Category Archives: Software

Want your B/W’s to POP?…a quick and easy tutorial

This will also work on color photos, however, I really like what it does for black and whites. Here you go:

1) use whatever process you prefer to convert your image to B/W (but do so while maintaining the color channels)

2) open up the channels palette (that’s one of the tabs you’ll see on the top of your History palette)

3) hold the control key (on PC’s, Mac may be Alt key??) and click on the RGB selection in the Channels palette. You will see the marching ants show up in your image

4) make a new layer (Ctrl J) and click on Overlay (Softlight will also work with a little less intensity)..WOW!

5) adjust your slider opacity to taste Flatten layer

Please feel free to share your comments and your results

via Want your B/W’s to POP?…a quick and easy tutorial.

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Posted by on June 6, 2011 in Software, Technique, Tutes & Tips



How to Create a Realistic HDR Image: A Simple and Fun Method to Create a HDR Image, without Photomatix

From the Digital Photography School:
How to Create a Realistic HDR Image: A Simple and Fun Method to Create a HDR Image, without Photomatix.

A Guest post by Jacob Shultz

HDR photography – It has become a term synonymous with overly-saturated, cartoony looking photographs with large halos. This tutorial will explain the benefits of HDR photography, and how you can take your own high quality HDR photos which look amazingly realistic – without the use of Photomatix.


The method I am about to show you is used in many of my photographs. It uses the same principal as normal HDR photography, however there are two large differences. The ’stereotypical’ HDR photography uses a method called tonemapping, which creates the obnoxious halos and often over saturated look. This tutorial looks at a method which makes use of High Dynamic Range, without tonemapping, and with full manual control.

To start off, you need to take some photos. Choose a suitable location, for me it was the local beach. Just as if you were taking a normal HDR, you will need to ‘bracket’ your photograph. ‘Bracketing’ simply means to take the same photo at differing exposures. This ensures that different elements in the photograph are all exposed correctly in at least one of the images. Take as many photographs as you need to cover all ranges of light in the composition. In my photograph, I used four images. In situations with more extreme levels of light (sun, shadows, etc.) you may need to use more images. However, you can often get away with two images, one exposed for the foreground, and one exposed for the background. Shooting in RAW is also highly recommended.

Once you have downloaded your images to your computer, the first step is to edit them initially in Adobe Camera Raw (select all files and then press CTRL+R). The first step is to apply straightening and/or cropping to every photo (do this by selecting each photo on the left hand sidebar). Next, establish what element each image is going to effect. For example, image number 1 is going to be the foreground. Edit the photo, only paying attention to the foreground.

These were the settings I used:


Image 2 will affect the ocean. My edits:


Image 3 will take care of the top portion of the sky:


And finally image 4 will be the bottom portion of the sky, closest to the horizon:


Once you have finished the rough editing of individual photos, open them all into Photoshop, and then duplicate them into the one document:


The next step is to basically ‘erase’ portions of each image, so that all parts blend together and show a higher dynamic range – HDR. Apply a layer mask to image 1, and use a soft black brush to rub out everything but the general area that this photograph is affecting (we will make more detailed adjustments later). Then continue this for each image:




Great work! You now have a basic idea of how your final image will look. Now, go through each layer and make finer adjustments to improve the quality of the image. Use a white brush to paint back or show the image, and a black brush to rub it out again. This is called non-destructive editing. Note: try to eliminate cloud ‘ghosting’ by making sure clouds blend between images without any abrupt or unnatural shifts.


Once you are satisfied with the image, save the file as a PSD document. The next steps will cover the final edits before the image is finished. Merge all the layers in your document to one layer (if you want, keep a separate group with the individuals layers there, but hidden), then save as a.JPG file. Open Adobe Bridge, then select the .JPG you just saved and press CTRL+R. We are now going to re-edit the HDR photograph. Here are the changes I made:


Open the edited file back up in Photoshop, and apply any final editing that suits your workflow. In my case, I cloned out some sensor dust, added a bit more purple into the photo and applied some sharpening. Finally, save the image, and you have completed the tutorial! This is a great way to enhance the dynamic range of a photograph, without the need of a HDR tonemapping program such as Photomatix. You can apply the same method with differing extremes – using two photos to subtly enhance a minimal image, or use 5 or 6 photos to fine tune every detail of a complex composure. If you struggle to get realistic results, then keep trying! Practice makes perfect. This is a technique I’ve been using for over 6 months, but it has only been recently that I have really started to really finetune my workflow. Above all though – have fun!

Final product:


About the Author: See more of Jacob Shultz’s work at his blog, Facebook page and Flickr account.
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Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Featured, HDR, Software, Technique, Tutes & Tips


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Merging HDR in Photoshop CS3, CS4 Tutorial

I found a fantastic tutorial for HDR (High Dynamic Range) at Photoshop Cafe that shows step by step how to apply it to your photographs. It’s important to note that bracketing (taking three pictures of the same scene at three different exposure settings) can make HDR much easier than trying to obtain it from one image alone. (FYI, Single frame HDR is called Pseudo-HDR).

The tutorial will show you how to go from these three images:

To this:

Now I have to admit, that I don’t personally believe the image used shows off HDR to its full effect, but the tutorial for Photoshop is very simple to follow and that makes it worth a look!

Photoshop HDR tutorial. | Merging HDR in Photoshop CS3, CS4 Tutorial.


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Some Photographers are Magicians (yet not in a good way)

Some Photographers are Magicians (yet not in a good way)

GND Filter by Chris Mullins - all rights reserved

Ever seen exquisite photographs and wanted to see if you could create something similar but never known what settings to use? Photographers can sometimes be like magicians – they know all the tricks of the trade and dazzle you with their craft but refuse to share any of the secrets. For people new to the hobby, it’s increasingly frustrating trying to work out what to do and how to do it.

While I understand their hesitancy to reveal how they create beautiful images, for a beginner wanting to stretch their wings, it has become more and more difficult to gain simple and easy to understand articles that explain step by step what you need to do and why. Partly this is because photography is such an enormous subject that the moment you embark upon learning it, you are immediately overcome by the sheer enormity of information available and don’t know how to prioritise it. But another big reason is because professional photographers are struggling more now, than ever before. With so many cameras available cheaply, everybody is a photographer now and this eats into their already-saturated industry. However, recently I read a wonderful article about how to re-create a beautiful landscape image taken by New Zealand photographer Chris Gin. There are several reasons why this article is so important.

Firstly, it explains in layperson’s terms exactly how this shot was taken. Even down to standing in the water and keeping the lens clean between shoots. Secondly, it outlines precisely the list of equipment you need to take this type of photo. And finally, it details specific techniques used in Photoshop to perfect the image.By showing us the Photoshop techniques used, Chris has also emphasised the importance of completing an image with post processing. In the days of film, every photograph was individually processed in a dark room. Nowadays people tend to forget about the importance of post processing but it is still vital that you do it. Photoshop and Lightroom are now considered our digital darkroom.

The equipment list in Chris’ article mentions is particularly useful. Every photographers bag  holds the arsenal they need to capture the perfect shot. As a beginner photographer, it can be confusing trying to work out what is a ‘must-have’ and what is just a ‘want-it’.  It is so easy to spend a fortune on camera paraphenalia that you may never use, so knowing the essential items is crucial. Chris uses GND filters. GND means Graduated Neutral Density. These are attachable filters that you place in front of the lens and can make a remarkable difference to your images, particularly landscape photography. You can see an example of the difference GND filters can make to your photos above, because they reduce the light difference from sky to ground. There are three main type of GND filters available, but the 0.6 hard grad (2 stop) is considered the better choice for your first filter purchase due to price point and scene flexibility. Some filters will screw into your existing lens whilst others slide into a frame. It is generally accepted that the ones the slide into a frame are more reliable because they won’t twist as you focus your lens. Whenever you use a GND filter, it is really important that you have your camera on a tripod to ensure the filter is positioned correctly.

Chris also mentions the 10-20 Sigma lens. This is a wide angle lens, which helps to create stunning landscapes, although Flickr has a group showing this lens being used for just about everything, from the paws of a cat to a car interior! However, traditionally, this 2005 lens is considered a lens important to those who love landscapes. The lens size is also available in other brands like Canon, Nikon and Tokina but the Sigma often receives high praise because of its price, reliability and precision.

I’d like to congratulate Chris on lifting the veil of secrecy for how photos are composed and taken. When you read the article he has written, you realise that he has taken many shots to achieve that perfect one, and even then it involved blending two almost identical shots together to make one “just right”. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem quite so impossible to achieve. Also, he details the process involved in composing the shot and how long it took before he was able to find a scene that he liked. This is important for beginner photographers to know. Getting the right composition takes time. It takes effort. And it takes practice. Photography is a learning curve and so long as we keep the information simple, and flowing, just like in Chris’ article, we can continue to learn and grow in our skill and passion.

Image by Chris Mullins. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Composition, Software


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