December 7, 2016

How to keep using Refine Edge in Photoshop CC 2017

( Select and Mask button )
First and foremost, I want to wish all of my photographer friends out there a very Merry Christmas and I hope Santa brings you those new photo toys and gadgets you’ve been waiting for.

( Select and Mask panel )

This month’s tip is more or less designated for those of you out there who are currently using Photoshop CC.
As you probably already know, Photoshop has recently made another upgrade to version 2017.  I don’t know about you, but for me it means there are usually a lot of new or improved changes and features to learn.  Personally I still keep a full version of CS6 on my PC because I like the Configurator Panel and CC doesn’t offer it.  I’m also a Cloud subscriber and have a version of Photoshop CC so I can try to keep up with the changes and because I get Lightroom upgrades forever.    

( Select drop-down menu )
One of my favorite features that was introduced back in Photoshop CS5 was the Refine Edge tool.  When I saw this I knew right from the start I was going to love it and when I upgraded to CS6 they improved it even more. Well, when Adobe upgraded their Cloud version to 2015.5, it looked like Refine Edge was replaced with Select and Mask. Seriously, I was very bummed out and thought it was gone forever. The good news is Refine Edge isn't gone, you just have to know where to find it. Like a lot of features in Photoshop, sometimes they aren’t that easy to find. Here is the little known hiding place to help you to keep using it in the newest version of Photoshop CC.

( Refine Edge panel)
In the first photo, you’ll notice the Select and Mask button on the menu bar. If you click that button it will open that panel. 
(see second photo)  
Here’s how to open Refine Edge instead. Go up to Select drop down menu and you’ll see the Select and Mask option about halfway down, but you don’t want to click on it just yet. (see third photo) Hold down your Shift key and then click on it. This will open our old favorite, the Refine Edge panel.  Nice huh?

I hope you find this tip useful, and as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

November 9, 2016

Creative Flash Photography - Book Review

One of the things that will always separate the amateur photographers from the more serious photographers and the pro’s is their use of lights and their lighting techniques.  If you consider yourself a photographer then you already know it’s all about the light right?

How many times do we hear people say they prefer to shoot with ambient light only?  I’ve found that quite often it’s because they get intimidated by using flash, especially off-camera flash.  One of my favorite sayings is by Zack Arias.  He says “Did you know I’m an available light photographer? I look in my bag, see that my Vivitar 285 or a Nikon Speedlite is available to me and I use that”.

Don’t get me wrong, we all love great ambient light, but even when I am shooting in beautiful ambient light, a lot of times I’ll still break out a flash just to add a little dimension and punch to my photos. By adding an extra light source, I can create my own shadows and direct the viewer’s eye to what I think is the photos story. Face it, you can have the best composed shot in the world, but if your lighting is crap, it’s a good chance that your shot will be also.

These days if you want to learn more about off-camera flash there are a thousand different websites and books out there to learn from. By far the best resource on the web for getting the most out of off-camera flash is the Strobist website created by David Hobby. David may have started the Strobist, but there are some other biggies out there like Joe McNally who is another master of off-camera flash. Joe and David actually teamed up a few years ago and toured the US doing seminars on off-camera flash called the Flash Bus tour. Another person I’m a big fan of is Neil van Niekerk and his Tangents blog.  Neil’s written a series of books aimed at off-camera flash that I have written about several times on my blog. If you type his name in the Search Box on this site it will bring up those reviews.  These are just a few names of people I admire personally for their work with off-camera flash. But back to my review…..

Back in July of 2015 I was turned on to another photographer, Tilo Gockel, who also does great stuff with speedlights. He was asked to be a guest blogger on the Photoshop Insider (Scott Kelby’s blog)  Tilo himself comes from Germany and has currently written two books on off-camera flash. His first book was called ‘Creative Flash Photography’ and the second is called ‘One Light'.  I have not read the second book but I can tell you from personal experience, his Creative Flash book is great. If you’re new to off-camera flash (or even if you just want to improve your own skills) these books will definitely help.  

In the book Creative Flash Photography, he has broken it down to 40 lessons, he calls workshops. These richly illustrated, easy-to-understand workshops are filled with recommendations and instructions for flash setups, along with detailed lighting diagrams, and tips and tricks for how to achieve professional looking shots using simple accessories you probably already own. He’ll even show you how to easily achieve high-end studio style shots in your own home with easily accessible equipment and even a few tips on creating your own lighting modifiers and tools. Tilo shows you how to make magic by mastering the use of your own speedlights so you too will be able to create these amazing photographs in any situation.

Mastering your flash is one of the best ways to improve your own photography. Maybe you’re ready to take your skills to the next level?  If you’re interested in either of these books just click on any of the links in this post to get you the best possible price online. Look below the main advertisements to More Buying Choices to avoid paying full price. I loved this book and I’m sure you will too!

And, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography