Getting that perfect shot requires a lot of time and effort and there is no software tool in the world which can replace that. However, once you have done everything you can, there is still no guarantee that your shots will come out exactly as you want them to. This is where the editing tools come in.
It’s when you take that perfect portrait after multiple attempts, but someone else pops up in the background to ruin the shot, or that picture of the vibrant blue ocean you took looks washed out for some reason. While most editing tools let you tweak and change minor things, if you really want your photos to pop, or if you want to know about true layering, Photoshop is your best bet. It’s pretty much what every professional photographer in the world uses nowadays as it allows you to edit even minute details. In case you are new to the software, let us introduce you to it with the help of the following easy but useful tips.
The Keyboard Shortcuts (Layers)
The options are plentiful (should that be overwhelming!) in Photoshop, so it can get quite confusing. Even experienced users find that they waste time trying to find them with the mouse in the various menus. Shortcuts are the way forward. You will find that learning the following shortcuts will be extremely useful. Keep in mind, there are more, but for the sake of getting you up and running lets take a look at the layering shortcuts which you’ll find you use a lot.
- Shift + CTRL + N (Win) or Shift + Cmd + N (Mac OS) – Create New Layer
- CTRL + Left Click on New Layer (Win) or Cmd + Left Click on New Layer (Mac OS) – New layer behind selected layer
- CTRL + ALT + Shift + E (Win) or Cmd + Alt + Shift+E (Mac OS) – Flatten layers
- CTRL + ALT + E (Win) or Cmd + Alt + E (Mac OS) – Stamp down selected layers
- ALT + DEL (Win) or Alt + Backspace (Mac OS) – Fill a layer in the foreground
- CTRL + DEL (Win) or Cmd + Backspace (Mac OS) – Fill a layer in the background
- CTRL + Shift + E (Win) or Cmd + Shift + E (Mac OS) – Merge all visible layers
- Shift + CTRL + C (Win) or Shift + Cmd + C (Mac OS) – Copy Multiple Layers
- CTRL + ] (Win) or Cmd + ] (Mac OS) – Bring selected layer forward
- CTRL + [ (Win) or Cmd + [ (Mac OS) – Send the selected layer to the back of the stack
- CTRL + J (Win) or Cmd + J (Mac OS) – New layer from the currently selected one
- CTRL + Shift + J (Win) or Cmd + Shift + J (Mac OS) – New layer from the currently selected portion of the layer
- CTRL + Shift + ] (Win) or Cmd + Shift + ] (Mac OS) – Bring the selected layer on top of the stack
See this article for the full list of Photoshop shortcuts.
The Difference between Vibration and Saturation
While subtle, the difference is definitely there and understanding the difference between the two is what makes a good shot great. You will find them both under Images > Adjustments. Increasing Vibration affects only the colours that are less saturated in an image by making them more saturated. Saturation,on the other hand, increases the colour saturation of every colour in the picture. Vibration is like the finer, more tone specific version of the Saturation setting. The trick is to adjust Vibration first as necessary and then move onto Saturation if required once you’ve got the Vibration correct. This creates a more realistic looking image while ensuring that the colours are bright in all the right places.
How To Sharpen Your Images
If you want to sharpen up the edges in your image without impacting the rest of your picture the High Pass filter in Photoshop is your friend. There are other more complex ways to do this (Smart Sharpen and Unsharp Mask) but High Pass will work perfectly well for most applications.
Use CTRL + J to create a copy of the selected layer and then go to Filter > Other > High Pass. You now need to play with the radius slider or value until your image shows just it’s edges against an otherwise blank grey background. The key is to try to make the edges stand out.
Once you’re happy with your result select OK. Now you will need to change the blending mode of the top layer to Overlay and adjust the opacity until things look just as you want them to. The key factor here is selecting the right detail value so if you are not sure about that, start with a low value.
Save Your Files Faster
Go to Preferences > File Handling and turn on Disable Compression of PSD and PSB Files. Once you do that, you will be surprised by how much faster your images and layering projects are being saved. There is a trade-off though; the files will now be significantly larger and will, therefore, take up a lot of space on your hard disk. Given how cheap storage is these days this tends to be a trade off people are happy to make.
Blurring can look ugly and unrealistic when done improperly, but you can turn all that around by simply adding some noise grains to it. Mixing blurring with noise creates a surprisingly realistic looking result.
Remove Cut-Out Fringes
Most of the time, you will see coloured fringes when you cut out a specific portion of an image and paste it onto a layer but those pixels can easily be dealt with by going to Layer > Matting.
While you will find these tips to be helpful, Photoshop is huge and complex software that takes professional training to learn and a lot of practice to master. Many people end up taking a course at one of the many providers of Photoshop training (for example).
Photoshop can enhance a shot hugely but remember it can only work with what it’s given and so the quality of the original shot is always the key ingredient.