Our 15 most popular photo editing tutorials of 2012

Photoshop Effects: how to mimic studio lighting for stylish portraits

It can be hard keeping up with anything on a daily basis, let alone a photography blog, when you have all of your daily responsibilities to take care of first. We know you don’t have time to read everyday, so to bring you up to speed on what you may have missed over the past year, we’ve rounded up our 15 most popular photo editing tutorials of 2012.

Each of the photo editing tutorials below offers step-by-step advice for creating simple Photoshop effects on down to getting to know some of the basic Photoshop tools and features. Editing raw format files was also a popular subject this year – so much so we launched our ongoing Raw Tuesday series, dedicating space to the subject each week!

If you haven’t yet, take a look at the photo editing tutorials below; we’re pretty sure they’ll help make you a more well-rounded photographer in the digital darkroom.

1) Blend Modes: the 10 best blends for photographers (and how to use them)

Blend Modes: the 10 best blends for photographers (and how to use them)

When it comes to digital photography and combining or enhancing images, there are two essential components – your layers and the Blend Mode you choose to work with. We’ll talk about layers in a later post; today we want to focus on the Photoshop Blend Modes and identify some of the best blends for photographers. In this post we’ll first look at some of the ways you can blend your layers together, and then we’ll list the 10 best Blend Modes you can use to enhance your photos


2) Photoshop Layers Demystified: a beginner’s guide to smarter photo editing

Photoshop Layers Explained: a beginner's guide to post-processing the smart way

It’s a given that layers are key to successful image editing in Photoshop but, for novices, layer lore can still seem like a black art. In this post we’re going to demonstrate how user-friendly and essential Photoshop layers are to you.

In a nutshell, layers enable you to work on one part of an image without affecting others. You can change the opacity of layers, so they’re opaque or barely visible. You can move layers, mask and subtly blend them.


3) 101 Photoshop tips you have to know

101 Photoshop tips and tricks

Are your photo editing skills a little on the slow side? Could your Photoshop knowledge be better? If so, you’re in the right place. Below we’ve culled from experts 101 of the best Photoshop tips and tricks you need to streamline your photo editing skills and start working faster and smarter.

We’ve broken our list down into categories of Quick tips, Adobe Camera Raw and Bridge tips, Tips for using Layers, Tips for using Photoshop’s many tools and, finally, Tips for using Brushes. We hope our round-up of cunning techniques, shortcuts and cool effects gives you the help you need, and if you have a suggestion for something we missed… let us know!


4) Photoshop Effects: how to mimic studio lighting for stylish portraits

Photoshop Effects: how to mimic studio lighting for stylish portraits

Shooting in an actual studio isn’t a possibility for many of us. Thankfully, you can harness the power of different Photoshop effects to recreate the look of studio lighting to make your portraits more striking. Below we show you how it’s done in our latest Photoshop tutorial.


5) 6 photo editing steps every photographer should know

Photo editing was at one time a controversial step for photographers. The wide capabilities of software like Photoshop made post-processing a quiet, private affair. No longer. It’s generally accepted now that even the best images can benefit from a few basic enhancements with photo editing software.

Here we’ve listed these essential photo editing adjustments in the order in which you should make them for the most efficient work process, or ‘workflow’.


6) 5 things you need to know before shooting raw files

Shooting raw files has become one of the most important photography tips we offer our readers on a daily basis. Yet while most photographers agree it’s important to shoot raw files, the nuance of fine-tuning and editing raw files is often at the top of said photographers’ list of most common photography problems.

In our weekly series, Raw Tuesday, we aim to demystify the experience of using the raw format. In our first installment we asked the question, ‘What are raw files?’ as well as address four other key things you need to know before shooting.


7) 50 free Photoshop actions for portrait photographers

50 free Photoshop actions for portrait photographers

Our free Photoshop actions offer all sorts of creative Photoshop effects to apply to your images, such as classic sepia tones and black and white photography treatments, ranging to funky psychedelic colours, cross-processing and high-key portraits.


8) How to retouch photos: pro techniques in 10 easy steps

How to retouch photos like a professional: a quick and easy 10-step Photoshop tutorial

In this Photoshop tutorial we cover subtle body slimming and reshaping, skin smoothing and colouration, and background lightening, all on different layers, as well as hopefully give you some new Photoshop tips along the way. All you’ll need for this project is Photoshop CS or above and about 30 minutes.


9) What to edit (and when) in Adobe Camera Raw

OK, so you’ve opened your raw files in Adobe Camera Raw. In which order should you do what? Because Adobe Camera Raw offers so many ways of editing raw files, you may assume it doesn’t matter which you use and when.

However, some adjustments, such as white balance, will obviously have an impact on the effect of others, such as exposure.

For this reason, it’s best to try and make your raw adjustments in this order…


10 Photoshop Retouching: a really simple tutorial for making every portrait perfect

Photoshop Retouching Made Easy: a really simple technique for making every portrait perfect

When it comes to portraits, everyone wants to look their best. But with today’s high-resolution SLRs, every spot, blemish and flaw can appear in startling detail. There are of course a few shooting techniques you can use to minimise these, such as bouncing light with reflectors to avoid strong shadows, and using off-camera flash to control the direction of the light to complement the model.

However, you don’t need to get bogged down with different techniques and equipment to get great portraits, because Elements has a range of tools specially designed for seamless Photoshop retouching.


11) Sell Photos Online: edit your pictures to make money through microstock

As one improves as a photographer, you might find yourself asking less about photography tips and techniques and instead how to make money from photography. One popular method is to sell photos online via one of the numerous microstock libraries.

In this post we show you how to prepare and edit your pictures so that when you go to sell photos online through a microstock library you stand the best chance of making money.


12) 20 tips for faster photo editing

Want to take your photo editing skills to the next level? We take a look at 20 essential tips that will have you working faster and smarter with Photoshop in no time. We cover everything you need to know – how to import and organise your photo; getting more from raw files; adding impact to your images; and the secrets of retouching creatively. Whether this is your first foray into photo editing or you need to fine-tune your techniques, this is your essential guide.


13) How to make a perfect Photoshop cut-out

How to make a perfect Photoshop cut-out: final image

Sometimes you can’t avoid shooting a subject in front of a background that’s not particularly interesting, and one way of making such backdrops less distracting is to shoot with a wide aperture setting, creating a shallow depth of field to blur the background and let the eye focus on your subject. Alternatively you can make a Photoshop cut-out of the person and drop them into a more interesting setting!

Here we show you how to use these tools to transplant a city-dwelling subject into a more flattering and attractive location, and how to fine-tune the results of the Refine Edge command still further by using Layer Masks and Blending Modes.


14) Make a fake bokeh effect in photoshop Elements

Photoshop Effects: make a fake bokeh effect in Photoshop Elements

Out-of-focus highlights often result in spots known as ‘bokeh’. The bokeh effect is particularly apparent at night, when lights from street lamps, windows and cars are captured as pretty patterns.

How the bokeh effect looks is determined by several factors. Aperture, focal length and distance from a subject all play a part, as do lens quality and number of aperture blades.

While it’s satisfying to capture bokeh in-camera, success is dependent on location and background detail. Alternatively, you can add bokeh in post-processing, as we show here.


15) Photoshop Effects: recreate the look of a medium format portrait

Photoshop Effects: how to recreate a medium format portrait

Colour, or the absence of it, plays a crucial role in portraiture. By manipulating colour and tone to create diferent Photoshop effects you can create striking portraits that really stand out from the crowd.

Here, we’ll show you how to give your portraits an edgy, stylish, ultra-detailed finish often seen in modern portrait photography. We’ll use subtle variations in saturation, brightness and contrast to achieve similar results. What you’ll need is Photoshop CS4 or higher.


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