Some of Photoshop’s Lesser Known Tools

When you think of Photoshop, you probably have photography or perhaps design in mind. Those are the main industries in which Photoshop is used. However, a lot more professions have a use for the software. Some tools, which are not very much used by us photographers are useful in medicine, for example. Here are three of Photoshop’s lesser known tools. You might just find a new use for them!

Count Tool

This tool, grouped in the same group as the Eyedropper tool in the Toolbar, does exactly what its name says. You can drop numbers on a photo. You can change the size of the little dot and of the number at its right. It also allows you to change the numbers’ colour. A use case for photography that I can reckon right now is as a way to mark which parts of the image needs retouching.

Smudge Tool

Very similar to the Liquify filter, the Smudge tool gives you a distorting brush so you can work on your photos. The differences that I see with the Liquify filter is that the Smudge tool adds a bit of blur to your strokes whereas the Liquify filter only distorts the file. Secondly, the filter leaves you with a lot more options. The Smudge tool is located in the same group as the Blur and Sharpen group. If you want something quicker and easier to use than the Liquify filter, this is the tool to choose.

Magic Eraser Tool

This last tool is used to remove pixels in an image that are of a similar colour in one click. For example, you can erase all of the blue skies and replace it with a more interesting one. To change how much or how little the eraser tool removes, try playing a bit with the Tolerance setting. It is grouped with the regular Eraser tool.

To be honest, I don’t often utilize these three tools. However, it is interesting to note that Photoshop has more to offer than thought.

What lesser known tool do you employ? Let us know in the comments below!

Cheers,

Tristan


This Is One of The Most Indispensable Studio Tools

Studio photography more often than not rhymes with flash photography. Product and still life photographers can sometimes have tens of lights set up for a particular shoot. Keeping all of them at the same colour temperature can be a challenge, and it most certainly is if you mix different models, different brands and different types of lights. That’s when a kit of colour correction filters comes in handy.


Those square of translucent plastic sheets are meant to be put on top of you flash head or at the end of a modifier. They can warm up the light (using a CTO filter) or cool it down (with a CTB filter). I found that the colour temperature of small speedlites is cooler than that of bigger and proper studio strobes. Putting a ¼ CTO filter on the speedlite’s head will warm it up so that it gets to the same level as the strobes. Some kits come with several square sheets of different colours. What I did with mine is that I stuck a thin Velcro strip at the top and bottom of a properly sized sheet. I then wrap the flash head with the complementary end of the Velcro. That way, I can easily stick filters on top of the flash. These filters can also be used to stylize a shot by placing, for example, a red, green, or even magenta squares in front of your strobes. The resulting effect can sometimes add interest to an otherwise boring image. This Rosco kit is perfect because it contains lots of material with which you can easily work.

These colour correction filters are one tool that I definitely recommend every studio photographer to have. Correcting for the different colour temperature of different light sources is not something some enjoyable to do in post and can literally take a few seconds to do in-camera.

 

 

What other studio tool can’t you live with? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Cheers,

Tristan

How to Make Sure that Your Shots Are Always Perfectly Aligned

In still life and product photography, you sometimes need to take perfectly aligned photographs of a product in order to clearly show its design. Here are some tips on how you can get the most aligned shots.

  • First, always use a tripod. This goes without saying; you need a stable platform in order to make fine adjustments to your setup. I prefer 3-axis heads over the other types available.
  • Don’t try to eyeball it. While you may have the impression that your shot is nicely aligned, once you go on the computer, you’ll inevitably realise that you were wrong.

  • Use a lenght-measuring software on your computer. If you are photographing with your camera tethered to a computer, use program like PixelStick to measure the distance between two lines. For example, drag some guides in Capture One to the 4 vertical edges of a product and make sure the distances between the left edges and the right edges are the same. This tip is probably the most important of the bunch.

  • Get your camera leveled. Most cameras come with a built-in digital “artificial horizon”. It makes it really easy to level your camera.

What’s the Difference Between Flow and Opacity in Photoshop’s Brush’s Settings?

Photoshop has a lot of options and tools available for you to modify your photos with. Some of the most important tools include the Brush tools. Have you noticed two separate sliders for opacity and flow settings?


At first sight, the difference between the two can be not that much obvious. Opacity could be replaced with the word transparency. It is a measure of how much light passes through an object. In Photoshop, reducing the opacity of a brush will result in making a stroke more subtle, less visible. Flow is the amount of colour that you’ll apply per unit of length, or how much “ink” will come out of the brush at the same time. For example, having a 20% flow brush will deposit “ink” only ⅕ of the time. You can go over that same area, let’s say, 4 times without having to lift you brush to have the same effect has an 80% flow brush. Opacity strokes only add up if you go over the same area, but you lift the brush between each pass. Here’s a comparison of a brush with 40% opacity of the left and 40% flow on the right.

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 18.56.40.png

Hopefully, that made the two settings a bit more clear to you. One really isn’t a replacement for the other. They both have their own purpose and need to be used accordingly.

 

What other two settings do you find seemingly similar in Photoshop? Let us know in the comments below!

Cheers,

Tristan

Quick Tip: Easily Visualize In-Focus Areas Using Capture One Pro’s Focus Mask

Chances are, if you are a still life and product photographer, you want your shots to be as much in focus as possible. Heck, you even perform some focus stacking in order have it all sharp. Here’s a tip to help you quickly analyze the crispiest parts of your image.

Shooting tethered in Capture One Pro, you can enable the Focus Mask option by going up to and clicking on the rectangle button left to the triangle ‘danger’ button in the right hand part of the window. By default, the software will overlay a green mask on the in-focus areas. You can change the tool’s threshold and colour as well as the opacity (I keep it a 50%) in the program’s preferences. It works in many dating versions of the software, so it’s not required that you run the latest iteration.

Property of Phase One.

Property of Phase One.

I enjoy this feature because it makes it very easy and seamless to easily spot the sharp photos out of the bunch and provides a confirmation that your focus is set where you want it.

 

What other tricks do you have that help you obtain the desired level of focus in your photos? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Cheers,

Tristan