Tech

Up Your Photoshop Game with These Five Quick Tricks

Many people think that to make big changes to a photo using image-editing software, you need endless hours and an encyclopedic knowledge of Photoshop. However, the truth is that with the right tips, advice and technique, you can completely transform your photo in a matter of seconds.

We’re serving up five quick and easy techniques to try when you’re next editing photos using Photoshop so let’s get started…

Add a bleach bypass effect

Getting that gritty, hard-edged bleach bypass effect that’s become so popular thanks to filters on apps like Instagram couldn’t be easier. Just open your image and then make a duplicate layer by pressing Control + J (Command + J on a Mac), before desaturating the layer so it’s black and white (Control+Shift+U). All you need to do next is to head to the Layers panel and change the Blending mode from Normal to Overlay. If the effect is too strong, simply lower the Layer’s Opacity.

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Before: Due to overcast lighting, the image needs more punch. Image by Matty Graham

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After: The bleach bypass has pumped up contrast and given the frame style.

Add a custom vignette

Adding a vignette (a darkened border) around your image can help focus attention on your subject in the middle of the frame. Open your image and then head to the Layers panel before clicking on the ‘Create New Adjustment Layer’ icon, which is identified by a half black/half white symbol. From the drop down list, select the Hue/Saturation option and when the dialogue box appears, drag the Lightness slider all the way to the left. The frame will now be black, so select a soft Brush, make sure it’s set to black and then brush out from the middle of the frame to hide the black pixels, leaving only the border area around the outside of the frame.

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Before: There’s a lot going on in the frame, which can be distracting. Image by Matty Graham

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After: By adding a vignette, it’s now easier for the viewer to identify our main subject.

Replicate a 10-stop ND filter image

When a landscape scene is paired with a long exposure and a 10-stop ND filter, photographers can introduce motion to the scene as static clouds transform into streaks. Well, if you forget your filter, then you can recreate the look using Photoshop. Open your image, duplicate the Layer (Control +J) and then select Filter>Blur>Radial Blur. When the dialogue box appears, change the Blur Method to Zoom and select an Amount of around 14. The whole of the frame will be blurred, so head to the Layers panel and click on the ‘Add Layer Mask’ option, identified by a ‘circle within a square’ symbol. Next, select a Brush set to black and paint out the pixels over the foreground, leaving the blurred clouds to complete the effect.

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Before: The starting image is nice, but lacks any motion. Image by Matty Graham

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After: Using just Radial Blur, we’ve replicated the look of a long exposure image.

Selectively remove colours

By removing (and keeping) certain colours from a frame, you can focus attention on subjects or objects and add a creative feel to your photo. Open your image and then head to the Layers panel before clicking on the ‘Create New Adjustment Layer’ icon, which is identified by a half black/half white symbol. From the drop down list, select the Hue/Saturation option and when the dialogue box appears, change the Master option to the colour you want to remove, before dragging the Saturation slider to the left. Repeat this for all the colours you wish to remove until you are left with the one colour you wish to keep.

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Before: Too many colours can be distracting in a scene. Image by Leo Roomets.

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After: Removing colours from the scene focuses attention and adds an arty feel.

Add Lens Flare

Shooting into the sun can create arty lens flare, and you can recreate this effect in Photoshop too! Simply open your image and duplicate the Layer (Control + J), then select Filter>Render>Lens flare. You can position the flare anywhere on the image you wish using the preview display and the intensity and style of the flare can be adjusted too. Once you’ve added the flare, you may wish to remove some of the halos it creates, so add a Layer Mask and then use a Brush, set to black, to hide the lens flare pixels.

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Before: The starting image has nice light but lacks atmosphere.

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After: Lens flare helps us inject light and feeling into the frame.