Tag Archives: photoshop

Dust Spots!

Dust spots and artifacts are my pet peeve… cannot stand them because they are so easy to fix. However, they can be hard to find! They are definitely the bane of any landscape photographer’s existence, but they can show up in any image and they never show up until you have published or printed an image! It is like magic. As soon as your friends, family, and world can see the image, the dust spots/artifacts miraculously appears and of course, you are at best, the second person to see it. :-/

Even those folks with great eyesight miss them. But here is where we can look to technology for a solution. Lightroom Develop and Photoshop Camera Raw both have dust spot removal tools. But for real success, you have to “visualize spots” to get the most of these tools. Let’s take a look at how this one little checkbox can make a world of difference.

Take this image… unprocessed, right out of the camera. We can see some spots (red arrows) right off the bat. So those can be easily fixed. But the real question will be…. have we missed any? So at a glance, we would like to say we haven’t, but how can we be sure?

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As I mentioned, the best tools for the identification of dust spots/artifacts that I have found are the spot removal tools in Lightroom Develop (the icon shown to the right) ,Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.20.38 PMand in Photoshop Camera Raw (icon shown to the right).  Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 11.48.12 AMAs these programs are the same, these spot removal tools are also the same. The only difference is the icon used to access them.

Now the tools themselves are great and do an amazing job (most of the time) of identifying the pixels from which to clone the dust spot. But the true beauty of these tools is their ability to identify spots and artifacts in images that we simply cannot see with the naked eye.

Here is how this works. Take the image noted above, we identified 5 dust spots/artifacts that need correction. Let’s see what the spot removal tool finds. To make this a bit easier, I have drawn arrows to re-identify the spots we found in the above image and then circled the additional dust spots/artifacts identified by the software. Take a minute to look back at the color image. Those spots in the sky do not stand out and could easily be missed if it wasn’t for the spot removal tool. So how do we get this masked image, show below? In both Lightroom Develop and Photoshop Camera Raw spot removal tools, there is a checkbox that says “visualize spots”.

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In Lightroom, the Visualize Spots can be found to the bottom left of the center panel: Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 12.03.43 PM.

In Photoshop, the Visualize Spots can be found at the bottom of the right hand panel: Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 12.03.26 PM

To emphasize the spots, check the box and then drag the slider bar to the right. This tool will even identify spots in the middle of clouds! In fact, it will identify spots anywhere in an image. Dust spots stand right out, as they have distinct round edges. Notice the dust spots in the sky above, they are hollow round spots and very noticeable. Now you can use the cloning feature (in both programs) to clone out the dust spots.

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In a few minutes, hundreds (which can happen) of dust spots/artifacts can be removed!

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Now, you can finish processing the image! I suggest removing dust spots first, so that whatever processing you do to the image doesn’t exaggerate or further emphasize spots that need to be removed. It is simply easier to fix the spots before their edges are more pronounced with contrast or clarity.

For this image, here is the final result:



Happy Holidays and Creative New Year!!

Mt. Storm Time Lapse

The other day, I was asked to describe how I created this image:


I decided it would be easier to write a blog and create a video demonstrating the techniques, than to layout out an answer in a Facebook reply. So let’s get started.

The Set Up

This image was created from 37 different images, created using the time lapse feature in my Fuji XT1. If you do not have time lapse built into your camera, you can purchase a wired or wireless remote with time lapse capability for most camera bodies. The time lapse was set to continue indefinitely, with a 1 second interval between images.  The camera was set to Aperture mode, with the Shutter speed determined by the camera. A sturdy tripod is a must. I also shot RAW and JPG files.

As you can tell by reviewing the image, that the image was created midday and yet, cloud movement is clearly visible. I was able to achieve this effect by using a Singh Ray 15-stop Mor Slo filter. (To receive a 10% discount, please use our discount code: ROADRUNNER10). The 15-stop Mor Slo is a great filter that will allow the photographer to create long exposures in the middle of day. The Singh Ray filters are so well made that they do not add color cast or distortion to the images. (Tip: buy 77mm filters and then a set of step-up rings, this way, one filter can be used on all your lenses).

Once the camera was in place, I triggered the shutter and waited. One thing to consider, when shooting time lapse images, consider bringing a second camera body along, as the wait can be quite dull with nothing to do. This may explain why I shot 37 images and not 100.


As noted above, I shot both RAW and JPG files. I did this so that should I chose to process a single image, I would have the RAW file and for the time lapse image I could use the JPG files, which are smaller and easier to manage when blending so many layers. I organize my files using Lightroom and process my images in Photoshop. So after my trip, I imported my images into my Lightroom catalog (for a video on how to do this, click here). I selected the images that I intended to combine (a total of 37 images) and then opened the images, as Layers in Photoshop. From Lightroom, this is a simple Right click on the selected image thumbnails, Edit in, scroll to the bottom of the list and choose As Layers in Photoshop.

It takes Photoshop a few minutes to open and add each layer to a single tab, once it is complete, you can start changing the Blending Modes for each layer. At this point, take a moment to check the file size. In this case, my file size was just under 3GB. This is a huge file and I only used the JPGs! Now, I can start changing the Blending Mode for each individual layer (except the bottom layer) to Lighten. This allows the lighter pixels to come through from the layer below. As each of the 36 layers are changed, you will see staccato effect in the clouds start to appear.

Once all of the Blending Modes are adjusted, you have to decide if you are ready to flatten the image and start processing. I suggest that first you create a “stamp” of the image. Essentially, a “stamp” is a flattened version, that can be created as a separate layer (while maintaining all of the original layers below it) or by having all of the original layers merged together. I suggest that you use the “separate layer” method, so that you can check the result. You can always decide after to remove the original individual layers to reduce the overall file size. To create the separate layer, select all of the individual layers (all 37 in this case), and then right click, and while holding the ALT/Option key, choose Merge Visible. Photoshop will do some work and create a Layer 1, that sits at the top of the Layer Panel. If the result is what you were expecting, then you can select all of the original layers again and delete. This will bring the overall file size down to something manageable and pick up the operating speed of Photoshop, as you start to process the image.

At this point, how you process your image is up to you. I darkened the sky, enhanced the power plant, and darkened the foreground with Camera Raw. I then desaturated and slightly toned the image. I did some selective dodging and burning to further enhance the clouds and smoke. Lastly, I added a vignette.

To see a video on how I blended and processed my 37 images, click here.

For additional tutorials on how to post-process images, click here.

New Book! Demystifying Photoshop

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 11.30.31 AMAdobe Photoshop is an extremely powerful post-production tool and was developed for graphic artists, designers, illustrators, and photographers alike. What does this mean? Well, it means that Photoshop has more features than any photographer is ever likely to use for processing photographs. But it also means that this is one of the best platforms to enhance your imagery.

The ability to use Camera Raw with Layers and Masks will enable you to take your images to the next level, whether you just want to enhance a single image or composite multiple images and textures to create an entirely unique piece of art.

The goal of this book is to introduce Photoshop and its features to photographers and to demonstrate how these tools may be used from the photographer’s perspective. Throughout this book, I will use images, and screenshots to demonstrate various techniques commonly used by photographers in Photoshop.

If you download the iBooks version, you will also get enhanced functionality, such as built in videos and interactive galleries to help reinforce what you are learning.

If you would like to purchase the Kindle/Android/PDF version, click here and then click Buy, just below the cover image.

Texture Tutorial!

Today’s blog is a tutorial on the use of textures. Often we see texture added to images of flowers or landscapes with bland skies. Although these types of images are awesome for texture use, for this tutorial, I will demonstrate how a texture can also add character to portraits. I will be using an image I took for a newly engaged couple.

In this tutorial I will also be featuring Joel Olives textures. Joel creates his beautiful textures, overlays, and bokeh overlays monthly. I joined Joel’s Texture Club in February and over the past 7 months, I have received hundreds of incredible textures. Joel also shares his methods and provides a blending action on his site as well. If you are interested in Joel’s textures, follow the link and use DENISE20, to receive a 20% discount on your purchase!


Here is a sampling!

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Because they are high resolution, they can be used to enhance any image without worrying about pixilation or degradation.

At first blush, the thought of incorporating textures may be overwhelming, particularly with so many options. But actually, it is pretty easy and once you get the hang of it, it can be done in minutes. The tutorial will seem long, but that is because it includes loads of images (so you know where to look for things), as well as multiple techniques on how to achieve different types of blending effects. In the end, this tutorial will provide you with a step by step process to get your creative juices flowing.

So let’s get to it!

First, start by opening your image and making any adjustments you may feel are necessary (brightness, contrast, saturation, etc). For the image I selected, I needed to make sure the doorframe was straight and I corrected any lights/darks, as well as enhanced her beautiful eyes. Now that my image is ready, its time to add a texture.


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There are a number of ways to add a texture to an image. I will show you the two ways I use most often.

1) File/Place/Select File/Place
This technique will bring the image in as a new layer and already have the transform feature activated so you can scale it to fit the background layer. When scaling the texture layer, you may decide to scale one for one (to fit exactly on the background) or you may decide that you want it to be bigger than the background. This may be the case, when you have selected a texture you really like, but for a particular image, the edges are too dark.

2) Open the texture as its own image, the select the move tool (V).
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In the texture layer, left click on the texture image and drag to the image you are working on. Before unclicking, hold the shift key. This will drop the layer in a new layer and scale it to the background directly. Should you wish to change the scaling, as noted in #1, just choose Edit/Free Transform ( T or Ctrl T – PC). This will allow you to scale the layer (texture) to your liking.

For this image, I selected jo-tc-aug-2013-13 from Joel Olives August 2013 Textures.

To get the image in to my working file, I chose option #1 from above.

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For me, the texture opens in to Camera Raw. This gives allows me to make changes to the texture prior to inserting it in to my working file. For this texture, I added a little Clarity and Vibrance, then I hit ok.

As you can see, the texture definitely needs some scaling! The great thing about Joel Olive textures is that they are high resolution, so scaling this texture to fit my image will not degrade the texture (and therefore, will not degrade my image) at all.

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To rotate just the texture layer, select Edit/Transform/Rotate 90°CW.

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Next drag your corners out until the meet the edge of your background images. The texture will lock in. If you wish, you can also drag the end texture layer out further. For this particular image and this texture, I like the dark edges with the leaf pattern, so I am sticking with a one to one ratio.

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There are a couple of ways to blend in a texture.
1) Manipulate the Opacity slider
2) Use Blending Mode

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 7.18.04 PMHere is the result using #1 (Opacity slider) – This result is not very pleasing and to truly see your background image the opacity of the texture would have to be so low, as to not even feel like a texture.

To make this technique work, you would need to add a Layer Mask and then mask the texture out of areas, such as her face and arms. Using a Layer Mask for this can be difficult and requires multiple brushes, at various opacities, often leaving a “hard” edge. Using the Blending modes and the techniques discussed below will give a more subtle and even feel to the texture.

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Here is the result using #2 (Blending layers) – This result is miles ahead of just using the Opacity slider. You can use a number of Blending modes to achieve the result you are seeking (Overlay, Soft Light, Screen for a lightened effect, even Multiply for a dark edgy feeling).




For this tutorial, I chose Soft Light.

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Next you can soften the effect of the texture by changing the opacity. I changed the texture layers opacity from 100% to 75%. As you can see, the background image is more prominent, but I have lost those beautiful eyes and her skin looks dirty and uneven from the texture. We are going to fix that next!

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Once the texture is in place, you can manipulate it using Layer Adjustments.

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You can use any adjustment from the Layer Adjustments menu (Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, Levels, Curves, etc). These adjustments are personal preference and based on the image to which the texture is being added.

For this image, I chose to make a Levels adjustment, to slightly darken the texture layer.

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 7.34.07 PM


In order to have my Layer Adjustment only impact the texture layer, I must associate the adjustment to the texture directly, as indicated by the downward-pointing arrow on the adjustment layer. To link layers (this technique links any layers/adjustments) hold the Alt or Option (PC) and however over the layer you want to link (in this case, the Level Adjustment). You will see a downward-pointing arrow appear, left click your mouse and the adjustment will be attached. To remove, just repeat these steps.


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If you do not link your adjustment to the texture, the adjustment will after both the texture and any layers beneath. This might be what you want, but if not, the linking technique will be your solution.

At this point, there is a decision to make.

Do you want the subject matter (in this case the face, eyes, and skin) to retain the some texture or no texture at all. Depending on your preference and the image to which you are adding a texture, there is different method for each.

First we will see the technique that retains some texture…

Start by hiding the adjustment layer (click on the eye), then select the texture layer and change the blending back to Normal and increase the opacity back to 100% (all temporary).

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Now, choose the Color Picker tool.

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With the color picker, left click on the texture, looking for a medium tone.

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This color/tone will become the Foreground color.


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Once you have made this selection, change the texture Blending mode back to Soft Light, the opacity back to 75% and click the eye on the adjustment layer.

Select the Brush tool (B). Use a soft edged brush and set the Brush opacity to an opacity that is pleasing. For this image, I chose 70%.

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Left click on the texture and then with the brush tool, paint over the areas of the texture that you want the background image to be more prominent (show through).

Since we “placed” the texture, when you go to paint, you will get the following message.

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Just select OK and then begin painting.






For this tutorial, I have “lessened” not removed the texture from her face, eyes, hair, and left arm. To show the difference, I have not removed the texture from her right hand. However, were I to “finish” this image with the option, I would have likely lessened the texture in her right arm as well. You can still see some texture on her fact and left arm, however it is not as intense.


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Next lets look at the technique to remove the texture from her altogether, while leaving the underlying tone of the texture behind.

For this technique, you will need to create a New Photoshop file. You will only use this temporarily, so there is no need to Save it.

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After you hit OK, you will get a White background layer. First thing we need to do is Fill it with color (any color). To do this, select Edit/Fill and under Contents Use: choose Color. The color picker tool will come up, pick a color and choose OK. Then choose OK to fill.


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Next choose the Healing Brush Tool.

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Now, holding the ALT or Option (PC) key down, click anywhere on the color image. Your brush will change to the sampling tool.

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This “loads” the Healing Brush.


Once you have completed this step, return to your working image. Make sure the Healing Brush is still selected and click on the texture layer.

Start brushing out the texture (even though the brush is a color). It will look like you are coloring on your image, but you are not. I promise, just keeping brushing, stopping every so often (for larger images) to let the Healing Brush process. Remember, you are not painting with this brush.

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Here is a close up of the process. Here I am about halfway done. You can see that her skin tone and his are the same, but the texture is completely gone. You may see that the Healing Brush leaves some color… no fear, just brush over the area again and it will disappear.


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Now for the final image (I am sticking with the “no texture” option).

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Remember, every choice I made in this tutorial, was just that a choice. There are many ways to incorporate textures in to your images… let your imagination guide you. 🙂

How Did I get Here?

I was asked to share the original images that make up this composite:

_DSC0592 2013-02-23-Edit-Edit
















So here are the 9 original files, untouched, raw files. You can see that the images were taken in different times of day and lighting situations, from different perspectives, with different tones. The challenge to composite images is making the final image seem like a single shot, as impossible as it might seem to create.


I have by no means perfected this art form, but am definitely working on it. It takes, like all things you want to do well, lots of practice and patience. For those interested in learning the techniques that can be used for compositing and other adjustments, I am leading two workshops: one is on  Layers and Masks in Photoshop and the other is on Textures and Blending techniques. Click the titles to learn more.


Fading an Image – Gradient Masks

Below I will describe the few steps needed to create both color fade and fade to solid color effects in Photoshop.

Let’s start with the color fade:

Step 1:

Open your image. In this example, I have an image of wisteria flowers. I have processed this image to my liking, so I consider it “done” and a good starting point for my color fade effect. So, your first step is to process your original image to achieve your overall “color” result.











Step 2:

Create a New Adjustment Layer by clicking the half black/half white icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. From the pop-up menu, select Black and White. Proceed to adjust the sliders to create an image that you like.












Step 3:

Select the Gradient tool. You can do this by either clicking the letter “G” on your keyboard, or clicking on the tool button, or choosing Gradient Map in the Adjustments Panel.


Once the tool is selected, in the Options bar (top of Photoshop workspace), click the Gradient Picker (dropdown that has shading) and choose the Black/White gradient. Lastly, to the right of the Gradient Picker, click on the Linear Gradient icon.





Step 4:

With the Gradient tool selected, hold Shift and click and drag the tool’s crosshair from left to right (or right to left) depending on your preference. You will see a temporary guideline appear (if you are holding shift, then the line will be held horizontal creating a vertical mask). The gradient mask will appear automatically when you unclick. You can re-draw the line as many times as you like to experiment with the depth of fade and the mask will update automatically. You can also fade top to bottom or bottom to top, depending on your preferences and the image in question.


Don’t forget to save your final image!










You can also use this technique to fade to a solid color, such as white, to create a customized postcard:

Same as Step 1 above

Step 2:

Instead of selecting Black and White, choose Solid Color from the New Adjustment Layer menu. Photoshop will open up a “color picking” dialogue box, select the color of your choice and click OK. A colored layer will appear and you will no longer see your image. No worries.


Step 3:

Select the Gradient tool, same as Step 3 above.

Step 4:

Make sure the Color Fill layer is active, then click near the middle of the color layer and drag the crosshair while holding the shift key (left or right) about 1” to start. You can experiment until you get the proper width for your needs.

Step 5:

If you need to move your image around, so that you can see the content you want, just double click the Background Layer in the Layers panel, rename it to Layer 0, click OK (this makes it editable). Then choose the Move tool (V), or click the icon in the toolbar. With the Move tool, you can drag the image around until the content you want to show is seen. Click enter to accept the move change.






Step 6:

Add text. To do this, click the Text tool from the toolbar. Click within the image on the workspace and add text. You can manipulate the font characteristics to your liking, as well as move the text box around to suit your needs.


Don’t forget to save your image!

Happy Creating!!

Get Creative!

In an earlier blog I discussed being creative through the use of alternative lens or through HDR image processing, but there are other ways to be creative as well. Below are some of examples of how using Gradient Masks and Brushes in Photoshop can add character and uniqueness to an otherwise “ordinary” image. I will start with photography is wildly subjective, so not everyone will prefer my creative efforts over the original image, but my goal here is to get your juices flowing!

The first two examples show the use of gradient masks:

Here is an image of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. This is the first time I have captured the memorial from this angle and closeness, and I like the image. But I have hundreds of images of the Lincoln Memorial, so how do I make this one different? In this case, I decided to reflect the image back on itself, as if the memorial stood close to a body of water.


To learn this technique, check out our video tutorial on YouTube: Creating Reflections.

In this next image, I decided that a transit from black/white to color might be an interesting effect, giving motion to an otherwise still image.




This technique will be described in our next blog!

This last example shows the use of brushes and texture to create a painterly effect. As you can see, this first image is really dull; albeit a beautiful flower, but taken against a dull green paper (with a fold! in it). No movement, no context. Since I really liked the tulip, I needed a way to improve this image. I decided to create a watercolor out of it, through the use of texture and brushes.



These are just a few examples of the power of gradient masks, brushes, and textures. In my next few blogs, I will demonstrate the easy steps to create the color fade effect, fade to solid color, and reflection effects. Think of the possibilities; these techniques can be used to manipulate images, create customized announcements or Christmas cards that include images that fade to text, and as well as create composite (collage) images.

The painterly effect demonstrated in the image above is too complicated to describe in a suitable length blog, so if you are interested in this technique, I am happy to teach you how to do it and other Photoshop techniques in a customized workshop. For more information on our image processing workshops, click here.


Using Masks in Photoshop

Masking in Photoshop

In the last blog I discussed blending images to get a better final result, specifically replacing a perfectly clear blue sky with one that had more character (clouds).

There are many ways to create selections in Photoshop, including the Color Selection tool, the Magic Wand tool, the Pen tool, the Lasso Tool, as well as the use of plugins, such as TopazLabs ReMask. Depending on the image you are working on, any one of these tools can be helpful. In this blog, I am going to layout the steps for masking using the Color Selection tool in Photoshop.

Step 1:

Select your base image. In this case, I selected an image from the Montgomery County Fair, of the swing. As you can see, there is NO sky here and I am getting aberration (vignetting) from my lens. To get this image ready, I processed the image using an HDR technique, to pop the beautiful undercarriage of the ride and the people in the seats.










Step 2:

After collapsing my layers, I duplicated my background layer, then I created my mask selection by through Select, Color Range, and used the dropper to pick up the areas of the sky. In this case, I picked the sky near the top and the bottom of the image, so that I got both “blues”. use the dropper to choose the “colors” to pick up. Then hit OK. This will give you the marching ants.

You can see in the image below this “marching ants,” indicated my selection. It doesn’t matter in this case that the corners are not in my selection. I will be able to fix that later.









Then click the Mask tool button shown below. This will create a mask. You must remember to duplicate the background image before selecting your color range.




Result, you can see our duplicate layer with a mask next to it in the layer panel on the right hand side.








Step 3:

Next select the appropriate sky image. Remember when making this decision, angle of the sky is important. For incorporation into this particular base, I would not select a sky taken on the horizon, it would simply be too far away. Also, consider the color (hue and saturation) of the sky you are going to use. Although this can be manipulated in processing, you can save yourself time by selection something similar. Lastly, you need to consider “light”… say from the time of day perspective. I could not use a night sky here, because there is too much light on the faces of the people on the ride and direction of light should be considered as well. I chose the sky image below.


I did do a bit of processing on this image. Deepened the blues in the sky and lightened the clouds, through Brightness and Contrast adjustment in Photoshop.





Step 4:

Duplicate the mask, so that it is also on the sky layer. To do this, hold down the option (or alt) click, click and hold the mask you want to duplicate and drag it up to the sky layer, and unclick. This will copy the mask you created and place it on to the sky image, allowing the background layer (base layer) to show through.   As you can see in the image below the vignetting in the corners is back and the masking is quite complete on the top left, but never fear… we will fix that next!


You can feather your mask at this point, but for this image, feathering would have created a small blue line around the ride, which would not have allowed the sky to look natural. Therefore, I left the feather control at zero.





Step 5:

To clean up the mask, you need to show the mask on the screen, instead of the image. To do this hold down the option (or alt) key and click the mask (on the sky layer). This will bring the mask on to your Photoshop workspace.









Depending on how clean your Select, Color Range was, you will have more or less black or grey in the sky. In my case, I could have clicked the corners during the range selection and that would have made this cleaner. In either case, we can fix it, but selecting the Brush tool and making sure white is selected as our “color” to paint. Then start painting the unwanted blacks and grays white.










Now that we have cleaned up all the excess black (on the area that is supposed to be white) and cleaned up the excess white (on the area that is supposed to be black), we are ready to reveal our final image!

Again, holding the option (or alt) key, click on the layer mask (on the sky later). This will return to image to your workspace and presto chango … we have an image with some character in the background now!




Remember, this technique can be used for all sorts of images. Maybe head shots taken against a boring white background and you want to add color or textures.  Adding a moon to an otherwise featureless night sky. The possibilities are limitless.




To see a video tutorial on masking, click here for our videos on YouTube.

Macphun Black Friday Specials Are Coming Early This Year!

BlackFriday is fast approaching and Macphun has some great gift ideas!


Save $80 on the Creative Kit Plus (Black Friday Special) & get a $25 Amazon or Apple iTunes Gift Card with purchase.Valid: Nov 25 – Dec 1
copy_1_ckplus_icon_92Details: Creative Kit Plus includes 4 award-winning Mac photo software products worth $210 (if purchased separately) for JUST $129.99. Nearly 40% off (an $80 savings). Plus, customers from the United States get a $25 gift card of their choice from the Amazon or iTunes stores with purchase of the Creative Kit Plus.Black Friday special is only valid on Creative Kit Plus (Black Friday Special). Gift Card only available to customers in the United States.

Use our discount code ROADRUNNER, if you are interested in purchasing individual products such as:
tonpro_icon92Tonality Pro – Awesome program for creating stunning black and white images! Great flexibility as the plugin has its own layer and masking capabilities!


intpro_icon_92Intensify Pro – Create powerful images with unprecedented drama, clarity, and detail! Great flexibility as the plugin has its own layer and masking capabilities!


shpro_icon_92Snapheal Pro – Easily remove unwanted objects, heal skin imperfections, get rid of pesky dust spots! Snapheal Pro features multiple erasing modes and adjustable precision for pixel-perfect results.


focpro_icon_92Focus 2 Pro – Create images with selection focus, lens blur and tilt-shift effects with just a few clicks!


Shoot the Sky!

As photographers, we are not always graced with the perfect sky. In fact, I have found that more often than not, I get to my destination and find perfectly blue, clear, no clouds, not even a whiff of clouds in the sky! If you have the luxury of being in a single location for a few days, you may get lucky to have the sky change, but that is not always possible. So no fear, there is a solution! So shoot away.

Through the magic of masking, you can add the perfect sky to any image. Some purists (and I used to be one) will say that is cheating. But the way I see it, if you are an artist creating a pleasing image, you have the right to manipulate your image in any way you wish; whether that be making it an abstract, making a color image black and white, using selective color, or even adding a better sky. Images are your creation, and unless you are just recording the location as a journalist, you should feel free to modify and improve upon it.

So with that in mind, here are some tips…

Tip 1: Shoot the sky. If you are out and about and see an incredible cloud formation or sky structure, shoot it. If you see an amazing sunset or sunrise… shoot it. I can be found taking sky shots through my car sunroof, if I see something that I may think will be useful later. I have a collection of over 2500 sky images readily available.

Tip 2: Shoot at varying degrees of angle. For example, don’t just shoot straight up, because if you have an image with a distant horizon, a sky shot facing nearly 90° to the horizon will look out of place, so collect distant horizon shots as well every possible angle of sky.

Tip 3: Collect sky images with all types of hues and saturation. This will allow you to select a sky that most “easily” fits your image, reducing processing time.

Below are some examples to illustrate my point. The original images were ok, but by changing the sky, I believe I have improved the mood and therefore, the story behind the images.

_DSF8599 _DSF8599-Edit

_XT15052 _XT15052-Edit

_DSF4544-Edit-2 _DSF4544-Edit-2-2



For masking techniques, check out this tutorial on YouTube!