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

Tip 97. Hide selection lines

If the dotted line of a selection is making it difficult to see an adjustment you’re making, press H to hide the ‘marching ants’ then make the adjustment without any distractions. Pressing H again will reveal the selection.

Tip 98. Stretch out a sky

If you want more blue sky above your subject, go to Image > Canvas Size. Put 20 % in Height, tick the Relative box, and click the middle-bottom Anchor box. 

Click OK, then make a thin selection along the top edge of the existing sky using the Rectangular Marquee tool. Press Ctrl/Cmd+T to go into Transform mode. 

Pull the top-middle handle upwards to create headroom.

Tip 99. Lose your palettes

To see a pic without distractions, press Tab and you’ll hide all the palettes and tools. To restore them, press Tab again. To lose everything except the Toolbox, press Shift+Tab.

Tip 100. Lose your unwanted layers

Getting rid of layers you don’t need is slow going if you drag them to the trash icon in the Layers panel. 

To quickly delete one layer, right-click on it and select Delete Layer. 

If you want to delete multiple layers, hold down Ctrl/Cmd and click on their names to select them, then right-click on one and select Delete Layers.

Tip 101. Go full screen

To see your image as large as possible on-screen, press Ctrl/ Cmd+0 (zero). Repeatedly press F to see the pic in different view modes. 

Tip 102. Add a white border

To apply a swift white border, first open your pic then press D to reset the colours to black and white. 

Now press Ctrl/Cmd+A to select the image, and Ctrl/Cmd+T to enter Transform mode. 

Hold Alt +Shift and drag in a corner handle to make a white surround in proportion. Press Return, and you’ll have a clean white border with very little fuss.

Tip 103. See a single layer

With a multi-layered image, there are times when you want to see what’s on a particular layer. Alt-click on the eye icon of the layer in the Layers panel. This will turn off all the other layers.

Tip 104. Add a bleach bypass in seconds

To boost contrast and give a stylised look to a pic, press Ctrl/Cmd+J to duplicate the image onto a new Layer, and then press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+U to get rid of the colour. 

You’ll see a mono image, but change the Blend mode to Soft Light in the Layers panel, and the black-and-white layer will be blended with the colour to boost contrast and tone down the saturation, giving an attractive bleached look.

Tip 105. Speed up filter use

To repeat a filter and boost its effect, press Ctrl/Cmd+F to reapply the last filter you used. This is a fast way of making blur filters more blurry.

Tip 106. Save for the web with precision

When you’re saving JPEGs of pictures for web use, make sure you use the dedicated File > Export > Save for Web feature. 

Set the Preset to JPEG High, and use the options to resize, adjust and compare different quality settings – and even preview it on a web page. 

You’ll find it’s a much smarter way than using File > Save As, choosing JPEG, and guessing the rest!

Tip 107. Change your mind on filter settings

If you’ve gone too far with a filter effect and want to dial back the settings, press Ctrl/Cmd+Z to undo the filter. 

You’ll see the image return to its pre-filtered state. If you now press Ctrl/Cmd+Alt+F, you’ll bring up the Filter dialog box without having to reselect it. Change the settings and click OK.

Tip 108. Use Dehaze for contrast

Found in the FX panel of Lightroom or Camera Raw, the Dehaze slider is designed to reduce atmospheric haze in scenic shots, but it can also be used as a powerful contrast control. 

To quickly apply a contrast boost, slide it to the right; and to reduce contrast, take it to the left.

Tip 109. Pick the right colour

When you need a pure colour in the Color Picker, it’s impossible to directly click right in the corner to get pure white, pure black or the colour you have.

 To get your cursor right to the edge, click anywhere on the Picker and drag the cursor to the corner you want. This will get you the pure colour you’re after.

Tip 110. Get moving

You can move a layer or a selection in any direction by selecting the Move tool (shortcut V) and dragging the mouse. But if you want to be really precise, you can tap the cursor keys on the keyboard to move the item in 1-pixel amounts. 

If you hold down the Shift key while tapping the cursor keys, you’ll move the item in 10-pixel increments.

Tip 111. Be consistent in cropping

When you need a set of pictures all the same size, make life easy by creating a crop preset. 

Select the Crop tool and in the Options bar, key in the width, height and resolution you want (eg, 21 cm, 29.7 cm, 300 px/in). 

Now click the first drop-down menu and select New Crop Preset. In the dialog box, change the name if required, and click OK to save your custom size. Use this whenever you need it! 

Tip 112. Before and after views: the easy way

When you convert a raw file, it’s handy to see a ‘before’ and ‘after’ version of your changes to keep track of how your picture is progressing. 

Clicking repeatedly on the Y icon at the bottom of the interface in Lightroom or Camera Raw will cycle through the different modes. To exit, click on the full-screen icon alongside.

Tip 113. Recompose with Transform

The Crop tool isn’t always the best way to reframe an image. Instead press Ctrl/Cmd+A to select the image, then Ctrl/ Cmd+T to enter Transform mode. 

Now hold down Ctrl/ Cmd and pull out the corner handles of the bounding box to reshape your image to the frame. 

When you’re done, press Return to confirm. With this method, you can improve composition while you crop.

Tip 114. Set your black point

When converting raw files in Lightroom or Camera Raw, Set your black point by Alt-dragging the Blacks slider to the left. You’ll see a mask view where true black occurs: this provides a great way to set the darkest parts of an image. 

You can do the same with Alt and the Whites slider to set a white point.

Tip 115. Correct your lens

Before doing anything else to a raw file in Lightroom or Camera Raw, go to Lens Corrections and tick the Remove Chromatic Aberrations and Enable Profile Corrections boxes. 

This will automatically detect the lens used and compensate for any colour fringing or distortion that’s present.

Tip 116. Go back in time with Undo

To undo the last thing you did, press Ctrl/Cmd+Z. If you want to step back further, press Ctrl/Cmd+Alt+Z. 

At the default settings, you can go back up to 20 states, but if you want more, you can increase the number of History States in Edit > Preferences. (Select Photoshop > Preferences if you’re using macOS).

Tip 117. Make a calculation

To get a great mono conversion, open your image and go to Image > Calculations. In the dialog box, the Source and Layer boxes will be identical, but by varying Channel, Blending mode and Opacity, you’ll get different black-and-white results. 

For high-impact scenes shot with bags of contrast, try Red, Red, Multiply. 

Make sure the Result box is set to New Document, and when you click OK you’ll  get a great-looking mono pic.

Tip 118. Make a Background layer editable

If you want to move a Background layer higher in your Layers stack, you need to convert it into an editable layer first. 

To do this quickly, hold Alt and double-click on the layer’s name. It will be instantly turned into an editable layer. 

Tip 119. Clone like a pro!

If you need to clean up an image with some cloning, create a new layer in the Layers panel. With the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush tool selected, make sure that Sample: All Layers is selected in the Options bar. 

Now clone or heal away, and all the cloning work will be placed on the new layer, leaving your original untouched if you change your mind later. 

Tip 120. Apply a slick keyline border

To add a crisp, thin, black border to an image, press D to reset your colours to black and white, then press Ctrl/ Cmd+A to select it all. 

Now go to Edit > Stroke, and in the dialog box, set Width to 10 px and choose Inside under Location. Click OK.

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147 photo tips and tricks