How to Compose Photos with Impact Using Elements of Design

All visual artists have a common goal of creating an image with impact. But unlike painters who start with a blank canvas and add to it, photographers start with a sometimes chaotic scene and must decide what to remove from it. Which parts of the scene should be included and which excluded to create the greatest impact?

Mobius Arch by Anne McKinnell - How to Compose Photos with Impact Using Elements of Design

This rock arch, known as Mobius Arch, frames the mountains in the background.

Part of your job as the photographer job is to bring order to the chaos by deciding how to arrange the elements in the scene in your camera’s frame. You cannot just hold up your camera and expect to make an impactful image. You have to evaluate the scene and discover what elements of design are there to work with and how you are going to use them to create your composition.

There are visual clues to good composition all around you. Clues that will help you see with your photographer’s eye if you take the time to slow down and take notice of them. The elements of design are there, but sometimes you don’t notice them until you go looking specifically. That’s the key – you have to go looking for them. Once you start looking for a particular element of design, you will be surprised how often you will discover it in the world around you.

Valella Valella by Anne McKinnell - How to Compose Photos with Impact Using Elements of Design

These creatures are called Valella Valella. As they wash up on shore, they create a leading line that guides the viewer’s eye into the frame.

1. Lines

Lines are one of the fundamental building blocks of composition. They direct the eye around an image and give the viewer a path to follow. Understanding the power that lines have in graphic design, and how different lines have different effects on the viewer, will help you add more impact to your images.

  • Horizontal lines exist in almost every scene. They tend to be calming and give a sense of peace and tranquility.
  • Vertical lines tend to be associated with strength and power. Think of skyscrapers, trees in a forest, or waterfalls — all features of strength and grandeur.
  • Diagonal lines add energy to an image and give a sense of movement.
  • Curves create a graphic design that makes an image easy to look at by leading the viewer’s eye through the frame. They can be c-curves, s-curves, arches, circles or spirals.
  • Leading lines can be any type of line that leads the viewer’s eye toward the main subject.
North Algodones Sand Dunes, California by Anne McKinnell - How to Compose Photos with Impact Using Elements of Design

The lines in these California sand dunes lead the viewer’s eye into the frame toward the main subject.

2. Color

Colors determine the viewer’s emotional response to an image. They set the mood and determine what part of an image gets the most attention.

One of the most impactful ways to use color in your composition is to look for complementary colors. Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel such as blue and orange, red and green, purple and yellow.

Sea Nettle by Anne McKinnell - How to Compose Photos with Impact Using Elements of Design

Blue and orange are complementary colors.

3. Patterns

The human eye is drawn to patterns in the same way that our ears are drawn to the beat of music or the chorus of a song. The visual rhythm that the pattern creates makes order out of the chaos. It can give an image a sense of movement as our eyes travel from the first element to the next.

Filling the frame with a pattern is a sure way of turning a snapshot into a compelling photograph.

A pattern is simply a repetition of a graphic element such as a line, shape or color. Usually, a pattern is made up of at least three repetitions, but the more the better!

Jing'an Temple, Shanghai, China by Anne McKinnell

These prayer ribbons create a repeating pattern in the frame.

4. Symmetry

Despite everything we have been taught in photography about the rule of thirds and keeping things off balance and out of the middle, symmetry has always been associated with beauty. In a symmetrical composition, your main subject is placed at center stage and the eye is encouraged to travel in a circular center around the frame. This will make a scene feel harmonious and calm. But it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds!

The difference is in the details. It’s in the absolute perfection of the symmetry. A composition that is almost symmetrical will seem off and boring, one that is perfect will seem awe inspiring.

To make a photograph that is symmetrical, you will have to hone your eye to find items in the scene that are symmetrical and leave everything out of the frame that does not fit. The composition should have symmetry from corner to corner, which means that the background if there is one, must be symmetrical too.

Legislature in Victoria, British Columbia by Anne McKinnell - How to Compose Photos with Impact Using Elements of Design

This photo uses both symmetry and frame-in-frame as design elements.

5. Frame-in-Frame

One way to quickly add a new dimension to your subject is to give it a frame inside the boundaries of the image. The edges of your photograph are the first frame. Then, you want to add another frame around your subject, which is internal to the photograph.

The idea is to add interest to your photograph by framing your main subject inside another frame. This isn’t always possible, of course, but if you keep your eyes open for opportunities you will start to notice them more often.

Windows and doors are one of the most accessible frames for this technique because you find them everywhere. If you have a wonderful view from your window, try including the window in your image. Remember you can look from the inside out or from outside looking in.

Hatley Castle by Anne McKinnell - How to Compose Photos with Impact Using Elements of Design

This gazebo provides an arch that frames the garden and castle outside.


The next time you are out photographing, keep one of the above elements of design in mind and go looking for it. Being purposeful about your composition is how you will progress from taking snapshots to making great images.

If you’re ready to dive deeper into composition and the elements of image design, be sure to check out Anne’s eBook The Compelling Photograph – Techniques for Creating Better Images.

The post How to Compose Photos with Impact Using Elements of Design by Anne McKinnell appeared first on Digital Photography School.

7 Tips to Improve Your Skyline Photos


Is there a more iconic photograph to depict a big city, than a beautiful photograph of its skyline? Skylines can provide stunning photographs that have a big sale potential, but to capture those wow shots, you have to be prepared to plan for them in advance, and to allow time and patience, as well as determination, to capture them. Here are some tips to help you capture striking skyline photos.

1 – Plan in Advance

Like most types of photography, you will need to plan, and research, in advance to get the perfect skyline shot. It’s all about finding the right location, so before you even get on the plane you should have an idea of where you might be able to get a good view from, and with Google Maps it’s now easier than ever to plan your skyline photos. Start by looking at where the city center is on a map, and identify vantage points around it that could give you a good view. Keep in mind that if want to capture a wide photo of the skyline you will need to be a fair distance away.

Parks, river fronts, lakes, and harbors generally offer a good view of the skyline (if they face in the right direction), so look for these on a map, and make a note so that you can scout them out when you’re on location. You can also research image libraries to see what already exists, that can give you an indication of what viewpoints are available.

2 – Speak to Locals

No one else knows the city better than the residents and locals, so get friendly and take advantage of their knowledge. After all, the people who live in a city will often, over time, go beyond the post card locations and might be able to offer you advantageous advice, which gets you a unique image.

For example, as a Londoner, I know that most people head to the river or one of the number of bridges across the Thames to get a photo of London’s skyline, but you could actually get a very unique view from some of the amazing bars such as the Vertigo Bar.


Speaking to locals means you could get unique views that others won’t see.

3 – Lenses, Tripods, and Filters

I’m one of the biggest advocates of not carrying too much equipment, however when you are photographing skylines it’s best to ensure you have what you might need. These include:

  • A tripod if you are photographing early morning, late afternoon, or at any other time that might need long exposures.
  • A wide angle lens is usually what you will need, but there may also be occasions where you need a telephoto lens if you are far away from the skyline.
  • An array of filters – these could be anything from Neutral Density filters to Polarizing filters and more.

The key is to make sure you have everything you need, as you might not get a second chance. So it might be worth paying for a taxi there and back, to avoid having to carry lots of heavy equipment or leaving something behind.

4 – Early Morning and Late Afternoon Light

It is not a coincidence that most of the skyline photos that wow, are usually taken at dawn or dusk. The hour after sunrise, and the hour before sunset, give a beautiful light, which can transform any scene. In fact, you can get two very contrasting photos taken from the same place at different times of the day. Instead of getting to your location at these times, aim to get there half an hour earlier so that you are set up and ready to go.


Early morning and late afternoon light is a great time for photographing skylines.

5 – Wait for Night

After the sun has set it is tempting to pack up and go home. However, one of the best times to photograph the skylines of a city is at night, when the whole place lights up. Wait around for an hour or so after sunset, and you can capture the city skyline at its most glamorous. You will definitely need a tripod if you are planning to photograph at night, as you will have long exposure times, so make sure you leave your home or hotel room with it. Remember to keep safe at all times, and ensure that if you are photographing at night, you are in what are considered safe parts of the city.


At night, the city lights make it come alive.

6 – Utilize Your Hotel

One of the best places to take photographs of a city skyline is from your hotel. A lot of the big hotels in cities have amazing open-air swimming pools, or roof top bars with beautiful views across the city. This means you can get great photos right from your doorstep. So prior to booking your hotel room, research and keep this in mind, and when you arrive at your hotel you can always ask if they have a room with a view of the skyline. I have lost count of the number of times I was able to take skyline shots from my hotel – and sometimes even from my own room (use the polarizer to eliminate reflections from the window)!


These are just some of the photos I’ve managed to take from my hotels.

7 – Add a Point of Interest

Most city skylines have been photographed thousands of times, so sometimes it’s good to take a step back and add a point of interest to the foreground. Not only will this give you another differentiating shot from the same location, but it will also tell a different story which could be completely unique. Be on the lookout for people admiring the view, a runner with a dog, or cyclists, all of which make great foreground points of interest.


An example of how adding a point of interest can make a photograph tell a much more interesting story.

There is no doubt that skylines can provide some incredibly striking photographs which can be stand-out shots on their own, but which can also work as part of a portfolio. But like all types of photography it takes planning and perseverance to ensure you capture the photos that will do the scene justice. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be on your way to capturing great skyline photos.

Do you have any tips or advice for photographing skylines? Share them and your skyline images below.

The post 7 Tips to Improve Your Skyline Photos by Kav Dadfar appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Review: Flashpoint Zoom Li-on Flash

01 Packaging

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: you’ve fallen in love with Speedlight flash photography, but you gripe at having to lug around lots of odds and ends for your remote triggers, not to mention boxes of backup AA batteries. Isn’t it time for flashes to catch up with DSLRs and be powered by rechargeable batteries, and have more discrete wireless triggers? It turns out that these features DO exist, but not with Speedlights made by major camera manufacturers.

Announced by Adorama earlier this year, the Flashpoint Zoom Li-on TTL Flash is a new and affordable system that has the key feature of being powered by a rechargeable Lithium Ion Polymer battery. This battery promises to power your flash longer than any other hot shoe mount Speedlight on the market, and it does so while keeping the flash unit at a relatively compact size. When paired with the Flashpoint Commander Transmitter and Receiver set, you have an intuitive, compact way of using the flash off-camera. Sound appealing? Read on for more specs and details.

What’s in the Boxes

02 In the Box

To be clear, the flash unit and the commander (transmitter and receiver) are two separate items that are sold separately. You don’t need to have the Commander set to use the flash unit on its own.

The Zoom Li-on unit, made specific for either Canon or Nikon, arrives in a nicely packaged box containing:

  • (1) Flashpoint Zoom Li-On TTL flash unit
  • (1) Lithium Ion Polymer battery pack
  • (1) Battery charger with cable
  • (1) Protective case for flash with a mini-stand unit

The Flashpoint Commander set arrives with a rather large transmitter (it’s about the size of a Pocket Wizard), and a much smaller receiver (about the size of a thumb drive). The transmitter runs on a pair of AA batteries.

Best Flash Feature: The Battery

Boasting more power than any AA battery, the lithium ion battery is the standout feature of the Zoom Li-on unit. It packs 11.1 volts and 200mAh, and a fully charged battery delivers up to 350 full power shots, with a recycle time of less than 1.5 seconds. You’ll need 2.5 hours to fully charge the battery, but it will function just fine on partial charges. On the unit’s display, there is also a battery icon in the upper right corner that will indicate how much power your battery has left. For longer shoots, it’s recommended that you purchase an extra backup battery, since the flash unit can’t be powered by any other means.

04 Charging

Other Flash Features: Comparable to Most Major Speedlights

Besides the rechargeable battery, the Zoom Li-on flash has all of the other functionality present in other Speedlights today. These features include standard TTL mode, Manual mode, Exposure Compensation, Front and Rear Curtain Sync, Laser Autofocus Assist, High-Speed Sync, group control, and Slave and Master optics, to name a few. This flash also has complete IR TTL control connectivity with Canon and Nikon flashes, meaning you don’t necessarily need to convert your entire Speedlight system. Other triggering modes for the flash include hotshoe, radio controller, 2.5mm sync port, and optical slave.

The flash head has a built-in wide angle diffuser and white bounce card. It also rotates 180 degrees in any direction and tilts over 90 degrees. It can also automatically or manually zoom from 24-105mm. Basically, if you’re familiar with the Nikon SB-900 or Canon 580EXII, the Zoom Li-on flash is similar in size and layout of its controls. Thanks to my familiarity with Canon Speedlites, I was able to unbox the unit and set it up intuitively without referring to the included instruction manual.

Flashpoint Commander Set: All About Convenience

The accompanying Flashpoint Commander set enters a crowded market full of all kinds of remote trigger options, but their main advantages are, an affordable price point and lots of power, packed into relatively small units. Using this set, you can view and change your flash output and trigger your flash remotely from 150+ feet away. There are also 16 channels and 16 groups of control so that you can handle multiple units of remote lighting. The newest version of the transmitter also comes with a 3.5mm sync port, allowing for a direct cable connection to the PC socket of your camera.

03 Details

The transmitter is slightly larger than a single Pocket Wizard Plus III and it sits nicely in your camera’s hot shoe mount. Unlike most other trigger systems, the receiver looks nothing like the transmitter, consisting of a flat unit that simply plugs into the side of the Zoom Li-on flash. After syncing channels and groups via manual switches on the transmitter and receiver, that’s all you need to do to set it up.

Two complaints: you’ll need slim fingernails or a tool to hit the switches on the channel sections of both units, and the group dials are a little too easy to turn, opening up room for possible syncing mistakes. On the whole, this Commander set is impressively compact and easy to set up, although you’ll want to keep an extra eye out for the tiny receiver as it seems very easy to misplace.

05 Umbrella

Flashpoint Zoom Li-On Flash and Commander Set in Practice

To test out the flash unit, I worked put it through three separate scenarios: table top food photography, on-the-fly event photography, and a posed portrait session.

For the food photography session below, the Zoom Li-On flash was paired with the transmitter and receiver and handheld to camera left. Shot in manual mode with no diffuser, the outcome was a soft, natural light that I’d expect from any speedlight.

07 Example Food

The on-the-fly event photography scenario was a quick red carpet photo op with Laila Ali. Fired in ETTL mode on-camera, the Zoom Li-on’s smooth rotating head feature plus fast recycle time came in extremely handy, and I was able to pull off the desired shots without turning to my Canon 580EXII, which I had mounted to a second body just in case.

06 Example Laila

Finally, the portrait session combined the Zoom Li-on flash, acting as the master, and a Canon 580EXII flash off-camera as the slave. Both flash units synced seamlessly, and thanks to similar control layouts, it was easy to figure out that the master/slave function on both units activates the same way (holding down the Zoom button).

08 Example KA

Overall, I declare the Zoom Li-on Flash a winner and a new staple to my camera bag thanks to its power, reliability, and the cost (and weight) savings of not having to haul tons of spare AA batteries. Are you inclined to give this flash a shot?

You can find the Flashpoint Zoom Li-on Flash at Adorama or on

The post Review: Flashpoint Zoom Li-on Flash by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Shoot Panoramic Photos

Image stitching is not new, neither is panoramic photography. Since almost the beginning, photographers have been intrigued with providing a wider view of a given scene. The reason is that panoramic images provide context. In a normal frame of a large expansive scene, we only see a small part of the bigger picture. A panoramic image however, gives us a broader view, and a context for that image. The word panorama is derived from two greek words, “pan” which means everything and “horama” which means that which is seen or the view. So, panorama literally means – a view of everything.

Stitched Panorama

A six image pano of Howe Sound, Squamish BC

Early on, photographers would make panoramics manually, by simply panning across a scene and taking sucessive images. Once the images were printed, they would manually stitch them by overlaying one image on top of the other, or even cutting them into place. This was a new way of viewing and capturing scenes. I saw my first panoramic image as a young boy. It was a huge scene of photographs that had been stuck together and overlaid. It was in a museum in the city where I grew up. I was intrigued, it gave me a view of the city I was living in, that I had never seen before. It gave me a whole new perspective on the place that I called home. I wasted many rolls of film as a youngster trying to do the same shots, but never managed to get it right.

One solution to this challenge was the panoramic camera. These cameras revolutionized panoramic photography. They were able to capture a panoramic scene of 180 degrees in a single shot. No more cutting and sticking photographs together. These rotating cameras captured great images of scenes and did it with ease. There were also wide-angle panoramic cameras that took in much more of a scene in a single image and again, changed the way we viewed images and scenes. These cameras changed the views, and contexts of many famous places. In their day, they were the pinnacle of technology.

Stitched Panorama

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

Once again, the wheel of progress turned and all of this changed when digital panoramics became possible. The photographer only had to pan across the scene and take successive images, as in the past, but now the stitching process in the computer gave a seamless result. The photographer simply dropped these images into a photo stitching tool and voila, an amazing panoramic image magically appeared. Well, that was the idea anyway, in practical terms it was not so easy.

1. How to shoot panoramic photos

Autopano giga is a standalone software tool that stitches your images together. There are a few guidelines to follow when you do a photostitch. By following these guidelines, you will be almost guaranteed that your image will stitch properly the first time.

A. Shoot in Manual mode

Expose for your scene manually and don’t change the exposure between shots. You may have to do a light meter reading for the brightest and darkest parts of your scene. Adjust your settings to make sure that you have good exposure throughout the images and then start shooting.

B. Overlap your shots by at least 30%

Overlap each image by at least 30% if you are shooting in landscape orientation and up to 50% if shooting in portrait. By overlapping you will have duplicates of parts of your scene, this will allow the software to stitch the images together better and adjust for the perspective distortion too.

Stitched Panorama

Five images stitched, Jack Poole Plaza, Vancouver

C. Use a tripod

You can shoot handheld, but using a tripod will ensure that the images will be shot along the same horizontal plane. This can also help with the stitching process too.

D. Keep your aperture between f/8 and f/11

You will want to keep everything in focus, so be sure that your aperture is set to at least f/8. At f/2.8 your focal point may change and this could cause some parts of your image to be out of focus. It may also be a good idea to set your aperture to f/8, focus your camera, then switch to manual focus. That way your camera won’t be focusing on a different part of the scene in each image. At f/8 or f/11 the whole scene should be in focus.

Stitched Panorama

Six image Pano, Victoria Harbour on a snowy, windy day

Now the magic part, digitally stitching the images together. You can do this using Autopano Giga or Photoshop, my preference is Autopano Giga. To learn more about how to do this, take a look at these articles I wrote on image stitching: Walk Through and Review of Autopano Giga – Image Stitching Software and Step By Step How to Make Panoramic HDR Images.

Lets make this fun, upload some of your images that you have stitched, then tell us what software you used. Enjoy, happy shooting and stitching.

The post How to Shoot Panoramic Photos by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.

The Advantages of Renting Photographic Gear Before you Buy

We have all heard the expression “The gear does not make the photo. The photographer makes the photo.” That being said, the gear does certainly help in perfecting the art of photography.

If you are a professional photographer or even a serious amateur, you know that photography is quite an expensive profession/hobby. Good equipment can be expensive and by the time you build your day-to-day gear bag, it can set you back several thousands of dollars. Just when you think you have the perfect setup,  you hear about the latest camera or a faster lens than what you have just being released for pre-order. Gear lust is very real among photographers!

Kenichi Nobusue

By kenichi nobusue

This is where renting gear or even borrowing becomes a viable option for many professional as well as serious amateurs.

Benefits of renting photo gear

There are several advantages to renting photographic equipment.

  • The cost of renting is typically much lower than cost of buying the gear. This becomes more relevant if it is not something you are going to use too often (like a mega telephoto lens, fish-eye, or tilt-shift lens).

    Jon Fingas

    By Jon Fingas

  • Ability to try out the equipment and see if it suits your style of photography. Once you know you like a piece of gear, you can make the investment and know you’re making the right choice.
  • Using a rental as a backup system for assignments especially events like weddings or concerts.
  • Traveling light and having gear shipped directly to your hotel is an option many photographers mention as a plus for renting. This also eliminates travel-related anxiety around lost luggage and excess baggage charges.
  • Using a rental when your main gear is out for repair. This let’s you keep working while you wait for repairs to be completed.
  • Eliminating buyer’s remorse. It is true that not every piece of gear works for everyone. Often times we buy gear because a certain photographer that we admire has the same equipment, only to be disappointed that our pictures are no where like theirs.

Renting – online versus local stores

Richard Fisher

By Richard Fisher

There are many different options for renting photographic gear. You can do so from local stores in your area or online vendors. In the US, big camera chain stores like CalumetPhotographic and AdoramaRentals sell as well as rent photo gear. CalumetPhoto, one of the local camera retailers in my area, also has local stores where you can go to pick up and drop off rental equipment. They tend to have a wide variety of equipment but definitely recommend reserving gear, especially if you want it for a specific event like weddings, to ensure you get what you want.

There are online stores like Borrowlens and Lensprotogo that also offer a wide variety of lens, cameras and other equipment for rent. You order online and have the gear shipped to your home or location of your choice. Once you are done, you ship it back to them. There is definitely more flexibility in renting gear online but there is the added cost of shipping and insurance, as well as a slight risk that the gear might not arrive in time (any unforeseen circumstances like extreme weather).

Benefits of borrowing photo gear

Giyu (Velvia)

By Giyu (Velvia)

Sometimes you get lucky and have other photographer friends who let you borrow their equipment for a photoshoot, or just to test out – definitely one of the more cost effective ways of trying out photographic gear. However, for those of us who don’t have such awesome friends, there is another method of renting temporary gear that is starting to become popular.

Online companies like CameraLends provide access to a lending community where you can rent cameras directly from local photographers and film makers. On the CameraLends website, they offer a peer-to-peer lending community for photographers and videographers. Owners post unused gear to rent out to other photographers and you can rent gear directly from local photographers, faster and cheaper than traditional means. But this service is somewhat dependent on the market you are in. Not every market will have every piece of equipment available for rent.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.51.13 AM

Regardless of what method you choose to borrow or rent camera equipment, definitely try out gear before you make the investment to purchase it. The last thing you want to happen is buying equipment you think you want or need, only to find that it is really not benefiting your particular style of photography.

The post The Advantages of Renting Photographic Gear Before you Buy by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Simple Tips to Improve your Travel Photography – Include People in Your Images


With photography being more and more accessible, it has never been more imperative to take unique photos. After all, picture editors have thousands of images of pretty much every location to choose from, so as photographers we need to give them something different to stand out from the crowd. Including people in your travel photos can really add a uniqueness that would make them stand out.

Here are some simple tips on how you could include people in your travel photography:

For sense of scale

Including people in your photos is a great way to give the viewer a sense of scale and prospective. Our brains are much better at processing scale in photos when we can compare something we are familiar with. So next time you are on top of a mountain, next to a big tree, or in a vast wilderness, try to include a person in the image to give the viewer a sense of scale.


I took a few photos of this beach without anyone on it, but by far the most impressive is this shot that highlights the size.

Tell a story

Sometimes the difference between a good photo and a great photo is simply to include people. This can give context to what might be a generic scene, and help portray a story about that location. A cyclist on a path tells much more of an intriguing story than just an empty path.


Including people in your photos can help tell a story. This photo sold within a few days of going online.

Adding a point of interest

Simply adding a person, or group of people, to a scene can transform what would be a dull composition into something that instantly draws the viewer in. This is especially great in scenes where you have similar colours (e.g. water or snow) or even patterns like fields and sand. The person will act as an anchor, draw the viewer’s eyes and ensure that your image has a point interest.


This woman adds a point of interest to the scene that might otherwise look boring.

Creating a mood

Is the place you are photographing buzzing with activity? Or is it a place of tranquility in a big city? Including a person or people in your shots can really create a sense of mood and emotion in the final photo that might not exist without it. Try to think about the scene and what it could possibly be showing if you included a person in it.


The people in this shot help portray the serenity and calmness of the scene.

Be creative

If you are lucky enough to be traveling with a companion, think about using them as a model to help make your images more creative. But rather than just snapping away, try to think about the scene and what you are hoping to achieve. Sometimes you can push the boundaries even further and capture unique photos that you wouldn’t be able to get without a willing model.


By turning my view slightly from inside the hot air balloon I was able to capture the people which not only gave the photo a sense of scale but helps to give it more context.

So next time you are about to take that picture of that beautiful landscape, or famous landmark, just pause and think if including a person will improve your composition.

Now it’s your turn. Share your photos, thoughts and tips below.

The post Simple Tips to Improve your Travel Photography – Include People in Your Images by Kav Dadfar appeared first on Digital Photography School.

10 Quick Photography Business Tips to Kickstart 2015

It’s that time of the year – everywhere you turn, people are talking about new year resolutions, goals and targets. Be it health related, relationship related or even business related. If you have a professional photography business or even if you are an serious enthusiast who has thought about becoming a professional photographer, here are some business tips to help kickstart 2015.

Memorable Jaunts Writing Business Goals Article for 2015

A new year is the perfect time to set up new goals for your business.

#1 Legitimize your business

This can mean different things in different parts of the world. But the end result is almost always the same. Take whatever steps needed to ensure you are following the law in setting up your business the right way legally. In most countries, that means registering your business name, getting a tax ID number, and filing the appropriate paperwork with the local government. When you are legitimate, clients will appreciate and respect you even more.

General Photography Business Tips From Memorable Jaunts for DPS

Becoming a legit photography business goes beyond business cards, gear and website.

#2 Create tangible, measurable and achievable goals

I cannot stress enough the importance of creating professional goals. They form the anchor for your business and help you navigate the waters when things are going great, and when the waters turn rough. When you have a clear vision of where you want to go, nothing can stand in your way. When you are having a bad photography day where everything seems to be going wrong, revisit your goals and they will help you correct your course.

Writing Goals for Your Photography Business

Glitter glue and Shinny Stars are a must for any goal writing exercise – puts you in a good mood!

#3 Invest in education

The photography industry, like most industries, is constantly changing and evolving. As professionals we often forget to take the time to update our own skills and knowledge. Luckily there are many different avenues to get an update on what is the latest and greatest in the industry. There is no lack of online classes, articles, or even YouTube videos. Or if you are like me, sign up for a workshop or two – it is a great way to not only polish your skills, but also meet other photographers and make a connection or two.

Memorable Jaunts Photography Education

#4 Showcase your brand

I really believe in the adage that there is only ‘One’ you. What makes your brand unique is you and your personality. There are millions of photographers out there, but there is only one you!  Differentiate yourself by showcasing your unique personality in your brand. You can do that in many different ways in your business – through videos, your interactions with your clients, the content on your website, and your images. My love for nature and the outdoors is very apparent in my images and my website. Travel is my inspiration and has its own page on my website. I love clean and fresh images and my editing style is minimalist – that is who I am, and my clients appreciate that and have come to expect it.

#5 Streamline your workflow

This was a great eye opener for me. Recently I sat down and documented my workflow from start (initial client inquiry) to finish (delivering products and getting paid). There was such an imbalance of time spent across various activities. Documenting the process not only helped me understand where I was wasting precious time, but also where I was spending too little time. I was able to automate some processes and streamline my workflow.

Another personal tip – I turn off the internet and shut off my phone when I am editing a family session or a wedding. This really helps me focus and manage my workflow.

Documenting your photography business workflow process

#6 Differentiate yourself from the crowd

Follow other photographers and gain inspiration from their work. But don’t imitate them – imitation stifles personal growth. Let your individuality shine through your own work. Not only will this help you stand out from the rest of the crowd, but it will also help you find your own voice and give you the confidence to take your art to the next level.

Memorable Jaunts General Photography Business Tips for DPS

My favorite motivational quote sits on my desk reminding me everyday why I do what I do.

#7 Spruce up your blog

We all know that having a blog is like having a voice on the internet. A blog helps clients interact with you. Make a conscious decision to update your blog regularly. Most people believe that updating your blog three times a week is really beneficial for SEO. If that is something that you can commit to, more power to you. Keep content fresh and exciting – don’t just blog about your sessions and post a bunch of images about the session. I categorize my blogposts as ‘Weddings’, ‘Portraits’, ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Personal’. Use your blog to showcase other aspects of your business – products you provide, gear that you love and why, or even who are you as a person – the face behind the camera.

#8 Maintain your gear

Check your equipment. This includes your primary camera, backup camera, and flash. Get cameras and lenses cleaned and serviced so that they are in top working order when you need them. I use Canon Professional Services Membership, which is a great service that is quick and efficient. Don’t forget the accessories – check reflectors for tears, missing tripod attachment plates, old batteries, and faulty memory cards. Keep everything ready for your photography season.

Memorable Jaunts General Photography Business Tips for DPS

I use a myriad of digital and film cameras – all my gear gets the same care and maintenance.

#9 Update your website with your latest work

I will be the first to admit this is generally one of the things I put on the back burner many times. However this is a key piece of the puzzle to attracting new clients. Showcase your best work on your website, blog, and other social media channels. Let your pictures speak volumes and keep the content fresh. Often times you are so busy photographing and managing your current clients, you forget about the new potential clients out there. Give those clients something new to look at so they keep coming back for more.

#10 Maintain your health and general well being

Perhaps this should be the first tip on the list. This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. Managing a photography business is hard and exhausting – both mentally and physically. I love photographing weddings but after every wedding, I feel like I have been run over by a truck! Set aside time to exercise, eat healthy, and schedule ‘retreat time’. Time away from the computer and camera to enjoy the other finer things in life! After all what good is a great photographic career, numerous awards, and accolades if you are not able, mentally or physically, to enjoy the glory.

The post 10 Quick Photography Business Tips to Kickstart 2015 by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Using Graduated Neutral Density filters for Landscape Photography

You can see the effect an ND Grad has on the scene

You can see the effect a graduated neutral density filter has on the scene

One of the biggest challenges in photography is managing the light in your scene. It is for this reason that many landscape photographers love to be out shooting during the golden hours or blue hour when the light is beautiful and the contrast is manageable. Contrast is tough to manage on bright days and in certain scenes, but there are a few ways to work around this. In this article we are going to look at the usefulness of using neutral density gradient filters (aka ND grads). These filters have been around for a long time, most landscape photographers will have a set of them in their camera bag.

Filters or Photoshop?

In recent years, there has been an ongoing debate around whether it is better to use filters or to bracket the images and blend them in Photoshop afterwards or even use HDR to capture all the different tonality and light in a scene. In many cases this is a personal preference, and I switch between the two depending on the scene or the vision I have of the image I want to make.

If I am shooting during golden hour I will most often use an ND grad filter. If I am doing a starscape, I will take two images and blend them, one for the sky and one for the foreground. The reason is this. At golden hour, I can expose for the ambient light and use a filter to keep the detail in the sky. If I want a starscape (not a star trail) I need to push my ISO up really high and if there is something in the foreground of the scene that is a little too bright, it will overexpose. My first shot will be an image that will expose the the scene properly. For my second shot, I will expose the sky to capture a starscape shot. Afterwards, I will blend them in Photoshop, which really works well.

In some cases, there is no substitute for an ND grad. If you want the waves in a seascape scene to become silky smooth or a river to look soft and white, then you will need to use ND grads. This effect cannot be made in Photoshop (not yet anyway). The best part about using ND grads is the surprise you get when you see the image on the screen. You will be amazed at the effect of capturing the blurred movement of different elements in your image.

What is a graduated neutral density filter (ND Grad)?

Essentially it is a rectangular, optically correct piece of resin or glass with a gradient from dark to light. It is called “neutral” because the dark part of the filter should not make any colour differences, or add a colour cast to the scene. This is not always true of cheaper filters, but the well established filter brands (Lee, Singh-Ray) leave very little colour cast on the final image. The reason behind using an ND filter is to hold light back so that the part of the scene that is brightest (usually the sky) does not overexpose. This effect creates a pleasing image. The sky is well exposed and the foreground is correctly exposed as well.

If you were to expose the scene without using an ND grad filter, very often, the foreground would be well exposed while the sky may simply be overexposed or, if you were to expose for the sky, the foreground would be very dark. As I said earlier, you can do blending in Photoshop, but sometimes, you may not capture all the detail in the sky and using a filter to capture the scene may be useful. Also, you will be able to spend more time shooting and less time editing afterwards!

A set of ND grads in varius strengths

A set of ND grads in varius strengths

When should you use an ND grad filter?

Most landscape photographers will use them at sunrise or sunset, during the golden hour. You can also use them during the day to slow the shutter speed to make water smooth and silky. Blurring moving objects such as people, cars, buses or even trees blowing in the wind is also an option. What you will get is a well exposed, daylight scene with some blurred movement. This can look really interesting and dynamic in your image.

The reason you will want to use an ND grad filter is that there can be a substantial difference, light wise, between the sky and your foreground. If you have more than a two stop difference, you will probably need an ND grad filter to correct that and get a good, well balanced exposure. This not a rule, but if you try and average the exposure and you are finding that your foreground looks too dark and your sky is too bright, maybe it is time to use the filter.

An ND Grad was used in this image to expose the sky and clouds correctly

An ND grad was used in this image to expose the sky and clouds correctly

Types of ND grad filters

ND grad filters have a few variables. The first is whether the filter has a hard or soft edge. There is a reason for this and both types are useful. The hard edge filter has a very definite transition between the dark gradient part of the filter and the part that is clear. The soft edge filter gently blends the gradient across the filter, so the line is less obvious. Each one of these filters are used on different scenes. For example, the hard edge filter is really useful if you have a very definite horizon line (i.e. a seascape or a landscape scene where the horizon is pretty flat and straight). The soft edge filter is used for scenes where there is no clear horizon (i.e. a forest or street scene). Learning when to use which type of filter takes some practice, but once you can visualise what the result will look like, it is pretty easy.

Hard Edge and Soft Edge ND Grads

Hard Edge and Soft Edge ND Grads

ND grads come in different strengths

The filters are made in different strengths to compensate for different lighting conditions. Depending on the dynamic range (the difference between highlights and shadows) in your scene you can choose an ND grad filter that will be darker or lighter. Darker filters hold back more light and lighter filters, hold back less light. ND Grads are made in the following strengths 0.3 or one f-stop of light, 0.45 or 1.5 f-stops, 0.6 or two f-stops, 0.75 or 2.5 f-stops, 0.9 or three f-stops. The important calculation to remember is to try and keep your sky and your foreground within one stop of one another. Also, ND grads can be stacked if the light is really bright, so you can make the sky even darker, depending on the effect you want.

How do I use an ND grad filter?

It is easier than you might think. There are some technical details to think of, but once you have used grads a few times, it is really quite simple. Here is a process that works pretty well in most lighting conditions:

  1. Set up your camera on a tripod and take a light meter reading of the foreground. Making sure that your camera is on Manual, point it down and fill the viewfinder with the foreground to take the reading.
  2. Take a light meter reading in the same way as above, of the sky.
  3. Work out the difference between the two exposures and use an ND Grad to get your scene to within one stop of light difference. As an example, if the sky is three stops brighter than the foreground, you can use an ND Grad that blocks two f-stops of light or a 0.6 ND Grad.
  4. Slide the ND grad filter into place in front of the lens and determine the best position for the gradient to be in your image. If it is a hard horizon (i.e. a seascape scene) use a hard edge grad, if it is a forest scene, use a soft edge grad.
  5. Expose for your foreground and make the shot.
  6. Check the result on your LCD screen, zoom in on the image to make sure everything is properly exposed. Make any adjustments and shoot another image if necessary.

That’s it, simple really. Of course, as I said earlier, it takes a fair amount of practice to become adept at using these filters, but the results are worth it.

In this scene, the ND grad allowed the sky to be exposed properly and slowed the shutter speed won enough to blur the water

In this scene, the ND grad allowed the sky to be exposed properly and slowed the shutter speed down enough to blur the water.

Image editing

Once you have captured your well exposed scene, you will want to take it into Lightroom or Photoshop to put the finishing touches to the image. There are many different ways to enhance the image and make it really pop. I am not going to go into all the different adjustments you could make to the image except for one piece of advice. I will generally select the sky and the foreground separately and make a layer for each of them, then make separate adjustments to each. You may want to make the sky even more foreboding if it was a cloudy day, or perhaps brighten up the foreground a little more to show the detail. By doing this you will get the most out of the the light in the scene. Many photographers will convert their ND grad images into black and white because the movement and softness of the water in the scene can look very compelling in monochrome. The choice is yours.

What’s next?

To do this kind of photography, you will need to buy an ND grad or two. Some of the cheaper ND grads are a good place to start, brands like Cokin are good, and they are not especially pricey. The more expensive brands offer top quality, and in some cases the filters are hand made. If you find that you really love the effect these filters give, then you may want to invest in some Lee filters or Singh-Ray. These are top filter brands and the results from these products are amazing.

The most important thing to remember is to invest the time in getting the technique right and knowing how to use the equipment. Photography is all about practice and getting the technique right. Yes, good equipment helps, but the most important thing is practice. Once you have mastered the technique with a cheaper filter, then consider making the investment in the more expensive ones.

A final image after being processed in Photoshop

A final image after being processed in Photoshop

The post Using Graduated Neutral Density filters for Landscape Photography by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Create Amazing Urban Landscape and Street Photography Images

A stitched panorama in a city can make a great scene!

A stitched panorama in a city can make a great scene!

Many of us live in cities nowadays, in fact almost 80% of the world’s population lives in, or near, a large city. While it is fantastic to be out in nature, photographing the remote seascape scenes or the snow capped mountains, that is not possible for most photographers, everyday. That might mean that you don’t photograph for weeks at a time. As you probably know by now, to make big improvements in your photography you need to practice, practice, and practice some more.

Living in a city has its own scenes that are great to photograph, this is why street photography is such a popular genre of photography. These urban landscapes can not only be interesting, but you can make some very powerful images in an urban or city setting. Here are some pointers on how to create amazing urban landscape and street photography images.

1. Urban landscapes are the same as rural landscapes

Ok, not visually maybe, but in the way you approach them. In traditional landscape photography you will use a leading line to draw the eye into the scene. You will make sure that there is foreground interest that holds the viewers eye. You will use composition guidelines to set up your shot. This is all true for urban landscapes too. Visually design your scene as you would when you photograph a landscape scene. Be sure that the scene has a good background, a strong mid ground and a compelling foreground. This is not a rule, but it will help when you set up your shot.

2. The mundane becomes unusual

We have all seen pretty much all the objects in a city. The fire hydrants, the mailboxes and the scenes all look familiar to us city dwellers. In urban landscapes it’s not only about the architecture or the street scenes, it is about making those well know objects look different or interesting. Think of the time of day that you photograph. Late afternoon sunlight, warm light can make a fire hydrant or mailbox look somehow magical. Graffiti can look gritty, textured, and interesting in the soft light. Look at how you can change the angle or lines in a normal scene. Come from a different angle and see how that change makes all the difference to making mundane objects seem different.

Look for a way to make mundane scenes look different

Look for a way to make mundane scenes look different

3. Textures and close up

Every city has literally thousands of different textures, including: walls of buildings, cobbled streets, paved walkways, wooden walkways, benches, grass, the list goes on. Each of these surfaces has texture which are great for urban landscape photography. To emphasize texture, you will want to be shooting in side light conditions. The side light will emphasize the granularity of the surface of the street, or the grain in the wooden bench. Textures can be a whole theme on their own. Think of the textures on the sidewalks, the brick walls, the concrete buildings, the glass surfaces (reflections are amazing too).

Try this, go out into your city and try and shoot 24 photographs of different textures, at different times of the day. The range of different images will amaze you, and it will open up your eyes to what is possible when you focus on just one theme. Secondly, try and isolate some subjects in the scene. Get in closer to what you are shooting. By doing this, you will isolate part of the scene and make it look more intriguing.

This graffiti art looks amazing, but the textures and grittiness make the image more impactful

This graffiti art looks amazing, but the textures and grittiness make the image more impactful

4. Use colour

We all photograph in colour nowadays, and then convert that image to black and white (if you don’t, you should!) but shooting for colour in your city can be a lot of fun. Decide on a colour you want to photograph and go out and look for all the different scenes you can find that contain your colour. To make it more challenging, try and isolate that colour to make 80% of your image the chosen colour. This will help you see beyond subjects and look at colour in a whole new way. You can also try and get the different colours in a scene into a cohesive arrangement, your primary colours (reds, yellows and blues) will be immediately powerful in a shot. A fire hydrant can become more interesting because of the redness of it. A blue wall becomes an abstract image, colour is a good theme to use in your urban images.

Vibrant colours can make your image pop!

Vibrant colours can make your image pop!

5. Photographing people

Cities are built for people, there are lots of them in any city.  It is always fun to see how people interact with the city. Do they use the park benches, do they take time to look around them in the city or do they simply march on to work. Look for opportunities to capture photos of people doing everyday stuff, but try and find a great backdrop to shoot against. A graffiti wall or a moving bus can make the perfect setting, good architecture too! Always be aware of people’s reaction to being photographed. I generally try and photograph people when they are not camera aware. If they spot me taking the shot, I will walk over to them, show them the image and explain why I shot it. Sometimes, people are not happy to be photographed, be respectful of this and be friendly. It’s amazing what a smile and a relaxed attitude can do.

Use the city buildings as a backdrop to the people in the image

Use the city buildings as a backdrop to the people in the image

Your turn

Photographing in your city can be fun. Of course, always be aware of your surroundings. Be careful not to step off the sidewalk into the street without looking at the traffic (trust me, this happens). Also, be aware of where you are wandering. You may have innocently wandered into the “rough” neighbourhood which might be a bad idea with a large SLR around your neck.

Apart from being aware of your safety, photograph with abandon. Try and capture the essence of the city. Try and photograph the well known places in a new and fresh way. Above all, get out and photograph. As I said earlier, it may not always be possible to go out and shoot in some amazing natural setting, but you can get some really great images just outside your front door, in your home city.

Here is a fun exercise, choose a time to go out and get some urban shots. Select a theme and shoot five images, choose another theme and shoot another five, and so on. Once you have done this a few times, upload your favourite image to the comments below and let’s see how creative the shots are. I look forward to seeing your city through your eyes!

Look for refections, shapes and everyday life!

Look for refections, shapes and everyday life!

The post How to Create Amazing Urban Landscape and Street Photography Images by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Photoshop Tools to Take Your Images from Good to Great

Seascape image - Before and After image editing

Seascape image – Before and After image editing

We hear it all the time, “That photo has been Photoshopped”. Sometimes it sounds like the photo has caught a disease or that Photoshop is some undesirable effect that has been added to the image. Photoshop is the KEY to making your good images look spectacular. Yes, I said “good” images. Photoshop is not about fixing mistakes or trying to rescue a bad shot. It is more about refining your images and making them look amazing without overdoing it. Photoshop is a fantastic tool when it is used effectively but can be your enemy when you overdo it. Depending on what you want to achieve with your photos, this quick guide to five Photoshop tools will help you adjust your exposure effectively and make the colour really pop out of your image.

NOTE: the examples in this article simply show you how to make the adjustments on a separate layer. You could also use an adjustment layer which gives you much more control over the adjustment. The only tool that can’t be used with an adjustment layer is Shadow and Highlights. I will go into more details about adjustment layers in upcoming articles, for now, if you follow these guidelines, your images will look compelling and rich without looking overdone.

1. Shadow and Highlights Tool

This tool will be used to get more detail in the shadow areas of your image. Modern cameras can capture lots of detail, but depending on the light in the scene you are shooting, the shadows may be a little dark. The Shadow and Highlights tool will bring back some of the details in those areas.

Open your image in Photoshop and go to:  IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > SHADOW AND HIGHLIGHTS.

Finding the Shadow and Highlights tool

Finding the Shadow and Highlights tool

The tool will pop up and you will see this (as shown below), if you don’t see all these sliders, click “more options” to expand the box. You will use this tool to bring detail back into the shadows and you won’t be making any adjustments to the highlights. I find that the highlights part of this tool does not do a really good job, so I don’t use it at all.

Making adjustments to the Shadows in the image

Making adjustments to the Shadows in the image

The best way to work with the tool is to slide the Amount slider under the Shadows box to about one third across (33%). Then slide the Tonal Width slider to directly under the Amount slider. Lastly  bring the radius slider to directly under it. In most cases, you will want to have these sliders directly under each other (see screenshot below right).

shadows-highlightsThe important thing to remember here is to make the adjustments and take careful note of your image has been affected. Click on the preview button on the right hand side of the tool (you can do this with all the tools in this article) to see the “before and after”. You will be able to see at a glance how your changes are working. If you need to extract more detail from the shadows then slide the Amount slider to the right even more but make sure you line the other two sliders underneath it.

The amount that you decide to adjust the shadows is up to you. Be careful not to overdo it. Once you start seeing a “glow” around certain parts of your image, you may have gone too far. This glow is often referred to as a halo which can be avoided by watching carefully how your adjustments are affecting your image. If you see them appearing, simply drag the sliders back to the left until they disappear. Once you are happy, click OK.

2. Levels Tool

With your image open and the shadows adjusted, you will now adjust the overall exposure in the scene. If your image is a little over or under exposed, the levels tool can fix that. Go to: IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > LEVELS on the menu bar (or using the keyboard shortcut Command/Control+L). You will see the LEVELS dialogue box pop up and it will have a graph in it. This graph is called a histogram.


A histogram is simply a graphical representation of the pixels in the scene. If the graph is pushed over to the left side it means that your image has more darker tones in it, if the graph is over on the right side it means that your image has more brighter tones. There is no right or wrong histogram, it is simply a representation of the light in your scene. There are some great articles about histograms on the dPS site, so if you want to learn more about them, click on one of the links above.

Using the Levels tool to enhance the exposure and boost contrast

Using the Levels tool to enhance the exposure and boost contrast

The important thing to remember when working with levels is to make sure you don’t adjust your image so much that it causes the image to become under or over exposed. Thankfully, Photoshop gave us a way to see if that is happening, which I will explain shortly. Firstly, you will notice there are three sliders on the bottom of the histogram. The slider on the right is white (adjusts highlights) the slider in the middle is grey (adjusts mid tones) and the slider on the left is black (adjusts shadows). The levels tools will help adjust contrast and colour in your image. You can start the process by clicking and dragging the white slider in (move it to the left) to touch the edge of the histogram. Do the same for the black slider (drag it to the right). Your image will already look better.

Using the ALT key to see where the highlights are being overexposed

Using the ALT key to see where the highlights are being overexposed

Then you can move the middle slider to the right or the left to see which works better. Small changes always work best, so don’t make extreme changes on each slider. If you want to see how your adjustments are affecting your image, hold down the ALT key (PC) or OPTION key (Mac) while you click on the white or black slider. When you click ALT and hold down the white slider, the image will go black. As you slide to the left, you will see some red areas in your image (see above). When you see this, Photoshop is showing you which parts of the image will be overexposed, or clipped. The opposite is true for the the black slider. If you hold down ALT and click on the black slider, the screen will go white and as you slide to the right, the areas that come up on the screen will be underexposed, or clipped. It is a good idea to use this function if you are not sure if you have overdone your adjustments in Levels.

3. Colour Balance

This is a good tool to use to change the overall colour in the image. If your image is too blue and want you want it to be warmer, then you can do that by pulling up the red tones. Also, if your image has an undesirable colour cast, maybe the overall colour of the scene seems too green, then you can correct that by using this tool. The colour balance tool is found in the top menu bar under IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > COLOUR BALANCE (or using the keyboard shortcut Command/Control+B).


Once the dialogue box is open, you will see three sliders (as above). The sliders represent the visual colours in the image, and are set in the middle by default. By moving them to the left or the right you will be able to change the colour in the image. The top slider affects Cyan/Red, the middle slider works on Magenta/Green and the bottom slider is Yellow/Blue. The colour will change according to which slider you choose and how far left or right you move it.

Note: you can also choose which area of your image to affect as in the Shadows, Midtones or Highlights but selecting the appropriate button in the Tone Balance section below the sliders.

You will want make small adjustments here too. A big adjustment can make your image look over saturated with a particular colour and that will look unnatural. The idea is to enhance your image by boosting certain colours in the scene. So, if you have a sunset image (as below) you may want to boost the reds, yellows and magentas. That will make your image look warm and will give the scene some colour boost.

Using Colour Balance to boost the colours in the image

Using Colour Balance to boost the colours in the image

4. Hue and Saturation

One of the most powerful colour tools in Photoshop is the Hue and Saturation tool. To open it go to: IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > HUE/SATURATION (or using the keyboard shortcut Command/Control+U). This tool can be used very effectively to adjust all the colours in your image. When you open the tool, you will notice that there are three sliders again, namely Hue, Saturation and Lightness.


Hue means colour, this is not used very often as it will reassign the colours in your image, what you want to use this tool for is saturation. Saturation controls the richness or intensity of the colours in your image. Above the three sliders you will see a drop down box called Master. If you click on this, you can choose the colours that you want to saturate. This gives you very fine control over each colour in your image. You can select each colour individually and adjust it according to your preference. You may want to saturate the reds and yellows more than the blues, as an example, this tool allows you to do that. It is good to know that you are not adding colour to your image, you are saturating the colours that are there. Again, incremental adjustments are key. Don’t overdo it, small adjustments throughout this process will make your image look more natural and more dramatic

Getting the most out of the Hue and Saturation tool by saturating colours by channel

Getting the most out of the Hue and Saturation tool by saturating colours by channel

5. Vibrance

vibranceThe vibrance tool is found under IMAGE  > ADJUSTMENTS > VIBRANCE (no shortcut). It effectively saturates colours that are not completely saturated. This is a good finishing touch to your image editing to make sure your image gets a final boost. There is no real guideline as to how much you should adjust on this tool, but be aware of how it is affecting your image. Once this step is complete, your image should look remarkably different and if done correctly, the viewers won’t be saying those dreaded “Photoshopped” words.

The final step, boosting the vibrance to get that extra pop in the image

The final step, boosting the vibrance to get that extra pop in the image

In Conclusion

These five tools will help you make your good images spectacular. The important thing to remember in Photoshop is to make adjustments incrementally. As you can see from this process you slowly and incrementally make changes but the overall effect is dramatic without looking overdone. There are many other tools in Photoshop that can add even more enhancement to your images (I will be doing articles on those over the next few months) but start with these and get comfortable with how they work. To summarize, in Photoshop, slower is better and many small adjustments make a more dramatic impact on your image than a few large adjustments. Enjoy and experiment and as always, let me know what you think in the comments below.

The post 5 Photoshop Tools to Take Your Images from Good to Great by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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