I hear complains that Photoshop’s Reduce Noise tool doesn’t work ~ My tip: try customizing it instead of using the auto mode. The settings that work best for me: Strength = 7; Preserve Details = 50%; Reduce Color Noise = 95%; Remove Artifact = Checked. It’s a subtle, but effective improvement. Some images are beyond salvaging, but this works if an image has just a little bit of grain. (Go to Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise to customize your settings).
To add tones and a soft vignette to a picture: In Photoshop:Go to Filter> Render > Lighting effect > Soft Omni -> then choose the color and customize the intensity and brightness to your liking. You can also use Flashlight instead of Soft Omni fora more vivid result.
Whenever you see something that grabs your attention (bridges, sculptures, flowers, etc), "stay with it" for a while and try capturing it in *several* different ways - check this link to see examples of same subject / different compositions: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dd-photography/5719781367/ ~Your photography will be more interesting, and you'll be able to discover and appreciate all the facets of your subject.
To get a dramatic distorted effect: in Photoshop, go to Filters > Distort > and then you can play with your options. It’s fun! Click on this link to see some of my favorite effects: Pinch, Wave and Twirl: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dd-photography/4949186898/
To create fun, two-tone portraits - In Photoshop: Select your 2 desired colors (background and foreground - color picker on your left); Go to Filter > Adjustments > Gradient Map > then Reverse. You can also get a similar effect using Picnik: Go to Create > Effects > Duo-Tone (chose the colors and adjust brightness, contrast and intensity to your linking). See examples here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dd-photography/5529530899/
To get beautiful warm tones in your pictures, set the White Balance to "cloudy" - this setting will work well for almost all kinds of photos (if you, like me, love yellow tones) ~ but it will particularly enhance a golden sunset.
Pay attention to your backgrounds. Sometimes we’re too focused on the main subject – but the background is equally important, it can make or break a photo. Look for beautiful colors and light, interesting patterns; whether you’re going for a lively, colorful setting or a clear, uncluttered one make sure you avoid unwanted items: trash, ads, passersby, etc. Take a sec to review what’s going on around your subject and wait or change position if needed.
If you’d like to capture someone’s smile: crack a joke! Or tell them to think of Brad Pitt, Charlie Sheen’s rants or their favorite dessert... get creative! If you just ask them “smile”, you might get a fake one. Fake expressions are recognizable and unflattering. And NO, you can’t blame a client/model for artificial smiles – it’s your job as a photographer to capture them in the best way possible.
The moment you press the shutter: *hold your breath!* You’ll get sharper images and will secure the alignment. This is so basic, but still lots of people forget and it can make a big difference ~ especially if you’re not using a tripod, a lens with Vibration Compensation or Image Stabilization or if you’re zooming in all the way.
When photographing a woman, do it from above, it’s flattering: her eyes and cheeks will seem bigger - her chin, more delicate. She will look thinner. When photographing a man, do the opposite, from below eye level: he will seem taller, commanding; his jaw will look stronger. (Note: avoid a low POV when photographing someone who is overweight, this perspective adds pounds).
The time between 9am and 3pm on a bright sunny day could be great for flower close-ups: all that light will reveal great detail in the petals. The trick is to position yourself in a spot where you’ll create a shade over your subject, use something to block the direct sunlight or ask someone to work as a “shadow” for you.
Whenever you're photographing anything, try capturing it from different, unusual angles: photograph it from behind, from the sides, from above, from below... You'll get more fun, interesting, original images!
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