Photoshop Layers and Layer Masking for Beginners

Arguably the most versatile adjustments in Photoshop are the layering and masking tools. Together, layers and masks make up a large portion of the work most photographers do in Photoshop, both for subtle and complex edits. However, if you are just beginning to work in Photoshop, these two irreplaceable tools may not be completely intuitive. In this article, I will cover some basic tips and techniques for using layers and layer masking in Photoshop – laying the groundwork for far more advanced post-processing adjustments.

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Best Non-Destructive Editing Software for Photography

With so many editing / post-processing software packages on the market today, photographers might find it rather difficult to go through them all and compare key features in order to pick something that would ultimately work for their needs. Many of us go through that stage, especially when starting out. What is the best software for photo editing? What features does it have? Is it easy to learn and how much does it cost? These are just some of the questions photographers seek answers for. While John Bosley and I have been working hard on producing our PL Level 1: Post-Processing Basics course, we have decided to share one of the charts that we will be including in the course with our readers, which compares the most popular non-destructive editing tools on the market. It took us a while to compile all this data, since there are so many different features and considerations one must go through to make a meaningful comparison. The chart has not been fully finalized yet, since we are currently looking for your feedback and ideas, so that we can hopefully make the chart complete and comprehensive enough for those who are interested in such a comparison.

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FastRawViewer 1.3: Major Update

Iliah Borg and his team at LibRAW have been working hard on a major update to my favorite image culling software FastRawViewer (FRV). Today, the team released the final 1.3 version of the software and this time the updates are truly exciting! Now FRV sports an awesome grid mode, so that you can quickly go over your images just like you can in Lightroom. In grid mode, you can perform all kinds of file management functions such as copy/move (including move to “Rejected” folder) and image functions such as changing file orientation, setting labels and ratings (you can even set ratings and labels on multiple images at once!). Once you pick an image for viewing, you can double click on it to switch to image view and perform all the functions like zoom in to 1:1 view. There are many new features such as focus peaking, highlights inspection mode and sharpening for display, along with performance improvements and other changes to the core software. Overall, this is a huge update for everyone who has purchased FRV and if you have not tried it already, it is about time for you to take a closer look at FRV!

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Google’s Nik Software is now FREE!

The title of the article deserves three exclamation marks, because this is one of the best news I have seen in photographic history! Google has just announced that it has made the best plugins for Photoshop and Lightroom, bundled into a single “Google’s Nik Collection” absolutely free (it was priced at $150 per license before). This is awesome, and no, it is not an April 1st Fool’s Day joke! As of today, March 24th 2016, you can download Google’s Nik Collection for free by visiting this page and clicking the “Download Now” button on the top of the page.

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Avoiding Duplicate File Names

Your earliest photographic habits naturally will build over time, including the ways that you name and organize your images. What seems like a small issue at first – say, keeping your camera’s default file names – could spiral out of control when you have tens of thousands of images. It can be easy to delete photographs on accident when they have the same file name, potentially deleting some of your favorite photos. Although a good backup system helps you recover a photo that has been lost, it is far better to prevent such a mistake from happening in the first place. While there is no perfect naming system, I will cover some useful tips that help you avoid duplicating the file names of your own photographs.

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Four Hidden Lightroom Features

Adobe Lightroom is a complex piece of software, and it includes countless features that are buried beneath the surface. In this article, I will cover four useful Develop options that aren’t obvious at first glance, ranging from precision cropping to local color adjustments. If you are a Lightroom guru, you certainly may use each of these already; however, for most Lightroom users, these features are somewhat difficult to find.

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How to Split-Tone Photos in Lightroom

One of Lightroom’s simplest, most useful post-processing options is the humble split-toning panel. Buried between the HSL and Detail sidebars, split-toning isn’t exactly a go-to tool for most photographers. And why should it be? From tint to saturation, Lightroom already offers several ways to change the colors of an image; another option seems unnecessary. In truth, though, split-toning is far more useful than it may first appear, and certainly more valuable than some photographers believe it to be. In this article, I will cover in-depth the uses of split-toning, as well as the issues that arise from this interesting tool.

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Where Are My Mid-tones? Deriving Hidden Baseline Exposure Compensation

As we already mentioned in the previous article “Where are my Mid-tones?“, most raw converters apply some hidden adjustments to a raw shot, often resulting in a bumped mid-tone, clipped highlights, and compressed shadows. This is done to make the shot look good, but can also lead to all sorts of confusion. If you are using or planning to use some raw converter, you may want to know what “beautifiers” it applies, and their price.

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Where Are My Mid-tones?

We’ve gotten several emails, the most recent and the best phrased one from a reader of Photography Life, with questions along the following lines:

What happened to my mid-tones? I set the exposure using exposure meter, opened the shot in Adobe Lr (or Adobe Camera Raw, or some other converter) … and the shot looks overexposed and everything from mid-tone and up looks very flat. If I shoot in RAW+JPEG, the JPEG looks OK, while the RAW is not. Should I expose lower?

We’ve decided that the reply to this question belongs here.

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JPEGmini Software Clarifications

Ever since I published my JPEGmini review and subsequent articles like the last one on reducing backup storage needs, I have received some emails and comments from concerned readers, who do not understand the point of using JPEG compression software, particularly when there are other existing commercial or free tools available. In this article, I would like to address some of these concerns and explain the strengths and weaknesses of the JPEGmini software.

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