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Fun With Photoshop Smart Brush: Vintage Processing

Out of the hundred of fantastic tools available in Adobe Photoshop, there are a handful that are purely artistic; and while these may not make the cut for a professional’s gallery, they can be an exciting addition to your photo editing repertoire. Using certain filters and actions can make your photos look interestingly vintage in just one sweep of the brush. Whether you want to mimic the gorgeous characteristic blues of a cyanotype, or harness the faded yellows of an antique print, the Smart Brush tool can help you out.   You can find your Smart Brush tool in the side toolbar, along with the other photographic tools like the spot healing brush, clone stamp, and red eye removal. Then you’ll notice on your bottom bar, a menu of presets will become available (including all purpose, artistic, portrait, and nature, to name a few) from a selection bar. For today, we’ll be working from the “photographic” preset menu, and we’ll be exploring a few different photo processing techniques that have remained popular through the decades. First, I’ll open a sample photo that has already received the basic editing adjustments for color, lighting, contrast, and tone. From there, I’ll make sure the Smart Brush is selected in my side toolbar, and my preset menu is set on “photographic”. I’d like to then start with my personal favorite, the tin type process!   The tin type was first made popular in the late 1800’s, and it used a direct transfer of the image onto a thin piece of metal coated with a colloidal silver or gelatin emulsion. It produced soft, warm tones of browns and grays, and is still a beautiful look for modern photos. But nowadays, no toxic chemicals are needed- just the tin type preset for the smart brush!   Because this is a brush and not a full layer, you’ll need to “brush on” your tin type. Granted, this is kind of cheating, but is a very easy and fast way to get the look without piling on layer upon complicated layer! So make sure your mouse icon is large, and sweep over your entire image until it is all covered. From there, if you wish, you may adjust the opacity settings if the filter is too strong for your tastes (for the purpose of this tutorial, all filters are at 100% opacity). Here is my before and after with the tin type:   As you can see, the lovely brownish tones create both a timeless and romantic look, great for things like portraits, landscapes, or even architecture!   Next up, one of the most iconic alternative processing styles: the cyanotype. This is where the original “blueprint” came from back in the mid 1800’s; the chemical reactions of ammonium citrate, potassium ferricyanide and UV light create the rich color called Prussian blue. You may remember creating something similar as a child, using pre-coated paper and laying plants or other objects on it, and placing it out in the sun! This process is incredibly simple, but can be replicated in Photoshop even more quickly, like so:   The unique shades and tones of this type of process pair especially well with architecture, botany, and other scientifically-leaning pursuits.   Lastly, for anyone who has enjoyed sifting through a box of old photographs in their parent’s attic, the “yellowed” process is a fun and nostalgic twist on a modern digital image. Most prints made these days do not yellow over time, as they are typically made from cotton fiber papers: the cellulose-based paper of decades ago contained a compound that would...

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2 Photoshop Tools To Save Your Portraits

The summer is quickly upon us, which means that picture-snapping season is here! Everyone from seasoned professional photographers to family novices will be out in the sunshine, capturing the smiles of clients and friends as the scenery turns green. The tricky thing is, portraits are often difficult to get just right, even for the pros. Dozens of elements must come together to create a flattering image; light strength and angle, white balance, background colors, and shutter speed just to name a few! Luckily we have some powerful editing tools at our fingertips with Adobe Photoshop, and they can turn even a dismal portrait into a print-worthy one. There are several portrait-specific editing programs on the market now, but not only are they generally expensive, they can often produce unrealistic looking results. And nobody wants to look fake or plastic in their final headshot! Just using Photoshop Elements, you can touch up and refine a mediocre image to look clean and fresh without the Barbie treatment. Here are the two most useful basic tools to have in your arsenal when tackling all those family reunion shots this summer: Spot healing brush This is hands-down my favorite tool to use, because it’s so simple and straightforward. You can get instant results and can make good headway in a short amount of time. I always start my retouching process with the spot healing brush! To protect the privacy of my clients, I am simply using a stock image found online for the purposes of this tutorial. So let’s open this in PSE13, and open up the spot healing brush in the third grouping of tools on the left hand sidebar.   In the bottom bar, make sure you have the “spot healing brush” selected, and not the “healing brush”. Also, choose the “content aware” type, as this is the smartest way to achieve natural looking results on skin. I’ve gone with a middle-of-the-road brush here, not too sharp and not too blurred, which is good for a first edit to bump out the obvious flaws. If you want to go over your image again, switch to the airbrush for fine-tuning. Once you’ve got your settings in place, simply hover over the blemish you’d like to correct and click. Make sure to adjust the size of your mouse icon so that it completely covers the blemish, but doesn’t go too far beyond that. I used the spot healing brush here to cover a few red marks, freckles, and the scars on her forehead. It only took me about two minutes to achieve this:   As you can see, there’s a reason why this is my favorite tool! The results are natural and flattering. You can use this brush to soften everything from acne, wrinkles, dark under eye circles, and even the occasional stray hair. Now let’s move to the next step! Smart brush There are loads of options under the smart brush umbrella, but I want you to find the preset menu called “portrait” for this first purpose. Depending on your image, you may want to do things like lighten skin tones, brighten eyes, or whiten teeth and there are tools for that here. For my image, I’ll demonstrate how to redden the lips and alter the eye color. Let’s first start with the lips and choose the option that says “make lips red” upon hover.   Using your mouse, outline the lips until you get a decent fill (this brush automatically recognizes boundaries), toggling between the add and subtract selection buttons until you are moderately satisfied. Then use the “refine edge” button...

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Are You Making These 3 ISO Mistakes?

When a photographer makes the courageous leap away from the “auto” setting on their camera, they have to keep a dozen things in mind every time they compose a shot. Shooting in manual mode allows for individual control of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and focus point (among other things), and often takes a while to get the hang of. One must master the concepts and execution of all the technological aspects of digital photography, but once that happens the quality of work can improve exponentially. Of the main pieces that go into making a digital image is the ISO, which represents your camera’s sensitivity to light. It has a direct correlation, meaning that a low ISO reflects a low sensitivity and a high ISO indicates a high sensitivity. Taking that one step further, an image shot with a low ISO is going to be darker than one shot with a high ISO. Most digital cameras on the market today have an ISO range of 100-6,400, and since it is an international standard, you can know that a setting of 800 is the same everywhere, whether your camera came from China, Russia, or anywhere else in the world. Many photographers understand the basic function of ISO, but fail to really grasp its nuances and fail to finesse its settings to give more depth and quality to their images. Regardless of whether you’re a brand new beginner or a semi-pro, chances are good that you’ve made at least one of these mistakes. Using the same setting regardless of light conditions Yes, there are plenty of people out there who focus all their time and energy on the shutter speed-aperture relationship and ignore their ISO altogether. Sadly, this third component is so crucial in balancing everything out and resulting in a more deliberate photo quality. When you leave your ISO at say, 1000, your outdoor images may be grainy and your indoor images may still be too dark. This puts a lot of burden on the aperture and shutter speed to try and make up the difference here, and the results are rarely nice. Don’t be afraid to move around your ISO and find the right balance where you can still get the action or movement you need and the depth of focus you want. Never touching this setting is a surefire way to disappointment. Only using extremes Some new ‘photogs’ only consider light in its two extremes: bright sunlight and dark; or more simply, outdoors and indoors. And while those two light environments will require vastly different camera settings, much of our lives happens somewhere in the middle. Most places are neither bright nor completely dim, so it’s important to know how to use the middle swath of ISO to best complement these scenarios. There are a lot of beginners who think the lowest setting of ISO100 is the only one appropriate for outdoor work, while the highest possible ISO (3200 or 6400, typically) is what’s needed for any kind of indoor photography. Both instances are wrong and can lead to poor image quality and yet many people immediately jump to how they could have changed their aperture or shutter speed in order to have avoided it. But ISO has more power than people think- don’t get stuck in the “all or nothing” game with light sensitivity. Learn to play around in the middle.  Don’t assume that every house party needs an ISO of 6400, and don’t assume that every landscape shot is bright enough to get away with an ISO of 100. Relying on post-processing to fix it There are...

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Adobe Photoshop Cheat Sheet

Download the Adobe Photoshop Cheat Sheet for FREE! The Digital Workshop Center provides free cheat sheets on many popular software applications. If you are looking for a quick Adobe Photoshop reference sheet, then we’ve got just the thing for you! The Photoshop cheat sheet includes several useful shortcuts and common commands to help you be more efficient and confident while working in Photoshop. Several of these commands are included in our hands-on Photoshop Level 1 training class, so if you need more Photoshop help please contact the Digital Workshop office.  Stay tuned for more cheat sheets coming soon! Click the link to download the cheat sheet in PDF format: Adobe Photoshop Cheat Sheet...

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3 Reasons To Bring Your Mom to DWC

In today’s fast-paced and ultra-connected world, technology is what holds us together. It drives our commerce, supports our social lives, and is the tool we use to create our futures. The amazing thing is that computers haven’t even been around that long- it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that most families owned their own desktop, and it would be almost another two decades before smart phones became a thing. If you’re under the age of 30, chances are you’re extremely comfortable with technology and can traverse the digital terrain with no problems. But many older people are just now entering the personal computing market, or have been struggling to catch up with their now-outdated technologies. Some of our parents and grandparents may be feeling lost or left out in the data-driven modern life, but luckily there are people and places out there that can help. At Digital Workshop Center, we offer several classes that can help our community elders master the latest and greatest smart phones, tablets, and computers. Here are just three great reasons to bring them in and sign them up today! They can harness their email with Computer 101 There are few places that still offer the most basic of computer classes, which is a shame considering how many people could still benefit from them. In our Computer 101 course, we can teach anyone how to be comfortable with the day-to-day functions of their laptop or desktop including, but not limited to: Organizing files and folders Browsing the internet and saving bookmarks Composing and filing emails Sending and receiving photos and videos We have courses in both Mac and PC applications, taught by our resident computer gurus, which are perfect for anyone who is new to computing or simply making a transition from one system to the other. They can stop sending embarrassing texts with iPhone/iPad 101 Many of us may find humor in reading the latest “texts from my mom” memes that are floating around the internet, but secretly we hope that will never happen to our own parents. Help them avoid a technology gaffe by bringing them and their new iPhone or iPad into Digital Workshop Center for our intro class. In only 3 hours, this course can help anyone master their shiny new Apple product by teaching things like: Downloading, deleting, and using apps Checking weather, email, and news Finding files, music, and photos Navigating the internet browser Sending text messages or photos Whether you’re 60 and you got a new iPad for your birthday or you’re 30 and just switched from an Android to an Apple phone, this is the class for you! Learning the ins and outs of any piece of technology is a worthwhile investment, as it will save you time and effort the more you use it. And not to mention, save you from any embarrassing fumbles. They can capture memories with Digital Photography Classes Digital cameras are everywhere these days, but many people still struggle with understanding all the complicated settings and gizmos that make them work. Everyone can appreciate the importance of photography, especially when it comes to preserving family memories and exploring new hobbies. People over 50 are one of the fastest growing groups purchasing new digital cameras, and we’re here to help them get started taking photos painlessly. Just a few of the things we can teach them include: Using both auto and manual shooting Settings for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO Basic composition Importing image files onto a computer We offer basic courses in getting to know either your digital SLR (DSLR) or point...

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Creative Photo Editing: Tilt-Shift

Alas, we’ve arrived at the last stop in our journey through some of the most common creative photo editing techniques. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride where we explored everything from Antiquing to imitating the Holga and Lomo cameras of old, and that these posts have helped you add some new and fun tools to your repertoire! Today’s final process is one that is truly unique and specialized and, while you probably won’t use it as often as the others, it always yields truly fascinating results! May I introduce tilt-shift photography: This camera technique is quite a complex one that typically requires expensive lenses and mastering a certain movement pattern while shooting. Employing both a tilt of the lens in relation to the object, and a shift of the lens across the object, the tilt-shift method creates an image that has a very shallow depth of field (very little is in sharp focus) and gives the appearance of miniature – like the scene was shot inside a doll house or model town set. When employed correctly, this process can give a fun and whimsical feel to your photos. The first and, arguably, most important step is to choose a good base image. A high point of view, lots of details, and wide range of colors are all components you should look for. Remember, the final result will look like something a person made in miniature, so choose a scene that will work well like a town, skyline, house interior from above…you get the idea. Unfortunately, I could not find any suitable image in my personal portfolio, so I borrowed one via creative commons from Flickr user David Blaikie.   As you can see, it’s shot from above, has lots of detail and a variety of colors. I think it will work well for our “faux” tilt-shift! So the first step, as always, is to open your base image in Photoshop. From there, it’s only five easy steps: Create a duplicate layer by using the shortcut Command + J. Apply a heavy blur to this layer. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Each image will be different: I only needed a level of 3 to achieve my desired effect (you may need more or less). Just remember you want a good blur, but should still be able to recognize the objects. Create a layer mask. In your layers sidebar, click on the icon for layer mask (it looks like a rectangle with a circle cut out of the middle). This should add to your new blurred layer. Insert a gradient: With your layer mask selected, go to your main tool sidebar and choose the Gradient tool. Select the black-to-white pattern and the Reflected distribution. Your cursor should now be a “crosshair” type shape. Click and drag starting from the point where you want to the sharpest focus vertically a little ways until you see a horizontal swath of sharpening. This is the step that takes some playing around! Depending on the direction and length of your gradient line, different areas of your image will be sharpened (or technically, the blur layer will be scrubbed away). I drew a short line starting from the very center of my image to about the 2/3 down mark. This created a relatively wide horizontal gradient: Tweak your Brightness and Contrast Create a new adjustment layer by clicking on the icon in your layers sidebar (this one looks like a circle that is half light half dark). Choose the Brightness/Contrast option and play with the slider bars until it looks slightly surreal. I...

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