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4 Photoshop Tools Every Photographer Should Know

When it comes to photo-editing programs, one of the most popular among both amateur and professional photographers alike is Adobe Photoshop. While it can appear more complex than Lightroom, and certainly takes more time to learn all of its tricks, Photoshop offers four post-processing tools that come in handy for retouching images. These tools are pretty easy to locate and implement, and in this article I’ll show you how they work, specifically while retouching the image of the Space Needle in Seattle (below). I have the privilege of having this view from my home office, but the problem is that if I take a photo using anything but a telephoto lens, I get telephone pole remnants and wires in my otherwise pretty cityscape image.

Here are the four Photoshop tools I use to retouch my Space Needle images. There are of course other ways to retouch this image to achieve the same or even better results, but these are quick and easy methods that also highlight essential Photoshop skills.

5 basic photoshop tools for photographers

Before we do anything to modify Photoshop images, the first thing to note is that within Photoshop, you can cause permanent changes to the pixels and details of your photos if you’re not careful. This is why you always want to make sure you are performing nondestructive editing so that you don’t overwrite the original image data.

How to Retouch a Portrait with the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom

Portrait retouching Lightroom

You have probably seen several portrait retouching programs advertised in magazines or online, and wondered if they were worth buying. The answer is no. I have tried out quite a few, and the truth is that the Soften Skin preset in Lightroom does just as good a job as any of them. For most photographers Lightroom’s retouching tools all are you will ever need. For high end retouching purposes you can go to Photoshop.

It’s worthwhile taking some time to think about your personal approach to portrait retouching. Some photographers seem to like the airbrushed, almost plastic look of heavy processing. It’s a style you see used a lot in commercial photography or movie posters.

Others will go for a more natural effect, and use the retouching tools with a light touch. That’s definitely my approach, and it fits with my preference for natural light and for creating portraits that capture character.

Either way,the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom can accommodate your needs.

Retouching portraits of women

How to Use Virtual Copies in Lightroom

Imagine that you have just processed a color image and that you are happy with the result. But you’d also like to experiment with it a little. Perhaps you’re curious to see how it will look if you convert it to black and white. Maybe you’d like to give it a different look using a Develop Preset, or crop to the square format.

working with virtual copies in lightrooom

In Photoshop, you would have to make a copy of the file for every variation you want to try. If you are working with 16 bit TIFF files, the extra copies take up a lot of hard drive space.

7 things you didn’t know about raw

There’s more to Adobe Camera Raw than making simple image adjustments. Here are seven little-known reasons why editing raw files offers you more flexibility.

7 things you didn't know about raw

01 A raw file isn’t an image

For those photographers who want the best image quality and greater control over the finished image, raw is the only choice.

How to Remove Glare from Glasses with Photoshop

As we all know, modern photography is as much about capturing the perfect moment as it is about touching up that moment to turn it into a perfect photo. One of the most common of these post-processing edits is removing the glare from a subject’s glasses—a minor detail that’s difficult to avoid when shooting, and one that only takes a couple of minutes to improve. Phlearn’s Aaron Nace has a great tutorial on removing glasses’ glare:

The method Nace teaches will take a steady hand and previous Photoshop knowledge, but with just a bit of practice and patience it can be a very effective way of improving a picture. You’ll take an image with an obvious flaw and turn it into a stunner.

remove glare from glasses in photoshop

Removing Glare from Glasses with Photoshop

Using the Lightroom Adjustment Brush to add Dimension to a Landscape Photo

Adding layers of dimension with the Lightroom brush

Lightroom has the power to completely transform your landscape photograph into something far more powerful, something that hits home with viewers, and something that pops off the screen.

By default digital cameras create flatter image files than what you see with your eye. Your eye has the ability to see dimensions like no camera can really capture. Although many try.

What is Dimension?

The definition of dimension is: an aspect or feature of a situation, problem, or thing. When utilizing the word dimension in your photograph, think of the features of specific locations and objects within the frame. As an example, in the photo you will see here, there are multiple layers of dimension to play with. There’s the sky, the water, the rocks, the buildings, the grass, and the shed. Each has its own uniqueness to it, and can and should be treated as such.

How to tone images with Adobe Camera RAW

How to tone images

Adobe Camera RAW image editing software makes it incredibly easy to tone images, far easier than in a traditional darkroom, but it’s often a technique that’s applied as an afterthought.

Just as with untoned monochrome images, however, it’s far better to have the end point in mind at the shooting stage.

Helpfully, most cameras have a toning option available within the monochrome Picture Styles, Picture Control or Film Simulation modes and although we’d always recommend shooting raw files for post-capture conversion, it’s well worth investigating these to find the settings that you like, or that most closely approximate the look you want to achieve with the raw files.

*TIP: Check out my FilterSim Lens Filter Simulator actions for toning, getting White Balance, and creating excellent B&W or Color conversions in Photoshop or Elements – or grab them below with no hassles (the download link will automatically be emailed to you once checkout is complete)

FilterSim Action set


How to Convert Color Portraits to Black & White in Lightroom

Converting color images into black and white is a fun process, especially if you know what you’re doing. But most photographers are shy of getting their hands wet because of the sheer complexity and workload. Hopefully this video by Andrew S. Gibson will clear the air around the process:

Convert to Black & White

How to Make a Photoshop Collage in 9 Simple Steps

We all aim to tell a story through one single image. For many occasions, though, a well-assembled collage is an excellent way to pull the viewer in for a full experience. Consider this method for sharing photos from an event, a real estate shoot, or even a family photo session!


Collages are easy to put together in Photoshop, so let’s walk through the steps. Note that I am working on a Mac with Photoshop CS3, so your system may have slight variations in the key commands needed.

Photo selection is crucial. You want to select a mix of scales that will span the entire event. That means you pick some wide shots that show the entire scene, and some detail photos that show lots of texture and personality. Without one or the other the story will not be complete, and won’t carry the same emotion that it could.

How to Create a Simple Blurb Photo Book in Lightroom

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

The easiest way to get started with Lightroom’s Book module is to create a simple photo book, letting Lightroom do most of the work for you so you don’t get bogged down in the extensive design process involved in making a more complex book.

Things to do before you start