How to Customize and Use the Photoshop Gradient Tool

Despite its straightforward name, the gradient tool is incredibly flexible. You can customize practically every settings, and use it in many different ways.

In this article I’ll show you how to use it to its full potential.

The Gradient tool shares the same toolbar space as the Paint Bucket tool, so you may not see it at first glance. Click and hold the Paint Bucket tool to reveal the fly-out menu, then select the Gradient tool.

You use the Gradient tool to make a smooth transition between multiple colors. And one of the first things you can customize is the colors you want to transition between.

With the Gradient tool active, you’ll see a sample on the left-hand side of the options bar. Clicking the small arrow next to it will reveal the gradient picker that includes a number of preset gradients. And clicking the gear icon to the right of that will bring up the settings menu where you can:

  • load more presets
  • add new presets
  • customize the display window.

If none of the presets suit your needs, you can customize a new gradient by double-clicking the sample to bring up the Gradient Editor window. Here you’ll see a bar with the current gradient, along with a set of sliders you can use to create the gradient you want. The top sliders control the opacity, while the bottom sliders control the color. If you need more colors, simply click on the gradient where you’d like them to go.

As well as choosing the colors, you can also choose the start and end points of your gradient.

Next to the sample you’ll see five icons representing the five different types of gradients you can apply: Linear, Radial, Angle, Reflected and Diamond.

The Linear gradient will gradually transition your colors in a straight line from the start point to the end point.

The Radial gradient radiates out from the start point in the shape of a circle.

The Angle gradient will transition clockwise in the direction of the angle created by the line uniting the start and end points.

The Reflected gradient creates a mirror effect using the start point as the center.

Finally the Diamond gradient radiates out from the start point in the shape of a diamond.

Next to the gradient icons are two dropdown menus. The first lets you set the bending mode (how your gradient will affect whatever’s below it). The second reveals a slider that lets you control the gradient’s opacity.

If you continue towards the right of the option bar you’ll find a set of check-boxes that will finalize your choices. First you have the option to Reverse the colors which is pretty much what you’d expect: it will invert the order of the colors of your gradient. Then you have Dither to make the transition smoother. And finally the transparency box applies the opacity from the gradient, see the difference in this example where the top half has the transparency checked and the bottom half unchecked:

Ok now you know how the gradient tool works and how to customize it, great for graphic work, but how can you apply it to a photo? Let me give you an example to achieve a trendy look on your images.

First choose the photo you want to modify. While there are no right or wrongs here, there are some photos that fit better for this kind of effect than others, for example something that looks vintage, or an artsy portrait.  Now turn it black and white by applying an Adjustment layer clicking on the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Black and White, this way it won’t be a destructive process.

On top of this Adjustment layer you just did, add a New Layer by going to Menu > Layer > New Layer, or by clicking in the New Layer button at the bottom of the panel. And in this one you’ll create your gradient using the Gradient Tool that I explained before by choosing the colors and angles you prefer. Finally set the Blending Mode to screen and your image is ready.

Have fun experimenting with the many many possibilities this offers you!

The post How to Customize and Use the Photoshop Gradient Tool appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to do Focus Stacking in Photoshop for a Seemingly Infinite Depth of Field

Whenever you do macro or close-up photography you usually have to choose very carefully what you want to keep in focus. This can also happen when you want to shoot a landscape and you want to include an element close to you but you end up with a blurry background.

So it seems that doesn’t matter if you go big or small you always have to make compromises regarding the depth of field. However, there is a post-production way around it, stay with me and I’ll show you how to do focus stacking!

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

First, what is depth of field?

Depth of field, commonly referred to as DoF, refers to the distance between the first and last object that appears in focus or sharp within an image. It covers the space in front of and behind the focal plane, in other words where you put your focus.

How broad this space or distance is can be determined by different factors: the aperture, the focal length of your lens and the physical distance between the camera and the subject.

Even if you have these three factors to move around in order to expand your depth of field, there are certain conditions that just won’t allow you to get as much DoF as you need. This is where Photoshop comes in, when you need to achieve an impossible or seemingly infinite depth of field.

While this is a post-production process, you need to consider and get it at the shooting stage as it’s not something you can achieve by fixing your photo later. You need to prepare several photos that you’ll stack together in order to create one fully focused image.

So basically what you need to do is shoot the image with different parts in focus. Everything else needs to remain the same, this means the same framing and settings and you ONLY adjust your focus in each shot.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field - source images

A few tricks for shooting images for focus stacking

  • For best results in the post-production, it’s better to have good material to work with so I recommend using a tripod so that the framing is exactly the same in each image.
  • Adjust the focus manually and in order (like from closest to farthest) so that you don’t lose track and have a shot where every area of the photo wasn’t sharp at some point during the shooting. Think of it as bracketing the focus.
  • The more photos you take the better so that Photoshop will have enough information to form your final image.

Getting Started

Okay once you’re back at home base, download your photos to the computer. The first thing you need to do is open them all into the same file in Photoshop. You can do this by going to Menu > File > Scripts > Load Files into Stacks.

In the pop-up window, set it to use Files and then with the Browse button choose the set of photos you took. Check off the option “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images”, especially if you didn’t use a tripod. But even if you did it’s useful to keep it checked to compensate for the focus breathing which is the change in scale when you re-adjusted the focus for each photo.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field - load images into a stack

Once you have them all, just click Open and Photoshop will load them in the same file, each on a separate layer. The filenames will become the name of each of the layers.

Note: If you forgot to check the Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images in the step before, you can always do this by selecting the layers and going to Menu > Edit > Auto-Align.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field - layers

Blending the layers

Now, select all of your layers. You can do this by clicking on the first one, then holding Shift+Click and click on the last layer. That way everything in between will get selected too. Now go to Menu > Auto-Blend Layers. A pop-up window will appear, check the “Stack Images” option and leave the Seamless Tones and Colors checked as well.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field - auto blend

From there Photoshop will do all the work so you just have to be patient.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

I recommend that you zoom in and check the edges as you can find some problem areas that may require you to copy paste from the original files for fine-tuning, like this:

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

Once Photoshop has your image pasted together, you can go to Menu > Layer > Flatten Image to compress all the layers into one. Finally, make any adjustments you need to the exposure or contrast to get your final result.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

This is the best way of doing focus stacking in Photoshop. However, if you find yourself outside the studio, without a tripod and unprepared, you can still give it a go. Just try to stay as steady as possible or you won’t achieve the required result.

For example, I took two photos, one where the small sculpture of the head in the foreground was focused and one where the background was focused. It was done without a tripod or any care about it leaving all for Photoshop to fix and as you can see it wasn’t able to align them.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

However, in these examples, I also used only two pictures and no tripod but I was very careful and did my best not to move at all except for my two fingers turning the focusing ring. Of course, it’s impossible to actually do that but it was good enough for Photoshop to do an acceptable result on my images.

So it’s not ideal but it can be done, never prevent yourself from trying!

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

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How to Create Custom Brushes in Photoshop

The Brush Tool in Photoshop is one of the most versatile and it can be used for many applications. It already comes with many useful brushes preloaded into the program and you can find even more online. But sometimes you just need to be more creative and have full control. Don’t you think?

Not to worry, another great thing about Photoshop is that you can create your own custom brushes. Let me show you how.

What is a Brush?

First things first, what exactly is a brush? It’s a tool used to draw strokes. You can find it in the toolbox or you can activate it by using its hotkey: B.

This tool is very flexible because you can adjust its shape, size, opacity and lots of other specs from the Presets panel. That multiplies the options far beyond the first array of choices that you see on the first menu.

Create custom Brushes Photoshop Tutorial Tool Options Presets

None the less, there are times that you need something you just can’t find pre-installed. For example, you can turn your signature or your logo into a brush, it doesn’t get more personal than that right? In just a few steps you can achieve this.

Make a Signature Brush

Open the image that contains your signature or logo, this can come from a scanned paper, for example, or the JPG version of a logo designed in a different program. Now that you have that opened, activate the Marquee tool to select the image. Just click and drag the selection around it and make sure you’re not grabbing anything else from the image.

How to Create a Custom Brushes in Photoshop

Then go to Menu > Edit > Define Brush Preset and a new window will pop up where you can name your brush. Type any name you want, preferably something that will help you identify it later, and click OK.

How to Create a Custom Brushes in Photoshop

Note: In the Brush Name window you’ll see a thumbnail with the preview of your brush, you’ll notice that the color (if it had any) is lost, that’s because brushes are grayscale, so it won’t register the colors of the original. You can, of course, apply any color when you use it though.

Now you have your new signature brush. Whenever you want to use it, just select the brush tool then open the drop-down menu from the options bar. You can also pick it from the Brush Presets panel which you can reach from the Window menu in case it’s not already opened.

How to Create a Custom Brushes in Photoshop

Using the Custom Brush

You may be wondering why you need to turn it into a brush instead of just placing it as an image. This is because it gives you access to all the settings and controls of the brush tool. Just open the Brush panel and you’ll be able to change from color to size to spacing – anything you need for you to create patterns, watermarks and more!

How to Create a Custom Brushes in Photoshop

How to Create a Custom Brushes in Photoshop

That’s just how easy you can turn any image into a custom brush. But how about creating one from scratch?

Create a New Custom Brush

First, open a white canvas and draw the shape you want to turn into a brush. To do this you can use any of the Shape tools or even other Brushes. For example, I’ll make a simple sparkle. For that, I just need four lines using the Line tool and a round brush with very soft edges in the center so that it has a glow effect.

How to Create a Custom Brushes in Photoshop

Remember that color is not registered so it doesn’t matter which colors are you using to draw your shape. Just know that anything in white won’t be part of the brush as it will translate as transparent. Now to turn it into a brush just follow the steps that you did before. Menu> Edit > Define Brush Preset. Click name it.

How to Create a Custom Brushes in Photoshop

Now your custom brush is done, grab it from the menu like any other brush. It’s very easy to create but its use can be as elaborate as you need since it has a lot of possibilities. Let me give you some tips to make the most of it.

Tips and Tricks

You can quickly access some of your brush’s most used properties like size, hardness and opacity from the Options Bar or get a lot more control if you open the brush panel. Regardless of whether you created the brush or it came with Photoshop, you can adjust its presets in the brush panel.

A quick overview of the presets I find more useful:

Brush tip: Apart from the size and hardness that you can also find in the Options Bar, here you can also adjust the roundness and angle of the brush.

How to Create a Custom Brushes in Photoshop

Scattering: this is as straightforward as the name suggests. With this option, you can place the brush more randomly, thus, scattering it.

How to Create a Custom Brushes in Photoshop

You can also change the blending mode of the brush in the drop-down menu. This changes the way the brush stroke interacts with the object directly below, which could be an image or a previous brush stroke. However, I prefer to leave it as Normal and put the new brush strokes on their own layer and then alter the layer’s blending mode, that way I can always come back and change it later if need be.

Opacity and Flow: Both of these refer to the amount of paint that you are applying. However, with opacity, it won’t add more paint if you pass over the same area many times unless you release the click and start again. While flow will keep adding paint regardless.

Over to You

I hope you found the tutorial useful and give your creativity a go with some custom brushes of your own!

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How to Make Image-Filled Shapes in Photoshop

Photoshop may not be primarily a graphics program but it still comes with very useful tools for that kind of work. For example, making image-filled shapes.

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing some professional job like web design for your business or something personal like a birthday card, you’ll often need to constrain your photo to fit within a specific shape. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to do that with just a few clicks.

image-filled shapes Photoshop tutorial Intro1

Create a Shape

First, you need your shape. You can easily create one with the Shape tool from the toolbox. You can click and hold to display the menu with your choices. In this first menu, you’ll have some basic shapes like rectangle, ellipse, line, polygon and a customize shape tool.

image-filled shapes Photoshop tutorial Shape Tool

If you choose the custom shape you’ll have a second menu with all your possibilities for that. You can access it in the options bar at the top. If you don’t see many choices, just click on the bracket on the right and click All from the menu that will open; this will load all the preset shapes. If you download any new shapes from the Internet you’ll also found them in this menu.

Image-filled shapes Photoshop tutorial Custom Shape

To draw the shape you chose on a blank canvas, just click and drag until it reaches the size you want, then let go. Whenever you draw a shape on your canvas you can choose to use Fill and Stroke from the options bar. In this case, the filling will be your photo, so set the Fill as black so that your image will be constrained to the shape that you chose.

Here’s how you can do it:

image-filled shapes Photoshop tutorial Draw Shape

Add Your Image

Now that you have your shape you need to bring in the image to fill it. Go to Menu > File > Place. This will open a browser window so you can choose the file from your computer. Choose the one you want and click OK. This photo will be imported into your project as a new layer.

image-filled shapes Photoshop tutorial Place Image

Clipping Mask

Now you just have to go to Menu > Layer > Create Clipping Mask. This can also be achieved by clicking Alt + Ctrl (PC) or Cmd (Mac) + G at the same time.

image-filled shapes Photoshop tutorial Clipping Mask

Note: If you were following my steps exactly then the image was placed as a layer at the top. However, if you are working with a complex project with many layers or if you followed the instructions in a different order this might not be the case.

If that happens, then you do need to take an extra step. Just drag and position the image layer on top of the shape layer in the Layers panel for the Clipping Mask to work as you want.

As a result, you’ll only see the photo through the shape and the best part is that the process is non-destructive. In other words, you did not cut out your photo, the rest of it is just hidden underneath which gives you two advantages.

First, you can reposition your photo to best fit the shape. If you click on the Move tool from the Toolbox you can just click and drag the image so that it gets placed in the best possible way. You can also use any of the transformation tools to resize or rotate it until you are happy with the result.

Second, you can work on the shape as well without worrying about damaging your photo or showing any empty canvas because the photo is complete and untouched underneath.

image-filled shapes Photoshop tutorial Free Transform

Extra tip

You can do as many image-filled shapes as you want in the same canvas, as they will just be stacked as additional layers. For example, you can add text to your project.

To do that, instead of using the Shape Tool go to the Type tool and select a font type broad enough to make the effect noticeable. Then repeat the process of placing an image (it can be a different photo than the one you used for the shape) and creating a clipping mask.

image-filled text Photoshop tutorial

And again, since the image is intact underneath, you can come back and edit the text anytime you want. Have fun!

image-filled text Photoshop tutorial edit type

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How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

If your ideas are more than a photo, why not combine two or three of them in a single image? When you want to create something surreal, ghostly or that is just beyond what you can capture in a single shot, then the multiple exposure effect is the thing for you!

This effect comes from analog photography and some digital cameras offer this feature as well. However, we can mimic the multiple exposure effect not only without film and even without a camera, so let’s get creative in Photoshop!

How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Achieving double or multiple exposures in-camera means that you have to do your photos in a sequence, this can be very impractical and therefore limits your creativity.

In Photoshop, you can combine a photo you took today with your smartphone with another one that you made last year with your camera or even add a Creative Commons photo that you found online, so let your imagination go wild!

Method Two – Creating Double Exposures in Photoshop

If you need to kickstart your creativity, try playing with opposites or contrasting concepts. To demonstrate, I’m going to use urban versus nature, I’ll also show the practicality of doing this in Photoshop instead of running back and forth from the countryside to the city, so let’s get started.

First open your first image, the one that will be the base on which you’ll compose your image. When the image opens it is the background layer which is locked. You can always change this but for now, it’s fine to leave it as is.

Duplicate your image by going to Menu > Layer > Duplicate Layer or just click and drag it into the Create New Layer button on the bottom of the Layers panel (or use the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl+J). Now you have two identical images on top of each other, one in each layer.

duplicate layer - How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Add your second image

Now drag and drop the second image onto your canvas. I suggest you use this technique instead of copy and paste because this way it gets added as a Smart Object. Therefore you can make it bigger or smaller as many times as you want without losing image quality.

This is always a good thing to have but especially for this exercise since you still need the other photo(s) to see how they will interact to create the final composition. Then click OK and it will be added as a layer. By default it will be dropped on the top, so you won’t be able to see the other image for the moment, but that’s normal.

drag and drop second image - How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Click on the layer you just added, the one with the second image, and drag it down so that it’s between the two previously existing layers. Now all you see is the first image again and the new image is hidden, Don’t worry, we’ll get to it in a moment.

Adjust the Blend Mode

The top layer should now be the copy of your background, click on it to select it. Now open the drop-down menu from the top of the Layer panel which contains the Blending options. Select Screen Mode and as a result, you’ll see a mixture of the two images.

Keep in mind that the results will change drastically depending on the colors of your images as this information is what Photoshop uses to make them interact.

For example, with black, it leaves the colors unchanged while screening with white produces white. In any case, don’t worry if your image doesn’t look like the example I’m using.

screen mode - How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Adjust to your liking

The result you’re looking for is rarely achieved by just doing this, so click on the layer that contains your second image, and modify it until you’re happy.

You can change its size by going to Menu > Edit > Transform. Then drag it with the Move tool from the top of the Toolbox. Add some filters by going into Menu > Filters or adjust its settings by adding Adjustment layers by clicking on the button from the bottom of the panel. Play with it until you’re satisfied.

transform - How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Mask out unwanted bits

Once you’ve decided on the final image position, create a layer mask on that layer by clicking on the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the panel. Making sure that the mask is selected, use your Brush tool to paint in black in the areas where you don’t want the image showing.

It behaves like an eraser but without actually losing your pixels. That’s the great thing about masks, it just hides things. If you make a mistake all you need to do is change the brush to white and paint it back in.

layer mask - How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Repeat the process with as many photos as you want to add. If you don’t want one image to be predominant but instead you want to have a blank canvas on which to put many smaller pieces, first open a blank canvas that will be your “negative” where you are going to combine your images.

You can do this by going to Menu > File > New and just set the size and resolution that you want and click OK. Then follow the steps above normally. Have fun!

final image #1 - How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

A Trendy Twist, Method Two

As many vintage things, double exposures made a comeback and became trendy just by adding a little twist to it. You’ve probably often seen images of multiple exposures that are silhouettes with the second image inside it. Here’s how you can do that with the same technique as before just by adding one more step.

So, open your first image in Photoshop and duplicate the background layer once again. On this copy, select your background with the tool of your choice depending on your image.

If you have a white background you can quickly select it with the Magic Wand while a more busy background might require the Pen tool or a mix of different ones.

selection - How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Once you have your background selected then go to Menu > Edit > Fill, choose white and click OK. Drag and drop your second image just like you did in the first part of this tutorial so that it becomes a new layer. Drag it and put it in between the background and the background copy you created.

layer order - How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Now it’s totally covered, so click on the background copy to select that layer and change its blend mode to Screen.

result #2 - How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Modify your second image and create a layer mask to paint with black whichever you don’t want in the composition and that’s it.

black and white - How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

You can use images with a lot of contrast or monochrome to create different effects. Try them out and share your results with us in the comment section below.

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How to Set Up the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

You wouldn’t start cooking dinner and go to the supermarket each time you need an ingredient, that wouldn’t be very efficient, right? For any activity you want to undergo in life it’s always best to have everything you’re going to need before you start, don’t you agree? With the Photoshop interface, it is the same.

You will be able to work more efficiently if you set up your workspace according to what you need right from the beginning.

Photoshop interface - Get to Know Your Interface Setup Your Interface

The Photoshop Interface

In order to set up your workspace, you need to know what tools are available to you, how they behave, and what are the options. All of these things combined are called the interface, so let’s get to know it.

The big central area is called Canvas.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

What is in the canvas area

This is where your image will be displayed, therefore it’s quite an important component. All around the canvas area you’ll find tools and information to help you manage your image.

On the right-hand side, you have the panels. There are tabs here that provide you with information about what you have on the canvas. Which tabs are there is entirely up to you as it is completely customizable, but I’ll get to that later on.

On the left-hand side, you’ll find the Tool box which, as the name suggests, contains the various tools you can use to modify your image. I’ll show you later how it can be moved but as a default, you’ll find it here.

On top, there’s the Option bar which provides the setting options for each tool that you select from the Tool bar, therefore it is constantly changing.

And on top of that, you’ll find the menu bar with many options to control your canvas, file, and interface.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

When you put together these sections you can transform your workspace. Now that you know what everything is and where to find it you can start personalizing it according to your needs. Let’s get to it.

Personalizing your workspace

The very first thing that catches your eye, and therefore is something you want to decide, is the color. If you go to Menu > Photoshop > Preferences > Interface you’ll find the options.

You’ll notice on the image below that I have used the lightest shade of grey. But the choice is completely personal, try all of them and see which suits you best.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

No matter which one of those you choose, you can change the color of the canvas any time because each photo may need a different background.

For example, if you are working on a black canvas and you start working on a black photo you might not be able to see the edges of the image. Just right-click anywhere on the canvas area and choose any of the default colors or make a custom one.

I’ll make it a really evident green, not because it’s something I would recommend using, but because I want you to be clear on which area is changing with this option.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

Usability and function

Now that you fixed the look of your Photoshop interface and workspace, it’s time to move to the practicality aspects.

As a starting point, you can use any of the default workspaces that Photoshop has built-in. To find them just go to the drop-down menu on the top right corner. Feel free to try them all out.

However, since you are reading this in a Digital Photography School article, I’ll suggest you start with the Photography Workspace and we’ll start building up from there.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

To start personalizing, it’s worth knowing that most panels can be detached and dragged anywhere on your workspace. You can just click on the top of the panel where there is a dotted line and let go wherever you want the panel situated.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

However, this can get very messy really quickly. So if you want to move the panels around, I suggest you still attach them into another available slot. To find them just hover over the workspace and look for the blue lines as they indicate snapping points.

Panels

Let’s now focus on the panel area as it’s the most flexible of all. In here, you have different information windows in tabs that can be grouped or stacked. You may think that it would be helpful to have all of them open but that would take away space on the canvas for your image.

So it is actually much more practical to have as little as possible opened at one time. Therefore, let’s start by closing the ones you don’t need from the default setup. To close a tab just go to the top right corner of the tab and click on the drop-down menu, from there choose “Close”.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

You’ll notice that the panel area is divided into smaller boxes. This is because tabs can be grouped. To move tabs from one group to another just drag them. And to close an entire group just choose Close Tab Group instead of Close from the drop-down menu.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

Editing the Panels

If you need a panel that didn’t come with the default preset, you can access it by going to Menu > Window and select the desired option. It will be dropped into the collapsible column on the left of the panels which is a collapsible extension of the panels.

If you need it open all the time, like the Layer panel for example, then you can have it on the right so it displays all the information all the time. But if it’s something you need just on occasion, you can keep it collapsed on the left and just click on it when you need it.

If you don’t need a panel at all you can always make it disappear from that column just by right-clicking it and then choosing “Close”.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

This column can also be customized to show the icon and name of the panel or just the icon. Just click on the arrow at the top to choose.

While I’m on that, let me tell you that the Tool Bar has a similar feature by giving you the choice of one or two columns. Keep in mind that expanding it means losing Canvas space, so I like to keep it in the slimmer version.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

Finishing up

Now you know how to customize your Photoshop interface and workspace.

But, if you work on different projects (i.e you’re a photographer but also do design) you may need different workspaces according to each specific needs. Or if you use a shared computer with another family member or a co-worker then you also might need different workspaces for each of you.

This is why you want to save your customized workspace so you can come back to it easily each time without the need for repeating this process.

To do this, go back to the drop-down menu of the top-right corner and choose New Workspace. Name it and go back to it any time you need.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

Furthermore, if you are in your workspace but still find that are some changes from how it’s supposed to look, just click reset and everything will be back to normal. One last tip, from the bottom of the Tool box you can also choose the screen mode you want to use.

How to Setup the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

Okay, no more procrastination, get to work!

The post How to Set Up the Photoshop Interface and Workspace for Maximum Efficiency appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Pros and Cons of Chimping – What is it and how it can hurt or help you?

Whether you are an amateur taking photos with your smartphone or a pro using a DSLR, if you make digital photographs, you do chimping. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard the term or not it could be hurting your photographic practice so keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of chimping and how to use it (or stop using it) to your advantage.

Chimping Tutorial Intro - Pros and Cons of Chimping - photo of a DSLR camera screen

What is chimping?

There’s no doubt that digital photography has many advantages. One of them is being able to see the result of your shot immediately instead of having to wait until you got your film developed. This practice is commonly known as chimping, since Bryan Peterson coined the term and it became popular.

However, it’s not all good. If used without much thought you may not be taking full advantage of it or even worse, it could be working against you.

So, chimping is simply the act of checking your images on your camera’s LCD screen. It doesn’t necessarily imply what you do after that. You may delete some photos, you may do some adjustments to your settings for the following shots or you may even stop taking any more photos because you’re satisfied with what you’ve got. That’s where it gets tricky.

Pros and Cons of Chimping

Pro #1

If you change the conditions dramatically and need to readjust your settings it’s very helpful to find out immediately if you got the shot right. Here is an example.

It was a bright sunny day so I was photographing outside with an ISO of 100, f-stop of f/5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/250th. When I walked inside a room it was obviously much darker. But because I was looking at the beauty of the walls and the play of the elements and design I just snapped a photo without thinking about the change of lighting. Needless to say, it came out extremely dark.

Fortunately, however, I did some chimping, realized the issue and adjusted the ISO to 400.

Chimping Tutorial Outside Inside - Pros and Cons of Chimping - comparison of two photos

Con #1

Things look very different on your camera’s small screen as compared to the big screen of your computer. You might think the photo you just took is perfect but that’s not always the case. For example, this image looked good when I was chimping on the camera when I shot it, but once I downloaded it back home I realized the focus was not really sharp.

Chimping Tutorial Soft Focus - Pros and Cons of Chimping

When zoomed in on the computer this image is clearly out of focus, but it looked sharp on the camera.

Pro #2

If you are looking for a really concrete shot or effect you can immediately know if you are achieving it or what you need to adjust in order to get it by chimping and reviewing the image on the camera.

For example, I wanted to capture the movement of these ice skaters. This is always a tricky effect because you need to set the right shutter speed so it doesn’t freeze the subject or leave just a smudge if it’s too slow. If you are interested in learning how to do this I invite you to check out my tutorial, “How to Have Fun with Shutter Speed and Added Motion Blur”.

You also need to move the camera (panning) at the same speed of the subject so this is an exercise where you need to try many times and definitely do some chimping.

Chimping Tutorial Slow ShutterSpeed Blur Movement - Pros and Cons of Chimping - skaters

Con #2

Another con of chimping is you can miss out on the perfect moment, that once-in-a-lifetime shot because you were looking at your screen instead of paying attention to the scene.

Here, for example, I wanted to capture the elephant throwing the dirt with its trunk. But I looked at my screen (and snapped) a second too late and all I got was the dirt cloud and the trunk almost all the way down.

Chimping Tutorial the Decisive Moment - elephant

Fortunately, elephants do this a lot, so I just had to wait a little bit longer (without taking my eyes off them this time) and got the photo.

Chimping Tutorial the Decisive Moment2 - elephant spraying dirt

Tips

If you have some time to review your photos and you’re sure you’re not going to be missing a once in a lifetime opportunity, then go ahead check, but do it well. Zoom into your image especially on any risky parts, like the shadows and highlights, to see they still have detail as well as your focus point to see that it’s sharp.

Chimping Tutorial Critical Points Zoom Review

Use the Histogram

When you are chimping, check your image but don’t forget to review the histogram as well. It should have a good range from black to white with many grey tones (unless you purposely went towards one end of the spectrum).

Most DSLR cameras have this feature integrated. On mine (a Canon 70D), for example, you access the histogram by playing the image, then clicking on the info button and it gives you the histogram by color channel and the general histogram.

Chimping Tutorial Histogram In Camera Review

Even after reviewing your photos and deciding you have what you need, do some extra shots. For example, I went to photograph a temple so it was mostly about architecture photos. After walking around it and shooting every angle on the outside, I went inside and did some shooting there as well.

I figured I had all I needed to head back to the city. Fortunately, I never put away the camera when I’m out for a shoot, especially in a new place. So when I was walking down the stairs I found this little girl in a traditional costume just resting from all the tourist attention she was getting. Never close the door to possibilities!

Chimping Tutorial Extra Shot

Finally

One last thing, reviewing and deleting the photos you don’t want can save you space on your memory card but having the screen on consumes a lot of battery so make sure you keep a good balance. No use in having lots of battery life if you don’t have space for more photos and equally useless to have an empty card but no battery to shoot!

So chimping is not a good or bad thing in itself, it’s more about how you use it. Let us know in the comments what are your chimping habits and share some of your tips!

The post Pros and Cons of Chimping – What is it and how it can hurt or help you? appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Pros and Cons of Chimping – What is it and how it can hurt or help you?

Whether you are an amateur taking photos with your smartphone or a pro using a DSLR, if you make digital photographs, you do chimping. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard the term or not it could be hurting your photographic practice so keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of chimping and how to use it (or stop using it) to your advantage.

Chimping Tutorial Intro - Pros and Cons of Chimping - photo of a DSLR camera screen

What is chimping?

There’s no doubt that digital photography has many advantages. One of them is being able to see the result of your shot immediately instead of having to wait until you got your film developed. This practice is commonly known as chimping, since Bryan Peterson coined the term and it became popular.

However, it’s not all good. If used without much thought you may not be taking full advantage of it or even worse, it could be working against you.

So, chimping is simply the act of checking your images on your camera’s LCD screen. It doesn’t necessarily imply what you do after that. You may delete some photos, you may do some adjustments to your settings for the following shots or you may even stop taking any more photos because you’re satisfied with what you’ve got. That’s where it gets tricky.

Pros and Cons of Chimping

Pro #1

If you change the conditions dramatically and need to readjust your settings it’s very helpful to find out immediately if you got the shot right. Here is an example.

It was a bright sunny day so I was photographing outside with an ISO of 100, f-stop of f/5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/250th. When I walked inside a room it was obviously much darker. But because I was looking at the beauty of the walls and the play of the elements and design I just snapped a photo without thinking about the change of lighting. Needless to say, it came out extremely dark.

Fortunately, however, I did some chimping, realized the issue and adjusted the ISO to 400.

Chimping Tutorial Outside Inside - Pros and Cons of Chimping - comparison of two photos

Con #1

Things look very different on your camera’s small screen as compared to the big screen of your computer. You might think the photo you just took is perfect but that’s not always the case. For example, this image looked good when I was chimping on the camera when I shot it, but once I downloaded it back home I realized the focus was not really sharp.

Chimping Tutorial Soft Focus - Pros and Cons of Chimping

When zoomed in on the computer this image is clearly out of focus, but it looked sharp on the camera.

Pro #2

If you are looking for a really concrete shot or effect you can immediately know if you are achieving it or what you need to adjust in order to get it by chimping and reviewing the image on the camera.

For example, I wanted to capture the movement of these ice skaters. This is always a tricky effect because you need to set the right shutter speed so it doesn’t freeze the subject or leave just a smudge if it’s too slow. If you are interested in learning how to do this I invite you to check out my tutorial, “How to Have Fun with Shutter Speed and Added Motion Blur”.

You also need to move the camera (panning) at the same speed of the subject so this is an exercise where you need to try many times and definitely do some chimping.

Chimping Tutorial Slow ShutterSpeed Blur Movement - Pros and Cons of Chimping - skaters

Con #2

Another con of chimping is you can miss out on the perfect moment, that once-in-a-lifetime shot because you were looking at your screen instead of paying attention to the scene.

Here, for example, I wanted to capture the elephant throwing the dirt with its trunk. But I looked at my screen (and snapped) a second too late and all I got was the dirt cloud and the trunk almost all the way down.

Chimping Tutorial the Decisive Moment - elephant

Fortunately, elephants do this a lot, so I just had to wait a little bit longer (without taking my eyes off them this time) and got the photo.

Chimping Tutorial the Decisive Moment2 - elephant spraying dirt

Tips

If you have some time to review your photos and you’re sure you’re not going to be missing a once in a lifetime opportunity, then go ahead check, but do it well. Zoom into your image especially on any risky parts, like the shadows and highlights, to see they still have detail as well as your focus point to see that it’s sharp.

Chimping Tutorial Critical Points Zoom Review

Use the Histogram

When you are chimping, check your image but don’t forget to review the histogram as well. It should have a good range from black to white with many grey tones (unless you purposely went towards one end of the spectrum).

Most DSLR cameras have this feature integrated. On mine (a Canon 70D), for example, you access the histogram by playing the image, then clicking on the info button and it gives you the histogram by color channel and the general histogram.

Chimping Tutorial Histogram In Camera Review

Even after reviewing your photos and deciding you have what you need, do some extra shots. For example, I went to photograph a temple so it was mostly about architecture photos. After walking around it and shooting every angle on the outside, I went inside and did some shooting there as well.

I figured I had all I needed to head back to the city. Fortunately, I never put away the camera when I’m out for a shoot, especially in a new place. So when I was walking down the stairs I found this little girl in a traditional costume just resting from all the tourist attention she was getting. Never close the door to possibilities!

Chimping Tutorial Extra Shot

Finally

One last thing, reviewing and deleting the photos you don’t want can save you space on your memory card but having the screen on consumes a lot of battery so make sure you keep a good balance. No use in having lots of battery life if you don’t have space for more photos and equally useless to have an empty card but no battery to shoot!

So chimping is not a good or bad thing in itself, it’s more about how you use it. Let us know in the comments what are your chimping habits and share some of your tips!

The post Pros and Cons of Chimping – What is it and how it can hurt or help you? appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Quick Beginner’s Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw

Do you shoot RAW but then open it without processing? When you take a photo in RAW format, regardless of the name each brand gives to it, what you’re doing is saving a bunch of data without processing it inside your camera. This way you have more information to work with during your post-production stage.

But having too much of something can sometimes seem daunting when you don’t know how to approach it and as a result be a limiting factor instead of opening up your possibilities.

Adobe Camera Raw – Processing Raw Files in Photoshop

This quick introduction guide explores the basic tools of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) so that you can step into post-processing this digital “negative” and understand its possibilities but also its limitations, as not all can be fixed.

ACR Raw Post-processing Photoshop Basic Adjustments

Whenever you open a RAW file in Photoshop it won’t open in the interface that would normally go to when opening a JPG or a TIF file. It will open it in a window known as Above Camera Raw (ACR). Here you’ll see a lot of options that can look intimidating and give you the impulse to just click open and work directly on Photoshop.

However, if you do so then you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities, most importantly its non-destructive qualities. Please note, that I’m not going to explain the tools in the order you’ll find them in the ACR panel because some of them are related to each other and therefore it’s clearer to explain them together regardless of their position.

Quick Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw

EXPOSURE

The first slider you will see is Exposure. This would be the equivalent of changing your shutter speed or f-stop settings up to five steps up or down. What this does influence the brightness of your entire image. Look at the example below to see how far you can push it in either direction.

Quick Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw - exposure

CONTRAST AND CLARITY

The next slider you’ll find is Contrast, this refers to the relationship between the lighter and darkest areas of your photo. If you slide it to the right you will increase the contrast which is why a plus sign (+) will appear next to the amount. Moving it to the left will decrease contrast, therefore a minus (-) sign appears. This will flatten the image as there will be less tonal range in between dark and light tones in your image.

A few sliders below Contrast you’ll find Clarity. This is a tool I really like because it gives a nice punch to your photos but it’s easy to overdo it and having them look unnatural, so just be careful. I am mentioning it here because it also adds contrast but this is only to the mid-tones (technically it finds and enhances edges in the image), plus it gives a sharp/unsharp effect to the image.

Note: Clarity is not an actual sharpening tool.

Here’s an example pushing both tools to the limit in either direction so you can see that even if they are related, the result is not the same.

Quick Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw - contrast and clarity

HIGHLIGHTS AND WHITES

Then there is the Highlights slider which I’ll explain together with another one, Whites. I’m doing this because they are closely related. The names are actually quite accurate but somehow their use is still difficult to grasp. Having said that, I’ll try to make it more clear.

The Highlights slider controls the tonal range from the lighter parts of your image, like this:

Quick Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw - highlights slider

The Whites slider should have its name in the singular to make it more clear because what it does is set the white point of your image, in other words, the brightest pixels.

Quick Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw - whites slider

So if you move the white point of the image, it will have an effect on the range of the highlights. Let’s see them work together.

Quick Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw - highest highlights

Quick Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw

SHADOWS AND BLACKS

In between those sliders you’ll find one called Shadows which together with Blacks works the same way as Highlights and Whites, but in the other side of the light scale.

Therefore, the Blacks slider sets the black point of the image and affects a wider tonal range than the one affected by shadows that refers to the darkest parts. Check the example below to have an illustration of how they work.

Quick Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw

SATURATION AND VIBRANCE

Saturation is the next slider on the list. It has an impact on all the colors of your image so keep an eye on the entire image while you are applying it and not just on a detail or a zoomed-in portion. If dragged completely to the left you’ll lose all color and leave your image black and white. Dragged all the way to the right, Saturation can reach very intense colors.

However, if you only want to affect the colors that are dull, to begin with instead of the entire image, then you should use the Vibrance slider. This one can also have a big effect, to the point of reaching unnatural colors so be careful. Look at the difference:

Quick Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw

When you’re happy with your image, you can just save the changes and leave it as is or you can open the image in Photoshop to continue working on it.

However, if you’re choosing the latter I suggest that instead of just clicking Open Image, press the shift key so that the button changes to Open Object. This way you’ll open your image on Photoshop as a Smart Object and you can come back to these ACR options and make some more adjustments later if you need to.

To learn more about it I invite you to check my tutorial How to Create with a Good Workflow Using Smart Objects in Photoshop.

Conclusion

I hope this makes it more clear for you. Remember that ACR offers other menu possibilities and there are various menus and tools that were too much to cover in this quick, beginner’s guide. So use this as a base and then keep exploring!

The post Quick Beginner’s Guide to Processing RAW Files in Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Two Ways to Replace the Sky Using Photoshop

There are many things that you can control when shooting a photograph, but the weather is not one of them! If you have a great landscape or architecture photo but the sky is too dull it will bring down the entire image, so just keep reading to learn how to replace the sky with Photoshop.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial before after - Two Ways to Replace the Sky with Photoshop

“Give the clouds an assignment.” said photographer Werner Mantz.

He was right, sometimes you can have the best weather and end up with a flat blue sky. Even worse if you have a horribly cold day that gives you a dull grey sky. Either way it can be the win or lose element of the image. No need to panic though, you can composite two photos into one perfect shot and replace the sky with a better one.

Method #1 – Sky Replacement in Photoshop

Most importantly you need an image from a cloudy sky that matches the mood of the image onto which you’re going to paste it. I’m going to work with a vertical shot so it’s better if the one from the sky has the same format. The subject is a ship aground in iced waters so my sky should be ideally from a stormy day.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial subject clouds - Two Ways to Replace the Sky with Photoshop

With the image of the subject open, make a selection of the sky that needs to be covered by the new one. For this you can use any tool with which you feel comfortable. I usually start with a broad selection using the Magic Wand and then get closer with the different types of Lasso tools. You’ll see a dotted line (marching ants) around the area that is being selected.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial selection tools - https://digital-photography-school.com/3-ways-make-sky-selection-photoshop/

Refine the selection

I find it’s also useful to go into Menu > Selection > Edit in Quick Mask. This will show the parts that are not selected in a red mask, so you can paint with the Brush tool what you want out and use the Erase tool to include in the selection.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial quick mask selection- https://digital-photography-school.com/3-ways-make-sky-selection-photoshop/

Now open the sky image and select it all (Cmd/Ctrl + A), then go to Menu > Edit > Copy. Turn back into the first image and go to Menu > Edit > Paste Into. Notice that it becomes a new Layer and it has a Layer Mask with the shape of the selection you made, therefore you can now scale it and move it around and your subject won’t be affected, you’ll see the new sky directly as it would be fit in the image.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial transform - Two Ways to Replace the Sky with Photoshop

Once you’re happy with the montage, you can add some adjustment layers so that the two parts have the matching brightness, tone, etc., and the result seems as natural as possible.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial before after - Two Ways to Replace the Sky with Photoshop

Method #2 – Sky Replacement in Photoshop

When your landscape has a diffused horizon line like one with trees, for example, especially if you just need the sky to have a few more clouds instead of completely replacing the original sky then this technique is much more efficient because you don’t have to do the precise selection needed in the previous method. So go ahead and open both images on Photoshop.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial before sunny day - Two Ways to Replace the Sky with Photoshop

In the image of the sky go to Menu > Selection > Edit in Quick Mask Mode and then choosing the Gradient tool draw a line from bottom to top, this will make the image appear with a red mask, faded gradually from one edge to the other.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial quick mask selection gradient - Two Ways to Replace the Sky with Photoshop

Now go back to Menu > Selection > Edit in Quick Mask Mode and click again, this will turn the Quick Mask off, and you’ll see a rectangular selection on your image without noticing the gradient. But don’t worry, it’s still there.

Now pull the tab of the image to the side so that you can access the two images simultaneously, then drag the sky selection and drop it on top of the first image.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial drag subject clouds

Now pick the Eraser tool and with a soft brush start erasing the part of the new layer that is covering the subject. You can also decrease the opacity of the layer so that it blends in a bit more smoothly.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial erase opacity

There you go, you can do the final touches with adjustment layers so that levels and colors match.

Paste sky Photoshop tutorial after sunny day

Conclusion

So there you have two methods to replace the sky using Photoshop.

Have you tried this technique before? Please share your questions and comments about it below.

The post Two Ways to Replace the Sky Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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