Skip to content

UfD: Five of My Favourite Things About Photoshop

Today I thought I might do something a little different, well I think it is something I haven’t done before. For those of you that have been following me for sometime know how much I love Adobe Photoshop CC.  It is one of my most important tools for working on photos and I think I would be lost without it.

I thought it might be fun today if I talked to you about my favourite things that are essential to me.

1/ Curves

Without a doubt one the most important adjustments for me.  As you work with it more and more you start to see all scmu-4hpm8905-7the possibilities of what you can do with them.  It is one of the most versatile adjustments I think.  You can lighten or darken the image, you can emphasize the highlights, you can change some of the tones of the image, too many things. Slowly I am learning how to use it, but I’m also using it so much.  Most of my images have many curves layers.

2/ Blur

I know this could be a strange one, but it is something that I enjoy using. I don’t always use it, and sometimes I only use it for part of the image, and others for the whole image.  There are so many ways of using it. Of course there is the LeanneCole-inverleighhotel-20130924-5936_4hpm-3obvious Gaussian blur that I think most of us know about, however there are lots of other blur effects and another one I love is the radial blur.  However, there are lots of other ones there too, and I’m always learning. The biggest learning curve about using it is restraint.

3/ Adobe Camera Raw

Seems a silly thing to say, or something to choose, but I really couldn’t live without it.  Of course I could use Lightroom instead, but I do like Adobe Camera Raw, or ACR.  There are adjustments you can use in it that aren’t available in Photoshop. If I only had Photoshop and not Lightroom then I couldn’t live without ACR, it is an essential part of my workflow.

4/ Gradient Tool

This is my finishing tool.  Nearly every image I work on I use the gradient tool.  It is how I add a subtle or not so subtle vignette to the images.  I have a thing about white or light edges in images, and if I can get rid of them, then I will.  A sccity-hpm6653-5dark gradient added to the edges is fantastic, well I think it is.

5/ Layers

I know when a lot of people first start using layers they can get confused and can’t get their heads around them. It’s not something I ever remember having problems with, it just always seemed logical to me. I really like how you can add things and later on decide you don’t like it, and instead of having to go back and start again, you can just delete that layer. I know some photographers won’t work in layers, but I think that is just silly.

There are many other things I like in Photoshop, but they would have to be my top five.  So what are yours? It isn’t as easy as you think to work out your top five.

The photos have been done using Photoshop and many of them were done using the above things, if not all at least some.

133 Comments
  1. Susan Portnoy #

    Go girl!

    June 12, 2015
  2. Wow! These pictures are stunning.

    June 12, 2015
  3. Wow, those are some extraordinary pictures. Photoshop can really do wonders!

    June 12, 2015
    • It really can, I love it, just in case you didn’t get that. Thank you.

      June 12, 2015
  4. Always in awe… when I look at you photos. Stunning! Absolutely stunning!

    June 12, 2015
    • Thank you Nancy, I was looking through these images and thinking, why aren’t I still doing this sort of thing, I need to get back to it.

      June 12, 2015
      • Oh, please do!

        June 12, 2015
      • I know I will, I’ve been realizing lately that I need to.

        June 12, 2015
  5. these photos are beautiful Leanne! I just got photoshop and am trying to make time to teach myself – I will enjoy reading comments from others and would love tips! Appreciate your post.

    June 12, 2015
    • Thank you Jodi, if you get stuck with learning it, I do offer online classes, just a thought. I’m sure people will also say what they like, I love it so much and it amazes me sometimes what you can do with it.

      June 12, 2015
  6. I think your use of Photoshop is giving you some beautiful effects. I think though the caution you gave several times is a good one – to use with restraint. But until you experiment and fail, there’s no way to know when too much becomes too much.

    I don’t use camera raw much – I start in Lightroom, then go to Photoshop. I don’t see much difference between the two of them except that Lightroom is a little more user friendly with the pop-up explanations and the interface. Sometimes Lightroom is enough, but Photoshop really adds a whole other dimension that you can’t get with only raw or Lightroom.

    Nancy

    June 12, 2015
    • Thank you Nancy, I do like it, and yes, I think restraint is a big thing, but as you said, sometimes you have to go too far to learn that it is too far.

      If I know that a photo is going to be processed in PS, say right from the start I can see that I want to do a lot to it, then I just start in PS with ACR, I like smart objects, and I don’t think you get that if you go from LR to PS, however, if I am doing a lot of photos for something, like a weekend wandering post, then they are nearly always just done in LR. I think they are both good, and both have their purposes. There are so many things in PS that just aren’t possible in LR, so right there.

      June 12, 2015
  7. I have Photoshop 6 but I want to upgrade to 7 so I can start making icons again.

    June 12, 2015
    • I don’t think there is a PS7, they have gone to the subscriber thing now where you have to pay to use it now on a monthly basis. Not too bad though.

      June 12, 2015
      • Hmm… I need to re-install PS6 🙂

        June 12, 2015
      • You might need to, though you can get LR and PS for $10 a month at the moment, which is pretty good.

        June 12, 2015
  8. Leanne, you have to stop posting photos of this quality. You are making people like me fell very inferior!

    June 12, 2015
  9. I’m slowly learning to use Photoshop to edit my photos. But it is, well, slow going. I’m usually afraid of overdoing the editing, especially with curves.

    June 12, 2015
    • It is a slow process Emma, I’ve been learning for years, and I’m still learning now, I just learned something new two days ago. It is great, you will be able to see how you grow. There is a saying though, you have to go to far to realise that you have gone to far, so go for it, then look back and you will notice that it was too much. Good luck.

      June 12, 2015
  10. I really need to get to your blog more often, for tips and inspiration, Leanne. Seeing what you do with Photoshop makes me think I need to spring for the money and get to work. Super images as always.

    janet

    June 12, 2015
    • It is a lot of fun and so amazing what you can do with it. I’ve never regretted having it. Thank you Janet.

      June 12, 2015
  11. such a great post, Leanne!! I think of all those listed, I know how to use only the layers… so it was interesting to read what else do you use typically… you put the curves in the first place, is this because they are most important in your opinion?

    and all the shots are amazing,very dramatic processing in all… have you used any filter for the docklands shots? the reflections in the water are so beautiful!!

    June 12, 2015
    • Thank you Alexandra. I love layers and the possibilities you get and how easy it is to get rid of something you don’t like. I don’t know that I do curves first, but I do use curves in some shape or form for every image. I don’t think most important, but definitely a good one. No, the shots at Docklands were just taken, no filters, it was a gorgeous still evening, don’t see that very often.

      June 12, 2015
      • thank you so much for your reply, Leanne!! have a wonderful weekend!!

        June 14, 2015
      • You’re welcome Alexandra, my weekend has been fantastic, hope yours has too.

        June 14, 2015
  12. I agree on these will add the HiPass filter – which falls by the wayside for a lot of people as a “useless” filter, but its a great selective sharpening tool that I almost always use on my images.

    June 12, 2015
    • I use that one sometimes, but not a lot. I’ve seen some people use it and they do too much and get a grittiness to their images, so I try to be careful with it. Though I often forget it is there, there are too many things at times. Thanks Robert.

      June 12, 2015
      • I use it as a layer – by converting the base image to B&W thought PS adjusting how the conversion takes place, then use soft light blend mode and set the fill % – masking as necessary.

        June 12, 2015
      • I do the same Robert, very similar, but as I said, I don’t use it a lot, I think I tend to like the soft look more, but it give you an interesting effect.

        June 12, 2015
  13. Great!! Smashing images, so good looking! This post seem to have initiated something in me, Leanne. I’m not good at using layers, (because I never really learned it) and now I want to master it. Do you have a recommendation for a fine tutorial for beginners?
    Thanks a lot, I have saved your top 5! 🙂
    Best regards, Dina

    June 12, 2015
  14. Beautiful examples. You should do a version of this list for lightroom ! 🙂

    June 12, 2015
    • Maybe I will, later on. I have to admit, I’m still fairly new to Lightroom, but I’m getting there. Thank you Vlad. 🙂

      June 12, 2015
  15. Thank you. I appreciate your sharing this helpful PhotoShop information. I added to my reading list for future reference.

    June 12, 2015
    • You’re welcome, I hope it helps, thank you.

      June 12, 2015
  16. I agree, photography wouldn’t be as much fun without Photoshop. I would nominate Photomerge as one of my favorite tools.

    June 12, 2015
    • No way, I fell out of love with photography about 10 or so years ago and what made fall back in love was photoshop and the realization that I could finally have the images that I wanted. Thanks Robin.

      June 12, 2015
  17. I like what you said about learning to use restraint. You just can’t help the enthusiasm you feel sometimes when you learn something. I think that applies to so many creative genres, and I think of writers overusing new favorite words, filmmakers overusing certain camera angles or other techniques, or chefs going heavy handed on an ingredient they have just discovered, to name some examples. With that said, it’s time for me to go cook dinner. I hope I can use restraint when seasoning my stir fry 😉

    June 12, 2015
    • Exactly Cynthia, it is very hard sometimes. I always remember what a lecturer at art school said about you having to take it too far to know that you had, and then you learn what you can and can’t do. I like all the examples, they are great. I hope you showed restraint in the stir fry and it was delicious. 😉 Thanks

      June 12, 2015
      • That’s also great advice, to take it too far so you learn what the limits are. I guess it’s all part of the process. Dinner turned out nicely, thanks. The real stars of the show were the sugar snap peas that I picked yesterday, and they were not overwhelmed with seasonings 🙂

        June 12, 2015
      • It is part of it, I think. That’s great sounds good, I’m waiting for Chris to start cooking my dinner tonight. I’m away with Chris from Take-it-easy.

        June 12, 2015
  18. fantastic and yes I agree with all of the above!!

    June 12, 2015
  19. This is an great post Leanne and I do agree with you! I start in ACR and then move to PS.
    I like working in layers too.
    Curves is definitely a good tool and I like using Levels too.
    I love that we’re always learning 😃😃
    I’m unable to see your images on my slow connection presently, but I’ll check in later. I really enjoy your work..and style 😃

    June 12, 2015
    • Sounds like we have similar workflows Robyn, I use levels sometimes, but not often.
      I love it too, I just learned something new the other day, which was great.
      You’ve seen them all before Robyn, so I wouldn’t stress too much. Thank you.

      June 12, 2015
      • I did get to view them. No stress at all. I really like your work Leanne 😃 Learning IS fun!
        Hope your weekend and workshop goes really well x

        June 12, 2015
      • That’s good Robyn, thank you, I like yours too.
        Thanks, I hope so too, should be fun if nothing else.

        June 12, 2015
  20. lensaddiction #

    Thanks for the inspiration, Im still very new to PS but my most fave things would be layers esp Adjustment layers, also masking and blending modes. Thats about as far as my skills go, but with those three things you can achieve SO MUCH!

    I want to understand curves better, and get better at selections. I would be interested to know how you use your gradient tool for the vignette. I do my base editing in LR and then into PS for the fancy stuff, and the radial tool in LR allows you to do really good quick vignettes but I don’t know how to replicate that in PS. Would be so handy if I could!

    June 12, 2015
    • You’re welcome Stacey, the layers are amazing and so forgiving. I like those too, especially masking, didn’t think of that. I should have done a top 10, haha.

      It depends for me, if I know I am going to do a heap of processing to an image, then I just start in PS, saves time, I like smart objects, so that works better for me. There are way so of getting that effect like the radial tool, and you can do it better to suit your image. Good luck with it all Stacey.

      June 12, 2015
      • lensaddiction #

        My version is not CC, its CS6 permanent licence – I got one of the last CD versions before they discontinued them and it doesnt seem to support smart objects very well 😦

        June 13, 2015
      • I thought it would have Stacey, I don’t think smart objects are that new, I might have to investigate. I like working with them, really protects your original image.

        June 14, 2015
  21. I have to admit that it took me a little while to understand the creativity of layers. Now, like you, I bring every image I publish into PS. I, however add final touches in LR. That’s just me.
    Thanks for putting this out there, Leanne (especially with your amazing images). Cheers!

    June 12, 2015
    • I don’t think you are alone there Dan, I think lots of people have that problem, and it is probably the one thing I teach the most. I don’t do everything PS, but all the things that I do a lot more processing on I do.
      Thank you Dan and you are welcome, it’s great to hear how everyone works.

      June 12, 2015
  22. Lita Pixel #

    Fantastic photos.
    As for what are my favorite things about Photoshop… I don’t really have any because I am still new at it.

    June 12, 2015
    • Thank you.
      You will get your favourite things Lita, I think in the end everyone does. Good luck with it.

      June 12, 2015
  23. Really enjoying learning PS and like you – although nowhere near as skilfully I tend to use it for the special images I want to work on. For most basic processing LR is my tool. The gradient tool, radial tool , the curves, and Filters are my favourite. I am also having fun with the typing tool in conjunction with Transform to come up with interesting watermarks. Endless source of challenge and learning with PS!

    June 12, 2015
    • That’s great Chris, glad you like it. Skill comes with practice, the more you do, the more you learn, the more skillful you get. That’s interesting, I hardly ever use the text tool, but I get what you mean. It is, thanks for that.

      June 12, 2015
  24. Hi Leanne. It has been some time since we last connected. I have always enjoyed your photography. And yes the use of Photoshop is amazing for photography. It is also great for stretching the image to the abstract. Which I love to do in my digital art. I have been creating a lot of video art lately. And I come to realize that a lot of the higher or middle end software programs allow for manipulation similar to Photoshop, but with the moving image. From color correction, to blur to various effects, there are lots of similarities in the creative process. Stop by my blog and see some of my recent video posts.

    June 12, 2015
    • Thank you Walter, I haven’t done much with video, some, but not a lot. I might have to do that, thanks for sharing what you do.

      June 12, 2015
  25. nice!!!

    June 12, 2015
  26. Jen #

    All of these are wonderful tools, and I share your affection for the blur tool (my own favourite there being Surface Blur to remove dust and other speckles from cars). That said, I also just plain love the good, old-fashioned Clone Stamp and Healing Brush: I cannot always choose whether or not something I’m photographing is away from power lines or things that cause distracting and even ugly reflections, but those tools definitely allow me to get rid of or alleviate such annoyances!

    For whatever reason, gradients and I have yet to really understand each other. I’m getting there because it’s so beloved, but not there yet.

    June 12, 2015
    • Oh yes, Jen I love those tools too, the spot healing is a personal favourite.
      I love the gradient adjustments, not always,but sometimes an image screams for you to use it.
      Thanks Jen.

      June 12, 2015
  27. Thanks for sharing your workflow, Leanne!! I have bookmarked it. I love all these photos. You are inspiring me. I haven’t started paying for CC yet because I haven’t had time to enjoy my hobby, but one of these days!

    June 12, 2015
    • You’re welcome Nicci, that is wonderful to hear, and yes that’s always an option, though I understand that your interests are varied, never enough time. Thanks Nicci.

      June 12, 2015
  28. I love using curves adjustment layers, also the hue/saturation tool is fantastic, I also like the levels tool for quick adjustments too. I like to oversaturate and image and then slowly bring it back til I am happy with the overall effect.

    June 12, 2015
    • Some great tools there, I have to admit when I first started I used levels all the time, but now I hardly seem to at all. Thanks for sharing your workflow.

      June 12, 2015
  29. poppytump #

    Fabulous Leanne , I remember so many of these dramatic photos !
    Some techniques and tools here I’m trying very hard to get a handle on , but I’ll keep at it to get the vision I want together with a more consistent efficient work flow . Well I hope so anyway !
    Taking pictures + processing = 24 hrs gone in a flash 😀
    SO much to learn !!! You certainly urge me to get on with it all .
    Have a wonderful time out capturing stars !

    June 12, 2015
    • I thought some of you might remember them. Thank you.
      It does take time and I think people think they will learn it straight away. It is such a big program.
      That’s wonderful, always good to hear I inspire others. 😀

      June 12, 2015
  30. Smart Objects, Masks, Brushes, Content aware adjustments as well as some of your 5. As with you layers were second nature when I started with photoshop as you never wanted to destroy and image and there wasn’t even camera raw or lightroom. Non destructive editing is great for the reasons you gave. Sometimes when editing you are in the zone and make adjustments that when you look back with fresh eyes needs to be changed. With out layers and non destructive editing you would need to retrace your steps and start again.

    June 12, 2015
    • Smart objects are great, but thought I should leave that one. Great to hear what you have to say Ben all good advice and all things that I do as well. Thanks

      June 12, 2015
  31. I don’t use ACR because I use Lightroom and I use gradients and Radial Filter in Lightroom rather than gradients in Photoshop. Instead, I’d probably add Smart Filters and the Shake Reduction Filter.

    June 12, 2015
    • I like to be able to work with smart objects, so I like ACR for that. I will use LR, but if I am going to do a lot of editing, and I know that I’m going to, then I start with ACR, and photoshop, but that’s what I like to do. Thanks Murray.

      June 12, 2015
  32. Stunning pictures, Leanne! I’m beginning to like curves more and more…thanks to you :-). I’m not fond of white on the edges of photos either. If it’s a painting I’m a bit more flexible.

    June 12, 2015
    • That’s great to hear Kirsten, I will have you converted to my way of thinking before you know it. LOL. I agree, see great minds, you know what they say. Thanks.

      June 12, 2015
      • Lol…I am a convert, I must confess. I still do my radial filter in LR, but I then tweak with Curves in PS. The really scary thing is that I actually understand what I just wrote. It must be my great teacher! 🙂

        June 15, 2015
      • Must be Kirsten, great that you understand what you are doing and working out what you like doing for yourself, fantastic. 🙂

        June 15, 2015
      • You have helped me learn to do that more and more. Thank you for that 🙂

        June 16, 2015
      • That is wonderful to hear Kirsten, really, thanks for letting me know that. 🙂

        June 16, 2015
  33. Your art blows me away. Brilliant angles.

    June 12, 2015
  34. Beautiful photos! and thank you for this article!

    I´m still trying to learn, and I´m in that stage of “too much” I think. I need to learn restraint like you say, my photos are most of the time too gritty.

    Yours look so smooth and noiseless (is that a word?), do you use noise reduction in ACR? I try but then they start to look kind of smeary.

    I would love to see a tutorial from you on this kind of work flow, like the one you have done on textures, your photos are stunning! 🙂

    June 12, 2015
    • I think that is a stage we all go through, at some point, it is with experience that you start to learn when it is good or not so good.
      Sometimes I use it, but I tend to try and make sure I take my photos with as low an ISO as possible. You do have to be so careful with the noise reduction.
      Thank you, I haven’t done any work like this for a while, but I am working on tutorials.

      June 12, 2015
  35. Nice work. I tend to use Lightroom a lot. Just starting to work on Photoshop a bit more. CC is quite different to Elements which is what I had before. Just need the practice

    June 12, 2015
    • PS CC is very different to Elements, I was really surprised when I first saw it. You are right Raewyn it is all about practice, and constantly learning. Thank you.

      June 12, 2015
  36. I LOVE me some layers and vignettes! Alright I love all 5, though I use Lightroom not ACR. (didn’t know there was a PS equivalent)

    June 12, 2015
    • I love those too. Yep, ACR I think, I might be wrong, came before LR, it is the same though, pretty much. Thanks.

      June 13, 2015
  37. Except for layers, all of these can easily be done in Lightroom which is a simpler tool for most users. I use both Lightroom and Photoshop, but after I started with Lightroom (after having used Photoshop for a decade) I do most of my simple editing there.
    I continue to use Photoshop for composite images and when I’m going for a more special look to the images.

    June 12, 2015
    • I like the gradient tool in PS better though, but that’s me. I love PS more, but am getting more comfortable using LR the more I do, Thanks for sharing that Cardinal.

      June 13, 2015
  38. And the NIK and Topaz filters!!

    June 13, 2015
    • I guess I tend to think of them as plugins and PS, but plugins could be another post. I don’t really use Topaz, but I love Nik. Thanks

      June 13, 2015
  39. Great photos Leanne! 😃 Looking forward to learning PS!

    June 13, 2015
  40. justyce1 #

    mentally escaping here….brb OMG RB (REBLOG lol)

    June 13, 2015
  41. justyce1 #

    Reblogged this on HandleYouBusiness and commented:
    If this is not handlin some business I do not know what is! Had to reblog…I am sharing on WP now as well as facebook fam, please follow me on twitter and enjoy this blog…Awesomesauce visually!

    June 13, 2015
  42. justyce1 #

    wow, again

    June 13, 2015
  43. I think I use the same tools too. Although I have not used gradients as much.

    June 13, 2015
    • I think I might be addicted to the gradient tool, I just keep using it, Thanks Luis.

      June 14, 2015
  44. I often use shake reduction. With care. Helps with birds taken far off and cropped.

    June 14, 2015
    • I have never used that one Sherry, sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing that.

      June 14, 2015
  45. I’ve never used the gradient tool! Is that why so many of your images look very dramatic? Maybe I should give it a shot.

    June 14, 2015
    • I think so Sabina, I like that effect. Maybe you should, give it a go, thanks.

      June 14, 2015
  46. A few favorite things to do with Photoshop:
    1. Layers and blending modes;
    2. Gaussian Blur;
    3. Creating actions;
    4. Adobe Camera Raw.
    And I agree, i prefer PS to Lr. 🙂

    June 16, 2015
    • I forgot about blending modes which is a bit silly as I use them all the time. I have forced myself to use Lightroom and there are things around it I like, but when it comes to the real processing I always go to PS. Thanks for sharing your favourites.

      June 16, 2015
  47. Beautiful! I also use Topaz Labs as a filter for Photoshop and have had a lot of fun results. Love your photoshopped pictures! I’ve taken some from Scotland and enhanced the colors, that were beautiful, but my camera just didn’t showcase the colors like that. In one, the fall colors danced off the river and the back of a black Highland cow, and by enhancing the colors, it really showed how beautiful that was.

    June 16, 2015
    • I have really played with the Topaz Labs stuff, I have the Nik collection and recently got the On1 software and trying to find time to work out how to use it more, it looks good too. That can be a problem with cameras, I also find the screen on the back of my camera doesn’t always give a good representation of what I’m seeing so I’m learning to wait until I see it on the computer. But you do have to do some of that, enhance to get what you saw. Sounds good Terry. Thanks for sharing that.

      June 16, 2015
  48. I believe my dad uses Lightroom… and I think it’s amazing watching to see what he can do to his pictures… while I think it takes a talent to figure out what will look good in a picture… I think it’s more the artistic touch when editing… with the lighting and accentuating colors… I find it fascinating but I don’t think I’d ever have the patience for it…

    June 16, 2015
    • The editing software is pretty amazing, they say if you can dream it you can do it. YOu would be surprised how quickly you can do things. I am not a patient person, but I have lots for this.

      June 17, 2015
  49. shandryss #

    Great presentation!

    June 17, 2015
  50. LuckyestGirl #

    Incredible photos!

    June 17, 2015
  51. Leanne great clicks…. which camera do you have..> :p

    June 20, 2015
  52. Wonderful information on your site .. will use it on pour product photography and model’s glamour photos

    June 21, 2015
    • Thank you, that’s good to hear, I hope it helps.

      June 22, 2015

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: