If you don’t think you’re a good photographer, then maybe you’re doing the editing all wrong.
Gone are the days when you had to know the ins and outs of an enlarger to enhance your photos from film. Thanks to the advent of digital photography, you can now simply upload your photos to a computer and plug them into Adobe Photoshop.
But once you get them there, what are some simple photography tricks to make your images shine? Let’s take a look at 6 Photoshop tips that can instantly take your snaps to the next level using digital editing, even if you’re a novice photographer…
1. Adjust the Exposure
With today’s technologically advanced cameras, most of the time they nail the exposure in auto mode. However, sometimes the subject is still too light or dark, the latter which can happen if there’s a lot of backlighting (which can also be used artistically.)
In this case, you’ll want to go into Photoshop’s levels to make some adjustments by moving the sliders around. You may need to experiment a bit to get the brightness of the face just right, but practice will make it easier.
You can also go into the shadows/highlights in the adjustments menu and bump them up to bring out hidden details.
2. Convert To Black and White
Many of the most timeless and iconic photos of all time are in black in white, simply because color film wasn’t widely available at the time.
Think about the drama of the little girl running from a napalm attack in Vietnam taken in 1972, or the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square taken at the end of the war in 1945. Both of them conjure emotion, but is there more to it than that?
For everyday scenes, black and white can make a difference. Because there’s no color, the eye tends to focus on form and contrast more. It also helps eliminate distractions. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a friend in front of a monument, the scene can be ruined by someone wearing a bright yellow jacket behind them.
There are a certain moodiness and timelessness of black and white photos as well.
In Photoshop, there are a couple of ways to achieve black and white: you can simply find “convert to black and white” in the menu, or you can slide the saturation to zero. The second method allows you to remove just some of the color for an interesting effect.
3. Sharpen The Subject
If you want to help the viewer’s eye go to the places you want it to go, then sharpening is a tool you can try.
For example, say you took a photo of a smiling friend with others around them that aren’t as important to the photo. You can select sharpen and highlight the friend’s face in Photoshop, making only that area look more detailed.
It may take some adjustments of the strength and blending mode to make it look natural. You don’t want to oversharpen an object, or else it will stand out too much from its surroundings and look unauthentic.
If you have a close-up of someone’s face, like a portrait, try playing around with sharpening only the eyes to see how it makes the photo pop.
You can add a duplicate layer and a high pass filter to increase the sharpness of the entire photo. Make sure you change the blending mode of the top layer to “overlay.”
4. Whiten Teeth and Eyes
Have you taken a photo of someone who enjoys a lot of cigarettes, wine or coffee?
What you get is a great photo, except for the yellow or brownish stains on their big grin. To be fair, several foods can stain one’s teeth, and it’s pretty common to have less than pearly whites.
However, thanks to the magic of digital editing, you can erase those stains as effectively as a dentist. Using the magnetic lasso tool in Photoshop, you can mask off the teeth and then adjust the saturation to make their teeth appear whiter.
There are a few more steps in between, but when it comes to how to whiten teeth in Photoshop, you should be able to achieve it without much trouble. Because you’ll be creating a new layer, you won’t affect the original image.
The same approach can be used to enhance whites of eyes, which are one of the first things people will notice about a subject.
5. Crop The Image
Another way to ensure people only see the part of the photo you want them to see is by cropping the photo.
“Cropping” is just a fancy way of saying keeping one part and getting rid of the rest. The cropping tool is easy to use and straightforward in Photoshop, so you shouldn’t have much trouble experimenting with it.
There is one thing to keep in mind, however. Cropping will reduce the overall pixel size of your image, which may decrease the overall quality and result in less sharp prints if that’s your goal. However, since many digital cameras these days have very high image resolution, it’s not as much of a concern as it used to be.
6. Remove Sensor Dust and Other Distractions
Many times cameras can end up with a dirty sensor, which is the equivalent of a film surface. The lens may look completely clean, but the end result is dark looking spots in the sky or on someone’s face that you didn’t notice when you were taking the photo.
You can try cleaning the sensor yourself, but it’s recommended you let a professional do it especially if you’re new to the game. In the meantime, your friend Photoshop can erase those spots for you using the cloning or spot healing tool. Just by zeroing in on each spot, you can make like they were never there in the first place.
This technique is also helpful for things like fluff on a sweater in a portrait, or a pimple on someone’s nose.
Practice These Photoshop Tips
Applying some of these Photoshop tips to your new and existing photos can bring them to the next level and impress your friends – and you!
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