How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

This article is going to be a little different from some of the others I’ve written. It’s going to be more like a journal entry or a reflection. It’s very personal in some ways but the ideas within will have universal value for everyone.

The idea is to show a personal exploration of my editing skills, which will hopefully inspire you to explore your skills and progression as a photographer as well.

How much can experience change your editing workflow?

I was recently cleaning up my catalogues and image storage when I ran across a bunch of my older work. I looked at the images and how I had processed each pic. Looking back, I can see how my tastes and skills have evolved.

Over time we become better photographers, but we also become more adept at using Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar or any other editing programs we might love to use. So as our skills evolve so does the way in which we process each image.

It was at this moment that I decided to go back and edit some of my old images. The goal was to compare the ways my skills have changed as well as my personal aesthetic. You can do the same thing. The results may be surprising.

You might also learn something about the way in which your work has evolved over time. Perhaps you were totally into creating monochromatic images way back when. This might contrast with your recent images in which you’re into creating brilliant warms tones in your work. You may also have become more skilled at cloning, utilizing layers, or using plugins. It all depends on what you have learned over time.

So without any further rambling, let’s take a look at an older image of mine.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set - photo of a path and steps in a forest

Here’s the initial image with my original edits. This was framed and sold a number of times during my earlier years.

This shot was one of the first I processed and created for sale in a gallery. It sold quite well. I was very proud of the work but what if I went back now and edited the RAW file again. How would my more refined skills change the look and feel of the photograph?

This image was edited fairly simply. I used Lightroom, and at the time I didn’t have anything else in my arsenal to utilize. I’m pretty sure I adjusted the blacks and whites in this image and added a little bit more saturation to the greens.

At that time, however, I didn’t have much of skill set, and edits were pretty basic. This doesn’t mean that what I did was bad. It was just simple and created a pretty clean and attractive image.

So now it’s time to see the difference and how my workflow has changed.  Here are the steps I took to re-edit this image some six years after it was first shot.

Searching for ideas and inspiration

One of the first things that changed about my workflow is how I begin to create my final image. These days I tend to surf through a large amount of presets searching for some ideas.

Part of this is experience, and part of it is time-saving. Over the years I’ve collected a large amount of presets, some of which I’ve created others I’ve purchased. I’ve also acquired a few plugins and I also use the presets available in these as inspiration.

Most of the time, however, I have a pretty good idea of the type of image I want to create already stored in my brain. As time has gone by, there’s far less trial and error associated with my work. Instead, my work is now far more purposeful with specific goals.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set - inside NIK Analog Efex

I took the image into Nik Analog Efex just to see what kind of looks I could create. I didn’t use anything from the plugin but I did get the idea to use a radial filter to focus attention on the path.

In the case of this old image, I studied the previous look and decided I wanted to change it. I feel the first edit was flat and a little too dark with not enough warmth or contrast. I also searched through some presets and decided I wanted more emphasis on the pathway leading to the stairs.

The following edits were made to create the look and feel I wanted specifically.

The Workflow

Step #1 – Sharpening

I ran the image through a RAW sharpening plugin. I wanted to have nice sharp details on the pathway. The image was also shot long ago with a very basic kit lens which I felt was softer than my newer 50mm lens.

Step #2 – Histogram

The histogram was adjusted so that the image touched both ends of the spectrum for black and white tones.

Step #3 – Local Adjustments

Next, I applied the adjustment brush to several different parts of the image. I wanted the pathway to have a brighter light that leads the viewer’s eye back through the image. More clarity and sharpness were also added to certain parts of the image.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

I used the adjustment brush to add more highlights to the pathway.

Step #4 – Presets

I used a preset to quickly deepen shadows and also to warm the tones within the image.

Inspired by a film preset I added a small bokeh to the image by using a radial filter and pulling the clarity and sharpness down. The filter was inverted and applied to the outer edges of the image.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

Here’s a quick screenshot after I used a preset to deepen shadows in the image.

Step #5 – Vignette

Finally, to create a little bit of depth, I added a small vignette to the image.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

Here’s a side by side comparison of the initial jpeg image and my updated edit.

The editing of the image didn’t take an overly long time. These are all fairly simple steps to take, but they have changed to look and feel of the piece. I didn’t use Photoshop with this image, and as per usual it was edited solely in Lightroom.

When I first edited this image Lightroom was the only program I used, so it seemed appropriate to keep all edits within the same program for a fair comparison.

The look and feel of the new version are certainly bolder and brighter. It’s a subtle change from the first edit. There’s nothing hugely drastic but I think what it shows is how our skills evolve and we become more polished in our editing work.

When I first created this image all those years ago, I loved the look. Now I find it a little flat so the edits that were applied this time adjusted what I now find to be a fault in the work.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

Here’s the final image. This was edited fully in Lightroom with the exception of the RAW sharpening, for which I used a plugin.

It’s always good to reflect on things

Sometimes it’s interesting to dig through the past and see what you can find. It’s worth it to experiment and explore how your work has changed. Don’t be afraid to go back and rework some of your old photographs, who knows what you’ll discover.

If you’ve done some experimenting, then please share it with us. We want to see how your skills have evolved or maybe the ideas you’ve come up with as time has passed. I’m sure there’s someone out there with a really dramatic edit.

Let’s see what you can cook up to inspire the rest of us.

The post How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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.

The post How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Organize Your Photos by Location in Lightroom

You likely know Adobe Lightroom as a powerful piece of photo-editing software. It’s known as the industry standard for photography post-production, especially when paired with Photoshop. You may also know that its photo management features are pretty impressive. If you so choose, you can use this one piece of software to upload, rename, keyword, review, edit, export and organize your photos.

camper van on the grass - How to Organize Your Photos by Location in Lightroom

How you use Lightroom is entirely up to you, and it’s unlikely that two photographers will use it the same. The way you organize your catalog will depend on many factors, including which genre of photography you choose, who you’re shooting for, and how you have your computer hardware arranged. There is no right or wrong way to organize things, and it will likely change over time.

If you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, you might choose to organize your catalog around sessions or dates. As a landscape and travel photographer, it makes sense for me to organize my photos based on locations. Whether a location is a city, country, or even a continent, it helps me to keep things organized so I can always find what I’m looking for without wasting time searching through thousands of photos.

There are a few different ways to find photos based on location in Lightroom, but they only work if you take a few simple steps when you import them.


Whenever you import photos into Lightroom, try to follow the same steps.

It’s a good idea to create some templates for the Develop and Metadata settings. This makes it easy to apply some standard settings and metadata to every one of your photos. You should at least apply your copyright information to your photos with a metadata preset.

metadata organizing lightroom photos by location


The single most important thing you can do to simplify the process of finding photos is keywording. You don’t need to add a long list of keywords, just a few relevant ones that will help you later on when you search.

When organizing by location, I always add the name of the country, region, and specific place name. I’ll also add any other relevant keywords that I may want to search for, such as aerial or long-exposure.

When renaming my images during import I always include the location in the name. Something like “noosa-beach-qld-australia” works well. The words in your filenames become searchable keywords themselves (make sure to use a dash between words). I don’t use dates in my file names, but it’s up to you whether you want to or not.

How to Organize Your Photos by Location in Lightroom


Using a good folder structure will make your life far easier, especially when you have tens of thousands of images.

To organize your folders by location, you can create a new folder for each specific location or one for each city or country. I have one folder for each country I visit and just keep adding to it. Even if I visit that country again years later, I’ll still keep using that same folder. It makes it far simpler and I know where I can find a photo from anywhere on earth.

It also makes it simpler to find image files on my computer as the folder structure I set up is identical both inside and outside Lightroom. Organizing folders by date or some other number-based system would never work for me.


Collections are another one of Lightroom’s great features that can help you keep everything organized by location. Where Folders contain every photo from a given location, Collections contain only the photos you choose. Again, I’ll create a new Collection for each country, but I only put the keepers in there.

How to Organize Your Photos by Location in Lightroom

In the past, I’ve done this manually, but I now create a Smart Collection for each location. I only need to add two rules to each Smart Collection: Flag and Keyword. Based on these settings, any photo that I flag that has that keyword is automatically added to the collection.

smart collections - How to Organize Your Photos by Location in Lightroom


As a travel photographer, my favorite Lightroom tool for finding photos based on location is the Map module. One of the first things I’ll do after I’ve finished importing new photos into Lightroom is to add GPS coordinates. There are a couple of ways you can do this.

If you know the coordinates you can add them manually in the Metadata panel. The easiest way is to select all your images (Cmd/Ctrl+A) then go into the Map module, search for the location in the search bar above the map, then drag all your photos onto the right location on the map.

Depending on your camera, your photos may already have GPS coordinates embedded in the file. This is often the case with drone photos or any other GPS-connected camera or device. If not, you can record the GPS coordinates by taking a photo with your phone then grabbing them from that photo’s metadata.

map module - How to Organize Your Photos by Location in Lightroom

Searching for Photos

Now that you’ve imported your photos with location-based keywords and filenames, organized them into location-based Folders and Collections, and geotagged them with GPS coordinates, finding them later is simple.

I use a different approach depending on whether I’m looking for a specific image or a group of images from a specific location.

If it’s a specific image you want, and you know you flagged it, select the Collection associated with that location. If you’re not sure if it’s flagged, select the folder. Then search inside the collection or folder using the Library Filter.

Click on Text, select Any Searchable Field in the first drop-down menu, then Contains All in the next menu, then type your keywords in the search field. The more keywords you add, the more specific the search becomes.

library filter - How to Organize Your Photos by Location in Lightroom

If I’m looking for an image or group of images from a specific location, I like to use the Map module. Select All Photographs in the Catalog panel on the left then go to the Map module and type the location name into the search bar. Any geotagged images in that area will show up on the map.

You can zoom in or out on the map to make your search location more or less specific. Images in the specified location will appear along the filmstrip below the map.


A little forethought and organization when importing your images are worth the effort. It doesn’t take much time to apply these settings but can save you a lot down the road.

If you’re anything like me and have tens of thousands of photos in your catalog, you’ll be doing yourself a favor, and future you will thank you for your efforts.

The post How to Organize Your Photos by Location in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5

For many students, as they start learning photography they want to know how to take photos at night. It is a mystery to them and they often think it is so complicated that they will never be able to do it. That is until they try it and discover just how easy it is. The next step is editing those images and ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 has a lot of tools and adjustments that are perfect for processing night photography.

HDR architecture image - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

An image created using the HDR option in On1 Photo RAW 2018.

Night photography options

First, we should take a look at the different types of night photography that you can do. There is the easiest option of setting your camera up on a tripod and photographing lights somewhere.

The city at night is very popular if you live in an urban area. Perhaps capturing town lights can also be good. You just need something that is making light. HDR has had a lot of bad press, but it really is good for some images, and night shots of cities are perfect for it. ON1 Photo RAW’s HDR processing is one of the best I’ve seen.

When the sun has gone down and there is a lot of traffic you can photograph light trails. Taking longer exposures with your camera on a tripod will make all those lights look like streaks. If you want to make it look like there were a lot, then you can stack the images together, so all the streaks will show in one final image.

One type of night shot that is hugely popular right now, especially in Australia, is astrophotography. Photographing the Milky Way. It is the season for it here and with the low population, you are spoilt for choice where to do them. If you have ever tried doing any astrophotography then you will also be aware that your images have to be processed or they can look at washed out. ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 has you covered there as well.

Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - astrophotography milky way image

An astrophotography image processed with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5

Photographing the City

Night time in the city can be so magical and to be taking photos of it even more so. Processing your images taken at night is much the same as processing any of your images.

Open your image in ON1 Photo RAW and take it into the Develop module. Make the adjustments as you would for other images. Move the sliders around to see what you can get. Take them too far and then bring them back.

sliders in ON1 Photo RAW - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

When learning it is good to take the sliders too far, see what happens.

If you want to make adjustments to particular areas, then look at local adjustments which is the best place to do that.

However, what if you want to do something to your image to really make it pop?

HDR photography, or High Dynamic Range, can be perfect for this. It is a process that has copped a lot of criticism over the years. People say it is too much, that the images can be ugly. But that really only happens when you don’t use it for the right images, or overdo it.

There are some scenes and images that are perfect for HDR and night photography is one of those times.

HDR Night Photography

When you are to decide which images would work best for HDR, look for ones that have a lot of dark areas, and a lot of bright parts as well. Usually, your camera will struggle with getting an even image of a high contrast scene. It will either make the image too bright or too dark. Night images have those problems. Once you get the lights exposed right, all the shadows become too dark or black.

The best way to do HDR is to take a series of images or bracketed shots. If your camera will allow you to bracket then it will sort out the exposures you need. The most common number of shots is 3 or 5. For this article, five images were taken.

Next, select all of your bracketed images inside the ON1 Photo RAW browse module. You can do that by clicking the first then pressing the shift key followed by clicking on the last image. If you have put the images into a subfolder you can then just use Ctrl/Cmd+A.

Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - bracketed set of images

Work out which images you want to use.

Once they are selected you should be able to see the HDR button over on the right-hand side of your screen, underneath all the different modes.

select images and HDR button - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Select all your images.

ON1 Photo RAW will then merge all your images together. The first time you do it, a window will pop up asking you what look you would like. The options include Natural, Natural Auto, Surreal and Surreal Auto. You can make the changes once the image has been merged to HDR. There are lots of choices with ON1.

Let’s take a look around the HDR working window

Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - HDR looks

Selecting your HDR look in ON1 Photo RAW.

There are several places where you can set the amount of de-ghosting (remove spots where something moved between brackets) you want the program to do. You can change the HDR look you wanted if you think you made a mistake. You can select which image you think should be the main one.

Go through and change the image to suit the look you are after. I know I say this a lot, but the best way to learn is to play around with the settings.

HDR options - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

All the different things you can do to your image.

Like most images, you need to experiment to see what you like. Remember that ON1 is non-destructive so you won’t ruin anything. Try everything, it is the best way to learn. Take it all too far and then bring it back.

Lastly, choose where you want your image to go when you are done. You can have it open in Develop, Effects or go back to Browse. The last choice is Cancel. If you want to save it then click Save.

Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Taking the image further.

Once the image is opened in the Develop module, you can then make more adjustments to as you would normally.

Develop module - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Where to go next.

ON1 Photo RAW is one of the best programs for doing HDR. You can make so many changes to it as it is happening and after it is done. Nothing is final.

final HDR - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

The final HDR image.


For anyone who has ever done astrophotography, you know that the images always need to be processed.

Here is an image that was taken a couple of years ago. This is the raw file and you can see that it needs a lot of work.

night image Milky Way and lighthouse - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Raw image from astrophotography shoot.

Open the image up in ON1 Photo RAW and go to the Develop module. Everything you need to make the best astrophotography images is all right there.

develop - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Open in the Develop module.

Noise reduction

The first thing you want to do is to work on the noise in the image. All astrophotography images have a great deal of noise. You have to increase your ISO quite high in order to get the Milky Way in your image. Usually, it is going to be somewhere between ISO 3200 up to 6400.

The image for this article was taken at f/2.8, for 30 seconds at ISO 6400. It was taken at 14mm using a 14-24mm lens.

In the Develop module go to Details. This is where you can help reduce the noise in your image. Click on the image to zoom in so you can see the noise better.

noise and details section of develop - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

The first thing to do is to fix the noise in the image.

Under Noise Reduction, you will see a Luminance slider. Move that along until the noise almost disappears. Be careful not to go too far or you might lose all the stars (noise is just white specs so the stars can easily be misinterpreted as noise if you go too far).

This slider smooths out the image and you can lose a lot of detail if you go too far. Bring up the Detail slider to help maintain it. It is about experimenting and seeing what you like as well.

You can also bring up the Sharpening amount as well but be careful. Over sharpened images can look terrible. Go easy with this slider.

noise adjustments - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

You can see how much was changed.

Tone & Color

It is time to go back to Tone & Color and make more adjustments.

tone and color - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Take the image back to Tone & Color to make basic changes.

The main things you want to add back into your image are the blacks and lots of contrast. The added contrast will help the stars stand out more from the dark sky. The blacks will allow the darker parts of the sky to appear as you saw them when you shot the image.

The highlights can be brought down to stop the lighthouse from blowing out too much. If you take the shadows down it helps make the darker parts of the sky richer as well. However, be aware that it can also make other parts of the image go black, like the foliage at the bottom of this image.

The whites were brought up a fraction, as this helped to lighten up the Milky Way and make it jump out more.

slider adjustments - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Some of the changes that were made in Tone and Color.

Color Adjustments

Most of the changes are made to the image now, but if you look closely there is quite a bit of blue in it. It shouldn’t be there and to remove it you need to go to Show More and then Color Adjustments.

color cast - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Taking out the blue cast color in the stars.

A new window for this will open up down below the other adjustment windows.

As it is the blue you want to change, click on that color square. Once it is selected you can move the saturation slider until the blue in the image disappears or is to your liking.

reducing blue saturation - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Changing the saturation of the blue.

You can try adding presets to your image as well, though most people with astrophotography just do the basics and leave it there.

You will need to play around with your photos to see what you can do and what is to your tastes. These are just suggestions as to what other photographers do. Experiment, take the sliders too far and then bring them back.

This is the final image.

final image of lighthouse - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

The final image of the Milky Way over the top of the lighthouse.

Light Trails

In cities, or anywhere there is a lot of traffic, you will see photographers trying to capture the trails of the lights as the cars go past. For most places, the best time to capture this is during peak hour when a lot of vehicles are moving. However, it also needs to be dark.

Unfortunately, there are times of the year where it is impossible to get both at the same time. For instance, in Australia during the summer daylight saving means it doesn’t get dark until after 8 pm. Getting good light trails is reduced because there isn’t enough traffic at that hour.

However, there is a way to make it look like there was more traffic, that is to stack your images. You can also do this for star trails too.

Stacking light trails

Work out which image will be the first one. Take it the Develop module in ON1 Photo RAW and do what you want to process it normally first.

But do not straighten it or do any lens correction on the image. If you do then the other images won’t align up properly, you can do all that after.

original image for light trails - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

The first image used for the light trails.

Once you have your image ready, go to the Layers module.

layers - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Take the image to the Layers mode.

Next, add all the other photos that will make up the final image. The best way to do this is to put all the images into a subfolder. Select the images you want to use, then right-click and go to Add Subfolder.

add subfolder - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Putting your images into a subfolder.

A window will pop up once you click Add Subfolder. You can name it as you want, or ON1 will name the folder the same as the filename for the first image. Make sure the box is ticked for Move Selected Items into Subfolder.

add subfolder - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Creating the subfolder.

Now you are ready to add all those images as layers to the original photo.

Get your image to the Layers module which is where you will add the images for your light trails. Go up to File in the main menu at the top. Select Add Layer(s) from File.

add images from file - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Now it is time to add the layers.

A window will pop up where you can go to the subfolder that you put the images into. Select all the images, Ctrl/Cmd+A, then press Open.

select images - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Selecting all the images you want to use.

ON1 Photo RAW will ask you if you want to open them all, say yes. Depending on how many images you are trying to do it can take some time for this to happen. The images used for this demonstration are quite large and took a few minutes.

images added as layers - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

All the images are added.

Next, you need to blend each layer. You want the lights to shine through from each but not everything else. For each layer, go up to the blending pull-down and select Lighten.

blending options - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Blending all the layers with Lighten.

You can now save the image and then you can do more processing if you wish. If the image needs straightening, lens corrections, etc., you can do it in the Develop module.

light trails image - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

The final image.

Star Trails

If you enjoy doing star trails then you will be able to use this same method for processing and stacking those images using ON1 Photo RAW. Just add them all as layers and use the Blending option Lighten.


There are many things you can do with your night photos in ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5. With things developing constantly you will be able to do more and more with time. The HDR feature is one of the best I’ve seen and I’m sure most of you will enjoy that.

With all software, experimenting is the key. Take what you learn and see what else you can do with it.

Disclaimer: ON1 is a dPS paid partner.

The post Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshots, and Virtual Copies

I often find myself knee-deep into editing a photo when an idea hits me to try something totally different. Maybe it’s exploring different cropping options, creating a black-and-white version, or getting crazy with the adjustment brush. One useful feature of a Lightroom editing workshop is that it gives you the flexibility to explore as many different paths as you want for a picture. While always giving you the freedom to jump back to different editing points or start over entirely.

Three of the best ways to do that are with the History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copy options. Let’s dig deeper into each one separately.

butterfly on a red flower - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

Lightroom History

Decades ago in the early days of personal computers, you were lucky if you could click undo more than once. Even the first version of Photoshop did not allow more than one undo!

This meant that you had to be extraordinarily careful when creating or editing digital images because any changes were basically permanent. Whereas today most programs allow virtually limitless error-correction when it comes to undoing your work. Lightroom is no different and if you want to fix a mistake just choose Edit > Undo and any errors or changes will be immediately wiped away.

Better than undo

History in Lightroom is sort of like undo but it is infinitely more flexible. It’s a veritable time machine that gives you the freedom to revert back to any aspect of your editing even if you have made dozens and dozens of changes to an image.

Whereas Undo lets you go back to earlier versions of your image one step at a time, the History panel actually lists all the changes made since you imported an image into your Catalog including the numerical values of each edit. If you make a change that involves a numerical value those will show up in the History panel as well, including the amount of the change and the resulting value.

For example, if you adjust the Exposure by +0.5, the History panel will show you Exposure +0.50 and then the resulting exposure value of +0.50. If you make another exposure adjustment of 0.2, you will see that in the History panel along with a final value of +0.70. This helps you see a written description of all the edits you have made to an image as they were applied.

lightroom history - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

The complete history of all my edits to the butterfly image at the top of this article. Clicking on any of the edits listed will instantly let me jump back in time to that particular step of the editing process.

History is saved within your catalog

Every image’s complete editing history is saved in your Lightroom Catalog so you can revisit changes you made to photos years ago just as you can with photos you take today.

Using the History panel is fairly straightforward. Click on any edit and your image will instantly revert back to when that change was made.

However, if you then make any subsequent edits at that point, the changes will be reflected at the top of the History panel and therefore will not take into account all the additional edits you already made. This is where the Snapshot tool comes in handy.

Lightroom Snapshots

You can use Snapshots in combination with the History panel or all by themselves. Either way, it opens up a great deal of editing flexibility that is light years beyond what the Undo/Redo commands have to offer.

As you work through your edits on a photo you might find yourself wanting to save the current state of your image so you can make additional changes but still have the option of reverting back to a specific point in time or a specific set of edits later.

Snapshots let you do that easily with one click. They are extremely useful for trying new things or even just saving various versions of a single image.

countryside weather vane - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

The above image was taken on a recent trip through the state of Kansas. I got it printed as a canvas for my wife to hang on the wall.

Creating and naming a snapshot

After creating this version of the picture I wanted to make some additional changes and even try a black and white version. But I did not want to lose the original image in case I ever want to get it re-printed. Lightroom makes this a simple one-click step. All I had to do was click the + button under the Snapshot panel. Lightroom then created a version of the image frozen in time at that exact point in the editing process.

name your Snapshot in LR - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

After creating the Canvas Print Snapshot I did a black-and-white conversion, changed the Blue color slider to adjust the brightness of the sky, and re-cropped it to be a 3:2 aspect ratio.

black and white version - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

I was happy with the result, so I saved a new Snapshot which I titled according to the edits made.

black and white snapshot named - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies


This process lets me switch between two versions of the same image with the click of my mouse. I can also create as many Snapshots as I want while also re-naming or deleting them by right-clicking on any given Snapshot name. In addition, I can use the History panel to create Snapshots by hovering over any of the edits listed in the History, right-clicking, and choosing the “Create Snapshot” option.

Finally, one nice but an often-unnoticed benefit of Snapshots is that you can move the mouse over your list of Snapshots and see a preview of each one in the small window in the top-left corner of Lightroom. It’s a handy way to see what each snapshot looks like without clicking and loading them one by one.

snapshot version of windmill - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

Three renditions of the windmill photo now exist, each with its own Snapshot that I can click on at any time to load that particular version.

Virtual Copies

One limitation of the Snapshots is that you have to manually click through your Snapshots one by one by one if you want to export them as individual photos. This is fine if you have one or two snapshots of a single image, but if you need to export multiple snapshots from multiple photos the process can become cumbersome right away.

This is where Virtual Copies really shine. While they are similar to Snapshots there are some key differences that make them highly useful in certain situations.

maternity portrait - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

I cropped this image into a square and while the client loved it, she asked if I could send her a vertical version. I used Lightroom to make a Virtual Copy and re-cropped that so I would always have my original crop.

How they work

Virtual Copies function in a manner almost identical to Snapshots in that you can create what is basically a saved state of your edits at any point in the editing process. After that, you can add more changes to each saved state without impacting the other Virtual Copies.

To create one, right-click on any image in the Library or Develop module and choose “Create Virtual Copy” or choose “Create Virtual Copy” from the Photo menu (or use the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl+’). This essentially duplicates the photo in your library (as a new thumbnail) but does not actually create a copy of the original file.

Virtual Copies are duplicate versions of images that can be edited like any other photo in your library, and function almost identically. A Virtual Copy has its own unique editing history, can be cropped and adjusted like any other image, and can utilize editing presets as well.

The only way to distinguish Virtual Copies from other photos is that they have a small triangle icon (like a page turning) in the lower left corner of their thumbnail.

How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies - virtual copy in thumbnail strip

The small triangle icon in the lower left corner of an image thumbnail indicates that it is a Virtual Copy.

Snapshot or Virtual Copy?

Snapshots are fine when I’m experimenting with different editing techniques, but I prefer Virtual Copies on client work, particularly when I want to give them multiple versions of a single image.

For example, when processing a recent session I was able to edit an image for white balance, sharpness, tonality, etc., and then create a virtual copy with those same edits that I cropped much closer. When I exported my images from Lightroom both versions got rendered and saved to my computer, which is not the case when working with Snapshots.

How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

I had two different crops of this image that I wanted to send to the clients. I used Virtual Copies instead of Snapshots so both would be exported when I created the final batch of images to send to them.


Lightroom has a host of small but powerful features like this that, once learned, can greatly streamline and enhance your workflow.

Do you use History, Snapshots, or Virtual Copies? If so what are some of your favorite tips and tricks that help you get your work done more efficiently? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The post How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshots, and Virtual Copies appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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.


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.

Basic Photoshop Tutorial – How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

portraits of 3 girls - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

I’ve been shooting these moody portraits lately and I thought about adding some creative overlays to a few to make them a little different and more interesting.

3 girls portraits with texture overlay - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

Here is a basic tutorial on how to add an overlay using Photoshop. Take your images from simple portraits (top) to textured backgrounds (above) above and finally to incorporating some surreal or artistic elements in the finished portraits (below).

Basic Photoshop Tutorial - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

Getting started

First of all, I wanted my images to have a dark background and look more moody rather than smiling portraits. You can read here on how I have achieved these types of portraits in my home studio using natural light only.

Secondly, in order for you to be able to follow this tutorial, you need to have a good understanding of how to use layers and masks in Photoshop. It is a simple but extremely powerful tool which I believe to be the most fundamental editing technique you need to learn when using Photoshop.

Thirdly, you need to decide on the images that you wish to use as creative overlays. A quick search on Google provided me with some free overlays that have a high enough resolution to use with my images.

Basic Photoshop Tutorial - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

butterfly images - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

leaves - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add a Texture Overlay to Your PortraitsDesigned by Freepik

It is essential that these overlays are in PNG format because it supports transparency. If the background isn’t already transparent (which is indicated by the checkered grey and white boxes), you can extract the image from the background if need be before you can use it as an independent overlay. But that’s a lot more work.

I will walk you through this process step-by-step. You will need to refer to the layers shown on the Photoshop screenshots below to be able to understand the process.

#1 Open your image in Photoshop

Once you open your image in Photoshop it will become the Background Layer. In my case, here I have renamed the layer as the file name “lsp-portraits-13” which appears at the very bottom of the file next to the “eye” icon. This just means it is visible and it is what I am showing you now.

file and layers in Photoshop - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add a Texture Overlay to Your Portraits

#2 Open your texture image in the same Photoshop file

The texture I’m using is called Chambord as you can see on the layer name. You can easily add a new image onto an existing open Photoshop file two ways:

  1. By dragging your image from its source folder on your computer into Photoshop directly.
  2. Or by opening your texture file in Photoshop as a separate image, selecting the entire image, copying it and then pasting it into the portrait image you are working on.

The latter is the long-winded way. The former is quicker and it is the smarter way too because Photoshop automatically makes the new texture a Smart Object. That means it matches the size of your image yet you can still change the scale without losing any pixels.

Change the blend mode of your texture image layer (Chambord in this case) to Overlay on the Layers tab. Add a layer mask to the Chambord layer and remove the texture from the person on the image by painting on the mask with black using a soft brush.

Your layer should look like the second layer below with the “eye icon” turned on. You can also adjust the opacity of your texture to your liking by moving the layer opacity slider next to the blend mode.

Note: If you don’t mask out the texture, the person will also be covered in texture and would look really odd! You only want the texture to fill the background and nothing else.


#3 Now you can proceed with adding overlays

The set of leaf overlays, however, come as one image, so I’ve had to use the latter method mentioned above. I opened the overlay file separately in Photoshop and used the marquee tool to select the specific leaf I wanted to use. Then I copied and pasted it onto the other file that I was working with the portrait image opened.

It is essential that you set the blend mode for each texture overlay to “Overlay”. You can experiment with various modes but for this type of work, I’ve found the Overlay and Soft Light modes tend to be the most suitable.

You can see that I added a mask on the leaf layer so that I could remove anything else around the specific leaf that I didn’t want to use. I have added four leaves in total to this image, each one on separate layers with their respective masks. I have also played around the opacity for each layer.

You will also notice that three of the leaves have a separate Levels Adjustment Layer on top of them. This is a simple way of adjusting the look of the overlay, for example, brightening it, darkening, increasing the contrast, etc. You just need to make sure that you clip the levels layer to the corresponding overlay it is adjusting by pressing Alt+Cmd/Ctrl+G. The arrow down indicates it is clipped (only applies to that and no others) to the layer below it.

You will also notice that there is a layer called Group 1 with the folder icon next to it. I grouped all four overlays after I have made individual adjustments with the levels layers. This is in case I want to make further adjustments to all of them, I only have to clip the adjustments to the Group rather than repeating myself for each overlay layer. Especially if all the adjustments are to be exactly the same anyway.

You can do this by selecting all the overlay-related layers and choosing “New group from layers” from the drop-down menu at the top of the Layers panel.

Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add a Texture Overlay to Your Portraits

#4 Use adjustment tools to make final changes

Although the leaves are now where I wanted them to be, the leaves are far too saturated for my liking and they stand out too much. Not to mention they do not match the green tone of the entire image.

To correct this, I added a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and clipped it to Group 1 so that it only affects that group and not the other layers. I played with the sliders to get the green looking similar to the green leaves on the little boy’s shirt. I wanted the overall image to have the look and feel of an old illustrated postcard with subdued tones and muted colors.

Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add a Texture Overlay to Your Portraits

#5 It’s time to save your work!

If you want to keep all the layers and the original image, you need to save your file as a PSD image (Photoshop Data File). As long as you don’t merge or flatten the layers, you will have access to all the original elements used in making your composite image.

This is a non-destructive process but the files can take up a large space on your computer drive. However, if you change your mind later on about some of the elements, you can always go back into it without starting from scratch. Just choose the layer you wish to make changes on.

You must also save a compressed version of your image, usually a JPEG, which is a flattened lossy file. It is much smaller and only contains the final finished image without all the layers that went into creating it.


So that’s the simple process of using overlays! Below are the other two images showing the various layers using exactly the same process as shown above.



I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial.

Have you used texture overlays before? If you have more tips, please share them below.

The post Basic Photoshop Tutorial – How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Lightroom Tips and Tricks for Beginners

If you have recently started using the Adobe Lightroom software and are looking for some exciting tips and hacks, this article is the perfect read for you. Lightroom is one such software which allows us to visually improve your photos with easy controls.

But there are some hidden or less explored features of this software of which you might not be fully aware. This is why made this list of five such Lightroom tips and tricks which you can use to maximize your editing skills and save time while editing pictures.

1. Change Colors using the HSL Tool

The HSL tool is one of my favorite tools in Lightroom as it allows you to adjust the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance of a particular color in your image. Yes, you can selectively choose one of the eight primary colors (as shown in the image below) and adjust its tint (hue), intensity (saturation), and brightness (luminance).

If you wish to play around with the colors in your photo, you can use the Hue tool and adjust the tones as per the range of colors available for the respective color.

For example, if you look at the images below, you can simply change a particular color in a photo by adjusting the Hue scale. When I took the purple color hue slider all the way towards +100, the color shifted towards pink. Whereas, when I took the scale towards -100 the color changed to somewhat blue.

5 Lightroom Tips and Tricks for Beginners

It is simply magical how you can use the hue scale and change the color (within the range of hue of colors) and enhance the visual appearance of your photo.

2. Automatic Slider Adjustment (shift + double click)

In situations when you are not sure which slider to adjust and by how much, Lightroom has an automated solution to this. The “Automatic Slider Adjustment” feature enables the software to automatically adjust the primary sliders which are Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks.

All you have to do is hover the mouse pointer on a particular slider title (on the word, NOT the actual slider – for example, “Exposure”). Then press and hold the Shift key and along with that double-click the mouse button on the title.

In this example, the software automatically detected the properties of the photo and adjusted the exposure as +0.45. Similarly, you can do this for rest of the primary sliders and let the software decide the best settings for your photos. It’s a good starting point, you can then tweak them as necessary.

NOTE: When you press the Shift key, the “Reset” button at the bottom right corner will change to Reset.

5 Lightroom Tips and Tricks for Beginners

3. Clipping Mask

One of that toughest parts of editing is getting the shadows and highlights accurate and within the range so that there is no clipping or loss of detail. One way of keeping a watch on the shadows, highlights, blacks, and whites is by reading the histogram. But histogram can sometimes be difficult to read and you can end up losing details in certain areas of the image.

Inside Lightroom, there is a quick and easy way of finding out if the shadows, highlights, whites or blacks are going out of range or leading to any clipping.

Press and hold the Alt key and then move one of the four sliders. When you are adjusting the highlights or whites in this way, you will see any areas which are clipped appearing as white. Similarly, when you adjust shadows or blacks, the spots appearing in black (or a color) indicate clipping in those areas (as shown in the samples below).

5 Lightroom Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Left – highlight areas being clipped appear in white. Right – shadow areas being clipped appear in black or a color (partial clipping).

4. Copy Paste Effects

If you are a wedding or event photographer, you might find this tip really helpful. Adobe Lightroom allows you to copy and paste effects from one photo to another with just a click. This comes handy when you are editing photos which are shot in similar lighting conditions and you want the similar effects on multiple photos.

Once you are done editing the first photo from the lot, click on the “Copy” button located at the bottom left corner (or press Cmd/Ctrl+C). Now you can see multiple adjustments (as shown in the screenshot below). Check off the ones you wish to copy or simply select Check All if you want everything similar in other photos.

Now navigate to the next photo and simply press Paste (or press Cmd/Ctrl+V) and all of the same settings will be applied to that particular image.

5 Lightroom Tips and Tricks for Beginners

5. Radial Filter Auto Selection

The Radial Filter in Lightroom is a life saver for photographers, don’t you agree? You may have used this tool to create vignetting effect or to make adjustments in the selected area of your photo.

But did you know that rather than wasting your time manually selecting the shape of the selection as per your subject you can use the Auto Selection trick?

Simply draw a small selection over your subject, press and hold Ctrl/Cmd and double-click on the small dot at the center of the selection. The software will automatically make a selection based on the shape and size of your subject. It is accurate most of the time, but there are always exceptions especially when the photo has multiple elements in the frame.

5 Lightroom Tips and Tricks for Beginners


Lightroom is a great program, but image procesing can be tricky and time consuming. Try out these five Lightroom tips and tricks and let us know how you make out. If you have any others please share your Lightroom tips for beginners in the comments area below.

The post 5 Lightroom Tips and Tricks for Beginners appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Avoid These 4 Post-Processing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Images

Post-processing is a particularly sensitive topic and there’s always a certain amount of processing versus non-processing discussions that take place after articles on the topic. It’s not hard to understand since how you choose to process your images is your artistic choice.

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to go about it but, that being said, there are certain “mistakes” that I notice quite regularly, especially amongst beginning photographers who aren’t quite able to achieve the looks they want.

Some of these mistakes are obvious while others, not so much. What they have in common, though, is that they are mistakes that most of us are guilty of making or have made at some point. Let’s dive in.

1. Not Considering Color

Let’s start with a mistake that the majority of us are or have been making, and one which isn’t necessarily that obvious to all of us: failing to understand color harmonies.

Color harmonies might be easier to control as portrait or studio photographers but as landscape photographers, we have to work with the conditions nature gives us. Sometimes, our job is to find order in the chaos and highlight the most interesting aspects of the landscape. Indeed, it’s not an easy task.

Avoid These 4 Post-Processing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Images - person in red jacket on a hill

In this image, I desaturated the blues to keep the focus on the person walking down the hill.

The discussions can quickly become controversial as we start talking about working with colors in nature. I’m not here to say what you should or shouldn’t do but I’ll give you a couple of ideas on how you can work with color in post-processing:

  1. Use the HSL sliders in Lightroom/Camera RAW to adjust the hues of certain colors to create a better color harmony in the image.
  2. Rhe HSL sliders can also be used to desaturate colors that are too dominant and take unnecessary attention away from the main subject.
  3. Use techniques such as Luminosity Masks or Saturation Masks in Photoshop to selectively work on the brightness, saturation and contrast of specific areas within an image.

The goal when working with colors should be to only highlight those that are in harmony with each other. I often bring out a color wheel to check that the colors in an image are in harmony and if I need to desaturate (or saturate) any of them.

Avoid These 4 Post-Processing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Images - photo with alpenglow mountain scene

Notice how all the colder tones are slightly desaturated and darkened to enhance the focus on the glowing mountain.

2. Only Making Global Adjustments

This brings us to mistake number two: you only make global adjustments. In other words, each adjustment you make is applied to the entire image.

Let’s say that you want to increase the green grass in one of your summer images. The traditional way of boosting the color is by using the Saturation slider. However, that will increase the saturation of the entire image and will in most cases lead to an oversaturated image; which results in visual chaos rather than a pleasant experience when viewing it.

In mistake number one, I briefly mentioned using the HSL sliders for making adjustments. By using this panel you’re able to affect only one specific color rather than the entire image. By using the Green Saturation slider you can target only the green colors and make an adjustment to only those hues.

Avoid These 4 Post-Processing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Images - lighthouse and green field or hill

It’s not only when adjusting the saturation that you should work selectively though. Personally, I make selective adjustments (often through Luminosity Masks in Photoshop) when working with color, contrast, brightness and pretty much any other adjustment you can think of.

3. Clarity at 100%

You might not want to hear this but increasing Lightroom’s Clarity slider to 100% is rarely a good idea, especially when it’s added globally. While I agree that adding clarity can often give an extra pop to the image as it brings out a lot of nice textures and details, it does more harm than good when it’s applied to the whole image. It also adds a significant amount of noise and lowers the overall quality of the file.

Let’s look at an example. In the image below I have increased the clarity to 100%. (Besides that, no other adjustments were made). I do like how it brought out a lot of texture in the mountain but the foreground now contains just as much texture and it’s competing with the mountain to grab your attention. In fact, the moss in the foreground is the natural place to look as it’s both bright and crisp.

mountain scene cloudy - Avoid These 4 Post-Processing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Images

If instead, I only add clarity to the mountain by using a Gradient Filter you’ll see that it makes a big difference compared to the image above. There’s still nice texture in the mountain but the foreground is now less crisp and working as a natural leading line.

Note: I prefer to rather use a mask in Photoshop and add it to only the mountain, as a gradient filter adds it to more places than what I want. But you can now use the brush tools to edit your gradient filter in LR as well.

Avoid These 4 Post-Processing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Images - same scene different edit

Clarity only applied to the mountain.

Keep in mind that you want the most important areas of the image to be the sharpest. Naturally, the viewer’s eyes are guided to the sharpest parts of the image. Also, there’s no point in adding clarity to soft surfaces such as a blue sky or silky water. These are often better left alone.

4. Leaving Dust Spots

Unless you’ve got a brand new camera or you’re a superstar when it comes to having clean equipment, it’s likely that you’re going to have at least a few dust spots on your images. This is especially true if you regularly photograph in rough conditions including wind, snow, rain, and sand.

Removing dust spots is super easy and takes no more than a few minutes, so really there is no excuse not to do so. You have to admit, it looks quite unprofessional if a beautiful image has a bunch of dust spots in the sky. Would you hang that on your wall?

Keep in mind that if you enlarge and print your images, even the smallest dust spots become visible. Therefore, it’s a good practice to zoom in 100% on the image to look for any possible dust spots. When you find one, simply use Lightroom’s Spot Removal Tool and move on to the next.

It can be tedious work if you’ve got an extremely dirt lens but it’s something that needs to be done.

Avoid These 4 Post-Processing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Images

Turn on “Visualize spots” to help you find dust.


To end this I want to say one final thing: the most important is that you’re happy with the images you capture and process. If you like highly saturated images, go for it. If you like tilted horizons, good for you.

Stay true to your style and vision and create the art you want – don’t let anyone decide what your images should look like.

Using selective adjustments I was able to darken only the brightest part of the image

The post Avoid These 4 Post-Processing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Images appeared first on Digital Photography School.

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

Lightroom is an ever-changing ever-morphing evolution of the cutting edge of digital image processing. Quite literally, it seems like Adobe releases new features and updates for their upper tier consumer photo editing software extremely frequently. Now, some of these updates and new features are loved by the photographic community and others…well, not so much.

One of these brand new features, called the “Range Mask”, came along with the v7.2 release of Lightroom Classic CC back in February (2018) and it caused quite a stir. It allows you to incorporate masking with the local adjustment tools right inside of Lightroom V7.2 and later.

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC - Death Valley

As with most fresh features in Lightroom, some photographers were a little bit skeptical about its actual usefulness in their editing workflow. It’s an interesting tool to be sure and after this, you’ll know everything there is to know about the brand new range mask feature in Lightroom Classic CC.

What is the Range Mask?

Before we get too far into the conversation let’s take a moment and briefly talk about masks as they pertain to editing photographs. A mask is simply a way for you to control what areas of a photo receive the edits you want to apply. There is a huge range of mask types and they vary quite infinitely in their applications.

Usually, masks are routinely used in Photoshop. The old adage “black conceals and white reveals” was born directly from the usage of layer masking inside Photoshop. For the purposes of understanding the range mask in Lightroom, just know that masks allow selective control over edits within a photo.

The new range masking feature provides you with two different methods for applying masks: luminance and color.

Luminance Range Masking

If you’re a Photoshop user, think of luminance masking as a boiled down version of luminosity masks. Don’t sweat it if you’ve never used luminosity masking in Photoshop. Just know that the luminance mask applies local adjustments based on the brightness range you select.

luminance slider - An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

This means that you can apply any edit from a local adjustment tool to only the shadows, highlights, or mid-tone luminance ranges that you choose. The luminance masking function also features a “smoothing” slider. This controls the intensity of the masking effect from hard to soft.

Color Range Masking

Conceptually, the color range mask works just as the luminance range mask except instead of basing its masking on brightness it relies on the color ranges you select with the dropper tool.

color range mask - An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

The dropper tool lets you select a large color palette by clicking and dragging the eye-dropper over an area of your photo.

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

Using the eye-dropper tool to select the color range.

Alternatively, you can also select up to four (five without the large area selected) highly specific color areas by shift+clicking each desired point.

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

Using the dropper to select up to 5 target colors for the mask range.

It’s important to note that you can not use both the luminance and color range masks within the same local adjustment tool at the same time. However, you can create a new local adjustment (or duplicate one) and “layer” the masks as many times as you see fit.

How to use the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

Alright, let’s get down to business and look at an example of how the luminance and color range masks work. It’s extremely easy and can yield some impressive results once you get the hang of things.

Using the Luminance Range Mask

Here’s an image from an awesome night I spent in Death Valley a couple months ago.

death valley no-edit An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

Let’s say I want to use the Gradient Filter tool to brighten up that foreground and bring out a little more detail around the two people crouched by the fire.

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

That looks okay, but it definitely caused the highlight portions of the sky to be a little too bright for my taste. To solve this, I’ll apply a luminance range mask.

Simply select “Luminance” from the mask selection drop-down. Next, adjust the slider so that most of the highlights are excluded from the gradient filter adjustments and voila! The sky is no longer overexposed yet the foreground is now much more visible.

And since you can use the range mask with any edit in the local adjustment tool kit I went ahead and added in a little clarity and highlight boost to really make the foreground pop.

To truly demonstrate the effect of the luminance range mask I’ll tick the “show selected mask overlay” box at the bottom of the view window (the keyboard shortcut to show the overlay is O). The areas in red are the portions of the image where the gradient filter has applied its edits.

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

Gradient Filter applied without a mask. See how it is affecting parts of the sky as well.

Next, let’s have a look at the effect of the luminance range mask.

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

Gradient Filter with the Luminance Mask applied. Notice how the sky is now less affected in the bright areas.

Notice how the red masking recedes from the highlights in the skyline? It’s not overly obvious in this example but it will be incredibly apparent when we take a look at the effects of the color range mask.

Using the Color Range Mask

We’ll stick with the same photo from earlier for this example. But this time I’m going to use a Radial Filter to brighten up the fire and add some saturation to make the orange glow of the flames stand out more from that gorgeous purple of the desert night.

First, let’s see how a normal Radial Filter looks when applied to the area in question.

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

Radial Filter applied in Lightroom Classic CC.

Sure, it definitely brightens and adds saturation to the fire but it also added the adjustments to the entire filter area.

To remedy this, I’ll use the color range mask. I begin by using the‘shift+click and drag method to select the majority of the fire area color. Next, I set the Amount slider for the color range mask virtually to zero so that the mask really targets just those oranges and reds. This is the result:

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

And remember how I said you could immediately discern the effects of the color range mask? Well, look at the mask overly before the color masking was applied….

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

Radial Filter without masking.

…and now check out the incredible selectivity of the color mask.

An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

Radial Filter with color range mask applied.

Final Thoughts on the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC

The new range mask feature borrows the power of Photoshop layer masks and brings it home to the warm safety and comfort of Lightroom. While the range mask is admittedly nowhere near as versatile and customizable as say a luminosity mask in Photoshop, it does have its own excellent merits when it comes to taking more control of your local edits.

With the luminance range mask, you can fine-tune where your edits are applied based on the brightness levels within the photo. This is hugely beneficial when working with highly contrasted scenes and works great for black and white images.

The color range mask harnesses the power of color to let you creatively select exactly which tones will receive your adjustments. As you saw in the examples above, the color range mask is an excellent way to really bring out the contrast when working with complementary colors.

If you haven’t updated to the Lightroom Classic CC v7.2 or later then I urge you to do so now. Take the new range mask feature for a spin and let us know what you think in the comments below.

The post An In-Depth Look at the Range Mask in Lightroom Classic CC appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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