Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Managing Sharing in Google Docs

Google docs makes shared viewing and editing of documents easy and neat.

To begin sharing a document, click the blue Share button in the top right corner. You will immediately be given a share link, but there are a few important options to consider before you hand it out.

In the Who has access section you can change the privacy settings for the document. By default it is set to private; you must give explicit permission to anyone you want to access the document by entering their email or some other contact detail, such as their name. You can also set the privacy to public on the web and anyone with the link. The only difference between these options is that your document will be viewable through Google searches and other public indexes using the public option, while viewers will have to receive a specific link to view the document using the latter option.

It is also important to set exactly how much access others have to your document. When you add a contact to your share list, they have editing capabilities by default. To change this, click can edit while adding the contact and select their preferred capabilities. You can allow them to simply view, comment, or have full editing power. But you’re not quite done yet. If you click the [change] button at the very bottom of the share window, you can decide whether editors can give access too. By default, editors are allowed to do anything that the document’s owner can except to delete the document. If you want to keep for yourself the right to decide who can view the document, make sure to set this to only the owner can change the permissions.

Once you are done configuring your share settings, simply click Done. Everyone you added to the share list will receive an email notifying them of their ability to view the document.



Helen Bradley

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

57 Secrets for Working Smarter in Photoshop


57 Secrets guaranteed to help you work smarter and faster and more effectively in Photoshop – what’s not to like about that?

Yeah! At last my new book is out. 57 Secrets for Working Smarter in Photoshop. It is updated to Photoshop CS6 and covers all the recent Photoshop versions.

The book is available as an e-book or a printed book from Amazon here or for the Kindle here. It is chock full of secrets you can put to work every day from making fixes without making selections to saving details of all the work you do in Photoshop so you can recreate an effect on an image. If you’re new to Photoshop or a seasoned user there is something in this book for you.

Everything is provided in a step by step format so you know not only what to do but you can follow the steps to do it.


Helen Bradley

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Copy a Channel to a Layer in Photoshop

Want to take a channel and make it into a layer in Photoshop – Easier than you might think, and here’s how…

Sometimes you want to get a high contrast version of your image as a new layer in the image and sometimes the channels palette has just the layer you want. Luckily it is easy to make a channel into a layer.

To see this at work open an image – flowers are great for this. Choose Window > Channels and click a channel – typically the Green channel is the best (although for this blue flower red is the best – but that’s unusual). You should see a black and white image.

Press Control + A (Command + A on the Mac) to select the image and press Control (Command) + C to copy it.

Now reselect the RGB channel in the channels layer so you see your image back. This is critical and also the most overlooked step.

Add a new layer to the image by selecting Layer > New > Layer. Click in it and press Control (Command) + V to paste the selection back into the image – it comes in as a new layer. Simple when you know how.


Helen Bradley

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Make time to Photograph – the only thing holding you back is yourself

If you think you have to ‘go’ somewhere to get great pics, you don’t – you just need to look around you and start shooting – every day

I met this guy in London recently when I was photographing around Brick Lane. That area of London is famous for its graffiti and I had the rare pleasure of meeting some of the graffiti artists there including Stik. But I digress. The reason this guy is so interesting is that he photographs – nearly every day. He works in the area and he heads out at Lunchtime to take photos.

You might be prepared to shrug off his enthusiasm for his craft because of where he lives and works. Let’s face it –  he gets to shoot some pretty awesome stuff. But so do any one of us if we look around us. Anywhere you live will give you fodder to shoot – you just have to go looking for it. Some of my best images have been shot within a mile of my house and sometimes just a few hundred feet. I know that because I walk the same route most mornings from Starbucks to my office. I carry my camera and I shoot whatever I see that captures my eye. So too does this guy.

If you feel frustrated you can’t get out to shoot often enough, I challenge you to go out during lunch time. Spend half of it eating and half photographing and you will end up with an hour or more shooting time each week. It’s not hard, it just takes commitment. So that’s why I take my hat off to this nameless London worker/photographer. He’s working a 9-5 but he’s still indulging his passion!


Helen Bradley

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

NO DVD play back or DVD Burner in Windows 8

Image credit Pawel 231
Are you searching Windows 8 for its  DVD player and DVD burner? Well stop wasting time – they aren’t there

Yep, that’s right. Windows 8 ships without a built in DVD burner and there is no installed DVD player software either. If you don’t have a DVD drive and I guess Microsoft thinks they are so “yesterday’s technology” you’re OK. But I still have a DVD drive and so do millions of others. The worst part of this is that Microsoft doesn’t warn you there’s no DVD burner or player – you have to work that out yourself.

So, all across the world, every day, thousands of man and woman hours are being wasted looking for something which, let’s face it, should be there, but isn’t. Gee, thanks a bunch for that Microsoft!

So, here’s what to do if you have a brand new Windows 8 computer or if you’ve upgraded to Windows 8 and you have a DVD drive.

1 Stop looking. There is no DVD burner and no built in DVD player. If you have either of these on your Win 8 machine it didn’t come with Windows 8 – your PC manufacturer (or tech savvy daughter or son), put it there.

2 Get the software. The best solution if you’re using Windows 8 Pro, although I hate to suggest it is to shell out $9.99 to Microsoft for the Media Center software. This isn’t included in Windows 8 but can be downloaded and installed. You use this to play DVDs on your PC. To get it, launch Windows 8, tap Windows + Q (Search) and in the box type Add Features and tap Settings. Tap Add features to Windows 8 and then click I want to buy a product key online and you can go ahead and buy Media Center.

Now, there is one caveat. If this option doesn’t appear (and it may not because Microsoft left it out of some versions of Windows 8 such as the UK version and other users have reported it as disappearing once it is used the first time – yeah! well done Microsoft!) you can try this. Click Windows + Q, type System and tap Settings and click System.  Now click View Details in Windows Activation. Once there you may find a link to add features or click Buy Windows for another computer to go to the website to buy Media Center – search for it when you get there. Until Jan 31, 2013 if you use Windows Pro you can get a licence code that lets you download it free of charge, otherwise it costs $9.99 if you’re using Windows Pro – it will cost a huge chunk of change if you’re using the Home version though.

3 If this all sounds like too much trouble, download the free opensource VLC Media player which is compatible with Windows 8 from all the open source folk love it.

4 To burn DVDs you need a DVD burner and the Windows DVD program no longer exists in Windows 8, so, you’ll need some burning software. There are plenty of programs around from folks like Nero but they can be pretty costly and not all are compatible with Windows 8 . If you just need a very simple burner, try Ashampoo Burning Studio Free 2013 – the Ashampoo products are great and the company does a good line in simple to use CD and DVD burners that don’t need a degree in computing to operate. Get the free version from Softpedia here or from CNET here.

Bonus Tip – where to find a list of features missing from Windows 8

If you’re searching for features that you think should be in Windows 8 but you can’t find, check this Wikipedia article: Features removed from Windows 8 for a handy list of what is missing from Windows 8 – it might save you some wasted time.




Helen Bradley

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Change your default font settings in Google Docs

You can easily change your default font settings in Google docs using styles.


To change your default text style for all future documents, you must first update the Normal text style. Highlight some text with the formatting you want to adopt as your default, open the styles dropdown menu, and click the arrow next to Normal text. In the resulting menu, select Update ‘Normal Text’ to match. This redefines the Normal text style to match the selected text. To make this change permanent, open up the style menu again and select Options > Save as my default styles. This means that the new Normal text style will be used for all future documents. In this way you can set, for example, 12-point Times New Roman as your default font for Google docs.

If you ever want to undo all style changes, return to the options menu and select Reset styles. This will reset them to the original default settings, but only within that document, so you must then choose Save as my default styles again if you wish to make the reset permanent.

Helen Bradley

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Photoshop Layers Tips and Tricks

Learn how to create and use layers in Photoshop, in all versions. Includes how to unlock the background layer and how to add and fill new layers.


Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial we’re going to look at some tips, techniques and tricks for working with layers in Photoshop. When you’re working with an image in Photoshop CS4 and later you’ll probably be working in this tabbed interface. It’s not my personal preference but we’re going to look at working in it and then also why you might look at other ways of working in Photoshop.

The first thing we’ll look at is the Background Layer. Now any image that you open from your camera is always going to have just one layer and it’s always going to be the Background Layer and it’s always going to be locked. In addition if you add a layer, I’m just going to add a filled layer to this image, I can’t drag this layer below the Background Layer. I can’t move the Background Layer above it. The Background Layer is in a sense fixed and there’s nothing much we can do with this image until we unlock the Background Layer. There are few a few ways to do that and the easiest I think is just to grab this little icon here which is the Lock icon and just drag and drop it into the trash and then this converts the Background Layer to a regular layer. Let’s just undo that and see some other ways. We can right click and choose Layer from Background. That has the same effect except that this time we get a chance of naming our layer. We can just click Ok. Let’s undo that again. We can also go up here with the layer selected and choose Layer, New and choose Layer from Background and again click Ok. But honestly I think dragging and dropping this Lock icon is probably the easiest way to convert a Background Layer into a regular layer.

Now you saw me earlier create a new layer. There are lots of ways again that you can create a new layer in Photoshop. You can do Layer, New, Layer or if you have a selection you can choose Layer, New, Layer via Copy so the selection will be copied to a new layer or Layer via Cut where your selection will be cut from the current layer and copied to a new layer. But another way of doing that is just clicking here on the New Layer icon that just creates a brand new layer. And you can drag it into position. You can also delete it by just dropping the layer onto the Delete icon. If I hold the Ctrl key as I click this New Layer icon the layer that I add is below the current layer. So just clicking on this icon adds a layer above. If we Ctrl Click on the icon we add a layer below. So you can target exactly where the layer goes. Let’s add one below this image, Ctrl and click on this icon.

Now I want to fill this layer with this green color which is the current foreground color. A quick and easy way to do that is to hold the Alt key and press Backspace on the PC. That’s Option and Delete on the Mac. That fills this layer with the currently selected foreground color. If I do Ctrl Backspace, Command Delete on the Mac, we fill this layer with the background color. Now we could do that just as easily using this Paint Bucket tool, target the layer and click on the layer that we want to add the color to. But it’s whatever suits you. I find those Alt and Option, Ctrl and Command, Backspace and Delete keys really easy to remember and very easy to do. I’m Just going to trash this layer.

Now I have another image open here and I want to start creating a collage from these two so I want to take this particular layer and drop it onto this image here. Now previous to Photoshop CS4 that used to be easy. Now it’s a pain in the neck but we live with it. I’ve created this as a new layer so it’s not the Background Layer any longer. I’m going to target the Move tool and I’m going to with this layer content selected I’m going to drag on it. And I’m going to drag it up here to the image that I want to paste it into and then I’m going to bring my cursor down. And because I want this centered I’ll hold the Shift key to center it over the middle. And now you can see I have two images, one on one layer, one on the other layer.

Now previous to Photoshop CS4 we didn’t have this tabbed interface. What we had was documents that were just floating and that made life just I think a lot easier. So I’m just going to trash this layer now and see. If you want to unfloat your windows by dragging them off the top bar here then you can simply target this layer and just drag and drop it into another image that easily. So I find that an easier way to work. If you do like the tabbed interface then let’s go back into this tabbed interface.

What we could do is choose Arrange two up Vertical and this would allow us to drag and drop. So in this case I’m going to take this Background Layer and drop it into here. So you can do it with the tabbed interface. It’s just your preference of ways of doing it.

Now we’re back with these two images. I’m going to close down one of them. Well actually I’m going to go back and arrange these images so I’m seeing just the images on a tab and I want this particular one which has two layers on it. I’m going to add a layer mask so I’ll just click the layer I want a Layer Mask on and click the Layer Mask. I’m just going to fill this mask with a Gradient because I want to show you a trick with layers. So let’s just blend these two layers together using a mask to do so. I’ve got my mask selected, a black and white gradient and I’m using a linear gradient. I’m just going to drag a simple linear gradient into the image. So we’ve now got these two images blended together, not particularly attractive, but that’s not really a big problem right now. I’m going to add an adjustment layer so let’s just add an Adjustment Layer. We’ll convert this to black and white just so that we have something to look at here. And I’m going to just make the blues a little bit lighter. Now we have this image.

Now if I wanted to sharpen it for example more appropriate to the web or something I would need to flatten it because you can’t sharpen multiple layers at once. So I would typically go and flatten this image. But if I hold Ctrl and Alt and Shift and press the letter E, that’s Command Option Shift E on the Mac, look what happens. I get a layer which is the merged image. It’s called stamp but what I also have is the original layers still underneath so I could use those later if I for example wanted to come back here and make this layer a little bit transparent so we got some of the color removed but not all of the color. So then I could go back and recreate my merged layer with Ctrl Alt Shift E, Command Option Shift E on the Mac. And then I could sharpen this layer. So this is a sort of have your layers and eat it too so you’ve got everything on one layer but you’ve also got the existing layers in case you ever need them.

Now up until now I’ve been dragging and dropping a layer onto the trashcan to remove it. Let’s just undo that. There’s also a way to delete a layer and that is just pressing the Delete key on the keyboard. You want to be in the layer itself. Right now I seem to be stuck in the opacity area here so let’s just click in the layer, press Delete and the layer has been deleted.

So there are some layer tips and tricks for you in Photoshop. I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Look out for more of my tutorials here on this YouTube channel and visit for more tutorials, tips, tricks and techniques for Lightroom, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and lots more.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Output from Lightroom to your blog

I use Lightroom to prepare the images ready to upload to my blogs so it’s critical that I can get them out of Lightroom all ready to upload without having to do any more work on them.

On one blog I use framed images and therein lies a problem – the images need a thin keyline around them so you can see the edge. Without an edge the image would just blend into the surrounding white background of the blog page.

So, here’s how to create a frame effect in Lightroom – the images will be sized for the web with the appropriate resolution, they will have a frame around them, together with my name, and they will have a keyline around the image and around the page itself. And, to finish, it will all be saved as a reusable template.

Start outside Lightroom in any graphics or photo-editing program and create an image 500 x 600 pixels in size and filled with white. Save it as a jpeg format image and import it into Lightroom – place it somewhere easy to find.

Then, in Lightroom place the images for the blog post into a collection and add the empty image you just created to the same collection. For convenience I use a single collection for the images destined for my blog – it makes them easier to find and it simplifies the output process.

Switch to the Print module and select the collection. To configure the document size, from the Layout Style panel select Custom Package and from the Print Job panel set Print To to read JPEG file. Set the File Resolution to 100 ppi and select the Custom File Dimensions to 5 in x 4 in to make a landscape orientation image which will ultimately be created as a 500 x 400 pixel image. Set Color Management Profile to sRGB.

Now, drag and drop the first image into the work area and size it to suit. Choose Image Settings > Inner Stroke and then set the width to 0.2 pt black line. This will appear around the image.

Now drag the empty white image into an empty place in the work area and then size it to just smaller than the size of the work area. It will automatically have a line around it – the Inner Stroke setting is applied to all the images. To place this image behind the first image, right click it and choose Send to Back.

The text is added using an Identity Plate. To make one, click the Page panel and enable the Identity Plate checkbox. Click the small triangle in the Identity Plate box and click Edit and then click Use a styled text identity plate.  Type the Identity Plate text – for example, mine reads Helen Bradley | Photography – select and format it as desired. Click the Custom button, click Save As and type a name for it, click Save and then Ok to add it. Move it into position and size it to suit.

When you’re done click Print to File to print the image.

To save the design as a template you can use over and over again, click the + opposite Template Browser in the left panel. Type a name for the template.

In future you can select this template and use it to print another image. Before you do so, you will need to drag and drop an image into the image placeholder and add the empty image to the larger  placeholder. If you want to be able to print portrait orientation images, repeat the process to create a second template – you can reuse the empty image and the Identity Plate.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Create Complex Mathematical Equations in Google Docs

It can often be difficult to represent more complex mathematical equations in a word processor. Google Docs makes it easy with the equation toolbar. To activate it, select View > Show equation toolbar.

To create your equation, simply click New equation and begin filling it in with operations from the insert function dropdown menus. Even if you require none of the special operations provided, the New equation feature will also neatly format simple equations that can be entered using the keyboard.

Helen Bradley

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Photoshop – Select tools with shortcut keys


Learn how to cycle around the tools in the Tool panel in Photoshop using shortcuts

When you want to select tools on the Photoshop tool panel using the keyboard, you can do so using the shortcut key listed to its right in the tool panel.

If more than one tool shares the same letter, hold the Shift key as you press the character for that tool to cycle around the tools which share that letter. Stop when you get to the one you want.


Helen Bradley

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