It's World Photography Day, So Here Are 3 Easy Photoshop Tricks To Make Your Photos Way Better
It's World Photography Day, so why not figure out how to become the amazing photographer of your National Geographic-tinged dreams? The easiest way to do it might not actually involve taking the photos – just make like Beyonce and fix your photos with Photoshop! Photoshop may seem intimidating – it's an expensive, huge program with a seemingly infinite array of options. But, come on. Graphic design is a field that's overwhelmingly male. And if you're reading this, you're most likely a woman, which means you're smarter than them (source: me, my experiences in the world). You can do it.
I was never trained in graphic design or photo editing; I learned on my own, because it was fun. As a result of my skills, I've gotten jobs in web development and design, photo editing, and making animated GIFs. I even have a side gig right now retouching headshots of performers for spare cash.
I'm not going to teach you how to retouch your own selfies; as a feminist, I'm opposed to that kind of shit unless you're, like, an actor and need to have your skin look poreless and alien-like to make money. But this stuff is way more fun and cool, as well as easier anyway. Read on and leave your friends in awe, you computer whiz, you!
For the first two tutorials, I'm going to use the following bucolic, boring photo that I took a few years ago in Vermont:
UGH SO BORING. Let's make it fun!
1. To Add a Fake Lens Flare:
Open the image in Photoshop and duplicate the background layer by going to Layer > Duplicate Layer (it's always a good idea to have the original version of your photo be the background layer, and only make changes on subsequent layers). (What's a layer? OK, read this first.)
Correct the color on your image by going to Image > Auto Color (this especially works well on snow, which often takes on a greenish tint in photos).
Then, go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare. You'll see several different options:
You can change the brightness of the lens flare and the type of camera it came from. For this, I used the 50-300mm zoom option because I like the pinkish glow. You can also choose where you want the lens flare to occur. When you're satisfied, just press OK and you're there!
Repeat the Filter > Render > Lens Flare step as often as you like – I used only two lens flares on this photo, but you can potentially make many flares for a J.J. Abrams-y effect.
2. To Make a Scene Out of Pleasantville:
The only thing I really enjoyed about this 1998 Tobey McGuire vehicle was the accompanying Paul Thomas Anderson-directed Fiona Apple video. So pause to enjoy that:
Anyway, in this movie, the 1950s sitcom world starts turning into color after people start having sex. It employs lots of cool bursts of color on top of black-and-white (similar to the movie Schindler's List, actually, but, you know, not quite as heavy). Here's how to do that!
Again, open the image in Photoshop and duplicate the background layer by going to Layer > Duplicate Layer. Do this twice so you have three layers in total. Select your top layer.
Now, click on Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. The top layer will now be in black and white.
Click on the Eraser tool (it's what you see on the toolbar to your left that looks like a little eraser). Pick a size tiny enough that will let you get around the tree branches on the house. Now, using the tool, gradually erase the house on the black-and-white version of the photo, showing the yellow house beneath (note to nerds: yes, I know there are better ways to do this. But this is definitely the easiest). Your photo should now look like this:
To make the house really stand out, I cropped the photo (the crop tool=the fifth tool down on the tool bar) to make the house appear closer to the camera.
3. To Make Wall Text Art:
I see cool textual wall art all the time with inspirational phrases on it. Sometimes they sell for, like, $40. You can make it yourself easy-peasy and get it printed and framed for much less than that.
For this tutorial, I'm using a line from Fiona Apple's "Hot Knife," because I love her and I already referenced her and why not make it a theme?
Create a new file with a canvas that's the size in inches you want to print (for instance, 8.5x11 for standard letter paper). Also, make sure the resolution is 300 pixels per inch, which is the standard for print, and make sure the background contents are solid white, or whatever color you'd like the background to be (you can change it later using the Paint Bucket tool).
Pick a thick and easily legible font that hasn't been widely mocked on the internet. I chose Avenir Next Heavy.
Next, find a background for the type. I like this image of a nebula from the Creative Commons section of Flickr. When you've downloaded it, open it within the current file by going to File > Place Embedded. It will put the photo within your document as a smart object – that means you can resize the layer to its original size or smaller without losing image quality.
Increase the nebula layer size by clicking on it and then clicking on Edit > Free Transform. Then, holding the Shift Button, drag the corner of the nebula image until it takes up the entire canvas. It will look like this:
Press enter. Now, right click on the layer and go to "Create Clipping Mask." It should look like this:
So this is obviously just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this kind of thing. Once you've got the easy stuff down, the sky is really the limit – look at some of the crazy stuff people are doing here!
Personally, I like using Photoshop to make collages – I made this dumb image in a few minutes, for instance, to promote a comedy video I made with my writing partner:
Could there be anything more beautiful than making art with pictures of yourself in it? I don't think so.
Images: Jaime Lutz/Bustle (10)