One other thing I’ll be doing

Something I will have to come back to. When I have the time to look into some free courses.


Working with Layer Masks

Photofocus (old site)

When you are first learning Photoshop, layer masks can seem overwhelming and confusing. It’s ok, photoshop itself can be overwhelming and confusing. I promise, once you understand the basics of Layer Masks, you’ll be glad to utilize this skill in your post processing workflow. In fact, you will find that using layer masks is one of the most essential parts of Photoshop.

What is a Layer Mask?

Mask might be a deceiving term. Think of Transparency instead. If you think of it as Layer Transparency, that often will make a difference in understanding how it works. The bottom line, a Layer Mask allows you to control the level of transparency on a Layer. Yes, it’s that simple.

However, don’t think of it as Opacity. Opacity changes the transparency on the whole layer. If you adjust the opacity it’s going to adjust the transparency for the entire layer which can be…

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How to Use the Quick Selection Tool in Photoshop

Thank you for the tips, learning on my own and have learned so much already with Photofocus.

Photofocus (old site)

One of my favorite tools in Photoshop is one that is great if you’re wanting a quick smart selection of a single object in your photograph.  Since I enjoy doing composites by copying, pasting and compositing multiple photos and imagery, I use this tool very often.

To demonstrate this tool, lets use our furry friend, the deer.


In the sidebar, the Quick Selection Tool.


By dragging your mouse across the selection you’d like to select, Photoshop will utilize it’s smart awareness and choose an overall selection of what needs to be selected.  In this case, the deer is a completely separate pixel color as the snow so it was a little easy for it to depict the selection. (I’ve highlighted the selection in red for demonstration purposes)

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 1.04.40 AM

Once you’ve made your selection, you can zoom in to see how accurate the selection is.

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 1.09.04 AM

If you notice in the selection above…

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How to Create Bokeh

Thanks for all the great tips. It helps when you aren’t taking classes and learning on your own!

Photofocus (old site)

I’m often asked about bokeh (which has a myriad of pronunciations  — boʊkɛ / boh-kay / boh-kə).  The word originates from the Japanese word boke, which means “blur” or “haze.” It is essentially the aesthetic quality of the blur in an out of focus area of a photo.  This is generally done to create a pleasant framing for a subject where the background is thrown out of focus and the subject becomes more pronounced.


The goal is to create a background that is pleasing.  The goal is to push the scene far enough so that the distracting elements are removed.  Bokeh usually appears in the brighter areas of a scene that fall outside of the region that is in focus. However, bokeh can appear at all tonal values.

The easiest way to create bokeh is to use a fast lens.  That’s to say one that is capable of shooting at a wide Aperture.  The…

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Getting Started with Nightscapes

Photofocus (old site)

Winter is the perfect time to practice nighttime photography. I took advantage of the long nights during my Christmas holiday to make some photographs with a friend who hadn’t done nighttime work before, and the tips I shared with her will help you get started making stunning star pictures, too. I don’t mean this to be a comprehensive tutorial on astro photography, but these tips will get you past the frustrations of shooting at night.

Most of the terms I mention are universal, but you may need to consult your camera’s manual for specifics on your model.

Bring the Right Tools
Plan on using a wide angle lens, something like 28mm or less. It’s a given, but it’ll be dark when you’re shooting, so bring a flashlight to see the camera controls; bring a red one if you have it to save your night vision (my phone has often doubled…

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Essential Tips for Long Exposure Photography

Thinking I need to read this one!

Photofocus (old site)

Long exposures are a whole different world of photography, and in the winter months when the sun is gone more often than not, they expand your opportunities for shooting. Here are a few quick tips to get you started making long exposure photographs.

Get Stable

First of all, use a tripod, or a bean bag, or your jacket on the railing of the pedestrian bridge. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but you need to stabilize the camera so it doesn’t move even slightly during the time the shutter is open. Also, this is a good time to use the virtual horizon if your camera has one.

Get Sharp

Next, choose your aperture. I’d recommend starting at f/11. This will likely give you good sharpness and probably good starbursts on any lights in the frame. I frequently use anything from f/8 to f/22. A smaller aperture will yield a…

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Creative Uses for a Wide Angle Lens

Reading later!

Photofocus (old site)

This is a guest post by Thomas Shue –
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I know that most of you have heard of the wide angle lens before. And also know that most of you think the wide angle lens is meant to take pictures of a wide piece of real estate such as a landscape photograph.  Well you can certainly use a wide angle lens for that purpose, but in most cases the landscape will look flat and lack detail because everything will appear so far away.

Wide Angle (1 of 1)-3

You see, when you think wide angle, you should to think close up. That’s a strange way of thinking, but I promise when you start to use a wide angle lens up close, you will find that this is where the magic happens. A word of warning, if you shoot close up on a person, you will distort them. Noses will become bulbous…

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