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10 Common Mistakes Made by New Photographers

Whenever I teach, I get a lot of requests to review images. Over time, I’ve started to notice that a majority of the mistakes I see come from the same small group of errors that are repeated constantly, particularly by less experienced photographers.

Please keep in mind that all of these common mistakes can also be advantages when done well and with purpose. This article is not about those times, but is an observation about how often I see them done the wrong way. As a photographer, you need to build the right foundation of skills before you can successfully veer away from them.

The Most Common Technical Mistakes

Chinatown at Night. Subtle but strong and natural colors.

Photoshop Tutorial: Selective Color Manipulation

In this video, Bryan O’Neil Hughes explains how to use selective coloring in your photos using Photoshop:

Most people who have a bit of knowledge of using Photoshop know about the Hue/Saturation tool and might think selective color is easy. But try doing this quickly on a selective area of the photo and you might realize that it’s not so simple after all.

Dodging and Burning to Create More Effective Black and White Images

With the huge assortment of software and plugins you have at your disposal these days, the photo processing technique of burning and dodging is practically ancient. It was (and still is) one of the most common ways of enhancing film images in the darkroom, and everyone from Ansel Adams to Imogen Cunningham used it.

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They used it because it is powerful and simple and still is to this day. With all the complicated plugins and post-processing procedures you have at your disposal, you won’t get any better bang for the buck than creative dodging and burning.

This tutorial with show you  how I do dodging and burning in Photoshop, for black and white images. I’ll save another article for you about using the technique for your color images. First, though, let’s make sure we all know what dodging and burning is.

Smarter Sharpening in Photoshop using Adobe Camera Raw

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Sharpening in Photoshop has traditionally involved a compromise between applying it to the places in the image that you want to sharpen and avoiding those that you don’t want affected. Both Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw have always had a much better sharpening tool which not only lets you see what you are doing more clearly, but also includes a very smart mask that lets you limit sharpening to detail areas.

5 Simple Technical Tips to Make Candid Street Photography Easier

This article is written by James Maher – author of the popular in-depth guide for aspiring street photographers (discount code picturecorrect): Essentials of Street Photography

Street photography simultaneously tests your hand-eye coordination, your ability to see and frame interesting moments as they quickly unfold before you, your ability to see light, your technical abilities with your camera, and your ability to be comfortable capturing strangers.

make street photography easier

It is so much to do at the same time, let alone to think about an image conceptually.

While there is no substitute for experience, the goal of this article is to help get your technical abilities and camera settings up to par in order to make things so much easier for you. When you get good at these skills, with some practice, it will almost feel as if the camera isn’t there. When done well, it feels like it is just your eyes and the scene in front of you.

However, to make that happen can require some specific ways of shooting.

Autumn color: saturate golden tones more precisely with this simple workflow

In this photo editing tutorial we’ll show you how to ditch the Hue/Saturation tool and use the Color Variations dialog feature to better saturate your autumn colors.

Autumn color: better saturate those golden tones with this simple workflow

Autumn is the perfect time of year to get out and about with your DSLR, with the changing colours of trees and other foliage making for wonderful landscape images.

When you get home and review your shots, however, you may find the colours aren’t as vivid as you remember, or haven’t been captured faithfully because of the lighting conditions.

If this is the case you can use a simple workflow in your photo editing software to create a punchier image that does justice to the original scene.

How to do Great Black and White Conversions Using Photoshop

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Some photos that you take you’ll want to convert to black and white. Photoshop has some tools that you can use to convert your photos to black and white and I’ll show you what these are and the best way to do the conversion.

Why you should shoot in color and convert to black and white

If your camera saves photos as jpeg images, even if it can capture in black and white, it’s advisable to avoid this setting and instead shoot in color and convert later. The reason is that when you capture in jpeg and have the camera set to black and white, all the color information is discarded when the image is saved and you can never get it back. So you will only ever have a black and white image. On the other hand if you capture in color you will have the choice to convert the photo to black and white, but you will also have a color image in case you decide it looks better that way.

Black and white conversions in Photoshop


Note: There are several actions available in PhotoLab to create B&W from your images – check them out!

Hey Graffi Blog Readers:   for more looks like this especially created for Photoshop Elements, you might want to check out the PhotoLab Photo Effects action pack with an installer compatible with Elements


What You Need to Know About Smart Objects in Photoshop

Photoshop is such an extensive and massive editing tool it can take years to master it and learn how to harness it’s full image editing prowess. In this 30-minute tutorial, however, you can learn all about Smart Objects as the video highlights ten interesting aspects of the tool that are essential to using it:

*NOTE: Smart Objects are available in Photoshop Elements using Handy Actions!

Photoshop Elements is simply incomplete without your Swiss Army Knife for Elements: Graffi's Handy Actions! Handy Actions includes all the tools and extras only found in Photoshop - a total of more than 60 extra actions, tools, processes and timesavers!

Handy Actions is a self-installing action pack set for Windows versions of Photoshop Elements and is also available as a manual-install edition for Mac & Photoshop users

Smart Object Essentials

Fill the Frame in Your Photography Composition

As a young photographer, I was often disappointed by my photos. There was no instant feedback as with digital images. And, as I began to learn digital photography, I realized that so many of my images had small subjects—disappointingly so. Cropping in post production with Photoshop didn’t help. What I needed to do was fill the frame.

filling the frame in photography composition

By filling the frame you add instant impact to the image. You exclude unnecessary clutter and bring a dynamic element to the photo. There is an incorrect assumption that you have to have every part of a subject or object for the image to be complete—not so. There is no reason why you can’t chop off parts of the subject when getting in really close. When shooting a person, get in really close and shoot just part of the model’s face. This gives a dramatic effect.

So why should we fill the frame? What are the benefits to doing this?

How to do Quick and Easy Curves Adjustments in Photoshop

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When you are starting out learning to edit in Photoshop there are a lot of tools from which to choose. The Curves Adjustment is one of the more advanced tools, so it often overwhelms new users. However it is such a powerful tool that it is well worth investing some time learning to use it. In this article I’ll explain what you can understand about your image from the Curves dialog and how to use curves to edit your photos.

Creating a Curves Adjustment