Posts Tagged ‘Technique’

Making Black & White Photos “POP” Using Photoshop

Posted in Photography, Photoshop

Above, I have a photo of my neighbor’s cat. I turned it into a black and white photo, but it’s not quite right. It needs a little “pop” to make it more interesting. There are a few simple ways to do this without getting too crazy. The first way is very easy. First I’ll go to Image, Adjustments, Exposure: Here the Exposure dialog box comes up: I grab the slider that’s called Offset and bring it slowly to the left. You can see the darks in the image getting pronounced. Then I go to the Gamma Correction and bring that to the left just a little bit. Already you should see a difference. Then I go to the Exposure slider and bring that to the right to brighten the photo. Here are the settings I used for this image: Look at the before and after to see the difference: Here I’ll use a different method, with a shot of my family room that I turned black and white: First I’ll go to Image, Adjustments, Selective Color: Once the Selective Color dialog box comes up, I go to the top of the box and pick the color black: The only slider I touch is the last one, the black slider. In this case I’ll make it a +10: Then I’ll pick white from the color selections and again I’ll only use the black slider. The white slider I’ll bring to the left, making the whites whiter. For this I use a -8. Then I’ll click OK: Next I’ll go to Image, Adjustments, Brightness/Contrast: With the Brightness/Contrast dialog box open, I’ll push both sliders to the right. Try not to have a heavy hand. Just a little should do it. For this image I use a +11 for both brightness and contrast. Then I’ll click OK: Here are the before and after pictures: Try both methods and see which one works best for you. Remember every picture is different. The numbers that work for me might be different for you. So, play around with the sliders. Have fun and keep playing with Photoshop.

Basic Rules for Better Photography

Posted in Photography

It’s one thing to take a picture, but another to take a photograph. There are some basic rules that can help you take more interesting and eye catching photographs. Once you have the basic rules down, you’ll become more observant of the photographic opportunities that are around you. This is important in creating your “eye” for photography, and in creating your own style. It will be the difference between a snap shot and a photograph. Rule of Thirds: The “rule of thirds” has been around for centuries, and is the most recognized rule of composition used in photography and the arts alike. The rule of thirds states that the frame can be divided into three horizontal and three vertical sections. Photographs work better when the area of interest is placed off-center. I took this photograph using the rule of thirds. The balloon is off to the left. I usually put my center of focus on the left because in most parts of the world we read from left to right. This is more appealing to the viewer’s eye. They see the center of focus to the left and continue to look toward the right, taking in the rest of the image: Simplicity: The “simplicity” rule is just that. You should keep your photo relatively simple. If you’re zoomed in close to your main subject, make sure that the background is out of focus or make sure that nothing in the background stands out, causing any distractions. You don’t want anything pulling your eye away from your main subject. Here I have a photo of a tulip’s base, a very simple composition. I came in close, and whatever background you see is blurred out — there are no distractions: Leading Lines: The “leading line” draws your eye deeper into the photograph, and commonly to the main subject. The leading lines also direct your eye to an area of the photo that might not have been noticed otherwise. You have to be careful using leading lines. You don’t want them to distract the viewer or lead them away from the main subject. Here’s a photograph that I took in Death Valley, California. In this photo, there are a lot of lines leading up to the top of the mountain. The lines keep your eyes moving up the image. Lines can also go horizontal or vertical. Leading lines can also be rivers, roads, tree branches, bridges, or even building architecture: Straight Horizon: Talking about “straight horizons” may seem a little obvious and not necessary, but you’d be surprised to find how often it’s forgotten. Good thing this is an easy fix in most software programs: Framing: “Framing” natural surroundings thoughtfully can add more meaning and focus to your subject. The surrounding can be just about anything, from tree branches, bushes, and even doorways. Make sure that you are focused on your main subject, and use a high f/stop for depth of field. Here I took a photo of a golden monkey at the Bronx Zoo. I zoomed in close to get rid of any distractions behind the monkey. Then I used the tree branches to frame the image: Perspective: Sometimes a change of perspective can add impact to a photograph. Think about changing from your norm. Try crouching down, or moving to the left or right. Better yet, try to take a photo from a different angle, through a window, or a doorway, or even an archway. Experiment with lenses. You could even invest in a fisheye lens, which will give you a whole new perspective on everything: Color: Color in a photograph can create emotion and mood. Blues and greens are cool. Yellow and orange are warm colors. You can also use colors to create certain effects. Like a “wow” factor when colors jump out at you: Symmetry: Sometimes you just have to forget about the rule of thirds, and just plop your focus dead center, just because it works. Symmetry can come at a price; some may say it’s not interesting enough or even boring. Don’t listen to that. Subjects that work well with symmetry are landscapes and flora: The most important thing to remember about photography besides the rules, are “have fun” and enjoy what you’re doing. Then you can think about the rules. When you’ve finely tuned your skills, you can go ahead a break the rule. Now that’s a lot of fun.

White Balance While Using a Flash – Blue Photos

Posted in Photography, Quick Tips

Ever take pictures of friends and family inside or even outside, and your photos have a blue cast while using a flash? Maybe you even got used to the color and thought that it’s just the way the camera takes the photo. Well, it is the way the camera takes the photo, until you change one easy setting. The white balance — no matter what other setting you have set on your camera, while using the flash it’s important to have the flash setting on your camera “on”: Here I have an image of a mannequin head. I took this with my flash, but the setting on my camera was set to “Auto”. The image has a blue cast: Here I have the same image that I took with the flash, but I also had my camera setting set to “flash”. See the difference between the two images? The same goes for outside photography. Here I took a shot of a bird feeder I have in my backyard. For the first image, I used a flash with the camera setting on “Auto”. For the second image, I used a flash, and had my camera set to “Flash”. See the difference?    In some images the difference is subtle, but in other cases the blue cast is overwhelming. Just remember when you are finished using your flash, to put it back on “auto”. Simple, easy tips can be very useful.

Replacing a Color in Photographs Using Photoshop

Posted in Photography, Photoshop

Below, I have a photograph of a tulip that I had taken not too long ago. I like the color of the tulip, but for this tutorial I’ll change the color of the tulip using the Replace Color tool from the Adjustments menu in Photoshop:


The first thing I’ll do is drop the image into Photoshop. Next I’ll go to Image, Adjustments, Replace Color:


Here the Replace Color dialog box comes up:


Let’s concentrate on the top part of the box for now. In my photograph I want to change the color of the tulip, which is the red part of the image. When I hover my mouse over the part of the flower I want to change, I can see an eyedropper appear in the box. This is telling me, pick the color I want to change.

Here I clicked the eyedropper once over the red part of the flower. It’s only capturing one specific shade of red. I want it to pick all of the red:


What I need to do is go to the top of the Replace Color dialog box and pick the eyedropper with the + next to it:


Once I have the positive eyedropper selected, I’ll go back to the highlighted tulip and click around. Take your time, one click at a time and see how much of the color is being selected. In this example I want to get all of the different shades of red. If I miss any, I won’t be changing all of the red in the flower. Notice how all of the red is selected. Compare the next image to the one above to see the difference:


I literally had to click around 14 times to get all of the different shades of red.

Now it’s time to do some color changing. The first slider I’ll go to is the Hue slider. Here I’ve decided to make the tulip blue:


I can see that the base of the tulip still has some red, and I want to get rid of it. If you want or need to get just a little more or a little less of the color you’re selecting, go to the Fuzziness slider. This is where the Fuzziness slider comes in handy:


So, I’ll go to the Fuzziness slider and bring it to the right until I’m happy with the results. Here I brought the slider to 134 and I like the way it looks:


Now I can go ahead and play with the Saturation and Lightness sliders. These sliders have nothing to do with changing the color. They just enhance the color being changed. These were my final settings:


Here is my end result:


This blog post is dedicated to Bobby.

How to Create Motion in an Image

Posted in Photography, Photoshop

Above is the finished product of this tutorial. Here I have an image of some children playing soccer. I used a fast shutter speed while taking this image, to freeze the action. At this point I think I’d like to put some motion into the image: The first thing I do is drop the image into Photoshop. I’ll make a selection around the boy who is ready to kick the ball. He’s the main focus of this image. To make the selection I’ll use the lasso tool in the tool bar: When I make the selection around the boy, I’ll make sure to feather the selection so that the boy doesn’t look selected with a hard edge. To feather the selection, I go to Select / Modify / Feather: For this image I think I’ll feather at 45 pixels. Then I click OK: The next thing I need to do is to inverse the selection. Right now the boy is selected. I need to have everything around the boy selected. This is why I’m going to inverse the selection. I’ll go to Select / Inverse: Then I’ll go to Filter / Blur / Motion Blur: This is where you have to decide how much motion blur you want. For this image I think I’ll use a motion blur of 171 pixels and keep the “Angle” at 0. I make sure the preview box is checked in the Motion Blur dialog box. Then I click OK: On my keyboard, I hit the keys CTRL-D to deselect the selection. For any reason you see something else in the image that you wish you didn’t blur, you can always go to the history brush and bring it back. Here I decided to bring back the ball, but not 100%. I’ll go to the history brush and I’ll also make sure the history is marked off (the little paintbrush next to the Open step in the image, below) in the History Palette to the point I want to go back:         Here I’m going to bring the opacity of the history brush to 35%. I brush the ball to see how I like how it comes out. If I want to see more of the soccer ball, then I just brush over it again: Here’s the finished image: Have fun!
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