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 the basics of using layers in Photoshop and discuss layer masking – laying the groundwork for far more advanced…

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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…

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Advanced Post-Processing Tips: Three-Step Sharpening

Sharpening remains a particularly confusing topic among photographers, especially given the tremendous number of post-processing options available. Some post-processing software has so many options that it is hard to know where to start; others do not let you use optimal methods in the first place. If you are trying to use the best sharpening settings – including the lowest possible levels of noise and other artifacts – the ideal method is three-step sharpening.

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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…

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How to Avoid 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…

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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…

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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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JPEG Compression Levels in Photoshop and Lightroom

Determining the ideal JPEG quality setting in both Photoshop and Lightroom can be challenging, because we often see two different values to choose from. Photoshop gives us compression levels from 0 to 12 when saving JPEG images through the “Save” or “Save As” dialog, while Lightroom only allows us to input a percentage. While percentages are easier to understand than numbers from 0 to 12, as we relate to 100% being the “best image quality” easier, Adobe also created a…

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Adobe’s Poor Handling of RAW Files

With Adobe Lightroom being the most popular post-processing tool on the market, one might wonder how good the software really is in processing RAW images. After-all, that’s what we use Lightroom primarily for – to post-process our images and get the best out of them. Having been using Lightroom since the early release versions (dating back to Lightroom 1), I have seen the software grow from a simple RAW editor to a pretty complex piece of software for both image…

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Why I No Longer Convert RAW Files to DNG

For a number of years I have been recommending our readers to convert RAW files from their cameras to Adobe’s DNG format. In my DNG vs RAW article from 2010, I pointed out the reasons why using DNG over RAW made sense – it simplified file management, resulted in smaller files (when compressed or when embedded JPEG image size was reduced) and seemed like a good way to future-proof RAW files. But as time passed, higher resolution cameras were introduced…

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How to Process Infrared Photographs

As the number of photos taken each year continues to increase at a nearly exponential rate, infrared photography remains a relatively small niche in the photography world, one that allows us to see and capture the world in a unique manner. Because of my infrared articles and photos, I often receive emails from others struggling to achieve good IR processing results, sometimes even from our illustrious leader. ;) Recently, I received a spate of questions regarding my technique and seeking…

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Lightroom 6 Bugs and Performance Issues

Back in April, Adobe introduced the sixth version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which came with a number of new features. Since then, Adobe updated the software once with a relatively large release in mid-June, which was the first sub-version release for both CC (2015.1) and standalone (6.1). I have been using Lightroom 6 rather heavily for my work and I have found a few bugs and performance issues, which I would like to share with our readers. If you have…

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How to Create an HDR Panorama in Lightroom

Many times in my travels I’ve happened upon a beautiful scene spread wide before me with a huge dynamic range that just begged to be photographed. It would require HDR to capture the range but also need to be stitched together as a panorama. I’d set up my tripod, snap the sequences, then get home and say “Verm, it’s time you give HDR another try.” Which would last about two minutes until the first bracketed set of shots made it…

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How to Blend Multiple Exposures of Cityscapes

During our recent photo walk in San Francisco, where we had over 30 Photography Life readers join us for some awesome time together, one of the participants noted that a number of photographers who came to the photo walk were carrying tripods. As we were shooting a brightly-lit scene, his question was – why would you even want to bring a tripod to photograph in bright light? He then pointed out the fact that he almost never carries a tripod,…

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How to Edit Videos in Photoshop

With almost all of our cameras featuring video capabilities (I’m looking at you, Nikon Df), most of you have probably considered going beyond the occasional family video. However, like photography, video requires post-processing for best results, and the prospect of buying After Effects, Premiere Pro, and SpeedGrade just to get your toes wet is daunting for many photographers. What you may not know is that you already have a powerful video-editing program in Adobe Photoshop CC, or CS6 Extended. This…

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Stitching Images with Microsoft ICE

I enjoy taking panoramic images of landscapes, cityscapes, street art or any other time when the view exceeds the frame. While an increasing number of cameras (particularly smartphones) are offering an in-camera panoramic mode, individual images and good stitching software is essential for high quality images.

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Why Bother Shooting RAW If You Are Culling JPEGs?

What do you think is the possibility, when you are choosing and sorting images based on the JPEG previews, that you are going to discard the better-quality image, and keep the lesser-quality one? Let’s take a look at a typical “training” shot for a holiday – noon of a sunny day, blue Ionian sea, bright white limestone pebbles, bushes with dark-green, high-detail leaves (which lose all detail if the shot is underexposed), deep shadows under the bushes. These types of…

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DxO ClearView Anti-Haze Adjustment First Impressions

The purpose of this article is to share my initial impressions of the DxO ClearView anti-haze function which is contained in the Elite Version of DxO OpticsPro 10 software. As many Photography Life readers know, I’ve been using DxO OpticsPro as my main RAW processor for some time. I started out using DxO OpticsPro 8, then upgraded to 9 in order to get the PRIME noise reduction function, then upgraded again to OpticsPro 10 in order to get speed improvements…

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Saturation or Vibrance?

Just a few years ago, if you wanted more saturated colours in your landscapes or any other sort of photography, there was one basic adjustment to apply – saturation. Especially for beginner photographers, the Saturation slider in Photoshop was one of the most useful tricks to learn and seemed to change everything. You start with a boring, flat looking sundown, and you end up with this magnificent landscape to behold.

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