Photoshop Secrets Of The Pros

Discover new ways to enhance images using this classic editing program
1 After

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to using Adobe Photoshop to improve the quality of your nature photography. Photoshop is, after all, the standard by which all other image-editing software programs are measured. The challenge is that because it’s such a dense application, exploring and mastering all of the tools and techniques it offers can take a long time. So we asked some longtime OP contributors to share their top tips. From quick fixes to more creative uses, consider the following advice the next time you open up Photoshop.

1 Emphasize Your Subject. Cameras don’t see the world the way we do. Sometimes we need to bring that camera’s image back to the emphasis we saw when we photographed a subject. The best way to do this without changing the details of the photo is to make most of the photo darker than the subject and use adjustment layers and layer masks. Follow these steps, and even if you don’t know layers and layer masks, you’ll get good results (plus, you’ll learn about layer masks).

photoshop photoshop
photoshop photoshop

1. Use the Elliptical Selection tool to circle your subject.
2.Invert that selection so that everything except the subject is selected (Select > Inverse).
3.Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer, click OK). This automatically gives you a layer mask based on the selection.
4.Adjust brightness to -30 (this isn’t critical and can be changed at any time).
5.The edge is obvious. Go to Filter > Gaussian Blur and use at least 100 pixels for the slider. This will vary depending on your photo. (You may have to lighten the whole image with Curves or Levels at this point, too.)
6.Click the eye icon of this layer on and off to see the difference.
—Rob Sheppard



2 Simple, Editable Dodge And Burn. I do this to almost every image, whether I’m working on a small touch-up or spending hours enhancing highlights and darkening shadows, to get contrast, very selectively, into specific areas of an image.

1.Create a new layer in your Layers palette. Option-click (Alt-click on a PC) the Create a New Layer icon in the bottom of the Layers window (it’s the one right next to the Garbage Can icon). This opens up a dialog box.
2.Change the mode to Overlay, then check the Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray) box. Click OK. You’ll see a gray layer.
3.Use the Brush tool (soft-edged) and set it to a very low Opacity. I prefer settings from 2 to 6 percent.
4.On the new layer, paint with white to lighten areas and black to darken. Because you’re on a new layer, it’s completely editable. Build up areas slowly for a more natural look.
—Daryl Benson


3 Creating Borders. An image begins and ends at its edges. I’ve spent years collecting tattered paper fringes, Polaroid edges and postcard borders, and adding them to my photos digitally. It’s usually just a matter of visually trying to match an image with the look and feel of an edge.

1.In this example, I converted the original image of overgrown stupas in Burma to black-and-white using Photoshop’s Channel Mixer and added a stained paper texture.
2.I copied and pasted the resulting image onto a new layer overtop the Polaroid edge.
3.There are many ways of blending the two. Here, I added a layer mask and painted black around the edges with a large soft-edged brush, allowing the background Polaroid border to show through.
4.Finally, I added a sepia hue to the overall image using Photo Filter (Image > Adjustments > Photo Filter).
—Daryl Benson

This Article Features Photo Zoom
photoshop photoshop
4 After

4 Work In Camera Raw. First, you must shoot RAW files for the best-quality image. This is especially important when photographing high-contrast scenes, such as this backlit scene of a cowboy at dusk. In Camera Raw, you have exceptional control over the contrast in an image and can recover (using, that’s right, the Recovery feature) areas of an image that are overexposed up to one stop. Crop in Camera Raw, too. Dump the areas of an image that will affect your decision as to the best exposure for the main subject in the image.

5 Don’t Underestimate Shadows/Highlights. When the Shadows/Highlights adjustment was first introduced in Photoshop, I thought it was a weak feature designed for those who didn’t want to be bothered with Curves and Levels. Well, I sure have changed my tune. It’s a powerful adjustment, as illustrated by these before-and-after examples of one of my Bodie State Historical Park images. With Shadows/Highlights, you can tone down the highlights and open up the shadows in an image fairly independently. Here’s the key to using this feature. In the Layers panel, Control-click (right-click on a PC) on the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object. Now you can use the Shadows/Highlights tool nondestructively when you go to Image > Adjustment and choose Shadows/Highlights.
—Rick Sammon

photoshop photoshop
5 After



6 Black-And-White Infrared. I’ve used this technique for years to mimic the look of black-and-white infrared film. First, convert your image to black-and-white. There are a dozen ways to do this, but I prefer using the Channel Mixer and setting it to Monochrome. Work visually with the Channel Mixer. If you have a lot of sky, use a good percentage of the Red channel, which will deliver a black sky. If there’s a lot of foliage, blend in a higher percentage of the Green channel, which will deliver bright foliage much as if it were shot on infrared film.

1.Once you have a black-and-white image that you’re happy with, set the foreground color to white in the Tools palette.
2.Select Sampled Colors in the Color Range dialog box, then use the Fuzziness slider to select an amount of highlights in the image. This is a taste thing. Start with 100 and click OK.
3.Select > Modify > Expand the selection by 1.
4.Select > Feather by 12 to 24.
5.Using the Fill command, fill that feathered selection with anywhere from 12 to 100 percent of the foreground color (white). This delivers that ethereal glow to highlights, mimicking the look of black-and-white infrared film.
—Daryl Benson



7 Adding Texture. I’ve been collecting textures for years and have used Photoshop to creatively add these to images. There are dozens of ways to do this, but one of the fastest and easiest is to use layers. I initially opened up a color image, converted it to black-and-white and added an old sepia-hued, wood texture to a new layer on top of the original image. More subtle textures usually work best. The three blend modes I like to use are Overlay, Soft Light and Hard Light.

1.Use the Layers window Opacity slider and Layer Style (double-clicking on the new layer will open this dialog box) to blend the texture with the background image.
2.Option-click (Alt-click on a PC) on the triangular sliders to split them in the Blend If option at the bottom of the Layer Style dialog box. This will deliver a smoother blend. I also lightened some of the highlights and the edges to more closely mimic the look of older, aged prints.
—Daryl Benson


    My camera club has had numerous discussions regarding the use of cloning of landscape pictures. Is it acceptable to remove a small piece of paper or a garbage can or a similar small object which is marring the picture?
    A larger issue concerns digital photography in general. Many articles in OP and other venues illustrate the extensive use of photoshop, etc. to enhance a photo. They talk about the many hours spent at the computer and the huge number of layers employed. The question is, when is a photograph no longer a photograph, but a digital image?

    Hi, i,m confused i just sent for elements .05 did i make a mistake meaning icannot shoot raw only jepg can i enhance my photos. also are these changes you made in photoshop secrets are in the file or fakery please enlighten me and set me straight thank you.

    I too have puzzled and frustrated by the BLANK window after pressing the ‘pring icon’. Cutting and pasting into Word is very time consuming, and doesn’t yield the proper results.

    Spend the money for a copy of Nuance/ScanSoft PaprPort11Pro which includes PDF Create (a lot cheaper than Adobe Acrobat).
    Use that in place of a mechanical printer (laser or inkjet).
    First time you use it, set the Properties to PDF1.5 so that AdobeReader6.0 and higher will correctly display characters. Make sure that the slider on the right side of screen is all the way up otherwise your first page might be blank.
    I have my setup set to display a preview of the page just to make sure that all has been captured of the page I desire to print. When printing web site pages, first try the ‘print’ icon on the page otherwise just click File – Print.

Leave a Reply

Main Menu