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Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

5 Alternatives to Using Photoshop

It is not often that a creative photographer takes a shot that upon review on his or her computer couldn’t benefit from some level of editing. And as most photography buffs know, Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard. And while it is a great tool, it can also be quite expensive and take up a lot of space on your PC or laptop. That being the case, I wanted to leave the photogs out there with a few alternative options.


Pros: Feature rich and free

Cons: Requires download and takes some time to learn


Perfect Photo Suite

Pros: High quality tools and very professional feel

Cons: Only one on the list that isn’t free, steep learning curve

Perfect Photo Suite

Pixlr Editor

Pros: Can use it from the web and is rather similar to Photoshop in look and feel

Cons: Tools are limited, especially for batch work



Pros: Very easy to use

Cons: Light on features


Photoshop Express (App)

Pros: Great for on the go editing

Cons: Limited features

Photoshop Express


Vintage Photography / Videography Collection Contest

I recently completed my mini display of vintage photography and videography equipment. And having done so, I thought that this might be a good opportunity to have a little fun on this blog. So, I am officially announcing contest.

Here’s how it will work.

To enter, simply add a comment with your best guesses as to what each of the items are on each shelf. The guesses that come the closest will be ruled he winner. It’s as simple as that. In the event of a tie, additional consideration will be given to any person who also clicks “Like” on the post or shares it on social media.

What’s the prize?

Winner gets their choice of:

1 year of a free add on this blog.

A free lifetime membership to Image Aids – a video blog with tutorials on everything media and creativity related.

Any two services from my offerings at which can be found here.

Winner will be chosen on October 20 and announced on October 21, 2015.

Good luck and have fun!


Image Aids Tutorial Resource to Launch Live Video Chat Classes Soon

A while ago, Three Rivers Creative Arts introduced a new and innovative venture called Image Aids. This site was designed specifically to help photographic and other art enthusiasts to develop their craft through video tutorials on Photoshop, editing techniques, DIY projects, working with online video and audio along with so much more.

We are excited to announce that Image Aids will be expanding its horizons to what we will be calling the Image Aids Academy. The IAA will offer the ability for those interested in the visual and digital arts the ability to engage in personalized and custom-designed one-on-one live video chat classes!

Why pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a seminar, workshop or class at your local college only to be bombarded with a lot of full and technical jargon you really don’t need to be dealing with? Why not get right to the point in simple, plain English instead for a fraction of the cost?

join ia

IAA classes will start at just $50.00 for a 30-60 minute custom session focusing on only what you want and need to learn. Upon completion of the class, you will be given a certificate recognizing this.

Rest assured, the original Image Aids site which you can now preview a bit at Join Image Aids, will remain active with an ever increasing number of tutorial videos accessible at a one-time cost of just $10.00.

More details coming soon.


Making skin tones pop in your photography work

Whether you are a notice shutterbug or an experienced photographer, you have probably noticed that sometimes it can be a bit difficult to get the skin tone and coloration of a subject just right. This can often be the case with those who have a naturally fair skin tone. So, how do you handle making the skin color “pop” if you will? Well, here are three simple and highly effective tips that can make a major impact on any images you take.


1. Bump up the saturation

Find the saturation tool on your photo editor and slowly move the slider or number higher. Be careful not to go too far because the image can start to look unnatural.

2. Burn the dodge/burn tool

To darken light skin a bit, use the burn option starting out on a fairly low opacity, maybe 25% or so. You can increase the number if needed.

3. Add a warming filter

Adding a warming (probably orange-ish) style filter can add that sort of sun kissed vibe to a subject’s skin.

Bonus idea 

Using your program’s exposure tools, if there is an option to do so, increase the Gamma Correction slightly.

Taking one or more of these steps can really make a big difference in the quality of your photography.

How to create beautiful photos with no distractions

There are any number of things we can do with a good photo editing program.

And while that is always cool, isn’t it generally a good idea to try to do as much as you can to minimize the need for editing? For example, if you can properly adjust your exposure or white balance during the shooting there is no reason you will have to go back and mess around with it on your computer. The same concept applies to the use of depth of field.

If you’re not sure what I mean, think about the images you see of people, animals, plants…that provide a wonderful clear image of the focal point but sort of seem to blur everything else out.

Cameras are built to automatically allow the sensor to take a shot providing the most crisp and sharp clarity as possible to all elements of the image. Sounds good right? Well, not always. When either the background (or in rare occasions the foreground) can actually distract from the main focal point in the image, you may want to blur if you will, the parts of the image that are not the main subject. This is where depth of field comes in.

If you aim for a shallow depth of field, the foreground will be in focus with the background out of focus to some degree, see the second shot below. Conversely, if you use deep depth of field to blur the foreground and showcase the background.


Take a look at the image of the flowers above as opposed to the one below. The top image is one shot with a camera’s standard settings while the one below blurs the background to emphasize focus on the primary subject by making use of a shallow depth of field.



So, what’s the trick? Well, it’s all about your aperture settings. Basically, the lower the F# (or more widely the opening of the lens) the more you will be able to achieve an effect something like the one above with this stunning pink orchid. So naturally, the higher the F# (or more narrow the opening of the lens) the more you will produce the oppose effect.

For more tips, check out my e-books on digital photography on my official author website.


Two way to make great spot color photography

We’ve all seen those photos. You know the ones. They contain essentially an entirely black and white image with the exception of a small amount of color showing through like a beacon of beautiful light. This is called a spot color effect. And while it may seem like something that might be highly complex, that doesn’t have to be the reality in many instances.

Here I will explore two methods to create stunning spot color shots. One for beginners and those with a less demanding color need and the other for more advanced users or ones willing to be a bit adventurous.

Quick saturation adjust

To use this method for spot color, use your editing tool to find the saturation controls. In Photoshop, they are under the IMAGE TAB > ADJUSTMENTS > HUE>SATURATION select the MASTER option and adjust the individual colors to the left on the slider to remove them. This works great for all colors except variations of red being that red is what makes up most of a person’s skin tone and you can’t keep it if you want the body to be in black and white. Other programs should have similar tools.


Layer and erase

So, if you have any variation of red you want to keep in the shot or want to be a little more picky about the specific locations in the shot that you want to keep in full color, you can start by creating a new layer on top of the original. Then, go to the aforementioned HUE/SATURATION tool while on the top layer and drag it all the way left to remove all color. Next, get your eraser tool and simply go along the areas you want to show through in color. This is harder and more time consuming because you have to be more precise. This can be done is pretty much any decent photo editing program as well.



Give it a shot for yourself, I bet you’ll like the results.

Ask us about the site Image Aids to access great video tutorials on topics like this and more.

My latest e-book “Pesky Shadows, Pretty Shadows”

During March, I completed my latest effort in e-literature and am excited to share it with you.

Just like my other e-book from 2011, “Making Beautiful Photography,” this one is something of a how-to guide when it comes to the art of photography.

The new work is called “Pesky Shadows, Pretty Shadows” and is available now. Among other things, it focuses on the use of light and how it pertains to the issue of shadows, both good and bad, within a given image. There are also tips and tricks on how to make the most of soft shadows while doing your best to avoid the harsh and unflattering ones.

If you are interested, check it out!


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