Monthly Archives: September 2009

Use Photoshop Elements to Create a Collage

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 is the best sports photography image editing software I have used for someone who wants a little more control over editing their sports photos than the most basic features offered in most photo organizers and don’t want to pay the insanely high price that Adobe Photoshop CS4 costs. I won’t go into the details of the overall program in this article, but rather focus on one feature that many may find useful when they are feeling creative.

The collage feature lets you place a number of photos onto a single page in a variety of designs. You are given the options to rearrange and size each photo individually to your preference. After creating your collage you are can then save or print the final output. This is a great way to send a family member or friend the shots from last weeks soccer game in a fun and unique way.

The first thing you need to do is find the photos you want to use for your collage. You can either grab your photos from the organizer or just drag and drop them from your file folder to the Photoshop Express workspace.


If you are in the organizer you can simply select the photos, click the create tab and select Photo Collage. If you have dragged the photos directly into Photoshop Express, you can click the create tab as well and select Photo Collage as well.

Now you have a variety of templates you can choose from. You will want to click the template you want to use and then click the done button near the bottom right of the window.


Photoshop Express will now place the photos you had selected into one template file. If you happened to have selected more photos than would fit on one template, it will give you multiple pages you can select from at the bottom of the window. Now that you have a basic layout, you can start working on arranging and resizing the individual photos.


To move a photo to a different place, you just click and drag it around the window. To resize the photo you click on the photo you want to work with and click and drag a corner of the photo until it’s the size you would like. You may also notice a circle icon underneath the photos as well. If you click and drag this icon it will rotate your photo depending on which direction you drag your mouse. Alternatively you can simply click and drag your mouse outside of the photo boundaries to rotate your photo as well. You may also want to note that after doing your adjustments you may need to click the green check mark that appears or press the Enter key on your keyboard. This will finalize your adjustments and let you continue editing other photos.

There are a number of other options you can use found under a menu accessed by right clicking on the photo you want to use them on. For example to send a photo behind another one, right click on the front photo and select “Send Backward”. You can also resize the photo to fill more of the frame that it is constrained to through the same menu. It’s also worth noting that your photos are simply different layers on your one file. This means that if you go back to the edit tab, you can do all the adjustments you would normally have access to.


Once you are happy with your final creation, you can simply save it, print it, or do whatever other tasks you would do to any other file created in Photoshop Express.


ProPix Photography

The Sports Photography Professionals

Sports Photography Cleaning Your Lens

Have you ever noticed small blotches starting to appear on all of your photos taken with your DSLR? This could mean that either your lens is dirty, or your camera’s sensor has picked up some dust. I strongly recommend you try cleaning the lens before working on the sensor.

Your lens can be expensive, so you should take care not to damage it while cleaning it. You should also be cautious of over cleaning. If it doesn’t need cleaning, don’t clean it. Cleaning too often creates a risk of damaging the lens.

One way to actually protect the glass of the lens is to use a UV filter. This can be especially important in sports photography where you will often be outdoors in harsh environments or indoors with many people.  You can pick these up and place them on your lens at all times to keep the glass underneath safe from scratches. The other advantage is that you will then be cleaning the filter rather than the lens itself.

Before you wipe your lens down with any type of cloth or tissue, you should first blow away any large dust particles. You don’t want to do this with your mouth as you may actually get saliva on the glass. It is much better to get a small blower specifically made for camera cleaning. Make sure you squeeze it a couple times to clear any dust that may have made it’s way inside.

One of the safest methods to clean your lens is to simply breath hot hair on it and wipe it down with a cloth. This can be safer than applying harsh chemicals. If that doesn’t do the job, you can pick up a cleaning fluid at your local camera shop. When applying this fluid make sure you don’t use too much each cleaning session. You will rarely if ever need any more than a drop or two. Make sure you apply the fluid to the cloth first, and then in a circular motion, wipe around the lens to clear off smudges and fingerprints that may have accumulated.

While you are picking up the lens cleaning fluid, make sure you grab some cleaning tissue or a cleaning cloth as well. Use one of these methods to apply the liquid and wipe down the lens. The cleaning tissues are for one time use only, so make sure to toss any used tissues out. As for the cleaning cloth, you can usually just wash them after each use. If they do start collecting too much dust or debris throw it out and purchase a new one. There is no reason to risk the damage it may cause.

You should definitely keep your lenses clean so that your sports photos don’t suffer, and once you understand the basics it’s a snap to keep them in top shape.

ProPix Photography

The Professional Sports Photographers

What is a Tag


If you have been working with a photo organizing application in the past couple of years you may have heard the word “tag”. Put simply tags are a way for you to find your photos more quickly and easier than manually searching through thousands and thousands of individual photos.

Technically a tag is just descriptive words that are saved into the photo file itself. This means that whenever you add a tag to your photo that information will stay with that photo. You will be able to copy it to a CD or upload it to your favorite online photo sharing site and the tag information will still be there.

There are a number of tag types you can add to your photos. For example you can add a title tag, descriptive tags, an author, and a number of other types. What tags you are able to add will depend on the software you are using. Some applications will let you add more types of tags than others. For example one application may allow you to add a GPS tag while another may not. This also brings up the point of compatibility.

Some applications may use a non standard way of adding the tag information to your file. This can be a major problem if you decide to use another program that doesn’t support the way that the other program added the tag information. The best way to find out is to try adding some tags in one application and then try to see that information in another application. If the other application can see the tag information than most likely you are safe. You should also be able to find out by either searching around on the applications website or just do a search on the Internet. I have found that all the programs I’ve used in the past year or so have all at least implemented the common tag types in a standard way. If you are still not sure or don’t trust the photo organizer you are using, you can always get a tool dedicated to adding tags such as Microsoft Pro Photo Tools or iTag. Both these solutions will allow you to tag all of your family photos without worrying about not being able to read that information later.

Before we go any further let’s look at an example of what kinds of tags we would typically want to apply to our photos.

soccer player

As you can see from the image above there are a couple tags that have already been entered in for me. This includes the date the photo was taken, the camera that took the photo and a few other technical details. You can also see that there are a number of these tags that I can not change such as what settings I had the camera set to when taking the photo. The tags I am interested in adding are the descriptive tags and the caption. The descriptive tags should be something like soccer game and soccer tournament. The descriptive tag should be a quick summary of the photo. Something like State Cup Soccer Tournament would do just fine for this photo. All I do to add these tags is click just underneath the headings, where it says to add a caption or description. It then allows me to type in what information I want. Below is the same photo with the tags added.


Depending on the program you are using it will vary where and how you add tags to your photos, but most of them will have a dedicated box just for this purpose. They may not call it a tag but rather something like “Add a description”.

Now that we have learned a little about tagging and how to add them, let’s talk about the benefits of doing all this work. The number one reason for tagging your photos in my opinion is to be able to find the photos you want quickly and easily. Let’s say you took photos at Grandpas birthday a couple years back and now Grandma is putting together a scrapbook and she needs some photos from the event. If you tagged these photos with birthday and grandpa it should be a snap to find them. Again depending on how your application does search this may vary, but let’s take a look at how we can find the cow photo above.


In the picture above it shows my main gallery with a total number of photos at 5539. Now on the left side you can see I can sort these by folder, date taken, people, or descriptive tags. To find my photo of the cow I can just click the “Cow” tag under descriptive tags. This Windows Live Gallery also provides me with a search box at the top in which I could also type in the word cow to bring up all the photos that contained the tag cow. In addition to sorting with one tag, you can select multiple tags at one time to fine tune your results. This would be perfect for finding that photo of Grandpa as you could find all the photos that contained both Grandpa and Birthday.

As you can see adding tags to your photos can be extremely helpful and if you add your tags each time you copy your photos from your camera to your computer it really doesn’t take much time at all.


ProPix Photography

The Sports Photography Professionals

The Sport and the Emotion

You have the right equipment, you have read the basic instructions, well get out there and start practicing.  The only way to get better is practice, practice and more practice.  Just like the athletes you are trying to photograph who are training and practicing, you must do the same to be a good sports photographer.  Practice at any and all events, share the photos you take with family, friends and team mates.  They will let you know the ones they REALLY like.  Your timing and anticipation will improve and your ability to get the easy shots as well as the tough ones will grow.  If you’re in the business of selling photos then the ones that sale or not will let you know what’s good and what’s not.

Faces of the Game (The Emotion)
Don’t forget there is a lot of fun, emotion and action before, in the middle and after the event or competition.  I like to refer to these as the faces of the game.  Surprisingly perhaps, these photos, the faces and emotions of the game are as popular as any of the great action shots you will take. I especially like half-time when faces are full of emotion, sweat, determination and grit.  Besides they are sitting quietly paying attention to the coach, drinking water or whatever.  Fill the frame with their faces and snap away.  Fill the entire frame with a single face.  Not just 3/4 of the frame fill it all and you will love the results.  Close-ups like that fill the photo with emotion and make it memorable.  These are not posed photos, it’s even best when they don’t know you’re taking the photo.  Move around or sneak around all you need, to ensure you get a clear shot at the face.  Keep that bigger lens on the camera so you don’t have to get close.  You will also find jubilation and sadness both strong emotions after a game, and a chance to catch team-mates hugging and groups cheering as well.  Don’t forget coach who deserves a nice close-up as well.

Easy Shots
If it’s an event and you want to make sure you get at least some good photos and not sure if you can, make sure to get the easy shots.  The close-ups discussed above are what I would call easy shots, but there are any more.  Each sport has it’s own.  They may be shots during warm-up, foul shots during the basketball game, warm-up pitches in baseball, throw-ins and corner kicks in soccer.  These are all easy shots that will mean you’ll have at least some from the event.  It will get you off to a good start and will ensure you at least have something at the end.

Blurring can be good
We’ve talked a lot about how to get a crisp and sharp photo, but there are times when you might want blur or when a blurred photo showing the action is actually a good thing.  The blur gives the impression of movement which is definitely occurring so that’s not always a bad thing.  Perhaps it’s the ball in the pitcher’s hand as it’s thrown, or the ball leaving the soccer players foot.  Whether on purpose or accident this is not always a bad thing, and will give variety to to your photos.
So, get out there and practice, you’ll be the next world-renowned family sports photographer!

ProPix Photography

The Sports Photography Professionals