Retouch Better By Zooming In Closer

Seeing the small details will take your Photoshop editing skills to the next level
Retouch Better By Zooming In Closer
Photoshop is remarkable no matter how you look at it, but it gets even better when you look up close by zooming in to see the fine details. Think about it: All that resolution in camera sensors goes to waste if you don’t enlarge the photo to 100% or beyond when you’re editing in Photoshop. When it comes to making an image the highest quality possible—particularly... Read more

Brush-On Selections In Photoshop

Use the select and mask tool to quickly paint a selection—or a mask—wherever you want it
Brush-On Selections In Photoshop
As part of my portrait retouching process, I like to select areas of the face in order to smooth skin tones and eliminate wrinkles and blemishes. And one of the ways I like to quickly make this selection is to use the Select and Mask tool to brush on the selection rather than encircling the area with a lasso. This technique of painting a selection is... Read more

Using Black Glass As A Versatile Tabletop Background

The mirror-like surface of black Plexiglas is great for making unique backgrounds for product photography
Using Black Glass as a Versatile Tabletop Background
Want to photograph an object on a white background? You can use white paper, or even white Plexiglas, or even clear glass. But one unique approach is to use something that’s pure black: black Plexiglas. Believe it or not, this black glass can be used to make a white background—or a gray one, a black one, a blue one or just about anything else you’d... Read more

Understanding Digital Image Resolution

Resolution can be confusing. Here’s a simplified way to understand the actual sizes of digital image files.
Understanding Digital Image Resolution
I’m regularly reminded that people who should have a solid understanding of how resolution works often don’t. When it comes to understanding digital image resolution and how it pertains to image size, ultimately all that matters is the number of pixels contained in the file. It’s not about DPI or PPI or how many inches Photoshop says your... Read more

Tripod Ban Workarounds

When tripods aren’t permitted, try these alternatives
Early this year, in an effort to ease congestion on popular trails, Zion National Park authorities implemented a tripod ban for commercial workshop groups. While individual photographers would be able to continue using tripods, and workshops could still use them in certain designated areas, the ban makes difficult the use of an often-essential piece... Read more

Auto Import Images Into Lightroom

This handy feature creates a watched folder that automatically imports photos into a Lightroom catalog
Auto Import Images into Lightroom
I use Lightroom as the centerpiece of my digital imaging universe. I use it to stay organized, create batch edits of my RAW image files and output specific files built to my clients’ specifications. I have few complaints about Lightroom, but one of them is tethering. I find it a bit too quirky for my liking, so I’ve begun experimenting with other... Read more

Easy Install of a Studio Cyc Wall

The infinity look is easier than ever if you do it yourself with this highly functional studio addition
Easy Install of a Studio Cyc Wall
For years, whenever someone has asked me to shoot a full-length portrait on a white background, I roll out a 9-foot seamless paper. The problem with paper, of course, is that it wrinkles and rips and tears and you have to worry whenever someone stands on it that they’re going to pull the whole thing down. The better way to achieve this “infinity”... Read more

Selecting Subjects Super Fast

Make fast and accurate selections with the Quick Mask’s “Select Subject” feature
Selecting Subjects Super Fast
One of the most common procedures we photographers regularly do when working in Photoshop is to select the subject in order to manipulate it/him/her separate from the background. Sometimes you want to blur the background, for instance, or maybe just to create a clipping path around a portrait subject in a studio setting. In each case, the manipulations... Read more

Data Protection On The Go

Great options for backing up files while you travel for work or play
Data Protection On The Go
Sony PSZ-RA When you’re traveling and taking pictures, backing up your image files becomes even more important—as well as a bigger challenge. After all, you’re away from your home system and what’s hopefully a robust approach to backups you’ve put into place for every download. But when traveling, why risk losing your data if it’s only... Read more

Find Your Lens’ Sharpest F-Stop

Test your lens to determine which apertures provide the sharpest photos
Last week, we talked about several tips for making sharp photos. One of those tips involved choosing your lens’ sharpest aperture. But how do you know which one that is? The sharpest aperture on any lens is generally about two or three stops from wide open. This rule of thumb has guided photographers to shoot somewhere in the neighborhood of ƒ/8... Read more

Six Tips For Sharper Pix

A rundown of six great camera techniques that make for sharper photos
Six Tips for Sharper Pix
If your picture isn’t sharp, it isn’t good. While there are always exceptions to the rules, this one is true the majority of the time. And the better you become as a photographer, the less forgiving you are for fuzzy, unsharp photos. So, here’s a rundown of the camera techniques that will make for sharper pictures. 1. Use a tripod. Even if I’m... Read more

New Lightroom Updates Offer Improved Raw Processing

Lightroom Classic CC has been updated for 2018, with many improvements to Raw image editing and more
I’m one of those rare photographers who are actually big fans of Adobe’s subscription model for its Creative Cloud applications. Instead of going long stretches on outdated software, now I’m always up to date with Lightroom and Photoshop, using the latest tools those brilliant engineers have designed. Just this spring, Adobe provided an update to Lightroom Classic CC (having changed the name to incorporate “Classic” last fall, in order to differentiate from the entirely cloud-based suite of applications, known simply as Lightroom CC) that adds a new set of performance upgrades and features—in particular, some tremendous new controls to RAW image profiles. Here’s what you need to know about those new RAW profiles, as well as a rundown of other neat adjustments to the application. When Adobe updated Lightroom at the beginning of the year, the company focused on faster performance—particularly when it comes to importing and exporting. Photographers had been telling Adobe these areas were lagging, and so the developer improved the speed of these processes, especially for machines running 12GB or more of RAM. It also provided new options for searching nested folders more efficiently, as well as quickly creating collections from existing folders or geotags. The tone curve has been expanded in order to provide greater control over all aspects of exposure and contrast control. For instance, now you can really dig in to shadows, midtones and highlights separately, and tweak each of them with finer controls than before. This simply offers greater precision for those photographers who want to fine-tune their images to tighter tolerances. Other usability changes include moving the Dehaze Slider from it’s former out-of-the-way location in the Effects tab to the prime real estate of the Basic tab, right under the Clarity slider, putting it in a place where this useful tool is likely to get more attention. Also, the application now provides full-size previews of the effects of Develop presets as you mouse-over a given preview. Previously, that preview appeared in the small Navigator window in the top left of the Develop module, but now as you pause your mouse over a given Develop preset, the preview appears on the full image—making it easier to determine if it is, in fact, the look you’re going for. This year’s biggest changes to Lightroom Classic CC, however, are related to Raw profiles. Adobe has augmented traditional camera manufacturer profiles with new Adobe Raw profiles, as well as creative profiles that make more impactful one-click changes to the overall look and feel of an image file. They’re the perfect place to start making adjustments to a Raw image file before other edits are made. Camera profiles had long been buried at the bottom of the develop module in the Camera Calibration tab, but now they’re right there at the top of the Basic tab. This is the perfect place for them, because selecting the Raw profile is the perfect place to start editing an image. Just as you have been able to select camera-specific profiles in the past, now you can select profiles such as Adobe Monochrome, Landscape, Neutral, Portrait and Vivid in order to change the look of an image non-destructively. The creative profiles, of which there are four sets of eight profiles, are built to ride on top of other adjustments you’ve made—to exposure, saturation and sharpness, for instance—so they won’t obliterate any Develop module edits when switching between looks. Monochrome is the default black and white profile, while Adobe Color is the new default neutral color profile for Raw images. Landscape boosts saturation all over, and especially in blues and greens, while Neutral creates a flatter, less saturated overall image. Portrait is optimized for skin tones, while Vivid adds contrast and vibrance, while still maintaining nice skin tones—great for pictures of people in landscapes. The Artistic set of Creative profiles is designed to make bigger, bolder changes to the colors in an image. Black and White Creative profiles are intended to make stronger, more dramatic monotone images. The Modern set of profiles offers a variety of looks that are currently fashionable, while the Vintage profiles mimic the effects so often seen in analog film photographs (things such as increased shadow detail, lower contrast, higher saturation). Best of all, these creative profiles come with a slider (labeled “amount”) that allows you to intensify or dial back the overall impact of a given profile.
I’m one of those rare photographers who are actually big fans of Adobe’s subscription model for its Creative Cloud applications. Instead of going long stretches on outdated software, now I’m always up to date with Lightroom and Photoshop, using the latest tools those brilliant engineers have designed. Just this spring, Adobe provided an update... Read more
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