6 Tips for a Faster Lightroom Workflow So You Can Get Back to Taking Photos!

The post 6 Tips for a Faster Lightroom Workflow So You Can Get Back to Taking Photos! appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.


Many photographers rely on Lightroom to organize, edit and share their photos. While this software has a vast array of tools to help people in several key areas, it has not always been known for speed. Recent updates and GPU acceleration have helped, but if you really want to have a faster Lightroom workflow, there are some simple things you can do to supercharge your post-processing. These aren’t hacks or plugins, but simple tweaks to Lightroom that can make your life a lot easier.

6 Tips for a Faster Lightroom Workflow So You Can Get Back to Taking Photos!

1. Apply a preset when importing images

The first thing you can do for a faster Lightroom workflow is to apply a preset when importing images.

Lightroom has a mind-boggling number of options and sliders to adjust when editing images. If you find yourself using the same types of edits on most of your pictures, you can use Presets to shave hours off your editing. Most people already know this, but you might not be aware that you can apply Presets when initially importing your files.

On the right side of the Import screen, there is an option for “Apply During Import.” Use this to select one of the many presets built into Lightroom (or select one of your own that you may have saved) and have it automatically applied to your pictures as you import them.

faster Lightroom workflow

In the screenshot above, you can also see an option called Nikon RAW import. That’s a custom preset I made that contains specific adjustments I like to apply to my Nikon RAW files, which gets me to a good starting point when editing. That alone has helped me with a faster Lightroom workflow, but applying it to a batch of photos on import is even more of a speed boost.

Don’t worry about messing anything up if you apply presets on import. Like everything else in Lightroom, they are non-destructive, meaning you can always go back and change things later.

2. Sync settings across multiple images

If you have spent any time editing multiple similar images in Lightroom, particularly from an event or photo session with clients, you have no doubt found the Copy/Paste Settings to be useful. Right-click on any image in the Develop module and choose “Develop Settings->Copy Settings…” Then check the boxes next to any (or all!) the settings you want to copy.

Finally, go to another photo, right-click, and choose “Develop Settings->Paste Settings.” Or better yet, use Ctrl+C (cmd+C on mac) and Ctrl+V (cmd+V on mac) like you would on any word processor.

faster Lightroom workflow

I shot dozens of pictures of this wasp. The Sync Settings option let me instantly edit a single image and then apply those edits to all my other images in an instant.

This process works great, but what if you want to paste your settings on to five, ten, or a hundred images? Even the fast method of using Ctrl+V starts to feel like a chore.

Fortunately, there’s a better way.

faster Lightroom workflow

Image 21 is selected, and Images 17-20 are also highlighted. After clicking the Sync… button, all the edits from 21 will be applied to 17-20.

In the Develop module, select a single picture in the filmstrip at the bottom of the screen. Then hold down the [shift] key and select more images. Finally, click the “Sync…” button to synchronize any (or all) of your edits on the original image to the rest that are selected.

When I discovered this trick, I almost fell out of my chair! I didn’t just speed up my Lightroom editing. It supercharged my editing.

3. Straighten your pictures with the Auto button

I’m always a little leery of anything that says Auto when I’m editing pictures. I don’t need my computer to do what it thinks is best – I want my computer to do what I think is best! At best, I use some Auto options, like when setting white balance on RAW files, as a rough draft that I go and refine.

However, there is one Auto setting that I have learned to use over and over again. Learning to embrace Auto for straightening my photos has saved me a lot of time and really led to an overall faster Lightroom workflow.

Image: The Auto button in the Crop & Straighten panel can really help make things go faster when...

The Auto button in the Crop & Straighten panel can really help make things go faster when you need to straighten your photos.

The reason Auto works so well for straightening images is that it doesn’t try to make a guess which affects the artistic goals of the photographer. It simply looks for straight lines such as light poles, buildings, or horizons, and then adjusts images accordingly. It works far more than I initially thought. Plus, it can really speed things up when editing in Lightroom.

faster Lightroom workflow

My tripod was askew when I shot this, but Lightroom fixed it with a simple click of the Auto button.

4. Automatically organize with smart collections

Collections in Lightroom are an easy way to organize your images. You can create as many collections as you want, and one photo can exist in multiple collections. What you may not realize is that Lightroom lets you create Smart Collections, which are populated dynamically according to rules you specify.

To create a Smart Collection, choose the + button at the top-left of the Collections panel. Then select “Create Smart Collection…” and specify your parameters for the Smart Collection.

faster Lightroom workflow

As an example of how this can lead to a faster Lightroom workflow, I create Smart Collections to sort my photos by month for an entire year. I do this each January, and for the rest of the year my photos are automatically sorted month-by-month without me having to do anything.

Image: I create Smart Collections for my personal images at the beginning of each year. My images ar...

I create Smart Collections for my personal images at the beginning of each year. My images are then sorted automatically.

These Smart Collections also do not include any photos with the keyword “PhotoSession” which I apply to all images that I take for clients. Photos with that keyword go in another set of Smart Collections that I use to keep client images separate from personal photos.

Smart Collections can contain dozens of parameters including Rating, Pick Flag, Color Label, Keyword, even metadata such as camera model or focal length. They are an incredibly powerful but very simple way to make your day-to-day Lightroom editing significantly faster.

5. Multi-Batch Export

Lightroom has long offered customizable export presets. These allow you to export photos with certain parameters specified such as file type, image size, quality setting, and even specifying custom names.

faster Lightroom workflow

New in the November 2019 update to Lightroom Classic is the option to perform a single export operation that utilizes multiple Presets. This means you no longer have to do an export operation for full-size JPGs at 100% quality, another export for low-resolution proofs at 80% quality, and so on.

Just check any boxes in the Export dialog box for the presets you want, and Lightroom will take care of the rest!

Image: The November 2019 update to Lightroom Classic lets you select multiple presets for a single e...

The November 2019 update to Lightroom Classic lets you select multiple presets for a single export operation.

This is a great way to save time when you are ready to export your images. It’s not the kind of workflow addition that will change your life, but it’s another simple but highly effective process you can utilize to shave precious minutes from your editing. And as someone who exports a lot of photos regularly, those minutes add up.

6. Cull on Lightroom Mobile

One of my favorite aspects of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan is the synchronization between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom Mobile. While the mobile version of Lightroom isn’t as full-featured as its desktop-based big brother, it does one thing incredibly well that has made a huge difference for me when editing photos for clients.

Click the checkbox next to any Collection to sync those photos with Lightroom CC. This means you can access low-resolution previews of all those images on the web, your phone, or tablet. (Note that this does not work with Smart Collections, only regular Collections.)

6 Tips for a Faster Lightroom Workflow So You Can Get Back to Taking Photos!

I don’t find Lightroom Mobile particularly useful for detailed editing, but it absolutely runs circles around the desktop version when it comes to culling operations. If you have an iPad, this could honestly change your entire approach to culling your images. It also works pretty well on other mobile devices too.

Load a picture in any collection that you have synced to Lightroom CC and then click the Star icon in the lower-right corner. This switches to a mode where you can quickly assign star ratings or flags to any picture. Tap one of the Flag or Star icons at the bottom of the screen to change the status of the image. A quick swipe of your finger will load the next image.

faster Lightroom workflow

Tap the star icon in the lower-right corner of Lightroom Mobile to quickly assign Flags and Star Ratings with a swipe of your finger.

This is all well and good, but there’s one trick here that will send your culling into overdrive.

Slide a finger up or down on the right side of the photo to change the Flag status. Slide a finger up or down on the left side to assign a Star rating. Then swipe to the next image and repeat.

All your edits on Lightroom Mobile, including Star ratings and Flag statuses, are instantly synced back to Lightroom Classic on your computer.

I’m not kidding about the speed of this operation, either.

I used to dread the culling process, but now it takes a fraction of the time it used to. A few weeks ago, I returned from a photo session with over 1,100 images. In about an hour, I was able to cull them to a fraction of that amount, thanks to Lightroom Mobile.

Image: There were hundreds of images from this session that I had to sort through. Lightroom Desktop...

There were hundreds of images from this session that I had to sort through. Lightroom Desktop makes this a burden, but Lightroom Mobile makes it a breeze.

All six of these tips have saved me a huge amount of time over the years. I hope they are useful to you as well.

If you have any other tricks or suggestions for a faster Lightroom workflow, leave them in the comments below!

The post 6 Tips for a Faster Lightroom Workflow So You Can Get Back to Taking Photos! appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Create Awesome Reflections in Photoshop with Ease (Step-by-Step Guide)

The post Create Awesome Reflections in Photoshop with Ease (Step-by-Step Guide) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.


Attractive reflections can be challenging to capture naturally in your photographs. Sometimes it’s easier to create reflections in Photoshop. You will have more control over how the photo looks and you can avoid the difficulties that photographing reflections can bring.

Often you can’t find just the right place to stand to catch the best reflection. Sometimes the light is wrong and a natural reflection will look too dark. Choosing to make reflections in Photoshop gives you much more flexibility to get the look you want.

It’s really not that difficult to do. In this article, I’ll walk you through a series of steps you can use to make a mirror image in Photoshop.

Reflections in Photoshop

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Step 1: Selecting your photo

When making reflections in Photoshop, it’s important to start out by choosing a photo that’s suitable. Not every photo will look good or natural when you make a mirror image of it.

When you’re looking for a photo to use with this technique, think about how it will look. You ideally want to use a photo where the main subject has a distinct line along where the reflection will appear.

Open your photo in Photoshop. You may need to crop the bottom of the photo to create a clean line where the reflection can be placed.

Step 2: Adjust the canvas size

You need to adjust the canvas size to make room for the reflection you will create.

Go to the top menu and select Image->Canvas Size. In the pop-up that appears in the box next to the Height option, click the drop-down and choose Percent. Make the Height percentage 200.

Click the top center of the Anchor options grid. This will force the new canvas space you are creating to appear underneath your photo.

Click OK.

Create Awesome Reflections in Photoshop with Ease (Step-by-Step Guide)

Step 3: Duplicate the layer

In the Layers panel, unlock the base layer. To do this, click on the padlock icon. Now you can duplicate this layer by going to the top menu and selecting Layer->New->Layer Via Copy.

Convert both the layers to Smart Objects by right-clicking on each of them and selecting Convert To Smart Object. Now rename both layers to make it easier to keep track of which one is which.

Reflections in Photoshop

Step 4: Position the new layer

Drag the new layer to the space you created under your main image.

Now you need to flip the lower layer. This will be your reflection. From the top menu select Edit->Transform->Flip Vertical and press Enter.

Reflections in Photoshop

Step 5: Add blur to the reflection layer

With your reflection layer selected, from the top menu select Filter->Blur->Motion Blur. Set the Angle to 90-degrees and use the Distance slider to add a suitable amount of blur. How much you add is up to you and will vary depending on the resolution of the photo you are working with. In my example, I have set it to 30.

You may need to reposition your reflection layer by nudging it up slightly if a gap has appeared between your two layers.

Create Awesome Reflections in Photoshop with Ease (Step-by-Step Guide)

Step 6: Make a new file

Duplicate your file by going to the top menu and selecting Image->Duplicate. Crop the image so you are left only with the reflection.

Delete one layer so you are left with a blank canvas. Resize the canvas to 30%, otherwise, it will be too big to manage easily. Select the paint bucket and fill the image with black.

This file you have created will be added to the reflection layer to make it look more realistic like water.

Reflections in Photoshop

Step 7: Add blur and noise for texture

From the top menu select Filter->Noise->Add Noise. Make the amount 350% and check the boxes Uniform and Monochromatic. Click OK.

Now add some blur. Select Filter->Blur->Gaussian Blur from the top menu and set the Radius to 1.5 pixels and click OK.

Create Awesome Reflections in Photoshop with Ease (Step-by-Step Guide)

Step 8: Emboss your texture

In the Channels panel click on the Red channel.

Next, go to the top menu again and select Filter->Stylize->Emboss. Set the Angle to 90, the Height to 5, and the Amount to 500. Of course, you can experiment with any of these amounts. Click OK.

Now select the Green channel and Filter->Stylize->Emboss from the top menu. Set the Angle to 0, the Height to 5, and the Amount to 500. Click OK.

Turn on all the channels by clicking RGB. Go back to your Layers Panel, right-click the layer and Convert To Smart Object.

Create Awesome Reflections in Photoshop with Ease (Step-by-Step Guide)

Step 9: Stretch the perspective of the distortion

Select Edit->Free Transform from the top menu. Right-click inside the image and select Perspective. Make sure you are zoomed out a long way so your image is small in the center of your monitor.

Click on one of the bottom corners of the frame and drag it out horizontally. This will stretch and distort the lower part of the texture. Don’t worry if it looks weird, once you incorporate it into your reflection it will make it look more natural.

Zoom back to 100%. Save this image as a .PSD where you can find it easily and name it something recognizable.

Create Awesome Reflections in Photoshop with Ease (Step-by-Step Guide)

Step 10: Make an adjustment layer on your main image

Click on the reflection layer on your main image and duplicate it by pressing Ctrl (Cmd)+j on your keyboard. Name it “Reflection Copy.” With the new layer selected (which should be above the other reflection layer), from the top menu, choose Filter->Distort->Displace. Set the vertical and horizontal scales to about 10.

You may need to alter these if it does not look good, depending on your image size and resolution. Click OK.

From the window that opens, find and select the distortion image you just created and saved. This will use the texture image as a displacement layer. If the ripple effect is too large or too small, undo that step. Redo the step again, but this time choose a higher or lower number for the displacement scale.

Experiment with this until you are satisfied with the way it looks. It’s entirely up to your taste.

Reflections in Photoshop

Step 11: Adjust the reflection

With your Reflection Copy layer selected, click on the layer mask icon, which is at the bottom of the Layers Panel. Select the Brush tool with the color set to Black and a large brush size and Hardness of 0%.

From the options panel above your image, set the brush opacity to 20%. Select your layer mask, not the main reflection layer. Paint from side to side over the top half of your reflection layer, where it meets the top layer until it looks natural.

What you are doing is erasing 20% of the distortion each time you paint. You want to make the reflection look smoother in what appears to be the distance.

Reflections in Photoshop

Step 12: Merge the reflection layers

Select both the reflection layers in the Layers Panel. Right-click on one of them and select Merge Layers. Make sure your main image is not selected. You should now have one reflection layer and your main layer.

Step 13: Darken the reflection

With the reflection layer selected, go to your top menu and choose Image->Adjustments->Curves. Click in the middle of the curves adjustment line and drag it down to darken the reflection. Adjust it until it looks natural. A reflection in water is typically darker than the scene it’s reflecting.

Reflections in Photoshop


Follow through these steps a few times and experiment with the variables. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Your personal preference and the photos you choose will determine the outcome.

You will find reflections in Photoshop look better on some images than on others.

Try out this technique for making reflections in Photoshop, and share your images with us in the comments below!

The post Create Awesome Reflections in Photoshop with Ease (Step-by-Step Guide) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

HEIF Files: Do They Mean the End of the JPEG Format?

The post HEIF Files: Do They Mean the End of the JPEG Format? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

HEIF files

During a recent meeting about the recently announced Canon 1D X Mark III with Digital Camera World, Canon product intelligence specialist David Parry dropped a bombshell:

“We’ve moved on to HEIF files,” Parry said.

While Canon later walked back the statement, claiming that they “have no plans to abandon JPEGs,” but instead wish to “give users a new image option” in the Canon 1D X Mark III, the comment got plenty of people talking. And the reason is clear: If Canon is adopting HEIF files alongside its JPEGs, might we soon see the company scrap JPEGs entirely? And what about Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, and Olympus?

In other words, does Canon’s move to HEIF files signal the end of JPEGs?

For photographers who have been using JPEGs for decades, this might come as a shock. While HEIF files have been in the media for the past couple of years, ever since Apple added them to their iOS devices and Macs, no major camera manufacturer has adopted HEIF files – until now.

And while some users may dismiss HEIF files as another overhyped “JPEG killer” which will disappear in a few years, there is reason to believe that HEIF files are here to stay.

To understand why, let’s take a closer look at HEIF files and what they offer over JPEGs.

HEIF files vs JPEGs

The biggest difference between HEIF files and JPEGs is their respective file sizes:

JPEGs are small, but HEIF files are tiny.

In fact, HEIF files are often billed as half the size of JPEGs, but with the same (or better) quality. This means that you can store far more HEIF files on a device than you can JPEGs, without a loss in quality.

How is this possible?

Simply put, compression has improved. JPEG files debuted way back in the 1990s, whereas HEIF is a relatively new image file format. So when it comes to compression, what a JPEG can do, a HEIF file can do better.

And this results in smaller files with limited quality loss.

Compression isn’t the only area where HEIF files shine. HEIF files can also store more color information than JPEGs, which means that your HEIF photos will look better, and can avoid the unpleasant color-banding effects that sometimes come with JPEGs.

And what about compatibility? Surely JPEGs are far more established than HEIF files, given their universal popularity?

Back in 2017, when Apple adopted HEIF files, this was a real discussion. Some applications couldn’t deal with HEIF files, and that was a problem.

But now, two years later…

HEIF files can be used by pretty much any program you’d need. The compatibility issues are gone, and we’re left with a file format that just seems all-around superior to JPEGs.

So while JPEGs are the file format of the present and the past, HEIF files are likely the format of the future.

Now I’d like to know your thoughts:

Do you think HEIF files will replace JPEGs? And how do you feel about this change? Share your thoughts in the comments below! And respond to our poll regarding whether you’re happy about the shift to HEIF files: 

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

The post HEIF Files: Do They Mean the End of the JPEG Format? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

10 Awesome Photoshop CC Tricks You Wish You Knew

The post 10 Awesome Photoshop CC Tricks You Wish You Knew appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.


All photographers want their photos to look fantastic and part of the path to great images is the post-processing. You can do so much with the right tools if you know how to use them well. Photoshop is such an amazing tool for photographers. The more you use it the more you find that it can do. The more you realize you have to study to be able to make the most of it. In this article, I will share with you ten cool Photoshop CC tricks I love using when I work on my photos in Adobe Photoshop.

1. Photoshop search

10 Awesome Photoshop CC Tricks You Wish You Knew

Photoshop articles like this or video tutorials often suggest tools to use that you may not be familiar with. It’s easy enough to remember the tool but forget its location within photoshop. This is where the Photoshop search comes in helpful.

Up in the top right of the main photoshop window, you will find a search icon. Click on it to search not only to find that tool you want but other things too. You can also search for tutorials, Lightroom and Adobe stock images.

2. Manage keyboard shortcuts

10 Awesome Photoshop CC Tricks You Wish You Knew

When working with any complicated software, it pays to learn at least some of the keyboard shortcuts. Knowing the shortcuts for the tools you use the most will help speed up your workflow.

In photoshop you have the capacity to customize your keyboard shortcuts. It’s easy enough to do. If you’ve been using photoshop for a while you will know which tools you use often and will want to know the shortcuts.

To find them, all you need to do is go to the top menu and select Edit->Keyboard Shortcuts. This opens up a window where you’ll see all the information you need to learn the shortcuts and change them.

Most keys and many combinations have shortcuts assigned. These can be customized to suit your working style.

One key that has no default shortcut assigned is the ‘n’ key. You can assign your favorite tool to it without disrupting any of the other shortcut keys.

3. Temporary tool select

Another helpful trick that aids smooth workflow is being able to temporarily select a tool.

Say you’re working on an image with the Burn tool and you see a small blemish you want to remove with the Clone tool. You can simply press and hold the ‘s’ key to select the Clone tool. Once you’ve removed the blemish, release the ‘s’ key and your cursor will revert back to the Burn tool.

This can be used with most keyboard shortcuts.

4. Open the same image in two windows


Opening the same image document in two windows gives you some great flexibility. You can have one instance of the file zoomed and be working on the details and the other showing the entire frame. This lets you see the changes you make in the detailed view as they happen in the full-frame window also.

To open two image documents, go to ‘Window’ in the top menu and select Arrange->New Window for [the file name of the opened file]. Click on this file, and a new instance of the file will open. Now you can select Window->Arrange and select the display option you prefer. Here I have selected to show 2-up Vertical.

This trick is very cool if you are working with two or more monitors.

5. Creating selections of Highlights and Shadows


Selecting only the highlights or dark areas of an image can give you more control when making certain adjustments.

To do this, choose the type of adjustment you want to make. For this example, I have added a Curve Adjustment Layer. This is from the menu at the bottom of the Layers panel. Once I have the new adjustment layer, I then delete the layer mask.

Here’s where the magic happens. Press Ctrl+Alt+2 (Cmd+Opt+2 on Mac) and all the bright pixels will be selected. When you click on the Curves icon in the Layers panel, you will not only be making adjustments to the brightest pixels. In the Properties panel of the mask, you can choose to invert the selection and work on the darker pixels.

6. Pen tool tips


Learning to use the Pen tool in photoshop is frustrating for many people. At first, it can be difficult to make the line go where you want it to. Here are some tweaks you can make so your learning curve is not so steep.

When you have the Pen tool selected, click the Cog icon on the top menu. Here you can alter the settings for how the line looks and responds. You can determine the weight and color of the line. This can be helpful in allowing you to see where you’re drawing more easily.

Probably the most helpful aspect of the Pen tool settings is the Rubber Band checkbox. With this setting active, you can see where your line is as you draw. This allows you to see where your line will be in real-time. Without the Rubber Band box checked, you will not see where your line will be drawn until you click on a point.

Two more helpful tips with the Pen tool are:

  1. Use the spacebar as you click. Hold the spacebar to allow you to place the point precisely where you want it to be.
  2. Once your line is complete, use Alt+Click to modify the handles on a point so you can alter the curve of the line.

7. Select colors from any application

10 Awesome Photoshop CC Tricks You Wish You Knew

Matching a color you want to use in photoshop with a color in another program or app is easy and can be very useful. Pulling the same color and applying it to text, a brush or fill means you can precisely color match what you are working on.

Shrink your photoshop window and place it over the area you want to select the color from. Simply select the tool for how you want to apply the color. In my example, I want to fill the background of my logo with a specific color from a photo on my website. Click and hold the Alt key as you drag your mouse to hover over the color you want to match.

When you release your mouse, Photoshop will use it as the selected foreground color. Now you can apply it as you wish.

8. Control Color Luminosity


By creating a new black and white Adjustment Layer and setting the Blend mode to Luminosity, you can darken or brighten each color in your image. Simple drag the slider for each color you want to adjust until you are satisfied with its luminosity.

9. Transparency using ‘Blend If’

10 Awesome Photoshop CC Tricks You Wish You Knew

The ‘Blend If’ mode is a powerful tool when you know how to use it. Selecting and manipulating layers using the Blend If functions allow you to alter the luminosity or color channel of a layer.

In this example, I wanted to eliminate the black background from my logo and replace it with an image. The image is on the layer underneath my logo. Bring up the Layer Style panel by double-clicking on the layer you want to work on. With the Blend If mode set to Gray, use the slider below it to remove the darker or lighter pixels. In this example, I have moved the slider on the left towards the right to take out the black background of the logo.

Making the altered layer a Smart Object will make those hidden pixels transparent for even more flexibility.

10. Non-destructive Spot Healing Brush

10 Awesome Photoshop CC Tricks You Wish You Knew

Adding a new layer above the image you are working on allows you to work non-destructively with the Spot Healing Brush. Often with highly textured images, the Spot Healing Brush provides an unsatisfactory result. Adding an extra blank layer gives you more flexibility.

The key to making this work is to ensure you check the Sample All Layers checkbox in the top menu bar.


I hope there are a few new tips and tricks on this list of Photoshop CC tricks that you can find helpful. As with all things Photoshop, everyone works differently. There are also many ways to reach the same end result.

If you know of some other cool Photoshop CC tips or tricks let us know what they are in the comments below.

The post 10 Awesome Photoshop CC Tricks You Wish You Knew appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

10 of the Most Useful Photoshop CC Shortcuts

The post 10 of the Most Useful Photoshop CC Shortcuts appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.


Learning photography well requires a lot of study and practice. Figuring out what the dials and buttons on your camera do takes time and focus. Choosing what to photograph and how you want it to look is challenging for many photographers.

Once you’ve taken some photos, another challenge to face is how to get them looking their best. This is where you need to learn a whole new set of computer skills. The more particular you are about the way your photos end up, the better post processor you need to become.


Adobe makes two of the most popular photography post-processing programs. Lightroom and Photoshop have been industry standards for many years. As the software develops, it becomes more and more complex. There are many built-in tools to make the user experience more fun. But to make use of them you will need to study and practice.

Photoshop CC Shortcuts

Making the most of your keyboard is about the best way to ensure not only greater speed, but more enjoyment when using Photoshop. The software has many cool shortcut keys that speed up your workflow. They also help you maintain unbroken concentration when you are working on a photograph.

With so many shortcuts, it’s not practical to sit down and learn them all at once. Looking at them in the software does little to inspire. This is why I’ve come up with a list of ten Photoshop CC shortcuts that I think you will find helpful.

From time to time, I make a point of learning a few more. I’ll search for five to ten shortcuts and make a list. I place this next to my computer monitor and refer to it when Photoshopping.

If you’re not used to using keyboard shortcuts with Photoshop, they might seem a bit fiddly at first. Like learning to touch type, the more you practice, the easier it becomes, and the less you have to think about where you are putting your fingers. Learning to use shortcut keys in Photoshop is a similar experience, but you can easily break it down and learn a few at a time.

1. Clone Stamp Tweaks

The clone stamp is one of the most used tools in Photoshop. It’s powerful and flexible to do everything from removing small blemishes to recreating whole portions of a composition. Here’s a couple of keyboard shortcuts that make it even more useful.

Use Alt+Shift+arrows (Opt+Shift+arrows on Mac) to offset the selection area.

Alt+Shift+<> (Opt+Shift+<> on Mac) rotates the selection

Using [] scales the source.

These shortcuts only work when you have a North American keyboard selected in your operating system.


2. Last-Used Filter

When you’re processing batches of images, you’ll often want to repeatedly use the same filter. To apply the previously used filter, use Ctrl+F (Cmd+F on Mac). Reapply the last filter used, but display dialog box to alter settings use Ctrl–Alt–F (Cmd+Opt+F on Mac)


3. Lock Transparent Pixels

In Photoshop, using the / key locks transparent pixels. This is helpful when painting or compositing. Working on a layer with transparent pixels, you will avoid affecting them using the keyboard shortcut.

10 of the Most Useful Photoshop CC Shortcuts

4. Color Fills

Use Shift+Alt+Backspace (Shift+Opt+Backspace on Mac). This fills opaque pixels on a layer with the foreground color. Shift+Ctrl+Backspace (Shift+Cmd+Backspace on Mac) fills with the background color.


5. Marquee Tool Tweak

Drawing a marquee by default happens from the edge. To draw a marquee selection from center Alt+drag (Opt+drag on Mac)selection.

10 of the Most Useful Photoshop CC Shortcuts

6. Selection Help

To bring back a selection you deselected, use Ctrl+Shift+D (Cmd+Shift+D on Mac). This will restore the last active selection. It is super helpful if you deselect and then notice something else you need to alter.


7. Layer Mask Speed

Ctrl+\ (Cmd+\ on Mac) switches between Layer and Layer Mask Ctrl+2 (Cmd+2 on Mac) to switch back. This is a pure workflow time saver. It allows you to keep your mouse active on the image rather than dragging it back and forth to the layers panel.

10 of the Most Useful Photoshop CC Shortcuts

8. Brush Tool Cursor

With the Brush Tool selected hitting the Caps Lock shows only the cross-hair cursor. This allows you to position your cursor more precisely. It’s also a good shortcut to know how to undo. If you’ve inadvertently turned caps lock on while using the Brush Tool, you may wonder why you can only see a crosshair. Hit the caps lock again, and your normal cursor will reappear.


9. Revert to Last Saved

F12 reverts the file to the last saved instance of it. This is a quick and easy way to review changes you are making to an image.

10 of the Most Useful Photoshop CC Shortcuts

10. Screen Space Savers

F keys to show/Hide panels. Memorizing these keyboard shortcuts will give you so much more screen space to use. If you are confined to a single monitor, making use of these shortcuts can change the way you use Photoshop.

F5 – Show/Hide Brushes panel

F6 – Show/Hide Color panel

F7 – Show/Hide Layers panel

F8 – Show/Hide Info panel

Alt–F9 – Show/Hide Actions panel

10 of the Most Useful Photoshop CC Shortcuts


I suggest you use this list as a starting point. Not all these shortcuts will be helpful for everyone. Think about the actions you use repetitively when using Photoshop and search to discover if there are keyboard shortcuts to make your life simpler.

Making a note and keeping it near your computer will help you commit these shortcuts to memory. Once you have them, do some more research and make another list of shortcuts you’d like to learn. Making a concerted effort and being consistent with using these shortcuts, you will learn them quickly.

There are over 500 keyboard shortcuts for Photoshop. Master these, and then you can also customize your own.

If you’ve got a few favorite shortcuts you think others may not be aware of, please share them in the comments below.


The post 10 of the Most Useful Photoshop CC Shortcuts appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How to Use Photoshop Blending Modes for Fine Art Portraiture

The post How to Use Photoshop Blending Modes for Fine Art Portraiture appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.


Layering images experimentally in photoshop can be an exciting way to bring a fine art feel to your photography. It is spontaneous and unpredictable, with different outcomes each time.

The layering technique I talk about in this article is a way you can explore and get inspired by the work of Victorian art photographers like Julia Margaret Cameron. They would have used long exposures because of the limitation of their cameras, which added a dream-like quality to their images.

Instead of long exposures, I have used multiple images shot of the same subject, layering them and using Photoshop blending modes. It gives a different kind of ethereal feeling to the images which you can use on any subject, not just portraits.

Start with a portrait

Your portrait doesn’t have to be sophisticated, but it should be able to be repeated over a dozen shots or so. I opted for simple natural window light, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t use flash instead.


The image I found worked best was one with strong colors and features with a simple background. I opted to take inspiration from Julia Margaret Cameron’s photography by using simple historical clothes, and an instantly recognizable prop.

You want to try to end up with a dozen or so slightly different images of your subject. Take far more images than you need so that you have lots of choices when it comes to selecting images for your layering effect.

Between each shot, ask your subject to move just a small amount – perhaps their head or their hands, but just a fraction. Try to avoid any dramatic pose changes.

Layering the images in Photoshop

When it comes to selecting images and editing them, there are many different software packages and options. I’m going to talk about how I use Lightroom Classic and Photoshop to achieve this effect. Even within these two software packages, there are other ways you can accomplish the same effect. As long as you end up with a photograph that you love, then you haven’t done anything wrong!

I start by importing my images into Lightroom Classic and then selecting the ten or so images that will make up the layers of my final image. At this point, I try to choose a ‘base’ image that will be at the bottom of the layer stack in Photoshop and will show through the strongest. Generally, this is my favorite image out of the set.

How to Use Photoshop Blending Modes for Fine Art Portraiture

When you’ve got your images selected in Lightroom Classic in the Develop module, open the ‘Photo’ menu and select ‘Open as Layers in Photoshop.’

This will save you having to manually stack all of the images together. You’ll end up with a single file open in Photoshop with all of your selected images placed on layers.

How to Use Photoshop Blending Modes for Fine Art Portraiture

The next stage is to place your ‘hero’ image (the one that you want to show through the most) at the bottom of the layer stack by dragging and dropping it. Then select all the layers above and reduce their opacity.

Playing with Photoshop Blending Modes

This is when it starts to get interesting. Playing with the different photoshop blending modes for the layers will give you all kinds of different results. Dark images will suit different blending modes to lighter images. You can check out a comprehensive guide to photoshop blending modes here!

You’ll want to turn down the opacity of the layers quite far so that the original ‘hero’ image shows though. The other layers should then become more of a fuzzy halo rather than a focal point for the shot.


Once you’ve found a blending mode and opacity that looks good, you can start to fine-tune the image.

Begin by identifying parts of the images that don’t really work, and work out which layer they’re on. Then create layer masks and use a black paintbrush to gently fade those unwanted parts away.

I decided to remove almost all of the layers from the face of my subject since it was a portrait, and I wanted to be able to see her clearly. I also took away some distracting echos of hands, which I felt made the final image stronger. Since you’re working using layer masks, you can always undo any of your choices at this stage – just simply paint over the bits you want to see again on the layer mask with a white paintbrush!

How to Use Photoshop Blending Modes for Fine Art Portraiture

As you can see from my layer masks, they don’t have to be neat. Just use a fairly large brush with soft edges and a low opacity and you won’t be able to see the brushstrokes of your mask in the final image.

Finishing your image

Once you’re happy with the basic image you’ve achieved through layering, I’d suggest saving a copy of your work. Then you can experiment further with different techniques.


Once I’d saved my image in Photoshop, I closed it and went back to Lightroom Classic to work on the shot further. Here, I simply changed the toning of the image slightly with a preset and applied some sharpening to key areas of the picture.

The result was a warmth that always makes me think of Old Masters paintings in galleries. Together with the effect of the layers, it creates a rather painterly fine art image.


But, of course, there’s absolutely no harm in processing the same image in a different way. This is one of the reasons I love Lightroom Classic – you can create virtual copies of a single shot and work on them all differently!


This variation I processed in Nik Analog Efex Pro 2, which you can use straight from the Lightroom Classic interface in the same way that you can take photos to Photoshop. The software itself is very similar to Lightroom Classic with its adjustment panels on each side but instead specializes in replicating old film effects.

It is a great way to create an image that pays homage to the great Victorian art photographers.

You could get a similar effect by layering wet plate textures and dust and scratch layers in Photoshop before adding a black and white conversion.

There are many ways to get all these different effects – please try some and post your results in the comments. I’d love to see what you did with this technique and how you achieved it!

The post How to Use Photoshop Blending Modes for Fine Art Portraiture appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

Review of PhotoWorks: a Fresh and Fast Photo Editor for PC

The post Review of PhotoWorks: a Fresh and Fast Photo Editor for PC appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

PhotoWorks is an image editor with a fresh, clean interface and a set of tools that work intelligently to get the best from your photos. It helps you turn drab files into spectacular pictures within a few clicks – sometimes only one! The software’s Portrait Magic technology uses face recognition to add expert retouching edits to your photos. A host of other handy features make the PhotoWorks photo editor for PC an enticing proposition.

PhotoWorks interface

The histogram is a constant when you edit in PhotoWorks. It’s good to see a program that knows its value.

Who’s it for?

Automatic photo editing is the forte of PhotoWorks, but the software doesn’t do everything. It doesn’t offer the huge toolbox that many other programs do, with so much thrown in that you have to rummage endlessly to find what you want. It’s designed for ease of use and speed, which will appeal to beginners and casual photographers but might catch the eye of a few veterans, too.


The clean, minimalistic interface of PhotoWorks. All edits are memorized by the software, so they’re non-destructive.

In this review, I’ll look at everything PhotoWorks has to offer. I feel like I’ll enjoy it because this photo editing software for PC isn’t an unwieldy monster with innumerable needless features. PhotoWorks seems knowable from the first time you open it. You can jump in without facing a steep learning curve, though there are good tutorials available online if you need help. Let’s see what it can do.

Opening raw files

Raw files are always an obvious place to start when reviewing a photo editor for PC. Can PhotoWorks handle them? It’s not billed as a raw processor, but it does open most proprietary raw files in addition to Adobe’s standard DNG files.

When you open raw files in PhotoWorks, you have the option of applying one of six profiles to them: Default, Auto Enhancement, Landscape, Portrait, Sunny Day or Black & White. With the Default profile, all the settings in PhotoWorks are zeroed when you open the file, whereas the others are Presets with adjusted sliders.

photoworks-photo-editor-for-pc - raw conversion

You’re presented with six starting points when opening raw files. The default conversion opens automatically on the page.

PhotoWorks is really a pixel editor. It converts individual raw files quickly and the quality is okay – good, even – but problems like chromatic aberration (CA) and chroma noise are present if you examine images at 100%. Should you view images at 100%? Only if you’re creating big prints or trying to impress third parties with technical quality. And if you’re doing that, you may not belong to the target market for this software, though PhotoWorks has potentially wide appeal.

chomatic abberation - CA

PhotoWorks does not currently fix chromatic aberration or purple fringing. If you’re the type of photographer who scrutinizes image quality and needs impeccable files, you could run them through a dedicated raw converter first.

By pairing PhotoWorks with a separate raw processor (e.g. RawTherapee, Darktable), “serious” photographers could have the basis of an efficient workflow. That’d be good for, say, wedding photographers, who would also benefit from the software’s intelligent retouching capabilities. We’ll look at those in more detail later, but for now, it suffices to say they’re good.

Saving the PhotoWorks way

Not long after firing up PhotoWorks, you’ll notice there’s no way to close images. This is unusual, to say the least, but it’s another form of streamlining. You can save edited files and move onto the next image. Your edits are stored, even if you move on without saving, and you have the option of resuming them or starting afresh when you go back to the file. This is true even if you close the program. Edits are non-destructive.

Both Save and Fast Export let you export a separate copy of the edited file in the format of your choice, the main difference being that you choose the format beforehand with Fast Export. You can select from JPEG, TIFF (8-bit compressed), PNG and BMP.


The Enhancement tab is where you make changes to color and tone in your image. It includes an Auto Correction feature that aims to transform your photos in a single click, but you can alter its effect if you want. For instance, let’s say you’re already happy with the tonal range but would like more color, you could switch off the dynamic range and add vibrance to Auto Correction. Plus, there’s a slider that adjusts the strength of the auto effect.

PhotoWorks image enhancement

PhotoWorks includes a blue sky enhancement, which makes it easy to deepen the blue of the sky whilst also warming the photo up. Those two edits are normally at odds with each other.

Most of the color and tone sliders you’d expect to find in top-end software are in the Enhancement section of PhotoWorks under the Main tab. They give you as much manual control as you want. The workspace is so tidily laid out that it puts some established photo-editing brands to shame. The design is thoughtful and user-friendly, and it makes you want to linger. You even get to suggest features you’d like to see.

Two more tabs under Enhancement are Colors and Sharpness. The first lets you adjust hue, saturation, lightness (HSL) and color balance. The Sharpen tool is basically an unsharp mask, and there’s a blur section where you could create dreamy soft-focus effects or counteract over-sharpening. It’s all useful stuff, and the confusing terminology is notably left out.


A slightly de-sharpened image focuses attention on form rather than detail. That’s where the PhotoWorks Blur tool is useful. It works well with busy compositions.


Move along to the Tools tab in PhotoWorks and a carefully selected set of powerful tools reveals itself to the right of the screen. There are not a hundred little tool icons as with complex programs. Some of the tools, like Curves or Tone Mapping, offer an alternative and perhaps more advanced way of working with your pictures. Seasoned photographers will be familiar with these features.


The PhotoWorks crop tool includes a modern set of aspect ratio presets that fit today’s devices or social media pages perfectly. Of course, you can also use the original aspect ratio, choose a different ratio or crop the photo freely. There’s nothing much missing here. You can rotate the picture, which helps get horizons level or to achieve the most effective composition.

AMS Software, the creator of PhotoWorks, also offers a choice of grid overlays to assist you with composition when cropping. For example, you can choose a Rule of Thirds or Golden Ratio grid to help you decide what to include and where. My only slight gripe here is that the grid lines are often a little hard to see: maybe a different color or opacity control would help.

the golden spiral crop composition

The Golden Spiral crop grid in PhotoWorks.

Geometry (correcting perspective and distortion)

You can correct the perspective of architectural photos using the Geometry tools in PhotoWorks. Like in most photo editors for computers, there’s no auto adjustment, so you have to alter the vertical and/or horizontal perspective yourself using the sliders, but this is generally an easy task.

correcting lens distortion

In this pic, you can clearly see the effects of lens distortion on the window frame. In the inset, I’ve corrected it using the distortion slider.

Correcting optical aberrations such as pincushion or barrel distortion is also possible in this section. Some programs will do this for you with the help of lens profiles, but you can do it easily yourself with the assistance of the included grid and distortion slider.

Change background

PhotoWorks makes it easy to change the background of your photo, so if you want to transplant a better sky or create a composite picture, you can. The process of separating the subject from its background is simple. You draw a green line with the object brush, a red line with the background brush, and then you let the software work its magic. Typically, you need to refine the edge a bit using the same brushes, which could become labor-intensive with intricate subjects. For many photos, the process works fine. There’s even a choice of free-to-use pictures you can add as backgrounds, or you can upload your own.

PhotoWorks - change background

The Change Background feature in PhotoWorks separates subjects from their background with ridiculous ease. I’m not sure there’s enough finesse for complex selections (e.g. fur or fine strands of hair), but there’s a lot of fun to be had.


The vignetting tool lets you correct vignetting that occurs naturally with your lens. You can brighten edges and corners for even exposure. It also lets you add a vignette as a creative effect, focusing the viewer’s attention more on the subject of the picture. This photo editor for PC provides all the controls you need to fine-tune this edit.

3D LUT Color Correction

Color LUTs might just as accurately be called “special effects” since they remap the color of your photos to create a different look. PhotoWorks offers a nice built-in selection of them as well as letting you upload your own in the form of cube files. You can’t save your own LUTs within the software, hence you can’t preview them either, but I’m glad to see this feature in PhotoWorks.

PhotoWorks review - color LUTs

This is the “Drama” color LUT. Interestingly, it compresses the tonal range. In doing so, maybe it makes the viewer feel more hemmed in and on edge.

Tone Mapping & Curves

PhotoWorks includes tone mapping and curves tools for controlling color and tone. Tone mapping lets you overlay a color or texture. You could apply a color to a black-and-white image here for a duotone effect. The curves tool adjusts contrast, changes color temperature, and tint and even corrects color if you use the individual RGB curves.

PhotoWorks - tone mapping

A black & white photo turned into a duotone (i.e. a mix of black and blue) using the Tone Mapping tool in PhotoWorks.

Noise Reduction and Grain

There are tools for reducing digital noise or adding film-like grain in PhotoWorks. This photo editing software for PC doesn’t separate color noise from luminance noise, which would be a nice feature for more advanced photographers. But it will smooth and improve the look of high ISO photos.

The film-grain effect is generally better looking than digital noise in photos. You can add that to give your photos an authentic retro look from the days of analog photography.


Some of the headlining features of PhotoWorks fall under its Retouch section. The software harnesses the power of face recognition technology to automatically enhance portraits. You can use its Portrait Magic or Face Sculpt technology to retouch faces and show your subjects at their best.

Portrait Magic

A remarkable feature of PhotoWorks is its Portrait Magic feature, which lets you automatically or manually remove blemishes and enhance portraits. Its toolset includes the following:

  • Skin smoothing
  • Control over redness (improve blotchy skin)
  • Skin tone
  • Eyes (sharpness, contrast, remove dark circles)
  • Eyebrows (sharpness, contrast)
  • Lips (sharpness, contrast, hue, saturation, luminance & glare)
  • Teeth (whiteness)
PhotoWorks portrait magic

It may be hard to see the difference here, but Portrait Magic is good at damping down glare on the skin (aka “face shine”). There are many quick fixes to choose from as well as full manual control. (Image: Pexels)

Even if you know how to fix these things already, this technology saves time. It’s easy to imagine it being useful to pro portrait and wedding photographers. The best results are achieved by addressing issues one-by-one, but there’s a set of quick-fix buttons available to speed things up. You have to be careful with it because the software isn’t infallible. For instance, a pair of glasses get in the way of removing dark circles accurately.

Portrait Magic is so good that you could buy this software for that alone. It’s a great photo editor app for pc or laptop.

Face Sculpt

Just when you thought you’d seen amazing things with Portrait Magic, along comes Face Sculpt. Move a slider and watch the software identify and alter a specific part of the face. You can do these things manually in Photoshop using warp tools and the like, but boy is it easy with PhotoWorks: a deft picture editor and retoucher in one.

PhotoWorks - face sculpt

I’ve done nothing to this photo except turn a hint of a smile into a stronger hint. Like Portrait Magic, Face Sculpt is a powerful tool that can totally transform a portrait. The technology behind it is remarkably precise. Subtle edits often work best. (Original image: Pixabay)

Maybe we should all just accept the way we look, but contrary to popular belief, the camera does lie. It’s easy to take an unflattering portrait because of technical reasons, whether it’s an unflattering camera angle, harsh lighting, poor timing or lens distortion. PhotoWorks lets you remedy such problems.

Face Sculpt enables you to reshape or resize eyes, noses, mouths, eyebrows, and the face itself. You can even turn a frown into a smile. Used subtly, it creates different versions of the truth rather than outright lies. And if it helps the subject feel good about themselves, that can’t be a bad thing.

Healing and Cloning Tools

Healing and Cloning tools in PhotoWorks are also first rate. The clone stamp auto-samples from a similar area and gives you the option of changing the sample location. It’s quick and efficient, and no intervention is usually necessary. The Healing Brush is even faster for fixing small blemishes (e.g. dust spots).

Adjustment Brush

There aren’t any layers in PhotoWorks, but you can carry out local edits with the adjustment brush. Users of Lightroom will be familiar with the concept. Color, tone, and sharpness can all be selectively adjusted anywhere on the image. You can also deal with chromatic aberration by brushing neatly over edges and turning Saturation down, though a dedicated tool would be better.

PhotoWorks - adjustment brush

It’s out of fashion, I know, but here’s a quick demo of selective coloring with the Adjustment Brush on PhotoWorks. This Lightroom-style feature offers infinite possibilities without being as daunting to beginners as layers are.

Graduated Filter and Radial Filter

The Graduated Filter and Radial Filter offer alternative ways of making local adjustments to one or more parts of an image. Whether it’s tone, color or sharpness you’re adjusting, these retouching tools make it easy to emphasize your subject. You can also even up your exposures (e.g. the classic dark foreground and bright sky) and bring out shadow detail. Characteristically, these features are neatly designed and easy to use in PhotoWorks.

graduated filters post processing

Two graduated filters are in play here – one to brighten and warm up the lower half of the photo and another to reduce exposure in the sky a little.

Special Effects

With over 150 special effects to choose from, PhotoWorks gives you plenty of ways to interpret each photo. In the Special Effects section of the software, you can add any effect you like and then adapt it to suit your tastes if you want. Hitting the “Apply” button takes you over to the Enhancements area of the software, where you can tweak color, tone, and sharpness.

Image: A quite pleasing special effect to my eye (Faded Photo -1) and one of over 150 special effect...

A quite pleasing special effect to my eye (Faded Photo -1) and one of over 150 special effects available in PhotoWorks.

I personally like adding textures to photos, so it was good to find a few textured effects among the collection. There is also a Quick Enhancements selection, which gives further opportunity for one-click fixing. You can favorite effects so they’re easy to find later on.

A Photographic Films section attempts to replicate the look of various classic films. It’s fun to play around with these effects, which you could find yourself using again and again in some cases.

Captions (add text and stickers)

Whatever you normally do with your photos, there might come a time when you want to add text to them. Maybe you’re making a Christmas card or designing a flyer. You could be creating memes for social media and entertaining your friends. PhotoWorks photo editor app for PC includes a versatile set of tools to help you create the text you want in the font, color, and style of your choice. A sticker collection lets you add cartoon-like captioning for extra fun.

Review of PhotoWorks: a Fresh and Fast Photo Editor for PC


Beneath the minimalistic surface, PhotoWorks offers a powerful set of tools that are easy to use regardless of your level. The way the software exploits face recognition technology is magical, indeed.

There are a few nuts-and-bolts things I would like to see in PhotoWorks, such as chromatic aberration removal, more nuanced noise reduction and an exposure warning to help with histogram adjustments (aka levels). The ability to export 16-bit TIFFs would be nice. At some point, though, if you keep adding stuff, the program ends up complex like many others and loses its streamlined appeal.

Design-wise, PhotoWorks positively gleams. It has a beautifully clean interface, uses simple terminology that everyone can understand, and gets a lot of work done with minimal effort. Whether you use it alone or alongside other photo editors for PC, it’s definitely worth a look.

You can download a free trial version and explore the features of the program yourself. Or use the exclusive coupon for dPS readers to purchase PhotoWorks at a 50% discount now!

Disclaimer: PhotoWorks is a paid dPS partner.



The post Review of PhotoWorks: a Fresh and Fast Photo Editor for PC appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

Loupedeck+ Review – the Perfect Editing Companion for Lightroom and Premiere?

The post Loupedeck+ Review – the Perfect Editing Companion for Lightroom and Premiere? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Loupedeck+ Review - the Perfect Editing Companion for Lightroom and Premiere?

There is something undeniably cool about Hollywood editing studios. I remember seeing one in a magazine as a child and wanting to play with it. Thinking how cool it would be to figure out what all the dials did and edit Hollywood Blockbusters. I never made it in Hollywood, but I can remember my first editing console. Purchased from the high street, it allowed me to link 2 VCR players and have a fade and wipe slider for video. It even had an audio fader that allowed me to (surprisingly) fade audio. At the time it was amazing! I made a lot of skateboard videos using that console.

Obviously we’ve moved to digital everything, but there is something about using knobs and dials to edit that I have always liked. So, when I was given the opportunity to try the Loupedeck+, I jumped at the chance to get hands-on with it. 

What is it?

Simply put, Loupedeck+ is a keyboard-sized photo editing console. The main editing functions are controlled via a series of knobs and buttons.

Loupedeck started life on Indiegogo. The initial Loupedeck was marketed as a photo editing console just for Lightroom. With the Loupedeck+, however, it has become much more than that. The new version has support for several different software platforms too.

This device is still aimed primarily at Adobe users, with support for most of the Creative Suite. There is also support for Apple’s Final Cut and Aurora HDR and is also currently in Beta testing with Capture One Pro, which is my preferred choice of photo editor.

Out of the box

In terms of looks, it is beautifully packaged. However, that doesn’t mean anything if the product itself is not up to scratch. The Loupedeck however, definitely is. Although fully plastic, everything is solid and feels like it will survive long term usage. The only exception to this is the control dial, which does feel a little flimsy compared to the rest of the device.

In terms of the buttons, when making notes, I put down that they are squishy but solid. I still think that’s the best way to describe them. There is also a nice little detail for the cable to connect the Loupedeck. There are grooves that allow you to place it to work with how your computer is setup. It’s not a deal-breaker, but attention to detail like this tends to show the makers care about the end-user. 


The Loupedeck+ is well built apart from the control dial. It just feels a little flimsy. However, in use, it has been flawless so far.

Getting set up 

Once you have unpackaged your Loupedeck, the next stage is setting it up. To do this, you need to install the Loupedeck software. This is a simple download from the Loupedeck website, which then allows you to customize the Loupedeck to your specific editing preferences.

I have left it is standard for now, but I can definitely see me looking into this again to fine-tune it to how I edit.

Once you have the software installed, it is as simple as choosing which software you want to use the Loupedeck with and off you go. Loupedeck has a series of guides for each piece of software that it is compatible with. I recommend having these on hand, especially when using software other than Lightroom. Even with Lightroom though, it is worth having nearby to see what extras you may find yourself reaching for.

The fact that the user guide for Lightroom alone is 31 pages tells you what level of customization is possible.

Image: To get started with Loupedeck+ you need to download the software from the Loupedeck website....

To get started with Loupedeck+ you need to download the software from the Loupedeck website. Once installed, choose your software and away you go.

The learning curve

The learning curve is in two parts; getting used to the Loupedeck from your usual editing routine, and how Loupedeck reduces the learning curve of the software.

To test this, I got my wife to use Loupedeck to work on a wedding we had recently shot. She normally helps make picks, but she has very limited editing experience. She can just about manage to tweak exposure a little, but that’s it.

I put her at the Loupedeck and asked her to try and edit images she thought needed work. After about 2 minutes of me explaining the device, she started. Two more minutes passed before she explained how brilliant it was.

By removing the need to search through the menus (of Capture One in our case), she was able to edit photos easily and without needing constant reminders of the locations of buttons or sliders. It made her experiment more, and within an hour, she felt completely confident using the Loupedeck.

For beginners, this will make the process of learning to edit (especially in Lightroom) so much easier. Everything is at hand, and the layout makes it simpler for beginners to experiment. They can use more of the features of the program without the need to remember the locations in the menus.

For me, as a power user of Capture One, the learning curve was a little steeper. I’ve put this down to Capture One currently being in Beta testing. There are some quirks I needed to get used to when editing, such as using the color balance tool.

There is also the fact that when you use the software every day, you acquire muscle memory from the keyboard shortcuts you use most often. Moving to dials does take a while to get used to.

I do feel that even for Lightroom users (whom this deck was designed for), the change to Loupedeck will mean your editing is slower until you get up to speed. However, I am talking only hours here, not days.

Loupedeck+ and Lightroom

Obviously I wanted to start this test with Lightroom as this is really the program the device is designed for. Now I am not a Lightroom user, so having me use this is more like an inexperienced Lightroom editor versus someone who uses it every day.

I loaded up a selection of images into a catalog and began editing. Using the Loupedeck was completely intuitive. I simply started to edit images without the need to try and remember control locations. It was as easy as twisting the dials with the required name on them. In my experience, the Loupdeck+ and Lightroom work flawlessly together. There is no lag, and the degree of control with each twist feels perfect. Everything is at hand, and if you do find yourself needing something that is not here, you can customize the software until your heart’s content.

It made the process of editing in Lightroom a pleasure and, as a hardcore Capture One user, that is the highest praise I can give it.


It is easy to see that the Loupedeck+ is designed with Lightroom users in mind.

Loupedeck+ and Capture One Pro

Because I’m not a Lightroom user, I went down the road that is Beta testing to put the Loupedeck in my day-to-day editing software. 

Now compared to Lightroom, I found editing in Capture One Pro to be a more clunky affair. The problem is that in its current Beta state, the Loupedeck doesn’t offer the same level of functionality. This is something that Loupedeck are working on and are currently looking for feedback from any Capture One users to help improve the experience.

The basic adjustments work perfectly well in Capture One. To adjust white balance and exposure is just as good as Lightroom. However, there are elements, such as resetting adjustments, that are not there.

The issue here is that the Loupedeck was designed with Lightroom in mind and Capture One works differently. The most obvious example of this is the P1-P8 buttons. In Lightroom, these assign to presets; however, in Capture One, they are simply not set up.

Shooting Fuji, I would love to map this to my film curves, where it would be great to choose the look of my image. However, at present, this is not possible. For more advanced editing, it can be frustrating, and I find myself reaching for the mouse and keyboard more often than I would like.

It’s not perfect by any means, and it does sound a little doom and gloom, but in terms of basic edits, it really did speed up my workflow. I have now edited two weddings with the Loupedeck, and it has definitely saved me some time. Also being super simple for basic adjustments, it really has allowed my wife to do basic edits for things such as exposure.
When editing a wedding, I reach for it straight away. It really is something that after using it, I wouldn’t be without.

The best thing about using Loupedeck+ with Capture One is that I know it can only get better from here. Once there are some more options added, and a few things ironed out from the beta testing, I feel this will be a powerful editing tool.

Loupedeck+ and Photoshop

This is where things start to feel like I was using the Loupedeck for the sake of it. When editing a RAW file, it was great, but after that, I really felt no benefit from using it. When editing in Photoshop, you tend to use your mouse or tablet much more.

You can use it for working with curves, but you need to work with the mouse too, and I found it just too clunky. Other things like zoom in and out, which are mapped to knobs, simply do not work as well as using the middle mouse button.

Unlike using it in Lightroom and Capture One, when working in Photoshop, I found myself using it for the sake of it, rather than reaping any real benefit. I do feel that the Loupedeck+ working with more software is good. However, I feel that, in some cases, it just feels like it is added for marketing over actual functionality. 

Loupedeck+ and Premiere

The ability for Loupedeck to work with Premiere was something that I found myself excited to try. I am by no means a power user, but I know my way around Premiere and edit with it enough to consider myself proficient.

Using Loupedeck with Premiere, though, is where things go a little too far for me. When using it to edit a video, it was just too hard for me to remember what all the functions did. It could be due to my lack of time spent in Premiere, but I think it’s more than that. When photo editing, things like exposure, and contrast are the same no matter which program you use. Video editing, however, uses a completely different language.

It is not that you can’t learn how to use Loupedeck with Premiere. I think once you got used to what each button and dial was mapped to, it would really speed things up. However, as someone who uses the software occasionally, I would find it hard to remember the settings for Premiere.

I think the best way to sum it up is that if you are buying a Loupdeck+ solely for Premiere use, you may face a steep learning curve. For me, to have it as a bonus is nice, even though I can’t really see myself using it.


As you can see from the layout above, Loupedeck is not as intuitive in Premiere.


It’s hard to sum up the Loupedeck+.

Some may see this as a gimmick you will buy, only to put it in the cupboard after a few months to gather dust. But that really isn’t how it is. It’s a well-made, high-quality device that really is a time-saver, especially in basic edits.

I use the Loupedeck+ on every edit now. That must say something. It has sped up my editing (it needs to, I am currently behind on editing a wedding and am writing this article rather than doing that). However, I do still find myself reaching for the keyboard or mouse quite often. I think the best way is to give three different outcomes, depending on what software you use.

If you’re a Capture One user like me, you may find it frustrating. It is almost there, close to being great, but then there are silly little things that are really annoying! However, this is in beta testing, which means things are still ironing out. I am sure this is going to improve moving forward. It’s just a question of whether you are willing to pay for something that doesn’t quite work as you would like it to.

If you’re using this on Premiere or Final Cut, you will need to spend some serious time with the manual. It really is not intuitive in the same way it is for photo editing. If you are willing to put in the time, I am sure it will speed up your workflow. I do question how long it would take to get to this point though.

Lastly, Lightroom. This is still what they designed the Loupedeck for. If you are a Lightroom user, I would definitely suggest getting your hands on a Loupedeck+ – It really does make editing much faster. It worked incredibly well in use, and I enjoyed editing in Lightroom. This really is the highest praise I can give it.

However, where this console really shines is for new users. If you are new to editing, I cannot recommend this enough. I wish something like this had existed when I started editing. It makes the process of understanding how tools work so much more organic. Beginners will get a lot out of using a device like this – It just makes editing more intuitive. My wife managed to edit much better than ever before in minutes.

Moving forward, I will continue to use a Loupedeck+ to edit. Maybe it’s just my old ways. Maybe it means I get to pretend I am in a film studio editing suite. Or maybe, it’s something that I never really thought I would want, but now don’t want to stop using.

In all honesty, I think it’s all three.



The post Loupedeck+ Review – the Perfect Editing Companion for Lightroom and Premiere? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop: Rescue Your Damaged Adobe Photoshop Files

The post Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop: Rescue Your Damaged Adobe Photoshop Files appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Have you ever endured the stress of dealing with a corrupted Photoshop PSD file? It’s not such a common problem, but when it happens it can invoke serious mental and emotional hardship. Let me introduce you to a little software tool that can be of great help to photographers, designers, and anyone else who uses Adobe Photoshop – the Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop.

Fully recovered corrupted PSD file

How PSD files become corrupt

Imagine spending hours post-processing a photo you’ve captured or graphic you have created. It’s one of your best. You’ve worked through some tutorials, and been inspired to create a masterpiece of digital art.
You’ve put the final touches to it and hit Save, and then the power goes out. Your file has not saved correctly. Or you’ve saved it to a hard drive with bad sectors. Even when you revive the drive, the PSD file will not open. These are events that create nightmares.
There are other ways PSD files become corrupted and Photoshop won’t open them. At times, all you’ll see is an error message.
Other times the file will open but will be incomplete. Layers may be missing, or the file may have been flattened. Maybe all you’ll see is digital noise.
Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop: Rescue Your Damaged Adobe Photoshop Files
You may have encountered similar file retrieval problems with bad memory cards or hard drives. These situations require specialized software that can recover files and rebuild them.

Adobe Photoshop Repair Tool

Adobe Photoshop Repair Tool from Recovery Toolbox is specifically designed to reclaim and repair damaged Photoshop PSD files. It’s not a tool you will use every day (hopefully), but when you do need to, it can save you considerable stress and maybe hours of work.

This small piece of dedicated software opens and restores PSD files. Often it will manage to completely restore a file which Photoshop refuses to open. Other times it will work partially. You might get most of your layers back, but not all of them. At this stage, however, it is only available for users of Windows 98 and above.

How it works

Step 1:

Open Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop and select the file you are having issues with. Click ‘Next’.

Step 2:

The ‘View Data’ window will open. Here you have a breakdown of what the Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop can see in the corrupted file. If the file has multiple layers, click on the ‘Layers’ drop-down in the left-hand panel to view them.
In the right-hand panel, there are two tabs. Click on the ‘Picture’ tab for a preview of each layer.

Step 3:

Choose your target file and the layers you want to recover. In this step, you can also select or deselect certain layers you want to recover.
Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop: Rescue Your Damaged Adobe Photoshop Files

Step 4:

Click ‘Recover’ and the software will work its magic. Once the recovery process is completed, click the ‘Show Result’ button to open the recovered file in Photoshop. It’s as easy as that.
Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop: Rescue Your Damaged Adobe Photoshop Files


Whether you’re a keen amateur or a professional photographer, this software will help you out when Photoshop fails to open a file. This might mean the difference in saving time rebuilding an image, or it might save your skin and keep a valuable client.
This Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop works on any PSD file saved from Photoshop version three or later, and recovers files with .psd and .8bps extensions.

Working through the easy steps is fast and allows for some control in the layers you choose to repair. I found that when testing this software, it was not necessary to do this, but the feature allows for flexibility with more problematic files.

This software is specifically designed to read, analyze, and recover your PSD files.

When testing this software, I purposefully produced a series of damaged PSD files, corrupting them in different ways. While saving a multi-layered PSD file, I rebooted my computer while the file was in the process of writing to a hard drive. I also saved the file to a thumb drive which I removed before fully saving the image. I did this at various stages in the process of saving. In these instances, the Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop was not able to restore my files even when they’d been nearly through the saving process.

Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop: Rescue Your Damaged Adobe Photoshop Files
The software was sent to me with a number of test files. Each of these appeared to be corrupted in different ways. Some of them opened with Photoshop, but incompletely. Others failed to open and Photoshop displayed an error message.


  • Dedicated to repairing PSD files.
  • Easy to use.
  • Well laid out user interface.
  • Detailed information and controls.
  • Price.


  • Doesn’t repair all damaged PSD files.
  • Only available for Windows Users
If you don’t like the idea of installing software onto your computer, Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop also has an online repair service where you simply upload your damaged file. The benefits of using the online version include:

  • Helps to repair Photoshop files on all Operation Systems: macOS, iOS, Android, Windows and so on
  • Work on any devices: PC, tablet, phones
  • Affordable price: $10
  • No need to install any software

In this review, the online version was not tested.


Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop is a great tool and will help you out where Photoshop fails to. However, there is never any substitute for having a disciplined backup routine. Saving your work often and backing it up on a separate drive, device or in the cloud is the most sure-fire way to ensure your precious files are safe and usable.
Disclaimer: Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop is a paid dPS partner.


The post Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop: Rescue Your Damaged Adobe Photoshop Files appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Sky Replacement Using Photoshop

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Sky Replacement Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Picture this if you will: you’re out in nature with your hopes, dreams, and a camera to capture it all. You see the beauty of creation stretching out before you, so you carefully and patiently set up your gear to get the perfect shot. Finally, the sun moves to just the right spot, and you hold your breath while you press the shutter button. Then you realize the clouds are all wrong. You can wait for hours for the ideal opportunity to present itself, or you can do sky replacement using Photoshop to drop in another one. It’s not as difficult as it might seem and can lead to some exciting results.


The building is in Oklahoma, and I combined it with a long-exposure sky I shot in Kansas.

Before you get started with this operation, you will need two pictures: one with a boring sky and one with a breathtaking sky. If you’re just getting started, I recommend using two pictures shot at a similar time of day under similar conditions. If you replace a sunny sky with storm clouds, the lighting will be all different, and the results will look, well, Photoshopped.

Image: A scenic view in the middle of Kansas. The sky could use some clouds though.

A scenic view in the middle of Kansas. The sky could use some clouds though.

After finding a picture with a nice foreground, you need to get another picture with an interesting sky.

Image: I shot this in the Tallgrass Prairie Nature Preserve in another part of Kansas. These clouds...

I shot this in the Tallgrass Prairie Nature Preserve in another part of Kansas. These clouds would look great in the first image, and Photoshop can help.

The plethora of screenshots below might seem overwhelming, but this entire process is quite easy and a lot less complicated than it seems. Fire up Photoshop, follow along carefully, and you should have some good results in no time at all.

Step 1: Get rid of the boring sky

Open your picture with the sky you want to replace in Photoshop. If you’re not familiar with Photoshop, you’ll see that the Layers panel on the right side has your picture as the Background layer. It’s locked, meaning you need to unlock it or make a copy. Go with the latter route by right-clicking and selecting Duplicate Layer.

Image: Always work on a copy of the background layer so you can revert to it if you need to.

Always work on a copy of the background layer so you can revert to it if you need to.

Click the new layer in the Layers panel to make sure it’s actually selected. You will know it’s selected by the outline that you can see around each corner of the layer thumbnail.

Image: The currently selected layer has white borders around each corner of its thumbnail. Make sure...

The currently selected layer has white borders around each corner of its thumbnail. Make sure the original Background layer is hidden by clicking the eye icon to the left of its thumbnail.

Click the eye button next to the original Background layer to make it invisible. It’s still there if you need it for any reason, but if all goes well, you should be able to do the rest of this entire process using the duplicated layer.

The next thing you need to do is remove the sky, which you can do with a technique known as layer masks. Start by clicking the Selection tool and holding it down until the pop-up menu appears. Click “Quick Selection Tool.” While not perfect, this is a great starting point for people who are new to sky replacements. You can do some fine-tuning to get things just to your liking.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Sky Replacement Using Photoshop

Now click and drag in the sky and watch the selection grow until it covers your entire sky.


Use the Selection tool to create a selection around the sky in your original image.

This selection isn’t going to be perfect, but it’s a good place to start. You can refine things once you create your layer mask. As long as you have most of the sky selected, you’ll be good to go. You can also use the Magic Wand tool to select portions of the sky, and hold [shift] to keep adding new parts to the selection. This works well if you have clouds or other elements besides just the color blue in your sky.

With the sky selected, click the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Image: Click this button at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a Layer Mask. This lets you sho...

Click this button at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a Layer Mask. This lets you show and hide different parts of a layer.

The result might surprise you – everything in your picture is now gone except for the sky! (If you still see the original image, remember to click the eye to the left of the Background layer. This will make it invisible, but not remove it from Photoshop.)


The initial layer mask shows the sky, which is not exactly what you want for this operation. It’s a good starting point though.

Removing everything but the sky is the opposite of what you want to do! The fix for this is simple: invert your layer mask. Select your new layer mask by clicking on the black-and-white thumbnail in the duplicated background layer.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Sky Replacement Using Photoshop

Now invert the mask by pressing Control-I (Command-I on a Mac) or choosing Image -> Adjustments -> Invert from the menus at the top of your screen. Now we’re really making some progress since the sky is gone but the foreground remains intact.


Invert the layer mask to show only the foreground. With the sky out of the way you can now insert a new sky into the background.

If clouds, birds, or other elements of the original sky are still intact, you can remove them by using the Brush tool on your layer mask. (See Step 3 for details on how to do this.)

Step 2: Insert a better sky

There are a couple of ways to do this next step, and I’m sure you will probably develop your own workflow over time. Since this is just a tutorial to get you started though, it should work for most basic sky replacement.

Choose the File menu and then select Place Embedded. Navigate to the folder on your computer with the image you want and double-click on it. This loads the replacement sky picture into your current Photoshop document. You can then tweak the results to get just the right image you want. The image will load on top of the previous image, and you’ll see it at the top of your Layers panel.

Image: When you place a new image into your Photoshop document it will appear at the top of the list...

When you place a new image into your Photoshop document it will appear at the top of the list of layers, which means it’s the only thing you will see in the main image editing screen.

Photoshop layers work like a stack: whatever is on top is, literally, whatever you see on top of your picture. If you want something to appear underneath something else, just click and drag the layers to your liking. In fact, that’s what you have to do with your replacement sky. Click the layer you just inserted and drag it below the duplicated background layer.

Image: Click and drag the sky replacement layer so it’s beneath the copy of your background.

Click and drag the sky replacement layer so it’s beneath the copy of your background.

Now look at your sky picture! Just like magic, the original sky has gone and the new sky shows up in its place.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Sky Replacement Using Photoshop

Step 3: Clean things up

At this point, there are two common issues that generally need fixing. One is that the foreground has some errors that need correcting, like trees or other objects that are cut off or otherwise not showing up properly. The other is that the replacement sky doesn’t quite fit the empty space.

You can harness the power of Layer Masks to fix the first issue. Tap the Z key to switch to the Zoom tool, and click on your picture a few times to zoom in for a close-up view. Hold the space bar to switch to the Hand tool, and click-and-drag the picture to see the spots that need fixing.

Image: These trees don’t really need fixing, but I want to remove them for a cleaner horizon.

These trees don’t really need fixing, but I want to remove them for a cleaner horizon.

Make sure you select your Layer Mask and tap the B key to switch to the Brush tool. Right-click to adjust the size of your brush and other parameters like hardness and shape.

Image: Using the brush tool on the Layer Mask will show or hide specific parts of the layer.

Using the brush tool on the Layer Mask will show or hide specific parts of the layer.

Now click on the parts of the foreground you want to either remove from the picture or add to the picture. (Press the X key to switch between remove and add mode.) What you’re actually doing is painting white or black on the layer mask: everywhere you paint white is shown, and everywhere you paint black is hidden. You don’t actually see the white or black colors, just the results of painting them onto the image.

Image: A few clicks on the Adjustment Layer and the trees have gone!

A few clicks on the Adjustment Layer and the trees have gone!

If you find that your sky doesn’t quite fill the empty space, you can solve that by just adjusting the size of the sky layer. Click the top layer, the one with the foreground, and adjust the opacity to 30%. That way you can see the background layer, the one with the sky, along with the foreground layer.

Image: Set the opacity of the duplicate background layer to 30%.

Set the opacity of the duplicate background layer to 30%.

The result looks like some kind of weird double-exposure error, but it will look fine once you finish the operation.

Image: You can now see the replacement sky and the foreground. This will help you adjust the replace...

You can now see the replacement sky and the foreground. This will help you adjust the replacement sky size and position to your liking.

Select the layer with the replacement sky and choose Edit -> Free Transform, or press Control-T (Command-T on a Mac). Then use the handles at the corner of the sky layer to enlarge it until it fills the empty space.


After pressing Transform, click and drag on the squares in the corner of the layer to change its size. Click and drag in the middle of it to change its position.

After you have resized the sky layer, press the [return] key to lock in the transformation. Then go back to the foreground layer and increase its opacity to 100%. This same process is also a great way to adjust the sky in the background even if there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with it. One example of this is if you want to adjust the sky to emphasize a certain portion where the clouds happen to be more interesting.


The same image as before, but with the sky zoomed in (i.e. Transformed) to create a more interesting picture.

Once you get the hang of this process, it’s pretty simple. You can do a lot of custom work simply by editing the layer mask you create in the first step. You can also do this just for fun, like the picture below where I replaced the blue sky behind this building with a giant squirrel. If you have kids, or if you just want to have some fun experimenting on your own, this is a great way to explore some of the capabilities of Photoshop.


Attack of the Giant Mutant Killer Squirrels!

Once you try sky replacement using photoshop on your own, I’d love to see some examples of your work. Leave the results in the comments below!



The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Sky Replacement Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

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