Category Archives Photoshop

Straightening a shot is something that is one of the absolute fundamentals of photography post-processing, yet it’s commonly overlooked. Those of you who catch The Grid every Wednesday with Scott will no doubt be aware that it commonly pops up whenever blind photo critiques are the theme of the show.

To that end, my post for this week’s #HybridDaveTuesdays is about two correction techniques you can use in Adobe Camera Raw before you hop over to Photoshop. I’m Dave Williams, a travel photographer from London, UK, and you can catch my weekly posts right here at ScottKelby.com every #TravelTuesday—feel free to drop me a message on Instagram where I’m @Hybriddave.

It’s fair to say that, this week, I’m writing about something that’s widely considered very basic, and perhaps you’re wondering whether it’s even worth the read. Here’s why this is so important:

An image that isn’t straight, but has every other element nailed—the composition, the tones, the balance, the content—can be ruined or overlooked if it’s not straight. It’s as simple as that. A “Dutch tilt” is, of course, the exception, but a simple degree or two really can be the difference between hanging it on the wall or raising an eyebrow while giving a half-hearted “meh.”

Let’s look at using Camera Raw to straighten. The reason Camera Raw is my default choice for straightening is its ease, its accuracy, and its varied applications of the Straighten tool.

Just last week, I was in Portugal with Scott, so it seems appropriate to use one of my crooked photos from the trip, hosted by Chicki Nandoas the example.

Monserrate Palace near Sintra, Portugal.

As you can see, this shot is crooked. I’ve overlaid a grid to show that the horizon isn’t straight, and it’s having a detrimental effect on the shot because the building looks as if it’s leaning. The simplest method to correct this in Camera Raw is to hit the A key on your keyboard to access the Straighten tool.

Straighten Tool

There are two options from here:

Option 1:

Double-click on your image. This sets the Straighten tool’s automatic process off, and the horizon will be found automatically, and your image straightened to match. This works 99.9% of the time (no scientists were consulted in order to reach this figure, but I’m probably not far off).

Option 2:

The Straighten tool changes your cursor to a kind of spirit level thing. Use this to draw on the horizon yourself, or any other horizontal line in the absence of a horizon, and the image will rotate slightly to set this as the horizon line. Hit Return (PC: Enter), and your shot will straighten.

The straightened crop, ready and waiting for you to hit Return

That’s it! Your crooked image is now straight!

n.b. If you have a bowing horizon, get yourself over to the Lens Corrections panel to fix it. ;)

I know this is so simple, but for some reason it’s so often overlooked. Let’s put it this way:

If you have a straight photo, people ignore the fact that it’s straight and enjoy the other elements of it. If you have a crooked photo, people ignore the other elements of it and focus on the fact that it’s crooked.

Still Monserrate Palace, still near Sintra, Portugal, but straight!

So, for this week, I thank you for dropping by.

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

So, I just traveled to Italy to shoot, and while I was there, as with any sunny destination, I was thinking about what I could actually achieve in the midday sun. When a scene is bathed in even light, regardless of how bright that light is, you can usually deal with it pretty well in-camera. When there’s contrast, it’s a different story, and that story used to end up with a sweaty old guy, holstering something with a film canister in it, explaining the “Sunny 16” Rule.

The Sunny 16 Rule is a method used to cope with harsh sunlight in one frame, and it comes from a time when you could only use one frame. The Sunny 16 Rule is for film. But, the Sunny 16 Rule carried over into digital, quite strangely, and is still taught in an age when we have Adobe Photoshop to deal with these problems. Let me tell you (if you didn’t know) that the HDR functionality of Photoshop has improved considerably, and in the latest CC version, it’s actually pretty awesome. I, myself, have written about the application of the Sunny 16 Rule, but let’s throw that out right now and get to the advantages of bracketing and HDRing, instead, to deal with bright, midday sun.

First off, that “HDR look” us photographers fear is basically gone. The look and feel of a High Dynamic Range image is now much more natural than the overprocessed, surreal, and saturated look we got before. The majority of photographers and retouchers that moved away from Photoshop for the likes of Photomatix to stack images for HDR can now safely move back in. Adobe has basically got this nailed.

I often shoot hand-held—it’s good practice to use a tripod to ensure each image is the same, however, it isn’t essential. If you do use a tripod, I’d personally recommend the 3 Legged Thing range (which I’ve heard is Trump’s favourite tripod), but if you shoot continuous high speed and keep as stable as possible, it’s usually good enough.

With your camera set to shoot bracketed, shoot your series for the scene. Here’s an example of five bracketed shots:

Wine Bar in Verona, Italy, bracketed for your pleasure

Once you get into Camera Raw, and this is very similar in Lightroom, select the images, Right-click, and then choose Merge to HDR.

Wait a moment and let it do its thing, confident in the fact that some clever algorithm is running its 32-bit show, and wait to see the result. Years of development have gone into this, and as I said, the improvements are so significant that this has become a regular part of my workflow. In fact, I’ll HDR more often than not.

The HDR finished shot

Once the photo comes out the back end, you’ll notice that most of the sliders are all over the place. Most notably, the White Balance sliders—you’ll need to fix those yourself.

So long as you’ve taken enough of a range of exposures to cover the dynamic range of the scene itself, you’re covered. Here’s a fun fact: the human eye sees about 13 stops of light. That’s what we’re trying to replicate in just one, flat photo when we take a photo. While bearing that in mind, throw away the Sunny 16 Rule, go with an aperture that suits the look you want, and get the bracketing feature turned on!

Four top tips for bracketed shooting:

  1. Take enough of a range to cover the range of the scene.
  2. Ensure the difference between shots is between one to two f-stops apart.
  3. Take the photos in quick succession to minimise the differences.
  4. Use a tripod where possible.

Essentially what I’m trying to tell you is this:

Use HDR!

It works a lot better than it used to, it gives a much more balanced photo, and the clever little algorithm behind HDR in Adobe Photoshop (and Lightroom) is so, so much more powerful than it used to be. Join the party and show me what you’ve got, and as always, if you get stuck I’m @hybriddave on Instagram, and I promise I’ll help.

Much love,

Dave

Hello internets! It’s that time of week again! #TravelTuesday here on ScottKelby.com is #HybridDaveTuesdays, where I’ll share some top tips on photography and Photoshop from my background in travel photography. Thanks for your feedback from last week—I love hearing from you, keep it up!

Now for this week, let’s have a look at a common theme on Instagram right now. Take a look around and it’s clear to see that a distinct winner among the top photos in the explore section is photos with crushed blacks. That’s to say that the black point isn’t quite black. You only have to check out the likes of @MrWhisper (well worth a follow, a fellow Londonite) to see that the popularity of this technique is standing head and shoulders above the rest.

When describing this look, it’s common to hear ‘retro,’ ‘vintage,’ ‘milky blacks,’ or ‘crushed blacks.’ In Adobe Photoshop, there’s no button labelled ‘vintage,’ but I’ll show you the basics behind this look, so you can apply it to your own images. It’s worth noting that there’s not one right way to do it, but there are a number of techniques which all achieve similar results, depending on the look of your initial image. To put it in it’s simplest terms, it’s basically the opposite of HDR. Instead of increasing the dynamic range of our image, we decrease it. It may seem a little counterintuitive, in fact, because we’ve been rewarded by our favourite camera companies with some fantastic technological advances, which have allowed us to capture a much broader dynamic range, and we’re post processing to reduce it! We have the ability to make the blacks true black in post, then we go and brighten the blacks! This low-contrast look is popular, but it doesn’t always fit, so it’s important to know the right time to use it.

Here’s a straightforward technique that I use in Photoshop’s Curves panel:

We’ll deliberately introduce some clipping to our image using the Curves panel. For the dark areas, bring the left point of the line slightly up, which raises the brightness of the darkest areas of the image, and slightly to the right, which will reduce the detail. To bring the highlights down, do the opposite on the top right of the line.

The Curves adjustment tool can seem pretty intimidating, but if you play around with it to understand what’s happening, it can be very useful and powerful! It represents a histogram of the image, depicting the dark areas of the image on the left and the light areas on the right. The diagonal line is used to manipulate the brightness of different areas of the image.

So there you have it! Tones made simple—a top tip they don’t tell you! Show me how you get on, as you always do.

Much love,

Dave

[A note from Scott: I’m excited to introduce you to my friend and colleague Dave William, who’ll be writing a column here on Tuesdays on the blog. Please give him a warm welcome and make him feel at home here with the crew. So glad to have him join our ranks. – SK]

I’m Dave Williams, a photographer from London, England, and I specialize (note the American spelling) in travel photography. I appreciate that saying ‘travel photography’ is extremely broad, but that’s what I love about it! I can go out and shoot nature, wildlife, people, landscapes, cityscapes, it all fits the category and it pushes me to challenge myself from time to time and allows me to get out and see the world.

I go by the stage name of Hybrid Dave, let me introduce myself. I am one-half of Hybrid Photography, an Instagram influencer, a Getty Images contributor and ambassador, a Lonely Planet contributor and a member of various professional organizations. You can find me on social media by searching for Hybrid Dave.

Apparently I was the subject of a meeting in the KelbyOne offices when there was a space to fill here on the website, and I’m so happy that I was asked to fill that space because throughout my journey so far in photography from the age of 14 when my dad got me the Nikon SLR for my birthday that I so desperately wanted (I’m now 32) I’ve sought inspiration, guidance and education from far and wide By far the best source for me has been Scott and his books, and the awesome team of educators at KelbyOne.

You may have seen my tutorials online before or in KelbyOne’s Photoshop User Magazine, and you may even have inadvertently seen my work in any number of places including Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Time, or even on billboards or in newspapers. From now on you’ll also see me right here every Tuesday on ScottKelby.com blogging for you all from across the pond! I’ll be sharing my favourite tips and tricks, some insider secrets, and perhaps a little bit of my own personal opinion on photography and Adobe Photoshop. Every week I’ll show you how I push the limits of what I have available to reach maximum potential in the highly competitive photography industry, how I make the most from it all in travel and wedding photography, and how to grow. I’ll provoke you with my thoughts and share skills with you wherever I can.

 

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In today’s post, I’ll kick things off for you with a mini tutorial combining Adobe Photoshop with Instagram and show you how I make the most of Instagram’s new ‘multiple photo’ feature to showcase panoramic photos in a way that was never before possible on this social media platform.

Here’s a link to the shot on my profile if you want to explore how it feels, and here’s how to do it….

First off, we need to select the right image to make this work best for us. A good panoramic image for this technique is one which results in featuring a point of interest within each of the frames so that on each swipe the viewer has something engaging them to keep going. I’m going to use a shot of an awesome classic car dash which I found whilst wandering an artsy, bohemian district of L.A. with Peter Treadway and Stephanie Richer whilst we had a bit of downtime from shooting a wedding in the Agoura Hills.

 

start

 

We start by considering the math of the panorama. In a multiple shot post on Instagram you have to use the square format, so we need to break the image into perfect, equally divided squares. The width of each crop, therefore, must equal the height of the overall panorama, therefore the overall length must be a multiple of this height in order to seamlessly blend when the viewer swipes through. Keeping up?

We’ll take our shot and crop it to this criteria, which in this case is 7200 pixels wide by 2400 pixels high, resulting in three equal squares. Because the detail of the dash, which is what we want to feature in this shot, is in the top left portion of the photo we select the top left as the anchor point in the ‘crop’ dialog box once we’ve input the size of the crop, before clicking OK.

 

step1

 

The result is this, which we now need to break into three.

 

step2

To do this we’ll use the Crop Tool again. Select the Crop Tool but this time set the width to the same as the height, which is 2400 pixels in this case, and set the anchor point to the left.

 

step3

The result is a square crop of the left of the panorama, which we can save under a relevant name. Once saved, simply go back by hitting CMD+Z (Windows: CTRL+Z) to step back to the whole panorama.

 

step4

We need to repeat what we’ve done but select the middle square, so with everything as it was before except for the anchor point now being in the center, crop the image again.

 

step5

And finally, to get the right-hand square, we crop the panorama one last time but with the anchor point set to the right.

 

step7

Now we have three square images which we can send over to our phone and upload to Instagram. We need to use the ‘Multiple photos’ icon and select the three photos from our gallery in order from the left square as number one to the right square as number three.

Now it’s complete and our viewers on Instagram will be able to swipe seamlessly through a panorama in a way never before possible on Instagram, giving us an edge over the competition with a cool trick that’s only just beginning to be used. I haven’t seen this used more than a handful of times, but since I posted and began to write this little tutorial I’ve noticed that @NatGeoTravel have posted a beautiful panorama from Italy, so get in there while it’s still hot!

Much love,

Dave

Hi, gang, and happy Monday! I’ve been sailing the seven seas (not really), and I’ve dug up (not really) some more Photoshop Buried Treasure (OK, this part is true), and this time it’s on how to get back to the previous version of Select and Mask, which used to be called “Refine Edge.”

Adobe updated Refine Edge with a new mathematical algorithm and a totally new workspace (rather than it just being a floating panel), and while the new math works better for some images, it doesn’t work as well for some other, so being able to jump back to the other method (and old math) when you need to is pretty handy. Here’s a quick rundown:

Above: Here’s the current Select & Mask workspace, with its own toolbar on the left side, and side panel on the right, using the new math. I really love this new interface, and how it works most of the time, but there are certain instances where the old version works better, and that’s why Adobe added a way for us to get back to the older version.

STEP ONE: To access the old Refine Edge feature, hold the Shift-key, then go under the Select menu up top, and choose Select and Mask from the menu (as shown here — it doesn’t work if you hold Shift and click the Select and Mask button in the Options Bar — you have to choose it from the pop-down menu as shown here).

STEP TWO: Now the regular Photoshop interface remains in place, and the old Refine Edge window appears, as seen above, and you can use it like you always used (provided, of course, that you always used to). :)

Hope you found that little piece of Photoshop Buried Treasure helpful! :)

Don’t forget — Friday at 8:00 pm — LIVE from the “Gallery at KelbyOne”…
It’s an interview and behind-the-scenes from KelbyOne member’s solo gallery show in the Gallery at KelbyOne. Join the most awesome Larry Becker, as he sits down with competition winner Melanie Kern-Favila to talk about her amazing photography, and get to know her and work. It’s free; everyone’s invited to join us, and it will be simulcast on my Facebook, this Friday, July 21st. Ask anyone who attended the first opening with Mark Wegner, it’s really a fun, inspiring night, and a great opportunity to join us in celebrating the wonderful work of our members.

When: Friday, July 21st, 8:00 PM, EDT
Where: My Facebook page live

See you then! Have a great Monday, ya’ll!

-Scott

P.S. If you’re a KelbyOne member and you’d like to join us in person at the Gallery this Friday at 7 pm for a wine and cheese reception for Melanie’s Gallery Opening, you are welcome to join us and enjoy her work in person (it’s free for KelbyOne members, but there’s limited seating, so grab your seats now – here’s the link).

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