How to enhance a sky to mimic a graduated neutral density filter

In this advanced photo editing tutorial we’ll show you how to use an adjustment layer and the Gradient tool to mimic the effect of a graduated neutral density filter.

How to enhance a sky to mimic a graduated neutral density filter

When you photograph a high-contrast scene with lots of dark tones in the foreground and a lighter sky, the sky will often look bland and washed out, because your DSLR has exposed for the foreground.

One solution is to fit a graduated neutral density (ND) filter to your lens to retain colour and detail in the sky; but while filters can be effective, you’re stuck with the look that they produce – if the graduated darkening effect is in the wrong place, or too strong, there’s not much you can do to alter it.

An alternative is to replicate the ND grad effect in Photoshop Elements. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to darken a shot with a Levels adjustment layer, and how to draw a gradient on the layer mask to restrict the effect to just the sky, so the correctly exposed landscape isn’t altered.

The beauty of this photo editing technique is that you can alter the density and position of the gradient to get exactly the effect you want.

[Note - Graffi's technique is here]

How to Get the Most out of your Pocket Camera

If you have a pocket camera, you might have spent hours pouring over reviews, spec sheets, and comparisons trying to find something better like a DSLR or Micro Four Thirds camera. Too often we dismiss our humble pocket cameras because they don’t have big lenses, flash mounts, custom exposure controls, or even enough buttons on the back to do what we really want. While there are certainly good reasons for shelling out hundreds of dollars for a fancier camera, chances are your pocket camera can do a lot more than you might think. Let’s explore a few tips that you can use to get the most out of it, and even take some professional-style shots without spending another dime on new gear.

Bird in flight

Use the Zoom, but not for zooming

Photoshop Versus Lightroom: Which is Right for You?

As a photographer, whether it be professional or hobbyist, you have several skill sets to juggle and many hats to wear; you’ll need to be an artist when composing your photo’s scene, technically proficient with your camera and settings, and in the case of professionals, an adept businessperson who can maintain a business and satisfy clients consistently.

Lightroom versus photoshop

One of the most important roles you play as a photo enthusiast is that of image editor. Rarely do our images come straight out of the camera exactly as we had envisioned, so before release we are required to put our shots through the post-processing phase; this is where our raw photos are enhanced, adjusted, toned, and sharpened to give us the final image we want to deliver.

Although we have many tools at our disposal these days to help us through this phase of processing, the industry juggernaut has undoubtedly been Adobe Photoshop since its first version’s release in 1990. The software has been used by amateurs and professionals alike year after year, and is considered an essential part of most photographer’s toolboxes.

20 More Photography Tips Every Travel Photographer Must Know

Traveltips Georgia 2

Georgia (the country)

Here are 20 more tips for great travel photography:

(You can read Part One 20 Photography Tips Every Travel Photographer Must Know here)

Before you go:

1. Make the visual decisions

For most of us, deciding where and when to go is based on many decisions, not necessarily related to photography. But there are some small decisions you can make to turn an ordinary trip into a photo-worthy one. For example, let’s say you are going on a business trip. You can squeeze a few hours of photographing between meetings. But a much better option would be to take a day or two off and spend this extra time photographing on location.

Or when planning your next family vacation, add a little visual research before the trip. Is there a nice festival or a market worth visiting at your destination? Is there something unique like an interesting ethnic group or unusual landscape that’s worth documenting? These small visual decisions can make a huge difference in your photographic experience during your trip.

2. Build a shot list