Understanding An Essential Photo Editing Skill: Masking

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Achieving perfect photography requires more than just in-camera skills in today’s environment. Yes, even the professionals now rely on post-production skills to PERFECT their images. One of the most important photos editing skills to learn is called “Masking” and a new in-depth guide was just released to help photographers master it.

How many times have you returned home to review your pictures only to spot something you missed when you took the shot? Something that totally ruins the photograph…

After you read this new masking guide you’ll realize that you are no longer tied to what you find. You can clean up the bugs in your shots. Fix those less than perfect rose petals. Take out that pesky truck that parked right in the middle of your landscape shot.

It includes 171 pages of training, illustrations, and self-check quizzes. Covering the masking techniques and secrets in ALL of the popular editing software packages. (Inc. Lightroom, Photoshop, Elements, Camera Raw & Mobile Photography editing apps. It covers it all!)

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How to Create a Bokeh Photoshop Action

Welcome to our Photoshop in 60 Seconds series, in which you can learn a Photoshop skill, feature, or technique in just a minute!

How to Create a Bokeh Photoshop Action

Start by creating a custom brush. Hit F5 to bring up the Brush panel. Using a Hard Round Brush, adjust the Scatter to 1000%, and then Save your custom brush so that we can use it later for the action.

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Now go to Window > Actions and set up a new bokeh Action in the Actions panel. When you’re ready, click Record to begin recording the next steps.

Open your photo in Photoshop.

bokeh_before2Woman Stock via Pixabay
Copy and Paste two backgrounds from this Noise Blurred Backgrounds set above your image. Select both layers and lower the Opacity to 20%, and then set the Blend Mode of the first one to Hard Light and the second one to Screen.

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Create a New Layer and use the custom Bokeh Brush we created earlier to apply a few bokeh. Set the Layer Blend Mode to Overlay, and then Right-click and go to Blending Options, adding a quick Inner Glow with the following settings:

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Duplicate (Control-J) the layer, bringing the copy down slightly, before going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and blurring it with a Radius of 5 pixels.

Set a New Layer to Color Dodge. Paint soft brown colors (or use the Eyedropper Tool to select dark colors from the photo) for more intensity. Lower the Opacity to 22%. Follow up with a New Adjustment Layer for Exposure, setting the Exposure to 1 and the Opacity to 20%.

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When you’re finished, remember to click the Stop button in the Actions panel to use this action for future photos.

Here is the final effect.

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Experiment with this action on more images for awesome results!

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How To Use Photoshop Curves To Make Your Photos Pop

Photoshop Curves is one of the most powerful tools for tonal adjustments, whether you want to brighten, darken, add contrast, or shift colors. Yet it’s so complex, many users avoid it. In the tutorial below, photographer Joshua Cripps demonstrates a remarkably simple way to create great color effects using this most enigmatic of adjustment tools:

In this tutorial, Cripps uses just a couple of simple steps to isolate his colors and selectively bring out the hues he’d like to emphasize. Using just two curves adjustment layers, setting them with the targeted adjustment tool, and then masking off any unintended effects with Apply Image, Cripps was able to quickly add the color pop to what began as a somewhat ordinary photo.

before-curves-adjustmentBefore Curves Adjustments

TARGETED ADJUSTMENT TOOL

And even if you’re somewhat familiar with the Curves tool, you may not have known about the shortcuts Cripps shows us with the Targeted Adjustment Tool (the one that looks like a hand). Simply click and then drag it up to increase an adjustment or down to decrease it.

APPLY IMAGE

Another little gem for folks newer to Photoshop was his usage of the Image > Apply Image command to create a mask that duplicated the light and dark areas of his image. One could go years of working with masks and not know this simple time-saving trick.

after-curves-adjustmentAfter Curves Adjustments

Many photographers would never think about creating more tonal separation between colors to heighten an image’s drama, but Cripps uses it to great effect here. His end result has a gentle “pop” to it that just wasn’t there at the beginning.

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Color adjustment with levels in Photoshop

Sometimes, the color balance of a picture is simply wrong. Working with ‘Levels’ in Photoshop is a quick way to adjust and correct the color balance of an image. ‘Levels’ can provide powerful color correction tools. In the following tutorial, we gladly explain how you can adjust the color of an image with ‘Levels’ in Photoshop.As you can see, the following example picture is very cold and blue.

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You definitely want to adjust and improve the color. Start by opening Photoshop. Click ‘File’ and then ‘Open’ to browse your computer to get the picture into Photoshop (or browse your computer or external drive to find the image that you want to edit, right-click the image and select ‘Open With’ Photoshop).

Open-picture-in-photoshop

To adjusts, color with ‘Levels’, open your ‘Layers’ panel and click the black and white circle.

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Click ‘Levels’.

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Bring up the ‘Adjustment’ window that opens up and gets started. You see three ‘Eyedropper Tools’. You’ve got a black picker (top eyedropper), a gray picker (the middle eyedropper) and a white picker (bottom eyedropper).

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Click the white picker and then click a white area in your picture. You can see your picture already change. You can also click the black picker and click a black area in your picture. Play around to get the best result. In case you do not have black or white in your picture, there usually will be some gray area in the scene. Click the gray picker and click a gray area in your picture. Simply play around with all these three ‘Eyedroppers Tools’ to adjust the color of your picture. As you can see, when we play around with these pickers, the colors in the example picture become much better. Note that you can also play around with ‘Opacity’ in the ‘Layers’ panel to make some final color adjustments.

Result-Eyedropper-Tools

Your colors are now adjusted using ‘Levels’ and the ‘Eyedropper Tools’.The picture immediately looks much warmer and far more realistic.

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How To Crop An Image In A Circle With Photoshop

Step 1: Open Your Image

Start by opening your image in Photoshop. Here’s the photo I’m using (portrait photo from Adobe Stock):

original-imageThe original image. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

Step 2: Convert The Background Layer Into A Normal Layer

If we look in the Layers panel, we see our image sitting on the Background layer:

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The Layers panel showing the image on the Background layer.
Before we can crop our image to a circle, we first need to convert the Background layer into a normal layer. The reason is that we’ll need to be able to surround our image with transparency, but Photoshop doesn’t allow transparency on the Background layer.

To convert the Background layer into a normal layer, all we need to do is rename it. In Photoshop CC, simply click on the lock icon on the right of the Background layer in the Layers panel. In Photoshop CS6 or earlier, press and hold the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key on your keyboard and double-click on the Background layer.

Photoshop instantly renames the layer from “Background” to “Layer 0”. And just like that, we’ve converted it into a normal layer and we’re good to go:

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The Background layer is now a normal layer named “Layer 0”.

Step 3: Select The Elliptical Marquee Tool

Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool from the Toolbar. By default, the Elliptical Marquee Tool is nested behind the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the Rectangular Marquee Tool, then choose the Elliptical Marquee Tool from the fly-out menu:

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Selecting the Elliptical Marquee Tool.

Step 4: Draw A Circular Selection Outline

With the Elliptical Marquee Tool in hand, click on your image and drag out an elliptical selection outline. To force the selection outline into a perfect circle, press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard as you’re dragging. Don’t worry about getting the location of the circle exactly right because we’ll move it into position in the next step. For now, just make sure the circle is big enough to surround the area you want to keep.

When you’re done, release your mouse button, then release your Shift key. Make sure you release your mouse button first, then the Shift key or the selection outline will snap back into a freeform elliptical shape:

photoshop-draw-circular-selection-outlinePress and hold Shift and drag out a circular selection outline.

Step 5: Reposition The Selection Outline If Needed

If you didn’t draw your selection outline in exactly the right spot, simply click inside the selection outline and drag it into position. Here, I’m moving it so that the young woman’s face is centered within the circle. This is the area I want to keep. The rest of the image will be cropped away:

photoshop-move-selection-outlineClick and drag the circular selection outline into place.

Step 6: Invert The Selection

At the moment, we have the area inside the circle selected. What we actually need is for the area outside the circle to be selected.

To deselect the area inside the circle and select everything around it, go up to the Select menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose Inverse:

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Going to Select > Inverse.

Step 7: Delete The Area Around The Circle

With the selection inverted, press the Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) key on your keyboard to delete the area around the circle. Photoshop fills the area with a checkerboard pattern, which is how Photoshop represents transparency:

photoshop-delete-area-around-circlePress Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) to delete the unwanted area.
We don’t need our selection outline anymore, so to remove it, go up to the Select menu and choose Deselect:

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Going to Select > Deselect.

Step 8: Trim Away The Transparent Areas

To crop the image around the circle and remove all of the transparent areas surrounding it, go up to the Image menu and choose Trim:

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Going to Image > Trim.
In the Trim dialog box, choose Transparent Pixels at the top. Then make sure that Top, Bottom, Left, and Right are all selected at the bottom (they should be by default):

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Selecting “Transparent Pixels” in the Trim dialog box.
Click OK to close the Trim dialog box. Photoshop instantly trims away the surrounding transparent areas, leaving us with our image cropped as a circle:

photoshop-crop-image-to-circleThe image is now cropped to a circle.

Step 9: Save The Image As A PNG File

Normally, we’d save a photo as a JPEG file, but JPEG’s don’t support transparency. To keep the transparency in the corners and avoid filling them with white, save the cropped image as a PNG file which does support transparency.

To save it, go up to the File menu and choose Save As:

photoshop-file-save-as
Going to File > Save As.
In the Save As dialog box set the Format option to PNG. Name your file and choose where you want to save it, then click Save:

photosho-save-as-pngMake sure you choose PNG for the file format to preserve the transparency.
When Photoshop asks you to set the PNG options, you can safely leave them at their defaults. Click OK to save the image:

photoshop-png-options
The default PNG options work fine.

And there we have it! That’s how to easily crop an image to a circle using the Elliptical Marquee Tool in Photoshop!

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How to crop a picture with the Photos app for iPhone and iPad

How to crop a picture with the Photos app for iPhone and iPad

If you’ve ever taken a great photo only to realize an unsightly object in the background, you already understand the need to be able to crop photos down.

1. Launch the Photos app from your Home screen.

2. Find the photo you’d like to crop and tap on it to open it.

3. Tap the hamburger menu along the bottom of your screen.

crop-a-photo-for-iphone-and-ipad-01 16-08-31, 9.51.42 AM

4. Tap on the crop button in the bottom menu. Tap and drag the corners of the photo until you’re satisfied with the crop.

5. Tap Done in the bottom menu.

6. Tap crop, crop it to your liking, tap Done

How to change the aspect ratio in Photos for iPhone and iPad

1. Launch the Photos app on your iPhone or iPad.

2. Find and tap on the photo you’d like to edit.

3. Tap the hamburger menu along the bottom of your screen.

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4. Tap on the crop icon in the bottom menu.

5. Tap on the aspect ratio button on the lower right of the screen.

6. Tap on the ratio you’d like to use.

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7. Drag your finger on the dial to center the photo how you’d like it.

8. Tap on Done in the bottom right-hand corner when you’re happy with the image.

how-to-change-the-aspect-ratio-03 16-08-31, 10.19.31 AM

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A Guide to Basic Photo Editing with Photoshop

2199036_f520Adobe Photoshop is an incredibly complex photo-editing program that can create professional-grade graphics for large scale distribution. But, what if all you want to do is remove that scratch or add a fancy filter? Well, you’re in luck. Because Photoshop can work for you too. What you’ll find below is a handful of tools you can use to enhance and repair your digital photos. There is no silver bullet for improving a picture, but the more of these techniques you know, the more adept you’ll be                                                                               at photo editing.

Brightness/Contrast

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Often times you will have a photograph that you like, but it’s just a little too light or too dark. In this case, the Brightness/Contrast option is your best friend. Go up to the menu in the upper left corner, click on Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. This will launch a new window with two little bars and an adjustment arrow for each. There are also spaces to enter a numeric value, but for the purpose of this tutorial, we’re just going to play around with the arrows to see how we would like to enhance or tone down the photo.

The Brightness bar controls how light or dark the image is. Drag the arrow to the right and the image gets lighter, and drag it to the left to make it darker. When used alone, the brightness option doesn’t always produce the best results. Often times the image will appear washed out if it’s too bright, and too faded when it’s darkened. This is where the Contrast option comes into play.

The Contrast bar controls the difference ratio between colors. For example, if you make an image darker using the Brightness bar, it will darken everything, if you make an image darker using the Contrast bar, it will darken the existing dark areas and brighten the light areas. Also, the Contrast bar increases the boldness of the colors in the image. So, if you slide the arrow to the right, the image will become more colorful and defined. If you slide the arrow to the left, the image will become more gray and flat.

Using these two options in conjunction is the best way to get your desired results. The numeric value can be useful if you like the settings and wish to apply the same amount to a different photo. If you keep these written down you can be sure you are getting the same results each time they are entered.

Color Balance

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Another very useful tool is Color Balance. Like with the Brightness/Contrast option, go to Image > Adjustments > Color Balance. This will bring up a window similar to the Brightness/Contrast window, except now there are three bars to be adjusted instead of two. You’ll also notice that a color is listed on either side of the bars, such as Cyan to Red and Yellow to Blue. If for example, you wish to add more blue to your photo, you can drag the arrow towards the word blue, and Photoshop will automatically distribute a blue hue into your photo. All of the colors can be mixed and matched for better results. For example, if I wish to create brown, I will need to combine various amounts of green, red and yellow.

This tool also comes in handy if you have a black and white photograph that you wish to add color to. It is important to note, however, that if you have a black and white photo, you can’t give it back its original colors with photoshop (not easily anyway), but with the color balance tool, you can give it a sense of color that makes it look even better.

For my example, I will add a bronze/brown color to give the photograph a sepia tone.

Also to note: At the bottom of the Color Balance window, you will see three selection options (Shadows/Midtones/Highlights). This controls where the majority of the color goes. If you wish to add a darker red to the shadows in your image, you’ll want to use the shadows selection. And if you wish to add yellow to the brighter parts of the image, you’ll want to use the highlights selection. Each selection is the same in terms of the interface so feel free to play around with each one to get the best results.

Tools to know and love

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Photoshop has a lot of tools to play with, but for the purposes of general photo editing, you will want to focus on a select few. All tools can be found on the left-hand side.

Magnifying Glass:

The magnifying glass is pretty self-explanatory. It allows you to zoom in on parts of your image so that you can work with the finer details. If you wish to go further with Photoshop, the magnifying glass is a good tool to become acquainted with.

Dodge/Burn/Sponge:

This tool is actually three in one. When you left click on the button and hold it down, you will be given a smaller menu that includes these three tools. These tools are like miniature versions of the brighten/contrast option I mentioned above. That option would change the brightness/contrast of the entire image, but the nice thing about these tools is that it allows you to brighten/darken select parts of the image. The Dodge Tool is used for lightening any area you draw over. The Burn Tool is used for darkening any area you draw over and the Sponge Tool is used to remove the color from any area you draw over. It operates in much the same way as a paint brush. Just pick the part you wish to darken and ‘paint’ over the area. Doing so repeatedly will increase the intensity of the effect.

Patch:

The Patch Tool can be one of the most useful tools in photo editing. Once you select the tool, your mouse cursor will turn into a tiny patch with the thread coming out of it. Let us say, for example, that there is a black mark on your photograph that you don’t like. Select a portion of the photo that matches the area with the mark. Your selection doesn’t need to be perfect. Drawing a small circle, larger than the black mark, will be sufficient. Once you have your selection, click in the center of it and drag it over until it is completely covering the black mark and release. The selection you used will now be covering the black mark as if it never existed.

It is important to reiterate that you must select a part of the image that looks similar to the area you are ‘filling in’. The patch tool essentially copies part of the image and then blends its edges with its surroundings when it’s put in place somewhere else.

Blur and Sharpen

2199055_f520The blur and sharpen options can be used at any point during your photo editing process since it does not affect the color of your photograph. For the sake of simplicity, we will focus on the most basic options for sharpening and blurring.

Go up to the menus at the top of the page and locate the menu called “Filter” click it and scroll down the list until you find “Blur”. When you move your cursor over this menu a new list will appear to the right giving you all the different blur options. For now, only worry about “Blur” and “Blur More”. The names say it all. “Blur” will give your image a slightly fuzzy quality and “Blur More” will do it to a greater degree.

If you wish to sharpen your image, open the Filter menu again and scroll down until you find “Sharpen” and wait for the secondary menu to appear on the right. This is the same layout as the blur menu with “Sharpen” and “Sharpen More” but it will give your image a slightly clearer quality. Both, however, should be used sparingly, as too much will muddle the picture.

Conclusion:

2199058_f520Each of these methods can be used alone or in conjunction with each other to enhance your photographs, but they hardly breech the surface of what Photoshop can do. Therefore, I encourage you to take this information and play around with the various options the program has.

Some Additional Tips:

Edit > Undo will undo the last thing you did, but if you wish to go even further back you can look for the “History” window on the right-hand side of the program. It keeps track of everything you did and will allow you to go back much further than the undo option.
If you wish to turn a color photo into a black and white photo, simply click on Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.
If you are unable to produce any visible results with the Dodge/Burn/Sponge tool, check to see what brush size you’re using and what the flow percentage is. If the brush is too small or weak, you may not see any difference in the image when it is applied.

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