Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Using a Split Tone effect on a Black and White Image

Split Toning a Black and White Image – learn how to make the Highlights and Shadows Different Colors

Split Toning applies one color to the highlights and another to the shadows in an image.

Good color choices when applying a split tone are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel such as magenta and green, blue and yellow, or red and cyan – although you can choose any combination you like.

To apply the split tone effect, drag on the Hue slider or click the color picker to choose a color to use for the Highlights and then choose something else to use for the Shadows.

Adjust the Saturation of the colors as desired.

Balance allows you to fine tune how the colors are applied to the image – drag to the left to adjust the balance towards the shadow color and drag to the right to add more of the highlight color.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Word 2010 and 2013 Tip – Making shapely images

Crop your image to a shape in Word
It is easy to crop an image to a shape such as a star or a heart in Word by using the Crop to Shape feature.

First add the image to your document then click to select it. From the Picture Tools > Format tab click Crop > Crop to Shape.

Select the shape to use to crop the image to. You can then add a shadow or reflection or other effect to the shape as desired.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Lightroom Tip – Recover Detail from Shadows in an image

Find Lost Details Hidden in Shadows and Darker Parts of an Image

When you have an image that has details lost in the shadows or darker areas of the image, the Fill Light slider in Lightroom 3 or the Shadows slider in Lightroom 4 can be used to recover this detail.

Don’t use either of these as a tool for lightening an image or to lighten shadows if there is nothing interesting in the shadows. Use them instead when you want to get some interesting detail out of the shadows.

The result of using the Fill Light and sometimes using the Shadow tool is that some contrast in the image will be lost – so you nay need to increase Contrast as a result of using the Fill Light slider in Lightroom 3 or apply a tone curve adjustment in Lightroom 4.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Photoshop – Line Drawing Techniques for Maps

Learn how to create uneven lines that look hand drawn to use for cartography and other uses in Photoshop. Make use of Hue/Saturation adjustment to add vintage color, use brushes to create a pattern for the lines. Also, show how to render lines in black and white without any shades of grey and, lastly, how to distort them slightly. This video also shows how to add shadow around land mass and multiple lines of edging for a land mass.

Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you some line drawing techniques for creating maps in Photoshop. In this video I’m going to show you how you can create the effect that we have here around the edge of this chart. We’re going to draw the edge. We’re going to add this shading and also create these lines so that we can see how this could be created. The pattern in the middle is just a very simple pattern fill. We won’t be covering that, but we’ll be covering everything else in this video tutorial.

So to get started I’m going to start with a new image. And I’m going to choose File and then New. And I’m going to create a very tall image. So it’s going to be 2,000 pixels tall, RGB color. Background contents of white is just fine, so I’ll just click Ok to create that image.

And what I want to do first of all is to create these lines. And we’re going to do that using a paintbrush. So I’m going to click on the paintbrush and let’s select a brush to use. And what I want is something relatively small so I’m going to start with something like this 4 pixel brush. And then I’m going to choose Window and then Brush to open this brushes panel here. And what I want to do is to set up the brush so it’s going to paint the lines for me. So first of all I’m going to adjust the spacing so that there’s increased spacing between the brush tips. And I’m going to leave the size at about 4 pixels. Then I’m going to shape dynamics because I want the size of the brush to vary.

So I’m going to increase this quite a bit so we start seeing that there’s some variety in the brush here. Minimum diameter I don’t want to change at all. And that’s pretty much all I need to do with the brush right now. And then I’m going to test it. So I’m going to make sure that I have black set as my background or foreground color, which it is here. And then I’m going to click with my brush here and I’m going to Shift click at the bottom because that will create a straight line of brush strokes. And let’s just have a look in here a bit closer at this.

You can see that we now have this sort of dotted line which is different varieties of line. Now if that’s not quite what I want I can just zoom out and we can start again. So I’m just going to undo the brush and perhaps we’ll go back and make the brush just a little bit bigger than it was. So let’s go to brush tip shape, increase the size just a little bit, and perhaps bring down the size jitter or up the minimum diameter so that we haven’t got quite so much variety in our brushes. I’m going to click here and then Shift click to finish my brush stroke.

Now what I want is a sampling of this. So I’m going to use this tool here which is the single column marquee tool, one of the few times you will ever find a need for this particular tool. I’m going to zoom in here so that I can see exactly what I’m selecting and I’m just going to click to select a single line through this image. Now that’s not the world’s best. So let’s just try again. My brush stroke is not completely vertical so that’s causing me some problems here. Let’s start this again. I’m going to click here, and again let’s Shift click to create a straight line. And let’s see if that’s a bit straighter. That will be when we click just to one side of it. So that’s going all the way through the dot.

So I’m just going to choose Edit and then Define Pattern because this is going to be a pattern. And it will be just this dashed line as our pattern so I’ll click Ok. I can now close this image because I don’t need it any longer. And let’s see how our pattern will work.

I’m going to create a new document, this time 2,000 by 2,000 pixels in size. And this time I’m going to fill it. So I’m going to choose Edit and then Fill. And I’m going to fill it with a pattern. So I’m going to select Pattern. And the very last pattern in this container here will be the pattern we’ve just created so I’ll click Ok. And there are our lines. And that’s a starter for our map.

Now with our lines we can make these bigger. So I’ve got a background layer here but I can click to make it into a regular layer. And we can just enlarge this. So if we want larger lines all we need to do is to just drag up and down on this to just make the lines a whole lot wider than they are. And because they’re lines we can just size everything like this.

If you want to make sure that that there are no gray areas to the lines, as you can see they’ve got slightly fuzzy sides here, just use Image and then Adjustments and then Threshold. And that just makes the lines black and white. They’re pure black and white now. And if you want a bit of variety, Edit, Transform and then Warp. And you can just adjust the lines with a little bit more of a curve or something through them so that they look a little less like they’re straight lines and perhaps a little bit more hand-drawn feel about them, Ok. Now let’s add our map part.

So I’m just going to grab the Lasso tool and for this exercise just draw a very wiggly sort of coastline that we’re going to use for our map. And white is my foreground color so I’m going to Alt Backspace, Option Delete on the Mac, to fill this with white. Now I want an edge around here so I’m going to choose Edit and then Stroke. And I’m going to stroke the edge with black. I’m just going to get all my tools over on this screen. So I’m going to select Black. And I’m going to make this a 6 pixel to begin with. And it’s going to be on the inside of this shape so I’ll just click Ok. And there’s our 6 pixel stroke.

Now I’m going to bring in this size. So I’m going to choose Select, Modify, Contract and I’m going to contract this by 10 pixels because I think that will be enough and then add another stroke. So again, Edit, Stroke. And this time I’m going to just use a 3 pixel stroke, but again on the inside. And then we’ll repeat that again, Select, Modify, Contract by 10 pixels and then repeat the stroke, Edit, Stroke and just click Ok. And then when I press Ctrl D you’ll see that we have the edges around here. But I’m actually just going to undo that Deselect right now because I have another piece to go in here.

What I want to do is to fill this shape with the grass so I have that as a pattern. So I’m going to choose Edit and then Fill, and again still pattern but here is my grass pattern here that I created earlier. And I’m just going to fill it with the grass pattern. Now we’re going to see how to create the shading around the edge. So I’m going to deselect the selection. I’m going to make sure I’m selected on the land, which is where the shading is to go, and I’m going to choose the Add Layer Style button here. And we’re going to choose an outer glow.

Now outer glow sounds like it should add some lightness around the edge but we can use it to add darkness. All we’re going to do is to select a dark color. Well we’ll stick with black right now. Now we can’t use screen as our blend mode. We’ll have to use something that will darken. So we’re going to choose multiply. And we’re going to set this if we want it to be full strength at 100 percent opacity. And we can adjust the size which is really the feathering around here. And the spread is how big it is. It would sound better to me if spread were really the feathering and size was the actual size. But that’s what you’re going to use.

So I’ll just click Ok. And now if we want to add this sort of sepia tone to the image, I’m going to make sure I have the image selected, and we’re going to do that with the hue/saturation adjustment layer, Layer, New Adjustment Layer, Hue/Saturation, click Ok. We’re going to select Colorized because we want to colorize this. And then we’re going to go and pick up our sort of brown color, increase the saturation and adjust the lightness. And you’re just looking for that sort of effect that is going to say vintage map to you. So I’m probably just going to select that for now.

And then I would finish off by cropping my image. We probably don’t need quite as much sea visible. In my image I have a one to one crop set here. That’s why it’s behaving a bit strangely. And there is our final result.

We’ve created lines using a brush in Photoshop. They’re all different size lines and we’ve created this sort of effect of an old-fashioned map. And actually if I just drag this adjustment layer up over the top of the fill we’ll really get that look of a vintage map.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Look out for more of my Photoshop tutorials on this YouTube channel. Subscribe to the channel. If you enjoyed it please comment and like this video. You’ll find more videos, tips, tricks and tutorials at my website at

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Photoshop – Collage Effects with Blend Modes

Learn how to combine two images to make a collage. Includes use of Blend modes in Photoshop, color range color selection, clipping mask, layer mask, hue saturation adjustment layer, drop shadow layer style.

Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how you can create some simple collage effects using blend modes in Photoshop. This is the effect that we’re going to create in this video tutorial. I’m going to show you how you can put the pieces of this together in just a few minutes using a couple of images and some blend modes.

We’re going to start off with this image and another one that I shot at the neon boneyard in Las Vegas, and that’s giving us the texture. And we’re going to combine these two images with a blend mode. And then we’re going to extract the color from this original image, this sort of orange color. And we’re going to recolor it using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. But if we wanted to leave it at this point we could leave it just with that additional color. And we’ll also going to add a drop shadow with a different color behind it.

So let’s see how we would create this effect. And I’m going to start with my two images, and I’m going to put one image into the other. So I’m going to grab this neon boneyard image and I’m just going to drag and drop its background layer in on top of this original image. I’m just going to size it so that it’s right over the top. And the first thing I would do with a collage like this is look and see what sort of opportunities I had with blend modes.

So I’ll generally select the first blend mode in the list, Dissolve, which generally gives me nothing at all. And now I can just arrow down and see what happens when I click on each of these blend modes. And all I’m looking for is something interesting. And you’ll generally get a better effect with this if you use images that are a little bit more textural and a little less like something where you don’t really particularly want to bring out of the image exactly what was in it. But you want to discover how these two images can interact with each other and what you can do with them as they interact. So that’s all the way down through the blend modes. And so I’m going to go back up and I’m going to settle on something that I want to use. And generally the most interesting bits are going to be in the overlay or the contrasty area. So in this area and sometimes even with lighten and darken.

So let’s just go up through these and find something that we like. And I’m thinking actually I might like something like this perhaps with the Opacity dragged down a little bit. Now what I want to do is to bring out the orange color in the original flower so that I can lighten them a little bit in this layer here. And what I’m going to do is create a duplicate of the background layer. And I’m going to drag it above the image. So right now all we’re seeing is this original background. And what I want to is to select the leaves in it.

Now the leaves are really bright colored here. So I’m going to choose Select. And in this case I’m going to use Color Range because it’s going to be the easiest way to select these leaves. Now either I can select on the sampled color and add to it this way by just clicking on these leaves or I could use just the reds and just grab the reds. But I think Sampled Colors is actually going to give me a slightly better effect here.

So let’s just go back to this and let’s choose Sampled Colors here and just click Ok. Now that has isolated the leaves here and what I want to do is to keep these leaves but drop the rest of the image out. And I’ll do that with a mask. And because my leaves are selected, all I need to do is to click on the Add Layer Mask icon. And what happens is that the leaves are then masked and left behind and the rest of the image is just dropped away. So this is the before and this is the after. And you can see we have brought in the color from these leaves.

Now if we wanted to we could even lighten this color. We’ve got some of the orange color in. But we may want to brighten it up even more. So I’ll make sure that my image layer is selected and choose Image, Adjustments. And then I could use levels or curves. I’m going to use levels, and I’ll just lighten this is a little bit and click Ok. Now in the earlier image that you saw we had actually colored these blue and it’s very easy to color them blue.

To do that we’ll choose Layer, New Adjustment Layer and we’ll choose a hue/saturation adjustment layer and just click Ok. Now I want this adjustment layer to only affect the red leaves so I’m going to clip this. So with this adjustment layer selected I’m going to choose Layer, Create Clipping Mask. And so anything that I do to this adjustment layer here is only going to affect the layer below, just these red flowers. So now let’s double click on the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and now we can go and make some changes to it. And I’m looking for a blue color which will either be at this end or this end of the hue slider. So I can get to either this sort of greeny blue if I wanted or I can get to a sort of purplely blue. I’m thinking the greeny blue will be pretty good here. And now I can adjust its saturation and its lightness from here. So when I have what I like I’m just going to close that dialogue. So that has recolored those leaves to a bluey color.

And finally let’s add a drop shadow behind the leaves. So I’m going to select the leaf layer, and I’m going to choose a drop shadow effect. Now drop shadows might start out being dark but they don’t have to end up being dark. So what I’m going to do is go and find a really cool color for this drop shadow. And I’m thinking a really, really bright pink will do me. So let’s choose that. And I want to up the opacity of this. I could set it to normal so it’s going to be a very, very pink shadow. And then I’m going to adjust the settings for this. Spread is going to be the size of the shadow and softness or size is going to give me some softness. But there’s a very small sweet spot here on this that I can very, very easily exceed. So I’m just going to add my shadow in. And I think I’m going to multiply blend mode my shadow, not apply it with the normal blend mode. Although I could use normal for example with a much lower opacity if I wanted to give it this sort of pinky color. I might leave it at that.

So there’s a way of creating some interesting collage effects. And all we’ve done is grabbed a couple of images and put them on top of each other and blended them with something that counts as being an interesting blend mode. And then I isolated the orange flowers in the image and brightened them up. I also added a drop shadow in a very contrasty color. And I added to a hue/saturation adjustment layer that only effects these orange flowers to use the brightness of them but to color them a different color. And you can do all sorts of things by just combining images. And that gives you lots of practice at making color selections, using clipping masks, using masks, using blend modes and just having a little bit of playtime and a little bit of fun creating interesting effects in Photoshop.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Look out for more of my tutorials on this YouTube channel and please like and comment on the tutorials if you would. Also visit my website at where you’ll find more tips, tricks and tutorials on Illustrator, Lightroom, Photoshop and a whole lot more.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Photographing in the Midday Sun Part 3

Here are some more techniques for capturing great images in full sun

The worst possible time to take photos is when the sun is overhead. But that doesn’t mean you should head home, because you can capture good images even when the light is harsh. Here are some techniques to put to use at midday:

Capture Reflections

You can capture reflections in just about any light and when the sun is at its highest you’ll find interesting reflections where one building is reflected in another and also reflections in water such as in fountains and lakes where the surrounding areas are reflected.

If the water is still the reflections will be perfect and if the water is rippling you may capture abstract patterns. If you are experiencing sunshine after rain look for water on the ground so you can capture things reflected in puddles. In fact, reflections can be an interesting way of capturing a tourist attraction in a way that it’s different to what you’ve ever seen before.

Capture shadows

With the sun high overhead, anything between the sun and the ground or the face of a building will throw strong shadows. By looking for shadows, you can often capture an interesting image either by capturing the shadow rather than the object itself or by getting both the object and its shadow. The brighter the sun the crisper the shadows will be so look for an interesting contrast between the shadow and its surrounds.

Shadows are like reflections in that you won’t necessarily see shadows or reflections until you train your eye to look for them. When you do start looking for them you’ll see shadows and reflections everywhere and you’ll wonder how you ever missed seeing them before.

Capture Lens Flare

When the sun is very bright, you’ll find that shiny objects result in little flares where the sun hits them. These flares can make an attractive star shape and add sparkle to your images. You might also see interesting patterns where the sun is filtered through trees or along narrow alleys between buildings. Look out for these opportunities to capture light that you won’t see at other times of the day.

When capturing a lens flare you’ll may need to slightly underexpose the image so the flare is captured as a subtle star rather than an overexposed white blob. To do this, adjust your camera to manual mode and increase the shutter speed or reduce the aperture to underexpose the image.

Alternatively use the camera’s Exposure Compensation (EV) adjustment to underexpose the image. You will need to experiment with the setting but start with around -1 (one stop underexposed) and adjust from there. The result should be an underexposed image with a good looking flare. You can adjust the remainder of the image in post processing to bring back some detail. If you capture the image in a raw format, you will ensure you have plenty of image data to work with in post processing.

Go for Hot!

In bright sunlight colors can look very rich indeed. If you can zoom in to get the color and avoid excessive shadows or bright spots you can capture color that is nearly impossible to get in other light.

This car image was shot on a blistering hot day with high overhead sun in horrible conditions for photographing. By zooming in to remove all the background and choosing a great vehicle to shoot I’ve captured an image rich with color that would have looked a lot duller in other light.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Photoshop Elements – Edit a layer style

Adjust a shadow in Photoshop Elements

You have probably played around with the styles in Photoshop Elements and added things like a drop shadow to an image. But did you know that these can be  edited once they are created? Doing this gives you the ability to customize the shadow to suit your needs.

To adjust an effect such as a drop shadow, with the layer that you have applied the shadow to selected in the Layers palette, choose Layer > Layer Style > Style Settings. Alternately you can double click the fx icon in the  layer to open this dialog.


This dialog has the tools you need to adjust the shadow or other effect you have applied. Note that when you are working with shadows the Size is really a feather type effect and Distance is more what you might consider to be size and it positions the shadow at a distance from the original shape or object. 

Here too  you can change the shadow color and the direction it comes from by altering the Lighting Angle. You can also click and drag on the shadow on the image itself to move it into position. Click OK when you are done.

Helen Bradley

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Anchor an Object with a Shadow in Photoshop



When you add an object to another scene you will typically want to anchor it using a shadow.

Here I have an image of a zebra that I want to incorporate in a larger image.



I masked out the zebra to add it to the image and included its own shadow with it.



In place, the result is less than satisfactory.



I would prefer to create my own shadow so the first thing to do is to remove the shadow that I brought in with the zebra which can be done by simply masking it out. With a mask you’ll paint on with white to reveal the layer it is attached to and in black to conceal it. In this case I want to paint in black to remove the shadow.



Once this is done I duplicated the zebra layer to create a second version of it and then dragged this layer’s mask into the trashcan. When you do this you’ll be asked if you want to apply the mask before removing it, and I clicked Apply to do this. This puts one version of the zebra by itself on a layer.



Now Ctrl + Click on the layer thumbnail for the zebra layer to select it. Press Delete to delete the zebra but to leave the selection intact. You’ll still see the zebra but you’re seeing the one from the layer below not the one you just isolated. Make sure that black or a dark gray is selected as the foreground color and press Alt + Backspace to fill the shape with the black color.



Target the Move tool and click on the shape. Choose Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical to turn the shadow upside down and then drag it into position. You will need it to line up correctly with the feet of the animal or with the base of the object that you’re trying to put into the image. In this case it didn’t line up exactly and needed to be rotated to the correct angle. Drag it into position and you can then shrink the shadow by dragging on the sizing handle to make it smaller.

You can also hold the Ctrl key as you drag on the corner handles to skew the shadow into shape. When you’re done, click to confirm the transformation. You can still continue to work on the shadow after this if necessary.



For example, you can also use Edit > Transform > Warp if you really need to bend the shadow into position. If the animal’s feet are on the ground the shadow should be attached to the bottom of the foot. Legs that are in the air like the rear leg of this zebra can be left floating.

Another tool that can be used is the Puppet Warp tool if you are using Photoshop CS5. You can also use the Liquify filter and use the Forward Warp tool to push the shadow around so that it matches the feet.

When you’re done blend the shadow into the underlying image using a blend mode. Modes such as Multiply and Overlay are good choices. Reduce the Opacity of the shadow layer until you get a blending of the shadow into the underlying image.

To move the shadow and the animal together make sure that you select both layers in the layer palette before moving them so that the two travel in unison.



For this image I finished off by cropping the image to remove the bottom part of it leaving just the zebra on the blue background.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Winter Photography tips #6 – Light and Shadow

The light in winter is different to light in summer and because the sun is lower in the sky you get longer shadows.

When taking photographs in winter, take notice of where the shadows are falling.

If you photograph with the sunlight falling across the scene you can capture detail in not only the light but also in the play of light and shadow.

This contrast adds detail and interest to a landscape or anywhere where you have objects large enough to cast shadows and the sun to create them.

Helen Bradley