Author: Rod Lawton

Hand coloured black and white with a bi-colour filter

It does seem a bit perverse, adding colour to a black and white image which used to be colour in the first place, but hand-coloured (or digitally-coloured) black and white has a very particular ‘look’ that colour images just don’t have. So this image (below) is one I originally shot in colour but then reworked as a black and white image with a little more contrast and a burned-in sky to add a little more depth and drama. It looks all right, but I realised that by adding some colour digitally I could make something I liked even more....

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Add zoom blur with a twist

Zoom blur is a popular bit tricky little technique where you zoom the lens during the exposure so that you get a kind of radial blur from the centre of the picture. This means using a shutter speed long enough to capture this rapid zoom movement, which usually means you get plenty of regular blur too. You can even add another twist, rather literally. As well as zooming the lens, you twist the camera round so that the blur turns into a spiral. But if all this is just too tricky, you can just cheat and do it digitally....

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Improve your compositions with two graduated filters not one

If you want to add a dark and brooding sky to your black and white photos then a graduated filter is the obvious way to do it. As long as the sky still has a full range of tones, i.e. it’s not burned out to a solid white anywhere, you can practically do what you like with it. Here’s an example. This picture is already quite rich and contrasty, but it would be nice to add even more depth to that sky to help frame the figure in the foreground and give the composition even more contrast. But when...

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Try this soft focus effect on landscapes

You normally associate soft focus effects with portraits, but they can work on all kinds of images, adding a romantic, dreamy feel to an everyday scene. Landscapes, for example, are often given a dramatic, brooding look when sometimes the emotion we feel is much lighter. Here’s an example. This tree-lined avenue felt bright, airy and summery, but somehow the picture doesn’t really do it justice. The camera has done a great job of capturing the light and the details and the colour exactly as they were, but not how they were experienced at the time. Capturing reality exactly is...

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Restore faded art using levels and curves

With careful use of levels and curves adjustments you can rescue even the faintest and most faded artworks and restore both saturation and contrast. Levels and curves are two of the most basic adjustment tools in any image-editing program, but there’s often confusion about which to use and when, and it often appears as if they overlap in what they do. But some programs now combine these two adjustments in a single Tone Curve panel, and Lightroom is one of them, so here’s a chance to see levels and curves working side by side and explain the difference in...

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Life after Photoshop is dedicated to the wider world of image-editing beyond Photoshop and its technical, image-by-image approach. Here you’ll find tips, tutorials, reviews and ideas for everything from mobile photography to asset management, from one-click effects to professional workflows. Rod Lawton

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