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How to Make A Victorian Silhouette

These simple profile portraits are beautiful and timeless

For centuries, the art of making simple silhouette profile portraits has remained popular. While traditional Victorian-era silhouettes were often made from intricately cut sheets of thin cardboard, many silhouettes were also painted or drawn. I recall as a child, in fact, using projected light to trace my schoolmates shadows on construction paper, then... Read more

Product Photography How-To: Dual Exposure

Combine flash with a long exposure to see the screen on an electronic device

If you’re photographing an iPhone or a tablet, a laptop or a TV screen, one thing is key to making the shot work: the screen has to appear brightly illuminated. But you can’t just turn on your device and assume that any old strobe exposure will work. In fact, when working with strobes, the high light output usually means it’s harder to see the... Read more

Creating Truly Seamless Studio Backgrounds

Paper sweeps are great studio backgrounds, but incorrectly placed lights can bring out textures and inconsistencies in the seamless.

When shooting indoors with a seamless paper background most photographers want to achieve a pure seamless background. It might be white or gray or black or blue or almost any color under the sun, but what it can’t be is a patterned or mottled paper. Yet sometimes seamless paper backgrounds sure don’t look totally smooth. What causes this? And can... Read more

Why Do You Need a Hair Light?

In studio and outdoors, a hair light can help separate a portrait subject from the background

One of the best ways to increase the production value on any photograph is to add to the illusion of three-dimensionality. Skilled photographers use depth of field, light and shadow to accomplish this, accentuating shapes and separating subject from background in an effort to make it easier to interpret what’s important in an image quickly and easily,... Read more

Gel Your Flash To Mix Light Sources

Alleviate color balance issues with a simple gelled-flash technique

With all the technological advances Digital SLRs have made in recent years, it may seem like there’s literally nothing they can’t do. They can automatically select the appropriate ISO, the shutter speed, aperture, white balance, flash exposure… They can do almost everything automatically and perfectly every time. But the one thing they... Read more

An Automatic ISO Primer

How and why to use the auto ISO feature on your DSLR

For a long time in my photography career, I used digital SLRs just like the film cameras that came before—relying heavily on the manual features that I knew would provide me with total control. But eventually I began to investigate the functionality of all sorts of helpful automatic settings, things like Auto Exposure, Auto White Balance and, eventually,... Read more

Better Low Light Photography

How to make the most of a photo op when the light is low

It’s easy to make sharp photos in broad daylight, or beautiful photos with golden sunset light. But what do you do when the light gets really low and you still want to shoot? Here’s a handful of tips to help you improve your low light photography skill. – Don’t be afraid of high ISOs Way back in the old days DSLRs were a lot... Read more

Frequency Separation Retouching… For Hair!

This popular skin retouching technique is also great for taming flyaway hair

The frequency separation technique is particularly popular among portrait retouchers who want a subject’s skin to look its best without appearing overly retouched or, heaven forbid, downright fake. As good as the process is for skin, it’s also quite effective when retouching hair—for eliminating flyaways and stray hairs, in particular.... Read more

Digital Toning For Beautiful Black And White

How to use Lightroom and Photoshop to add dimension to black-and-white photos

Split Toned Before For generations of darkroom print makers, toning a black and white print was not only a way to add beauty via a subtle gold, sepia or blue tone, but it also added longevity as well. Bonding metals such as gold and selenium to the silver in black and white photo paper made beautiful prints that were more archival. A dual benefit.... Read more

How To Make A Photo Look Like An Oil Painting

Photoshop’s art history brush is a fast and fun way to emulate the look of an oil painting

Before If you’ve got a photo you’d like to makeover with a painterly flair, consider using Photoshop’s Art History Brush. It can transform any photograph into a virtual impressionist painting. I find that it works particularly well on landscapes, flowers, and naturalistic images in general. Found just beneath the History... Read more

Change Your Lens Or Move Your Feet?

The difference between zooming your lens and zooming with your feet

In the development of every photographer, at some point we figure out that there are multiple ways to approach the composition of any scene. For instance, if you know you want to shoot a portrait of a person in the park, and you want to photograph her from the waist up and fill the frame, you’ve got one major choice right off the bat: should I... Read more

The Peripheral Vision Retouching Technique

How do you determine which spots need fixing? Look Here, Click There.

One of the most useful ways to put Photoshop to work improving a photograph is to use it for simple spotting and retouching of tiny distractions in any shot. With a portrait, for instance, small blemishes, pores and wrinkles serve to keep a portrait subject from looking his or her best. It can be obvious sometimes which blemishes need to be removed,... Read more
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