If you have ever shared a photo by email, or posted one online, you might have seen a three or four-letter extension at the end of the file name that looked like “.jpg” or “.jpeg”. Almost every camera – from cell phones to point and shoots to expensive DSLRs takes pictures in this format – with good reason. You can fit thousands of JPG photos on a memory card, and they are generally good quality and easy to view on a computer or mobile device. You don’t need any special software to open a JPG file, and if you do want to edit one, almost any application from iPhoto to Photoshop can do it. However, all DSLRs, and even some point-and-shoot cameras, are able to shoot in another format called RAW which has some incredible benefits for you. Some people swear by the RAW format, others use JPG, and some use both. There is no correct answer in terms of which one is better, instead it’s important to find a solution that works for you. To illustrate why you might want to show in RAW format, here are a few reasons I use it instead of JPG.
Many modern digital cameras boast incredible ISO speeds. Where ISO 400 or 800 was the top speed in the film era, usually accompanied by grain the size of golf balls, today’s digital cameras can give you top ISOs of 6400, 12,800, 25,600 or even higher. Camera makers boast of these high speeds and use this information to increase camera sales.
Inexperienced photographers will be tempted to jack up the ISO on their new cameras, and keep it there. However, just because the feature is there doesn’t mean you should use it all the time. In fact, the best practice is to keep your camera set at its lowest ISO setting by default so you will capture the best possible image.
With experience you will learn that higher ISO settings are more appropriate when shooting sports, street photography, photojournalism, and low-light situations where you need to stop action. Low ISO images will be cleaner (no digital noise), have a wider dynamic range (more shadow and highlight details), and produce better color depth (smoother color transitions). This is a better choice for travel, landscape and portrait photography, where good detail and accurate skin tone are important.
Recently we showed you a simple way to create dream-like double-exposure portraits in Photoshop. In our latest Photoshop Elements tutorial we show you how to merge portraits with some of the free graphics that come with the software to make creative, surrealist images.
This surreal effect may look intricate and complicated, but merely by making use of the graphics and backgrounds that ship with Elements, it’s something that anybody can do, and on any portrait they like.
We’re making use of a simple graphic called Brass Leaves, which you’ll find within the hundreds of graphics, frames and effects that come with Elements, in our tutorial. However, if you prefer, you could always use one of the other graphics.
By duplicating and reshaping the leaves in different ways you can build up an entire bush.
Once that’s been done, all you have to do is duplicate the cut-out face we’ve provided and ‘clip’ it to each layer, before applying a Drop Shadow layer style and changing the colours.
To round things off, drop in a suitably green leafy background, also taken from the Elements graphics library.
Along the way we’ll repeatedly use one of Photoshop’s most useful and underused shortcuts – the humble Alt key.
Let loose on the Layers Panel, it enables you to make speedy copies of layers, styles, masks and adjustments. It also lets you ‘clip’ a layer to the shape of the layer beneath. Here’s how it works…
I am about to reveal a technique that will have your images looking awesome in seconds every time you use it. I am even going to share the Photoshop Action with you so you can edit in lazy mode, I mean efficiency mode! Before I bare all, I need to give you some background information, and I am pretty sure you have been in the exact same position at some point in your photography hobby or career.
While we all use our smartphones to take the odd photo or two, Chad Keyes has been shooting almost exclusively with his iPhone for years:
In this video, Keyes shares how he got started, his inspiration, and the things that he most loves photographing. He even takes us on a short photo tour where he sort of walks-the-talk to show his technique first hand.
Keyes started out as a graphic designer, something that seems to have influenced his photography, as well as his ability to use simple elements and natural light to create strong compositions. He did have some experience in photography while at school. But it was not until he got his first smartphone about two years back, and after he downloaded Instagram, that he got hooked on smartphone photography. Interestingly, he mentions that he did not even use the camera on his smartphone until about three months after he bought it!
But when he finally gave it a try, he was sold:
“It changed everything. From that moment on I was like taking pictures all the time with my camera on my phone.”
Getting Hooked On iPhoneography
With Instagram, Keyes realized that he could share his pictures with everyone around the world. From there on the journey began. He acknowledges the fact that his training in graphic design helps him use the small frame of the iPhone and still include all the elements of designing such as color, composition, and communication. He also says that his experience in shooting film encourages him to replicate some of the typical effects that are possible with it: film grain, slow shutter speed, silhouettes, and working in different lighting.
When asked what drives him to create the images that he shares with his followers, Keyes replies,
“I have of course always wanted to put out a quality photo. Anything that I am creating I want it to be associated with something that I care about and that feels quality and that feels good.”
Smartphone Photography Tips
Get a vibe for the place. Get an idea of the available light and what’s happening around you, even before you decide to take a shot.
Use strong directional elements or strong directional light, if available.
Plan your shots, but also take the ones that are ‘accidental’.
Ask your subject to pose.
Use the background for wider compositions (suitable for iPhones, which have a wider field of view).
Use a low-angle, when possible.
For steadier shots, use the volume button rather than tapping the shutter button on the screen.
Shoot quality photos and share. Don’t think whether others are going to like your photos or hate them.
Experiment with smart phone apps. Keyes uses apps such as Camera+, VSCO Cam, Snapz, AfterLight, Cross Process, Hipstamatic
“Shooting on the iPhone is no different. You are dealing with all the same elements, all the same lighting that you would with an SLR.”
How often do you see a beautifully edited image and wish you could give your own photos a similar look? Ben Secret leads this instructional video that shows you, step-by-step, how to recreate any image’s feel using Photoshop:
Secret first analyzes the original image and then uses this to apply it to another image. Here’s how:
If you’ve ever sat around a campfire as the sun sets, you know that firelight casts beautiful warm tones on a person’s face. As a photographer, you also probably know that it can be difficult to come anywhere close to capturing those colors and details with a camera. The dynamic range of even the best camera in the world pales in comparison to the amazing dynamic range of the human eye—but that doesn’t mean that we can’t create great fire-lit images.
In the following tutorial, photographer Corey Rich explains his methods for capturing beautiful fireside photos in the great outdoors:
With summer in full swing, Aaron Nace provides some helpful tips on removing those unwanted tan lines and sunburns from your photos using Photoshop. In the following instructional video, he opts to match the burnt skin to the skin tone of the normal skin and then adjust all of the skin to the preferred tone:
5 Steps for Removing Tan Lines from Photos
Here are the five simple steps as explained in the video:
Select the area that contains redness. Using the Color Range tool, click on an area of skin that is burnt. The tool will select areas that match this color. Use the range slider in order to feather the selected area, and use the fuzziness slider to select a larger color range.
Match the selected area to the skin tone of the unburnt skin. Make a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Check the colorize option to make the skin tone more uniform, and choose a tan color. You can increase the lightness and lower the saturation in order to cause the skin to match the unburnt area.
Blend the area. Make a new layer and choose the healing brush. Make sure the brush samples both layers. Start painting the brush around the tan lines in order to blur the transition. This brush can also take care of some sun spots or extra redness.
Darken the skin color to the ideal shade. Create another Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Select the colorize option, and choose a tan color. Inverse the layer mask (CTRL+I) and paint the skin with a white brush. Fix the final color using lightness, saturation, or opacity.
Add definition. Blending the skin can remove definition. To fix this, create a new layer, and set the blend to soft light. Use a soft edge brush to paint black in the shadows and white in the highlights. Adjust using opacity.
“So, the next time someone comes to you and they got a gnarly tan line and they’re all worried about it on the photoshoot, say, ‘Don’t worry about it.’”
We hear it all the time, “That photo has been Photoshopped”. Sometimes it sounds like the photo has caught a disease or that Photoshop is some undesirable effect that has been added to the image. Photoshop is the KEY to making your good images look spectacular. Yes, I said “good” images. Photoshop is not about fixing mistakes or trying to rescue a bad shot. It is more about refining your images and making them look amazing without overdoing it. Photoshop is a fantastic tool when it is used effectively but can be your enemy when you overdo it. Depending on what you want to achieve with your photos, this quick guide to five Photoshop tools will help you adjust your exposure effectively and make the colour really pop out of your image.
NOTE: the examples in this article simply show you how to make the adjustments on a separate layer. You could also use an adjustment layer which gives you much more control over the adjustment. The only tool that can’t be used with an adjustment layer is Shadow and Highlights. I will go into more details about adjustment layers in upcoming articles, for now, if you follow these guidelines, your images will look compelling and rich without looking overdone.