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All the Tutorials/How-To’s You’ll *Ever* Need!

November 13th, 2012 No Comments

This single blog post should last a photographer 100 days.  You see, with the ‘scooping’ of and the kindness of, we now have 100 Helpful Photography Tutorials for Beginners and Professionals all on one page!

This epic guide of guides features tutorials from the likes of Outdoor Photographer, DPMag, Shutterbug, DPSchool, ePhotozine, Digital Photographer, and Strobist.  And the pickins are lush!

For example, you can find two tutorials on Low Key Portraits plus two more about Low Key lighting.  Then there’s three on histograms which tell you what the ‘spread’ of tones is in a picture.  These tutorials will show you how to ‘read’ a histogram and make use of it.

The number and breadth of tutorials here beats Baskin-Robbins’s flavours and even Heinz’s varieties.  You’ll find a goodly number of ‘DIY’ guides from inexpensive reflectors to flash diffusers to ‘string tripods’.  Then there’s one that provides advice on how to shoot architecture that has lots of lines and grids.  And there’s one that brings you up to date – as of July 2010(!) – on the viability of shooting at high ISOs.

Ever wanted to master that recent fad: photographing exploding thingies in the last split-seconds of their lives?  Dive into this Hot 100!  How about something more gentle, like this bokeh / iris flare technique?  

(It is not sterile, as the samples seem to suggest.  You can use the contrivance the article outlines to shoot a portrait or any foreground against a dark background dotted with small points of light or a black sheet of cardboard pricked with holes and covered with transparent coloured paper and bright light behind the setup.) 

Granted, there will be a few dud tutorials – after all, there are a hundred tutorials here!  However, there will be more winners than losers, plus something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.  (The age-old concept of depth-of-field, the new style of Post-HDR, the borrowed look of vintage old photos, and the blue of the ocean.)

When you get to the how-to on photographing live insects at home, you’ll know this Hot 100 is a keeper!

Schedule at least 90 minutes just to go through this list.  You’ll probably end up spending a good bit of time with these how-tos and make good use of a few of them.  You may even find one or two that serve up the answer to a long-lingering question you may be having!





Achieving a Dreamy Effect : Photoshop Tutorial

September 19th, 2008 5 Comments

 Photo credit: chylinski

 Have you ever wondered why some photos look ethereal and dreamy, like the swan photo above? It looks like it came straight from a scene in a fairy tale movie—softly lit, perceptive, fluid, vivid, and it touches something inside of you. You stare at the hints of light that gently touch elements on the photograph; you’re trying to convince yourself it’s a dream. But really, it’s not.
It’s just Photoshop.
Take a look at the original photo:

 It’s a good enough photo already, right? Although the story and composition can be improved (notice the badly cut reflection of the swan on the water), it makes a great photo of a swan spending her late afternoon dilly-dallying on the lake. To help you turn “simple” into “surreal,” here’s a tutorial on how to achieve a dreamy effect for your photos.

  1. Open your chosen photo in Photoshop. This effect works best with well-exposed pictures. You may first adjust brightness and contrast, or do any post-processing adjustment you wish to do with your photo.


  1. Create a new layer. From the menu, click Layer, New, and then Layer via Copy. Shortcut: Ctrl + J (Windows)or Cmd + J (Mac).

  1. A new layer labeled Layer 1 will appear on the Layers palette. This contains your foreground image, which is an exact copy of the background. You may rename your foreground layer if you wish to by double-clicking the layer name. In my case, I labeled it as Foreground.

  1. Making sure that the foreground layer is highlighted in the Layers palette, pull down the Filters menu and select Blur, then Gaussian Blur.


  1. On the Gaussian Blur dialog box, indicate the radius of the blur you wish to apply on your photo. The ideal scale value is when your photo is blurred enough to hide the details, but you should still be able to recognize the image behind it. Start with 5.0 and adjust from there. In the swan photo, I selected a value of 5.0 pixels.

  1. With the foreground layer still selected in the Layers palette, select the blending mode called Multiply. In this step, watch as your photo instantly turns into something new!

  1. From an ugly duckling to a glamorous swan, your photo has entered the world of dreams
This could already be the final image. However, depending on how heavily you want to apply the effect, you may change the blending opacity. By default, it is set at 100%. Move the opacity scale in the Layers palette to a lower value and see what you like best.


  1. Pull down the Layer menu and choose Flatten the Image. This will merge the two layers so that you have just one image.
  1. Finally, click File, save the image as JPEG and you’re done.









Advanced Guide to Flickr

September 16th, 2008 No Comments

As promised, here are more tips on how you can have more fun on Flickr. Now that you’ve signed up, uploaded your photos, added your favorite contacts and joined fantastic groups, let’s take a look at some of the advanced features you can explore.

(If you’re a Flickr newbie, you may want to first read Flicker 101: A Beginner’s Guide for basic tips when starting out.)
Citizens of Flickrville, let’s take a tour:
Browse most interesting photos
With a mechanism to track all uploaded photos, Flickr comes up with cream-of-the-crop shots every day based on favorite tags, comments, views and others—they’re the best of the lot, handpicked by the gods, the blessed ones.
These great photos should be useful if you are looking for inspiration and diverse perspectives. It’s every Flickr member’s dream to find his photo land a spot on the highly desired Flickr-loves-you list.
Click Explore from the Flickr top menu to see random interesting photos. Refresh the page to see the next one. You can also check out more awesome uploads in the last 7 days or see them in a calendar-view of the current month.
Blog your Flickr photos
Surely, most of you maintain a blog. Although blog platforms like WordPress and Blogger have their own photo-posting capabilities, Flickr takes photo blogging to a new level by allowing you to post your new sunset shot directly from your photostream. Flickr can talk to your blog.
Configure your Flickr account to allow posting photos to your blog. After you set it up, you can make a test post to see if everything’s working well.  You should be able to post to your blog by clicking the Blog This button at the top of the photo. Presto! You’ve just blogged it.
Get a personalized URL
One, it’s easier to remember. Two, it creates personality. When you sign up, your Flickr address looks too generic, not to mention a little robotic:

By setting up a personal name, you change it to something like:
Be cautious though. Once you set your new URL, it’s locked. You cannot change it again.
Show off photos on your website        
Add a strip of Flickr photos on your blog or website. Let your visitors see—the instant you upload them—your recent Paris trip or your last gastronomic adventure in Melbourne. You can also choose to display the photo pool of a Flickr group that suits the purpose of your website, or simply show random photos from the whole of Flickr.
To do so, create a Flickr badge, copy and paste the generated HTML into your website’s source code and start showing off those photos.
Explore and discover
Flickr continues to evolve both in functionality and playfulness. There’s just a lot that can be done. Discover more Flickr treasures yourself and share it with us here. Feel free to post your suggestions in the comment section. Be assured that we’ll continue to post interesting finds as we go along.

Flickr 101: A Beginner’s Guide

September 15th, 2008 3 Comments

From its minimalist layout to its user-friendly functions, Flickr offers heaps of features that attracted hobbyist and professional photographers alike. Easily, it grew into a place where people can comfortably share their work, interact and learn.

So if until today you’re not yet Flickring then it’s about time you start. Registration is free. And to guide you on your Flickr baby steps, here are some beginner tips to help you move around.
Sign up using your Yahoo! mail account
And that’s it—no long bio forms to fill out, no secret password questions and no codes to confirm your being a human.
Upload photos with ease
The first thing you need to do—fill your photostream with as many photos as you want. There are a handful of ways to upload your photos in Flickr.

 Add titles
After uploading, the filename of your JPEG file (e.g. IMG_076) automatically becomes the title of your photo. Change it to a more descriptive or artistic title like “Angelli sipping her coffee” or “Tonight I’m leaving my sky.”
You can also write a brief story behind the photo in the description box. Some users write (or paste) famous quotations that somehow describe their photo.
Use tags
Tags will help you search photos within your photostream, especially those belonging to the same theme. For example, you may choose to put the tags “travel” and “Sydney” on photos from your recent trip to Australia. Also, tagging allows other Flickr users who search for “Sydney” photos to discover yours.
Adding contacts
One of the great things about Flickr is its community. You’ll connect with photographers of varying expertise from all corners of the world. Some of whom would become your favorites, whose work you would want to follow and stalk. Here’s how you can add another photographer as a contact:

  1. Go to his or her photostream page, say AusPhotographer’s.
  2. Click Profile in the menu under AusPhotographer’s Photostream.
  3. On the upper right hand part of the Profile screen, click Add AusPhotographer as a contact.
  4. On the confirmation screen, you’ll be asked to add AusPhotographer as either friend or family. If the photographer is neither, leave the tick boxes unchecked.
  5. Finally, click Add.

Join groups
Flickr is home to thousands of interest groups you can join. They usually have a field of expertise in photography.
You can find groups on portrait photography, Canon cameras , Nikon gadgets, beaches, insects, lomography, macro, kites, and just about anything you can take a picture of. Some also form groups based on their country or city. There are also groups specifically created for themed photo competitions.
Advanced Flickr Tips
There are more fascinating things you can do on Flickr and one post is not enough to lay them all down. But the above tips should be enough to give you a jumpstart. Come back soon for more tips on Flickring! In the mean-time make sure you check out our advanced guide to the Flickr photostream.


Create your own Valentine’s Day Canvas Print

February 1st, 2008 1 Comment

Regular readers of the blog will be familiar with the free online image editing program Picnik. You can check out our introduction to Picnik if you are curious. For the curious, the four tutorials in that series will give you an indepth introduction to Picnik.

In today’s tutorial we are going to show you how to use some of the basic Picnik tools to create a very special canvas print, printed card or picture for Valentines day. We have deliberately tried to keep it as simple as possible.

Choose your image

Pick an image that represents a powerful personal moment between you and your partner. An image that features both of you is always ideal 🙂 You can see our test image below.

Intensify  the colour

Increase the saturation of the image slightly to help create more vivid colours.

Simply click on Edit – Colour from the main menu:

When you boost the saturation make sure that the colours still look realistic.

Add a border

Add a border to your image by going to Create – Frames

You can choose both an inner and outer colour and alter the size of each. Remember to click "Apply" when you have finalised your choices to save your changes.

We applied two separate frames – one square and one circular

Add a shape

Picnik have added a whole range of Valentine’s Day themed shapes and we are going to use them to add a splash of colour to our personalised message. Click on "Create" and then "Shapes"

Choose an image from the available selection. It will then appear in the centre of your image. You can alter the size of the image by clicking on any of the four round shapes on each corner. You can rotate the image by clicking on the round shape on the centre top of the image.

Place it in an area where there will also be space to add some text.

Add some text

Without changing the screen – click on the text tag next to the shape button on the menu.

You can see the available options below:

Make sure you scroll down the font choices until you reach those with a Valentines Day theme.

You can choose:

  • The type of font
  • The font size
  • The font colour

Enter your text to the box in the top of the left-hand menu and then click "Add Text"

You can change the size and rotation of the text in the same way as we worked with our custom shape.

You can see our choices below:

Save your image

Make sure you save your image by going to Save and Share.

If you are particularly happy with the final effect Brilliant Prints can help you turn your final image into a very special Valentine’s day canvas print. Alternatively, submit your image to us for our inaugaral Valentines Day Competition and you could win an 11 x 14 inch print with your image delivered before Valentine’s Day.



Quick Tips – Part 1 – Remove cluttered backgrounds

January 22nd, 2008 No Comments

In the heat of the photographic moment, it can be very easy to focus only on the subject of the shot and ignore what’s happening in the background. It’s only when we download the images onto our computer, or get them developed, that we realise that we also managed to capture a whole array of distracting clutter.

In the first of our quick tips – we’ll be showing you how to achieve some retrospective simplicity with the aid of some not-so-difficult Adobe Photoshop tips. The basic principles would apply to all photo editing programs.

Step 1: Crop the background

Cropping out as much of the background as possible is a simple easy, short-cut. Just make sure that you don’t detract from some of the basic rules of composition and symmetry.

For our test picture we are going to use an image from a press conference announcing the "Crowded House" Reunion. We are going to attempt to edit the photo to focus it far more tightly on the gentlemen in the Hawaiin shirt.

 As usual, we used our marquee to make the initial selection – and then selected Edit – Crop.

Step 2: Select your subject

To blur our background – we want to use the lasoo tool from our toolbox to very roughly select around our subject. Make sure that you leave a little bit of space around his body (as per the image below)

We want to eliminate some of the extraneous space by feathering our edge. In Photoshop goto Select – Feather. The value will differ depending on the final size of our image. You want to choose a number of pixels that brings the marquee selection closer into your subject without crossing over any of their edges.

Invert your selection by going – Select – Invert.

Step 2: Blur the background

To blur our background we are going to use the Gaussian blur tool. Goto – Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur. Choose a value that blurs the background without totally eliminating our perception of the subjects. If you have the preview button ticked you can keep trying until you get something that works perfectly. For our test image we only needed to use a very small value.

If you were a little bit messy, you may need to touch up the blurred background manually.

Use the blur tool from your tool-box, choose a small brush size and touch up any edges around the body of the subject that were not blurred by your initial pass. If you treat it like a standard paint-brush, the task should not be too difficult.

 Step 4: Saturate/Desaturate

In the final stage we want to desaturate the background slightly to further increase the emphasis on the main subject. Select your sponge tool and set it to desaturate 15%, then brush over the majority of the background.

 After desaturating the background, change the sponge tool to saturate and set it at a smaller value (7-8%) Paint over the subject to slightly bring out the colour.

The final effect should be subtle – but should help the subject of your image – just pop a little out of the background.

You can see our attempt below and compare it to the original image. There are other methods that may produce more effective results – but the advantage of this method is that it’s fast, effective and easy!


Picnik Photo Editing – Part 4 – Using the edit tools

January 18th, 2008 2 Comments

The edit screen of the Picnik photo editing system gives you access to some of the standard features available in most editing programs (like black and white) However, options such as the ‘effects’ brush allow you to apply them in subtle and sometimes surprising ways.

The Edit Screen

An expanded version of the edit screen can be seen below:

Not all the features available in the edit screen are accessible to free members (many of them are premium customers only). However the following features can be accessed by everyone:

  1. Snow: Applies white snow-like particles across the image. The size and intensity of the particles can be adjusted with the fade button
  2. Black and White: Convert an image (or image part) into black and white
  3. Sepia: Applies sepia tones across the image
  4. Boost: Increases the saturation of colours in the image
  5. Soften: Softens the edges of the image
  6. Vignette: Feathers the borders (making them fade from solid to misty) and applies a back background
  7. Matte:  Feathers the borders without changing the border

Using the edit tools

If you click on an option on the left hand side of the edit screen you’ll see a screen similar to the picture below:

If we look at the labels:

1. Fades the effect. A value of 100% means that no change will apply to your image. A value of 0 % means that the effect will be applied at maximum

2. Clicking on the brush tool opens a second menu screen (as per below)

The brush tool allows you to remove the effect from a certain portion of the image. For instance – you can make a single colour item while the rest stays black and white.

Looking at the labelled section of the picture above:

1. Changes the effect of our brush. If we select original – the effect will be applied to the image when we use our brush (i.e. the painted section will become black and white.) If we select effect, our paint brush will remove the effect.

2. Alters the size of the brush. For painting large areas of an image use a larger brush, for fine work drop this right down.

3. Reverses the effect of the brush. For instance – with the black and white tool – it turns the black and white area back into colour.

Putting it into effect

Our test image can be seen below. We wanted to turn everything but the flower into black and white:

1. We clicked on the b/w palette – clicked on the brush icon and selected a large brush. We checked that we had selected ‘original’  in the brush palette. We roughly went over the flower (returning colour to the petals and leaves)

2. We then selected a much smaller brush and changed our selection from ‘original’ to ‘effect’. By painting around the edges of the fingers – we were now turning the coloured portions back into black and white.

As you can see, two minutes work with the black and white tool helped us create a stunning mixed colour shot!

Tomorrow: Our final Picnik masterclass

Make sure you check out the other parts of our Picnik tutorial series:


  • An introduction to Picnik
  • Absolute Beginners Guide to Picnik
  • Preparing your picture with Picnik
  • Picnik Advanced: Using the Exposure tools for tonal control




  • Picnik Photo Editing – Part 3 – Levels, Histograms and much more!

    January 17th, 2008 3 Comments

    While the Picnik photo editing software contains an array of easy-to-use tools for the casual photo editor, it also gives you access to a small selection of more powerful options. In Part 3 of this tutorial we will examine the levels tool in greater depth, providing some pictorial ‘before and after shots’ as illustration.

    Exposure Tools

    High-powered software like Adobe Photoshop have long given photographers the ability to finely tune the exposure of problematic photos. Picnik gives users the ability to replicate this function (albeit not completely) through the Exposure tool.

    From the main editing screen you simply click on:

    1) Edit

    2) Exposure

    3) Advanced

    and you will see the following screen:

    The Histogram in the picture shows the tonal range of your image. The left hand side graph represents the proportion of pixels in your image that are absolute black, while the right-hand side shows the proportion of pixels that are absolute white. Unless you are aiming for a particular artistic effect, the graph should be concentrated in the middle. 

     In looking at the above graph we can see that it shows that our source image will be very dark (as can be seen below in the picture)

    The advanced exposure menu gives us three ways of correcting this image.

    The Brightness button allows us to lower or decrease the overall brightness of the image. You can see how this effects our test image:

    When we darken the image by pushing the brightness button to the left hand side you can see that the tonal range of our image is concentrated around a narrow spectrum of absolute black – creating a very murky effect.

    In contrast, when we push the image towards the absolute white end – we end up with a picture lacking contrast and tonal depth.

    The brightness tool can be effective with an image that is only slightly – out of balance – however we would recommend taking a look at the highlight and shadows tool for more nuanced editing.

    The Highlights slider menu allows you to individually manipulate the white point of the image. You can see from the below image that it has increased the intensity of the existing white points (the faces) without really touching the surrounding shadows.



    The Shadows slider does the opposite – increasing the intensity of the black points while minimising the impact on the white points.

    You should also be able to see how changing each of the sliders impacts on the histogram for each image.

    Pulling it all together

    The easiest way to learn how to use the exposure tools is to practice! Try playing around with each slider, also looking at the affect in combination. It’s very hard to make a mistake (as you can always reset your values and start again)

    Our final copy of the our test image can be seen below:

    Tomorrow: Retouching faces and teeth using Picnik.

    Take a look at the other parts of the Picnik series:

    Picnik Photo-editing Tutorial – Part 1 – Beginner’s Guide

    January 15th, 2008 5 Comments

    For those confident with web-based software you can skip ahead by signing up here.

    Otherwise – the following information will help even an absolute beginner sign up to and start using Picnik.




    You will need to have Adobe Flash 9 installed on your system for the service to work. If you don’t have it – it will prompt you to download.




    1. Go to this page.
    2. Click register
    3. You only need to provide a user-name, email address and password (see picture below). Untick the box at the bottom of the screen if you don’t want to receive email updates.


    1. That’s it. You don’t even need to activate your account. You will be taken straight to your personal homepage and can start editing images straight away.

    Uploading your first image


    To get started on editing your first image:


    1. Click on the upload now button (see picture below)

    Picnik Welcome Screen


    1. A window will open showing files on your hard-drive. Choose the required file and click upload. Once the file is uploaded your are ready to go!
    The Picnik menu system


    The attached picture shows the range of different options available for your photograph:





    The options available are as follows:


    Home: Takes you back to the initial start screen

    Photos: Allows you to upload new photos or grab them from other web services

    Edit: Offers a range of basic tools such as cropping, exposure, colours and red-eye reduction

    Create: Offers a range of very cool filters allowing you to modify your image (b/w, sepia etc)

    Save and Share: Allows you to save your image back on your hard drive, and share it through a range of other web applications.


    Tomorrow: Editing  your first image


    Take a look at the other parts of the Picnik series:


  • Absolute Beginners Guide to Picnik
  • Preparing your picture with Picnik
  • Picnik Advanced: Using the Exposure tools for tonal control
  • Using the Picnik brush tools for editing
  • Create your own valentines image with Picnik


    Free software to give your digital photographs the *wow* factor

    January 15th, 2008 6 Comments

    2007 was the year of the web application – with popular desktop software such as calendars, word-processing and project management software moving online. It also saw the debut of a range of free feature-rich, intuitive photo editing programs that can be accessed entirely online.

     In the next few weeks we’ll showcase four programs, covering software suitable for both amateur photographers and professionals alike.


    This week we will focus on a new program called Picnik.



    What do other people say?

    • PCWorld says it’s: “Outstanding online photo editing for casual photographers who live online”
    • Tech Journalist Walt Mossberg (Wall Street Journal) is a strong advocate. He says “If you want to see how good a Web application can be, take Picnik for a spin”
    The Good Points

    • Recently, Yahoo updated popular photo storage service flickr to include one click access to picnik editing tools. Integrating the two has helped make a great set of programs even better. Picnik is working on integrations with other web programs such as Picasa and Facebook.
    • Picnik is accessible from anywhere you have internet access. It helps eliminate the frustrations of being on the wrong computer and wanting to edit your photos.
    The Bad Points

    • The picnik editing tools are fantastic, but they don’t give you the same control as dedicated desktop programs. If you want to move beyond basic colour correction and adjustment – this program will not be for you.
    • Picnik offers a smooth experience if you use it from a broadband connection. However, if you try to access it from a dial-up internet connection you’ll discover just how frustrating it can be!
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