Category Archives: Photo Editing

How to create a vintage sports photograph in Photoshop Lightroom

Creating a vintage look to your sports photographs can be pretty quick and easy. Below is the final result with the original photo below that.

To start out get your photo up and make sure you have the basic panel open with your white balance ect. Depending on the photo you are using the settings will most likely differ from what we use here but the goal is to give it a little warmer tone. You also will want some good contrast and over expose just a tad.

Basic Settings

The next step is where the real magic happens. Open up the Split Toning panel. If you have never used the tool before it is basically controlling the color of the highlights and shadows of your photo. You select the color by using the hue slider and you choose how vibrant that color appears by moving the saturation slider. The balance slider is just as it says, it controls how much one color over powers the other. If you set the balance in the middle at 0 the colors are exactly equal. If you want more of the highlight color to show on your photos you would move the slider to the right to give it a positive value. The opposite would apply if you wanted more of the shadow color to show through.

For our vintage look we want to give the highlights an olive green color and the shadows a dark blue. We are going to keep the balance at 0 and bring the saturation of both up quite a bit. You can see the exact settings below.

Split Tone Settings

Now your photo should be almost to where we want it. The last thing is optionally but can add just a bit more to the overall look. Open up the effects panel and add a small vignette. You don’t want to make it too obvious but just a hint of one can help guide the viewer to your subject. Once again you can see the exact settings we used below.

Effects Settings

Add a vignette to your digital photos

Natural vignettes is usually caused by a limitation of a camera lens. The outer edges of the photo are darker and less saturated than the center of the photo. Digitally adding a vignette to your photos can focus the viewer on a specific area of the photo and help remove distractions you don’t want to interfere.

For our example we are going to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to quickly add a vignette to a football action photo.

Original Photo

As you can see our photo has a few things on the outer edge that are a little distracting from the center athlete. By adding a vignette we will try and cut back on the distracting areas and focus on the player with the ball.

To get started load up Lightroom and go to the Develop interface. Now on the right hand side scroll down to the Effects menu and open it up. The vignette options are right at the top of the panel.

Final Settings

I won’t go into much detail of each of the options simply because you can try them out and see the effects for yourself. The main setting you are looking for will be the Amount slider. This adjusts the amount of the vignette you want to show up on your photos. A positive value will brighten up the edges while a negative value with darken the outer edges.

Once you play around with the settings and find the right settings for your photo you will have a more dynamic and interesting photo.

Final Photo

How to Create a Gritty Poster in Photoshop

In the following tutorial we are going to walk you through the steps in creating a real gritty looking poster that looks great for hard hitting sports like football and wrestling.

Here is what the final result will look like.

Final Photo

To start out with get your photo and crop it to the size you want to make your poster. In our example we have cropped our wrestling photo to a 16×20.

Original Photo

If the original photo doesn’t already have some grain already in it you will want to apply a decent amount. Normally you would want to get rid of most of the noise out of your photos but we want to make our poster look real gritty. You can add grain by selecting Filter/Texture/Grain. This will give you the dialogue box where you can play with the settings to get the amount you like. Our original photo already has plenty in it so we don’t need to add anymore.

The next step is to add some contrast to our photo. Add a levels adjustment layer on top of your photo layer.

Levels Window

All we are doing here is adjusting the light and dark areas to accentuate them. Depending on the photo you are using you may need to bring the levels in further or not as far.

Now add a Hue & Saturation adjustment layer. The only thing we are going to do on this adjustment is bring the saturation down a bit to tone down any vibrant colors your photo may have.

HS 1

Now we are going to create another Hue & Saturation adjustment layer. This time make sure the Colorize button is checked and bring the hue value down so it has an orage tint to it. Bring the saturation down as well to make the orange look more brown. Now click OK.

HS 2

We need to bring the opacity of this last Hue & Saturation layer down from 100% to something around 50%

HS Layer Opacity

Go ahead and add a new text layer with some text that you would like to use on your poster.

Adding Text

Add a new layer style to your text layer and give it a bit of bevel.

Bevel and Emboss

Now let’s add a little more dimension to the text by adding a gradient over the top. To do this set your foreground color to white and background color to black. Now select the gradient tool and set it to use the foreground to background colors and change the type to the radial gradient. Create a new blank layer above your text layer and drag your cursor from near the center of your text to about a quarter of the way to the center of your image and let go. Don’t be alarmed if you just see the gradient. You need to clip the layer you created the gradient on to your text layer so that the only part of the gradient that shows is where the text layer is. To do this hold down the alt key and place your cursor in between the gradient layer and text layer. The cursor should change it’s icon to a small arrow and two circles on overlapping the other. When you see this icon left click and it will clip your gradient layer to the text layer.

Clipping Layer

Let’s create a modified lens vignette. Grab your brush tool and select black as the color. Make sure your brush is a really big soft brush. For my image I’m using a brush with a 1800 pixel diameter and 0% hardness. All you want to do is paint out the edges of the image to darken them up so that the focus is on your main athlete. Sometimes I will create multiple layers so I can adjust the opacity of one over the other layers. There is no secret just do what you like.

Darkened Border

Now comes the finishing touches. You need to go and get some grunge brushes for Photoshop. There is a great website where you can download a bunch of free grunge brushes at

Once you have downloaded and imported them into Photoshop set your foreground color to white and try a few of them out. Depending on the size of your image you may need to increase the size of the brush to achieve the look you want. For our poster I would make the size around 900 pixels. You don’t need to do too much with the grunge brushes, usually it only takes four or five clicks using various brushes to get enough. Just like when you were creating the dark border around the edge you may want to place one grunge brush stroke on one layer and another on a different layer. You can then rotate individual brush strokes to give it some variety. If you really wanted to get fancy you could even create layer masks and mask out portions of each layer.

Once you have finished painting with the grunge brushes you are done and left with a great looking poster!

Final Photo2

Customizing your Photoshop workspace

Over the years Adobe has added more and more ways to customize the Photoshop workspace to fit your needs. You may be asking why would you want to change the default. One answer would be that everyone works differently and use different tools. Very few photographers will ever need or use all of the tools available in Photoshop. By customizing the workspace you can get rid of all the clutter and get access to the tools you use everyday. Let’s take a look at a few ways to get the right workspace for you.

default workspace

One of the first things you should do is either shrink or remove the pallets you don’t use. If you never use the navigator pallet why should you have it on your screen taking up space?

The next thing you can do to get rid of the extra stuff is to go into edit/menus and hide the menu items you don’t use. This can make finding the items you want much easier and quicker.

You can even change the font size that Photoshop uses. Just go to edit/preferences/general and change the options for UI Font Size.


Do you want to get a larger preview of your font choices? In the preferences menu switch to the Type item to the left and set the Font Preview Size to a larger size.

One last tip that is not so obvious to change is the background color that is displayed when you zoom out of a photo. By default it is a light gray color but if you select the paint bucket tool, change your foreground color to the color you would like to use. Now while holding the Shift key down left click somewhere on the light gray color and it will change to the color you selected. Below is an example of the color changed from the light gray to a darker gray.

darker background color

As you can see there are a number of ways to change the look and feel of the Photoshop workspace. I would encourage all Photoshop users to explore these options and make the changes that will make your photo editing quicker and easier.

Get a free copy of PhotoDirector 2011

CyberLink known for their media based software is currently offering beta testers a free copy of their new PhotoDirector 2011 software. All you have to do is sign up for the free beta, try out the software and fill out a short survey. They will then send you a free copy of the final version when it is released. You can go to the PhotoDirector beta sign up page to get started.


PhotoDirector appears to be a direct competitor to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. It has a similar look and the toolset is also very similar. CyberLink is pricing PhotoDirector $200.00 lower than Adobe’s offering so it is much more affordable to the photographer who is getting started and isn’t making much money from their photography yet.

We will be taking a closer look at PhotoDirector and it’s feature set in the near future so stayed tuned.

Quick Tips To Enhance Your Photos

There are a couple quick things you can do to make your photos stand out just a little bit more than normal. Below are a few quick tips you can use in the editing room to give them just a little extra impact.

Most image editing programs have the following tools at your disposal and are easy to adjust. You also shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the different tools. One thing to remember is that one program will most likely make a different kind of adjustment even if you give it the same value. For example in Photoshop you may move the saturation slider up to +25 and it looks great. If you do the same in Picassa most likely won’t have the same effect so use your own judgment when making adjustments.

Add Saturation

Adding just a little more saturation to your photos can give them a more vibrant look to them. Be careful not to overdue it as you don’t want the players looking like they are oompa loompa’s.

hue saturation window

Add Contrast

Just as with adding a little saturation adding a small amount of contrast can give a little more impact to your photos. Once again don’t overdue it. You usually only need to add a small amount to make a big difference.

contrast window


We covered sharpening in-depth in a previous article but I wanted to mention it again here. Remember to do this step after you have cropped your photo to the size you are going to either print or display on screen to make the most of it.

These are just a few tips to try out that can really make your photos stand apart from just a normal photo so go and give it a shot.

Adjusting the White Balance of your RAW images

Getting the correct white balance can be a real challenge in some situations but there is one way that you can get the best possible white balance results every time you take a photo. The secret is to shoot your photos as RAW rather than JPEG. Shooting your photos as a RAW image allows you to adjust the white balance after you have taken the photo! We aren’t going to go into all the details of a RAW image in this article but after reading it you should be able to get started.

One disadvantage to shooting your photos as only RAW (note that some cameras allow you to shoot in both RAW and JPEG) is that you need a program that can read the RAW image. There are a number of commercial and free options out there for you to choose from. Some programs will actually give you more options than others so you may need to do a little research and try a few out before you settle on your favorite. As of this writing Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is considered by many as the number one commercially available program out there for RAW processing. One of our favorite free alternative called RawTherapy is also available. No matter what program you use, there should be a similar way of adjusting the white balance for your photos.

For the purposes of this article we will be using RawTherapy to adjust the white balance of our photo. The first step is to open the photo you would like to adjust.

Original Photo using RawTherapy

Most of the programs out there have the controls you are looking for on the right hand side of the screen as shown below.

default controls

We want to adjust the white balance of this photo so we need to click on the color tab.

Color Controls

Right at the top you can see it has our white balance settings. To control your white balance you actually have to sliders, the temperature and the tint. The temperature setting will allow you to adjust how worm or cool the lighting was when you shot the photo. The tint control is used to compensate for any green or magenta tint that may be in the image. Most of the time simply adjusting the termerature setting will give you the right setting but if you still aren’t getting what you want try moving the tint slider one way or the other depending on your photo.

The image we are using for this example is a little cooler than we would like. You can see a slight blue tint to the overall image. We need to move the temperature control a little to the warmer side. In addition to the temperature we need to move the tint slider to remove a little bit of the magenta tint. We also adjusted the exposure a small amount to brighten the image up a bit.

Adjusted Photo using RawTherapy

Now that we have the image looking the way we want we need to save it out as something we can use more easily. Near the bottom of the window you should see a Save Image button that when clicked will give you some options to save your RAW image into something else such as a JPEG file.

Output settings

Note that you don’t need to save your original RAW file. Programs such as RawTherapy don’t do any adjustments to your original RAW file but rather save all of settings that you applied to the RAW image in another file. When you go to open your RAW image up again, it looks for the second file it created and loads all of the settings from that file. Note that this second file is fairly small in size because it is just storing the setting information and not any of the image data.

Remember the next time you are shooting in a less than ideal lighting situation and you need to get the white balance right on you may consider switching your camera over to shooting RAW.

Sharpen Your Photos

Sharpening your photos can make a huge difference and in many cases it can be done very quickly and easily. While there are dedicated plugins and programs to do the job, most of the time you probably will not need something as advanced.

Depending on the application you use to edit your photos you may have a number of options available to you when sharpening your photos. If you are using a basic program you may have just one slider that determines the amount of sharpening.

Below is an example of a photo before any sharpening has been applied after the photo was taken. Note that cameras will actually apply a bit of sharpening to your photos when shooting JPEG files.


Now we have a screenshot of the Photoshop sharpening options.

Sharpen Settings

And finally the photo after the sharpening has been applied.

After Sharpening

There are a few things to remember when applying your sharpening to your photos. You will want to crop your photo to the final size you will output for. If you are going to print a 5×7 print, crop your photo to a 5×7 before applying any sharpening to it. Another thing you want to avoid is over sharpening. This can give your photo artifacts you may not want. Try to give it just enough to make it pop but not so much that it’s obvious you have applied sharpening. These rules aren’t set in stone and you may want to over sharpen in some situations for an artistic purpose.

Converting your photos to black & white

If you haven’t spent much time in a photo editor you may be thinking there is only one way to convert your photos to black & white. In the past many people would just turn the saturation down to zero and be done with the conversion. This works but you can actually get a photo with more impact by using the existing color in the photo to convert it to black & white.

Let’s take the following photo for a reference.

Now let’s see what the photo looks like if we just take the saturation of it down to zero.

As you can see the whole image starts to blend together and just the players pants really stand out. Using the black & white adjustment layer tool in Photoshop you can adjust how the color of the photo effects the gray levels. If you wanted your blue sky to have a very dark look to it, you could drag the blue sliders to the left. If you wanted to brighten it up, slide them to the right. Now let’s take a look at what we can do with our photo.


Below is the result we get by using the above settings.

You can now see that we were able to darken the background a bit and give much more contrast on the player.

Luckily you don’t actually need to own a copy of Photoshop to take advantage of this technique. Some of the free solutions are including basic functionality. Below is a shot of the original photo with the Red Black & White filter applied to it in Windows Live Photo Gallery.


The next time you want to convert your photos into black & white I highly recommend looking into using some of these features.