10 Photoshop Tips and Tricks for Photographers

If you’re a photographer looking to use Photoshop a little better and faster and more effectively for your images, this tutorial will help you to learn 10 things that I think are great tips and tricks specifically for photographers in Photoshop.

I’ll give you a preview of five of the ten features covered in the full video (and the remaining five will also be listed below.)

Lifting the Black Point and Tweaking Contrast and Tone w/ Levels, Curves, Selective Color

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I cover all three of these Adjustment Layers in the video. Here, we’ll just talk about the Curves Adjustment Layer. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and grab the black point on the bottom left of the graph and drag upward to lift the black point and reduce contrast. Drag down on the white point at the top right of the graph and then play with dragging some of the darker pixels downward to add a little contrast back into our image. I also went into the R, G, and B channels via the drop down and used the little finger dragger tool to boost blue in the skin (this reduces yellows), to boost a little green (this reduces the magenta cast in the skin), and to reduce the red a little. TIP: With the finger tool, simply click the area in the image you wish to adjust and drag up or down to increase or decrease the brightness or color (in the case of the Red channel, dragging upward will increase the red and dragging downward will increase the cyan.)

Targeting Color and Skin Tone Colors

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One of my favorite tricks for targeting colors in an image and specifically in the skin tones of a subject in my photos is to use the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and use the color drop down menu to choose Reds or Yellows and even use the +/- eyedropper tools to add or remove colors that we’re targeting. You can also use the Camera Raw Filter (Filter>Camera Raw Filter) and go to the HSL tab and you can target even more colors in your image. TIP: It can be tempting to reduce the saturation of a color that is giving you trouble, but often it is a matter of simply shifting the hue of that color to fix issues with skin in Photoshop.

Color Correction Techniques

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A quick color correction technique is to create a new layer and go Edit>Fill and choose to fill the layer with 50% gray and then set the blend mode to Difference. Add a Threshold Adjustment Layer above that and reduce the slider to 5 or 6 and grab the Eyedropper tool and zoom way in on one of the black spots that are left and hold down Shift and click with the Eyedropper tool to place a point right on that black spot. Next, add a Curves Adjustment Layer and choose the middle gray eyedropper tool from the options panel that pops out and zoom in and click directly on that eyedropper point that we dropped to auto color correct the photo. Check out the video above to see exactly how this works and why it works.

Selective Sharpening with Quick Mask + High Pass

Double-click on the Quick Mask icon below the color picker at the base of the toolbar and make sure you have “Selected Areas” picked. Next, merge all visible layers to a new layer by hitting the secret hotkey Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + Alt/Opt + E and next hit “Q” to turn on Quick Mask mode and set your foreground color to black and paint using the Brush tool (large, soft-edged brush is best) over just the skin of your model and then hit “Q” again to load the painted area as a selection. Hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to pop that selected area up onto its own layer and go Filter>Other>High Pass and choose something around a 2px radius and then set the layer blend mode to Soft Light and reduce opacity as needed to blend the sharpening for the model’s face in place. Repeat this process for each element in the photo that needs a different level or sharpening.

Grain with Camera RAW

For this better version of grain/noise to help blend color after you’ve finished the retouching on your image, simply create a new layer and go Edit>Fill and choose to fill your layer with 50% gray. Right-click on the gray layer and choose “Convert to Smart Object” and then go Filter>Camera Raw Filter and in the Camera RAW dialog box, choose the “FX” tab and use the Grain sliders to adjust the amount, the crunchiness, and the size of the grain to be added to our photo (much more control than we have using the Noise filter in Photoshop!) and then commit the changes and return to Photoshop and set this layer to the blend mode Soft Light and reduce the opacity as desired to complete the grain.

The other five techniques covered in this video are:

  • Luminosity Masks
  • Non-Destructive Healing & Cloning
  • Face Replacement
  • Saturation vs. Vibrance
  • Heads up Display Sharpening and Masking Sharpness

Watch the full video at the top of this post to see everything and all the great details! Please like and share this video!

Tags: Photography, How to be a better photographer, Photoshop, Photoshop Tutorial, Photoshop CC, Photoshop Tutorials, Creative Cloud, Photoshop Tips and Tricks, Photoshop Tips, Photoshop Hacks, How to use Photoshop, Photographers, Curves, Luminosity Masks, Face Replacement, Replace a Face, Skin Tone, Color Correction, Color Correct, Sharpening, Camera RAW
  • Katy Gordon

    Thanks for sharing such detailed and helpful insights! I need to start photoshopping by myself. I got used to work with digital photo retouching services like photographer’s edit or FixThePhoto, it’s convenient and fast but I can’t call myself a professional photographer till I am able to repeat this. You really know how to fix a photo. This is the best. You are the best.