Ultimate Guide To Blending Modes in Photoshop

The blending modes feature is one of Photoshop’s most undervalued tools for Photographers. Blending modes can be used to alter the ways in which each layer interacts with the layers below it, allowing for endless possibilities when it comes to setting the right tone or adding artificial lighting.

How to Master Blending Modes in Photoshop

Graphic designers and digital illustrators use blending modes all the time to create interesting lighting effects or textures; however, most digital photographers don’t realize that blending modes can be useful when working with photographs, too. The right combination of blending modes can set a dramatic tone that is otherwise difficult to achieve. Read more…

Quick Tips for Photographing Autumn

Up here in the Northern hemisphere autumn is most definitely on its way. In my town we went from 90F+ last week to 60F this week and some rain came along too. It’s not bad news though because autumn can be the best time of year for photography. The light is great and there’s all those pretty colored leaves to document. Here are a few quick tips to help you make the most of the season:

1.Take advantage of the shorter days. You don’t need to get up at the crack of dawn to photograph a sunset and that pretty warm evening glow occurs early in the evening. So even if you’re too lazy to photograph in the beautiful first-light/last-light in summer now you can get out there and capture it.

2. Get the details. Leaves are, of course, a big part of autumn photography. Put your camera on a low f-stop and get in close, capture the color and the detail of the leaves. Don’t leave out the big picture but these closer shots can really capture the color of the season.

3. Make the colours go further, try shooting reflections.

4. Use autumn as a backdrop. The colours and the crisp blue skies make great backgrounds for photographing people, if you like a non-themed photo to send out as your holiday card now is a good time of year to get the family together and shoot it.

5. Don’t forget the non-leaf parts of autumn! Photograph other things that make you think of autumn, whether that’s jumping in puddles or sipping apple cider there are great photos to be had there too.

Most popular posts of 2008

Firework Display - Hogmanay Street Party, Dornoch, Scotland

Photo by: foxypar4 (cc-by)

Happy new year! I hope you had a great holiday and got to spend some quality time, as I did, with the people you love. I thought a quick look back at some of the most popular posts of 2008 would be a great way to start Photodoto.com’s third year.

As you can see, our posts run the gamut from quick tips, core photography instruction, and reviews…to software, image editing, and fun projects. And we’ll have a lot more in 2009. So thanks for reading, tell your friends, and stick around—it’s going to be a great year!

Quick Fix for Cluttered Backgrounds
Despite all that has been written about keeping the background of your photos simple, that goal is not always achievable. Sometimes your subject is in a place with a busy background everywhere. Or perhaps the subject is doing something that you don’t want to interrupt by walking around the person or requesting that she or he move to a different location.

The importance of focus and quick tips on how to get it right
Focus in photography is about a lot more than simply sharpness or being able to see what you are looking at. Focus can enhance a subject by making it stand out from or blend into its surroundings, focus can draw you in, and the right focus can create an emotional connection with the viewer. No matter what style of photography you enjoy, focus can work for you or against you.

Black and White with a Splash of Colour
One of the techniques people most often ask me to teach them is making a photograph like the one on the right that is black and white with one other colour. There are a few ways to achieve this effect but here is the one I find easiest for Photoshop users.

Review: Nikon Coolpix S550
Before you even take it out of the box the Nikon Coolpix S550 looks cool (mine looks especially cool being “cool blue” coloured). But while looking good is nice the important thing is how it performs.

Big and Tasty Food Photography Tips Roundup
I’ve got a nice roundup here of food photography sources with a ton of great tips, tutorials, and videos for making food look tasty on camera. How seriously you take this probably depends to some extent on whether you’ve ever heard the term “food stylist.”

Basic Travel Photography
I’ve just returned from a little jaunt to Portugal and I have to say there is little else that gets me as eager to get my camera out as wandering around a city I’ve never seen before. And of course, in the age of the compact digital camera pretty much everyone takes a camera with them when they travel these days. But how do you come back with photographs your friends and family won’t have to feign interest in?

Take better flash photos in one easy step
Many people shy away from flash photography because it makes people look bad. Photographs taken with a flash can leave harsh shadows that highlight every wrinkle, turn skin blue, shine a flood light at thinning hair, create hot spots on the forehead, nose and cheeks, and generally make subjects look unattractive. But when there isn’t enough light, sometimes your only choice is to use a flash or not take photos at all.

Review: The Flip Mino HD  Video Camera
I really like the Flip video cameras. I reviewed the original Flip Mino back in June and recommended it for anyone who wanted to shoot more than a couple of minutes of video at a time or who wanted to reserve the space on their camera’s memory card just for pictures. The Flip Mino is a handy, compact, easy to use video recorder. And the Flip Mino HD is virtually identical in every way except one.

Free noise reduction plugin for the GIMP
But one thing my stock GIMP install didn’t have was a decent noise removal filter. That is, until I downloaded and installed the GREYCstoration plugin. Installing it is as simple as downloading and dropping the plugin into the GIMP plugins directory. Restart GIMP and you’ll find a new menu under Filters | Enhance | GREYCstoration.

Screencast: Curves color enhancement tutorial
This 2.5 minute screencast shows a simple and fast technique using multiple layers to enhance the colors in a photograph.

Buying a digital camera for your kids
My kids are naturally curious about photography having a shutterbug for a dad. I started them out tentatively with some disposable film models but those were unsatisfying. Too slow. No LCD screens. Kids aren’t known for their patience. Digital was made for them.

Learning Composition: The Rule of Thirds
Whether you’re feeling artistic or not, good composition is important for making images that resonate with viewers. Everything else being equal, poor composition can create an itch in a viewer—a subconscious and annoying one that can’t be scratched.

Tethered shooting on Ubuntu Linux using gPhoto2
My D70, like most digital cameras, has a USB port that allows me to connect it to my computer and download photos. Many cameras also allow you to control them using your computer when they are connected. This is called tethered shooting.

Introducing Your Little One to Photography
One of my day jobs involves working with special needs children and children in hospital. I do a lot of work with children on the autistic spectrum and children with learning difficulties, as well as with at-risk youth and kids with chronic illnesses. One of my absolute favourite things to do is introduce these children to photography. Not only do I enjoy sharing my passion but for a lot of the children I work with it is a unique way for them to express some creativity.

Thanksgiving weekend photo tips

Thanksgiving is upon us once again. Like many of you, I will be spending time with my extended family, feasting, and of course taking photos. My plan of attack, photo-wise, is to skip posed shots and go light and go candid. That is, I’m bringing only one lens (the 18-105 VR kit) and a flash and I’m going to shoot lots of portraits of people doing things other than posing for photos.

I think a set of candid photographs is a much better way to capture the true spirit of a gathering than individual and group poses. But that’s me. Your mileage may vary.

Here are some tips for candid photography that you might want to try this weekend:

  • Choose a medium to wide zoom lens. That will give you the most versatility moving between the action outdoors and the action in the kitchen. Fast glass is preferable, of course, but bring what you can.
  • Use your auto-ISO setting to give you faster shutter speeds when you need it. You’re likely to be shooting indoors a lot of the time. Modern DSLRs can easily handle 800 or even 1600 ISO with acceptable noise levels. Enabling auto-ISO will also save you from shooting high ISO images when you head outside.
  • But don’t be afraid of the flash either. Flash photography in itself isn’t a bad thing and it’s certainly much better than the alternative: a blurry mess.
  • If you’re using the popup flash and a zoom lens, remove the lens hood so you don’t get a shadow at the bottom of your frame.
  • Keep a respectful distance and be unobtrusive. If you’re getting in everyone’s face and flashing every two seconds you’re going to get a memory card full of annoyed faces.
  • Be observant. Wait for moments to happen. Even seemingly random, special moments can often be predicted by a few seconds if you’re paying attention. Keep your camera ready at all times.
  • Don’t just shoot the final product. Get into the kitchen. Take shots of the preparations. Cooks in action. The final touches being put on the pumpkin pies. The table being set for dinner. Children rushing inside at the sound of the dinner bell.
  • Go wide. Don’t only shoot close-up portraits. Include some of the surroundings so that when you look at the photo later you can tell where and when it was taken without checking the date. It will be more meaningful to you. Bonus: the wider the lens angle, the slower your shutter speed can be and still get away with sharp photos.
  • Don’t shoot people while they’re eating. Especially if they are lifting a fork or have food in their mouth. It’s never flattering, no one likes it, and you’ll lose the trust of your subjects.
  • Let the kids take some photos. You may be pleasantly surprised.
  • Relax. Don’t worry about missing something. It’s often better to be in the moment than to see it through a viewfinder.

Taking pictures this weekend? Got any good tips I didn’t mention? Please share them in the comments.

Photo by: basykes (License: CC-BY)

Advice to young photographers from Magnum photographers

Alec Soth asks 35 of his fellow Magnum photographers two simple questions:

  • When did you first get excited about photography?
  • What advice would you give young photographers?

One of my favorites:

“Forget about the profession of being a photographer… Make the pictures you feel compelled to make and perhaps that will lead to a career. But if you try to make the career first, you will just make shitty pictures that you don’t care about.” — Christopher Anderson

Click to read all of their answers: Magnum Blog / Wear Good Shoes: Advice to young photographers

Page 1 of 3123
Google+