Photography tips

Use Dehaze for contrast

Found in the FX panel of Lightroom or Camera Raw, the Dehaze slider is designed to reduce atmospheric haze in scenic shots, but it can also be used as a powerful contrast control. To quickly apply a contrast boost, slide it to the right; and to reduce contrast, take it to the left.

Pick the right colour

When you need a pure colour in the Color Picker, it’s impossible to directly click right in the corner to get pure white, pure black or the colour you have. To get your cursor right to the edge, click anywhere on the Picker and drag the cursor to the corner you want. This will get you the pure colour you’re after.

Get moving

You can move a layer or a selection in any direction by selecting the Move tool (shortcut V) and dragging the mouse. But if you want to be really precise, you can tap the cursor keys on the keyboard to move the item in 1-pixel amounts. If you hold down the Shift key while tapping the cursor keys, you’ll move the item in 10-pixel increments.

Be consistent in cropping

When you need a set of pictures all the same size, make life easy by creating a crop preset. Select the Crop tool and in the Options bar, key in the width, height and resolution you want (eg, 21 cm, 29.7 cm, 300 px/in). Now click the first drop-down menu and select New Crop Preset. In the dialog box, change the name if required, and click OK to save your custom size. Use this whenever you need it!

Before and after views: the easy way

When you convert a raw file, it’s handy to see a ‘before’ and ‘after’ version of your changes to keep track of how your picture is progressing. Clicking repeatedly on the Y icon at the bottom of the interface in Lightroom or Camera Raw will cycle through the different modes. To exit, click on the full-screen icon alongside.

Lose your unwanted layers

Getting rid of layers you don’t need is slow going if you drag them to the trash icon in the Layers panel. To quickly delete one layer, right-click on it and select Delete Layer. If you want to delete multiple layers, hold down Ctrl/Cmd and click on their names to select them, then right-click on one and select Delete Layers.

Invert your masking errors

When you use layer masks, it’s easy to hide or reveal the wrong part of the image by getting black where you should have white. If this happens, simply click on the mask to make it active, and press Ctrl+I to invert the colours. This is much quicker than making the mask correctly from scratch.

Flatten the smart way

To crunch all your visible layers into a single layer, click on the top layer in the stack then press Ctrl/ Cmd+Alt+Shift+E. This merges the image into a new layer.

See sensor dirt

Smudges of sensor dirt are easy to miss, but if you select the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom or Camera Raw, there’s a great way to see them much more clearly. Tick the Visualize Spots box and adjust the slider alongside to see blemishes in low-detail areas like skies. Click on them to clean up.

Split-tone a shot

To split-tone a shot and get highlights and shadows in contrasting colours, go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter and in the HSL/ Greyscale tab, tick the Convert to Grayscale box. Now select the Split Toning tab, and adjust the Hue and Saturation sliders for the Highlights and the Shadows to get the colours you want. Use the Balance slider to mix them together.

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