Create a Stunning Dreamlike Portrait in 9 Steps – Photo Manipulation Tutorial

Are you looking for something to make your photographic work stand out of the ordinary? Do you wish to improve your Photoshop skills? This step by step Photoshop photo manipulation tutorial will teach you how to turn your portrait into an eerily beautiful piece of art. Let’s get it started!

Step 1: Select the Original Portrait

Open the picture you want to transform in Photoshop. Once opened in Camera Raw, you will need to adjust contrast and luminosity.

Before that, however, you will need to copy the layer. Right-click on it and select “Duplicate Layer”. You can use the Ctrl + J command for this as well.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 1

Name this layer (I have named it “Pic 1”), and then hit the OK button. It will appear in the Layers Menu located at right side of the screen.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 2

Step 2: Adjust Luminosity & Contrast

To modify luminosity and contrast, click on the Image drop-down menu at the top of the page, select Adjustments, and then Brightness/ Contrast. For my portrait, I have set Luminosity to -33, and contrast to -4.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 2 a

Note that these values vary depending on the picture’s background. It is important to perform these adjustments until you achieve a contrast to your liking between the background and the subject of your pic.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 2 b

Step 3: Set Color Balance

The third step is nice and simple. As previously done, click on the Image Menu, select Adjustments, then Color Balance (the Ctrl + B command works fine too), and be ready to edit the color levels and tones.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 3 a

I’ve set Cyan to +21, Magenta to -4, and Yellow to 0.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 3 b

If you wish to accentuate contrast, select Curves from the same options menu, and drag the curve line downwards as in the picture below.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 3 c

Step 4: Dodge and Burn the Image

Things get a bit more complicated as you grab the Dodge Tool found in the Tools panel. Following this move, you have to set Range from the options bar at the top of the page. Click on Highlights, set Exposure at 50% and uncheck the Protect Tones feature as shown in the pics below.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 4 a

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 4 b

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 4 c

Next, you will have to paint over the background with a soft-edged brush tip until it gets white. While painting maybe you will need to resize your brush tip.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 4 d

Step 5: Apply the Second Image

Bring on the eery element! Click File, select a picture to your liking, and click OK. I’ve chosen a tree image in order to achieve a fairy tale effect. I have named it tree0, and will refer to it again at step 7.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 5 a

Right-click on the newly created layer and select Rasterize Layer. Don’t forget to hit the OK button.

Next, go to the Blend Mode Menu at the top of the Layers panel and select Screen. Now the tree picture will combine with your portrait as featured below.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 5 b

Following this move, you’ll need to select the Free Transform mode. You can use the Ctrl+T command.

Now, to cover the portrait with the trees, and find the perfect angle at the same time, you will need to rotate and resize the layer. When ready, press Enter to apply your edits.

Step 6: Tone the Image

This action implies converting the image to near-monochrome. To perform these toning edits, you have to click the Create New Adjustment Layer icon in the Layers Panel. Next, select Gradient Map. Go to the Properties Panel, and click the gradient preview menu. Hit the cog icon and select Photographic Toning.

Next, click Append, and select the Cobalt-Iron 2 preset.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 6 a

Step 7: Increase Contrast

Now, as you probably imagine, the contrast of the newly created image needs a boost. Here’s what to do:

  • Click Create New Adjustment Layer icon.
  • Select
  • Draw an S-shaped curve – the more pronounced the S-shaped curve, the greater the contrast.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 7 a

After you have created this layer (I have named it ”Curves 1”), drag it down until it gets between the Gradient Map layer and the tree0 layer. Right-click Curves 1 and select Create Clipping Mask. Now, this layer will be subordinated to the tree0 layer, and all edits will apply only to it.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 7 b

If you wish to boost the contrast more, create a new layer and play with the Curves function.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 7 c

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 7 d

Step 8: Bring on the Third Image

For the second tree image, we’ll repeat all moves from Step 5: Click on File, select the picture you wish to add, and hit the OK button. Right-click on the new image, and select Rasterize Layer.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 8 a

As we did with the first tree image, we need to transform the layer. The Ctrl+T command will allow you to enter the Free Transform mode. If you can’t see the edges of the bounding box, the Ctrl+0 command will bring them into view again.

Next, as you already know, you have to rotate and resize the new layer so that it works well with the other pics. Once you achieved the desired results, press Enter to apply all editing changes.

As a tip, try not to blend the new pic with the other ones too much, so that the subject remains perceivable.

Step 9: Final Retouch & Result

To better observe the details of the newly created layer, apply a new filter. Click on New Adjustments Layer icon, and select Hue/ Saturation.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 9 a

I’ve made the following modifications: Hue -24, Saturation -1, and Lightness +6. Right-click the new layer, choose Create Clipping Mask.

You should work on Opacity levels too. I’ve modified the opacity of the Gradient Map layer to 75% so that to keep the skin tones of the original portrait visible.

Photo Manipulation Tutorial Image 9 b

Here is the outcome: an incredible dreamlike portrait!

photo manipulation tutorial final result

Now that we have approached each step and technical aspect of turning your portrait into a dreamlike masterpiece, you may look for further inspiration. There are many imaginative photographers who, for instance, took self-portrait photography to another level by adding a surreal touch to their work.

To drop a few names, Joel Robison, Zev (also known as Fiddleoak), and Erik Johansson will blow your mind away with their magnetically surreal photo manipulations.

I hope this photo manipulation tutorial will stimulate your creativity and help you to refine your Photoshop skills. If you have any other creative ideas, I’d love to hear from you. Fill free to contact me for any questions, ideas, or suggestions. Let’s share the joy of playing with dreamlike photo manipulation techniques. Cheers!

Brighten Your Wedding Photography: Editing Tips

Now that you have enjoyed your photo shooting with the happy couple and are left with gigabytes of photos to edit, you probably think of the insane workflow required to deliver your final result. All you need is a great, easy-to-follow plan, which involves great time management and creativity. We have already taken care of the first aspect and we will share with you the 10 efficient steps to a victorious editing process.  

Step 1: Photography is Storytelling

If you imagine editing photos is a ‘post-production’ process, you are wrong, my friend. Before getting started you should have already discussed with the couple the touch and mood they want to add to their wedding album or, in other words, to their story. Wedding photography is above all a story you tell by means of images. Why not check out our tips for visual storytelling first?

warm touch to wedding photography

The story line you wish to create will totally influence and ease your approach to the final result. Here are two options to bring up at your initial meeting with the turtle doves:

  • Do you remember that antique, sepia touch so popular years ago? Some clients still prefer the retro, vintage style and are interested in traditional posing.
  • If your clients are looking for a more contemporary style, be bold and suggest a Pop Art approach to their story.

Step 2: Download Photos and Select the Best Shots

Importing photos from camera into computer is not only necessary for the editing process, but also easy, especially if you follow our tips. Be clever and consider your needs first. We recommend you to choose a software that both downloads and helps you edit your photographs. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is our top choice.

Selecting shots is one of the best skills a photographer can have as it will save more time than you imagine. Lightroom allows you, for instance, to rate your already imported photos. Once you added a start rating you can use the filter settings to access your favorites. Try to select the photos you want to keep and not the ones you wish to delete! It is essential to keep a positive attitude.

Step 3: Always Store the Originals Safely

In our article on best ways to import photos we have discussed the importance of storing your originals on an external drive. This is desirable especially if you tend to save edited photos over the originals. If you decide to use Lightroom, it will allow you to select an alternative import location.

Step 4: Basic Editing Tips

Whether you use Lightroom or Photoshop to edit and retouch your material, there are some basic options to consider. As we like Lightroom (you have already figured that out), here are some editing steps to follow:

  • Warm the Photos by Adjusting the White Balance

For a bright but detailed result, try to reduce background highlights and increase shadows.

  • Smooth Out the Noise

Noise reduction is another aspect to consider as you will probably shoot outdoors as well and won’t always use a tripod. Lightroom allows you to easily adjust Luminance, Detail and Contrast. Keep the luminance slider between 40 and 50 and lower the contrast.

Lightroom Noise Reduction

  • The Key to Sharp Images

Sharpening is another essential step of the editing process. Try to focus on the main characters, but do not insist on unnaturally sharpen their skin tones and faces. What you can do is boost the Masking slider a bit and keep the Detail slider to around 10 as to avoid noise.

  • Make Them Glow

Of course there are many settings to play with, but try to stick to the essentials. Be careful with details and work out the exposure and clarity so as to brighten the photographs. Let the sun shine in all photos.

Step 5: The Bride is Your Priority

Bridal portrait

Yes, the couple is important, but if you want your wedding photography to be successful you have to fulfill the bride’s expectations. Bridal portraiture should be one of your main treats, but don’t miss the big picture! Weddings are perfect occasions to capture emotions and general excitement. That’s why candid photography is another must for the photo album.

Step 6: Add Brightness to Your Clients’ Wedding Photography

Weddings are cheerful occasions. Regardless of the theme and style of the story, make sure you catch the glow of happiness on everybody’s faces. Keep in mind that:

  • Foreground elements are important too. Brighten or darken the background according to the mood you want to set to the scenes.
  • Warm and glowing effects are a must!
  • Bright eyes speak joy and happiness.

Step 8: Retouching

Do not panic, not all photos need to be retouched. Choose the ones that will be gathered in the photo album and retouch especially portraits. The trick is to make them look realistically amazing. Focus on whitening teeth, reducing bags or dark circles under eyes, and adding light to the eyes.

Step 9: Export Your Photos

Now that the editing process is almost finished, you will need to export your edited material in JPEG format and name the files according to your inspiration.

Step 10: Share Your Story

The final step is gather the main scenes and characters and create an amazing photo album. This is where your creative skills take part into the story. Make it memorable and let the images speak for themselves.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3

Quick Guide to Using Image Sharpening Software

Sharpening images can be a great tool for drawing viewer focus and emphasizing texture. It’s also something that pretty much all photographs will need to do at one point in their lives.

The sensors and lenses of digital cameras always, more or less, blur an image and this requires correction. Image sharpening can be done with various tools, but no matter what tools you choose, you need to keep in mind that image sharpening needs to be done in moderations, otherwise sharpening artifacts will appear. When done properly, though, image sharpening can take an average picture and turn it into a spectacular one. Find out more in this brief guide to image sharpening.

The vast majority of image sharpening software tools do their magic by applying an unsharp mask, which actually sharpens an image. The gist of it all is that the tool works by exaggerating the brightness differences along the edges that exist within an image. Most of the sharpening setting in various image sharpening software are quite standardized. So, a person can usually adjust at least three main settings: radius, amount and threshold or to image sharpening

Radius controls the size of the edges one wishes to enhance. Use a radius setting that is comparable to the size of the tiniest detail within your image.

Amount controls the overall strength of the sharpening effect and it is listed as a percentage in most cases. 100% if often a good starting point.

Threshold is the setting that controls the minimum brightness change that will be sharpened. It’s the number one setting that one needs to use in order to avoid sharpening noise.

As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that one first optimizes the radius setting, then the amount and only then the threshold. As is generally the case, you may need to play around with the settings until you get the results you want.

Useful Image Sharpening Software Advice

Here are some bits of advice for image sharpening software:

  • If there is one thing we recommend you remember before you start your journey into image sharpening is the fact that sharpening cannot be reversed and that you should always save the originals whenever you have the chance to do so.
  • In case you didn’t know, RAW and TIFF files respond much better to image sharpening than regular JPEG files, because they preserve much more detail than the JPEG ones. Also, sharpening a JPEG file image, could amplify the compression artifacts of the JPEG.
  • If you have an image that you want to sharpen and the blurriness of that image is due to subject motion or camera shake, then you will need to get into much more advanced techniques than the regular radius, amount or threshold. For example, you can use Photoshop’s smart sharpen.
  • Did you know that some camera lenses do not blur people or objects equally? Just like the human eye, some camera lenses can suffer from astigmatism. This type of camera blur increases further from the center of the image and can go in a direction which is either perpendicular to that direction or away from the image’s center. If you’ve got an image like that on your hands, you’re in for some hard work, because these types of images require creative sharpening.
  • A neat trick you can try to make images appear sharper is to, during RAW development, remove the chromatic aberrations. You can find this option in Adobe Camera RAW, under lens correction. You should know that almost all photo editing software these days will offer a similar feature. Use it!
  • You should know that over sharpened images can be recovered (partially) in Photoshop by duplicating the layer, followed by an application of a Gaussian blur of 0.2-0.5 pixels to this layer 3-5 times and then setting the blending more of the top layer to darken and decreasing the opacity of the layer to reduce the effect.
  • The light sharpening halos are more unpleasant than the dark halos.
  • Learn when to stop. It can be very easy to let yourself get caught in the whirlpool that is sharpening images, but from time to time, just take a little break and move away from your laptop. This is the only way to get a new pair or fresh eyes that will help you in deciding when enough is enough.

Do you know of any image sharpening tips that you would like to share with us? Make sure you tell us in the comment section below or on our Facebook account!

Image Source: 1

Easy Photoshop Reflection Photography Tutorial

Have you ever looked at a reflection photograph and thought to yourself that it must be really hard to achieve? Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s not hard at all! Today, we’ve got a very easy Photoshop reflection photography tutorial that will teach you how to add a reflection to your photograph and make it look realistic and smooth.

summer rain

Before we start, you must know that reflections work really well on images with open pavement and also HDR processed images that give the pavement a wet look. Once you’ve got your image ready, it’s time to get cracking! In less than 10 minutes, we assure you are going to get a perfect result!

First Step – Copy a Part of the Image

Select the marque tool and draw around the area of your picture that you want to turn into a reflection. Make sure you get enough of the image vertically. Copy the selection you’ve made by right clicking on the image and choose layer via copy from the menu that pops up. You can also copy the selection using copy from the edit menu or using the command/control+c keyboard shortcut.

Second Step – Paste it as a New Layer

If you chose layer via copy, then it automatically pastes as a new layer. If not, then you need to paste it yourself as command/control+v or edit and then paste.

Third Step – Flip the Layer

Once the selected layer is pasted, you need to choose from the edit menu the following selections: transform followed by flip vertical, so that the new layer gets flipped upside down. You want a reflection, right? Well, a reflection is always flipped!

Fourth Step – Position the Layer

reflection photography 1

The fourth step is to select the move tool from the tool palette and take the flipped layer and drag it down until the both images begin to line up where the reflection begins. Don’t worry if the two images don’t line up perfectly at first, the image can always be touched up during our seventh step, when you’re making all the finishing touches.

Just make sure you just move the layer up and down, and not side to side, because otherwise you’ll just have gaps on the edges of your reflection, and you wouldn’t want that.

Fifth Step – Change the Layer Blend Mode

Now you must change from your layer panel, the layer blend mode (near the top of the layers panel, right next to opacity). The default blend mode is normal and you must change it to lighten mode.

Lighten modes include: lighten, screen, linear dodge, lighter color and screen. These layer blend modes modify how the selected layer interacts with the one beneath it, also known as the original image. For reflections, lighten or screen are recommended, depending on the image. Try both and see which one works better for you. You’re going to notice that the layer starts to look like a real reflection!

Sixth Step – Mask the Layer

reflection photography 2

Even though the reflection looks pretty good, in most cases, you will need to mask the later to adjust light and various other features of the image. You can do this by clicking on icon add layer mask at the bottom of your Layers Panel. You can also add a layer mask by going to Layers Menu, then Layer mask, then choosing Reveal All.

After you’ve done this, you need to select the Gradient tool from your tools panel. Use the d shortcut on your keyboard to set the background and foreground colors to default and then hit x to switch the colors. When they are set to black and white and your gradient tool is selected and ready to use, check again that you are not on the layer, but on the layer mask.

When we’re masking the layer, we want to hide the outer edges, so that it fades out towards the bottom of the image and looks as natural as possible. Play around with the gradient tool, until you get it right. You will use the undo shortcut pretty often at this stage. Trust your senses, though!

Seventh Step – Finishing Touches (Optional)

There are times when you will need to do some finishing touches to your reflection layer so that it looks as real as possible. You can choose to show or hide certain areas of the reflection and you can do that with the help of your brush tool at a very lowered opacity, around 10%-20%. Then, you will want to paint with black on the mask over the places you want to hide and with white over the areas you want to show and highlight.

We hope this short Photoshop reflection photography tutorial was useful and you are able to create wonderful reflections on your photos. Our advice is to continue playing with this tutorial, to try out new things, to experiment, because that’s the best way to learn! Just have fun with Photoshop and it will give you some great results!

Adobe Creative Suite 6 vs Creative Cloud – Which is Right for Me?

adobe creative suite 6 vs creative cloud

Adobe launched Creative Suite 6 back in 2012. The bad thing is that the tools inside the suite are out of reach for most people because of their prices. Even though Adobe offers discounts for people who upgrade from older releases and its software costs a lot less for some segments in the market such as teachers or students they are still quite steep. So, we wanted to examine cheaper alternatives such as Creative cloud. But what are the differences between Adobe Creative Suite 6 vs Creative Cloud?

When Adobe introduced cc, it was received with a little uncertainty. Since then, CC saw a lot of success and a lot of people started using it. Adobe Creative Suite is still sold but most people now prefer the Cloud alternative. Cloud from Adobe contains the latest and greatest toolset and is generally high rated by customers. If you’re interested in purchasing Creative Cloud, check it out here on Amazon.

Adobe CC is only available via subscription and it is, in some ways, cloud based. However, don’t let the name fool you. It’s a very powerful piece of software and the applications inside it are not web-based or online. Adobe made it clear that Photoshop and other powerful tools might add numerous online features but the software will never completely run in the cloud.

Adobe Creative Suite 6 vs Creative Cloud – What is in Creative Cloud?

Adobe Creative Cloud comes with newer versions of all the tools in the older cs6 as well as others such as Lightroom, Adobe Edge and more. Most of these applications don’t rely on the Internet to run as you will download them and install them locally as you would with CS6. However, you will have to connect to the Internet once every 4 months for revalidation of your annual subscription.

Adobe CS6 vs CC – Which is the right one for you?

Before comparing prices, it’s quite important to know that it’s not all about the cost. Adobe supports CS6 for the existing Mac OS and Windows releases but they don’t have any plans to support the suite on the next operating systems from Apple and Microsoft. This means that it’s very likely that the Creative Suite 6 won’t be supported on newer versions of Mac OS and Windows. Creative Cloud, however, is a product as well as a service so it will always be updated and supported for the newest technologies, devices and platforms.

Adobe Creative Suite

The cost of Adobe’s Creative Cloud is $49.99 per month on a yearly plan and $74.99 when bought month-to-month. For the people who are upgrading from the previous Creative Suite costs $29.99 per month and teachers and students will pay $19.99 a month for the product. This means that the toolset costs around 1 to 2 dollars a day to use.

Adobe Creative Suite

The CS6 Master Collection costs $2,600 when bought full and $1,050 when upgrading from CS5. Keep in mind that this price is for a static, older version of the suite that will never improve or evolve. It seems like Creative Cloud is the better deal here.

You also have the possibility to opt for what tools you want from the complete cc package. There are bundles such as the Photoshop Photography Bundle which comes with Photoshop and Lightroom and costs $9.99 a month. However, if you only use Photoshop or After Effects you can also buy standalone apps.

Single App Membership

If you think that the complete cc suite is a little too much for you, then you will be happy to know that you can buy a membership to use a single tool. This option is not known by many people but you can actually subscribe for just a single app such as Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere, InDesign, Acrobat Pro and many others for just $14.99 to $19.99 a month. The download and sign-up are made online so you can do so whenever you want. On top of this, all the upgrades for your software are included in the package so you will always be running the most recent version.

All the new tools in the old software are available on a month-to-month as well as an annual subscription in all the languages for both Windows and Mac OS, so this is quite flexible. If you later decide that you wish to upgrade to the complete package and have access to all the applications, Adobe will refund the remaining amount on your account on your membership plan.

Comparing the $19 a month versus $1,000 to buy, let’s say, After Effects, you will see that it is at least worth your consideration.

It’s also a known fact that Adobe won’t launch a new cs number 7 so the Creative Cloud might be your only chance of getting newer, more evolved tools to work with.

Images source:,,

10 of the Best Free Lightroom Presets

Adobe Lightroom offers great tools and can help you automate the workflow and add creativity to your library of photos. In Lightroom you can add a photo style by using presets to one or more images in your library.

As the popularity of Lightroom has increased we’ve seen a lot of presets that can help you enhance and modify the look of your photos. Whether you use a PC or a Mac, Adobe Lightroom is a non-destructive image editor. This means that you can try numerous presets without ruining the original photo. It’s a lot easier to edit your photos without having to constantly make back-ups of your images and makes experimenting with different kinds of effects a breeze.

We will show you how to make your own preset and also present some of the best free presets for Lightroom.

Creating Lightroom Presets

It’s very easy to create a custom preset in Adobe Lightroom and there are only a couple of steps you have to take in order of making one. The first thing you have to do is to press “D” on the keyboard in order of entering “Develop” mode. You can also click on “Develop” at the top right part of the window.

The next thing you have to do is use the settings from the panel on the right side to apply settings to a photo. You can adjust black levels, curves, exposure and even apply some custom color effects. There are more options, however, including a lens correction feature.


The options in the “Develop” mode offer all sorts of features needed for you to change the way your image looks until you are satisfied with the result.

After you applied settings to your image and you’re happy with the outcome, you have the foundation set out to create a custom preset. Any settings you applied to the photo are now ready to be added in a preset.

On the left side of the window you will see a panel called “Presets”. In order of creating a new preset, you just have to push the “+” button. A new window will appear which will allow you to adjust the settings you want to include in your preset. Each of these effects can be either unchecked or checked in order to add them into the preset.


After you push the “+” button, a window with a list of options will pop up. This shows the settings you’ve already applied on your image as the foundation of the preset. By unchecking options in this window you will exclude them from the new preset. After deciding on what settings you want on the preset, give it a name and click “Save”. There you have it! Now you have a new preset that you can apply on all your photos.


Installing Lightroom Presets

After you downloaded some presets, you need to install them in Lightroom to use them. It’s very common for presets to come in zip archives. The first step to install these presets is to unzip the archive in a folder.

After you’ve extracted the preset you will want to right click the “Presets” panel in Lightroom and create a new folder for all the presets you’ve downloaded if you want to keep them organized. After creating the folder for all your presets, all you need to do is right click on the folder and select “Import”.


A window will pop up and you will have to point Lightroom to where you’ve extracted your presets. Select the presets you want to add in Lightroom. You can also select multiple presets by pressing “Shift” or “Ctrl” on your keyboard. Click “Import” once you are satisfied with your selection. There you have it! Now your presets are ready to use.


10 Free Lightroom Presets

We’ve searched the web for some of the best presets for Lightroom out there. Here are our favorite Lightroom presets that you can download for free. Click on the title of the preset for the download page. Enjoy.

1. 8 Epic Lightroom Presets for Weddings


This is a collection of presets for people who are interested in wedding photography. With the help of Lightroom and these presets you can really enhance the way your wedding photos look in just a few minutes.

2. Vintage Lightroom Presets


With the help of these presets you can add a vintage look on all your photos to get that nostalgic feeling. They work great on pictures of old cars or old timey cafés and work wonders on your photos in just a few moments.

3. Bad Ass Film Look


These are great for people who want their photos to look like they’re film. We gave them a try and we can honestly say they are pretty impressive.

4. HDR Style Lightroom Presets


There are a lot of people who love HDR photography. Even though HDR looks really cool you might not think about it until you’ve actually taken the shot. And while that look cannot be completely copied by using just one photo, you can use Lightroom to get a similar look. These are some great presets with the help of which you will get that HDR feel on your images.

5. Polaroid Style Presets


Back in the day, Polaroid was used to get a pretty picture instantly whether you used it to shoot portraits or landscapes. It’s a shame that in 2008 Polaroid announced that they would no longer produce instant film cameras. However, you can get the same look by altering your photos digitally. These presets will help you modify your pictures to look like Polaroid photos in just moments.

6. Silky Smooth Skin Preset


This preset will make your portrait look amazing. This will soften even the harshest of skins to look like that of babies. It’s a very useful preset and works really well on all skin types.

7. Black & White Infrared

free lightroom presets

This is a great preset if you want to simulate black and white infrared photography. This preset converts a regular image to look like it’s been shot through an infrared filter. And it does so in just moments of your time.

8. Intense Heaven Preset


This preset greatly intensifies the skies in your photos as well as other elements. It truly does make photos look like they’re part of heaven.

9. Post-Apocalyptic Preset


This preset features a very grungy look filled with warmth and contrast. It’s a great way to alter your city landscapes to look as if they are part of a post-apocalyptic scene.

10. Pencil Drawing Preset


This preset will turn your photos into black and white images that look like pencil drawings. It’s a great preset and the results are quite nice.


So there you have it. This was our list of 10 free Lightroom presets.

Images source:

The Basic Rule with Photoshop: Less Is More

This may seem like something so basic that it’s basically for beginners, but since most members of our community are more or less beginners up to some extent, this post is for them. Becoming a professional photographer is a continuous and very challenging process, and some of us never manage to transition properly from being an amateur photographer to becoming a pro. That is perfectly fine, of course, since having photography as a hobby is rewarding enough in itself, and most of us are in need of a job before we can make it as a pro, but these tips are still useful if you’re trying to have ago at it, and even if you don’t.

To get to the point of this post, photo editing is a big part of the photography process, and most photo editing is done via Photoshop, but most beginners tend to overdo it. We’ve previously talked about portfolio mistakes which are easy to make, but didn’t include this one in them as the post would have become too long. The bottom line is that when a potential client notices anything that seems a bit fake within your previous works, they might be understandably put off by it. The one rule to keep in mind is that when it comes to editing, less is more. Let’s develop on that a bit.

The most common Photoshop fails (are not what you expect).


Photoshop mistakes are a very common source of fun and jokes all over the internet. There are numerous posts which just seem to centralize and present the most appalling editing fails one can find online. While most of them are definitely funny, it should go without saying that this isn’t the kind of thing we’re talking about here. Of course no serious photographer or aspiring one is going to do something as preposterous as cropping extra family members in a portrait or anything like that! But there are more subtle ways in which you can fail if you forget the basic less is more rule.

The main areas where you may get in trouble are the colors (and especially the overall color temperature) and the contrast. This is the areas that need a bit of retouching most often, and also the areas where you may get a little overeager and keep adding a bit just because you’re excited about how you can turn something ordinary into something wonderful and full of impact. If you’re having trouble properly assessing where you should stop, the best thing to do is to further your photo editing education. Look at many good pictures, as many as possible. Soon enough your eye will be trained to detect a too much or too little when it comes to contrast, enhanced colors and color temperatures.

When in doubt, less is more.

To make sure you find the perfect balance and train your hand to not go overboard with the editing, we would suggest starting with something a bit more basic than Photoshop. Why don’t you try Google’s Picasa instead? Even if Photoshop will still remain something you need to get more skilled with, you can use Picasa just for its auto contrast and auto color enhancement features. You can also make your pictures warmer or colder, color-wise, depending on the idea you’d like to transmit. With this kind of help, it will be harder to forget that less is more and any change will be easy to undo.

Have patience and remember: it’s preferable to not edit your photos enough than to aim for a more visually compelling result only to come up with something that seems off. Your clients and portfolio viewers may not have the photography skills to easily spot mistakes, but they too can instinctively sense that less is more and there’s just something unclean about an overly edited photo. Take it slow until your train your hand and good luck with your contrast settings.

4 Photo-Editing Tricks & Tips for Landscape Photography

Planet Earth is incredibly beautiful and diverse. There is always something to see, some new miracle to uncover and, hopefully, capture on camera. Landscape and travel photographers are among the luckiest in the world. Although in-camera technique is essential for photography, excellent Photo-editing and rendering skills can turn the dullest of images into an awe-inspiring capture. The prowess of photographers in the digital darkroom is becoming increasingly crucial for the success of images. It is even more important for landscape photography, for which a bit of contrast and luminance tricks could completely redefine the overall appearance.

Whether starkly beautiful, bursting with colour or magnificently minimal, no other type of photography offers more potential for stunning imagery than landscape.


There is always something to see, even if you look past your back-window. In this guide we will provide you with much needed tricks & tips for landscape photography. They are fundamental for highlighting the natural beauty of the landscape you have captured. Approaches to landscape shooting may have changed in the past few years, but the main rules remain the same: creating an interesting composition with the help of quality lenses, getting the time right, and enhancing a photo via post-processing tools.

1. Blending Raw Exposures

3. Virtual Photography 1

Photo cameras struggle to present scenes in high-contrast (it cannot record everything that our eyes see). With the Raw files you can create incredible results, because they contain an enormous amount of information. The Raw tonal controls now surpass those of Photoshop (especially when working only with RAW files). Here’s how you can blend raw exposures to add more depth and contrast to your landscape:

  • Processing for Shadows: Insert your RAW image in Photoshop. From the basic panel set exposure to +.63, shadows to +63 and clarity to +55 (or a setting that looks good for your scene). Shift+Click the open object button to make it a smart object.
  • Processing for the highlights: go to your layers panel and choose a New Smart Object via copy. Send the thumbnail back to Camera Raw. Now go to the Exposure, Shadows and Clarity menu and reset the values to -0.20 exposure, -50 highlights, and -19 whites.
  • Blending Layers: Go to the Add Layer mask icon, and then grab the Brush tool. Choose the black color and set opacity to 30%. You can now paint the foreground to hide parts of the darker layer and reveal the light treatment bellow. Press X and paint with white to reveal the top layer more.

2. Lightroom Adjustment Brush

Lightroom adjustments are vital for color landscape images. No matter how hard you try to get details using ND grads during the shoot, there are still areas of the foreground and background that are shadowed or not very powerful (especially at sunsets or sunrises). With the Adjustment Brush you can lighten shadowed areas, and add warmth. It is particularly effective for lightening mountains and trees that can be found above the horizon. It can also be used to fine-tune and color the sky.

3. Creating Panoramas

3. Virtual Photography 2

Landscape photography can sometimes result in majestic panoramic scenes. If your lens isn’t wide enough to fit your entire scene into one frame, you can take multiple photos of the same scene and blend them together into a panorama. This can easily be done in Photoshop by overlapping frames and then sticking them together. The best thing about post-processing panorama building is the fact that resolution will be 4-5 times better than a camera panorama.

Use a tripod to take the shots). Go to your Adobe Bridge menu, hold down Shift+Click and select your desired images. Go to Tools->Photoshop->Photomerge and click OK. The results may not be perfect, but if you experience with different layout options in the photomerge box it will turn out well. Get rid of messy edges, and edit your image for contrast, saturation, luminance etc.

4. Surreal Landscape Editing

3. Virtual Photography 3

Surreal Landscape photography has become the next best thing. If you are interested in such projects you should definitely follow this advice. Using a simple landscape base image can make your surreal photo look a lot better. In this example we have concrete, clouds and a funny looking plant. Add some moody sky effect to it, a hazy horizon, sepia colors and burnt shadows and you get an interesting surreal image.

3. Virtual Photography 4

To make magic happen you simply have to add the photos one on top of the other. Add a Layer Mask and plot a black to white gradient to blend the land and sky together. Plot a white to transparent reflected gradient on the horizon to create the misty effect, lower the opacity of the element and drop any other element you would like. Desaturate it and make proper adjustments so that it becomes part of the photo.

Essential Tricks for Post-Processing Underwater Photos with Adobe Photoshop

The smart-phone and photography market is providing with a wide assortment of underwater casing options at the moment. Many photographers have been taken with the idea of exploring the underwater world and bringing to life sea wildlife and flora through their imagery. The world under the surface is fascinating and definitely worth exploring.

Everything from affordable soft casing on DSLRs, or waterproof casings for smart-phones will help you create incredible underwater images. However, photos don’t always come out perfectly. There are a few post-processing tricks that you must learn in order to improve the quality of your underwater images. Let’s take a look at the easiest, most effective post-processing underwater photos tricks.

2. Virtual Photography 5

Post-Process Photo Workflow

The goal would be to spend as much time underwater, and less of it in front of the computer. But even if you manage to snap incredible underwater photos, you still have to edit them a bit in order to make them look spectacular (when contrast/color is not enough, if you have backscatter, or if you need to crop or get rid of unwanted elements). For this you will require a well-put-together post-process photo workflow. It should look something like this:

  • Once you are done with the photo-shoot copy and backup your files on the computer
  • Take a look at your images, add tags, keywords and rate them (1-5 stars) to sort faster. You can do this with the help of Adobe Bridge or Adobe Lightroom.
  • Process your RAW or JPEG file with the help of CS4 or camera raw. When shooting in RAW, you will need an editor such as Adobe Camera Raw, or Nikon capture.
  • Edit your photos according to the following tricks.

Editing Underwater Photos with Adobe Photoshop

Don’t forget about editing the raw file before proceeding to this step. The resulting image should be a 16-bit file that you drag into Photoshop. At this point, some basic editing tricks will be used, according to your taste: adjusting levels (red/blue/green, pull in), shadows/highlights, brightness/contrast, healing tool, cloning, hue/saturation, dust & scratches etc. For advanced features, such as layers and curves, you should check out extensive video tutorials. Let’s take a look at the most effective post-processing tips for underwater photography:

  • Correcting for Color: Water absorbs different wavelengths of light. This means that even at shallow depths red, yellow and orange are absorbed. No matter what you do, or how good the ambient light is, you will lose some color. This can easily be fixed in the post-processing stage. If you are shooting RAW you can adjust the white balance in post-processing (using the temperature slider in Lightroom – example: you can bring white balance down from 5500K to 4500K). Next you have to edit the key colors in the image with HSL/Color/B%W and Lightroom panel.

2. Virtual Photography 1

2. Virtual Photography 2

  • Correcting for Contrast: Another thing that water does is to take out the contrast out of photos. Contrast correction is an essential step of post-processing. From the original RAW file you will see that the image is quite flat. Go to the histogram to see the light and dark tones that need to be increased.

2. Virtual Photography 3

2. Virtual Photography 4

Image Source: LightStalking

  • Increasing Saturation: if you shoot images at greater depths, colors will lose their power. Therefore, a slight saturation increase will be necessary. This can be done in Photoshop by using the vibrance slider (for RAW files).
  • Reducing Hotspots: If hot-spots appear you can reduce them from the yellow channel in Photoshop, by lowering its luminance. It might help your image look significantly better.
  • Backscatter Removal: Another problem that might appear in the underwater photo is backscatter. If it consists of dust, or fine spots, you can simply lasso the area and remove it with the dust & scratches tool. If it is larger, you should magnify the area and remove with the healing tool or clone tool. You can also use the clone tool for removing algae, bubbles and other unwanted elements.

How to Reduce Your Photo Post-Production Time in 3 Simple Steps

reduce-your-photo-post-production-timeA career in wedding photography doesn’t have to mean a you only do one job, i.e. shoot weddings. Of course, perhaps your business strategy is that of a one-person army, a single-engine machine. That is, you shoot and edit your own photos, without the aid of an assistant or second shooter. However, perhaps your current level of career development has brought you to a less stable position and you alternate between post-production work in the studio, second shooting with various main photographers, and running your own photography operation. The advantage of doing all these things is that you develop a lot of diverse and useful skills, not the least important of which is that of knowing how to reduce your photo post-production time. We’ll tell you all about it today – though the truth is that it all boils down to a single strategy: knowing how to shoot like an editor.

1) Tell your clients’ story

As a wedding photographer, what’s your main goal? Putting together a portfolio of photos that look amazing on your blog, that have a ton of editorial appeal, that could, after all is said and done, end up in a wedding magazine? Or do you rather want to please your clients? Ideally, you should strike a balance between the two goals, but, at the end of the day, your clients are always the most important members of your audience as a photographer. They’re the ones whose needs you want to satisfy and whose story you want to tell. And they won’t always care as much as you do about super-edited photos with editorial value. They’ll want the candid smiles and the group photos, so focus on those if you want to keep them happy and reduce your photo post-production time.

2) Shoot for film

In the day and age of digital photography supremacy, it’s all too easy to overshoot. When there’s a 16GB memory card inside your camera, you might find yourself unable to stop shooting – but ending the event with tens of thousands of photos on your camera won’t help reduce your photo post-production time. Instead of falling into this entrapment, try to shoot with the eye of an editor. Try to think ahead and anticipate the necessary edits with each photo you take. You don’t want to be stuck in the studio for days, culling out your photos before you get to do anything else. The general rule of thumb here is to forget that the camera you hold in your hands is digital – think of it as an old-school film camera with no more than 36 exposures on a roll of film. This might just teach you to appreciate each shot and determine you to try and make it count.

3) Let your mistakes teach you

Irrespective of whether you work with an editor or edit all your own photos, you can always learn from your mistakes, especially if you want to reduce your photo post-production time. If you do work with an editor, try to spend some time with them as they work on your photos (and, ideally, on the work of other photographers, too). Perhaps you chose to use a 50mm lens in a small, crowded space and ended up with pictures that had to be massively cropped, in order for the guests’ expressions to become visible. Perhaps you selected an exposure time that worked for one part of the photo, but completely obliterated the side of it that would have actually been relevant. Until you shoot (and then shoot some more), it’s going to be difficult for you to understand what techniques and methods work in which particular contexts – but when you do, do pay heed to your errors.