Being a Photoshop User

The advantage of being a member of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals ) is their great web site, not to mention their monthly magazine. Most of all it’s the Photoshop User web site that has me hooked. There is a wide variety of tutorials, with video and instructional tutorials. There are always new tutorials to learn from, and they don’t miss a beat:

The best part is if you don’t understand something in the tutorials, there is always someone to ask:

Another feature is the H.E.L.P. Center, which you can only access if you join. Here you can use “keywords” to search for something specific. Let’s use the example “selection”. If I enter the word “selection” into the search, it would come up with a menu of topics that has to do with the selection process. If I then pick “Filling a Layer or selection”, a video tutorial opens up and answers my question:

The tutorials cover everything from simple cloning to all the newest and most popular subjects like HDR:

Not only is there a place to ask Photoshop questions, but you can also ask about Lightroom,camera gear and computers. Just click on the Contact Us link and ask your question:

There are a few ways you can ask a question. You can email them, call them or even write a snail mail. The Photoshop user web site also has a cool feature called Photoshop TV. This is where they have episodes on just about everything from tips and tricks in Photoshop to upcoming events and seminars:

I’ve gone to a few seminars in NYC at the Jacob Javits Center. I enjoyed them all. I know there is a lot of information on the Internet that you can get for free, but I like being a Photoshop member because the information is accurate and there are a lot of perks and discounts, and everything from A to Z is consolidated on this one site.

Making a Simple Border/Frame Around an Image

Sometimes you want to add a finishing touch to an image by adding a border or frame around it. In this example, I have an image that has a black background. If I do a slideshow of some of my flowers that have a black background the image will bleed into the background.

In the above image, you can see where the branch ends into blackness; in this case a border/frame is necessary.

Here are the simple steps:

  1. Bring the image into Photoshop.
  2. Go to the eye dropper tool on the tool bar:
  3. Hover the eye dropper tool over a color in the image or pick a color from the color picker palate. I prefer to pick a color from the image that will blend well. In this case I picked the color pink so that it’s easily visible for this tutorial. You can see the color you’ve chosen in the box on the tool bar:
  4. Next go to the top of the page and click on Select. When the menu drops down, click on All. Then you’ll be able to see that the border of your image is selected.
  5. Go to the top of the page and click Edit. When the menu drops down, click on Stroke.
  6. In the Stroke box you can see the width in pixels. If you want a thin border, then choose a small number. If you want a thick border then choose a large number. In this image I’ll choose 25px. Then click OK:

Here is the image with the border/frame:

Example images:

Portrait Tips

With every portrait, the main focus is the subject. To keep the main focus on the subject, you’ll need to get in close. Having too much distraction in the background takes away from your subject, be it a person or animal or a flower.

For example, not too long ago I went to a Civil War reenactment. There were soldiers in costume and regular everyday people walking around together. How do I get a good shot without all the distractions? I saw some soldiers coming off the battlefield and decided to get in close. It was the only way to get the effect I was looking for.

A soldier sat down in front of a tent which was under a tree. Perfect. I came up beside him and took the picture. I didn’t want him to see me because I wanted the shot to look as natural as possible. I find that sometimes if a person knows you’re there and ready to take their picture, they get an unnatural look.

In this shot I used my Nikon D2Xs, with an 18mm-200mm lens, and an 800 DX speedlight with a diffuser.

For more of an authentic look to the image, I turned it into black and white in Photoshop.

A very important tip for when taking a portrait shot is to make sure the subject’s eyes are sharp. When you talk to someone or meet someone, the first thing you do is look at the eyes. The same thing is true with a portrait of a person or animal.

Here is an animal example. This was my dog “Precious”. She was an excellent subject. Always looking cute. All I had to do was say “cheese” and her ears would pop up and she’d stare right at me. A lot of images that I have of her are snapshots, not portraits. The snapshots are images with lots of distractions around her. In my daughter’s room, on my daughter’s unmade bed with my daughter still in the bed too.

This time I decided I wanted a portrait of her, and not just a snapshot. I put her in a swing in the backyard and made sure that there weren’t any distractions around her. I put my camera on a tripod and used a fill flash. With the promise of cheese, she was very corporative.

There is definitely a difference between the two images.

The main thing to remember when taking a portrait shot is.

  1. Move in close.
  2. Be aware of distractions in the background.
  3. Try to keep the eyes sharp.
  4. Be aware of lighting conditions. Keep the sun off to the left or right of the subject.
  5. ALWAYS enjoy taking photographs!

HDR and the Purple Fringe

Have you noticed that after you process an HDR image you get a purple fringe around parts of your image? Sometimes it’s more noticeable than other times, but either way it’s annoying.

Well, there’s no reason to be annoyed anymore, thanks to a Photoshop action called the Purple Fringe Killer. I found this action for free on the Internet. I wish I knew who to credit, but it’s just been floating around. I definitely have found that it’s made a difference in some of my images.

Here is an image straight out of Photomatix and untouched in Photoshop yet. In this image, you can’t really see the purple fringe. You’ll need to zoom in close. In some images it’s obvious even before you zoom in, depending on the colors in the image.

Here I’ve zoomed into the top of the lighthouse where you can definitely see the purple fringe.

Here is the Photoshop action I was mentioning. All I have to do is run the action, and it gets rid of the purple fringe.

Halfway through the action, it asks you to “Press continue if there is red-tinged fringing left”. I always click continue.

Here, the action has finished doing its work. It doesn’t get rid of the purple 100%. But it does do a very good job of getting rid of 95% of the fringing.

I definitely recommend the “Purple Fringe Killer”.

Here are the “before” and “after” images.

Click here to download the action.You should copy the action into the \Presets\Actions folder where Photoshop is installed on your computer.

Enjoy, and have fun with photography!

Websites Aren’t What They Used to Be – Try SmugMug!

Six years ago I started a website showing my photography. It wasn’t easy. My husband had to program the site. He designed it and then put my images onto it. I always felt the need to redesign the site, but it was a lot of work for my husband, who was already bogged down with other work. Even when I wanted to put up an image, I had to ask him to do it for me because I don’t know how to program.

As the years went on I realized that I wasn’t putting up new images into my photography website. There were images on my site that I wanted taken off too. I just got tired of asking for help. I wanted a site that I could have total control over.

My husband got commissioned to do a website. So, he and I did some research and found a hosting site called SmugMug . Hallelujah!! This hosting site looked great. All my husband had to do was set up the basics for me, which required some programming. The rest is a breeze. I have total control. I put up images when I want to. I could take off images when I want to also.

Since SmugMug is a community, there’s more of a chance that other people will see my work. I also enjoy surfing the SmugMug community looking at other photographic web sites. SmugMug also has a feature called “keywords”. On their home page you can type in a keyword and everyone in the SmugMug community who has the same word for a specific image will show up in a gallery.

My website on SmugMug is fairly new. It’s only been up a month and a half. I think it looks great. It’s much better than my old site. And the best part is that I’m finally in control.