Photography tips

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.

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.

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.

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.

Streamline your layers

If you’ve used a lot of layers, you may find yourself scrolling up and down to find the appropriate one. To get more of them on-screen and avoid wasting time scrolling, click on the flyout menu at the top right, select Panel Options and reduce Thumbnail Size to the smallest option. In cases where you have a lot of layers, you can also pick None to show no thumbnails in the panel at all. Click this and you’ll return to your starting point without having to exit the palette and reopen it.

Fill with colour the quick way

To flood-fill a layer or selection with your foreground colour, press Alt+Backspace. Use Ctrl/Cmd +Backspace to fill with the background colour.

Check your colours will print

Not all colours captured by a camera can be printed, as a mix of CMYK inks can’t reproduce the RGB light that created the image. To get a good idea of what will or won’t print, press Ctrl/Cmd+Y to view the image in a CMYK preview. You can work on the image in this mode too, so you’re always aware of the colours that are out of range.

Sharpen in style

To sharpen a pic in Lightroom or Camera Raw, go to the Detail panel and set the Amount that gives a crisp result on a detailed, in-focus area on the preview. (Radius and Detail are often fine on their defaults of 1.0 and 25.) Now hold Alt and increase Masking until only the edges show in white. This prevents you sharpening areas that don’t need it. When making a selection with the Polygonal Lasso tool, you can quickly switch to the Freehand Lasso by holding the Alt key. Draw around your area, and when you release Alt, you’ll be returned to the Polygonal Lasso.

Make new layers without fuss

To create a new layer above the one that’s currently active, press Ctrl/ Cmd+Shift+N and you can give it a name in the dialog box before clicking OK. To do it even quicker without a custom name, press Ctrl/ Cmd+Alt+Shift+N.

Build up grads gradually

After applying a Graduated Filter to darken a sky in Lightroom or Camera Raw, use gentle settings at first, then right-click on the Pin and select Duplicate. This gives you a second grad and a stronger effect, which you can drag into position and edit further, This is faster than creating new grads from scratch.

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