Sharpening your Pictures on Photoshop

I recently explored the web to discover different ways to sharpen pictures on Photoshop. Some techniques are destructive while other ways of sharpening can still be edited afterwards. In this article, I will focus on the High Pass / Gaussian Blur sharpening technique, which I will continue to use in my future portrait edits, as I liked it the most. This technique includes Smart Objects, meaning that you can easily change the values of the filters even after applying the filter. So, if you look at your edit after a long refreshing night and you are all like ‘meh’, you can still change the amount of the blur or the high pass without losing any details. If you are lazy and want to skip all this, go to the bottom of this article, I created an action and posted a download link so you can easily import it in Photoshop. The action will make all the following steps for you in just one single click automatically.

Create the Layer structure

An important thing to remember is, that you should do the sharpening step at the very end of your editing. So, put your desired color grading to your picture, do your Dodge & Burn and once you have done whatever you need to do in your edit, continue with the sharpening. For this technique, you need to create two copies of your background. Name the first copy ‘High Pass’ and the second ‘Gaussian Blur’. To do so, right click on your background and select ‘Duplicate Layer’. Alternatively, you can drag your background to the ‘Create new layer’ icon below to create a copy.

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A Brief Look into How I Edit my Portraits

Many photographers try to hide their before and afters of their work, while others share their knowledge on YouTube or their blogs. I personally believe that for a beginner, it is very helpful and of great importance to see what the actual picture someone shares either on Instagram or on the web looked like before the editing process. In this article I would like to share with you what steps I usually undertake to make my original pictures, such as the following portrait of Viktoria, become the pictures I finally share with you. I have shared the before and afters of my work quite often on my Instagram stories and thought I might now share with you an extended explanation behind my longer edits. Some of my work is entirely edited with Lightroom, while other pictures follow most of this article’s steps. Obviously every photographer edits their pictures differently and some people might prefer the one or other change stronger or softer and even use different techniques to achieve their goals. Freedom, yay!

The before and after of Viktoria’s portrait.

Step 1: Adjusting the light & removing the bad spots with Lightroom

I prefer to do this part on Lightroom although it could be also done in Photoshop. For the next edits, I change to the develop section of Lightroom and start moving the highlights, shadows as well as the blacks and whites until I am happy with the overall picture. Once I am satisfied with the lights, I move on to the spot removal tool. I zoom into the subject’s skin, I change the size of the tool to match the bad spot, such as a pimple or any mole I don’t like and finally click on that spot. Most of the time Lightroom will select a nearby spot to copy from and patch the bad spot. If not, you simply need to drag the copy spot to somewhere near the bad spot. This will allow you to match the colours and have a smooth transition. You have to be careful as some of the skin spots of your subject might be part of their personality. So let’s say removing a larger birthmark would mean the same than changing someone’s nose on Photoshop.

Here you see the how often I used the spot removal tool. It depends on you how much time you will spend on this.

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Richie goes Plotagraph

From that very first time I saw a frozen image suddenly moving and thus realizing it actually was a gif/video and no simple static image at all, I knew it. I knew I wanted to do these fancy motions some day in the future. Cinemagraphs can be referred as ‘living’ photographs as they are – as you have just seen above – a mix of photos and videos. By freezing specific parts of the image you can give certain details a stronger emphasis. So by looking at the image below, you should now feel the ‘WOW’ effect going through your brain and you probably want to create one yourself, am I right? A cinemagraph can be done in Photoshop by putting a still image on the top layer of your workspace and leaving areas empty where you wish to leave a video playing in the background. OR you can use an app that will do the magic for you. Now let’s have a look at why this article includes the word Plotagraph and not Cinemagraph.

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Close-Up Filters instead of a Macro Lens

In photography, a close-up filter (also called close-up lens or macro filter) is similar to a secondary lens attached to your primary lens, to provide a macro effect without requiring a macro lens at all. In other words: A macro filter will allow you to focus from a shorter distance to the subject and thus, create a macro effect on your pictures.

Now, as many of you might already know, buying new professional photography equipment is quite expensive. There is a quick rule you can generally apply when buying lenses: The better the lens, the more you will pay for. If you are not crazy about macro photography but you would like to take macro shots from time to time, I would not recommend investing your money in a lens which is specially designed for macro shots. Instead, you could invest your money in a set of close-up filters. Close-up filters are generally cheaper than purchasing a new lens and give beautiful results.

This article will show you how to work with close-up filters and will provide further details about them and what results you might expect by using them.

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Build your Mini Studio at Home (Video Version)

So there you go guys, another video on my youtube channel showing you how I built my mini studio. It’s based on my article I wrote a few weeks ago about how to create your own mini studio. I took most of the footage with my Canon 5D Mark III (EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens) and with a Xiaomi Yi Action cam. The audio was provided by Chillhop. Have fun!

If you enjoyed this video, feel free to subscribe to my youtube channel by hitting THIS LINK. And by the way, did you notice? The video is exactly 4:20 minutes long :p

Add a Lens Flare Effect to your Pictures

You may have spotted this effect in many movies and pictures: colorful rings showing the direction of a light source. This effect is what we call lens flare. Lens flare is often deliberately used to invoke a sense of drama and add a touch of realism. To make it short, this effect can add a beautiful mood to your portraits and landscapes. Now, such an effect happens whenever non-image forming light is scattered in your lens, normally caused by a bright light source, which is then later recorded on your camera’s film or sensor. You can easily record lens flare by setting your subject in front of the sun. Most of the time, this produces an undesirable effect on the image – but in my case, that effect is exactly what I am looking for.

This tutorial will help you to add a lens flare effect to your pictures using Photoshop.

Let’s get started with the unprocessed picture from above, showing on the right Alameda Central, a public municipal park in downtown Mexico City, just next to the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

Creating the Lens Flare Effect

Step 1: Unlock Background image

To unlock your background image, simply double click on your background layer from the layer overview and select OK.

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Create your own Mini Studio

When I was asked by Lindt & Sprüngli Switzerland last month, if I wanted to take part on providing digital content for their Christmas campaign, they told me that they would provide chocolate for free in return. FREE CHOCOLATE. Who on earth would possibly not accept any deal payed back in chocolate, right? (ha-ha) Anyways – shortly after receiving their inquiry, I accepted their request and thought it might also be a great idea to share with you a tutorial explaining how to create your own Mini Studio in just a few steps. In the picture below you can see what kind of results you can expect within your own mini studio.

This tutorial will show you how I built my own mini studio with only a few sheets of paper, scissors, paperboard and tape. Alright, here we go.

CREATING THE WALLS OF THE MINI STUDIO

To begin, you will need to take your paperboard – any old packaging will work – and draw three equal rectangles next to each other (1-3) and one square on top (4), making up the side walls (1 & 3), the bottom (2) and the back wall (4) of your studio. I would strongly recommend you to cut the studio walls in one single connecting piece, as it will hold better together. To summarize, let us have a look at the following graphic:

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A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Photography

Most people owning a digital camera have never used other settings than just the AUTO mode. In automatic modes, the camera determines the best fitting settings for exposure, aperture, focus, white balance, ISO and more. For instance, the camera recognizes a human face and automatically changes the settings for a portrait picture and makes the background blurry. If it recognizes that you are photographing a landscape, it might make the whole picture sharp and use a smaller aperture. While it might be already fine if you just want to take pictures of your family events or selfies, this is not the way you will achieve success in photography. So what’s the solution for a beginner to become a professional in photography? Go f*cking manual!

This guide will explain the fundaments of digital photography. It shows what basic changes you can undertake to achieve different results and will help you get started with the manual mode of your camera. By going manual you already took a huge step towards exploring the world of photography. You will learn how to react according to sudden light changes or you will be able to change your camera settings for your different needs during a shooting. You will also create your own style within time and this is where the fun starts. Once you know how to work with your camera, better results will be achieved. Okay. Let’s say you will simply get the results you really wanted. Bring it on!

The Correct Exposure

Ever wondered how to find out if the picture will be perfectly exposed with your current settings before even taking the photo? Well, I have good news for you. Your camera indicates the exposure level of your current subject, mostly at the bottom of your camera viewfinder. This is what we call the exposure level indicator. It will show you if the picture is underexposed, normally exposed or overexposed.

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