Photography Quick Tricks

Ever have one of those magical moments when everything just comes together without effort? Like rolling a ball downhill.

Sometimes, whether by luck or advancing skill,  we just fall into the easy way to get the job done. But just as quickly as that flash of enlightenment appears, it can be gone – if left to our memories.

So this page is dedicated to all the random “ah-ha!” moments. As I discover them, or rediscover them, I’ll keep a list here of all the great ideas I come across.

Bookmark this page so you can pop back often to see updates…

1. Photoshop Eraser Check w/Stroke… sometimes when erasing, it’s hard to tell if we’ve removed every last spec. Rather than find out after you printed, go into the BLEND MODE (Blending Options) and turn on “STROKE”. The default color is red and it will put a nice red circle around any particles that you missed while erasing. When done, just turn off the STROKE option.

2. Photoshop Background Check: Black or White Areas… our monitors can trick us! Often we shoot with a white or black background. But it can turn out shades of brown or gray that our eyes cannot easily see on our monitors. If you’re going for the blackest blacks and the whitest whites, check them with LAYER MODES. If you want to check the blacks, switch from NORMAL to SCREEN. If it’s really black it will still be black in SCREEN MODE, if not, it will look brown. Make your corrections, then switch back to NORMAL. Check for whites the same way, only use MULTIPLY and check for gray areas.

3. Creativity with Household Products…for what it’s worth, a Pringles potato chip container is the perfect size to fit over most DSLR lenses and can be used to create some interesting photos with the metal end cut off. (be sure to wipe out the greasy first!). Rubbing alcohol is sold in plastic bottles for a buck ($1 for 12oz?) that fit just about perfectly over your speedlight. Carefully cut off the top spout and slip it over your speedlight for a quick and easy flash diffuser/modifier.

4. More Flash Modifiers…rather than blasting your subject with straight on flash, point your speedlight to the ceiling or nearby wall to bounce and soften the light. If your subject needs a bit more light, tape a white card, (back of business card?) onto your speedlight to reflect toward your subject. Email me if you’d like a plan for a more efficient, durable and portable light modifier for your speedlight. If you’re stuck with only the pop-up flash, try holding a white tissue in front of it to soften it’s effect and lessen it’s intensity.

5. Focus Pocus…whenever possible, try to rest your camera against a solid surface when taking photos. Sharp focus is essential and our hands aren’t all that steady, especially at the slower shutter speeds. Rest your camera against a wall or a tree or a railing if possible. A small bean bag is handy for irregular surfaces and takes up very little room in your bag. Leaning your body against something will help. Of course a tripod works, best but we don’t always (almost never really!) want to lug one around.

6. Upon Reflection…Sometimes, the reflection of a scene is better than the scene itself. Gentle water motion can make a scene seem like a fine oil painting done by the masters. Still waters can enhance the colors or add cool effects. Train yourself to watch the puddles. You can always just flip the scene over in an editing program. Cut and toss out the real scene and just keep the refection! The windows on buildings and cars work well too!

Hungry for more cool tricks? Fill up with this great new guide to creative photography…