Above is the effect I’m going to teach you how to do in this tutorial. The first thing I’ll do is open my photo into Photoshop. Here’s the photo I’ve selected for this project. This kind of effect works great with action shots. Boats traveling fast across the water or cars speeding past you, or even people running or jumping: The next thing I’ll do is make a selection around the main subject. I’ll use the Quick Selection tool to make my selection: Once the selection is made, I’ll hit CTRL-J on my keyboard. This will put the selection onto its own layer: In the next step I’ll click on the background layer to make it active. Then I’ll use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to make a rectangular selection around the part of the photo I want to keep. I’ll make sure not to select the front part of the boat. This is the part that I plan on having pop out of the photo. After I make the selection with the Marquee tool, I’ll again hit CTRL-J to put this selection on its own layer. So far this is what the Layers palette looks like: Next I’ll click on the rectangular photo layer, still labeled “Layer 2″. Here I’m going to put a stroke around this layer to make a border/frame around it. At the bottom of the Layers palette there is an FX icon. This is the layer style icon: I’ll click on the FX icon to open the layer style menu. Then I’ll click on Stroke at the bottom of the list: Here the Layer Style dialog box opens: The first thing I like to do is change the color of the stroke, so I’ll click on the color red that shows as the default color. When I click on the red box, the color picker opens up. Here I’ll choose the color white. I’ll do this by dragging the circle in the box to the top left corner where the red color fades to white. I’ll then click in the white area. Then I’ll click OK: Now that the color of the stroke is chosen, it’s time to decide how thick to make the stroke. I think 35 is a good thickness and that’s what I’ll use for this project. Where it says “position,” I’ll change the default of “outside” to “inside”. This will get rid of the rounded edges of the stroke. I’ll leave the opacity to 100%. Here are the setting I used in the Stroke dialog box: The next thing I’ll do is choose the Outer Glow option in the Layer Style dialog box. It’s the third one down on the left. Make sure to click on the words â€œouter glowâ€ to see the options for this feature. Here I’ll change the Blend Mode from Screen to Multiply. I’ll bring the Opacity to 60 and then I’ll click on the black box to change the color to black. Clicking on the black box will bring up the Color Picker dialog box. I’ll just click on the black part of the box then click OK. In the Elements section of the box I left the Technique set to Softer, Spread 30 and Size 40. The Quality section at the bottom of the box I’ll just leave at the defaults. Then I’ll click OK. Play around with the sliders and see which arrangements suit your photo. Here is the setting I used in this box for the Outer Glow style: Now I’m going to add a little drop shadow to the man on the ski boat. Here I’ll go to “Layer 1″ and just double click on the layer to bring up the layer style dialog box. In the Drop Shadow dialog box I’ll select Multiply as the blend mode. I’ll put the Angle at 176 so that the shadow is in front of the boat. I’ll set the Distance to 24, the Spread to 34, and I’ll choose 27 for the Size. I’ll leave Quality at the defaults. Then I’ll click OK. Here are the settings: I need to get rid of the shadow inside of the box. I want the shadow outside the box to give the man on the ski boat the appearance of jumping out. I’ll save this step for last. To get rid of the distractions in the background behind the box and the man on the ski boat, I’ll click on the background layer and fill it with white. To do this, I’ll press D to set the background color to white, then I’ll hit CTRL-BACKSPACE to fill the background with white. The last thing left to do is to get rid of the shadow inside the box. To do this I’ll go to “Layer 1″. In “Layer 1″ I’ll right click on the FX icon on the right side of the layer: From the menu I’ll choose Create Layer. This flattens the layer so we can now erase the inner shadow. When I’m ready to erase I’ll make sure I’m on the “Layer 1” “Drop Shadow”: Here is the finished photo: Experiment and have fun!
Above is a photograph of a car that I recently took at a car show in Westchester. I’d like to give it a painterly look, so here’s how I’m going to do it. The first thing I do is open the photo in Photoshop. Then I’ll go to Shadow/Highlight. The reason I do this is to open up the shadows, which helps create the painterly look: Here are the settings I use. I’ll bring up the Shadow amount to 20 and the Highlight to 5. Then I’ll click OK: The next thing I’ll do is go to Filter/Noise/Dust & Scratches: I’ll bring the Radius slider to 24 and the Threshold to 37. These are the settings that I think look good for this photo. A different photo might need a little more or a little less with each slider. Here you see that the photo has transformed into a painterly look already: The next thing I’ll do is add some noise. So I’ll go to Filter/Noise/Add Noise: Here I’ll set the amount to 14.0 and keep the distribution set to Uniform. I’ll also uncheck the Monochromatic box at the bottom of the Add Noise box. Then I’ll click OK: In the next step I’ll equalize the photo. So, I’ll go to Image/Adjustments/Equalize: Here you can see the photo come to life. What I’ll do next is set the history marker in the history palette to the step before “equalize”: Then I’ll use the History Brush to go back one step and darken the background around the yellow car. The yellow car is the main subject and I want it to stand out: I’ll use the History Brush at 100% Opacity, and a 40% feather on the brush. On the tool bar at the top of the page, I’ll click on the triangle that’s pointing down to open up the brush options: Then I’ll be able to see all the brush options and the different selections of brushes. Here I have the brush hardness set to 40%. The Master Diameter is just the size of the brush: Here are the before and after images: Have fun and experiment with all the sliders. If you don’t want any noise in your photo, just leave out that step. If you want more of the painterly look, just increase the Radius slider in the Dust & Scratch menu.
Above is a photo of a black cap chick that I took the other day. It was very overcast and the lighting wasn’t good at all, but I decided to take the shot anyway. It’s very grainy because I had the ISO on my camera set to 800 and the lighting conditions were poor. What I’ll do is hit CTRL-J on my keyboard to make a duplicate layer. It will be called “Layer 1″. Just double click on the word and change it to whatever you’re working on. I’m going to call my layer “Bird”. The next thing I’ll do is go to Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur. The dialog box for the Gassian Blur will come up. You don’t need to get crazy with the blur, unless you have a lot of distractions in the background. In this case, I just want to get rid of the noise behind the bird where it’s most obvious. Here I set the blur to 4.0. When you’ve decided how much blur is good for your photo, then click OK. Now it’s time to put a mask on the â€œBirdâ€ layer. Using the mask will make it easier to bring back the sharpness into the bird and still keep the noiseless background untouched. I’ll then click on the mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette. You’ll see the mask box appear in the “Bird” layer. Now all I have to do is paint back the parts of the photo that should be sharp. Make sure that you click on the mask box in the layer to make it active. You’ll see a border go around the small white box when it’s active. I’ll start painting with a black brush to bring out the original image. If you make a mistake and paint the wrong thing, no problem. Switch to the white brush to bring back the blurred layer. Don’t forget you have total control over the brush. You can lower the “Opacity” of the brush while you’re working. Then you can bring back some of the original image. For example, when I brought back the branch the bird is standing on, I used 50% opacity. The main focus is the bird. I don’t want a blurry branch, but at the same time I don’t want the graininess of the branch to pull the viewers eye away from the bird. The opacity brush is located on the tool bar at the top of your screen when you are using the brush. When you are finished you can save the layers as a .psd file, or you can flatten the layer by going to Layer, Flatten Image. Here are the before and after images. You don’t want what you’ve done to be obvious; you want it to be subtle. If you overdo the blur, your photo will looked worked on and you don’t want that. Here I zoomed in closer to the backgrounds so that you can see the difference between the before and after. You can definitely see the difference between the two. The original photo on the top is very grainy and the fixed one under it isn’t grainy. Try this with some of your photos and see how it works for you.
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.
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.