Ten Ways to Improve Your Photos and Show Off Your Work

J\ s a "traditional" photographer, I put a lot of work over the years into W • using proper shooting techniques — and into producing prints using the regular chemical methods. Straight shots, straight prints. Since making the transition to digital, I've incorporated more and more effects into my work, as well as displaying photos in new media such as the Web.

Photoshop offers photographers almost endless possibilities to improve photos — and to process them creatively. To add further zest and originality to your work, you can get third-party add-ons (also called plug-ins) that give you even more ways to jazz up your work. Hey, if living life to its fullest means an anything-goes attitude, adapt that strategy to your photography. You'll produce photos you've never dreamed of.

I still do a lot of traditional photography, but whenever I get a chance, I push Photoshop to its limits to see what I can do. In this chapter, I show you some tricks I use to enhance my photos.

Creating Black and White from Color

For traditional fine art photo collectors, purists, so-called "fine art photographers," and the artsy-fartsy crowd in general, the only photographic "art form" is supposed to be the old silver-halide-produced

black-and-white (B&W) photographs. Personally, I've never believed that for a second. I like color — and I'm of the opinion that art is what you make of it. Whatever happened to personal taste? The most important question to ask yourself is, why limit yourself to either black and white or color? Do both! Hey, its like I always say — "whatever blows your hair back!"

As with a lot of the cool things you can do in Photoshop, converting a color digital image to a B&W image can be done in a number of ways. I show you a few that I use. The first is a "quickie" method. The second technique uses the Channel Mixer. The third method (my favorite) uses the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to convert color photos to black and white. One method isn't really better than the other; I suggest you try all to see which you like best.

Quickie B&W from color

Sometimes less is more; I find that quick methods sometimes work best. For instance, here's a quickie method that takes the complexity out of B&W conversions, using one simple command to convert your color image to black and white. Here are the steps to that quick conversion:

1. Open a photo in Photoshop that you want to convert to black and white.

Make sure you've made your tonal and color corrections before proceeding. Though you're converting your image to black and white, you still may want a color version as well. I cover those corrections in Chapter 10.

2. Create a new layer to use to make your B&W conversion:

a. Create a new layer by pressing Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E (Shift+^+Option+E on a Mac).

b. Name this new layer selections.

3. Choose ImageOAdjustmentsODesaturate, or press Shift+Ctrl+U (Shift+^+U on a Mac).

This procedure to convert your image to B&W is about as easy as they come. The Desaturate command simply converts the entire image to black and white.

Using the Channel Mixer to convert to B&W

Using the Channel Mixer, you can desaturate (that is, remove color) your entire image, and then fine-tune the Red, Green, and Blue channels to obtain more control over the tones of the image you are converting. It bears repeating: Photoshop always gives you many ways to obtain similar results — and using the Channel Mixer is another way to convert color images to B&W (while obtaining a slightly different result). To use the Channel Mixer to make your conversion, follow these steps:

1. Open a photo in Photoshop that you want to convert to B&W.

Figure 13-1 shows a shot I've chosen to convert. The photo has some color, but I thought it would look more interesting in black and white.

Process the photo as you would any other, making the color and tonal adjustments I cover in Chapter 10.

Figure 13-1: The original color photo.

2. Create a Channel Mixer adjustment layer.

From the Layers palette, click the Create New Fill button (or the Adjustment Layer button) and choose Channel Mixer. You can use the Channel Mixer to convert your image quickly from color to B&W, and then make minor adjustments.

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