Archive of ‘tutorial’ category

Fisheye effect Photoshop tutorial

In a fantasy world,  I would own a fisheye lens,  but reality is,  I don’t.  So,  whenever I want a little fisheye effect in my images,  I have to rely on Photoshop  (It will work in PSE too).   Here’s my photo,  before and after the Fisheye effect.



You will notice,  in this image,  my Fisheye effect is subtle.  Sometimes too much is just too much!  But once you know how to do it, you decide on how strong the effect fits your image.   Remember,  it is PS,  not the actual lens,  so it’s not as perfect,  and like any editing tool, it needs to be used with moderation,  but the effect is fine enough to use it every time you need!

So, let’s start with the actual steps you will need to take,  it’s pretty simple actually,  but it’s just a feature we tend to overlook,  and we might not notice if we do not look for it.

In PS,  duplicate your background layer,  then select all.  Right-click and select > Free Transform.  Once that Free Transform tool is activated,  you get access to the Warp tool,  that’s what we need!  So,  once you’ve clicked Free Transform,  right-click again (or use the top menu bar to access the feature, under Edit > Transform > Warp) and select the Warp tool.  On the top of your workspace, you will see the Warp menu,  it’s set to Custom.  Click on it to develop it and select Fisheye.  It’s set by default to a value of 50.   It’s pretty strong actually,  but depending on your image it could work just fine.  All you need to do at this point is click the check mark,  after you have adjusted the value.  Working on a duplicate layer makes it easier to get rid of and start over again if you find the effect too weak or too strong.  That’s it!  You just needed to know where to find the right menu for the tool!

In PSE,  duplicate your background layer, then select all.   Next go to Filter  > Distort >  Spherize.  Enter the value there,  it’s basically the same tool,  but it has a different name.

BUT I did make things easier for you by writing three Fisheye Tool actions  (values of 50, 25 and 15.  I used 15 in my image ).  Actions work in PS and PSE 7 and up,  via the ACTION PLAYER feature.

Actions will work on a flattened image.

Get your actions HERE,  and have fun!

Smoke Photography – A Tutorial

I’ve done smoke photography in the past, but never went further than capturing it and converting one image to a decent smoke trail.  This time around I wanted to combine different smoke trails in one image.  I loved the result so I decided to share the tutorial with you guys!

What you’ll need:
Camera (with pop-up flash activated or a speedlite to capture the elusive smoke)
Incense sticks
A large room with a black background,  or a black studio box kit if you plan on doing it inside.  I did it outside,  at night,  the smell of the dollar store bought incense was too strong to have it inside.  If you plan on shooting outside, choose a night without wind!

Capturing the smoke is not that hard given you have good conditions.  Inside,  a black background,  your incense sticks not too close to the background,  otherwise the flash will light it up too much and you’ll have a washed out background.  Be careful where your speedlite bounces too,  it could add up a lot of unwanted light.  Outside,  at night,  no wind.  Direct your camera at a wide space (sky is perfect) so your flash doesn’t pick up anything in the background.

My camera settings:   160,   f/7.1,   iso 200  (raw files, cloudy white balance)
Focus on the incense stick,  I like to keep a small part of it in the image,  you probably won’t see the smoke anyway,  the flash will pick it up.  It helps to focus and compose the image. I used two incense sticks, one works fine as well, I just thought I’d have a wider trail.   Make sure you have the right aperture,  7.0 and up,   since you never know where the smoke will be,  you want to have the most you can in focus.   Photo below shows the incense sticks in the frame, smoke was enhanced in Camera Raw,  I could see it on my LCD screen,  but since the LCD is brighter and compressed,  when I did open the RAW file,  smoke still needed a good boost.  Incense sticks are now blown, but we’ll get rid of them anyway!

Shoot away!  Look at your images from time to time,  sometimes a light breeze will make your smoke leave the frame.  You’ll need to take more than a few images to get a bunch of trails you’ll want to keep.

Once you’re happy with the amount of images you have,  it’s now time to edit them.

I work in Camera Raw & Photoshop.
I used a Raw image, so I opened every image with Camera Raw,  in which I reduced the blacks,  added exposure and fill light so my smoke was exposed in such a way I would see all the little swirls.  I also cropped my incense out right in Camera Raw and kept only the most interesting part of the trail.  Do the same if you’re using LR.
If you are not using Camera Raw or LR,  open your image and use a Curves or Levels adjustment layer and adjust until the smoke comes out.  Once done merge the layers so you’re left with one Background layer.  **Elements users, well, we do need to work with layer masks to remove all the background,  you could opt for a selection of the smoke and use the Background Eraser tool to remove the background. Once done you can play with the Hue and change the colors of the smoke.  Add your smoke trail to a new document and repeat, just like we will be doing in Photoshop**

In Photoshop

1- Select the image and cut it into your clipboard (Ctrl+A to select then Ctrl+X to cut). This should leave you with an empty  layer and the smoke image stored in your clipboard.

2- Add a new layer,  add a layer mask to this new layer.

3- Alt+click on the layer mask to edit the mask and then paste (Ctrl+V) the contents of your clipboard into the mask.

4- It should paste your image in the mask with the smoke white and the background black.

5- Get out of your layer mask and now the smoke should be completely cutout. It’s hard to see,  but you’ll have to trust me with this one!  Turn off the background layer  and go back to the new layer.  Fill this layer (Edit > Fill) the color you’d like to have your smoke.

Since your smoke isn’t perfectly white and your background perfectly black,  a tint may show on the background.  You can easily fix that later when you’re done playing.

Create a new document the size you want,  I went with the size of my first cropped image.  Drag your first layer of smoke into this new document,  place it the way you want it.

Repeat all those steps for every layer of colored smoke you want to add if you plan on working with different smoke photos.  You can also use the same image and just fill the colored layer with different colors and add them to the new document,  flip them,  stretch them,  play around with them so they look like different smoke trails!  Or you can use different smoke photos,  edit them and add them to the document one by one.

When you’re done,  now fix the color tint in the background in the new document.  To do so,  add a Levels adjustment layer and use the white dropper and select a point in the background which should be white.  It will clear up right away.  Save your project.  That’s it,  you’re done!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, if you try your hand at smoke photography and want to share your work,  don’t hesitate to post your results on the Facebook Page!

Bubbly photos – a tutorial

I was inspired this week by some posts I had seen on Facebook about bubbly photography.  I read the tutorial and decided to add my own twist to it.  Not that the tutorial wasn’t clear enough, just that I had another idea I wanted to try and since it worked, well I’m sharing now my own version.

What you’ll need is pretty simple.  A clear glass container,  preferably with flat surfaces,  like a square vase,  I used an old fish bowl.  You will also need sparkling water,  any regular carbonated water will do.   Make sure it’s not a sugared one,  it will get sticky.   And a lens that allows you to get close enough.

If you feel like adding a colorful background,  you can use your favorite scrapbooking paper and place it behind your vase.  The photos I will post have a white background,   but that was my  choice.

Select some items you want to drop in the bubbly water,  fruits (not too juicy or they will make the water murky).  I had great results with a strawberry,   slices of apple or lemon and grapes.   Cherries work great too!   That was for the fruits.  I also tried toys,  everything I had on hand that I thought would make a fun bubbly image.

You could use a toothpick to fix your fruit at the top of your vase, that works fine.  But part of your fruit will remain above the surface.  You can also fix your fruit to a styrofoam base so it remains underwater, this method works fine as well, but you will see the styrofoam in your image.

My challenge was to capture my fruits  under water,  but I didn’t want to have them fixed on a surface at the bottom.   I didn’t want to have them floating at the surface with part of them above the surface either.   I wanted to see the whole fruit.   So my idea was to tie a broken in half toothpick with a small length of fishing filament to a small metal object that would sink and keep the fruit in place under the water ( like a couple of washers or a large nut).   And that’s what I did.   I inserted the small piece of toothpick inside my strawberry,  where the stem was,  and dropped the piece of metal at the bottom.   It worked great with the strawberry, a peach, quartered, a thick slice of apple or kiwi, etc.   That also prevented my fruits from moving around my bowl due to the bubbles.  My main concern was that the filament would also get covered in bubbles and the line would show.   It didn’t happen.   You can’t see the filament!   So all I’m left with is a complete fruit,  covered in bubbles.

Since my trick worked, I thought it would be great to share it with you. Now it’s your turn to try it!  If you do try it and want to post your results on my Facebook  page feel free to do so!  Photos have all been edited with my FREE Clean Color action (available on Facebook).



Before and after, a tutorial

Here’s the tutorial for this underexposed image.  I could have only corrected the exposure, BUT if you know me, I could not leave it at that.  I needed to make something more, add my artsy touch to it.  So today I’m sharing this editing recipe,  complete steps whether you use PS or PSE,  you’ll get the same results.


Here’s what I started with:

Ouch! You say?  Yes, it happens to me all the time,  while I check my settings, I always end up wanting to keep the images I took while he’s not aware of it.

So let’s get started.  Since I shoot in RAW, I opened first my image in ACR.  I’ll give you steps if you’re not using ACR, don’t worry.  I first adjusted the recovery slider a bit, as the sky was close to be overexposed.  Then added fill light for the face and body, around 35.  I upped the brightness to 60 and contrast to 40.  I always add contrast a bit to my RAW files, I find they have more zap this way.  You don’t have to, it won’t change much to your end result.

After ACR here’s what my image looked like.  I could have gone further or left the image as it was, BUT I wanted my artsy edit!

If you are a PSE user or do not use ACR, here’s some steps you can take that will give the same results.

Fist start with a Levels adjustment layer.  Move the Black point to the right a little, bring up the midpoint and the white point to the left.  Drag your sliders for the output and input values as well.  You’ll see my own settings, but your image will be different than mine, so stop when you feel you have corrected enough.  After that add a Brightness and Contrast adjustment layer.  I went for 30 for Brightness and 20 for Contrast, that suited my image.  Once again, it has to fit YOUR image.

My next step was adding a texture to warm it up and jazz it up.  I used Impasto from my Impressions set.

If you’re new to using textures, the next steps will be very helpful to you.

Place, drag or copy and paste your texture on top of your image.  Stretch it if you need to so it covers the whole photo.  BEFORE blending it, we will remove texture from the face and body area.  Your texture should be on Normal mode at 100% opacity.  Use the dropper tool and select a mid-range color from the texture.  Reduce the texture opacity so you can see your subject and where you are going to paint.  Select a soft brush at around 50% opacity and brush over the face, hands, whatever applies to your image.  I usually reduce my brush opacity around 20% and paint on the edges of where I erased the texture so the “erasing” looks naturally blended.

See how it looks once painted over?  No gritty texture over the face, but the texture’s tint remains.  Now we’re off to blending the texture.  I first blended it in Overlay at 50% to add depth.  Then I duplicated the texture layer and blended in Screen at 25%, to give the hazy look.  I duplicated the texture again and went for Multiply at 25% to add intensity.  Once the painting is done, playing with the blending modes and opacity is so easy.

We still need to work on the image.  Of course you can always stop there if you like your image.  I decided to go further and add a gaussian blur around the edges to give it more impact. Merge your layers so you are left with only a background layer.  Duplicate this background layer.

With your duplicated layer selected, go to Filter in the top menu, select Gaussian Blur and run at a radius of 28.  Add a layer mask and make sure it’s filled with black.  Now the blur isn’t showing.  We’re going to paint it back in.  Make sure your layer mask is selected.  Use a soft white brush and paint on the mask.  Start at 100% opacity and paint in an elliptical motion around the edges.  don’t go too close to your subject.  Reduce your brush opacity to 50-60% and get a bit closer, you won’t lose as much detail and the results will be nice.

Last step for this edit, I added a vignette.  I could have used an action, but I decided to make it myself so I could show you how to do it yourself.  Select the Gradient adjustment layer.  Choose either the Black to White gradient or the Neutral Density gradient.  Select a Radial gradient, and up the scale to 150%.  The darkest tone should be on the edges!  If not, tick the Reverse box.  Blend this layer in Soft Light mode at around 45% and you’re done!

Writing it all step by step  makes it look longer than it actually is,  I can guarantee you that.  Once you’ve done it, it goes quite fast.  I’m sure the PS or PSE beginners will find many useful steps, the more seasoned users will enjoy a new challenge, if not, just a new perspective on doing things.  Final result is posted below, have fun editing!

First Post of 2012 and a Match Color Tutorial

Happy New Year everyone!  Wishing you all a wonderful new year, may your dreams and hopes come true,  and may your projects succeed.

For this first post of 2012 I’d like to share  a quick tutorial for Photoshop CS users.

This tutorial will be about a quick and fun way to edit your images by using the Match Color adjustment feature in Photoshop CS  (I haven’t found a way to make the exact same thing in Elements so far,  but I only have PSE7.  So if you have a newer version of PSE and the feature is available,  let us know!).

Match Color uses a photo as a source to change the color of the photo you are working on.  You can use any photo,  a classic painting,  one of your photos that has tones you especially like,  or whatever your creative mind decides.

I used a texture of mine, from the Renaissance set as a source for the tones and then applied it to my image.

Here’s how we do:  Open both images in Photoshop, the image you want to work on (Target)  and the image you want to borrow the tones from (Source).  Make sure your Target photo is your active selection.  I like to duplicate my background and work on that layer,  so if I don’t like the results,  I can easily discard it.  I can also lower the opacity or change the blending mode of the duplicated layer,  which I can’t do if I work on the Background layer.

So, with your Target photo active,  and your duplicated layer active as well,  go to Image > Adjustments > Match Color.  A dialog box will open and you will work from there.   You will see three sliders, that’s what you will use to fine tune the results.

So, you see in this dialog box,  my Target image name at the top,  and the three sliders.  At the bottom,  that’s where you select your Source.  Just click on the box for the Source image and you will see the image you opened for this purpose listed there.  The Layer box, is for selecting a layer if your source is a .psd file.  Just play with the sliders until you like what you see, then click ok.  If you duplicated your Background layer, changes will be made on that layer and you can now adjust the opacity or change the blending mode.

This feature takes a little getting used to though, my first attempts were made with darker images as the Source and the results weren’t as soft as I wanted them to be.  But it’s still a fun feature to play with once in a while.  Here’s my result using my texture as a Source and leaving the duplicated layer in Normal mode at 100%.


I hope you’ll try this fun feature and, as usual,  feel free to share your results on the Facebook page.




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