Happy Wednesday! Did you catch my sneak peek on Monday? I’m very pleased to say that the painting is coming along nicely… In fact, I’m forcing myself not to finish the last wall (can I tell you what absolute agony it is for me to leave something partially finished?!) to write this tutorial for you.
That, friends, is real love. 😉
UPDATE 2022: While the process below is still valid, I have simplified my process by editing entirely in Lightroom using these presets.
And, as I’ve said for each of my tutorials, please know that I am NOT an expert. I’m the self-taught amateur who says things like, “the little red blinky light on the top right near the spinny dial.” So please take this for what it is: me sharing what I do (right or wrong) to achieve the photos I share here on this blog. Which many of you seem to like for some reason! 🙂
And like my post on Editing in Lightroom, this is NOT a comprehensive Photoshop tutorial. It is a simple explanation of what I do to 90% of my photographs that go on the blog. Today, we will pick up with an image just after I finished my Lightroom edits.
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And so you know where we’re going, here is the comparison to the final, post-Photoshop image. It’s not as dramatic as the Lightroom transformation, but I still think it adds important depth to the photo.
For the record, I export my images from Lightroom already sized for my blog (long edge: 900 px). That way, when I open them in Photoshop, my computer is not struggling through giant originals. My best trick in Photoshop (unlike in Lightroom where I do everything manually) is presets.
One set of actions, to be exact.
A free set.
Mind. blown. Right?
Go here to the incredible Pioneer Woman’s blog to download a set of free Photoshop actions. Her site includes instructions for downloading them properly. There are all sorts of fun ones, but the three main ones I use are Boost, Slight Lighten, and Sharpen This.
I usually start with a Boost (almost every image I use gets this). Sometimes, I lesson the opacity if the image is feeling too processed, but usually it is just the right amount of crispness.
Sometimes the intensity of the Boost has lost some of the lightness I desired. If so, I will then insert a Slight Lighten before (under the Boost layer on your Layers palette in the bottom right hand corner) my Boost. This is also a VERY easy way to lighten just a portion of your image (which is also possible to do in Lightroom, but I find it more cumbersome in that program). Run a Slight Lighten, then type ctrl+del (or command+del on Mac) to fill the layer mask black. This will remove your lightening, and you can now go in and lighten up just a portion of it if you use your brush tool. Set it to whatever size you want but a very low hardness (1-5%) and then just draw with white over the portions you want lightened.
Finally, if there are any details you need to be clearer or crisper, Sharpen This is a great tool (be sure to add it above the Boost layer). It works with another layer mask, so after you run the preset, you simply draw over the portion you want sharpened. I almost always lower the opacity of this level, though, because it is usually too processed looking.
See below how I sharpened the letters on the paint chips so they became more legible. It’s subtle, but it makes a difference.
Once finished, I apply my watermark. Again, there is a way to do this in Lightroom, but I don’t like the quality of the watermarks. In Photoshop, I keep a separate .PSD file with my watermark in various forms (all as texts), so I can just drag and drop the one I want for the image.
And that’s it! Like I said with the Lightroom tutorial, I do not do all these things (except watermark) to every photo, but they are my usual toolbox for my images. The better my lighting, staging, and composition become, the less edits each image needs.
Obviously, these tutorials require Lightroom and Photoshop*, and while they are not free (like some other editing software), you can get them for just $10/month with the creative cloud*. I think it’s totally worth it.
This image was taken over two years ago (and I’m SO pleased to say that my “before”s have grown leaps and bounds since then!), but you can really see the difference that editing can make:
What do you think? Did you learn anything new here? I hope so! And that concludes our photography tutorials, unless you all have any more topics/ideas/questions. Don’t hesitate to comment and ask! Monday should bring us back to our regular diy and decorating routine. Thank you all again for your kind words about my photography and your encouragement throughout this series!
My Favorite Lightroom Presets
I have started sharing my best photography tips with some of my favorite readers, and it all starts off with my two favorite go-to custom Lightroom presets… and I’m giving them away for free!! If you aren’t already a Lightroom user, scroll down for all the details on this must-have photo editing software. And either way, sign up here to get your free preset: