Category Archives: Tutorials

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

Sharing Your Photos With SkyDrive

In a previous article we talked about storing your photos on Windows Live SkyDrive. In this short follow-up we are going to talk about sharing those photos with your friends, family or even the whole world.

To get started log in to your SkyDrive account and go into the photo folder you would like to share. Over on the right hand side there are a few options for sharing depending on what sharing restrictions you have set.

  • Edit Permissions
  • Get a link
  • Send a link
  • Embed (only shown if you grant access to everyone)

Let’s go over the different options you have now.

Edit Permissions
This is a quick way to change the level of sharing you grant to other people.


From the screenshot above you can see there is a slider you can adjust to give a broad change or you can enter one or more email address in the box provided to specify individuals you would like to grant access to your photos.

Once you have shared photos with individuals this is also where you want to go if you later want to remove them. There will be a list of all the people you have shared photos with and the option to remove them if you like.

Get a Link
This option allows you to copy and paste a link that sends you or whomever you give the link to to your photos. Note that anyone that uses the link must have permission to view the photos. If they don’t they will get an error page explaining they might not have permission to view the photos.

Send a Link
With this option you can easily send a link via email that will give the recipients access to your photos.

When you send the email the person you sent the link to will receive an email explaining that they have been invited to view your photos.

share email

Using the embed link will show you a snippet of code that you can copy and paste into your webpage. When a visitor comes to your site they will see a small thumbnail with a link to the album. We have placed a small sample gallery using the embed code below so you can see it in action.


So what happens when someone either clicks the link you sent in an email or a link you have on your website? They are greeted with a large image view of your gallery. They are able to easily navigate either clicking the small thumbnails across the bottom, clicking to the left or right of the main image or using the keyboard left and right arrow keys.

view large image album

If they click the folder name in the upper right corner of the screen they are shown a grid view of the gallery with the options to download the entire gallery or even order prints from Snapfish.

gallery view

As you can see there are a number of ways to share your sports photos using SkyDrive. You can make it as open or closed as you like.

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.

Soccer Photography Challenges & Rewards


Because shooting soccer is challenging, most people do not do it well and thus great soccer photos are appreciated and rewarded. As with most challenges, the more difficult the obstacle, the greater the reward. Here are some of the challenges you will be facing shooting soccer that can help you to overcome:


You Don’t Get to Choose the weather

That’s right. You have to play the soccer game when it’s scheduled and competitive soccer leagues try hard to not reschedule games.  You might be trying to take photos in the rain, snow, cold or heat, and you might have to adapt to changing conditions.  Those changes may occur during the course of a soccer tournament or even within the timeframe of a single soccer game. 

You Don’t Get to Choose the Lighting

No, you don’t get to choose the lighting that soccer will be played in. Besides sunny days you will have cloudy days as well as games that go late with the sun going down.  Sometimes the sun will be straight overhead and other times low on the horizon causing shadows and dark faces.  Cloudy days may provide low light conditions all of which cause challenges for the soccer photographer. 

You Don’t Get to Choose the Moment

Sorry, no posing those soccer athletes. No saying, "Okay I’m ready go ahead make that move, steal that ball or shoot on goal." If you don’t anticipate it, you’ll miss it. If you saw the perfect shot, you just missed it, and invariably the moment you stop for a break is the moment you miss the shot you were waiting for. Great soccer photo opportunities happen throughout the game. You have to be ready at any moment to capture them.

These are just a few of the many challenges you will be facing trying to shoot soccer, including caring for and protecting your equipment, choosing the right equipment, learning how to be in the right position for good shots, and much more.

So, with all those challenges, do you have any chance of capturing amazing soccer shots? Absolutely, and this website and soon to be released book will help you do just that. We have just one purpose in mind—to help you become the best soccer and sports photographer you can!



Although the challenges of soccer photography are many and great, the rewards are equally wonderful. When you catch that perfect shot, you’ll find yourself running around the field showing others or emailing like crazy for all to see. There is nothing quite so rewarding as sharing with a soccer athlete the action shot that shows the emotion of the sport and represents the myriad hours they have spent training and working to improve their skills. You will experience hard work, long hours, difficult situations and conditions–but when you capture those great moments, the challenges and the obstacles fade away.


Shooting Basketball Custom White Balance

Remember that the purpose of white balance is to ensure the colors in your photos accurately represent the colors as you see them with your eye.  If you are not achieving the colors you want in that old dingy basketball gym another option to use the custom or manual white balance setting.  Don’t let those words scare you away it’s not that difficult.  In some basketball gyms you might find custom or manual the best way to find and then save a color setting that works.

What is custom white balance
In simplest terms you are giving the camera a reference “white” photo from which it can create proper color for your photos.  You put the camera in a mode telling it you are going to take a reference white photo, take it and then the camera will do it’s magic.  By doing this in the same lighting you will be shooting your basketball photos the camera will help you achieve proper color.  Then once you achieve the best white balance you can for that location, if it’s one you come to often, you can save it as one of the presets and you’ll be ready to go each time you come back to that gym.  I took the following three shots using various white balance, the first florescent, the second incandescent, and the third a manual white balance using the white wall on the side of the gym.

Florescent WB



Incandescent WB Fluorescent

Custom WB (shot the white wall) Custom

What to use
A number of items can work for your reference shot, from purchasing a white or grey card to using many free items found around your home.

  • white or grey card (purchased)
  • 3×5 card
  • coffee filter
  • pringles lid (at least they are good for something)
  • Inside of your camera bag (often the proper grey)
  • White paper or items in the gym

How to do it
Essentially you will tell the camera you are going to do a custom setting, then take a picture of something that is ALL white and then save the setting.  Those are the steps.  Below are the steps for a Nikon D200,  other cameras will be similar only the buttons you press may be different

Step  1 – Place your card or item in the lighting

Step  2 – Change or rotate your WB setting to “PRE”

Step  3 – Fill the viewfinder with white (all white, focus doesn’t matter)

Step  4 – Press the WB button until the PRE begins to flash

Step  5 – Release the WB button; then press the shutter button (taking a photo)

Step  6 – You will now see “Good” or “NoGd” on your display (- Good means you have now set a preset, otherwise do it again)

Saving the results
Your custom white balance is now set and saved.  On the D200 you can save up to 5 presets.  This can be helpful when you are returning to the same gym to shoot basketball.  Once you have the color the way you want it, just remember that location on your presets and don’t overwrite it.

Go try it, it’s not that hard and you might just achieve that beautiful color you’ve been looking for.


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.

Put your photos in motion

Just because you shoot still photos doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. In recent years it has become easier to take your photos and turn them into a video slideshow. This can be a fun way to show off your photos in a different and fun way. There are a number of programs out there you can use to create a fantastic slideshow and many are free. If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you know I’m a big fan of the Windows Live family of applications. It just so happens that this suite of applications comes with a video editing solution in the form of Windows Live Movie Maker.

Windows Live Movie Maker

The process of creating a slideshow of your favorite sports photos couldn’t be easier. Once you have opened up Movie Maker, drag your photos to the right hand portion of the window, save the video and your done. That’s right if you just want a basic slideshow that’s all there is to it.

Many times you will want to add transitions, titles and music to your video. Let’s take a look at how to accomplish this.

If you want a track of music on your computer that you want to play during your slideshow click the Add Music button and select the music track you have saved on your hard drive.

add music

Now to add a title and transitions you can do it manually or use the AutoMovie button to have the program do all the hard stuff in less than a second! After clicking the AutoMovie button it will do a number of things for you. It creates a title, credits, transitions and pan and zoom effects for each photo you have in your slideshow. It will also time the photos duration so that the video ends when the music track you have selected ends. You can now double click on the title and credit sequences to edit the text that displays at the beginning and end of the video.

Once you are ready to save your video you can either publish it directly to YouTube, create a DVD or even save it out as a 1080P HD video.