Four Simple Steps To Create Your Own Custom Photoshop Actions

Happy Monday everybody — ready to learn about Actions? Wild cheers ensue! (Hey, it could happen). Anyway, I still get questions about Photoshop’s Action feature, so I thought I’d do a ‘quick start’ kinda post to get you up and running in five minutes.

What’s an Action?
If you’re wondering what “Actions” are, basically it’s like a tape recorder in Photoshop that records your step and plays them back really fast, so you can automate repetitive tasks. Best of all, simple actions (yes, you can create really complex ones if you want), are really easy to create and use.

In our example, let’s say you want to resize a high-res image for posting on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and since you’re resizing it down pretty small, you want to sharpen it before you post it (you lose some sharpness when you size down like that, so I always apply a little sharpening to bring it back, and maybe even a bit more than I lost so it looks nice and sharp). So, rather than going through the process manually from now, you’ll create a simple action; assign it to an F-key on your keyboard, and from now on the process because a 2-second, one key automated thingy.

Let’s get started:

STEP ONE: Open an image you would normally post on social, then go under the Window menu and choose Actions to bring up the Actions panel (shown here). To create your own custom action, press the ‘New Action’ button (it’s looks like the New Layer button — I’m clicking right on it in the capture above).

STEP TWO: This brings up the ‘New Action’ dialog (shown above) where you name your action (I did), assign it to a Function Key on your keyboard (I chose F11, as seen here). You’ll notice there’s no ‘OK’ or ‘Done’ button. Instead it says ‘Record’ because once you click that it is now recording your steps.

STEP THREE: Now do the things you want Photoshop to automate from here out. In this case, we’re only doing two thing, and the first is resizing the image to 1000 pixels wide (as seen here). Note: take a look over at the Actions panel on the left. See how there’s a red dot? That’s the ‘Record’ button, and it’s letting you know it’s recording your steps. Just a handy visual.

Above: After you resize your image, then go under the Filter menu, under Sharpen and choose Unsharp Mask. Input your favorite settings (I used 70, 1.0 and 10 here, which are pretty decent settings for sharpening low res 1000-pixel images like this for the Web). NOTE: Take a look over at the Actions panel and you can see it now lists the first thing we did to the photo — Image Size. The red dot tells you its still recording.

STEP FOUR: After you’ve run the Unsharp Mask filter, go ahead and Save the photo, and then close the image window. Yes, it records the ‘Save’ and the ‘Close.’ Now press the square ‘Stop’ button at the bottom of the Actions panel (as shown here). That’s it — you just created your first action. At this point, I usually open a different image, and I then I click the ‘Play’ button (it looks like a triangle — just to the right of the red record dot), just to see if the action works properly (of course, you could also just press F11 on your keyboard, and it will run the action). Doesn’t matter which one you use — you’re just testing it to see if it works. Now you’re ready to rock! (Guitar pun intended. I know. Groan). ;-)

Q. Hey, how many steps can an action like this record? Just two?
A. Nope — it will record for as long as you do stuff — your action can have one step, 10 -steps, 500-steps or more — I haven’t found a limit  (there may actually be one, but I haven’t found it yet). 

Next Time: Applying an Action to an entire folder of images
Where Actions get really fun is when you create an action, and then apply it to an entire folder of images at once, and you simply walk away from your computer (or switch to another program), and in the background, Photoshop just cranks away working on your behalf, totally unattended, like some autonomous robot from Skynet who will soon become self aware and take over the world. But not this year, so they’re safe to use for now. I’ll show you this ‘Batch Action’ feature on another day — for now, go and make your first action.

If you want to learn more about Actions…
And all the other automation stuff Photoshop and Lightroom can do (and there is plenty), we have a awesome course on it (here’s the link).

I’m up in Chicago today with my Lightroom seminar
So looking forward to meeting a whole bunch of photographers up here today (and tomorrow in Detroit — got a packed house!). Hope if you there’s you’ll come up and say hi between sessions. Next month I’m in Minneapolis and Indianapolis. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Only 10-days ’till the Photoshop World Conference (Whoo hoo!). It’s not to late to come join us, ya know. Weather’s beautiful in Orlando this time of year.  :)

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Nice Tutorial on Blending Masks in Photoshop CC

I ran across this Blend Mask tutorial on one of Adobe’s official blogs over in the UK, and it’s a great little tutorial (a little more of an advanced technique, but well worthwhile and easy to follow). It’s from Adobe’s Richard Curtis, and the post itself is from September of last year.

In the tutorial Richard shows how to make the robe of the 2nd monk (well, the 2nd from the left), perfectly match the color and luminance of the first monk. Really good stuff.

Here’s the link to Richard’s Blending Mask tutorial.

Hope you found that helpful (and thanks to Richard for sharing it). Looking forward to meeting a whole bunch of you in Chicago and in Detroit next Monday and Tuesday (respectively) with my Lightroom OnTour seminar. :)

Have a great weekend, and we’ll catch ya here on Monday.

Best,

-Scott

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Awesome Little Photoshop ‘Find The Best Font’ Tip

OK, if you’ve ever struggled with finding just the right font for a project, you will love this tip.

Adobe made a change in Photoshop CC that makes being able to see what different fonts look like live in your document on screen, and it’s so much easier and faster than the old versions. It’s a really handy tip to know if you ever work with type on any level at all.

See, that’s much better than the old method (and if you’re saying to yourself, “Heck, I didn’t even know the old version” that’s cool — this is a better way anyway.”)

Hope you found that helpful. Come on back ’round tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. We’re just 16 days from the Photoshop World Conference 2017. It’s not too late to come and spend three-days away from all the cares and hassles of the world, and just immerse yourself in learning, becoming more creative, more efficient, and have a bunch of fun while you’re doing it. You’ve always wanted to come to Photoshop World — now’s your chance. Tickets and info right here. – This is the year. You’re going. :)

 

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3D Text with Photoshop and Project Felix

In this video I continue looking into 3D text. Here though I take the text to Project Felix and add 3D objects to the scene too.    

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5 Tips For Customizing Your Copy of Photoshop

Happy Monday everybody. Today we’re doing five tips for making your Photoshop look and act the way you want it by customizing a few key things (including a couple of hidden things that are pretty cool. Check out the short video below.

Hope you found that helpful.

Here’s wishing you the best Monday this year so far!

Best,

-Scott

 

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Scatter 3D Text By Letter in Photoshop

In this video I take the techniques from the last two videos and then ‘scatter’ the text, individually. Just for fun I also make the ground plane reflective too! Creating a 3D Ground Plane to Match an Image in Photoshop Create 3D Glass Text in Photoshop

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The Beginners’s Guide to the Pen Tool in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I teach how to use the pen tool when working with product photography.

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Create 3D Glass Text in Photoshop

  Following on from my last post where I showed you to how to move text to an existing ground plane, in this video I make some glass effect 3D text. I also recorded a video for Photofocus, Creating a 3D Ground Plane to Match an Image in Photoshop  

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Orange and Teal LUTS and Photoshop Actions

Add amazing orange-teal and orange-blue effects with these free Photoshop actions and LUTs. Orange and teal is a great way to add color contrast to your photos/videos and is used in many movies and posters. It’s also being increasingly used on Instagram and vlogs. The best effect in this package is the “Berlin” look. The Berlin look completely transforms a photo giving you the vintage/retro feeling with bright and vibrant colors. The actions are compatible with Photoshop CS1 and newer (including Photoshop CC) as well as Photoshop Elements 11 and newer.

Click to view slideshow.

Download Details

Free Download

  • 5 Looks
  • Fully Editable Layers
  • “Play All Effects” Action
  • 5 LUTs
  • No Stackable LUTs
  • No Face Detection Skin Tone Masking
  • No Automatic Error Correction
  • Download

Pro Version

  • 16 Looks
  • Fully Editable Layers
  • “Play All Effects” Action
  • 16 LUTs
  • 16 Stackable LUTs
  • Face Detection Skin Tone Masking (Photoshop CC)
  • Automatic Error Correction (Photoshop CC)
  • Creative Market
  • SparkleStock

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Portrait Retouching Tip of the Day

The tip is simple. Don’t do what you see above. Don’t go too far.

When people submit images for blind critiques on “The Grid” and we say “That’s some bad retouching…” it’s not that they don’t know the Photoshop techniques, or don’t understand how to retouch a photo — it’s that they always take it too far. Their eyes are “too white” – the skin is like plastic (see above) with no visible pores – everything is just simply too much.

If you want to have better, more realistic-looking retouches, you don’t need to learn some fancy new technique. You just need to do “less” of the ones you already know. If you’re fairly new to retouching, and you think you’ve got it looking about right, go and back off everything by about 35% and you should be “there.”

Hope you find that helpful. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Only 4-days left to save $100 on a Photoshop World 2017 Conference Pass using the early bird sign-up special. The conference is next month in Orlando, Florida (April 20-22, 1017). Tickets and more details here. 

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The Advantage of “Open as Smart Object in Photoshop”

Happy Monday everybody (stop snickering). OK, let’s get to it. When you take an image from Lightroom over to Photoshop (to do some things Lightroom can’t do), you can choose to send a regular “pixel-based” image over there, or you can send it over as a “Smart Object” (as shown above — where I right-clicked on the image to bring up this pop-up menu).

One of the main advantages of doing this is that you can maintain the non-destructive nature of the RAW image and re-edit the RAW file (or resize your image non-destructively) all while you’re over in Photoshop (instead of having to return to Lightroom). Here’s an example:

When you bring an image over to Photoshop as a Smart Object, it’s non-destructive because the RAW image is embedded into the Photoshop document (it’s not just a pixel-based copy of your file). You’ll know that it’s a Smart Object layer because there’s a little ‘page’ icon in the bottom right corner of the layer’s thumbnail in the Layers panel (I’m pointing my cursor at it in the capture above).

If you decide that you wanted to re-edit that RAW image right within Photoshop (maybe you thought the image was too bright, or need more contrast, or needed a white balance tweak and you wanted to apply those to the RAW image itself), just double-click on that Smart Object Layer in the Layers panel, and it opens the RAW image in the Camera Raw window (seen above).

When you’re done editing the Smart Object layer, just click ‘OK’ in the Camera Raw window and you can return to your editing (as seen here where the changes I outlined were applied to the RAW image).

That’s just a peek into why you might want to take your image over to Photoshop as a Smart Object, rather than a pixel-based image.

Hope you found that helpful.

South Philadelphia, born and raised…
OK, I just lamed borrowed a line from the Fresh Prince to deftly slide into a mention that I’ll be in Philly next Monday (a week from today) with my full day “Lightroom On Tour” seminar, and I’m hoping if you’re in the Philly area (or know a photographer who is), you’ll come and spend the day with me.

It’s just $99 for the full day including my detailed workbook and my Lightroom Presets Pack (10 of my favorite custom Lightroom presets). Here’s the link with ticket info. Also, I’ll be in Boston this Friday – if you’re not already signed up, it’s not too late.

Have a butt-kickin’, boot scootin’, bass-fishin’, tailgate liftin’, kind of Monday (I have no idea what any of that means).

Best,

-Scott

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Creating a 3D Ground Plane to Match an Image in Photoshop

When you’re adding a 3D element to an image its often difficult to line up the ground in the image to the ground plane for the 3D image. In this post I’ll outline how to make sure they line up perfectly, every time. In this example I’ll add some 3D text to a shelf; Creating the 3D Text To make things easier I’m going to change the workspace to 3D, this makes the 3D and Property panels available; To make the ‘Home’ layer three dimensional select the Source, 3D Extrusion and then Create; This creates the 3D layer with it’s own ground plane. By luck its a close match but not quite right; You could use the Move tool to move the Scene, but this is fiddly. Creating the Ground Plane Turning off the Home layer makes this next part a little more clear. I used the rulers to drag down a guide that matches the two horizontal lines of the shelf. Then I drew a 1px red line along them. (Snap really helps here. Menu: View>Snap); Once the lines are drawn I can clear the guides using the Menu: View> Clear Canvas Guides. This often helps pinpoint horizontals and [...]

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3 Ways to Convert to Black and White in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I teach you three ways of converting your images to black and white using adjustment layers.  

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Create a Realistic Lightsaber in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I teach you how to create a realistic Star Wars lightsaber easily in Photoshop.

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Slick Little Photoshop Drop Shadow Trick For Showing Prints Online

Hi Gang, and happy Monday (Ugh, I know). Anyway, this was a request from one of my readers — the drop shadow effect we’re talking about is from Mark Wegner’s website (Mark is the artist that won our “Gallery at KelbyOne” solo show). He has this slick little drop shadow behind his prints, and it’s actually very easy to do, so I did a video on it (below).

HOWEVER, I must warn youyou will learn a lot more Photoshop stuff in this video than just the drop shadow, because there’s lots of handy shortcuts and techniques wrapped inside this tutorial, so you should definitely check it out.

BONUS VIDEO! 
Below is a short add-on video that shows how to make the background transparent when you save the file, so you can place the final image on your site as just the image and shadow. Thought you might want to know that.

In other Photoshop-related news…
We’re only 60-days or so away from the Photoshop World Conference in Orlando (we’re not doing Vegas this year — Orlando only), so come out and learn and play and get faster, better and more awesome at all this stuff.  Check out the short trailer below to see what being at Photoshop World is really like.

Hope you find all (some, part, etc.) of that helpful.
Have a great day, and we’ll catch ya tamorrah. :)
-Scott

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One of My Favorite Photoshop Selection Tips

Happy Friday everybody. This might sound like a beginner tip, but many pros I run into don’t know this one, and man can it ever be a time-saver. It’s for making tricky round selections, and that may not sound like it’s a problem (no, it’s not just hold the Shift key), but when you see the video, you’ll see what I mean.

Hope you find that helpful. :)

Come join Larry, V., and Me Monday night at 6pm
We’re doing a free live Photoshop World Conference Q&A Webinar for folks who have never been (yes, we’ll be giving away a cool prize or two), and we’ll be showing some fun stuff from the conference, too. The webinar is open to everyone, so if you have a friend that has always wanted to go but they want to know more, or get some questions answered about the conference first, come join us (of course, we’d love it you’d come, too!). Here are the details:

Who: Larry Becker, “Vanelli,” and Me
What: A Photoshop World Conference live Q&A
Where: RSVP right here
When: Monday at 6pm

Hope to see you then. Well, actually, I hope to see you back here on Monday morning bright and early. ;-)

Have a great weekend everybody,

-Scott

 

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Five Little-Known Photoshop “Moves”

Hi gang, and Happy Valentine’s Day! :)

Today I’ve got a really quick little video for ya, and these aren’t “keyboard shortcuts,” these are “moves” (little things you do that save you time and trouble. There’s some pretty sweet ones in there — check it out:

Hope you found that helpful.

Hey, if you’re in to Lightroom…
I’m kicking off my nationwide Lightroom Seminar tour next month — I’m in Boston on March 10th, and then Philadelphia on March 13th. I hope you can come out and join me for the day.

Here’s wishing you a fun and romantic Valentine’s Day! (aaahhhh, love is the air…)

Best, (I mean, “hugs,)

-Scott

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How to Create a Vintage Look in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I teach you how to create a vintage look to add to your images.

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How to Create Dust Particles in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I teach you how to create dust particles from scratch to use in your images.

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The Most Popular Posts of 2016

Yesterday we looked at my picks for the best Guest Blog posts from this past year, and today we’re continuing my “Best of 2016 on the Blog” with a look at some of the most popular posts overall.

 

Here are the 10 most popular posts of 2016: 

 1. GOOGLE AWESOMELY MAKES THE NIK COLLECTION PLUG-INS TOTALLY FREE AND EVERYBODY’S [email protected]!
When I announced that Google made the Nik Collection free, it started a stream of whining that I just was not anticipating. Then I realized, “Oh, I forgot. This is the internet.”

2. SCOTT’S TOP FIVE LIST OF EVERYTHING! (REVISITED)
One of my readers tweeted that he’d love to see me redo this popular post from 2008, so I did it. It took a long time, but it was fun seeing how many of my picks had changed or stayed exactly the same. 
3. A NEW PHOTOSHOP IS HERE!
I did a bunch of demo videos and explained stuff, answered some questions, and shared the scoop all about the new version of Photoshop CC.
4. “FIRST LOOK” FIELD REPORT OF THE JUST ANNOUNCED CANON EOS 1DX MARK II
I got to borrow a Canon 1Dx Mark II just before it was released to shoot a college bowl game, and an NFL game, and I shared a few shots and impressions from both shoots. Best sports camera ever (even though I’m still using my old 1Dxs. Still don’t have a Mark II yet. Tear).
5. IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE NOT GETTING BETTER AT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY, COULD IT BE THAT YOU’RE “NOODLING” INSTEAD OF “PRACTICING?”
I feel like this was probably the most helpful post I wrote during 2016. It used a guitar analogy (which is why I’m playing an EVH guitar above), and it had two little 20-second videos (that are critical to the story), but the message could help you grow and improve as a photographer in a very meaningful way.
6. WHEN YOUR “TECHNICALLY CORRECT” PHOTO DOESN’T LOOK GOOD
I wrote about the difference between an artistic shot and one that is technically correct, and I used a shot from the New York Public Library as an example.
 
7. HOW TO REMOVE GLARE IN EYEGLASSES IN PHOTOSHOP
This is another Photoshop tutorial request from Twitter (it’s funny how the commenting workflow has changed. People read about a post on my Facebook or Twitter; they go read the post; then go back to social media to comment. I get it — we all want to comment where are friends already are). Sometimes a post here on the blog will get just one or two comments, or maybe even none, but then the Facebook post about that same blog post can have 100+ comments.
8. PHOTOS FROM MY 3-DAY PHOTO TRIP TO ICELAND
This post was me saying that had posted my Iceland trip images over on Exposure.co — I’ll save you from having to jump to that page, just to turn around and jump to Exposure, so here’s the direct link to the photo story on Exposure.co
9. MY CAMERA SETTINGS FOR SHOOTING FOOTBALL
I had been asked about them so many times, I thought I’d do a post and then when people asked about them on social media, I could just link them to this post. I didn’t expect it to get as much traction as it did.
10. SHOOTING WITH THE DOLPHINS (AND SOME REMOTE CAMERA STUFF!)
This is another one that I was surprised made it to the top 10 (even if just barely). It was about my awesome experience shooting with the Dolphins, and about how I used a simple remote camera set-up to get the shot you see above (from the Dolphins live Twitter feed during the game), and a bunch of others. Lots of behind-the-scenes shots Such a blast!
Well, there ya have it — the top 10 from 2016. I might wrap up the year with one more “best of” on Friday, but it’ll already be February by then…so… ;-)

Hope your Tuesday is a really great one!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. My new Lightroom On tour full-day seminar is kicking off in Boston on the March, 10th, and in Philadelphia on the 13th. Hope I get to see you there (here’s the link with details). 

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The Best Guest Blog Posts of 2016

Hi Gang: it’s my annual tradition to kick off the New Year with a look back at the best, most popular, and most commented-upon posts of the previous year, (and if I don’t sneak this in before January ends, well…it would just be bad form, so I’m squeaking this in just under the wire).

Today we’re honoring my picks for “Best Guest Blog Posts of 2016”

It was an amazing year for guest posts, and I cannot tell you how hard it was to narrow it down to just ten, because it was one of our best years for guest blog posts ever!

By the way: If you’re wondering how many posts we put up in the course of a year, in 2016 it was 248 posts (Whew!). Also, in case you were wondering: I actually do write all my own posts with the exception of Guest Blog Wednesday and Free Stuff Thursday which are handled for me by the awesome Brad Moore, for which I am boundlessly grateful (thank you so much, Brad!). :)

OK, here we go for “The Best Guest Blog Posts of 2016” (in no particular order):

Stephen Bollinger (above)
His post, “See like a dancer” was inspirational, insightful, and included some absolutely beautiful dance (and sports) images, and his message is spot on.
Luke Copping
His post “The Good, The Bad, and The Great – How To Vet Your Clients In Order To Save Your Time, Your Sanity, and Your Career” is hands down one of the best straight-up business posts of the year. Every photographer should read this one.
Jeremy Cowart
When There’s More Than Photography — Jeremy’s post about his dream to create “The Purpose Hotel” reminds us that we can think beyond our photography and grow in ways we never imagined. When you read this one, be sure to watch the videos in the post. This is so worthwhile. You’ll dig it.
Glyn Dewis
His “Photograph Like a Thief” is a wonderfully empowering, informative, well-researched and illustrated story that will change your perception on so many things. Brilliantly done. You will learn a lot (and a lot about yourself).
Monica Carvalho
Don’t let the first image in her post creep you out (even though it is a bit creepy) you’ll smile, laugh, and love her compositing, and her story. Very well done.
Chris Hershman
He titled it, “A Guide To Becoming A Filmmaker Using DSLR Cameras: Helping Photographers Transition Into Filmmaking” This isn’t just a guest post — it’s more like a Master Class for photographers on shooting video — I’m serious, this is one of the best articles I’ve ever seen on creating professional video. His examples are amazing, and he breaks it down on a level that is just incredible. If you’re interesting in getting started in shooting video, this should be your first stop.
 
Alan Hess
Alan’s post on Photo Releases for shooting concert photography, and his “day in the life” type of coverage of one of his photography gigs takes you “behind the curtain” to see a side of the business you rarely see. If you shoot bands, or dream of shooting concerts, this should be required reading.
Mike Olivella
It’s All About Perspective, Mike’s post about why you should be considering different angles, and even different lenses, to get more epic sports shots (and exactly how it’s all done, with lots of great behind-the-scenes shots), was so well illustrated, written, and received.
Sean Berry
What a fantastic post! It was about Sean’s “first week as the photographer for the Dallas Stars” which he said, “was one of the craziest weeks in my professional career. In the span of 5 days, I became a new photographer.” First, great story. Secondly, his examples, videos, and the step-by-step GIF of how the group shot you see above came together, and all the post processing stuff is just absolutely outstanding. So, so well done, and a great read. You will love it.
Seamus Payne
He gets right to the point with “What Makes Twilight So Vital to Great Architectural Photography” and if you’re into shooting real estate, or fine homes, or architecture, you will learn a lot in a very short time. Very well written, and very informative.
There’s an incredible amount of knowledge, passion, inspiration and soul shared in these posts. I’m so grateful to all the photographers and Photoshop experts who shared their thoughts, teaching and ideas through the my Guest Blog program, and of course a big thanks and high-five to the awesome Brad Moore for wrangling, managing and producing them all. It’s a lot of work, and he runs it all like a boss.
Hope you enjoyed this look back. Tomorrow it’s the 10 most popular posts of 2016 — hope you’ll join me for that.
Best,
-Scott
P.S. Peter Hurley’s “Top 10 Headshot Photography Questions Answered” class that was released last week is killing it! The comments we’re getting are just incredible. Peter is a national treasure! :)

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Tutorial: Simple One-Light Bridal Portrait

Hi gang, and happy Friday. Today I thought we’d do a simple lighting tutorial — one where we’re working on balancing the existing light in our location with the light from our flash so the image doesn’t look so much like it’s lit with a flash (even though of course we know that it is). We’re going to do this by adjusting our shutter speed to control the existing room light (the ambient light) behind our bride to get that perfect mix between it and the flash.

Above: First, here’s the final image 

We’re not breaking any new ground here positioning wise — it’s a classic “Bride standing in the aisle” shot. The area behind her is dimly lit but we want to see it in our image (seeing the church she was married in is very important the bride), so we’re going to work to control the lighting in the background so we get a nice blend.

Above: Get the flash in position, then turn it off for Step One

This behind-the-scenes shot shows the simple, one-light set-up I’m using for this shoot. I’m using an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra, with one flash head running off a small portable battery pack and a small square 27 softbox. Of course, you can do this exact same thing with a hot shoe flash and a 24” Lastolite pop-up EZ-Box soft box (after all, they both create the same thing — a bright flash of light).

The flash is mounted on a lightweight regular ol’ light stand. So, why not a monopod mount like I often use? It’s because when you want a break between shots, you don’t have go looking for a place to lean it against or a table to sit it on — you just put it down on the floor, so it’s totally a convenience thing.

When I’m shooting on-location flash, I have a three-step formula for getting the look I’m after:

(1) Turn off the flash, switch your camera to Manual mode and set your Shutter Speed to 1/125 of a second.  This is my standard shutter speed starting point when I’m shooting location flash. It’s kind of a nice, safe starting point that just works. Now move your f/stop until the meter inside your viewfinder shows your exposure is correct (it’s not under or over-exposed; it’s the proper exposure). On Nikons, this meter appears on the right side inside of your viewfinder; for Canon cameras, it’s along the bottom of the viewfinder. If you can’t get to an f/stop that makes a proper exposure (it can get pretty dark in a church), you may have to raise your ISO a bit, maybe from 100 to 200 (or 200 to 400).

Above: Now under-expose by around two stops

(2) Now, I darken the exposure by around two stops (so now I’m intentionally under-exposing. If my camera said that at  f/2.8 my exposure was correct, I’d raise it to at least f/5.6 or higher to darken it by at least a full stop) and take another test shot. I’m trying to make the bride so dark she’s nearly a silhouette. I’m doing this because I want the bride lit with only the light from my flash — not the ambient light in the church. I want the ambient light to only light the area behind her.

I do see one problem with the shot above, and it’s that the background (the church) is a little too dark. This is where the Shutter Speed control comes in because it controls the room lights. Think of it as a dimmer switch for the church lights. If you need to turn up the lights a bit, all you have to do is lower the shutter speed a bit so lowering the shutter speed to 1/60 of a second would add more light behind her (as seen in the following image, where I did that).

Above: Now turn on the flash with a very low power setting

Once your subject looks like a silhouette, turn on the flash with a very lower power setting (like 1/4 power) and take a test shot (seen above). The light from the flash itself looks “OK” but the whole scene just looks a bit too bright and that keeps the light from mixing well so it doesn’t look really beautiful quite yet. However, you can really see the difference lowering the shutter speed from 1/125 down to 1/60 did — the church behind her is much brighter. In fact, I think it’s now too bright, so that was too big a drop in shutter speed, so I’m going to have to split the difference — trying 1/80 of a second. That will dim the background lights from where they are now. This doesn’t change the power or brightness of the flash — this just affects the background room lighting (remember the dimmer analogy).

Above: Another Behind the Scenes shot: I’m raising the Shutter Speed to 1/80 of a second and taking another test shot

So here I’m turning the camera to get a vertical shot and trying that slightly higher shutter speed of 1/80th of a second. I haven’t changed the power of the light yet at all — it’s still at 1/4 power.

Above: Here’s the shot and you can see we’re starting to get there. The 1/80th of a second seems like the sweet spot, so now if I make any changes, I’ll probably slightly raise or lower the power of the strobe itself to make sure the light isn’t too bright — a very common mistake and the thing that makes your shot look too “flashy.” If we want it to blend and look natural, it can’t look “flashy.” It has to make you wonder, “Is that lit with a flash?”

Above: Using Photoshop’s Camera Raw to enhance your lighting (you can do this in Lightroom just the same)

To make the lighting look even better and more dramatic, I edit it with Photoshop’s Camera Raw (or Lightroom’s Develop Module — they are the exact same thing), where I go to the Effects panel, and under Post Crop Vignetting I drag the Amount slider to the left (as shown here), which darkens the edges all the way around your image. This helps to create a more directional look to your lighting — it looks like the light is centered on your subject and it falls off to dark around here. It’s a simple thing, but it has pretty big impact.

Above: Adding a reflector

After looking at the previous image up close, I felt that the area around her eyes looked a little dark, so I had my First Assistant Brad Moore bring in a reflector to bounce some of the light from the flash back into her eyes. We took a test shot using the silver side of the reflector and it was just too bright and too harsh, so we flipped over the reflector to the white side and that did the trick.

There’s still a problem…
Which someone pointed out when I posted the image on Twitter. They noted the bright area of light in the stained glass window to the left of the bride and pointed out that if this was someone else’s image and I were critiquing on our weekly show “The Grid” (where once-a-month we do blind critiques of submitted images), that I would point out that it was distracting. He was right — that’s exactly what I would have said, and so I used Photoshop’s “Patch” tool to remove it.

Above: To use the Patch tool to fix that bright spot in the stained glass behind her  — take the tool and draw a loose selection around what you want to remove [as seen here].

Above: Then click inside that selected area and drag to an area with similar tones somewhere else in the image (as seen here where I dragged the selected area to a lower area of the stained glass.

Above: Now release the mouse, and it snaps back into place and the problem is gone! It really works amazingly well in most cases. 

Above: I finished the image off with nothing but the standard portrait retouching stuff (removing blemishes, smoothing skin, etc.). 

To finish up:
I hope this article helped you “see the light” (totally intended pun) on two things:

(1) The shutter speed controls the amount of light in the room (if you wanted it completely dark black behind her, raise the Shutter speed to 1/200 of a second with strobes, and 1/250 of a second with hot shoe flash). And…

(2) your job is to balance the flash and the room light, while keeping the lighting looking soft and subtle by doing test shots and then looking at the shot and seeing if it looks too bright and thus too “flashy.” Less is more in situations like this, so if you were going to ‘under-light’ or ‘over-light,’ it’ll look more natural underlit (but the goal, of course, is simply to balance it correctly).

If you dig flash stuff like this, and you want to get more into lighting, here’s a class to watch this weekend — it’s called “Just One Flash”. It’s one of our most popular (and I love the instructor. So devastatingly handsome he is). Here’s the official trailer:

Hope you’ll catch that class this weekend.

Hope you found this tutorial helpful, and that it helped ignite your fire for one you can do with just one light.

Have a safe, happy weekend and we’ll see ya here next week. :)

-Scott

The post Tutorial: Simple One-Light Bridal Portrait appeared first on Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider.

How to Create a Cinematic Look in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I teach you how to create a cinematic look to add drama and gritt to your images.

The post How to Create a Cinematic Look in Photoshop appeared first on TipSquirrel.

Photoshop For Old People

Above: Sadly, it has been a few years since an obvious clerical error or database corruption had the AARP accidentally sending me this card much earlier than was appropriate for someone of obvious youth. Of course, I quickly disregarded this travesty, but I must admit, for someone my age, that zip-away shopping tote offer was mighty tempting. 

Now that I am apparently “Officially Old,” I thought it was time to share some of the Photohop secrets that I usually just share with other folks like me while having dinner at 4:30 pm. Here we go:

Note: Please read the headers (shown in red below) in “grumpy old man” voice:

The Fonts are too darn small!!!
Go to Photoshop’s Preferences panel (on Mac, it’s under the “Photoshop” menu; On Windows it’s under the Edit menu — and shown above), and in the list of preference on the left choose “Interface.” Where it says ‘UI Font Size’ Small — click and hold on that menu and choose either Medium or Large, and now Photoshop’s own font will appear larger and easier to read throughout the program.

I can’t see my layer thumbnails!!!
Go to the Layers panel; right-click in any space below your Background layer and from the pop-up menu that appear, choose “Large Thumbnails” as seen above, and it triples the size of the default thumbnails.

There’s too many darn tools!
Go under the Edit menu and choose Toolbar. When the window appears (shown above), drag any tools you don’t want to see again from the left column to the right column. When you’re done, click done.

I can’t remember all these keyboard shortcuts!
To change the keyboard shortcuts to ones you’ll remember, go under the Edit menu and choose Keyboard Shortcuts. Click on the little triangle to the immediate left of the menu that has the shortcut you want to change (this reveals all the items under that menu). Double-click on the one you want to change and type in the shortcut you want, based on people you play Bridge with (like Command-M for ‘Mildred’).

OK, there’s probably more, but I’ve gotta go — it’s time to go watch reruns of ‘Golden Girls.’ ;-)

Tomorrow on the Grid
Join me and “old guy” Larry Becker at 4pm. We’ll be talking about Fiber and how to get senior discounts at McDonalds.

Have a great Tuesday!

-Scott
Disgruntled AARP Rejector!

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How to Create Snow in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I teach you how to create snow from scratch in Photoshop.

The post How to Create Snow in Photoshop appeared first on TipSquirrel.

Adding Snow to Winter Photos in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I show you how you can add a snow layer to your winter images using the snow asset which you can download for free.

The post Adding Snow to Winter Photos in Photoshop appeared first on TipSquirrel.

A Quick, Simple Wide Angle Edge Distortion Photoshop Trick

Happy Tuesday, y’all. This is just a quickie, but it’s really handy if you shoot really wide angle lens for anything from landscapes to group shots. Don’t take points off because its so darn easy to do (in fact, it’s more about what not to do, instead of what you need to do). Here ya go:

Hope you found that helpful.

Here’s wishing you a packed-with-awesomeness kinda Tuesday!

Best,

-Scott

The post A Quick, Simple Wide Angle Edge Distortion Photoshop Trick appeared first on Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider.

This is a Better Photoshop Tutorial Than It Sounds….

Let’s wrap up my first week back with a short, sweet, tutorial that is kind of a Trojan Horse, because it seems like it’s a Photoshop tutorial on How to turn a single Panoramic image into a Triptych (three separate images that have the basic look of a single image — perfect for printing) but hidden inside is a surprisingly handy, little known, little used Photoshop feature that is so incredibly handy.

Let that marinate for a minute. 

OK, ready for the first Trojan Horse tutorial of the year? Let’s do it (it’s short, easy, and partially automated which is the fun part).

See, that was better than it sounded, right?

OK, how ’bout some more cool stuff? Great!
For my first episode of “The Grid” for the year, I was lucky enough to have my super awesome wifey Kalebra on as my guest, and it was a really great show (some folks literally called it our best episode ever), but it starts with some REALLY BIG NEWS for KelbyOne members. It really got a lot of folks excited (and we are over-the-moon about it here at KelbyOne HQ), and we get right to the news at the beginning of the show, so I embedded it below.

Check it out (below), and let me know what you think about the big news in the comments below!

My 9-top Instagram Photos for 2016
As chosen by the awesome folks who follow me there (based on the total number of likes). :)

OK, that wraps it up for me, ya’ll.

I have some handy stuff coming on Monday (and some other news), so I hope I’ll see you then. :)

Have a great NFL Wild Card Weekend! (I’m not shooting any NFL this weekend, but…#rolltide!)

-Scott

The post This is a Better Photoshop Tutorial Than It Sounds…. appeared first on Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider.

Photoshop Down & Dirty Trick: Casting Shadows (plus a big announcement today on “The Grid”)

Hi Gang: First, there’s a BIG very cool announcement for KelbyOne members today on “The Grid” (my weekly talk show about photography), and you don’t want to miss it. Plus, my very, very special guest is none other than Kalebra Kelby herself.

Lots to share today on “The Grid” – our topic is “How to become a better photographer in 2017”. That’s at 4pm ET (http://kelbytv.com/thegrid).

OK, on to our Photoshop Down & Dirty Trick (it’s quick, easy and pretty fun, too! Plus, it doesn’t use the ol’ Drop Shadow Layer Style, which would make it look like it’s just floating in space).

Hope you found that helpful (and down. and dirty). ;-)

Don’t forget “The Grid” today at 4pm – we’ll be announcing one of the coolest things we’ve ever done for our members.

See you then!

–Scott

The post Photoshop Down & Dirty Trick: Casting Shadows (plus a big announcement today on “The Grid”) appeared first on Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider.

Photoshop “Tight Spot” Lighting Trick That Just Might Save You $1,002.00

Hi Gang: So glad to see you here in 2017 – and I’ve got a really slick little tutorial for you, based on a text the awesome Brad Moore sent me last night — it’s something you can do with expensive lighting, but you can get really close to that look using just Photoshop, and it’s super quick and easy (and a variation of a technique I showed here last year).

Take a look for the whole story:

Hope you found that helpful (and maybe it even saved you a few bucks. Maybe enough to come to the Photoshop World Conference this April, eh?). ;-)

Today’s my first day back from an unbelievably relaxing Christmas and New Years break — so I’d better get back at it. Glad to see you here again, and best wishes for an awesome 2017!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. We had planned to do Photoshop World on both coasts this year, but we’re not doing a Vegas show this year as Adobe is holding their conference, Adobe Max, at the same time in Vegas, so we’re going to just be East Coast this year. 

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