How to Make a Cool Double Exposure Effect Using Photoshop [video]

The post How to Make a Cool Double Exposure Effect Using Photoshop [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video from tutvid, you’ll learn to make a cool double exposure effect using photoshop.

Some of the things that you will learn while going through this double exposure effect in Photoshop tutorial include:

  • How to isolate an image from its background using the magic wand tool and the Select and Mask Tool.
  • Fine-tuning your selection in the Select and Mask Window using the paintbrush.
  • How to output your mask selection to a new Photoshop layer – so that you save your original image.
  • Making a new Layer and fill it with a solid color.
  • Using the pen tool to create a path you can then make a selection from.
  • Making your image Monochromatic.
  • Using the Channel Mixer, Curves and Levels to fine-tune your monochrome image.
  • Turning your image Monochrome using the Black and White Adjustment Layer.
  • Working with contrast.
  • Merging multiple Layers.
  • How to choose images that will work together.
  • Adding your second image to your original as a new layer.
  • Using Photoshop Blend Modes.
  • Saving and loading selections.
  • Dragging Layer Masks to new Layers to create your double exposure.
  • Fine-tuning your double exposure by painting out parts of your layer mask.
  • Using the High Pass Filter to add more detail to your image.
  • Using Camera Raw to fine-tune your image.
  • Working with Gradient Maps.

Try this out for yourself, and share your creations with us in the comments section below!


The post How to Make a Cool Double Exposure Effect Using Photoshop [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Your Comprehensive Guide to Photography Post-Processing Software

The post Your Comprehensive Guide to Photography Post-Processing Software appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

My recent article, 3 Alternative Post-Processing Applications that Challenge the Adobe Throne, presented just three of the many post-processing software packages available (both free and paid) that provide excellent post-processing capabilities. In this article, I’ll give you a much longer list of post-processing software. To be impartial, I’ll list the titles in alphabetical order.

Your Comprehensive Guide to Photography Post-Processing Software

DXO Photolab 2

A few of the titles added by readers in the Comments section of the “3 Alternatives” article impressed me with their power and innovative design. I’ve been editing digital images with every software package available since late 1986, and I thought I’d seen most of them. However, it seems that the list of capable editing software grows weekly.

As you will notice, I do not mention ALL the software available for download or online use. Those that made the cut will be actual production titles with a minimum set of well-designed editing functions.

To be honest, I’ve looked at a significant number of offerings that are little more than public domain routines. They are not fully implemented or even adequately defined. These were considered but not listed.

Listed below is a wide variety of packages on both mobile and laptop/desktop platforms; a true variety pack that covers the field from hobbyist to professional users. No matter what your preference, you’ll find something here to tickle your fancy and meet your demands.

Your Comprehensive Guide to Photography Post-Processing Software

ACDSee Photo Studio Professional

As was welcomed in my first article, additional post-processing software titles should be added to this list by readers who have discovered (and used) them.

It is important to recognize all such products in a desire for fairness and sharing information. Because this list includes many more titles, I will not mention individual features of these titles, only a brief mention of the product’s most notable features.

This is where you can really contribute…

I’ll rely on you to describe your favorite features and benefits of your favorite titles. Let’s make this a very collaborative group effort BUT with one important request: please be brief and succinct with your comments. Limit your comments to one or two of the features that make your favorite app stand out from all others. That way, we learn from each other without monopolizing the mutual pulpit.

Image: Skylum Luminar 3

Skylum Luminar 3

List of photography post-processing software

ACDSee Photo Studio

Publisher: ACDSee Systems International


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $60 Mac/Win/Mobile

Afterlight 2

Publisher: Afterlight Collective

Android Website:

Apple Website: 

Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $60 Mac/Win/Mobile

Affinity Photo

Publisher: Serif


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $50 Mac/Win/iPad

Capture One

Publisher: Phase One


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $299 or $20/month Mac/Win



Price: Free

Exposure X4.5

Publisher: Alien Skin


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $119 Mac/Win Computer


Publisher: Fotor

Android Website:

Apple Website:

Price: Free


Publisher: Gimp


Price: Free Mac/Win Computers

Google Photos

Publisher: Google


Price: Free online

Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic

Publisher: Adobe Systems


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $10/mo Mac/Win

Your Comprehensive Guide to Photography Post-Processing Software

Adobe Lightroom Tablet/Computer/Mobile

Online Photo Editor

Publisher: PicMonkey


Trial: Free/7 days

Price: Starts at $7.99/month

Photo RAW

Publisher: ON1


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $80

PhotoLab 2

Publisher: DxO


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $129 Mac/Win Mobile/Computer

Paint Shop Pro X9

Publisher: Corel


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $80 Mac/Win

Anthropics Portrait Pro 2 post-processing software

Anthropics Portrait Pro 2

Photoshop/Camera RAW

Publisher: Adobe Systems


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $10/mo Mac/Win

Photoshop Elements

Publisher: Adobe Systems


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $59.99 Mac/Win

Photoshop Express

Publisher: Adobe Systems

Android Website:

Apple Website:

Price: Free


Publisher: NCH Software


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $40


Publisher: PicsArt

Android Website:

Apple Website:

Price: Free

Pixlr Editor

Publisher: Pixlr

Android Website:

Apple Website:

Price: Free online

Pixlr Mobile Android/IOS post-processing software

Pixlr Mobile Android/IOS

PortraitPro 18

Publisher: Anthropics


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $45 Mac/Win

RAW Therapee

Publisher: Softpedia


Price: Free (but only offered on Windows)

Skylum Luminar 3

Publisher: Skylum


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $70 Mac/Win Computer

Smart Photo Editor

Publisher: Anthropics


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $30 Wind/Mac


Publisher: Google

Android Website:

Apple Website:

Price: Free

Sumo Paint

Publisher: Sumo


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: Free version, but Sumo Pro is $4/month

Topaz Studio 2

Publisher: Topaz Labs


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $100 Mac/Win

Your Comprehensive Guide to Photography Post-Processing Software

Anthropics Smart Photo Editor


Some titles didn’t make this list’s cut simply because they are only marginally useful. Needless to say, in today’s market, there is an innumerable slew of entertainment-level phone/tablet-based image “editing” apps also available. There are way too many even to mention, let alone keep current information on.

Many of these apps are made for the amusement of the younger social media crowd who appreciate more unicorns and stickers than serious editing power. Not to sound judgmental, there is an app for everything and everyone, but this listing is “focused” on actual photo editing capabilities more than the social media aspect.



The post Your Comprehensive Guide to Photography Post-Processing Software appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

How to Make an Awesome Pop-Up Card with your Photos

The post How to Make an Awesome Pop-Up Card with your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

If you can cut and fold a piece of paper to make a pop-up, why can’t you make it to an image? A photograph translates our three-dimensional world into a two-dimensional representation. With a pop-up card, you can present it with tridimensionality. Here are some ideas to bring your photos to life by turning them into an awesome pop-up card!


From paper crafting to paper engineering, this creative practice can be as complex as you want. I will show you two basic techniques that you can apply to your own images. Keep in mind that each image will need specific measures and some testing before you get it right, so be patient!

What you need to make your awesome pop-up card

I recommend you print some copies of the photo in black and white on a cheap paper so you can do your testing without spending much. Then get scissors, a precision cutter, ruler or measuring tape, double-sided tape, and a cutting board.


1.Single image pop-up card

Choose the right image

Because you want to give it a third dimension, images that have a clear separation of elements will work best. For some guidelines on this check out the article How to Use Figure to Ground Art Theory in Photography. Print your image at least two times, and one for each layer you want to add.

Foreground and Background are separated for a better pop-up card

Layers and more layers

The more elements you separate into layers, the more interesting and elaborate your card will look. I promised to keep it simple so I’ll just add one layer to show you the process, then just repeat it as many times as you want. Cut out the element of the layer that will pop up. In this case, I’ll cut the house in the front.


Cut also a stripe of paper, either from the photo or any other thick paper that will hold the layer up. The longer you make it, the bigger the separation to the background.

Fold and paste

Now paste the background to the card which can be store-bought or just a piece of colored paper folded in two that you can later write your message on. Place the base of the photo on the crease where the card folds.

paste background into card

Fold the paper stripe into a square. Then paste one side to the background and one to the bottom side of the card. This will serve as support to the pop-up cutout.

piece of paper to hold the pop-up piece

Paste the other side of the square to the background, and the bottom part to the card. Making sure the cutout matches the original image when you position it. That’s it. Do the same for any elements you want popping out.


2. Multiple image pop-up card

This technique is great when you want to showcase many images. For example, an anniversary or a birthday where you want to sum up the highlights of the year. It’s also useful when you want to make a themed card to communicate a concept.

Create the layout

The first thing you want to do is choose your images. Then arrange your images in a grid. To automatize this process you can use Lightroom. If you need some direction just follow the instructions of How to Create Contact Sheets in Lightroom. Set it to the size of the card you’re going to use: for me is an A3 so 4 columns and 3 rows should look nice, but this is entirely up to you.

Print thumbnail images to use

Note that the outer images of the middle row will get folded in half, so use images that fit this crease, or leave it black.


Fold the paper vertically in half, and then each side again in half towards the opposite direction. As a result, you will have an accordion where the folds separate the columns.

Fold contact sheet as accordion


Unfold the accordion and just leave it in half. If you do it in a way that the images are towards the outside, you won’t have to measure and just guide yourself by the images. Cut horizontally between rows reaching the middle of the outer image. Then fold inwards the piece you just cut.



Now put some double-sided tape into the side edges and fix it to the card. Make sure the fold in the middle of the accordion coincides with the fold of the card.

pop-up card with accordion photo album

I hope you enjoyed reading How to Make an Awesome Pop-Up Card with your Photos and that you enjoy making pop-up cards yourself! For future occasions, if you want to go deeper into this craft side of photography I’ll leave you some links to check out.

Additional reading

If you’re feeling creative and want to do other types of cards, check out these amazing tutorials:



The post How to Make an Awesome Pop-Up Card with your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing

The post How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing

Buying a new computer can be a minefield. There are so many models to choose from with wildly varying budgets. How do you get the best performance for your budget? Where should you invest your cash (and where can you save)?

This article is straight forward, jargon-free advice on what to think about when buying a computer for photo editing. If you are looking for an in-depth analysis, you are in the wrong place. If you are looking to upgrade your current computer, but are unsure of how to spend your cash wisely, then this article will be a great starting point.

Mac vs. PC

I didn’t want to open this up with something that can descend into arguments. Instead, I thought I’d start with the one topic that everyone can agree on (or not) – Mac vs. PC. Seriously though, I thought it best to get this out of the way first. I’m a Mac guy. I have been for years. I am heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem, and it works best for me.

However, I will put it on record (and be held to it from this day forward), there is very little difference between Mac and PC. Software in the modern world is platform agnostic and very few programs are Mac-only or PC-only. The price difference is not always as large as people make out, and you will generally be invested in one platform or the other already.

I know there is the old argument that most creatives use Macs over PC, but this is outdated and not strictly true. My personal theory is that Mac products tend to look better (thanks to Johnny Ive) and creative people tend to like to surround themselves with beautiful objects. If you go into a high-end design office, Macs tend to fit with the aesthetic better, hence why we see more Macs in these situations.

Both platforms have their quirks. Both are capable of great results. With a similar spec and finish, there will be a similar price involved.

I am sure there will be some discussion in the comments about this, but I really want to leave this argument here. It is boring, and nobody will ever win. We are on the Internet, after all.


Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, the monitor stand costs more than most monitors. But if these are things you are worried about, this machine (the Mac Pro) is not for you.

Monitor first

Before you begin to look for a computer, invest in a monitor – and for goodness sake, calibrate it. As photographers, we concern ourselves with the best image quality we can achieve. If you are editing the image on a screen with a limited color range and that is way too bright, you will tend to be disappointed when you print your images. They simply will not match what you see on the screen. When looking for a new computer, it is easy get carried away in what processor to go for, or whether we should invest in a larger hard drive. But, surprisingly, a monitor can be, in many cases, an afterthought. It shouldn’t be.

When looking to buy a monitor, you should really aim for one with a wide color gamut and if you can afford it, go for an IPS panel.

Lastly, in terms of resolution, a 4K screen is great but comes with a higher price tag. My advice is color over resolution. 4k is nice, but it is not anywhere near as important as color consistency. I edit on a 2560 x 1440 monitor as when I was looking I could not get the consistency of color I wanted within budget in a 4K screen. I have never wished for more resolution yet.

Image: A high-quality monitor, correctly calibrated, will have the biggest impact on your images.

A high-quality monitor, correctly calibrated, will have the biggest impact on your images.

Laptop or Desktop

This is something that depends on your situation. Modern laptops are hugely powerful. The main thing that holds them back is the graphics card. However, with the rise of the external graphics card, this is starting to be negated.

Obviously, the benefit of a laptop is portability. Traveling with your laptop is great as you can edit whilst out and about. You can also get the images off your memory cards (always back them up before you format the card though). For me, as a wedding photographer, being able to import images into the computer whilst I get a break saves me time when I get home. I can also create a preview for the couple on the day of the wedding. This is something that is not possible with a standard PC or iMac. Also, when shooting multi-day music festivals, most outlets require a same-day turnaround of images. In this situation, a laptop is essential.

With modern laptops, the ability to have it transform into your desktop machine has never been easier. I have a 2018 13” MacBook Pro which, with the use of a dock, simply requires me to plug in one cable to connect it to my monitor and external hard drives and charge it. I have a fully-functioning desktop in seconds.

However, this portability comes at a financial cost. You will always pay more for a laptop than a similar specification desktop PC. If you have no need for the mobility advantages of a laptop, you can get a desktop with similar specs for less money.

What you should buy depends on your requirements and your budget. If your budget is small, I would always recommend a desktop PC, as you will get more bang for your buck.


Desktop or laptop? It depends on your needs.


The processor is the brain of your system. When looking at a computer for photo editing, the processor is where you need to be looking to max out as much as your budget can afford. The key thing to look for in processors is the cores. In simple terms, a processor is split into cores. Each core can work on a separate task, so therefore, the more cores you have, the more multi-tasking the computer can do (or the better its ability to split tasks down into smaller parts to complete it quicker).

Ideally, you want to be looking at a quad-core to a six-core processor. A quad-core processor hits this sweet spot of performance to price ratio, but if you can afford to upgrade to a six-core processor, you will see increased performance. After this, unless you are a particularly heavy user, you will see little benefit in more cores.


A processor is where you really need to max out when choosing a new computer.


This is where you may be surprised. If you are using your computer solely for editing photographs and you are not applying several layers and effects in Photoshop, you can easily get away with 8GB of RAM. If you want to push the boat out a little, or are planning on getting a camera with a huge megapixel count, such as the new 64MP Sony, you really need to push this to 16GB.

RAM tends to be one of the cheaper upgrades when configuring a computer. Whilst you may not be needing 16 or 32GB right now, as with all things computer-related, buy the best spec you can afford. This allows you to be happy with your computer for longer. RAM is one of the simple upgrade tasks to do yourself. However, note that in some computers, laptops especially, (yes, I’m looking at you Apple) it is not something that can be done after you have purchased the computer.

Graphics Card

Your graphics card (or GPU) is the thing that fools some people. For photography, you really do not need a hugely powerful graphics card. It is something that has one main purpose, which is running your monitor. Now if you are planning on running a dual monitor 4K setup, then it is worth investing a little in your graphics card, but unless you are planning on doing some hardcore gaming, you will not really notice the benefit of the high-end graphics cards in almost all photo editing situations.

When using certain photo editing tools, the graphics card will speed things up a little, but the price to performance ratio of a higher-end graphics card is not as beneficial as spending the money elsewhere, such as an upgrade to your processor.

Now, if you do video editing as well as photo editing, this is where you will see the benefit from a good quality graphics card. If you are doing any type of motion graphics on your videos, you will see an even bigger boost. This is where graphics cards will make a difference. If you are doing video work (or plan to) then you do need to allow some budget for a dedicated graphics card, or GPU if you are going down the laptop route.

Hard Drive

There are two types of hard drives: Solid State (also known as SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (known as HDD). They work in different ways, both of which have advantages and disadvantages.

Hard Disk Drives have been around for years. Data is stored on a rotating platter, which is then accessed by a read/write head to access or write the data. Most hard drives spin at 5400 or 7200 rpm. Simply put, the faster the rpm, the faster the drive can read/write data. Because they have been around for so long, the cost is much lower than a Solid State Drive. This makes this type of drive ideal if you are looking for a large amount of storage. It also means computers with HDD drives tend to be cheaper.

Solid State Drives are much newer technology. You will be most used to them as the storage in your phone and tablet. They work via an inbuilt processor called a Controller that performs the tasks of reading and writing data. The better the quality of the Controller, the faster the drive. They are much faster than Hard Disk Drives, but have one major disadvantage – the price.

The cost per gigabyte of storage Is much greater on SSD drives. On average, it is up to five times more expensive. However, that is really the only downside. SSD drives are much faster, less noisy (an SSD drive has no moving parts, unlike an HDD) and generally a little tougher (the head on an HDD does not like being banged about).

How much faster? Well, on an average computer, the start-up time will generally be over four times faster with an SSD. Programs will load much quicker, and the whole experience just feels snappier.

This is one of those speed boosts that you will not necessarily miss until you have used an SSD-based system. Once you have experienced it, I guarantee, you will not want to go back from it. Upgrading to an SSD on your current computer will give you a great upgrade for relatively little money.

I would always recommend an SSD as your main hard drive and then using larger HDD drives for your storage, either internally or externally. This way, you will have the best of both worlds. If you can afford it, I would suggest a 1TB SSD drive, as this means you can keep current work on the SSD drive to feel the benefits. Then your archive can be kept on HDD to access when you need it.

You also need a backup strategy in place. If you haven’t, please do yourself a favor and read up on how to backup your photos. I would hate the thought of any of you crying over lost photos.

Image: Possibly the most boring photo ever put on DPS. Whilst they are not much to look at, an SSD d...

Possibly the most boring photo ever put on DPS. Whilst they are not much to look at, an SSD drive will give you a big speed boost.


I could now list some machines that are currently considered the best for photo editing. If you Google the phrase “best computer for photo editing 2019” you will find several lists. However, I don’t want to do that. Not least because if you are reading this 6 months after I wrote it, it will already be out of date. Instead, I thought I would leave you with the top 6 things to think about when choosing the right computer.

  1. Buy the best processor you can afford. The majority of the work for photo editing relies heavily on the processor. Depending on what machine you buy, RAM is something you can upgrade yourself cheaply in the future. If you can afford 16GB then go for it. Just make sure before you stick at 8GB to save some budget, you can upgrade it later.
  2. Go for an SSD, but don’t go crazy for size. Try to go for a 1TB drive, or if on a tighter budget, a 512GB drive. Then invest in a larger 7200RPM external drive for more space. This way you can get the speed benefits of an SSD for your current editing and keep your work stored on a still fast, but cheaper external drive. And pretty please, with a cherry on top, invest in a backup!
  3. Don’t buy a laptop if you’re not going to use your computer out and about. You can get much better value from a desktop. So, if you only edit at home, get the most power for your money.
  4. Invest in a decent monitor. Then invest in a calibration device. Then invest in your computer. A good, calibrated monitor will not only last you longer, but it will also make your photos look better. Not just to you, but to everyone else as well.
  5. Keep your eyes open for deals. These are usually highest when new models are coming out. If you are happy to invest some time searching, you can find some great bargains.
  6. Lastly, don’t be afraid of secondhand or refurb, especially if you are on a budget. I have purchased most of my equipment refurbished by Apple (and saved a lot of money). You can also save huge amounts of money buying secondhand. You can buy some slightly older equipment that will be perfectly adequate for a fraction of the price. For example, lots of gamers often update their graphics cards. You can then pick it up to boost your computer for a fraction of the retail price. Obviously, this method is not without some risks. However, it is a way to get great value for money if you’re on a tight budget.

Lastly to go back to the start, Mac or PC? It really doesn’t matter! Unless you can afford to buy a Mac. In which case, you should always buy a Mac! (Sorry PC fanboys and girls, I couldn’t resist. I await my roasting in the comments 🙂



The post How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow

The post How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

One of the common complaints about Lightroom Classic is that it’s just not as fast as some photographers expect. When I get back from a session with hundreds of RAW files to process, the thought of going through each of them one-by-one is enough to give me a headache. The few seconds it takes Lightroom to load each photo for flagging or cropping can be enough to make you want to quit photography altogether! Fortunately, if you subscribe to Creative Cloud you have options. In this article, you’ll learn how to use Lightroom Mobile to dramatically increase the speed of your workflow.

How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow

One of my favorite aspects of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription is how you can take advantage of many of the features of Lightroom Mobile even if you don’t store your primary images in the cloud. You can store bite-size previews of your images from Lightroom Classic in your Creative Cloud account, which you can then load on a mobile device for editing.

After you finish editing on your mobile device, all the changes will be automatically synced back to Lightroom Classic on your computer. I use this technique all the time now, especially for culling and cropping after a long photoshoot. I think you might find it incredibly useful as well.

Sync with Lightroom

The first thing you need to do is enable syncing between Lightroom Classic and your Creative Cloud account. Click on your name in the top-left of the Lightroom Library module and choose “Start” under “Sync with Lightroom.”


This will then enable you to start syncing your edits. One thing to note is that if you have a basic 20GB Photography plan, the photos you sync will not count against your storage quota. That is only for images you upload directly to Lightroom Mobile or Lightroom CC, as well as any documents you have stored in your Creative Cloud Files.

After Sync is enabled, you can selectively sync any individual collection by clicking the arrow icon just to the left of its name.

How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow

This will start uploading previews of each image to your Creative Cloud account. While this is happening you can see the upload status by looking above your name in the top-left corner.

How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow

Completing the initial synchronization will take a few minutes or more depending on the speed of your internet connection. The individual preview files being uploaded are quite small, but if you sync an album with a few thousand images it might take longer than you expect.

One thing to note is that you can only sync collections that have been created manually by you. Smart albums, which are created dynamically according to rules you specify, are not possible to sync with Lightroom Mobile.

Edit on Lightroom Mobile

When the sync operation is complete, load Lightroom Mobile on a phone or tablet and the collections you synced will show up in your Albums list.


If you have never used Lightroom Mobile before you’re going to be amazed at how quickly you can perform operations like moving from one photo to the next, flagging/rejecting, cropping, or pretty much anything else you might do in Lightroom Classic.


Upon loading your images into Lightroom Mobile, you can quickly swipe between them to check for focus and composition. Simple gestures like swipe up on the left to assign a star rating and swipe up/down on the right to mark a picture as Pick or Rejected make the editing process much faster than Lightroom Classic. A few taps will let you quickly crop, rotate, and make basic exposure adjustments.

As far as individual features go, the two programs are almost the same. However, the mobile version has an interface designed around touch instead of a mouse/keyboard combo. This means some things don’t behave quite how you might expect, but once you get the hang of things, it’s not bad at all.

Image: Lightroom on an iPad, even a basic version and not an iPad Pro, is extremely fast, fluid, and...

Lightroom on an iPad, even a basic version and not an iPad Pro, is extremely fast, fluid, and easy.

Since the images synced between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom Mobile are small previews and not full-resolution originals I would recommend against using the latter to check for accurate focus or do highly detailed adjustments. I find Lightroom Mobile most useful for just the basics like flagging and cropping, but your own usage might vary.


Lightroom on a mobile device lets you access almost all of the editing options on the desktop version, but I prefer to use it for just a few basics.

Sync back to Lightroom Classic

The beauty of this entire process is that as soon as your edits are applied to a photo, you don’t have to manually re-sync anything. Any edits you make automatically copy back to your original Lightroom files on your desktop. All you have to do is load up that program, wait for automatic sync to finish, and your pictures are ready for further edits.

Ever since I started using this Desktop->Mobile->Desktop workflow for my initial culling and cropping, I have found myself enjoying the whole process. I’ll sit back on my sofa or relax with a drink at the kitchen table while rapidly flipping through pictures on my iPad for the first round of edits. I’ll then return to my desktop, and the rest of the editing is much less stressful.

Image: Finding the best photos out of a batch of 600 is much, much faster when using Lightroom Mobil...

Finding the best photos out of a batch of 600 is much, much faster when using Lightroom Mobile.

This may seem a bit overwhelming at first. However, once you try this process, you will be surprised at how easy it is.

What about you? Do you have any other tips for speeding up your Lightroom workflow? Share them in the comments below!



The post How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

The post 5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you ever feel like your nature photos are just a bit…bleh? Like they could use something more?


It’s a common problem. Because while you can be a master of light, composition, and camera settings, there’s still one thing you need for amazing nature photography:


You see, editing is how you make your nature photos shine. It’s how you add a final touch to your images. It’s how you take a slightly bland image, and make it into something truly stunning.

In this article, I’m going to share with you nature photography editing tips so you know exactly how you can create amazing nature photography edits.

And you’ll come away with the ability to enhance every single one of your nature photos.

Sound good?

Let’s get started.


1. Straighten and crop to emphasize your main subject

First things first:

If your nature photo is crooked…

…then it just won’t work. No matter how amazing the content.

(This is especially a problem for landscape photos, where crooked horizons are extremely obvious.)

You see, a crooked photo is just disorienting. It causes the viewer to get caught up in being imbalanced and makes them forget all about the subject.

So the first thing you should do to enhance your nature photos:

Check to make sure your photo is straight. And if it isn’t, straighten it! Pretty much every photo editing program offers straightening tools, so make use of them.

I handheld this swan photo, and so it required a bit of straightening:

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

Once you’ve straightened your photo, it’s time to think about cropping.

Now, if you’ve composed carefully in-camera, you won’t necessarily need to crop. But it’s easy to miss something small while looking through the viewfinder. Maybe there are some leaves dangling in the corner of the frame!

In which case:


By removing distractions, you’ll make your photo stronger overall. You should also crop to improve your composition. For instance, you might crop slightly to place your main subject on a rule of thirds gridline.

Or you might crop to place a symmetrical subject smack-dab in the middle of the frame, like this:

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

Basically, just think of cropping as a second, more measured chance at composing.

Use it to nail the perfect final composition. But don’t think that you need to crop each time a photo comes up. And try to get the composition right in-camera.

After all, crops automatically reduce resolution!

2. Drop the blacks and up the whites to add interest

If you think that your nature photos are looking a little flat, then you might be suffering from a common problem:

Low contrast.

Low-contrast photos generally lack interest. There’s not a clear difference between the subject and the background, so the whole shot just seems to blend together.

Fortunately, this can be fixed pretty easily with a bit of post-processing!

First, basically, every photo editing program offers a contrast slider. For a quick-and-dirty edit, go ahead and boost up this slider.

However, I’d go for something a bit more controlled.

In Lightroom, for instance, I like to use the adjustment sliders to drop the blacks and increase the whites, like I did for this photo:


You can also use the tone curve function to create a nice s-shape, which will give you the same effect.

If my image is fairly low contrast to start with, I’ll add a touch of contrast and then leave things be.

But if my image already has a lot of light and dark tones, I like to push the contrast further. This is especially the case if I’m taking photos in black and white.

Therefore, I’ll add to the blacks until the deepest shadows are close to losing detail. And I’ll increase the whites until the brightest parts of the photo are almost clipped.

3. Clean up your subject with a bit of Healing or Cloning

Now it’s time for some careful adjustments.

You see, many subjects in nature photography could use a bit of cleaning up. Because they tend to have dirt or blemishes that interfere with the overall look of the photo.

For instance, I often clean up my flower photos. Insects chew holes in the petals, or the tips of the flowers start to wither. And if I were to leave these elements in, they would simply distract from the overall shot.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

If you’re a bird photographer, think about cleaning up the bird’s surroundings. There are often stray branches in photos of woodland birds. There is often dirty sand and distracting shells in photos of shorebirds.

On the other hand, I would not advocate making extensive modifications to your subject. I like to portray nature as close to reality as possible. And that means holding myself back from altering my subject in any deep way.

I generally use Lightroom’s excellent healing tool to remove these blemishes. But any clone tool will do the job. It’ll just require a bit more work.

4. Simplify the palette with Color Adjustments

In nature photography, I advocate simplicity:

Simpler shots are generally best.

But that doesn’t just go for composition. It’s also true for color.

In other words, for a stunning photo, you should try to limit the number of colors you include. One color works just fine. Two is nice. Three is good. Four is reaching the upper edge.

After that, the colors contribute a sense of chaos to the scene, which is exactly what you don’t want.

Fortunately, you can work on simplifying your color palette after you’ve taken your shots.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

All you have to do is use the color adjustment sliders. In Lightroom, these are the hue, saturation, and luminance (HSL) adjustments.

Here’s a couple of ways you can simplify your colors:

First, you can desaturate any colors that you want to deemphasize, and saturate any colors you’d like to bring out.

Second, you can change the hues of several colors to look more similar. For instance, you might make greens slightly bluer and blues slightly greener, so that everything leans toward a balanced middle color.

Third, you can darken any problematic spots of color. If you have a splash of orange in the background that you just don’t like, you can dial it back by simply darkening the oranges.

Unfortunately, there’s no set formula for working with color adjustments. But I always recommend you keep a final goal for the photo in mind: simplicity.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

And I should note: It’s easy to overdo color adjustments so that you end up with a garish, oversaturated scene. I suggest that you always check your color edits the day after you’ve finished, and make sure that the edits still seem to make sense.

That way, you can be sure that you haven’t taken things overboard.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

5. Use a subtle Split Tone to give a polished look

Here’s your final piece of advice for nature photography post-processing:

Use (subtle) split toning!

Now, split toning is a bit complex:

It allows you to choose a color to add to the shadows of the image, and a color to add to the highlights of your image.

For instance, you can add a yellow to the highlights, and make the whites of the image look very warm:

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

Then you can add a blue to the shadows, and make the dark parts of the image look very cold:


In fact, yellow/blue split toning is extremely common in cinema, because the warm/cold contrast makes the visuals more compelling.

Now, in nature photography, you don’t want to split tone to the extent they do in cinema. The point of a nature photography split-tone is to subtly enhance the colors.

So here’s what you should do:

Once you’ve finished your main editing, head over to the split-toning options in your editing software. This isn’t an edit offered by every post-processing package, so check to see if it’s something you can do.

Then simply play around with the split toning options. Be careful to keep things pretty minimal. You don’t want to grossly alter the colors of the photo. You want something subtle.

The yellow-highlights, blue-shadows split-tone is one that works pretty consistently, so it’s something that I suggest you try.

But feel free to experiment with many split-tone options.

And pick the one you like best for a wonderful finishing touch!

5 nature photography editing tips to create stunning images in seconds: next steps

Nature photography editing is just the thing you need to add a bit of punch to your photos.

So I suggest you have a consistent post-processing workflow, one which allows you to take your pictures to their full potential.


That’s how you’ll really create a polished nature photography portfolio.

Which nature photography editing step do you think is most useful? Let me know in the comments right now!



The post 5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

The post How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Whether you’re working with clients or shoot as a lone ranger, you need to back up your work. As the saying goes, when it comes to hard drives, it’s not a matter of if they will fail, but when they will fail.

Working with image files requires a lot of power and is very taxing for your computer. This increases the chance of hard drive failure. You need to have a system of backing up your images that works for you. This is also important to backup your photos while shooting tethered.


Backup your photos while shooting tethered

There are various programs that allow you to connect your camera to a laptop or desktop computer via a USB cable. This allows you to view a larger and more accurate version of your image on the computer screen. Tethering is crucial in genres like food and still life photography, but also very useful in other niches, like studio portrait photography.

When shooting tethered while on location, an efficient workflow around the backup process will make your life a lot easier and ensure that you have several copies of your image files should an unforeseen incident occur.

If you’re like me and shoot tethered to a laptop but edit on a desktop, you already have the bonus of an extra copy of your images, since you’re using two computers.

If you transfer the images from the laptop to desktop via a detachable external hard drive, there is your third copy. However, if you use a card reader or transfer your images from your camera via a USB cable, you should have at least one more hard copy of your images. Also, what if something happens to your laptop while you’re on a shoot? Remember, it’s a question of when.

Do you use Lightroom as your tethering program of choice? You then have the option of saving your images to your SD cards as you take them. However, Capture One Pro doesn’t offer this option. This makes image capture instant, but it doesn’t give you an extra sense of security by providing additional copies of the images you’ve shot.

You cannot just set up Lightroom or COP to save to two places. You need file synchronization software to make sure that your work is being backed up while you’re shooting tethered. 

Types of backups

There are two types of backup: specific project backup and overall data backup. You need to concern yourself with both.

While you’re shooting, you need to back up every single file. You also need to do a backup of your whole computer. You should create backups on external hard drives and also in a cloud-based system. Don’t simply rely on cloud solutions for your backups.

Storing photos in the cloud basically outsources the storage of your photos. The data in the cloud is not necessarily safe or under your control. Risks with cloud storage are having your data hacked and deleted, being locked out of your account, or having it be closed if you make late payments. Also, these types of online services can suddenly shut down or otherwise cease to exist. 

A word about digital data

The problem with digital data is that storage formats change over time. You might keep your photos “safe,” but they’ll be useless to you if you can’t read or open them. 

Operating systems, software and file formats keep changing, so just because you can see a file on your computer doesn’t mean you can actually load it.

One example is the attempts to replace the standard .jpg file format with JPEG 2000, PNG (Portable Network Graphics) and several others. JPG is fine for now, but you can never say never because this sort of thing actually happens all the time as technology changes.

A word about disk drives

Hard drives are great for storing images because they are relatively inexpensive, they provide fast access to data, and it’s very easy to copy one hard drive to another. 

However, backup drives are not an all-in-one perfect solution. Your data is at risk of being stolen or destroyed by fire, flood or some other disaster.

Also, the data is vulnerable to malicious software and human error.

You can accidentally delete a folder, or make mistakes when copying files. If your PC is infected by malware, it will usually encrypt files on external hard drives as well.

I personally have had several hard drives fail. One time I had a hard drive and a laptop fail at the same time! Some hard drives fail after several years of use, while others fail after only a few months. There is no way of knowing when the case may be.

Therefore, you can’t store your photos on a single drive. A minimum of two is recommended. I have backups on a couple of 1TB external, portable hard drives, as well as on two 4TB hard drives that are plugged into my desktop computer. 

You should keep one of your backups off-site, like at a relative’s home or even in a bank safety deposit box. 


How to back up while shooting tethered

Chronosync is one backup software that I recommend you use while shooting tethered if you use a Mac. If you’re a PC user, check out Bvckup.

Goodsync can be used with either system.

This type of software allows you to look at a given folder and copy everything to another folder on a separate hard drive. For example, you might want to shoot images on your laptop and have them sync to an external portable hard drive. Or you may want to use two separate portable hard drives. Basically what you’re doing is telling it what folder to look at and make an exact duplicate of it to another drive.

You can set it on a schedule or have it running in the background. Setting it on a schedule is great if you always have a hard drive plugged into your laptop.

Here is an example of how to do it with Chronosync.

1. Open up the application and choose, Create a New Synchronizer Document

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

2. Decide what drives you want to synchronize by selecting >Choose from the Source Target and Destination Target menus accordingly. It will give you several choices of how you might want to back up from the dropdown menu under >Operation.
My recommendation is that you choose >Backup Synchronize Bidirectional. This will ensure that everything that is on one drive will also appear on the other.

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

3. Click on >Synchronize in the top left-hand corner. It may take a few minutes for the synchronization to take place. Once it’s complete you’ll see the message below.

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

It’s as simple as that. With synchronization software like Chronosync, you’ll ensure that all your files and folders are backed up for a very low price.

Other backup software

Many large companies offer photo storage services including Amazon, Google, Microsoft (OneDrive), and Apple (iCloud). However, this can be expensive if you need a lot of storage. With some, downloading large files is cumbersome and data such as file names and EXIF Data may not be preserved. Some services don’t preserve your photos as you uploaded them, and others just don’t work very well (Time Machine, I’m looking at you).

Here are some other paid-for options that are worth a look:

FoldersSynchronizer – a popular program for Mac OS which synchronizes backup files, folders, and disks.

Super Duper – great for disk backups on a Mac. It allows you to create a bootable clone of your disk which you can easily copy from one hard disk to another. This makes moving from one computer to another during an upgrade virtually painless.

Smug Mug – an all-in-one solution that allows photographers to display and sell their images, with unlimited uploads.

Backblaze – a cloud-based backup system that will continually back up your data while your computer is on. Use to restore data after a drive failure.

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

To sum up

To ensure that you have all your bases covered when backing up your files, you should backup specific shoots as well as regularly do backups of your whole computer(s).

Have a couple of backups on hard drives, as well as a cloud-based backup.

When shooting tethered, I recommend backing up your images manually as you’re shooting, one at a time, to ensure that each image exists in at least two places at that time. Once you’re finished shooting, back up your portable hard drive to another one, preferably a larger, more robust hard drive where you store a copy of all your image folders.



The post How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

How to Use the HDR Panorama Photo Merge in Lightroom Classic CC

The post How to Use the HDR Panorama Photo Merge in Lightroom Classic CC appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Not long ago I wrote about Four of the Latest Updates to Lightroom Classic CC. In it, we talked about some of the fresh features Adobe has recently added to Lightroom. One of those great new additions was the single-step HDR Panorama Photo Merge. That’s a mouthful of a name, but it’s an incredibly useful tool that allows us to combine multiple bracketed exposures into a seamless high dynamic range panoramic image in, as the name suggests, essentially a single step. In this article, we’re going to delve a little deeper into the new single-step step HDR Panorama Photo Merge (geez) feature and show you exactly how to capture and combine your images to make a beautifully executed panorama.

What is an HDR Panorama?

High dynamic range (HDR) photographs and panoramas are nothing new to the world of photography. In fact, neither are HDR panoramas.

HDR photos are simply images combining multiple exposures to form a final photo that exhibits tonal and/or focus ranges far beyond a single exposure. Along those same lines, panoramic photos are images stitched together that carry a visual perspective beyond what is obtainable from a single exposure (with a few exceptions).

As you may have guessed, an HDR panorama combines multiple photographs to produce a wide perspective composite image featuring high dynamic range.

Previous methods for merging multiple images to produce HDR panoramic photos were generally tedious and required venturing over into Photoshop. Luckily, with the new HDR Panoramic feature introduced in v8.0 of Lightroom Classic CC, you can now efficiently combine your images with just a few clicks of the mouse. Let me show you how I made the above HDR pano combining twelve separate bracketed photos right inside of Lightroom.

Obtaining your images for merging

The first and arguably most crucial part of creating your HDR panorama begins inside your camera.

Lightroom places some stringent criteria on the images you can combine using it’s single-step HDR Panorama function. ALL of these rules must be met by each one of your images prior to merging.

Here are the “rules” for images you plan to merge into an HDR pano directly from Adobe:

  • All the images in your selection must contain the exposure metadata – Exposure time, f-number, and ISO.
  • Each set of bracketed exposures in your selection must have the same number of images. For example, if you chose to bracket with three images, then all the sets in the selection must also use three images.
  • Every set of bracketed exposures in your selection must have the same exposure offsets. For example, if your first set has exposure offsets of (0, -1, +1), then all other sets in the selection must follow the exposure offset pattern. The image sets can have different exposure values; only the exposure offsets pattern must be consistent across all the sets.
  • Each set of bracketed exposures must be captured contiguously. For example, if you’ve considered a bracket size of three while capturing the images, then the first three images in the sequence become part of a bracket set. The next three images in the sequence become part of another bracket set, and so on.
  • Within a set of bracketed exposures, the images must not have the same exposure value.

While you can shoot your images in either a vertical or horizontal orientation, it is a good idea to use vertically orientated photos in you plan on displaying them digitally. This avoids extremely long, yet narrow images. Of course, this is entirely up to you.

Combining the images

Now that you’ve made it through the rather exacting process of actually obtaining your photos for merging, the rest of the operation is refreshingly easy to complete.


First things first. In the Library Module of Lightroom Classic CC select the images you want to use for the HDR pano. An easy trick to select all of your images at once is to select the photo at the beginning of the series and then hold down the shift key while clicking the last photo in the series. This automatically selects all your bracketed exposures at once. It also saves you quite a few mouse clicks if you are using a high number of photos.

Once you’ve got all of your photos selected, right-click on any of those images and choose Photo Merge, and then HDR Panorama.

It’s here where you learn for sure whether all of your images meet the requirements for merging. If not, you will receive the soul-crushing message ‘Unable To Detect HDR Exposure Bracket Size. Merge To Non-HDR Panorama Instead?’ That means Lightroom will merge the photos into a normal non-HDR pano if possible.

However, if you’ve done your duty, and you obtained all of your images correctly, your photo will appear as a preliminary smart preview. From here, it’s just a matter of controlling how you want Lightroom to handle the final merging of your images. You’ll have quite a few options that will affect the ultimate product.

Projection modes

Think of projections as the shape of the canvas on which Lightroom paints your finished HDR panorama. There are three different projection modes from which to choose based on the nature of the panorama you are creating:

  • Spherical: This aligns and transforms the images as if they were mapped to the inside of a sphere. This projection mode is great for ultra-wide or multi-row panoramas.

  • Cylindrical: This projects the panorama/HDR panorama as if it were mapped to the inside of a cylinder. This projection mode works well for wide panoramas, but it also keeps vertical lines straight.

  • Perspective: This projects the panorama/HDR panorama as if it were mapped to a flat surface. Since this mode keeps straight lines straight, it is great for architectural photography. Extremely wide panoramas may not work well with this mode due to excessive distortion near the edges of the resulting panorama.

Boundary Warp

The amount of Boundary Warp is a way to stretch your merged HDR pano so that it more or less fills the frame of the selected projection mode. With Boundary Warp, you have a slider that ranges from 0-100 that allows you to preserve any content of the photo that you may lose after cropping.

Experiment with different Boundary Warp settings until you reach a happy medium between distortion and content preservation.

Auto settings/crop

These settings work extremely well to save you some editing time at least on the front end. The auto-crop and auto-settings functions allow Lightroom to trim and process your finished HDR panorama automatically. While you, of course, can crop and process your image manually after merging, I’ve found the auto settings function gives consistently outstanding results.


Consider stacking as an afterthought of your post-panorama post-processing. It’s a way for you to keep all of your ducks in a row, so to speak, and is especially useful if you’ve used many photos to construct your HDR panorama. Choosing the stacking option literally stacks all of the images used for your HDR panorama merge into a group with the merged image placed on top. This aids in keeping your filmstrip tidy and saves physical space in the Library Module.

Once you have made all of your selections for the HDR pano merge, it’s time to click the ‘Merge’ button. This begins the process of combining the images into a single DNG file.

After the merge is complete, you will have an image which you are free to finish processing just as you could with any other digital RAW file. This includes adjusting the auto-cropping and, of course, the auto settings. This achieves the final image that we saw from earlier.

Final considerations

Remember that any HDR image is already by its very definition a composite photo. As such, it is a combination of many different exposures which, if pushed too far, can result in an incredibly fake-looking final product. Always keep your HDR images within the realm of passable reality unless you are intentionally going for a hyper-realistic appeal. Along those same lines, make sure the photos meet all the criteria for HDR panorama merging listed above.

Furthermore, attempt to previsualize the final merged photo in your mind and shoot your images according to the tonal range and perspective you wish to achieve. When in doubt, it’s always better to have too many images to work with than not enough.

Have some HDR Panorama photos you’ve created inside of Lightroom Classic CC? We’d love to see them! Feel free to share them in the comments.



The post How to Use the HDR Panorama Photo Merge in Lightroom Classic CC appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

2 Methods for Creating Duotones in Photoshop

The post 2 Methods for Creating Duotones in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

This article looks at two methods for creating duotones in Photoshop. But first, what is a duotone?

Think of a duotone and you’ll imagine an image composed of two distinct hues. Easy so far. But a typical printing-press duotone uses black ink and another color, the net result being a photo that is monochrome by many people’s definition. No black appears in the final image unless the initial grayscale image was clipped, which photographers generally try to avoid.

Two methods for Creating Duotones in Photoshop

This photo uses two distinct blue-cyan hues laid over the original black (using a gradient map), but it’d qualify as monochrome in most circles.

A sepia image often comes from a duotone process, yet many people think of sepia pictures as monochrome.

Indeed, they are monochrome in the end but try producing a sepia effect in Photoshop using a single brown color. You’ll notice it tends to look flat. You can try some wild curves adjustments, but you really need black or dark gray in there to give contrast.

sepia monochrome aand duotone

Using duotone mode to create two sepia photos. The top half is duotone with a mixture of dark gray (near black) and dark brown. The bottom half is what you get with dark brown only – monotone.

For our purposes

We’ll look briefly at the classic black + one color method of creating duotones, not least because that blend tends to create more tasteful results. But I’ll also show you how to produce two-color images in Photoshop CC using two methods: duotone mode and gradient maps.

Method 1: duotone mode

To access Photoshop CC’s duotone mode, you first need an 8-bit grayscale image. But before you convert to grayscale, you might want to do a normal black & white conversion. That way, you can use the color sliders to get the best starting point before shedding data.

The process of creating a classic duotone in this way is described well in another article. Either pick one of the many presets available in Photoshop or choose your own color combo. Then adjust the contrast in the two “inks” as desired using the built-in curves adjustments. Technically, this produces a duotone, even if it’s monochromatic by some definitions.

Creating duotones in Photoshop

A two-ink duotone photo that is nevertheless monochromatic in appearance. Only by clipping the original grayscale image can you get true black into the photo.

Tip: in order for your second color (or “ink”) to be the one that imbues the image, you need the first “color” to be neutral (i.e. the default black or dark gray). Otherwise, the two colors blend. To achieve two distinct colors, there’s more to do.

Two distinct colors in Duotone Mode

It is possible to produce a two-color image in Photoshop’s duotone mode. Let’s say you have two colors selected (e.g. black and orange) and you want to make shadows blue. This is what you’d do next:

  • Click on “Overprint Colors” to open a dialogue box.
  • Click inside the color square next to “1 + 2” to open the color picker.
  • Move the picker around and choose a blue, observing its effect on the image in real-time.
  • Close “Color Picker” and “Overprint Colors” boxes.
  • You’re done! Convert back to RGB for conventional web or printing use.
Two methods for Creating Duotones in Photoshop

By clicking on “overprint colors” in duotone mode you can lay a second distinct hue over your darker tones. In this instance, I’ve chosen dark green.

Method 2: gradient maps

Like duotone mode in Photoshop CC, there are many gradient map presets you can try out. Some of these use a single hue or multiple hues, so they might be monochrome, tritone or quadtone in some cases. But a classic two-color gradient map will give you a duotone result with discrete colors.

Duotones in Photoshop CC.

Using a normal blend mode with a gradient map produces a two-color image without black. There’s a distinct lack of contrast, though this varies depending on the colors chosen.

The method for creating a duotone using gradient maps is here:

  • Open a black & white adjustment layer (don’t do anything with it yet).
  • Open a gradient map adjustment layer and set a “contrast” blend mode (e.g. overlay, soft light, hard light, etc).
  • Click on the gradient to edit its colors.
  • Double-click on the lower left and right sliders to open the color picker and select your shadow and highlight colors. A single click on either slider produces a slider in the center, which you can move if you want to alter the transition point between colors.
  • Adjust color sliders on the black and white layer if you want to selectively darken or lighten parts of the image.
  • Adjust opacity on the gradient map layer to taste.
  • Flatten layers.
Creating duotones with gradient maps.

You’ll bring the contrast of the original image back in by selecting an overlay, soft light, hard light or color blend mode.

When you’re going for a subtle duotone with off-black and off-white colors, you can skip the black and white layer. Just use a gradient map layer with a normal blend mode. Note, however, that this precludes the possibility of reducing opacity (which brings color back in) or selectively adjusting different tones. The extra B&W layer adds versatility.

The normal blend mode also looks pop-arty if you choose bold colors, so it’s good for creating graphic posters or flyer pictures. In this mode, it’s worth bearing in mind when picking colors that a color from low down and one from high up on the picker graph gives more contrast. The nearer the two hues are to each other in terms of “picker height,” the less contrast you’ll have in terms of brightness. Other blend modes add contrast, so this only applies to “normal.”

Blue and orange duotone.

Another gradient-map duotone using a “normal” blend mode. Blue and orange are complementary colors (approx). Photo: Pixabay

Of course, if your shadows and highlights are so close to black and white that their hues are hard to detect, you’re effectively back to creating monochromes. The semantics don’t matter provided you’re not entering duotone photo competitions with pictures that look mono.

Compressing the tonal range

When using the color picker to select your shadow and highlight colors, any hue you pick above the base or below the top of the graph compresses the tonal range (or dynamic range) of the photo. At least, that is the case if you perform a separate edit or use an adjustment layer with a normal blend mode.

If you’re going for a graphic image with two bold colors, the tonal range is almost immaterial. You can let it fall where it may. But with mono images and subtle duotones, dynamic range is more important. We’re always taught to aim for a full tonal range in our photos so that the data goes end to end on a histogram, but actually compressed data sometimes looks good. It gives online photos more of a print feel in the absence of deep shadows and dazzling highlights. Try it!

Understanding the color picker in Photoshop.

The hard left of the color picker goes from pure black to white, bottom to top. The same principle applies to colors. They go from pure black to full saturation. In this instance, I’ve compressed the tonal range of a black and white photo by 5%, lifting shadows slightly and subduing highlights.

Just as you can compress the tonal range of an image using curves or levels, so you can using gradient maps and the color picker. You could do similar in duotone mode by adjusting the endpoints of the built-in curves so that the curve is less steep. Conversely, making curves steeper increases contrast and eventually clips shadows and highlights.

compressing the tonal range of photos

What I did in the above picture using the color picker is the same as doing this in curves. Selecting two duotone colors using a normal blend mode will also compress the tonal range unless you choose the most saturated hue and black. (The baseline of the color picker is always pure black.)

Choosing colors

If you’re looking for colors that go well together, try using the Adobe Color Themes extension in Photoshop CC. You needn’t have an image open to experiment with it. Set your background and foreground colors via the extension in the tools palette, and they’ll automatically transfer over to a gradient map when you open one. Complementary colors are perfect for duotones.

Creating duotones in Photoshop CC

With this photo, I’ve set complementary foreground and background colors in Photoshop CC using the Adobe Color Themes extension. Then I’ve opened a gradient map, which applies the two colors automatically.

There are several websites dedicated to finding colors that work well together, including Adobe Color. These typically include the hex numbers, which you can copy and paste into the Photoshop color picker to reproduce the exact same hues.

Final thought

In times past, a duotone was used as a cheaper alternative to color halftone printing. Today, you could figuratively think of it as a more expensive alternative to black and white. I wouldn’t suggest it’s better (of course it is not), but it’s another way to convey mood. Sometimes you can hint at the color that was in the original photo. Or, you can just make some far-out pop art. There are many possibilities.



The post 2 Methods for Creating Duotones in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing

The post Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

One of Adobe’s recent feature updates to Lightroom has profound implications for photographers who retouch their portraits. While in-depth alterations are best handled in an app like Photoshop or Affinity Photo, Lightroom’s brush tool has been a good choice for basic retouching for many years. Users can dial in specific settings to help skin appear softer and smoother, or select a preset defined by Adobe. However, these retouches have typically employed the Clarity slider, which is great for a lot of situations but not exactly ideal for portraits. Thankfully, the new Lightroom Texture Slider option aims to solve this and a whole lot more.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing - 1

Before I get too deep into the Texture option, it’s important to know that it’s not just for tweaking headshots. It is specifically designed to either increase or decrease the detail on textured surfaces. These can be cloth, rocks, plants, skin, or anything that has a non-uniform appearance.

If you want to smooth the texture to make a surface appear more glassy, slide the Texture option to the left. By contrast, if you want to enhance the look of any textured object, just slide the tool to the right.

Texture vs. Clarity vs. Sharpening

Texture is fundamentally different from other tools such as Clarity or Sharpening, each of which has long been a staple in many portrait photographers’ workflows. Clarity works by increasing or decreasing contrast specifically along edges, or areas of already-high contrast. It primarily affects mid-tones and not the lightest and darkest portions of an image. Sharpening makes the edges of objects and surfaces much more vivid. It has some additional parameters like Radius and Amount that can be fine-tuned to get you just the right balance.

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Each of these tools has a specific purpose, and they can be used alone or together to create specific results. If you usually do basic portrait retouching by using the Brush tool and selecting the Soften Skin option, you may have noticed that it’s merely a combination of Clarity and Sharpness. Texture, on the other hand, is specifically designed by Adobe to alter the appearance of textured surfaces.

If you have traditionally done some basic retouching using Clarity and Sharpening, you might be surprised at how effective the Texture option is.

The Soften Skin brush preset in Lightroom is just a combination of -100 Clarity and +25 Sharpening.

Retouching with Texture

While you can apply texture globally by using the option in the Basic panel of Lightroom’s Develop module, portrait photographers will appreciate that it can be applied selectively using the Brush tool. Select the Brush option and then look for the Texture slider, which is right above Clarity, Dehaze, and Saturation. You can also configure parameters like Size, Feather, Flow, and Auto Mask though I would recommend leaving the latter turned off if you are editing portraits.

Click on your photograph and brush in the Texture adjustment the same you would with any other adjustment. Be careful to stay in the facial region and not brush into hair, clothing, or other parts of the image. You certainly can apply the texture brush to other elements of your picture later on, but to start with stay focused on the face.

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Original image with no brush adjustments applied.

As you brush in the Texture adjustment, you will see rough areas of the skin become smooth. I recommend starting with a value between -25 and -50. This retains most of the original look of the portrait while smoothing things out just a bit.

If you have never worked with the Adjustment Brush tool, you might take a minute and look over these five tips that could speed things up or make your work a lot more efficient.

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Texture -50 adjustment brush applied to the cheeks, chin, and nose.

The resulting portrait has a smoother, softer appearance where the Texture adjustment was applied. Details such as pores and wrinkles remain, and color gradients and shifting tones are also preserved.

This is much different than the results typically produced by using the Skin Smoothing option, which employs a mix of negative Clarity and positive Sharpening.

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Image with Soften Skin adjustment applied to the same areas.

This third image looks as though petroleum jelly has been smeared over the camera lens. The woman’s cheeks are missing the subtle color variations from the original image. While the skin is certainly smoother, it also looks more artificial.

To show how these images look in direct relation to one another, here is a graphic that shows all three versions for three seconds at a time. First is the original, then the Texture adjustment, then the original again, and finally the Soften Skin adjustment.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing

You can create your own Adjustment Brush preset if you don’t want to rely on the Soften Skin preset. But if you have traditionally used the Clarity option, you may find it pleasantly surprising how vastly improved your results are by using Texture instead.

Comparison two

For another comparison, here are three more images to help you see the difference between Texture and other methods of softening skin.

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The original image with no skin softening adjustments applied.

Applying a Texture -50 Adjustment leaves the pores, stubble, and small wrinkles intact but smooths them out just a bit. It’s a subtle change that doesn’t alter the original too much or make the face appear artificially smooth.

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Texture -50 applied to the cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead.

A custom skin smoothing adjustment of Clarity -75 and Sharpness +15 makes the young man’s forehead and cheeks appear fake and plastic. It’s not a great look for a portrait.

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Clarity -75 and Sharpness +15 applied to the same areas.

Looking at the three images sequentially shows the effect in a more pronounced fashion. The Texture adjustment gives a much more natural result while the final image seems over-processed and fake.

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There’s a lot more you can do with the Lightroom Texture slider, and it’s useful for a wide variety of images aside from portraits. Some photographers like to reduce texture in the face and increase texture on hair and clothing for a punchier look.

My recommendation is to open up some of your images, especially portraits or headshots, and try it out for yourself. You might be surprised at how well it works.

Have you used the Lightroom Texture slider? What are your thoughts? Please share your thoughts (and images) with us in the comments section.


Lightroom Texture Slider vs Skin Smoothing

The post Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

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