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Post Processing

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!



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!



Free Download: Photoshop Sharpening Action

In every one of my product photos, there is at least some form of sharpening. Even though I try to always use the best camera settings yielding the most out-of-camera sharpness, a little computer sharpening never hurts.

That is exactly what this action does. Upon the press of the F2 key, the selected layer will be duplicated and a Smart Sharpen filter will be applied to the image. The settings for the sharpening are: 150% amount, 1.6px radius and 10% reduce noise. Lens Blur removal is enabled also. Shadows and highlights settings are untouched. These should work for most of your photos. What I like about this action is that, with the press of a single button, you can have an important step of your workflow completed. It really accelerates things up.

You can instantly download the file by clicking on the button below.

What other steps do you like to automate in Photoshop? Let us know in the comments below!





Is This Capture One Pro’s Missing Feature?

What is one photography technique that a lot of landscape photographers use extensively? Panorama. Lightroom, in its last big update, introduced a HDR and panorama stitching algorithm, that proves to be really quite useful. Should Phase One include a native feature like that in Capture One?

The other day, I was making a panorama for my brother using Lightroom (I have Adobe CC so I just quickly downloaded it) and thought to myself that it is really convenient to do all of your work in one software. Then, I wondered about the Capture One update and how they don’t have anything to particularly attract landscape photographers. I mean, if they keep adding more and more killer feature to let edit your photos, maybe they should let you stitch frames and make HDR with them too, right? Maybe they should have a built-in focus stacker too. Maybe they should add an innovative on-screen shooting help (for example, automatically check if your horizon is straight). They have a superb Focus Mask feature that makes it really easy to check your focus. I think that, if they added at least one or two incredibly useful features, they could win some Lightroom users over. For my part, I would love a built-in focus stacker; it would speed things up a bit. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still think that Capture One Pro is an incredible piece of software with a lot of power, I’m just thinking that it would be even better if the software had some more built-in features!


What do you wish would be included in Capture One Pro? Share it with us in the comments below!



The Three Best Tools to Tweak Colours in Photoshopt

Colour is arguably one of the most important aspect of a photograph. It can drastically change the mood and feel of the artwork by altering our senses and perception. In product and still life photography, you need to make sure that the tones are the closest to what they are in the real product. You may also want to help better sell a particular object by provoking emotions in the viewer’s eyes by controlling what the colours are like. Photoshop has a slew of tools used to modify such an aspect of the photo and here are my 3 favourites.

Color Balance Adjustment Layer

Niched in the Adjustments panel, the Color Balance tool creates an adjustment layer with a mask. The tool lets you shift either the shadows, the midtones or the highlights toward Cyan, Magenta or Yellow, or their complementary colours. There is a Preserve Luminosity checkbox that lets you keep a hand on the lightness of the colours and only modify their hue. One more thing I enjoy about this particular tool is the fact that it is really easy to globally adjust the colours (useful for colour correction). Finally, I like that, even if you play with the highlights, the tool does not modify whatsoever the pure white backgrounds of your image.


Hue/Saturation Layer

This tool is probably the most powerful on this list. It enables you to significantly alter each colour group by tweaking the three colour parameters: Hue, Lightness and Saturation. You can also change those settings for the whole image or give a particular feel to you shot with the Colorize checkbox. It is super easy to add pop to a particular colour group using the dragging hand. Just click the little hand icon besides the box where you can choose to colour you want to affect. Then, just head over the area of the photo that you want to add saturation to and drag to the right. Moving your cursor to the left will reduce the saturation of that colour group. This is a godsend that helps you quickly get super accurate and precise colouring. In addition to all this, you can also save presets.


Dodge/Burn Too

If you only want to tweak the lightness part of a colour but do it in a selective way, I recommend you use the Dodge and Burn technique. Taking it’s name from the olden days film method of increasing (Dodge) and reducing (Burn) the light level of an image’s area, it is one of the most effective ways to add charism and definition to your photo. By darkening shadows and lighting up highlights you can add contrast in a very controllable way. You can also use it in the opposite way to correct your image’s light levels. The built-in Dodge and Burn tools work well enough but I have made freely available a Photoshop action that takes care of setting up an overlay layer filled with 50% neutral grey. You only need to use your black and white brushes to act as the Burn and Dodge tools, respectively. My technique offers more control in a less destructive way. More details and download links are available on my blog.

Those three tools are what I use on almost all of my product and still life photographs. They help me easily control my colours. What tool do you prefer? Why? Let your mind speak in the comments below!