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Editing Toolbox: Grey-Green Warm Yellow Tones

In this 15-minute Editing Toolbox, you are going to learn how to create the soft grey-green and warm yellow-orange tones as seen in the photos above, when starting from a relatively green SOOC image. 

To be able to follow along in this tutorial you will need to know:

  • how to use the HSL panel in LR or ACR
  • how to use adjustment layers in PS
  • how to mask adjustment layers

Below, you will find a link to a similar photo taken at the same location, so you can try the techniques on this picture.

Feel free to share it in our private network, but please do not share on social media as it was part of a client shoot.

As I say in the video, keep in mind that the exact settings and numbers used in each of the layers WILL CHANGE dramatically from photo to photo. Therefore, don’t try and copy the settings exactly. Or even the process!

Instead, use the process and concept as a starting point, and tweak, change, add, remove layers and colours as needed. 

The main thing to remember is that you’re moving the green tones toward cyan and removing yellow from them, and you’re moving the yellow tones toward orange, and removing cyan from them.

Ear Party: Lightroom Mobile Edit

Some of you may use your phone or an iPad or similar to edit your photos.

I wanted to show you that it IS possible to do a full edit using LR mobile, although I was a bit slower and way less precise than normal – and I think that’s the main point to note. With a stylus or similar, you could likely be very precise, but with your finger, it’s much more difficult.

I did this edit on the JPEG version of the photo as my computer and phone didn’t want to cooperate. You can download the RAW file here but if you can’t get it onto your phone you can download the JPEG version, or if it’s only JPEG version showing up, don’t stress.

Also… I was apparently feeling especially “unmasked” while filming this (I think being on my phone dropped the professionalism a little!) so enjoy this more quirky version of me, including laughing at my own jokes, singing about radial filters and more. 

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As always, our goal with the photo remained the same:

Draw attention to the dog. Remove distractions.

To do this we:

  • Fix the White Balance
  • Add clarity and texture to the face
  • Lower highlights in the snow
  • Adjust the colour of the background to make it more Christmassy
  • Remove colours from Alfie’s legs and chest
  • Bring detail, colour and light to his eyes.
  • Spotlight effect! Darkening the outside, lightening the inside
  • Slight tunnel effect, dehaze behind Alfie.
  • Some dodge & burn for a 3D effect.

All About White Balance

White balance is the overall temperature and tint of your image. I personally try to keep mine relatively “true to life”, and there are a number of ways you can go about getting the correct white balance in your images, from camera settings to editing.

Keep in mind though that:

  • nobody cares as much about the WB as we do about our own work. Don’t drive yourself crazy with it. 
  • WB can be shifted in one direction or another for artistic reasons/choices. 
  • The WB can be “wrong” because of the light temperature making everything warmer. This is ok.  

White Balance Mania

You guys uploaded 20+ images and I went about fixing the white balance on all of them, discussing what I’m looking for and at in order to set the right WB, tricks I use to help me, things to consider, and even what to do about colour casts.

Note that although I used Lightroom for this, you could easily use Adobe Camera Raw. I would not recommend using just Photoshop or working on a jpeg file. Why? Because all the subtleties of the RAW data has been lost, so instead of making small, subtle changes, you’re smashing your WB with a sledgehammer. 

Any questions? Ask below!

Editing Pets & People: Ike & Cecilia Tutorial

in this tutorial we’re going to work on this photo of Ike & Cecilia, cuddling in the green woods.

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You are welcome to edit along, but I’ll ask you not to share this one on social media! Thanks!

After I finished recording, I went and cooled down the image a bit, as it finished feeling a bit too yellow/warm for me. Other than that I don’t think I changed anything afterwards.

Creating a Flower Photo with Alessia Monaco

We were so lucky to have Alessia join us live to talk us through the process of creating this gorgeous photo of the dog in the wattle flowers.

Hands up if you thought these photos were created by finding the most perfect flowery bush and getting your dog to stick his head through the branches? 

Prepare to have your mind blown. 

All you need to create this kind of photo is:

  • Your camera and lens (Alessia used an 85mm lens)
  • An assistant or two
  • A patient dog
  • A branch or two or bunch of flowers
  • A lot of patience in Photoshop!

I would love to see everybody’s attempts at these photos in Inspawration Connect, so make sure you jump over and share them! Feel free to tag Alessia too if you run into trouble.

And, of course, make sure you go give her a follow on Instagram!

How To: Dogs in Landscapes

I will preface this lesson by saying that my speciality is not landscapes, nor dogs in landscapes – if you’re here, you are hopefully familiar with my photography style already! But hopefully this lesson will give you some information about getting the most out of epic landscapes, next time you find yourself in one! 

About Dogs in Landscapes

Finding a balance between showing off a landscape scene, and not losing your dog within it can be a challenge. Unlike our normal portrait photography, where all the focus is on the dog, his expression, his pose, with a smaller emphasis placed on the scene around him (usually), dogs in landscapes seek to show us both the place, and the subject within it, often in equal parts. 

Some landscapes can be smaller or more intimate: think waterfalls, ferny glades or glens, a foggy mossy forest. 

Others are huge, and we want to strive to show the magnitude of the mountains, or the far reaching distance of an endless horizon, or the stretching white sands and blue sea. In this case, playing with the size of our subject within the scene can help to alter our perception of the size of the landscape. Mountains can dwarf our subject and make them feel small beneath them, or our dogs can be conquerors of them. It all depends on how we show the scene.

These two photos above were taken at the same place, and are very similar in terms of pose, weather, etc… however in one, we get the feeling of the magnitude of the scene, the grandness of the valley and Journey’s insignificance within it. The photo on the left may have been interesting taken from a lower perspective so he wasn’t getting so lost against the background but he stood himself there and this was a split second candid shot. 

The photo on the right still feels large,  but the emphasis has shifted (in my opinion) to Journey. Neither of these are right or wrong necessarily, it is just worth considering as you’re setting up your own landscape photos.

Both are only very lightly edited, so it’s possible with working the light a bit, that I could draw more attention to Journey particularly in the photo on the left.

Almost any outdoor space can become a landscape. The difference to our normal portraiture is our focus. As mentioned above, our normal portraiture aims for compressed backgrounds, pretty soft bokeh, and a very narrow depth of field, blurring out most of the scene.

Landscapes will aim to show much more of the space the dog is occupying, probably (though not always) with more detail, a wider depth of field, and a smaller emphasis on the dog alone. That being said, as you can’t make a photo of a dog sitting on an empty field particularly exciting, you probably can’t take a photo of a normal, relatively unexciting landscape and expect to make it epic. There is a reason we have to climb mountains for the best views.

Also, keep in mind that simply using a wider lens, or narrower aperture in order to capture more of the “landscape” when in a heavily wooded forest, probably isn’t going to get you the results you’re after (except in some specific circumstances!) as all that extra detail, all those criss-crossing branches, bushy undergrowth, tangled weeds, and tree trunks will suddenly make your scene much busier, rather than more epic. Dead straight trees with less “busy” undergrowth (I’m thinking redwood forests or pine woods with pretty ferns) will work better…. but will still probably be best when straddling the line between “landscape” and portraiture.

I would argue that this photo ALMOST begins to work like a landscape photo.... but the scene isn't quite big enough, and he is still very much 90% of the focus of the image.

How to: Fix your composition on location (and in LR & PS)

This is a technique I use very often, especially when photographing Journey, or any dog who has a tendency to look all around. 

Rather than try and continually move my focus point, or just hope that Animal Eye-AF will actually work, I minimally move my focus point and instead concentrate on just getting the shot. 

I want to get THE photo, where the dog is engaged, ears up, expression soft but alert. If I’m constantly trying to recompose the shot with my focus point, I’ll likely miss dozens of great expressions and possibly the perfect moment.

My process is usually: 

  • pose the dog with an intention for where/how I want him to look, and with that composition planned (eg., have my focus point where I want it)
This is how I intended the composition to be, so it's how I set up the shot, with my focus point over to the right, over his eye.
  • Journey will then usually immediately look somewhere else. Possibly in the opposite direction, possibly up. I DO NOT move my focus point (or maybe only very slightly) but if he’s looking alert, I continue taking photos!! I want to get THE MOMENT. 
  • When he stops being alert, relaxes, or disengages, I remove my thumb from the back button* (this is important!!!) and take photos of the surrounding area, AS NEEDED.
  • Below, you’ll see the when he looked around and the composition I had for those photos, as well as the extra photos I took. Because he looked to the right, and above, and because I felt like I’d chopped his legs off, I took photos to the right, above him, and below him.
  • If your dog leaves the scene or changes position, IT DOES NOT MATTER. You already have your photo of the dog in the perfect moment. All you need now are parts of the scene without dog! As long as the dog doesn’t take three steps to the right when you need to take photos of the scene to the right, then you’ll be fine. Just keep them out of the parts of the scene you’re building.
*You MUST make sure your plane of focus does not change. If your camera will refocus when you press the shutter, you must either: change to Back Button Focus, turn the focus mode to Manual, or flick the switch on the lens from AF to MF (if it has a switch). Otherwise, as soon as you press the shutter, the camera will focus on the background, and you  will not be able to make a panorama from your images, as the focus area will be completely different.

Keep in mind when looking at these photos, there might be 10 photos of just the dog looking all around first… and when he relaxes, THEN I take the photos of the surroundings.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t really hurt to have extra photos of the surroundings and it can be a good habit to get into if you are often cutting off toes, tails or ears. Unless you have a super tiny SD card (why) then when you import the photos, if you find you don’t actually need them, just delete them. I would always much rather HAVE these photos and the real image data from the location, than to ask Photoshop to create pixels using AI.

From there, it’s relatively simple in either Photoshop or Lightroom to combine the images. 

In Lightroom, simply select the photos you want to use in your panorama, right click, and select Photo Merge >  Panorama

This is the panorama Lightroom created for me using the above images. I could obviously crop this to wherever makes sense! I don't need all that space behind him!

Note! Sometimes LR will choose the “wrong head” if you have two or three photos which feature the dog’s head, so keep a careful eye out for that. You don’t want it to choose an out of focus version.

  • Otherwise, do your normal base edits (mine are in Lightroom)
  • Open all the layers in Photoshop (however is most convenient for you. I usually open all as smart objects).
  • Bring each layer into a single file (I use the “main dog image” as the base layer)
  • Crop to expand the canvas
  • Mask each layer in.
You’ll see this process in the video above.

Photoshop also has a “Merge as panorama” tool but I don’t believe it works with Smart Objects so I don’t use it. 

More examples of this technique in use!

Here, you’ll see I had planned for Journey to look to the left again, but he started by looking forward. No big deal.

THEN he looked to the left, which I was ready for…. until he looked UP.

Knowing I love photos of him looking up, but that I would need more space for him to look into if I wanted to edit the photo, I took 3 extras: one slightly up, then higher, and higher off to the side (probably to the left). 

At the end, you’ll see the combined & edited photo.

SUPER typical Journey sequence here. Straight forward, right, left, less left, straight, left, up!

So, I just took a whole series of photos basically around Journey: to the right, to the left, above and below, so I could build a canvas in basically any direction I wanted, if I decided there was one worth editing. 

Very simple one of these two howling wolfdogs. 

When I took the photo, I thought I would probably want to change this into a portrait-orientation photo, since they were pointing upward, and didn’t have a lot of space above them – plus I wanted that pretty golden bokeh in the shot, so I took a photo just above and merged them together in Lightroom.

This is an interesting sequence, especially since I never shoot portrait orientation but was here. 

We started with Fawkes in the middle, looking at me. He changed to look to the right, so I took those photos and started to “build the panorama”…. but then he looked at me so alert and so serious that I took the photo quickly! Of course, the composition was COMPLETELY off, I don’t even know how I managed to get that photo…

I grabbed another couple of shots of the scene: one above and one below… and ended up needing to merge a few together because the one I wanted to use was the one with the worst composition 😂

Same location as above. I think I’d been aiming for a similar photo as Fawkes from before – looking straight at me, but of course Journey had to do his own thing and looked to the right.

I grabbed two more photos to the right, thinking I would need quite a bit of extra space (I didn’t need QUITE that much, but it really never hurts to have more!) and I took some above as well, which I didn’t end up using, as the photo worked better as a landscape photo in the end.