Author: Rod Lawton

Add depth and drama with a vignette effect

Modern lenses are pretty good at creating even illumination across the frame, and if there is some corner shading (vignetting) you can use software to eliminate it. However, sometimes vignetting is good! Especially if you can control it creatively to improve your picture’s composition and contrast. This image below has all the ingredients for a great picture – a terrific subject in these wild Dartmoor ponies, a warm glow from a late afternoon sun and really nice backlighting. And yet it’s still just a little flat. What it needs is a vignette effect to darken the corners and focus...

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How to add age and drama with texture effects

Digital images don’t have much texture. Your subjects might, of course, but the way cameras render tones is glassy-smooth (at low ISO settings anyway) and sometimes a little sterile. Adding a texture digitally can make a picture look more interesting, more tactile and more ‘hand made’. Textures can be very subtle, like the fine texture of a canvas printing paper. The texture in this photo is not subtle (!) but it shows what textures can do at the other end of the scale, adding a corroded, aged look and even some tonal interest to otherwise blank areas of the...

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Create a tiny scene with this miniature effect

The so-called ‘miniature’ or ‘tilt shift’ effect can be very convincing. It makes everyday scenes look like tiny models. You can apply it with lots of different programs and apps, and many cameras now have a ‘miniature’ effect built in. It’s often referred to as a ‘tilt shift’ effect too, because it’s associated with lenses that have special controls for adjusting the plane of sharp focus. We’re going to call it a ‘miniature’ effect, though, since that describes it much more closely. So in order for this miniature effect to look convincing, a number of things have to be...

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See the world in infra red

Infra red photography creates an unusual and surreal view of the world that can also be very beautiful. You can do it in black and white or colour, but the techniques used today with digital cameras are rather different to those used with film. Infra red film photography is relatively straightforward – you simply use film sensitised to the infra red part of the spectrum. This is longer-wavelength light invisible to the naked eye and, in fact, to most camera sensors. This is no accident – camera sensors have infra red filters to block this infra red light and...

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Transform tricky shots with tone mapping

Sometimes you get scenes where the brightness range is so great you just can’t bring out all the different tones in the picture. This is lighting problem, not a dynamic range problem. Even if your camera has the dynamic range to capture all the tones in the scene, there’s no way of showing them all. You can make the brighter parts of the picture look wonderful but the shadows are left looking murky, or you can open up the shadows and leave the bright areas looking wishy washy. There are regular image-editing tools that can fix this up to...

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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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