How to Make an Animated GIF in Photoshop

The post How to Make an Animated GIF in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Don’t you love GIFs? I do. They are fun, creative, and a great way to grab attention. In a world full of images (animated and otherwise), you need to create original quality work to stand out. Stop following trends and make your own using Photoshop in just a few simple steps.

A GIF is a file format that supports animated images in the smallest size, which makes it very appealing for any online platform. The famous acronym stands for Graphic Interchange Format, and it became trendy for Internet humor, but now it’s a powerful tool.

Five reasons to do your own GIF

  • Showcase your product/brand in action or being used.
  • Do a call to action on your website.
  • Show a step by step example of any instruction.
  • Enhance your visibility.
  • Grow your social media audience.

What you need

You can make GIFs from words, video snippets, or a sequence of photographs. This last one is the technique I’ll show you. While technically you could use any series of images, a coherent set of photographs result in a more engaging GIF.

To achieve this, plan your photo shoot to maintain either the same light or the same framing, and use it to tell a story. If you need some inspiration, check out “8 tips – How to do storytelling with your images.”

If you are doing any post processing on your images like changing the size or format, you can save a lot of time by doing it in a batch. You can learn how to do this in the article How to Batch Resize Your Images Quickly Using Photoshop (https://digital-photography-school.com/batch-resize-images-using-photoshop/). If instead, you are making more complex adjustments I recommend you create an action and then apply it to all of them. If you don’t know how to do this read How to play Photoshop Actions on Multiple Images with Batch Editing.

Now that you have all your images ready to go, open Photoshop and go to Menu -> File -> Scripts -> Load Files Into Stack. On the pop-up window, choose the files you want to import and click OK. This opens all your images as layers within the same file.

Once the images are open, you need to animate them. If you usually work with still images, you may need to go to Menu -> Window -> Timeline to make the Timeline panel visible. It will appear at the bottom of your screen, and it will show a thumbnail of the top layer.

Open the drop-down Menu from the right of the panel and click on Make Frames from Layers. Now you should see the thumbnail of all the files you imported as layers.

If you need to change the order, drag and drop them to correct. Once everything is as you want it, it’s time to determine the animation settings.

First set the time each one will show before changing into the next one. You’ll see a number on the bottom of each frame and an arrow next to it. If you click on the arrow, you’ll open the drop-down Menu to set the time. Do this for each one, as they can be different from each other. You can see a preview by clicking on the play button.

As the last step, you can choose how many times the animation repeats. Under the frames, you can find a menu where you can set this. GIFs usually run on a loop so I will put ‘Forever.’ But you can decide to do it differently.

As I mentioned at the beginning, GIF is a file format; therefore it is something you determine at the moment of saving. When saving a photograph, you would normally choose .jpg or .tiff. However, this time you need to choose .gif. You can find this option under Save for Web. Here, you can choose the amount of color, whether you want it dithered, and if you want a lossy compression. All of these choices determine the file size. You can move them around to choose the best combination of size and quality.

If you now open your saved file in Photoshop, it will be a layered image that you can continue to work on. If you want to see it animated just click and drag it into your browser.

I hope you enjoyed the article.

Please share your GIFs with me in the comment section.

If you are feeling inspired and want to keep exploring animated images, you can experiment with time-lapse and stop motion. Check these articles to get you started:

 

how to make an animated gif in photoshop

The post How to Make an Animated GIF in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

How to Turn Day to Night Using Photoshop for Urban Landscapes

The post How to Turn Day to Night Using Photoshop for Urban Landscapes appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Have you ever wished you’d photographed something at night? You may not have had the time, knowledge, or gear to do it, but you still regret not getting that shot.

In some cases you may be able to return at night and have another go. But if you can’t, you can quickly turn day to night with Photoshop.

In this article I’ll show you how you to turn your daytime urban scene into a nighttime one using layers and masks. I’ll also give you a few tips on the details you should take care of for a more realistic effect.

But first I want to explain the idea behind this technique so you can apply it to all kinds of photography.

The blue night and the yellow light

You may have noticed that different lights have different colors. Sunsets are redder and warmer than the sunlight at noon. The table lamp from your bedroom is more yellow than the fluorescent light of an office building. And so on.

This is called the color temperature, and is measured in Kelvin degrees. (You can see it in full in this color temperature scale.) And you can take advantage of it to simulate night time by colorizing your image accordingly.

Make it night

First, you need to change the white daylight into a dark blue that corresponds to the night light by adding a blue layer. You can do this in various ways, although I find the easiest way it to select Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Color Lookup… from the menu and clicking OK.

From the Properties panel, open the top drop-down menu and choose any option that gives you a blue tone such as Moonlight, Foggy night, or Night from Day.

If you’re more experienced, and want to to have full control, you can work with a RAW file. At the top of the adjustment panel of the ACR window is a slider where you can adjust the color temperature. You can also enter the Kelvin degrees value you want directly according to the scale I mentioned before.

Turn the lights up

Next, create another layer that’s yellow or amber. If you’re using Adjustment Layers, remember to duplicate of the original first and then add the color one on top of it. If you’re sticking with the Color Lookup adjustment layer style choose Edgy Amber or Candlelight. Once you have it, merge the adjustment layer with the copy you created from the original.

If you’re doing it from ACR, don’t just duplicate your layer. Use the Create a New Smart Object via Copy option instead, or the first layer will go yellow too. You can find this option by right-clicking the layer and choosing it from the menu. Then double-click on the thumbnail to open ACR again and drag the slider to the yellow side.

You now need to add a mask to this yellow layer. You can do this by clicking on the Layer mask button on the bottom of the panel. Once you’ve created it, click Invert in the properties panel. We do it this way because the white mask will show all the content and the black one will block all of it. (To learn more about it, check out Getting Started with Layer Masks in Photoshop – a Beginners Tutorial.) For now you’ll want it all covered so you can paint only what you need to in the next step.

The yellow corresponds to the tungsten light from light bulbs, which you can use to paint lamp posts, windows and any other source of light that might be available during night time. Identify these sources and, using the Brush tool, start painting in the Layer Mask with the brush set to white.

For windows, I find it easier to paint the entire rectangle and then paint out the divisions with the black brush.

This also works for any corrections or detailed work. If you paint something by accident, change the color of the brush to black and paint back over it to cover it again. This is why we’re using masks. The work is non-destructive, and you can easily go back and forth.

The Giveaways

It’s up to you how much work you want to put into the transformation. But keep in mind that the more details you do, the more realistic the effect looks.

For example, the lamp will shed some light onto the wall where it’s hanging, so you’ll want to illuminate that part as well. With the same Brush tool you were using, diminish the opacity from the Options Bar and paint the wall where the light would be hitting. Keep diminishing the opacity as you get further away from the light source.

Another big giveaway is reflective surfaces because light would reflect onto them. In this example, the water in the canals needs to have reflected light. But it may also be needed for cars or puddles, so keep an eye on your scene and paint those as well.

There you have it: from day to night using nothing more than  layers and masks.

I hope you enjoyed this technique. I recommend you go out and do some night photography so you can learn how light, tones and colors behave. The more you understand it, the better you will be able to replicate it in post-production.

If you need some help getting started, check out The Ultimate Guide to Night Photography.

And to get some inspiration for your next digitally created night scenes, here are two great articles:

The post How to Turn Day to Night Using Photoshop for Urban Landscapes appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

A Beginners Guide to Exposure When Mixing Flash and Continuous Lights

The post A Beginners Guide to Exposure When Mixing Flash and Continuous Lights appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Have you ever struggled with high contrast situations? Perhaps you’ve encountered shadows so dark or big that they steal the attention from the subject? That’s because sometimes you need to add a second light to your images. However, if they are different types of light, it can be difficult. Keep reading for a beginners guide on how to expose when you’re mixing flash and continuous lights.

Taking a photograph means to capture and register the light, so understanding how to do that is key to obtaining a good result. In this tutorial, I want to talk about continuous light and flash lighting, and how you can set your exposure to register both. First, I’ll explain what I mean by these terms.

Types of lighting

Continuous lighting

Continuous light (also called constant light) is the light that is on for the entire duration of the photo. This can be natural light when you’re outside, but can also be window light when you are inside. It can also be artificial light such as a table lamp or even professional photography lighting. Basically, it ranges from the sun to a candle – as long as it is continuous.

Flash lighting

Then there is flash lighting, which is only available for a quick moment when triggered. It can be from a professional strobe light, an off-camera flash, or the flash integrated into your camera. You can use these two different lights exclusively or together to complement your lighting. You can use them to create a special ambience or to achieve a particular effect. In this tutorial, I’ll explain how you can set your exposure when you use both continuous and flash lighting in the same shot.

Mixing the lighting styles together

I want to show you a situation in which I used continuous natural light as the main light and then filled in the shadows with an off-camera flash.

This first shot I took with only sunlight coming in from a window on the left and behind the camera. The camera settings used were ISO 2OO, f/8, and 0.3 sec. It’s enough to light the bowl of fruit; however, the dark shadows it has cast on the wall are not appealing.

Photography is about representing our tridimensional world in bidimensional ways. To do this, we make use of different things. One of them is shadows because they give depth. So we don’t want to eliminate all of the shadows – we want to control how many there are, how dark they look and their direction. If I slow the shutter speed to let in more light and try to ‘fill in’ the dark shadows to soften them, it overexposes the main subject.

If I slow the shutter speed to let in more light and try to ‘fill in’ the dark shadows to soften them, it overexposes the main subject. It happens here at ISO 2OO, f/8, and 2 seconds.

Therefore, it needs another source of light from the right. You can add this light source using either another continuous light or with a flash. I did this image with ISO 200, f/8, 0.3 seconds – the same settings I used for the correct exposure using only the continuous light. This solved the problem of one set of shadows but ended up creating new ones on the opposite side, so I need to fix the exposure again.

Since the flash is just a shot of light that lasts for a fraction of a second, it doesn’t make a difference how long your shutter speed is open like it does when shooting with continuous light. You can set your shutter speed as slow as you want or as fast as the synchronization limit allows you (in my case is 1/250 sec). The flash lighting exposure needs to be regulated by the aperture.

I used ISO 200, 1 sec, f/11 for this image.

In this image, I used ISO 200, 1 sec, f/16.

If you set the shutter speed to the light coming in from the left, meaning the continuous sunlight coming from the window, and set the aperture according to the light coming from the flash on the right side, you can control the complete illumination of the scene.

Conclusion

You can decide which shadows are good to keep and which ones to fill and by how much. In summary, have an image with depth and enough information both in the highlights and the shadows to either keep as shot or post-produce to your liking.

Exposure ISO 200, 1/250, f/8

*Extra tip

As you may have noticed on the examples, every light has a different color temperature, that’s why some photos have warmer or colder tones. This is a broad topic that I can’t manage to cover in this one article, but I did want to mention it. When you’re mixing different types of lighting you may need to deal with this. Sometimes the auto-white balance of the camera does a good enough job. However, if it doesn’t, I advise you to do some more research about it.

The post A Beginners Guide to Exposure When Mixing Flash and Continuous Lights appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

DIY Photography Backlighting for Beginners

The post DIY Photography Backlighting for Beginners appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Have you ever noticed how the subject stands out in professional portraits? How about the beautiful contours of bottles and glass objects in advertising photography? Do you wonder how they do it? You can achieve these and many more effects with backlighting.

Keep reading to learn what it is and how to DIY your way into it.

Backlighting means that there is a source of light coming from behind your subject and pointing directly (or almost) at your camera. This can be used as the only light source or as a supplement, and it can create depth in the image.

For example, in the above photo, I used backlighting to highlight the feathers and clearly separate the subject from the background. This is often used in portrait photography to highlight the hair of the model.

1. Wider light sources

The sun can be an excellent source for backlighting even if you are indoors. Just by placing your subject in front of the window, you are already using this technique. Although, more often than not, it will need some form of manipulation. For example, if the view from the window is not the best backdrop for your subject or the sun is coming in too bright, you can add a diffuser.

A cheap and easy solution is to tape some oven paper, tracing paper or a thin white fabric to the window to soften the light.

The photo on the left doesn’t use a diffuser. The sun was so incredibly bright that I couldn’t blur the background with a shallow depth of field. The shadows were also very dark and distracting.

In the image on the right, I had a white, even background to showcase the subject, which also worked as a diffuser to soften the shadows.

This kind of lighting works well for transparent objects. However, you can always complement with another light, or you can put a reflective surface in front to bounce the light if your subject (or part of it) is opaque.

To show you how it looks, I used the same setting for this bottle but placed a hand mirror in front of it next to the camera.

Most locations are bound to have windows unless you find yourself inside a dark room or something with a specific use where daylight is not wanted. However, if you find yourself in one of these places, you can always use the screen of your computer or tablet. You can look for a nice booked photo, or just open a blank document to create a white background.

2. Narrow light sources

Narrow light sources such as small spotlights create a very bright center diffusing towards the edges, and it’s usually a hard light, so it creates strong shadows. To create this effect, you can use a lightbulb, a candle, a torch or even the LED light from your smartphone. Add a creative element into it, by putting some color in it, like this example:

To create the silhouette of this little coyote, I placed the figurine in front of the background, which in this case was a red semi-transparent folder.

Remember we are getting creative here. If you don’t have a folder like this, you can use other things as long as they are thin enough or transparent enough to let the light pass through.

After this, as backlighting technique dictates, I placed a smartphone which was my light source directly behind the red background pointing directly at the figurine and the camera. Also, I used clothes pins to hold everything in place and for standing them up.

Keep in mind that the closer you put the light, the smaller the light spot will be. So move the phone (torch or whatever you’re using) back and forward to achieve different results.

These DIY hacks don’t substitute professional lighting equipment. However, they certainly allow you to get some creative images, practice your photographic skills and keep your budget intact. And, the most important thing is to keep practicing.

Have fun and let us know any other tricks you come up with in the comments.

The post DIY Photography Backlighting for Beginners appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

How to Correct Perspective Distortion in Photoshop

The post How to Correct Perspective Distortion in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

When talking about perspective, you step into a deep and somewhat complicated subject. It has to do with geometry, history of art, viewpoint and so on. However, solving that big issue won’t be the point of this tutorial. Instead, it focuses on solving perspective issues in your photography using photoshop. So keep reading to learn which Photoshop tools can help you out.

Because perspective can be a broad term, in this article, I’m going to narrow it down to one aspect, and that is the way straight lines seem to converge as they get further away. This can be used as a creative element of the picture, or it can help convey a sense of depth and tridimensionality as per this example:

You may be familiar with this effect, such as when you’re walking on the street, and you tilt your camera up to photograph a building. Now, this might be your intention, but sometimes you don’t want or need this distortion. Of course, you can correct this issue by using tilt and shift lenses, or with a large format camera. However, many of us don’t have access to that equipment. This is where Photoshop is handy to fix perspective in post-production.

As usual, Photoshop has different ways of dealing with the same problem. One may work better than others in different cases. However, I find that more often than not, you need to combine them to get the job done. So here’s an introduction to some different approaches:

Lens correction and transformation

One way to correct perspective distortion is by using the Lens Correction Filter. You can find it under the Filter Menu. When you choose this, a new window pops up. To start working on it, ensure you’re in the Custom tab to access the settings and set your grid with the bottom slider so that you can have it as a reference.

For this exercise, you’re only going to need the Transform part of the panel that you’ll find in the bottom right. I find that starting with the center point saves time as the changes you make after happen on both sides simultaneously. So I zoomed in to the center and rotated the angle so that the central line aligned with the grid. Remember, you can make the grill tighter if you need to.

Now you can start fixing the vertical and horizontal lines with the sliders. On the sides of each slider, you can see an icon showing the way the image gets affected. If you pull the vertical slider to the left, the top part gets wider or sliding to the right the bottom part is the one that becomes wider and so on.

As you move the lines around, you may be losing part of the image towards the edges. To bring everything back in, use the scale slider. After you’re done, you’ll have to crop out the blank pixels.

As you can see the Lens Correction Tool can be handy, but sometimes you still have to make some adjustments here and there. For this step, you can use the different Transform tools found under the Edit menu.

In this case, I’m using the Skew tool which allows me to move all the corners and middle points independently. Whenever you’re using any of these tools, you can pull out Guide Lines by clicking on the ruler and dragging. That way you can work more precisely without leaving the transform mode.

For this image that’s all I needed to do. However, remember that all the transformation tools can help to correct perspective, so experiment with them to find the one that works best for you and your image. Here, you can see on the left how I started, and on the right, is the new corrected version.

Perspective Tool Crop

Another way of fixing the problem is with the Perspective Tool Crop. This feature corrects the lines almost automatically. However, I wanted to give you the option of doing it manually first so that you have more control over the perspective. If you want to try it out, draw a rectangle around the image with the Perspective Tool Crop active and then drag the corners to match the grid with the distorted lines.

It usually does a good job, but you might still need to tweak it a little bit with the transform tools. Be aware that the Perspective Tool Crop, as the name says, crops your image. You might lose some information from the borders. In any case, you can give it a try and decide which method is best for you.

If you have any other tips to correct perspective distortion, share them with us in the comment section.

The post How to Correct Perspective Distortion in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

The post How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Do you have an event coming up? Let’s make it a success!

It doesn’t matter if you’re throwing a birthday party for your kid or organizing a fancy dinner for your clients and coworkers, every event needs an invitation. You want people to know about it, but you also want to get them excited so they want to come. Here are a couple of ideas to do photo invitations to start you off on the right foot.

1 - How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

In this day and age, we are used to expressing ourselves with photos and a party is no exception to that. If you make a Facebook event it asks you to add a cover photo; if you want to do printed invitations, a photo works well too. The idea behind a photo invitation is to communicate more than just when and where. It also sets the tone for the party, so choose your image wisely and incorporate the text creatively.

2- How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

Text box photo invitations

One idea for your photo invitations is to create a text box within your photo, like the example above. I suggest this idea if you’re going with postcard format, or folding card, where you can put all the practical information on the back or inside. This is because too much text on top of the photo can look messy. However, it can work if you’re using a minimalistic photo.

In any case, you can achieve this effect in just a few steps:

Step 1:

Once you’ve chosen your photo, open it in Photoshop. Then duplicate the layer by going to Menu -> Layer -> Duplicate Layer. You can also do this with the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel if you prefer.

3- How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

Step 2:

You want the two layers to have different brightness, so depending on the exposure of your image you can either darken the original layer or lighten the new top one. You can do this by adjusting the levels. Go to Menu -> Image -> Adjustments -> Levels, making sure the right layer is selected.

4- How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

Step 3:

Now go to the top layer. Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool, select the area of the Text Box to the size you require. Once you have it, create a layer mask by clicking on the button at the bottom of the Layers panel. You can also delete the excess image by inverting the selection with Menu -> Select -> Invert and click the backspace key, however with this choice, you can’t adjust it later so I don’t recommend it.

5- How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

Step 4:

Give the text box a special effect so that it’s clearly separated from the background image. Click on the fx button at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose the one you like, usually an Outer Glow or Drop Shadow should work well.

6- How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

Step 5:

Finally, click on the Text tool and add your text. Remember that you can personalize the font, size, color, and much more on the top Options Bar. One trick I like to use is to type it twice in different colors, then move one of them a click or two to give it some depth.

7- How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

There you go. Using the same technique, you can do the invitations to any event from a casual rooftop party with friends to a homey, intimate holiday party and much more. What sets the tone is the photo.

8- How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

Faded background photo invitations

If you need all the information to be in one place together with the image, you can use a fade effect:

Step 1:

With your image open in Photoshop, create a new layer by clicking the new layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Then go to Menu -> Edit -> Fill. Choose the color you want keeping in mind that this becomes the background of the text. However, it also interacts with the image you chose.

9- How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

Step 2:

Click on the Gradient Tool (if you don’t see it, check under the Fill Tool) and drag across your image to fade in the color layer into the image layer. This process is trial and error, so do it as many times as you need until you’re satisfied. If you need more information on how the Gradient Tool works I recommend you check out my tutorial “How to Customize and Use the Photoshop Gradient Tool.”

10- How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

Step 3:

Now you just have to include all the information using the text tool as shown in the first example and you’re good to go.

Have fun and feel free to share your invitations with us in the comments section below.

11- How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop

 

The post How to Make Great Photo Invitations in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

How to Move from Auto to Manual Modes Using Camera Semi-Automatic Modes

The post How to Move from Auto to Manual Modes Using Camera Semi-Automatic Modes appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Are you tired of the auto mode of your camera but don’t feel confident enough to go full manual? In this tutorial, you’ll learn how exposure works and how to use your camera semi-automatic modes to make the transition easy and smooth.

 

The Exposure Triangle

The first thing you need to know is that you control exposure by three factors: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. They are all interconnected, meaning when you move one of them, you have to adjust the others to compensate. This connection is known as the exposure triangle.

So, if the correct exposure can be achieved with many different values, as long as it’s compensated, what’s the problem with letting the camera choose those values? Because they control more than just the exposure. Let me show you with a visual explanation. Below is the same photo shot with different settings:

This photo was shot in Auto Mode meaning the camera decided what shutter speed to use, what aperture and what ISO. I had no control whatsoever about which would take priority:

Here I decided the shutter speed so I could control how long the light would come into the camera, which translates into freezing moving objects or capturing movement. The aperture and ISO were then automatically decided by the camera.

Left image – SHUTTER PRIORITY:1/250, f/3.5, ISO 800 = Freeze Subject. Right image – SHUTTER PRIORITY:1/30, f/10, ISO 800 = Motion Blur.

In this case, I chose the aperture because this controls how much of your photo is in focus. This technique is called Depth of Field. Shutter speed and ISO were then automatically decided by the camera.

Left image – APERTURE PRIORITY:1/200, f/2.8, ISO 800 = Shallow depth of field. Right image – APERTURE PRIORITY:1/6, f/22, ISO 800 = Deep depth of field.

In this last one, I changed the ISO, and the result gets reflected in the amount of noise you find in your photo, especially in the darkest areas. I’ll show you a zoomed in comparison for you.

Left image – AUTO ISO:1/200, f/16, ISO 6400 = Much noise. Right image – AUTO ISO:30, f/2.8, ISO 200 = No noise.

Now, if you go from Auto Mode into Manual Mode, suddenly you’re changing from no control into full control, and that can be difficult at first. Especially if you’re shooting scenes where you might lose the perfect shot if you take a long time figuring out the correct exposure. Fortunately, camera manufacturers know this, and they’ve created different semi-automatic programs for you to choose from.

Aperture Priority Mode

Aperture Priority Mode is marked as A or Av. It’s the same thing, but it changes according to the brand. With this setting, you can manually choose your ISO and your aperture number, which leaves the shutter speed up to the camera. This setting is handy when you are photographing still objects or landscapes. Just make sure to use a tripod if there’s low light because with a low shutter speed even your own movement can be recorded. However, if you don’t have a tripod, you can increase the ISO. But be mindful that the higher the number, the more noise you’ll have. Why would you want to control the aperture? Because it controls the depth of field.

Left image – APERTURE PRIORITY:1/60, f/2.8, ISO 200. Right image – APERTURE PRIORITY:1/50, f/22, ISO 4000.

The smaller the aperture number is, the wider the plane of focus becomes. However, most lenses have a sweet spot around f/8 that gives you the sharpest image of all. You can use this Aperture Priority Mode to experiment with your lens.

Shutter Speed Priority Mode

Shutter Speed Priority Mode can be marked as S or Tv, again depending on the brand. You control the shutter speed and ISO, while the camera takes care of the aperture. You’ll want to use this setting when there’s movement involved in your shoot, such as sports photography. In this case, you need a high-speed value if you want to freeze the moving object, or a slower speed if you want the moving object to leave a trail. Another situation in which this is useful is night or dark scenes, and you don’t have a tripod. In this case, you need to make sure to put your shutter speed fast enough so that the natural movement of your body doesn’t register with the camera.

Top image – SHUTTER PRIORITY:1/8, f/2.8, ISO 200. Lower image – SHUTTER PRIORITY:1/30, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Auto ISO

Finally, automatize the third factor of the exposure triangle, Auto ISO. There’s no program mode on the mode dial as such, but there is a setting. While being in Manual Mode, adjust your ISO sensitivity to AUTO so that you can decide the other two factors (aperture and shutter speed). However, you can also pair Auto ISO with any of the semi-automatic modes listed before, and then you only have to think about one factor. What you have to consider in this case is that the higher the ISO, the more noise you’ll have in your photo.

*A couple of extra considerations:

-Always check the results as your camera may misread the scene, especially in scenes with high contrast.

-When using the priority modes, the settings values start to flash if you’re out of reach (if it doesn’t have a way to compensate what you’re adjusting.) In this case, depending on what your shoot requires, you may have to solve it by adding a flash, raising the ISO or adding a filter.

Have fun using the semi-automated modes and remember to switch to full manual once you feel more comfortable with the entire exposure triangle. That way you’ll always keep learning!

The post How to Move from Auto to Manual Modes Using Camera Semi-Automatic Modes appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Writing Exercises to Improve Your Photography

The post Writing Exercises to Improve Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

You might think that an image is worth a thousand words. Perhaps you may consider yourself more visual than eloquent? Moreover, you may merely think that writing and photography have nothing to do with each other? However, they are more related than you think. Whether it is to unblock your creativity or to propel your career, writing exercises can improve your photography.

Some writing exercises that can help improve your photography

1. Unblock your creativity

Are you feeling out of ideas for your photographic projects or stuck on the same photo-cliches? This is very common amongst photographers both amateur and professional. Often everyday life clutters our brain, leaving little room for creative thoughts.

Something you can do to open the way to more productive and original thinking is to write first thing in the morning. Write as much as you can without thinking about it. I don’t want to set a limit because we all have different needs, problems and time constraints. What I do advise is that you start writing whatever comes into your head. Don’t filter it. Keep going until it feels difficult because that’s when the clutter ends and the creativity begins.

2. Define your style

Let’s face it, being a photographer is appealing and so people want to know more. Often when you introduce yourself as a photographer, you get asked what type of photography do you do. The question I ask you is: do you know how to reply? Any great photographer has a clear trajectory and a recognizable style. Therefore you need to define yours to become ‘great.’

Defining your style is easier to do it if you have been doing photography for a while. However, you can also do it as an aspirational exercise. Go through your images and find the best ones. Also, find the ones that you enjoyed making the most and see what connects them.

Now try writing an Artist Statement. Even if you don’t do art photography write a piece of text that explains who you are. Put your vision and what separates you from any other photographer into words. This text can be a concept, your approach to a particular topic or an aesthetic style. Having it written down in a concise paragraph helps you understand who you are and you build up from there.

3. When, where and why

If you’ve been in the photography business for a while, you might have noticed that the traditional CV is challenging to apply to your trajectory. This doesn’t mean that you can’t or don’t need to put your work experience down in writing. One way of doing this is to write a biographic text that both helps you find jobs within your field, and understand your strengths.

You can try starting with a regular CV, which will most likely be kilometers long! As photographers, we have many different clients. Sometimes you do different types of photography according to the jobs you can get rather than your specialty. You may have dipped into survival jobs that are only vaguely related to photography but write them all down. Now start putting them into groups. For example, if you were hired to do your cousin’s wedding and the birthday party of your neighbor’s kid put them under Event Photography. If you photograph events of the bar next door for their Facebook page, put them under Social Networks Content, and so on.

From bullet points, turn this into a more in-depth text. Once you have that, it gets easier to tell a story – your story. Like any narrative, it has to be coherent, so make sure everything you put in there has a reason to be there. Leave out any day jobs you did to pay the bills that don’t fit into this career path. Finally, try to show evolution. How you’ve grown professionally and what you’ve learned from it.

Last thoughts

I hope you find these exercises as useful as I have. It’s not easy to evaluate yourself, and your work. Feel free to ask for someone else’s opinion regarding what you think is your style, as they might have seen something in your work that you missed. On the other hand, I recommend you don’t show the morning writings to anybody. If you know people will see them, you will start to curate and maybe even censor them. So, for that one just let go and enjoy!

The post Writing Exercises to Improve Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

4 Tips to Get You Out of Your Comfort Zone for Photographic Inspiration

The post 4 Tips to Get You Out of Your Comfort Zone for Photographic Inspiration appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Are you feeling uninspired? Perhaps you’re stuck in your photography practice and feel like you’ve reached the best of your abilities? Don’t worry, we all feel like that sometimes. In most cases, all you need is to get out of your comfort zone to find new and exciting challenges. Here are some tips to get you out of your comfort zone for photographic inspiration.

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1. Change your focal length.

All of us have a preferred focal length either because it’s the only lens we have, or because it’s the fittest for the kind of photography that we do. So the problem is not that you have it, it is that it impacts a lot of your photographic behaviors as well. You might think it’s not a big deal, but it’s vastly different working with a fixed focal length than a zoom lens, or shooting with a wide angle lens than a telephoto lens.

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The focal length you use affects the physical distance you need between you and your subject. With a telephoto lens, you can be further away and still get close detail. A wide-angle lens allows you to fit in a bigger scene even if you are closer to your subject. Making this change means you walk around your subject to get the shot, which helps you find new perspectives and points of view. Sometimes you can’t get closer or further away as you may need, forcing you to reframe and rethink your entire image.

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Another thing that changes when you modify the distance between your camera and subject is the Depth of Field. Depth of Field depends on the Aperture (f/stop). If you take two images with the same aperture but one of them is with a wide-angle lens, and the other is with a telephoto, the latter will have a shallower depth of field. If you’d like to understand this concept in more depth, I recommend you read my article How to Use Still-Life to Understand Focal Lengths. In any case, the results of your images may be different to what you are used to, and this inevitably pushes you out of your comfort zone.

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2. Change the type of photography you do

One of the beauties about photography is how versatile it can be. You can photograph practically anything. I don’t mean that any photographer can do every kind of photography. Each one needs its own set of skills, and that’s why I recommend this exercise.

You can be a wedding photographer, a landscape photographer, or a food photographer – it doesn’t matter. There is always another type of photography you can try. For example, if you’re a portrait photographer, used to dealing with people, go and shoot some architecture photography or any subject you can’t move or control. If you usually do macro or abstract details, go wider and try to compose a scene from urban photography. You’ll be amazed at how changing what you see also changes the way you think. It opens your mind to new possibilities.

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As a photographer, no matter what your specialty, you are working with light. However, it most certainly different working with studio lights doing a still life than natural light while shooting a landscape. One is not better than the other, nor is it easier. They are just different and as a result, require different skills. Studio lighting means learning to set everything from scratch. You create the amount and type of light you want.

However, natural light means learning what time of the day is best, dealing with weather conditions and so on. It also means having the right equipment. I’m not suggesting that you go and spend a lot of money on something you may not use much as there’s always a way to adapt and improvise. This is also part of going out of the comfort zone.

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3. A small change can go a long way

Expanding your creativity can be done by changing a small thing from your photographic routine. Change the time of the day that you go out to shoot, go back to a place you visited in a different season, or walk the opposite way when you go out the door. New conditions or new places spark new ideas.

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4. Change equipment

I already mentioned focal length, but the lens is not the only thing you can change to challenge yourself. Try a different camera. I’m not suggesting that you go out and buy an extra camera. You can try renting for a day or exchange cameras with a friend. You can switch from your camera to your phone and vice-versa. The composition is different when shooting full-frame and crop-sensor. It’s challenging to photograph a maximum amount of photos with a film camera instead of the (almost) limitless and immediate result of digital. However, it doesn’t matter what you use (more or less professional than your regular equipment), what matters is that it’s different.

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Conclusion

There are many ways to push your photography and creativity further. Try some of these tips or come up with some of your own. See where it takes you. One last piece of advice: don’t be afraid of doing bad photos. There is a reason why your comfort zone IS your comfort zone. You’ve mastered it, you like it, and you create great images. Expect that you won’t achieve the same results when you change photographic genres – that’s all the more reason to try it!

The post 4 Tips to Get You Out of Your Comfort Zone for Photographic Inspiration appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

How to Mimic a Digital Cyanotype Using Photoshop with Ease

The post How to Mimic a Digital Cyanotype Using Photoshop with Ease appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

A Cyanotype was a popular film printing process that gave an appealing, beautiful cyan-colored tone to an image. Sounds nice right? Would you like to create one? Don’t worry – you don’t have to go back to the darkroom or become a chemist and waste tons of material to do it. I’ll show you how to create a digital Cyanotype using Photoshop.

EXTRA TIP: Because you achieved a Cyanotype by applying light-sensitive emulsion onto the paper (or surface) you were going to print on, the first thing you need is a background that mimics this effect. If you’re feeling crafty, you can buy yourself a brush, some paint and physically do your background. Then scan it and make it the size and resolution that better fits the image you’re going to use.

However, if doing so is a hassle, you can create your background digitally. Because I promised you digital Cyanotype, I’ll show you the latter.

Step 1:

First, pick the Brush tool from the Toolbox. Here, you’ll be able to pick the size and type of brush. From the Options Bar that is now active, choose your color. Select a brush with a wide tip, like a fan, so that the effect emulates brushstrokes and not a pen or a marker. The brush size depends on the size of your document.

It’s okay to make it uneven. Remember, the original method used hand-made techniques, so uneven gives it a nice unique look. For now, use black because the tone is applied later. Since we’re discussing color, I’ll use this space to tell you that, in my experience, any photo with a black or dark background blends easily. However, it’s possible to use any image.

Step 2:

Open the image you are turning into a Cyanotype and desaturate it. To achieve this, you need to go to Menu -> Adjustments -> Image -> Hue/Saturation. Move the Saturation slider all the way down to the left.

Once you have your image, drag it into the canvas where you created the brushstroke background. It gets pasted as a new layer in that document. Drag the corners to make it the right size for your background and click on the check mark to apply.

Step 3:

Select the layer with the brushstrokes and add an Adjustment layer of Levels. Move the black and the middle tones to lighten the color so that your black becomes dark grey.

Step 4:

Next, select the top layer – the one with your image, and add another Adjustment layer. This time choose Color Balance. Here you can make a combination to find the right tone of blue you want. As a starting point, use the ones I’m using: Cyan -62 and Blue +95.

Step 5:

Once you’re satisfied with the color of your image, you can choose to make it less intense by adding another Adjustment layer. Always keep the layer on top selected so that the new Adjustment layer covers all layers. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and move the Saturation slider a little bit to the left. Be careful not to go too much into the gray because it may no longer resemble a Cyanotype.

Step 6:

If you can see the borders of the image you pasted, the balance isn’t right. It’s not incorporating well with the background. To fix this issue,  change the layer Blending Mode. Select the image layer and open the Blending Mode menu. Choose Lighten or Screen to achieve a better result.

However, if there is still some evidence of the border, choose the Eraser tool from the Tool Box and lower the opacity. Choose a brush with soft borders and erase so that you can defuse the border and make it a smoother transition.

Your finished Cyanotype

You should now have your finished Cyanotype. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and gave it a go. Please share your results in the comment section below.

More retro photography techniques

If you like retro photography techniques, you may also find these articles useful:

How to Create a Lithography Effect Using Photoshop

How to Duotone a Photograph in Photoshop

How To Mimic a Cross-Processing Effect in Photoshop

How to Mimic Lomography in Photoshop with Ease

The post How to Mimic a Digital Cyanotype Using Photoshop with Ease appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

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