31 Days: Day 20

We're getting into territory that I'm just not comfortable presenting in an "I'm an expert" type of way - Photoshop. THE photo editing program, but also one I've never used so... I've called in the calvary.

Meet Kait Moreno. She is a killer photographer and violinist. Too much talent for one person, but what can you do. She took my cello head shots and photos for my duo, Diagenesis. She's here today to share Photoshop with you.

(photo by Kait Moreno)

It's a very powerful program, so hang in there if it get's too technical for you. This is just an introduction :)
Take it away Kait!


I have been good friends with Jen ever since she asked me to take pictures of her back in 2007. So I was very pleased when she invited me to write a guest post on her wonderful blog!

I’ve been working with Photoshop for a while now, and can’t recommend it highly enough to people just starting out with photography. It can give you the freedom to experiment and be creative, even when you don’t have the greatest equipment. The program is extraordinarily powerful if you take the time to explore it.

The longer I live with it, however, the more I realize that less is more. That’s why I thought I’d give some straightforward tips that can help you enhance your work, without going too technical. There are plenty of articles on Photoshop out there, so I would encourage you guys to take this as a starting point and then dig in yourself.

I’d like to discuss the two functions I use most in a typical edit: layers and actions. This doesn’t even began to scratch the surface of this awesome program, but it’s a start.

I am currently using Creative Suite 4, but I know that many of you are working with other programs. I can’t recommend GIMP highly enough. It’s the most Photoshop-like alternative out there, and it’s free!

Adjustment Layers

Layering is one of the most frequently used features of Photoshop. Layers allow you to have different materials stacked on top of each other, so that you can apply effects and work more selectively without destroying the original. I’m going to talk about adjustment layers, because they're great for editing home photos.

Let’s start with this photo of my living room:

Now what we’re going to do is go into Photoshop and hit Layers > New Adjustment Layer > Curves. We’re just going to look at a Curves layer, but notice how many different options you have. You could have a bunch of those layers all stacked on top of each other without hurting the original. Then you could play around with each, mixing and matching till you have the exact look you’re going for.

So now I’m going to adjust the curves of my image. The Curves tool is one of the best ways to edit a photo, and the one I use most frequently. Basically, this tool lets you adjust the tones of your photograph. If you want to get more technical, check out this article.

This photo was taken on a dark, rainy day, and the colors are a little flat. What I’m going to do is drag the diagonal line towards the upper left hand corner to brighten the image. Next I’m going to hit the dropdown menu and go to “Red” and drag the line in the same direction. Finally, set the dropdown to “Blue” and drag the line slightly towards the bottom right hand corner. Now you can look at your layers
palette (on the right of the screen) and see the “Curves” layer. If you don't like the change you can delete it, or if it's too much, adjust the opacity (less opacity means less of the effect).

Voila! Makes a huge difference!


Actions are one of the most exciting aspects of working with Photoshop. The possibilities are endless!

An action is basically a mini-program for a series of tasks that you may find yourself repeating (such as sharpening or creating adjustment layers). It’s also a great learning tool for beginners, as it allows you to see what other photographers and photoshoppers do.

There are many places to get free actions, a quick google search will yield tons of options. So have fun downloading and experimenting! My favorite free actions come from the Pioneer Woman blog and here's a tutorial for how to install and use actions.

Check out what happened when I ran the “Heartland” action from Pioneer Woman's set:

If you’re interested in creating your own action, check out this tutorial. That link also has a ton of free actions to start experimenting with. Totally Rad Actions are a very popular paid option.

If I could leave you with just one thing, it would be to experiment! Read as much as you can, but mostly just play around. That’s the only way to get comfortable with all of the tools and processes. Have fun!


MAJOR "thank you"s Kait! Cute room too!

Photoshop is crazy powerful and there are a TON of resources out there for it. Suzie from The Accent Piece has been doing her 31 Days Challenge on Photoshop and it's super helpful if you're a beginner. If you're up for the challenge adventure, the rewards will be huge!

1 comment:

  1. Came by to say "hi", I am out on this level of editing....told my friend about it, though!