147 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything

Tip 131. Darker edges

To quickly create a vignette around an multi-layered image, click on the top layer in the stack and press Ctrl/Cmd+Alt+Shift+E. 

This will collapse everything visible into a new layer. Now go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter, and select the FX tab. 

Under Post Crop Vignetting, move Amount to the left for a dark vignette, or right for a bright one, and adjust the look with Feather Roundness.

Tip 132. Stay in control of contrast

Curves is an amazing tool that offers the connoisseur’s route to contrast control. With it, you can create an S-curve that darkens lower midtones and brightens upper midtones at the same time. 

Make a Curves Adjustment Layer, then pull the line down at the bottom and push it up at the top.

Tip 133. Zoom smarter

To zoom and out in a smarter way, assign the zoom function to the scroll wheel of your mouse. Go to Edit > Preferences > Tools and tick the Zoom With Scroll Wheel box to enable it.

Tip 134. Control your adjustment layers

If you add an Adjustment Layer, it will affect all the layers beneath it in the Layers stack. 

To make it only affect the layer immediately beneath it, hold Alt and click on the line between the Adjustment Layer and the layer beneath. This ‘clips’ the layer and restricts its effect.

Tip 135. Get help with composition

Call up a little assistance in framing by choosing the right Crop Overlay. Click on the dropdown menu in the Crop tool’s option bar, and you can choose from six different options to get you composing like a pro.

Tip 136. Spot-on selections

When you’re making a selection with a Marquee tool, it can be tricky to be precise with your starting point. 

Start to drag out the selection then immediately hold the spacebar without releasing the mouse. You can now move the starting point  around to get it exactly right before continuing.

Tip 137. Sample a colour - fast!

When you’re painting with the Brush tool and want to switch to a different colour within the image, hold down Alt, click anywhere on the image and the colour will be imported into the foreground colour swatch.

Tip 138. Check your masks

When masking, it’s easy to miss out areas when you’re absorbed in the imaging process. 

To check your mask is well-made and complete, hold Alt and click on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. This will show the mask alone, and allow you to paint in any gaps. 

To revert, just Alt-click on it again.

Tip 139. Reset if you fluff it!

If things go wrong when you’re adjusting the settings in a palette and you mess up the image, the obvious bail-out is the Cancel button. This will exit the palette and restore your original pic. 

Instead of doing this, hold Alt and the Cancel will become a Reset button. Click this and you’ll return to your starting point without having to exit the palette and reopen it.

Tip 140. Boost or cut specific colours

Within the HSL panel in Lightroom and Camera Raw, you can radically enhance the colours in a scene by adjusting any of eight individual hues. 

To ramp up the blue in a sky, click on the Saturation tab and increase Blues, then click on Lightness and decrease Blues. To adjust the colour of the sky, use the same slider under the Hue tab.