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Shell & Bleached Beach Weed collected on the beach in AntiguaWell, I got totally carried away with the contrast in the mod, but a crop, perhaps, would stop this from becoming just a record shot. I agree with Paul about the lighting. You could have used more diffused lighting and an off-camera flash would make the lights and shadows more interesting.

17/03/2013 - 7:40 AM

"Let's talk..."

"Let's talk..."The mod I did has an added vignette to the top of the frame only and the white spot below the man's chair was cloned out.

I like the graphic quality of the photo and the idea and execution of it. Looks like you know what you're doingSmile

16/03/2013 - 2:30 PM


CorfeI think tone mapping this scene was the wrong choice in this lighting as it could easily be done in one shot or without running it through Photomatix. The dynamic range is within the exposure limits of your camera's sensor so tone mapping or HDR effects are overkill and unnecessary. All they'll do is flatten the contrast of the photo and will produce something like the flat, dull sky you have in the shot above.

The position of the castle is below the horizon so its sense of power and authority over the landscape and the town has been reduced. It is also lacking in contrast and colour, seeming to blend into the hill behind. I would say this has to be the main subject of the photo and the town the secondary subject.

The light and shadows are good but not spectacular. Clouds would help the sky, but as there weren't any on the day there's not a lot you can do about it. I've had many days like that and it's a bit frustratingTongue If you can go back there in different weather conditions then it will create different moods to the photographs.

With the main areas I've highlighted in mod 2 I made selections in PS and altered them to change the emphasis on each.

I thought area 1 in mod 2 was too dominant and had the most colour, contrast, detail and sharpening. I reduced all of these slightly so ( hopefully ) the eye could be directed to the main subject, the castle.

The shadows in areas 2 and 3 are too blue imo so I reduced the saturation of the blue and cyan colours to a level where I thought they were balanced in the photo.

In areas 3 and 4 I thought the sharpening was overdone, especially in the graveyard and around the church so I blurred these parts with Gaussian blur at around 0.5 pixels, or thereabouts. If this is too much then just reduce the opacity to suit the image.

Area 5, the sky was selected and altered using a curves layer so the horizon becomes lighter and the top of the photo becomes darker. The sky colour was changed using a selective colour layer. I reduced the noise in the sky too which helped to smooth the 'grain'.

I also used a selective colour layer to change the colour of the photo so there was more red in it.

I gave it a vignette and brightened the center portion. Area 6, the castle and hill was selected and given a boost in contrast and colour using curves. I then used dodge and burn techniques to darken the shadows and lighten the parts in sunlight. Hopefully this makes the castle the main subject of the photo.

I sharpened the photo using the High Pass filter. There were parts of the photo I didn't want sharpened so I used a layer mask and painted in black at different opacities to control the look of the sharpening.

When sharpening your photos try to sharpen selectively and not so much that halos can be seen. Generally the main subject needs to be sharpened the most and the secondary subject less so. All other areas are either not sharpened at all or only very slightly sharpened.

I'm not sure I explained the process very well so I hope you can gain something from itSmile

This is only an opinion and not meant to offend.

03/03/2013 - 7:41 PM

Red Roses.

Red Roses.The mod is a crop to the parts where there is something interesting happening and trying to sort out the burnt out parts of the photo.

I would suggest using a large reflector on the left side of the photo to bounce light into the shadow areas of the model. This will partially equalize the dynamic range between the shadows and highlights. If you're using a shutter speed of 1/400th then it seems the flash is set to high speed sych mode. Not a bad thing, but you need to control the intensity of the flash by dialling in some -ve FEC.

It's possible that a weaker fill light behind the model on the opposite side to the main light would help to create more shape to the model's right shoulder and hair.

27/01/2013 - 8:22 PM


**Chanelle**I did some basic retouching by cleaning up the stray hairs, skin healing, dodge and burn and upping the exposure and contrast in selected areas. The eyes had too much blue in the whites so I reduced this and warmed the colour balance slightly as well.

I like the shot and with a boost to the levels to change the black and white point it will look very good.

19/01/2013 - 7:34 PM

Victoria Memorial

Victoria MemorialTo change the bluish colour you can use the HUE slider on the Saturation control and select the Blue colour from the drop down menu. Change the hue until it is a warmer colour and change the opacity to suit the photo. Use a mask to paint out the areas you don't want to change using the paint brush tool and painting on it with black.

You can use the Selective colour tool and target the cyan and blue colours to change them to a warmer colour.

A warm ( orange ) photo filter in PS will also do the job. Use the mask and paintbrush to limit the effect to the areas you want to change.

I think the photo would be better if you'd walked past the lamp and included the tower on the right more. The lamp tends to merge into the dark tones of the bushes/trees so it becomes a dark mass on one plane. It reduces the apparent depth of the photo. If the lamp had some light down its edges to separate it from the dark mass of trees I think this would be better.

I like the photo though and I think it has a good atmospheric feel.

02/01/2013 - 4:49 PM

Mallow smile

Mallow smileThe best way to whiten teeth and the whites of eyes is to make a selection of them using the Lasso tool and choose curves on the adjustment panel situated in the layers panel. You're looking for the circle icon which is half black/half white at the bottom. Click this and choose curves from the fly out menu. You should now have a curves layer with its own mask and only the whites of the eyes and teeth selected in white. The rest will be black. White reveals, black conceals is the way to remember how a mask works.

Feather the mask by 1 to 5 pixels depending on how large the file size is so you don't get a sharp edge once you make the adjustments. Lighten the selected areas by pushing the diagonal line up slightly on the curves graph. If you do it too much it will look unnatural but you can lower the opacity to suit later. Now choose the Blue channel on the curves adjustment layer. You'll notice in the drop down menu that there is an RGB channel, a Red channel, a Green channel and a Blue channel and these work by changing the colour of the photo ( or selected area ) to the same colour as the channel name when the graph is pushed up. The colour changes to its complementary when the curve is pushed down, red becomes cyan, green becomes magenta and blue becomes yellow. An easy way to remember the channels opposites is to think:


K stands for black and can be disregarded in this instance.

Push the curve on the blue channel up very slightly in the middle of the line until the selected areas look better. Now choose the green channel and push this up even more slightly until it looks better. You can play with the channels to change the colour balance of the teeth and eyes to your hearts content until you get the hang of it. I tend not use the red channel for this operation as it doesn't help the look of whiteness in the teeth. If the teeth look too bright or white try lowering the opacity slider on the layers panel until they look natural and work with the photo. You're not trying to get a Donny Osmond in UV light effect with the teeth, so some restraint is in orderSmile

Hope that helps.

Regards, Alan.
02/01/2013 - 9:33 AM

Dolgoch Falls

Dolgoch FallsI adjusted the exposure and colour balance and dodged and burned the waterfall to gain detail information in the blown parts.

The colour balance is very slightly green, so I introduced some magenta to offset this.

The composition is good, but the photo is slightly bright and over-sharpened imo.

This is only an opinion and not meant to offend.

27/12/2012 - 9:04 AM


GarlicI think this is a very good arrangement of the garlic cloves and the hessian works well with the subject. The left side may be a little tight and a fraction more room could have been given to the composition, but that's a question of one persons view over another. The mod was done to produce a more sculptural, 3-dimensional feel using dodge and burn techniques to deepen the shadows and accentuate the highlights. It's just another interpretation from your very good photo.

21/12/2012 - 6:39 PM

Take one clove....

Take one clove....Better late than never with modSmile

I can see the b/g in the original and felt it didn't add to the photo. I also thought the composition needed changing as the view point is slightly high.

At the moment the composition reads across rather than front to back, which I think would improve this photo. With these points in mind I chose to create a black layer and extend the canvas so there is more space to work with. I lowered the opacity of the black layer so the b/g layer showed through. This allowed me to paint an accurate mask for the garlic and its reflection.

I then selected the single clove and pressed Ctrl J to duplicate the selected clove. This was then moved to a different position to improve the composition in terms of achieving greater depth to the photo.

The black was quite uniform so I made a new layer and used a reflected gradient going from a shadow colour on the garlic to black. I then darkened the edges to make the gradient look like a pool of light. To allow the garlic and reflections to show through, I used a mask and paint brush. A small dose of sharpening was applied to crisp up the detail.

15/12/2012 - 9:44 PM

The sky at night

The sky at nightSomething like this might help

The first of four pages to explain hand blending HDR photos

I think it would help you to know about Luminosity masks and how to blend a normal, an underexposed and an overexposed photo together to produce a natural looking photo with a correctly exposed sky and ground.

Using a soft brush to blend the transitions also helps. Blending modes are useful in modifying masks to make them more accurate and reducing the halo effect you're trying to get rid of.

To me the church is too light, given the low light and sunset conditions, and the horizon to the right of the church has lost depth and contrast because of the processing. This is where using a brush on a mask would help. Using the dodge and burn tools in early PS CS created ugly brown, smudgy effects that were easily spotted by the viewer. One of my preferred methods of dodging and burning is:

Press Ctrl J twice to create two layers from the b/g layer. Change the blend modes of each to screen and multiply. Now select each in turn and create a layer mask and fill with black. The photo will not have changed, but by using a soft brush with a low opacity you can now lighten and darken the photo where you think it's needed by revealing parts of the two copied layers.

A luminosity mask is created by going to the channels palette and Ctrl clicking a channel. Either the Red, Green, Blue or RGB channel can be used depending on what information you need in the mask. The channel is now selected and should have 'marching ants' on it. Go back to the Layers palette and choose an adjustment layer from the Layers palette, normally Curves in my case. You should now have the curves layer with the luminosity mask, a mono version of the photo. You can now work on different tonal areas according to the mask. The mask can be inverted to work on the opposite tonal range. The mask can also be moved or copied by click and dragging or Alt click and dragging to another layer.

This may or may not help you but it will help to know some of these things. Learning how to make accurate masks is important if you want to manipulate photos.

23/11/2012 - 6:11 PM

Pathway to the Purbecks

Pathway to the PurbecksI like the composition you've chosen with the path snaking through the landscape, very good.

I hope you don't mind me saying though, I think you've over sharpened this photo. If you look at the head land and distant land against the sky, as well as the areas of rock and chalk cliff faces and the grasses bottom left in the photo you can see white edges or halos. Sharpening increases the contrast of the edges giving the impression of increased sharpness. If this is over done then halos are quite evident. If you get to the point where you see halos appearing, then just ease the slider back a bit.

Also, try not to sharpen everything. Sharpening a photo has similarities to the effects of aerial perspective. Everything in the foreground has more colour, contrast, detail, definition and clarity compared with the back ground. The further back into a scene you look the less of all of these qualities you'll see. So the background will have less colour, contrast, detail, etc., than the foreground or mid ground. Your sharpening can follow this trend by not sharpening the b/g, giving the mid ground some gentle sharpening and leaving the highest amount for the foreground and your main subject.

This is how I generally sharpen my landscape photos and I feel it gives the photo more apparent depth. If everything is sharpened it tends to flatten the image.

This is only an opinion and not meant to offend.

21/09/2012 - 9:43 AM

10 Min After the Rain

10 Min After the RainI think you should invest in some better quality filters that don't give the photo such a high magenta colour cast. I had that difficulty when I used Cokin filters, especially if I stacked two or more of them. I use Lee and Hitech filters and the issue of a colour cast is almost gone. The Hitechs still have a cast when stacking three of them, but no where near as bad as Cokin.

I think the chain is a little over-sharpened and the waterline/horizon curves down towards the left. The distortion can be sorted out by using the transform tool in PS and selecting the warp tool or the distort tool. You can bring down a couple of guide lines from the ruler bar to make certain the horizon is straight.

I've seen this kind of shot composed with the main line of the subject placed centrally and it has worked very well.

As it is I like the shot and the chain is interesting as the main focal point, especially with the texture of the encrusted barnacles on it.

08/07/2012 - 8:01 AM

Kirsty 4

Kirsty 4In the mod I evened out the skin tones using dodge and burn on a layer with 50% grey fill and soft light blend mode. This can be seen best on the model's thigh where there are three slightly darker stripes and some light patches. The D & B produced an even graduation from the shadows to the lights on the leg.

I used the liquify filter to 'straighten' the shadow line on the model's nose, which has a slight kink to it due to the cartilage projecting from the bridge of the nose.

I double processed the photo in ACR. One was a split tone conversion so the highlights were a warm yellow and the shadows were blue and the second conversion was made lighter to give more detail to the hair. I combined the two and masked out all of the hair layer except the detail in the hair.

I sharpened the photo, selecting only the eyes, mouth, hair and the in focus part of the sheet. The rest was unsharpened.

I really like the photo you've taken. The lighting, pose, model and processing are very good.

05/02/2012 - 11:44 AM

Hungry fox

Hungry foxI would suggest a contrast boost to improve the quality of this photo. It looks a little washed out at the moment. This can be done in curves, by making a shallow 'S' curve on the graph or, by using levels and pulling in both the black point and white point triangles to meet the bulk of the histogram. With levels the mid point slider can be moved as well to lighten or darken the mid tones of the photo.

31/01/2012 - 6:24 PM

Coppice CCCXIX

Coppice CCCXIXCould you try a small gold or silver reflector below and to the right to bounce light into the shadow area? It shouldn't scare the birds off and would add detail and coloured reflected light to the shadowed side. Balancing the light sources is, of course, important. If it were positioned slightly behind the bird as well as to the right then it would have a gentle rim light accentuating the form and volume of the bird.

31/12/2011 - 9:16 AM


FungiYou should be using an aperture of f8-f16 to get enough DOF ( depth of field ) so more of the fungi are in focus. Look for tutorials on the web and Ephotozine about DOF, macro photography and the techniques associated with it.

You need a tripod and a cable release to ensure sharp results and use Live View on your camera or Mirror Lock-up when taking macro photos. This is to avoid any vibrations caused by the mirror slapping up when releasing the shutter. Any vibrations when shooting at high magnifications will also be magnified and cause the image to be blurred. I use a tripod, shutter release cable and Live View when taking macro shots. My portfolio shows whether this has been effective or not.

If you don't have a flash then take some white, silver and gold card with you to reflect light into dark shadow areas. This helps to show the form of the fungi and helps shadow detail. Again, my portfolio shows how this helps avoid blocked shadows.

Always think about composition and get down to the level of what you are shooting.

You could have cleaned the fungi up a bit by removing the soil from the caps. This helps the aesthetics of the shot a great deal.

Use manual, aperture priority or shutter priority when taking photos as this will help you learn more about photography than just using Auto. There are tutorials that will teach you the differences and when to use the different modes of aperture/shutter control. Your camera's manual should give a reasonable explanation as to the differences as well.

Use the Histogram to check the tonal information of each shot. If the bulk of the graph is to the left it's too dark and needs to be lightened by reducing the shutter speed to let more light in ( or opening the aperture will have the same effect ). If it's to the right, it's too light ( over exposed ) and the opposite should be done.

Hope this helps, Alan.
16/12/2011 - 8:29 AM


SanderlingUse your preferred method of sharpening two to three times on the image so it's over sharpened ( at the output size for the web ). Now use the opacity slider on the layers panels to reduce the effect of the sharpening so you get to the point where you can't see any edge halos caused by the sharpening. If you set the blend mode on the layers panel to Luminosity, only the tonal information will be sharpened and not the colour information. This will improve the look of the sharpening. It may be imperceptible at web size but it will be an improvement.

I generally use the smart sharpen option as it sharpens edges rather than flat areas of tone. You can use a mask to paint out everything you don't want sharp so the b/g can remain soft and blurred. The High Pass filter is another good way of sharpening.

15/12/2011 - 3:29 PM


SanderlingI think this needs a slight crop, some added contrast and sharpening along with cloning out some of the more intrusive rocks around the bird. I also softened the water so the bird looked sharper.

IMO, a larger aperture ( f5.6 is the smallest I'd use. If possible f2.8-f4 would be better ) would help to isolate the bird by throwing the f/g and b/g out of focus and a lower point of view so you were more on the bird's level. Probably difficult to do, but worth a try.

The lighting is very good.

25/10/2011 - 7:51 PM

Another Fairy

Another FairyI think the composition works well as does the subject.

In the mod I tried to bring out the colour and contrasts throughout the image. I used some dodge and burn methods to introduce some drama and impact to the water and sky. This helped the detail in the waterfall. Some sharpening also helped, imo, to show how much detail there is in this photo.