How to Mimic a Digital Cyanotype Using Photoshop with Ease

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

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

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

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

Step 1:

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

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

Step 2:

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

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

Step 3:

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

Step 4:

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

Step 5:

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

Step 6:

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

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

Your finished Cyanotype

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

More retro photography techniques

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

How to Create a Lithography Effect Using Photoshop

How to Duotone a Photograph in Photoshop

How To Mimic a Cross-Processing Effect in Photoshop

How to Mimic Lomography in Photoshop with Ease

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

Using Face Detection and Recognition in ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019

The post Using Face Detection and Recognition in ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019 appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Stacey Hill.

Are you a person who takes lots of photos of people? Perhaps you shoot weddings or events? Family portraits? Maybe you like to capture images of family and friends? Eventually, you end up with many images. Some are easy to sort through when they have only one person in them.

However, what about group photos? How do you tag/catalog/sort through those? Do you have to list out everyone’s name in the meta tags manually?

What if you don’t know all the names immediately? What if you find out later that Heather is actually Helen and you have to go back and change it?

Finally, how can you find all the images with a specific person quickly and easily?

Luckily, ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019 makes this task easy with the new Face Detection and Recognition capabilities.

How to set up Face Detection and Recognition

1.  Open the program and in ‘Manage’ mode, navigate to the desired folder where you have stored your images.

2.  Click on an image of the person you want to name and click on ‘View’ to open in View mode.

3.  Face Detection identifies the person by outlining their face.

4. If this outline box is not present, click on the ‘Show Face Outlines’ button (or Shift + B).

5. Once the face is selected, we need to apply the name. Click on the ‘Face’ Tool (or Shift + F) and a dark grey text bar pops up under the outline.

6. Click in the text bar and type the name of the person and press ‘Enter.’

7. If you select any other image with that person and open it in ‘View mode,’ it should automatically select their face and apply the name.

A key point regarding the naming structure you use is to put some thought into what naming convention you use and then keep it consistent. For example, something along the lines of: first name (space) last name or first name_last name. Doing so makes a difference later if you are using search parameters to find people.

What happens if you have more than one Joe Smith? What if you start off using only first names and then you have 3 x David, 4 x Michael, 2 x Louise all in the same wedding party? Being as specific as possible when naming addresses this issue.

How it becomes useful

Once the software has recognized the face and you have assigned a name to it, it detects that face amongst all your other photos. While it works across any images currently stored on your computer, the data is saved and applied to any new images you import onto your computer.

Therefore, you should only have to tag the person once. ACDSee remembers their name and applies it to any future image with their face in it.

Now you might want to search for all the images with Heather.

1. In ‘Manage’ mode, select ‘Catalog’ on the left-hand panel. The panel is broken up into different sections. At the top is ‘Categories.’

2. The second panel down is ‘People.’ All the names you have applied to your images are listed. Click on any name, and it goes through the database to pull out all the images with that face present in them.

3. In ‘Manage’ mode, you can ‘Quick Search’ by typing the name in the Quick Search box.

Searching for multiple people

1. Search for two or more people by holding down CTRL while selecting a second name in the People section of the Catalog panel. The software finds the images for those people. You can also utilize the ‘Easy Select’ arrows next to the names to select multiple people.

2. Find an image with two specific people in it together by typing both of their names in the ‘Quick Search’ bar as Person 1 + Person 2 to run a Boolean AND search. It is during this process that it’s essential to understand the naming convention you used originally.

In ‘Manage’ mode, select the folder you want to search in and click F3 to search (or right mouse click and select Search). Make sure you put ‘People’ in the ‘Categories’ section or it will search the entire database and potentially pull up other images.

3. You can also run a search from the ‘Catalog’ pane. In the ‘People’ section, select all the people you want to search for by using the ‘Easy-Select’ arrows or CTRL/SHIFT clicking. Click the gear icon on the People section header, and change the search type to ‘Match All.’

Managing name data

You can edit/change/remove the name data you have stored, which comes in handy if you have to update the spelling on one. Maybe you forgot you already had a ‘Sebastian’ in there, and you need to change one of them.

1. In ‘Manage’ mode, select ‘Tools’ from the top menu option.

2. From the drop-down menu, select ‘Manage People.’

3. A ‘People Manager’ box opens up with all the names you have saved. You can edit each one as needed by selecting them and using the bottom buttons.

Things to note:

1. The naming convention you use is important, so plan that out in advance.

2. If the face is not automatically detected, and you have to create it manually, the software will not further recognize it in Face Recognition. Also, note that if you use the Remove Faces or Redetect Faces command on an image, manual faces aren’t retained. The Rerun Face Detection option remembers them if you edit images.

3. Currently, there is no facility to import face recognition tags from other software (Picasa as an example). However, a search through the support forums has this listed on the ‘Potential Ideas for Future Updates’ list. It also appears to apply to the exporting of images from ACDSee as well, with the intention of retaining the face recognition tags.

4. There is no easy way to establish if there are currently any unnamed faces.

5. If the software has assigned the wrong name to someone, you can remove it with the Remove Faces function. This removes all face data from the selected image, not just the one wrong one.

6. To ensure a better success rate, you may need to manually select several images of one person so that the software can ‘learn’ that face with accuracy. You achieve better accuracy by naming as many faces in the (first) image as possible.

7. You can manually remove the names from incorrect selections and can rescan in ‘Manage’ mode via Tools | Redetect Faces. You need to correct the wrong name, rather than remove it, otherwise rescanning continues to return the wrong name over and over.

Conclusion

Face detection and recognition is a tool that can make life easier for a photographer with many images of people in their portfolio. The ability to assign a name to a person and have the computer run an algorithm to find all the other images is significantly faster than doing it manually.

To be able to search for images with a specific person (or range of people) becomes faster and more efficient as well.

Is it perfect?  If I am honest, not 100% all of the time. However, it is easy to use, easy to manage and does a pretty good job for most requirements. It could be useful for many other things that they may implement into the next version.

Right now, it is an effective time saver for the home photographer with photos of family and friends, through to commercial photographers with wedding/event shoots filling up the portfolio.

The previous 2018 generation of ACDSee was the first version that bought a range of features all together in one space. Thus, giving you the capability to manage and view files, edit Raw files, do creative editing with layers, all in one piece of software.

Leading with this Face Detection and Recognition, the 2019 iteration builds on that initial foundation by bringing specific functionality to boost capabilities even further. Thus, making for a compelling consideration for anyone looking to purchase editing software, especially when it is available via one-off perpetual license purchase.

 

 

 

The post Using Face Detection and Recognition in ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019 appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Stacey Hill.

Photoshop Focus Stacking for Still Life and Product Photography

The post Photoshop Focus Stacking for Still Life and Product Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

1 - Photoshop Focus Stacking by Darina Kopcok for DPS

Still life and product photography often require that your entire subject be sharp.

This can be difficult to achieve in-camera because if you’re shooting up-close, you can’t always get a lot of your subject in focus.

Stopping down to a smaller aperture (higher F-stop number) will not necessarily help you get a sharper image.

Enter Photoshop and focus stacking.

Focus stacking is a post-production technique of blending several images with different focus points to create one image that is sharp and in focus throughout the entire subject.

It’s the ultimate way to get the sharpest images, and it’s a crucial technique to know for still life photography.

2 - Photoshop Focus Stacking by Darina Kopcok for DPS

Why you can’t get razor sharp photos

Your aperture, focal length and the distance from your subject all impact the sharpness of your image.

Shooting at a higher F-stop number like f/22 won’t help you get sharper images in still life photography because of lens diffraction.

Lens diffraction in a phenomenon of optical physics that occurs in the lens and camera sensor.

When you shoot at f/2.8 or f/4, a lot of light hits your camera sensor directly. At apertures like f/16, the light hits the subject less precisely and causes a loss of sharpness.

It doesn’t matter how good your lens is – your images will be less sharp at apertures of f/16 and higher due to this law of physics.

The more you stop down, the finer details will blur out further.

Lens diffraction tends to be worse in zoom lenses than prime lenses because zooms have several moving parts.

3 - Photoshop Focus Stacking by Darina Kopcok for DPS

The depth-of-field problem

In still life and product photography, you often need to get pretty close to your subject. This means a shallower depth-of-field.

If you’re shooting small objects like jewelry, or objects that need to fill the frame, you’re usually so close that its entire depth cannot be in focus.

Using a macro lens like a 100mm or 110mm will also give you a shallow depth-of-field.

This is great if you’re doing food photography and want that blurred out background that is sought after in that genre, but for other types of still life, it creates a problem.

4 - Photoshop Focus Stacking by Darina Kopcok for DPS

Shooting for focus stacking

In order to focus stack in Photoshop, you need to shoot in a certain way with certain tools.

First of all, you need a sturdy tripod because your subject must be in exactly the same position from shot to shot in order to be successfully blended later in Photoshop.

If you accidentally bump your tripod, you’ll need to start all over again.

A shutter release is recommended to activate the shutter. Pressing the shutter by hand will introduce a small vibration that can introduce camera shake into the image and cause them to be misaligned in Photoshop.

That being said, Photoshop does a good job with aligning layers that are slightly off.

Personally, I like to tether my camera to Lightroom or Capture One and activate the shutter from within the program.

To shoot for focus stacking, start off by composing your shots and determining your exposure. You should use manual mode so that your exposure is the same from shot to shot.

  • Choose a point on your subject to focus on and take a shot.
  • Focus on a different point on your subject without moving the camera or adjusting any setting
  • Choose the next point and take the final exposure.

Three images will often be enough to cover each area of depth-of-field but it will vary by image

5 - Photoshop Focus Stacking by Darina Kopcok for DPS

Focus stacking in Photoshop

To blend the images together in Photoshop, start off by exporting PSD files into a folder or onto your desktop where you can easily find them.

  • Open Photoshop.
  • Go to File and choose Scripts.
  • Select Load Files into Stack.
  • Click Browse and select all the images from where you saved them initially.
  • Check the Box for Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images.
  • Click OK. Each of the images will open as a new layer in Photoshop.
  • Hold down Shift and click on the top layer in the Layers panel to highlight all the layers.
  • Under Edit, select Auto Blend-Layers.
  • Check the box for Stack Images and also for Seamless Tones and Colors. DO NOT check ‘Content Aware.’ Click OK.
  • Save the final image.

If you have uploaded a lot of images, flatten the final image by selecting Layer -> Flatten Image -> Save.

6 - Photoshop Focus Stacking by Darina Kopcok for DPS

Conclusion

Focus stacking is necessary for product photography but also very useful for other types of still life photography – even food photography.

If you’re fairly new to Photoshop, don’t be intimidated.

Focus stacking is a lot easier than you might think and you will undoubtedly be pleased with your results.

Have you used photoshop focus stacking? If so, share with us your thoughts and images below.

 

The post Photoshop Focus Stacking for Still Life and Product Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

How to Create a Lithography Effect Using Photoshop

The post How to Create a Lithography Effect Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

1- How to Create a Lithography Effect Using Photoshop

I love getting inspiration from darkroom techniques and applying original effects to digital photos. If you’re like me and want to give your images a vintage look, this tutorial is for you. I’ll show you how to get a beautiful creamy-caramel tone that mimics Lithography (or Lith for short) printing.

Lith printing is a monochrome technique that consists of overexposing the paper and then underdeveloping it. By doing this, your photograph gets warm colors with strong shadows but with aerial highlights. That explained, now let’s get into Photoshop.

1.  Choose Your Image and Create a Black and White Adjustment Layer

To create a Lithography Effect Using Photoshop, choose the image you want to work with and open it in Photoshop. There’s no need to duplicate it or save an extra copy as you’re not going to touch this original image. Everything is done using layers and adjustment layers. Working this way not only protects your original image, but it also allows you to go back and adjust or modify every step if you wish to.

2 -How to Create a Lithography Effect Using Photoshop

 

The first step is to create an adjustment Black and White Adjustment layer. To do this, click on the ‘Add Adjustment Layer’ button from the bottom of the layers panel. It’s the one with the symbol of a half dark – half light circle. A pop-up menu appears with all your choices. Choose the Black and White one. Now the properties panel allows you to adjust it through the use of sliders. You can move the green and the yellow sliders to lighten it a little bit like I’m doing. However, this depends on the photo you’re using.

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2. Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

Next, add another adjustment layer. This time choose ‘Hue/Saturation’ from the menu to achieve the tones you want. Ensure the ‘Colorize’ box is checked and move the ‘Hue’ slider. In the original technique, the tone depended on the type of paper, the specific blend of developer and the time you left it to process, so you can also be flexible here. In any case aim for a soft brown or caramel, For my taste, something between 20 or 30 on the slider works well.

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3. Create a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer

Create another adjustment layer and choose ‘Brightness/Contrast’ from the menu. Click the ‘Legacy’ box and drag the contrast slider to the left to flatten your mid-tones.

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4. Create a Curves Adjustment Layer

The last adjustment layer is meant to adjust the shadows. Add a ‘Curves’ adjustment layer and anchor the lightest part by clicking on the top right corner. Drag the darkest one (on the bottom left) to the right until you reach the first quadrant. Finally, create an anchor point in the middle and drag it upwards for the mid-tones. It may sound complicated, but you can see it in the screenshot below. There is also no need to replicate exactly. It also depends on your image and your liking.

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5. Create a New Layer

That is all for the adjustment layers. Now create a new layer. This button is also on the bottom of the panel; however, the symbol is a square with one corner bent. Color this layer by going to Menu -> Edit -> Fill, choose 50% Gray and apply. This layer should completely cover your image but don’t worry; you’ll fix that later.

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6. Add Noise

While still in this layer, go to Menu -> Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise. In the pop-up window, choose ‘Monochrome’ and slide up to about 140% because you need to distress the image.

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6. Add Blur and Soft Light

Next, go to Menu -> Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set it to ‘4.’ This softens the noise.

9 - How to Create a Lithography Effect Using Photoshop

Now change the Blending Mode from the drop-down menu that you’ll see on the top of the panel, and choose ‘Soft Light.’

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7. Add a Layer Mask

Now your image is distressed as desired, but the effect needs to be contained only into the darkest areas because Lithography prints are characteristic for their grittiness within the shadows. To achieve this effect, you need to add a layer mask to it. Go to Menu -> Select -> Color Range and sample the darkest areas by clicking on one of them. You can fine-tune this selection by dragging the fuzziness slider.

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Now click on the Layer Mask button and see the results or your finished digital Lith. Please give it a try and share your results in the comment section.

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The post How to Create a Lithography Effect Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

How to Boost Your Creativity with Lightroom Presets

The post How to Boost Your Creativity with Lightroom Presets appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Stacey Hill.

1 - How to Boost Your Creativity with Lightroom Presets

There are many divisive points in the photography world – brand versus brand, film versus digital, and minimal editing versus Photoshop. The one that seems to have a fervent dislike is the use of Presets in Lightroom. Find any post on presets and people line up in the comments to judge and criticize anyone who uses them. People get told they are lazy, that their images all look the same ala Instagram filters and so on.

Up to a point they are right – anything overused becomes a short-lived fad. If all you ever do in your editing is use canned settings and don’t learn even the basics, then I agree with them.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that applying a Preset (or a filter) makes a bad photo better, but hopefully, Instagram has taught us better by now. Instead, think of Presets as tools to help you automate your process, make you faster and more efficient at editing.

Still, there’s a lot of potential and possibilities that presets offer us. Let’s explore that idea!

(Note:  While this article specifically addresses Creativity with Lightroom Presets, the same principles apply for any other program that allows presets, including Photoshop Actions)

2 - How to Boost Your Creativity with Lightroom Presets

This is the same image as the header but this features a preset which deepens the green tones and desaturates the image, toning down the yellow. I like this much more than the original which is true to life.

The Benefits of Using Lightroom Presets

1. Saves Time

You can spend hours on editing just one image if you want to. However, most of us don’t have the luxury of that much time. Nor do customers want to pay that much for their images.

My recommendation is you should do a basic edit for each image to suit its requirements. However, if you want a specific look or a consistent style to your images, imagine how much more time you have with just being able to click a preset to finish it off?

Some images take more time to edit. You can allow extra time for those images by utilizing presets on the easier ones.

Of the two images below, the top image is an unedited RAW File, while the second image is a processed image using Presets.

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2. Easy and Fun

Why do people judge you for doing something that is easy?  Does everything have to be complicated and involved? Can’t it be fun too?

Not everyone has time to fully understand and master every setting and option within Lightroom (or any other program). Presets can allow you to quickly and efficiently apply complex effects.

It’s also fun to experiment with new styles.

3. Consistency

If you have a shoot where the subject/light/tones are all similar, you can achieve a consistent finish for the final image by applying a preset. You can also make one specifically to suit the shoot if required.

Besides, if you have done a series of tweaks to your image, do you remember exactly what you did and what the settings were?  Do you remember everyone to add to lots more images manually? Yes, you can write it all down or pull it out of the ‘history,’ but there’s no need.

Of the two images below, the top image is an unedited RAW File, while the second image is a processed image using Presets.

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4. Customizable

You can easily create your own presets in Lightroom and save them for using repeatedly. Alternatively, you can create one that only works for a specific shoot. Presets are also available to buy pre-configured for all kinds of different finishes.

Once you have applied the preset, you can continue to edit and refine the look. Depending on the settings, you can stack multiple presets on top of each other for a unique outcome.

There are many different ways to use and apply presets, and you can get a sophisticated outcome quickly and easily even when you may not fully understand all the capabilities of the software.

5.  Different Functions can have Presets

For your editing functions, the primary use for Presets is in the ‘Develop’ module. However, you can create presets that apply to Metadata, or when you Import or Export images. This process can help you apply copyright information or customer information to images, or quickly change the export settings depending on requirements. For example, print versus web use.

Of the two images below, the top image is an unedited RAW File, while the second image is a processed image using Presets.

7 - How to Boost Your Creativity with Lightroom Presets 8 - How to Boost Your Creativity with Lightroom Presets

So, can I just use Presets for everything?

Presets are not a magic one-click fix. Each preset reacts differently with individual images. It is essential to understand the basics of your program because some editing is necessary.

However, if you only want to use presets, no one is going to stop you. Do you want to make that choice though?

Can people tell if you are not entirely in control of your editing software?  Yes. In general, experienced people can tell.

That said, I strongly recommend that everyone should have a solid understanding of the basic features their editing program has so they know enough to be able to edit without relying on presets. If you are using presets, you should understand how you can further tweak and improve the effect.

Please note that not all presets are created equal. Some are better designed and, when applied, provide a more polished effect.

Of the two images below, the top image is an unedited RAW File, while the second image is a processed image using Presets.

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Freedom to be Creative

One of the most powerful things Presets can do is take us out of our comfort zone and show us new possibilities in the way we edit images. Humans are creatures of habit, so once we find the comfortable place that we can generate images of acceptable quality, we are likely to settle in there.

Maybe we don’t know everything the program can do? Perhaps we don’t understand how we can apply this feature here on top of that function there. For example, how many people fully understand Split Toning?

What if we didn’t need to understand absolutely EVERY function and feature in our software? Maybe we simply don’t have the time. What if we could understand enough to be able to use the necessary bits and then use the knowledge someone else has created to add that extra dimension to our editing?

What if we CAN try a new look with one click? Maybe a purple-toned one, then a matte-finish one, and a black and white one? We can compare a whole heap of different processes.

Maybe by trying out Presets, we can learn more about the software’s capabilities? Perhaps it can give us more confidence to shoot in a different style, taking advantage of the new editing prospects.

Breakdown of an Edit

In the screenshot below it shows the final edit of the clematis flower (Before and After images featured above).

As you can see, after Import, the next step is ‘Paste Settings.’ This is where I have copied the Preset and some adjustments made on a previous image in the shoot.

A further 19 steps have been taken to enhance and finalize this image to achieve the desired outcome.

Could I have stopped after the first ‘Paste Settings?’  Absolutely.

Was it the best that image could have looked?  Not in my opinion. So, I spent the time I had saved using a preset to do further fiddly little tweaks and refinements.

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Using Presets Creatively

This winter landscape of frost-crusted rocks, icicles, and what I can assure you was freezing water, was already quite blue-toned. The blue tone was due to the 10-stop filter I used to achieve long exposure on the water.

I liked how the blue tone emphasized the cold crisp winter feel so I decided to use it to set the whole mood for this image.  A blue-toned, slightly matte finish preset helped boost that aspect of the process. It added more brightness on the whites, deepened the shadows a touch and added a bit of clarity for extra crispness.

I could have completely changed the color space to natural daylight, but seeing this blue tone inspired me to follow that direction further. I knew I had a preset that would do interesting things to the blue tones and it worked better than expected.

Of the two images below, the top image is an unedited RAW File, while the second image is a processed image using Presets.

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I tend towards darker, moody edits. So, using Presets for an image helps me see different possibilities quickly. With a few clicks, I can assess what is suited to a high-key edit, a desaturated, matte edit, a neutral, natural edit, or perhaps black and white one.

Sometimes I strike gold and end up with something delightfully unexpected (like the green currants at the top of this article). It never fails to amaze me how much scope Lightroom has to do things I don’t fully understand yet. However, using presets has taught me a great deal, and I am slowly unpacking them, figuring it out and beginning to make my own Presets now.

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Conclusion

Lightroom (and other editing programs) offer a lot of functions and scope for editing your images. Many people don’t have the time to learn all the features and capabilities in detail. It can be frustrating when you are learning how to use it.

Presets give you access to features within the software without needing to know exactly how to implement them manually.

Using Presets allows even novice users the ability to be creative and experiment with different styles and looks to their editing. More experienced users can create their own presets, or utilize purchased ones in their editing process. They save time and can make your editing process more efficient as well.

Presets offer you the opportunity to try a style that is different to what you typically create. Alternatively, perhaps you want to dabble and see how an image turns out with a range of edits. Using Presets can also help you learn more about the program by showing more of its capabilities.

While Presets can be overused, or not used to best effect, they also offer many advantages. Provided they are used as part of your process, and not as a magic solution, Presets can be a valuable tool.

Finally, playing with them is fun. Being able to experiment safely and easily with one click of a button gives you the latitude to be brave while considering new editing styles.

 

The post How to Boost Your Creativity with Lightroom Presets appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Stacey Hill.

10 Key Tools for Editing Portraits Using Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Photo: Jye B

As humans, we relate to and love to capture photos of other people. Be it family, friends, strangers in street photography or professionally in a portrait studio.

Model/Actor: Patrick Walsh, Jr.

However, we don’t always have time to sit in front of a computer at home or in an office to edit our work. With the fantastic creation of Adobe Creative Cloud, you can now sync your Lightroom library to all your devices. You can create and edit images directly on your mobile phone or edit images created in any fashion, including in a studio. You can edit them in Lightroom Mobile on the go via laptop, tablet or smartphone.

While editing portraits, Lightroom Mobile, like its desktop counterpart, has many tools available to help take a snapshot of a great portrait. While it is helpful to explore every tool in the toolbox, here are ten key tools for editing portraits using Adobe Lightroom Mobile.

1. The Exposure Tool

Whether it’s midday outdoors and your image is a little overexposed or its a bit overcast and your image is a little underexposed, the exposure tool in the Lightroom Mobile app is a quick fix to brighten or darken a photo to your liking arbitrarily. In the image below, the mirror image of my subject was a little bit dark, so I bumped up the exposure just a little. Doing so lightened some of the shadows in the subjects sunglasses so that you could see his eyes better. It also helped to show more detail in the black coat.

In this case, bumping up the exposure helped bring out details.

2. The Contrast Tool

Adding contrast to an image creates more emphasis between light and dark colors in an image. However, sometimes contrast needs to be subtracted because too much can make similar tones can blend and lose definition. In the image below, I lowered the contrast to enhance the detail in my subject’s coat. Adding exposure in the first step brightened the subject as well as the mirror image. Although, it brightened the subject a little too much. I also dropped the highlights to put less focus on the brightest parts of the subject’s face.

Taking away contrast can show more detail. Taking away highlights can lessen the glare.

3. The Shadows Tool

You can utilize the ‘Shadows’ tool when sculpting to a face or body is required, or you can remove them to show more detail. In the image below, while I did bump up the exposure a little bit, I also took away shadow to show more of my subject’s eyes through the sunglasses. You can now see the irises and catchlights in the eyes. It has also lightened some of the lines on the face too.

Removing shadow can sometimes reveal more detail.

4. The Healing Tool

One of the most amazing Lightroom Mobile tools recently introduced is the ‘Healing’ tool. This tool allows you to correct things on portraits such as blemishes. In the image below, I tried to preserve the model’s natural moles and birthmarks while only removing unwanted blemishes using the Healing brush.

Before and after images using the Healing Brush in Lightroom Mobile.

5. The White Balance Tool

Sometimes you may capture an image where the white balance is a bit off. It could be too warm or too cold. The ‘Temperature’ slider under the ‘Color’ tab for ‘White Balance’ allows you to cool or warm an image. The below-left image was too cold, and the skin appeared gray. So, I boosted the warmth using the Color Temperature slider from 4400K to 4768K, giving a more natural color to the skin.

You can cool or warm an image using the ‘Temperature’ slider for ‘White Balance’ under the ‘Color’ tab.

6. The Clarity Tool

The ‘Clarity’ tool has a very magical effect when it comes to editing portraits – especially of women. If you have a portrait with harsh shine on the skin or the pores are extremely visible, softening the ‘Clarity’ helps to blur out some of those imperfections subtly. It can make skin appear smoother, as in the image below.

Softening Clarity can subtly blur out some imperfections and make skin appear smoother.

7. The Sharpening Tool

In portraiture, a sharp image is key. An essential portrait element to be sharp is the eyes, or at least the eye closest to the camera. Sometimes you may need to sharpen your image in Lightroom Mobile to achieve this.

Sometimes sharpening is necessary to get key features, like the eyes, crisper.

8. The Noise Reduction Tool

After sharpening, zoom in to check for unwanted noise in your image. If there is unwanted noise, Lightroom Mobile has an entire ‘Noise Reduction’ section under the ‘Effects’ tab that you can use to minimize noise in your portraits. The Noise Reduction tool is also helpful in smoothing out any highlighted rough skin.

The Noise Reduction tab helps get rid of noise and smooth out the rough skin under highlights.

9. The Presets Tool

The ‘Presets’ tab is a fun tab. There are several sub-menus under Presets with a variety of readymade one-click settings you can quickly apply to your portraits. As examples, I chose two from the ‘Creative’ sub-menu under Presets to apply to the original image below-left.

Left to right: Original image, Soft Mist, Aged Photo.

10. The Crop Tool

The last tool you may find you need while editing on-the-go is the ‘Crop’ tool. Sometimes we have too much in an image, whether by accident or on purpose, knowing we can edit it later. Lightroom Mobile allows you to select the area of an image you wish to keep. Using your fingers, you can drag the borders to where you want them placed, as per the image below.

Using Lightroom Mobile, drag borders with your fingers and click the checkmark to finished when cropping images.

Tying It All Together

Lightroom Mobile grants photographers many tools to edit on-the-go. You can take a regular capture and make it an extraordinary image. Take a few images, use the various tools of Lightroom Mobile, and learn how they can be adjusted more toward your vision. You’ll find the convenience of Lightroom Mobile second-to-none, with results being similar to those of a desktop computer.

Have you used Adobe Lightroom Mobile? What are your experiences with it? Let us know in the comments below.

The post 10 Key Tools for Editing Portraits Using Adobe Lightroom Mobile appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Use Complementary Colors for Color Correction of Your Images

Two days before my wedding, I got sunburnt on a fishing trip. It was also my bachelor party.

Al Shallal Ice Rink in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – before color correction

Al Shallal Ice Rink in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – after color correction

My wife’s cousin, the makeup artist for the big day, took one look at my bright red nose and dragged me into a changing room. She sat me down and pulled out a jar of green powder.

“Is that green powder?”

“Yep – green is the opposite of red on the color wheel, so this cancels out some of that shine.”

Those probably weren’t her exact words – but it was something like that. However, it stuck with me. She added a dash of green powder and my nose was slightly less red.

Using Complementary Colors for Color Correction

We are always striving to use color theory in new and captivating ways. Using complementary colors in your images, and creative adjustments to color balance and split toning can take your images to the next level. You most likely adjust white balance, including temperature and tint, somewhere at the start of the editing process. The ‘Temperature’ slider gives your images a cool or warm tone. The ‘Tint’ slider gives a green or magenta tint.

You use these sliders to add to the overall mood and tone of the image. Those values are fine-tuned throughout the editing process while making other adjustments. Recently, I made use of my knowledge of color theory (and that critical lesson on my wedding day), for an entirely different purpose.

Lightroom White Balance Slider at Default Settings

I currently live and work in Saudi Arabia. To the surprise of many people, I also play ice hockey out here for The Red Sea Sabres. We practice in Jeddah and play in international tournaments every year. On Saudi National Day, our team was invited to play in a friendly scrimmage against the re-emerging Saudi National Team. It was part of an effort to showcase ice hockey in The Kingdom (the details of the entire story are in the blog post linked in my bio).

When we arrived at Al Shallal Ice Rink, the ceiling lights had been tinted green in honor of the Saudi Flag. There was also a large mist looming over the entire ice surface. It was kind of like playing ice hockey on Venus. We were also part of a larger ice skating and Saudi National Day showcase, and there were heaps of photographic opportunities everywhere I looked.

Shooting backstage was fine, as you can see from the before and after images below that have only a few adjustments to the RAW cuts. However, backstage was under ‘normal’ fluorescent lighting and not the green tinted light hanging over the ice.

Original RAW file

And after minor corrections in LR

Tint Slider

My import screen filled with heavily tinted green photos.

You may already add small amounts of tint to your images for artistic purposes or to balance color after shooting under lighting conditions that cast an unwanted tint to your images. However, I had never seen anything like the RAW files I captured that night. As I watched my import screen fill with a tapestry of heavily tinted green photos, one word popped into my head…’magenta.’ I moved the tint slider toward the magenta side of the spectrum and the green cast faded.

Before the ice hockey scrimmage, an ice skating exhibition took to the ice – before color correction.

And after color correction.

Usually, I don’t go above +20 on the magenta slider, but the photo above required +130!

Split Toning

To help adjust skin tones and overall colors of jerseys and ice, I adjusted the split toning to add even more magenta to the image. However, I struggled to fully-correct the skin tones, but they looked better than the pale green faces staring back at me on import!

‘Split Toning’ helped remove more unwanted green from skin tones and even out the color of the ice.

Some of the images required a tradeoff. As with the image below; the foreground is backstage under fluorescent lights, and the background is on the ice under green colored lights. You can see that the player’s skin tone is off from the heavy magenta tint on his neck. However, it’s such a compelling image I allowed the tinted skin tone in exchange for the overall shot to be balanced.

This image could be further corrected in Photoshop using a localized correction on the player’s neck to correct his skin tone further.

Conclusion

Color, mood, and tone have a dynamic relationship in every image. If you are a self-taught photographer like me, you probably missed out on formal training in color theory. I have a picture of the color wheel on the wall in my editing office. That way, I am always reminded of the subtle but powerful difference using complementary or anchoring colors can add to an image. Alternatively, in this case, how adding a significant imbalance to one side of the spectrum can rescue images.

If you have been challenged by colored lighting conditions or have some images you’d like to share with us, please do so in the comments below.

 

The post How to Use Complementary Colors for Color Correction of Your Images appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Using Photoshop Filters During Post-Processing to Correct and Enhance Images

When you think of filters in photography, your first thought might be those specialized glass pieces you affix to the end of your lens. Most of these filters serve a specific purpose (e.g. a polarizing filter to reduce glare), although some are for artistic effects (e.g. colored filters).

But if you want to apply artistic/special effects in post-processing, Photoshop has a number of filters you can apply during this stage of your workflow. They can also be used to clean up or retouch images.

Recommendation

When working with an image, it’s good practice to work non-destructively (i.e. you don’t change the pixels). Using Photoshop filters directly on a pixel layer will change the pixels, so wherever possible you should use Smart Filters.

A Smart Filter is a filter that’s applied to a Smart Object – a layer that saves the image’s source information with its original characteristics and allows you to edit non-destructively. So before you start applying filters, convert the layer you’re working on to a Smart Object.

Note: Depending on your version of Photoshop, you may not be able to apply some filters as Smart Filters.

Filter Gallery

The filter gallery in Photoshop gives you quick access to a number of filters. From the menu choose Filter, and then Filter Gallery to view them on the screen. It’s an easy way to see the effect a filter would have without changing the original image. Here you can apply one or a combination of filters to your image.

The easiest way to understand what they all do is to select each one and look at the preview. It’s a simple artistic edit that can come in handy when used selectively.

The Filter Gallery showing the options that can be applied.

Adaptive Wide Angle Filter

This is also available in the Filter menu and can be useful for correcting distortion issues resulting from wide-angle or fisheye lenses. These lenses sometimes introduce curves that weren’t actually there. You can also use the adaptive wide angle filter to straighten lines that appear curved in panoramic shots.

To straighten a curved horizon, click and drag from the left side of the horizon to the right. This adds a blue line (called a constraint) around the area of distortion. The constraint marks the area and straightens it.

An image taken with a fish-eye lens

This filter has a number of correction types:

  • Fisheye corrects those extreme curves made with a fisheye lens
  • Perspective corrects converging lines resulting from your angle of view or camera tilt
  • Full Spherical corrects 360-degree panoramas with a 1:2 aspect ratio
  • Auto applies what Photoshop deems an appropriate correction

Image adjusted using Adaptive Wide Angle filter

Note: The Panorama correction type is also available if you apply this filter to a photomerged panorama.

Lens Correction

The Lens Correction filter fixes different kinds of distortions. Similar to the Adaptive Wide Angle filter, it remedies distortion created by wide-angle and fisheye lenses. It can also straighten images taken at an angle and make them appear as if shot straight on. One of the great things with this filter is you can choose to either manually correct the image or have Photoshop correct it automatically.

Angled image.

  • Geometric Distortion is another easy way to remove a fish-eye effect.
  • Chromatic Aberration can remove any colored fringes around your subjects on high contrast edges.
  • Vignette does a good job of adding a vignette.
  • Transform gives you sliders to help you correct perspectives, with options for vertical and horizontal perspectives, as well as rotating to compensate for camera tilt.

Edited with the Lens Correction filter.

Liquify

The Liquify filter can be used to push and pull pixels around and is one of the most powerful filters under the Filter menu. You may associate liquify with body transformations, but it can do much more than that.

Within the liquify filter menu, the forward warp tool (at the top left) is the most popular. The key to using this tool successfully is to use a brush size slightly larger than you think you need. You should also use a lower pressure brush (for more subtlety) and increase your density (to affect a bigger area within your brush circle).

The Liquify Tool used to reshape a piece of fruit.

Vanishing Point

The Vanishing Point filter brings an image in line with the perspective of another. For example, if you want to composite a picture frame into a room, this filter will help you match the perspective of the frame to any wall in the right perspective.

Third-Party Filters

Photoshop lets you easily add hundreds of third-party filters (available via plugins) to your arsenal.

These can help you make the most of your images or get super creative. Many simplify the steps Photoshop is capable of achieving so you can perform them in a shorter time. Some of these include the Nik Collection, Topaz and ON1.

Above Image with two Nik filters applied: Paper Toner and Vignette

Conclusion

Using Photoshop Filters is an easy option if you want to get creative. Photoshop has a few standard ones you can experiment with, and stacking them can create a unique image.

Which filters do you use? Share some of your results with us.

The post Using Photoshop Filters During Post-Processing to Correct and Enhance Images appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Top Tips for Editing Music Photography

So in my last article, we looked at how you can get to shoot live music. Hopefully, some of you will have used that article as the motivation to actually get out there and shoot. Great! If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

This time, I want to write based on a comment I received about how to edit music photography, with some top tips to get your music editing to rock god standard. There is no right or wrong way to edit photos. You have your style of editing, and I have mine, so when looking at this if you think ‘I prefer more contrast’ then simply add more contrast.

I use Capture One Pro editing software. I know a huge percentage of you use Lightroom, but in reality, things are very similar. The buttons are in different places, but they do the same thing. What I want to do with this article is give you some pointers, rather than an exact step-by-step guide. Like all good recipes, you need to adjust for your oven and how spicy you like your food. With that said, let’s get cooking.

Speed

The thrill of a gig fades, for the fans, for the bands and for the publications that put the images out there. While speed is not super important when editing for small bands, I would always advise you to get your editing done as soon as possible. That way if you are delivering images to the band, they will still be hyped about the show and seeing your amazing photos will make them even more excited.

When I am editing for a publication, the idea is to get the images out as soon as possible. Therefore my editing technique is designed with speed as a factor.  For portfolio images, or ones you love, by all means, go into Photoshop and remove things, touch up the skin, etc., But in general, this is not required.

This tight deadline means you have to sometimes decide against removing the distracting lights or fire exit sign. It is much quicker to do now that Capture One, Lightroom, et al. have these features built-in. However, be warned, you can still easily get caught up in this process.

Many of you may be starting out, so you can spend time finessing the details a little more. There are many great tutorials on DPS about Photoshop and more advanced editing techniques, so make sure you read up on them if this is something you want to do.

Editing Starts in Camera When Shooting

I can’t stress this enough. The tendency to overshoot is strong! In a digital age, we can shoot and delete so quickly that we get carried away. The thrill of being at an event shooting live music can add to this, as you want to get THE shot. However, try to restrain yourself a bit. Every image you shoot is something you have to go back to and edit, so bear this in mind. That said, I have been guilty and when a singer is bursting around the stage, shooting at the camera’s max FPS is something that can help you get that great shot.

Metadata (AKA the Boring Habit That is Good to Get Into Early)

Metadata is the information that is attached to your file. It includes camera settings etc., but when you shoot for organizations or stock agencies, you need to include metadata within your images. It is best to get into this habit early.

Make your contact information into a preset, so it can be added easily on import to save time. The first data you need to add is the content field, which contains the following sections:

Headline

Description

Category

The ‘Headline’ is simple. Put the name of the band performing live at XYZ Venue. If you have a shot of the lead singer, then add that information. For example, on this image, the Headline is ‘Diet Cig. Live at The Rescue Rooms Nottingham. Dot to Dot 2015.’

With the description following as ‘Alex Luciano of the New York band, Diet Cig play at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms as part of the Dot To Dot Festival.’

I saved the most important until last – ‘Keywords.’ You use Keywords for image searches within your catalog, or within a picture library or publication where you have submitted the image. For example, on this shot, the image includes keywords such as ‘Fender Guitars’ and ‘Vans.’ It’s amazing how many times people ask for a musician playing a specific guitar brand, or playing in a particular brand. So make it easy on yourself and use keywords to find them. I think the weirdest request I had was for artists performing in slippers. Unfortunately, I have none in my catalog. However, this goes to show how keywording in all the details, may come in handy.

Start this process early. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ve shot so many gigs without it that the thought of adding metadata to so many images means you don’t do it at all. Get into the habit, and it is painless. Leave it until later, and you won’t do it. Trust me! My first year of shooting live music has no metadata to this day!

Culling Images

You now need to narrow it down to a reasonable set of images to edit. I recommend around 10 to 15 max. You have to be ruthless in this selection process! When choosing shots, you may need to focus on minute details (and sometimes even perceived differences) to narrow it down. The key here is to be ruthless. Just like a holiday slideshow from your relatives – no matter how fantastic you think they are, nobody wants to see all 128 shots of a band that are in focus and well exposed. You want a small set of images that capture the intensity of being there. That way, they have much more impact. You will wow people rather than have them thinking ‘isn’t this shot just the same as the last one?’

This is what a typical image out-of-camera will look like. The color is out, there are some exposure issues, but this is a great starting point.

White Balance / Color Correction

White Balance and Color correction are the hardest part. You find so many variations of color at a concert that getting a realistic skin tone may be impossible. In this case, you can either embrace the colors or go to black and white. It comes down to your eye, and you may have to compromise.

As the screenshots show below, in mixed light, this can be quite extreme because your cameras’ white balance can miss by quite a way. Regarding camera setting, I leave the white balance on auto. Lighting changes so much in a concert situation, that even guessing what mode to set it to is not practical. Leave it in auto. Let the camera do its best, and then (and I hate to use this term) fix it in post.

This is where you choose if you want it in black and white. Sometimes you have a great shot, but the color is beyond fixing (red light is killer, and for some reason, lighting guys love red!). So the only option is black and white. Now as I said in my last article when doing this for media outlets, black and white is generally a no-go, but for personal work (and even portfolio) there is nothing wrong with black and white. I love the look.

The other option is to go with the color and let it be part of the atmosphere of the photo. I have a shot of Ian Brown from the Stone Roses (whom I idolized as a youngster) looking through his tambourine and straight down the lens. The lighting meant that I would never be able to get natural skin tones, so I embraced the color and edited it with that in mind.

Alex Luciano of the New York band Diet Cig

Colour balance makes this image much better, but there is still work to do.

Exposure

Once you have your color set, you can begin to work on exposure. Similar to any other editing you do, but the main difference is how much you use the ‘recover highlights’ and ‘shadows sliders.’ Concert lighting is usually high contrast, especially if you have the background lights in the shot. Using the recovery sliders can help here. Background lights are generally the only time I do a bit of retouching. If I have a fantastic photo with a distracting background light, I quickly remove it. This is the beauty of only having ten images to edit rather than 75. You can spend a little more time with each image, even when you are on a tight turnaround. Another tip here is to lower the saturation to help take the edge of hard colors. You can also work with individual colors too, which helps.

For the image we are working with here, I reduced exposure by just under 1-stop and recovered the highlights. I also added a little clarity & contrast to the image for more punch.

Levels/Curves

For my final tweaks, I use ‘curves.’ You can also use ‘levels,’ but this is down your preference. Whichever you use, it is a case of working with each color channel to create a more balanced final color. Tweak the contrast until you are happy.

With the image we are using here, I tweaked the ‘mid-tones’ a little. I adjusted each of the red and green channels, making subtle changes (subtlety is key here) to get a better balance of color in the image.

Crop

If needed, you can crop the image. I’m not going to bore you with how to, but it is just something to keep in mind. Remember, a little crop can remove things like fire exit signs a lot quicker than Photoshopping them out.

Final Tweak

I always like to add a small vignette to my images. Usually very subtle, but I just like the way it draws attention to the subject. I think sometimes it is more a force of habit rather than necessary. Again, this is up to you.

Last Check

Walk away from your monitor for a couple of minutes. Grab a drink, or go to the bathroom. The key is to get away from the screen for a couple of minutes. You can easily push things like contrast too far without realizing. So take 2-minutes away then come back and check if you are happy.

The final image that went to the publication.

Copy, Paste, Tweak, Repeat.

When editing more images from the same show, the starting point is always copying and pasting the settings form the image you already edited. Generally, this gives you a great starting point. However, the lighting for the first song and the third song are not always the same, so you may have to start from scratch. As with anything, the more you do, the easier it becomes. 

Black and White

The color version of this show just wasn’t working for me, but I loved the energy, so decided to go black and white.

Finally, let’s go through black and white. I always follow the same process as for color photos as above. It helps me to know if a photo works best in black and white or color. With this image, I couldn’t get the color right. To me, it lacked something, but I loved the energy. So, I decided to try black and white instead.

When converting to black and white, I always start with a preset because I find ‘Capture One’ has some great ones. The preset is used to get the image close to what I want and then I tweak to my taste. Using black and white is a savior for when the light is mostly red. Red can make for some amazing black and white photos. However, when you know you have to deliver in color, it’s great that the sound of the music drowns out your swearing at the lighting technicians!

Black & White made this image pop, and a quick crop removed the distracting photographer to create this final image.

 

I hope you found this article helpful. Unfortunately, there is no preset or magic bullet to offer, as all lighting situations are different. However, I hope you found this article helpful for editing music photography images of your own. 

As always, pop any comments below and I will do my best to answer.

The post Top Tips for Editing Music Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Top Tips for Editing Music Photography

So in my last article, we looked at how you can get to shoot live music. Hopefully, some of you will have used that article as the motivation to actually get out there and shoot. Great! If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

This time, I want to write based on a comment I received about how to edit music photography, with some top tips to get your music editing to rock god standard. There is no right or wrong way to edit photos. You have your style of editing, and I have mine, so when looking at this if you think ‘I prefer more contrast’ then simply add more contrast.

I use Capture One Pro editing software. I know a huge percentage of you use Lightroom, but in reality, things are very similar. The buttons are in different places, but they do the same thing. What I want to do with this article is give you some pointers, rather than an exact step-by-step guide. Like all good recipes, you need to adjust for your oven and how spicy you like your food. With that said, let’s get cooking.

Speed

The thrill of a gig fades, for the fans, for the bands and for the publications that put the images out there. While speed is not super important when editing for small bands, I would always advise you to get your editing done as soon as possible. That way if you are delivering images to the band, they will still be hyped about the show and seeing your amazing photos will make them even more excited.

When I am editing for a publication, the idea is to get the images out as soon as possible. Therefore my editing technique is designed with speed as a factor.  For portfolio images, or ones you love, by all means, go into Photoshop and remove things, touch up the skin, etc., But in general, this is not required.

This tight deadline means you have to sometimes decide against removing the distracting lights or fire exit sign. It is much quicker to do now that Capture One, Lightroom, et al. have these features built-in. However, be warned, you can still easily get caught up in this process.

Many of you may be starting out, so you can spend time finessing the details a little more. There are many great tutorials on DPS about Photoshop and more advanced editing techniques, so make sure you read up on them if this is something you want to do.

Editing Starts in Camera When Shooting

I can’t stress this enough. The tendency to overshoot is strong! In a digital age, we can shoot and delete so quickly that we get carried away. The thrill of being at an event shooting live music can add to this, as you want to get THE shot. However, try to restrain yourself a bit. Every image you shoot is something you have to go back to and edit, so bear this in mind. That said, I have been guilty and when a singer is bursting around the stage, shooting at the camera’s max FPS is something that can help you get that great shot.

Metadata (AKA the Boring Habit That is Good to Get Into Early)

Metadata is the information that is attached to your file. It includes camera settings etc., but when you shoot for organizations or stock agencies, you need to include metadata within your images. It is best to get into this habit early.

Make your contact information into a preset, so it can be added easily on import to save time. The first data you need to add is the content field, which contains the following sections:

Headline

Description

Category

The ‘Headline’ is simple. Put the name of the band performing live at XYZ Venue. If you have a shot of the lead singer, then add that information. For example, on this image, the Headline is ‘Diet Cig. Live at The Rescue Rooms Nottingham. Dot to Dot 2015.’

With the description following as ‘Alex Luciano of the New York band, Diet Cig play at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms as part of the Dot To Dot Festival.’

I saved the most important until last – ‘Keywords.’ You use Keywords for image searches within your catalog, or within a picture library or publication where you have submitted the image. For example, on this shot, the image includes keywords such as ‘Fender Guitars’ and ‘Vans.’ It’s amazing how many times people ask for a musician playing a specific guitar brand, or playing in a particular brand. So make it easy on yourself and use keywords to find them. I think the weirdest request I had was for artists performing in slippers. Unfortunately, I have none in my catalog. However, this goes to show how keywording in all the details, may come in handy.

Start this process early. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ve shot so many gigs without it that the thought of adding metadata to so many images means you don’t do it at all. Get into the habit, and it is painless. Leave it until later, and you won’t do it. Trust me! My first year of shooting live music has no metadata to this day!

Culling Images

You now need to narrow it down to a reasonable set of images to edit. I recommend around 10 to 15 max. You have to be ruthless in this selection process! When choosing shots, you may need to focus on minute details (and sometimes even perceived differences) to narrow it down. The key here is to be ruthless. Just like a holiday slideshow from your relatives – no matter how fantastic you think they are, nobody wants to see all 128 shots of a band that are in focus and well exposed. You want a small set of images that capture the intensity of being there. That way, they have much more impact. You will wow people rather than have them thinking ‘isn’t this shot just the same as the last one?’

This is what a typical image out-of-camera will look like. The color is out, there are some exposure issues, but this is a great starting point.

White Balance / Color Correction

White Balance and Color correction are the hardest part. You find so many variations of color at a concert that getting a realistic skin tone may be impossible. In this case, you can either embrace the colors or go to black and white. It comes down to your eye, and you may have to compromise.

As the screenshots show below, in mixed light, this can be quite extreme because your cameras’ white balance can miss by quite a way. Regarding camera setting, I leave the white balance on auto. Lighting changes so much in a concert situation, that even guessing what mode to set it to is not practical. Leave it in auto. Let the camera do its best, and then (and I hate to use this term) fix it in post.

This is where you choose if you want it in black and white. Sometimes you have a great shot, but the color is beyond fixing (red light is killer, and for some reason, lighting guys love red!). So the only option is black and white. Now as I said in my last article when doing this for media outlets, black and white is generally a no-go, but for personal work (and even portfolio) there is nothing wrong with black and white. I love the look.

The other option is to go with the color and let it be part of the atmosphere of the photo. I have a shot of Ian Brown from the Stone Roses (whom I idolized as a youngster) looking through his tambourine and straight down the lens. The lighting meant that I would never be able to get natural skin tones, so I embraced the color and edited it with that in mind.

Alex Luciano of the New York band Diet Cig

Colour balance makes this image much better, but there is still work to do.

Exposure

Once you have your color set, you can begin to work on exposure. Similar to any other editing you do, but the main difference is how much you use the ‘recover highlights’ and ‘shadows sliders.’ Concert lighting is usually high contrast, especially if you have the background lights in the shot. Using the recovery sliders can help here. Background lights are generally the only time I do a bit of retouching. If I have a fantastic photo with a distracting background light, I quickly remove it. This is the beauty of only having ten images to edit rather than 75. You can spend a little more time with each image, even when you are on a tight turnaround. Another tip here is to lower the saturation to help take the edge of hard colors. You can also work with individual colors too, which helps.

For the image we are working with here, I reduced exposure by just under 1-stop and recovered the highlights. I also added a little clarity & contrast to the image for more punch.

Levels/Curves

For my final tweaks, I use ‘curves.’ You can also use ‘levels,’ but this is down your preference. Whichever you use, it is a case of working with each color channel to create a more balanced final color. Tweak the contrast until you are happy.

With the image we are using here, I tweaked the ‘mid-tones’ a little. I adjusted each of the red and green channels, making subtle changes (subtlety is key here) to get a better balance of color in the image.

Crop

If needed, you can crop the image. I’m not going to bore you with how to, but it is just something to keep in mind. Remember, a little crop can remove things like fire exit signs a lot quicker than Photoshopping them out.

Final Tweak

I always like to add a small vignette to my images. Usually very subtle, but I just like the way it draws attention to the subject. I think sometimes it is more a force of habit rather than necessary. Again, this is up to you.

Last Check

Walk away from your monitor for a couple of minutes. Grab a drink, or go to the bathroom. The key is to get away from the screen for a couple of minutes. You can easily push things like contrast too far without realizing. So take 2-minutes away then come back and check if you are happy.

The final image that went to the publication.

Copy, Paste, Tweak, Repeat.

When editing more images from the same show, the starting point is always copying and pasting the settings form the image you already edited. Generally, this gives you a great starting point. However, the lighting for the first song and the third song are not always the same, so you may have to start from scratch. As with anything, the more you do, the easier it becomes. 

Black and White

The color version of this show just wasn’t working for me, but I loved the energy, so decided to go black and white.

Finally, let’s go through black and white. I always follow the same process as for color photos as above. It helps me to know if a photo works best in black and white or color. With this image, I couldn’t get the color right. To me, it lacked something, but I loved the energy. So, I decided to try black and white instead.

When converting to black and white, I always start with a preset because I find ‘Capture One’ has some great ones. The preset is used to get the image close to what I want and then I tweak to my taste. Using black and white is a savior for when the light is mostly red. Red can make for some amazing black and white photos. However, when you know you have to deliver in color, it’s great that the sound of the music drowns out your swearing at the lighting technicians!

Black & White made this image pop, and a quick crop removed the distracting photographer to create this final image.

 

I hope you found this article helpful. Unfortunately, there is no preset or magic bullet to offer, as all lighting situations are different. However, I hope you found this article helpful for editing music photography images of your own. 

As always, pop any comments below and I will do my best to answer.

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