Resculpt a model in Photoshop

Beauty tutorial –

City Photography Techniques for Various Times of Day

Photographer Mike Palmer was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For years he’s been photographing the street of his hometown, and he’s always able to find something new. In the first episode of the new web series, Roaming Focus, Palmer takes to the streets (and the sky) to photograph Toronto from sunup to sundown:

Palmer captures some amazing images of Toronto, and he does it all in one day. But how is he able to do this?

  • He Explores the City – Palmer knows the ins and outs of the city. He’s walked down the streets many times and knows where he can find certain subjects. But more than just walking up and down the same sidewalk everyday, Palmer explores his city and looks for new things.
  • He Shoots at Different Times of the Day – This is a big one. The lighting in any place can change dramatically over the course of one day. We usually go outside mid-day where the light is overhead and doesn’t offer a very flattering look. But during the sunrise and sunset, a scene can have a much more dramatic look.
  • He’s Friendly – Notice how Palmer talks to the people around him and the people he photographs. When the barber comes out to chat with him, he creates a conversation and is invited in to take photos inside, an opportunity that may have never happened had he been dismissive when the barber approached him.
  • He Knows a Guy with a Helicopter – Okay, so maybe we don’t all have access to a helicopter. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create great images. Look for the opportunities that are around you rather than the ones you wish you had.
toronto canada photography aerial view skyline

You may not have access to a helicopter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore your city


New URL for Add-O-Matic Facebook page

Created a new URL for the AOM Facebook page – now it’s

Graffi’s Add-O-Matic for Photoshop Elements & Lightroom.

Number Candles Text Effect – Part 1 | textuts


Number Candles Text Effect – Part 1 | textuts.

Do You Have a Photography Checklist? You Should. Here is a Quick Start

Modern DSLRs have so many features that it is sometimes difficult to keep track of all the settings. One of my biggest concerns is that a shot will be ruined because some switch was not in the correct setting for what I wanted to create. I don’t want to be like the wedding photographer that shot an entire wedding with the camera set to the small JPEG setting.

photo session preparation checklist

“wedding photo” captured by Konstantin Koreshkov (Click Image to See More From Konstantin Koreshkov)

To help ensure that such things are unlikely to happen, I decided to take a lesson from the way pilots operate. Pilots don’t just jump in the pilot’s seat and take off. Instead, they have a list of items that they check. Similarly, photographers can have a list of things to check before starting a photo session. Thus, the subject of this article is creating a photographer’s list of things to check to make sure that everything is done right.

Camera Items to Check

Sensor: Is the sensor free of dust?

Lens: Are the lenses and filters clean?

Battery: Is there enough power in the battery? Are spare batteries easily accessible?

Memory: Is there enough space on the memory card? Are spare memory cards easily accessible?

Image Recording Quality: Is the image quality set properly?

checklist for great photography

“Morning Glow” captured by Debra Vanderlaan (Click Image to See More From Debra Vanderlaan)

Image Settings: If not shooting raw, are the image settings set properly?

ISO: Is the proper ISO for the shot selected?

White Balance: Is the white balance set correctly?

Metering Mode: Is the proper metering mode selected?

Shooting Mode: Is the camera in the correct shooting mode (e.g., fully automatic, manual, aperture priority, or shutter priority)?

Drive Mode: Is the drive mode set properly (e.g., single or continuous shooting)?

Auto focus: Is the auto focus turned on?

Scene Items to Check

Image Periphery: Are any objects protruding into the image from the periphery?

Objects in the Image: Are there any unwanted objects (e.g., an old beer can) in the image?

Tripod Items to Check

Camera Level: Is the camera level (this is best done with a bubble level)?

Tripod Levers/Knobs: Have all of the tripod levers/knobs been tightened?

Tripod Weighted: If desired, has the tripod been weighted?

Remote Switch: If desired, has a remote switch been connected to the camera?

Mirror Lockup: If desired, has the mirror lockup been enabled?

tripod setup checklist

“Tidal Pools” captured by Debra Vanderlaan (Click Image to See More From Debra Vanderlaan)


That’s pretty much it. At some point, this all becomes automatic. Until then, it is not a bad idea to memorize your list.

About the Author
Ron Bigelow ( has created an extensive resource of articles to help develop photography skills.


Mastering Photoshop Textures to Create Powerful Imagery

Photoshop has done for photography what the road did for the wheel! That’s quite a bit in case you’re wondering… This union has made photography the worlds 2nd most popular pastime… Because let’s face it; creating exciting images is indeed thrilling, and most of all, highly addictive! One such addiction is a single technique: Simple to grasp,hard to master!

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Youth Sports Photography Tips: How to Pose Groups

One of the more challenging aspects of youth sports picture days is the proper posing of team photos.  You could have perfect exposure, focus and composition but if the kids aren’t posed properly the products will still look unprofessional.  Like anything, the more time you spend practicing the better you will be at it.  The problem with that is that you don’t want to learn on the fly and immediately create a lot of unhappy customers in your community.  With the popularity of social media these days it isn’t uncommon for one of your photos to end up on Facebook which could do significant damage to your reputation before you know what hit you.

Consistency in high volume photography is vital.  When photographing a league of 3,000 players things need to be consistent.  It is extremely important to develop a set of tools that can be easily repeated.  By creating a set of charts, diagrams and other tools you can help ensure consistency whether shooting 1 team or 100.

Small Team Sports

Examples of small team sports are baseball, basketball, flag football and soccer, to name a few.  A small team will have anywhere from 6 to 16 players per team.  It will be extremely rare that you have a league with an equal amount of players on every team.  In this example I will use baseball, which is our second most popular sport, behind tackle football.  Baseball teams are going to average around 12 players when dealing with a standard recreational league.  Travel Ball, sometimes referred to as “Select” leagues will typically have more players because they play all year and it’s a more elite level of play.  When starting out, standard Little League, Pony Ball or local Park and Recreation leagues will be your most typical customer.

I cannot stress enough the importance of using posing charts or diagrams for team photographs.  Even if you are starting small and doing most of the shooting yourself, using charts will always help speed up the process.  I have been doing this a long time now and when I go to shoots I still need to use the charts to make sure I’m posing properly.  Also, using charts ensures consistency across the league.  You will have siblings on different teams and you don’t want a parent to get two team photos that are posed completely differently.  Many parents get Memory Mate plaques that include team and individual photos to hang on their wall at home.  It is important that you have consistent photos to maintain a reputation as a professional.


Common Posing Setup for a Youth Sports Team

In the sample image above, our chart tells us that for a team of 11 players we have the five shortest players in the front row seated cross legged.  The middle row will have four kids on both knees up tall (not sitting on their feet).  The top row will have the two tallest players standing.  Now, let’s cover how we got them into this position.

Depending on your preference, you can have the same photographer take the team and individual photos or separate them into two camera stations.  This really depends on what you like best.  The benefit of splitting them up is that you can make sure your strongest photographer is shooting teams.  However, this does add an extra layer of complexity in tracking the image numbers and it can add a little more time to the process.  At my shoots, my photographers take both the individual and team photos.  This is why we have assistants there to help the photographers pose the kids and keep things running smoothly.  Also, if you have a good system and charts, all of your photographers should be comfortable posing teams.  Either way, before you take the individual photos, ask the coach to get the players lined up by height, shortest in the front, tallest in the back.  When posing tackle football teams you will put the tallest kids at the front of the line, but for small sports you start with the shorter kids.  Count the number of players and use the team posing chart to see how many players will be in each row.  You will always want your rows to be uneven with players filling in the “gaps”.  Each photographer should have a rope in with their gear to make sure the kids line up straight.  Follow these steps to properly pose the team.

  • Place the rope in a straight line on the ground and have the first row of kids sit right behind the rope.  Once they are seated and lined up straight, immediately remove the rope before you pose any more kids.
  • Have the next four players get on their knees in the “gaps” between the kids in front of them.  Ask them to make sure their feet are close together behind them.
  • Have the standing players fill in the gaps between the kneeling players.

Important Tips

  • Make sure to use a very brightly colored rope, preferably a thick one so you don’t forget to remove it before you take the photo.  This will save a serious Photoshop headache later.
  • For younger players, you should show them exactly how you want them to pose.  For the middle row, get down on both knees and show them to sit up tall, not to sit on their feet.
  • Point to exactly where you want them to stand or kneel, I go as far as putting my foot in the exact spot where I want them to show them exactly the right spot.  This is especially important with young players.

Youth Sports Team Posing Diagram (Click to Get Full Size Copy)

Coach Placement

One of the more difficult things about posing teams is understanding where to place coaches.  It’s hard to know exactly how many coaches each team will have or if team moms will also want to be in the picture.  Plus, with young teams, the coaches are going to be a lot taller than the kids and they may or may not have matching jerseys.  I like to have coaches flanking the team whenever possible.  In the sample above, we were able to place 1 of the coaches in the middle to fill in the gap left by having an odd number of players in the photo.  Like all other aspects of high volume photography, it gets easier with practice.

After everyone is in place you want to look all around the outside of the team to check for distractions in the background.  Once you see that you have a clean shot, you are ready to take the photo.  Make sure to tell the players you are about to take the photo by saying something like, “1, 2, 3” to get them all looking at you.  You want to take at least four photos of the team.  This will give you a few choices when deciding on which one to produce.  You will almost always have some shots with kids’ eyes closed or other distractions so taking a few extra pictures will save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

As you can see, there is a lot more to running a successful high volume photography business than just snapping off a few photos.  Team photos can be one of the most difficult aspects of youth sports photography.  However, if you use a solid system with the proper tools to ensure consistency, you will make your job a lot easier and you will have more fun doing it!

About the Author
Andy Stockglausner is a Marine Corps Veteran and he owns MVP Studios and The Marine Corps Gift Shop with his wife Michelle.  MVP Studios provides youth sports, event and school photography services all over Southern California.  MVP Studios provides high volume photography consulting packages starting at $1,000.


The Benefits of Using a Tripod for Photography

Camera technology has advanced so much that just about anyone can take good photos. (Not necessarily great photos–that has more to do with composition, subject matter, effective use of light and shadow, etc.) However, if there’s one item that helps in taking better shots, it’s the humble tripod. Many of us believe that a tripod is nothing but an extra item that helps us stop camera shake. With the high ISO capabilities and faster shutter speeds of new cameras, why do we need a tripod?

"La Tour Eiffel" captured by Jaideep Singh Rai. (Click image to see more from Jaideep Singh Rai.)

“La Tour Eiffel” captured by Jaideep Singh Rai. (Click image to see more from Jaideep Singh Rai.)

The most obvious benefit of a tripod is that it affords stability to the camera and avoids camera shake by the operator in those situations where longer exposure times are necessary. Not many of us can hold a camera steady below a 1/60 of a second shutter speed, so we have no chance of avoiding camera shake when the exposure time could be seconds or minutes or sometimes hours in length. Examples of these times are:

  • night shots
  • star trails
  • fireworks displays
  • moon shots
  • cityscapes
  • vehicle movement where blurring the lights is sought
  • motion blur of waterfalls, sports action, or ocean waves
  • low light conditions without the use of flash

We all like to produce photos that are as sharp as we can get them. The tripod assists in obtaining clear focus, especially if we use timer delays or remote shutter releases. Even pressing the shutter button can cause the camera to shake.

Portrait Photography Photoshop Tutorial: Skin Retouching

One of the most fundamental and most utilized skills of retouching portrait images with Photoshop, is skin correction. Fine lines, discoloration, etc. are prominent, especially in closely framed shots, and they can make the subject feel insecure. The dilemma with skin retouching is that often the final product looks over-produced and fake. The goal is not to erase the subject’s personality but to highlight the best features by minimizing distracting shadows and lines. If there are specific areas you want to conceal, start by using the clone tool or spot healing brush on those places. Then, try this trick to achieve a soft, natural glow without turning the subject into a plastic doll.

"Photo Retouch" captured by  Martin Gardner. (Click image to see more from  Martin Gardner.)

“Photo Retouch” captured by Martin Gardner. (Click image to see more from Martin Gardner.)

1. Open image in Photoshop.

2. Click and hold ‘Command J‘ to create a new layer from the background or combine previous layers for a cohesive slate by holding, ‘Shift, Option, Command, E.’

3. Click the ‘Filter‘ tab from the main toolbar and navigate to “Blur” ? “Gaussian Blur

4. When the pop-up box appears, make sure the preview screen is zoomed out enough to see your image. Increase the percentage blur until facial imperfections disappear, but not so much that facial feature distinction disappears. In most cases, I land somewhere between 18%-30%.

5. Click ‘OK.’ Your image now has a significant blur over it entirely. Don’t worry, we’re not done! At the bottom of your adjustments panel, click, ‘Add layer mask.’ A box will appear to the right of the blur layer. This is your mask. With the mask highlighted, click ‘Command I‘ to invert the box so that it is black and the image appears sharp again.

6. Select the brush tool and decrease the opacity slider in the layers panel to about 30-40%. This is up to your discretion, and it depends on the level of blur your want. For the most natural looking effects, I find that somewhere between 30-40% yields the best results for smoothing without looking overly retouched and allowing the skin’s natural texture to show.

7. Select a soft, round brush with 0% hardness and make it white. Zoom in on the features you want to smooth in your image (Command +) and with a small, circular brush tip, paint over the features. The areas you paint with the white brush will uncover the Gaussian blur on the black mask below your image. Only the parts you paint will reveal the softer texture, while the rest of the image remains sharp.

8. Once you are happy with the results, zoom out (Command -) and start a new layer to continue your edits (Shift, Option, Command, E).

Watch the following video for a visual tutorial of a similar skin retouching technique in Photoshop.

I use this technique for editing almost all my close up portraits and often for wedding photography, as well. It is especially flattering, and once you get used to the process, it takes only 1-2 minutes! I hope it works for you as well!

About the Author:
Leah O’Connell is a self-taught, professional photographer in Hawaii with a masters degree in English and Education ( She loves writing, exploring, and using her creativity hand-in-hand for her job every day.

7 Beginner Tips For Sharper Photos

Scott Kelby, the author of many digital photography books says, “If your photos aren’t sharp then the rest doesn’t matter”. Key to any image is its sharpness and in order to get those photos pin sharp you need to follow some basic guidelines.

“BURN” captured by Michael Moody (Click Image to Find Photographer)

There’s nothing worse than looking at a portrait photo and the eyes are out of focus with a perfectly sharp nose. The eyes are the windows to the soul and their sharpness is critical to a good image. There are times when we want slightly out of focus images or parts of images out of focus. But, mostly we want crisp and clear images. Here are some steps for sharper images.

1. Pin sharp starts with a tripod

Every professional photographer and many amateurs will tell you that a tripod is an essential part of your gear if you want sharp images. Of course it’s not always possible to use one, but, when you can use one. It stabilizes your camera and stops camera shake from unsteady hands. A good, sturdy tripod costs money but it’s a basic part of your kit and fundamental to sharp images. Many photographers also opt for small flexible tripods that can be wrapped around objects and work in virtually any situation.

2. Cable Release

Don’t press the shutter; use a cable release. A cable release is a cable that goes to a connection on your camera. By pressing the cable release you don’t transfer any movement from your hand to the camera. Unfortunately not many entry level compact cameras have this feature, but, there is a solution in point three.

3. Self-Timer

If you have forgotten to bring your cable release or your compact camera doesn’t allow its use, use the self-timer. All cameras including compacts have this feature. Although you still press the shutter, there is a time delay of 2 to 10 seconds allowing camera shake to subside before the shutter is activated. Still, you need to press the shutter button gently to limit any transferred shake.

sharp photo cityscape

“Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast” captured by Drew Hopper (Click Image to Find Photographer)

4. Mirror lock-up

This feature is something only for digital SLR camera owners. When the shutter is depressed a mirror, which is in between your sensor and the viewfinder, pops up to allow light to pass and hit your sensor. This micro movement can affect your final image so what manufactures have added is a mirror lock-up. It locks the mirror in position once you have composed your image. Although you can no longer see the image through the viewfinder it prevents the micro movement from affecting your image. Use it if you are fanatical about sharpness.

5. Use your lenses sharpest aperture

All lenses have a sweet spot. They are sharpest at this aperture, usually two stops below fully open. Unfortunately this applies only to DSLRs. You should be able to tell by looking at your images and finding which images are usually the sharpest. Check the EXIF data by right clicking on your image on the computer and seeing what aperture it was taken at. Then shoot at this aperture whenever you can.

6. ISO

Avoid increasing your ISO as this causes your image sharpness to degrade. Rather shoot on a tripod. Shooting on higher ISOs adds noise to the images which is the reason for images lacking in sharpness.

sharp photos black and white

Photo captured by Lisa Jayne Roe (Click Image to Find Photographer)

7. Turn off image stabilization

If you have a lens or camera that has image stabilization or vibration reduction, turn it off. There are tiny motors inside the lens which stabilize the image but also contribute to lack of sharpness through vibration. They are great for low light/handheld situations like weddings, but when you’re using a tripod, turn it off.

These are a just a few tips for getting sharper images. No single one will improve your sharpness, but used together they will improve you overall sharpness in an image.

About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography. He has produced 21 Steps to Perfect Photos; a program of learner-based training using outcomes based education.

Bring out the Best of Sharp Photos:

Topaz’s new tool Clarity, released last week, has been surprisingly popular and is designed to help you create compelling and powerful images by intelligently enhancing contrast and clarity without artifacts or halos. It can manipulate your micro, mid-tone and overall contrast while maintaining the “natural feeling” that is best to keep. Launch discount ends soon!

It can be found here: Topaz Clarity Advanced Contrast Adjustment