—do it.”

If you have five bucks to spare to help JR’s family, that’d be awesome. Let’s show what our little community can do. You can leave a little gift right here.

Much love