Four Essential Steps to Speed Up Your Editing in Photoshop

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If editing your photos has become a time consuming chore, we are here to help.

There are a number of ways that Photoshop CS and CC users can speed up their editing.

  1. Start in Lightroom – Use Lightroom to organize, sort and cull your files – and ideally to fix exposure and white balance if necessary.  Of course you could edit your photos from beginning to end there, using our Lightroom Presets. But if you prefer the control of Photoshop, then consider starting in LR beforehand.
  2. Once in Photoshop Use Actions to Speed Up Your Workflow – Of course we sell actions, so you might be thinking, “obviously you would say that.”  Actions record a series of steps and play them back, so whether it is MCP actions or ones that you record on your own, if you do the same processes over and over to keep your edits consistent, they will save you time.
  3. Use Shortcut Keys While Editing – learn some of the most important shortcut keys.  We have a guide you can print out for free that lists built in shortcuts. Additionally you can assign actions to the F (function) keys on your keyboard.  Pick your favorite actions or even ones that can help.  Our keyboard is filled with them – from mix and match actions in Fusion to the Little Helpers (like the Group Everything, Flatten, and Convert to sRGB) in MCP Inspire Photoshop actions.
  4. Take Out Annoying Pop-Up Messages Inside of Actions - yep, we really said that.  When you first get a Photoshop action set, having pop-up directions helps for the more complex actions, especially ones where you need to paint on a photo with the black mask to activate the results. After you get used to using them, the directions that we build in can be super annoying and even slow you down with a few extra clicks.

Watch this video now to learn how to assign F key shortcuts to your actions and see how you can remove directions and pop-ups:

This demo uses MCP Inspire, but the same methods apply to all of our action sets.  Note: These two options are perks of full Photoshop and cannot be done in Elements.

There are definitely other ways you can edit faster too.  Share some of your tips for speeding up your workflow in the comments below.
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10 STEPS TO POSING CURVY WOMEN — NO PHOTOSHOP REQUIRED!

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I recently saw a photographer post a “before and after” photo of a beautiful woman that was so drastically Photoshopped she looked like she had a dozen surgeries to make her 40lbs thinner.  The photographer was fishing for critique from colleagues on whether her editing skills looked natural and proportionate.  I couldn’t believe the comments I read.  Photographers were praising the image on the natural editing and how much the woman would love the images.  This woman’s body was so far from her natural shape she was unrecognizable!

My question is this, “Why do many photographers feel the need to distort shapely women to look like someone they are not?”

There is a misconception that in order to photograph and please women who aren’t super model skinny, the photographer must present their clients with liquefied images.  Most women who aren’t stick thin don’t hire photographers to make them look 50 pounds less.  They hire you to help them look their absolute best.

When doing portraits you should focus on creating a photo that shows who the subject’s personality, dreams, hopes, fears and love. The minute you change the way a woman’s body naturally looks, you are sending the message that she is not beautiful as she is.  As photographers, we can encourage women with any body shape to embrace themselves and feel beautiful just by how we interact with them during the session and by the photos we deliver.  By combining posing techniques with simple editing, you won’t literally change your subject’s weight or shape, but can masterfully control the angles, lighting, and proportions to create images she will love.

I’m not saying that it is wrong to Photoshop women’s images, as I personally spend a lot of time editing; however, I absolutely do not change her body to look like a different woman.  I use editing to correct things that I didn’t catch in camera, such as clothing and underwear puckering, distractions, lens distortions, hair wisps, lighting flaws that overly enhanced imperfections, and blemishes that eventually heal. It is my goal that when she sees her photos she will say, “That is me, and I am beautiful.”

Photographing Jodi Friedman of MCP Actions

Last summer I had the chance to do a My Beauty Campaign Beauty Session for MCP Actions owner Jodi (you can read her story here).  She was nervous to be in front of the camera and just like every single woman alive, she was self conscious of her beautiful body.  It was such an honor to see her work through her insecurities before, during, and after her Beauty Session and to read about what her experience meant to her.  I have included some of her images from her session to illustrate the techniques.   I honestly feel that Jodi’s pictures are much more than a photo of her body. You can really see her personality and how beautiful Jodi is as a whole.  That should always be your #1 goal when photographing any woman.

Keep reading for 10 tips on flattering posing, posing different body types together, and editing.

When I photograph a woman, I always remind her that I will not make her beautiful, but that she already is!  I only imply that I will bring her beauty into focus and allow her to recognize the beautiful woman that she is today.

Posing Curvy Women: 10 Techniques for Flattering Images

Technique 1: Give Her Body Shape

You can give her body flattering shape by either the way she faces and angles her body and by using her arms to enhance her curves and direct the eye.  You can also strategically use the surroundings to cover parts of her midsection or hips to either break up solid colored outfits, or to keep the focus on her face and not her body.

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Technique 2: Drop the Front Shoulder and Release Arm

This is one of the best techniques you can use on any woman and it is so flattering!  Just lower that front shoulder!  Every woman wants to avoid the notorious double chin and this is achieved by elongating the neck and pulling the chin forward.  If you direct her by saying “now pull your shoulders down towards the ground,” instead of “lengthen your neck up” you usually avoid her lifting her chin and eyes up awkwardly.

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Techniques 3: Shoot Directly at or Above Eye Level

I have found that across the board, most women’s favorite part of herself is her eyes.  These tightly framed beauty shots are usually the favorites of their portfolio because of the focus on the eyes.  You can get away with shooting below eye level on slender women, but it is just not as flattering on women who carry more weight.  When you shoot slightly above her eye level, it slims her chin and jawline.  Just be sure to not have her put her chin too far down because it will make her forehead appear larger than it really is.  These tight head shots are also the most flattering through 85mm lenses or more.  I usually shoot these on my 70-200mm 2.8 zoomed all the way to 200mm.  I think this because I can get a very tight shot of her face without invading her space by shooting a foot away from her.  I am out of her “bubble” and she can be more natural.

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Technique 4: Chin Towards Camera, Hips Farther Away

This is a simple technique to visually slim her mid-section and hips.  Whatever is furthest away from the camera will appear smaller.  By having her bring her face closer to the camera and pushing her hips away, she will look proportionate and the focus will be on her face (while also utilizing the previous techniques).  Be sure to have her slightly lower her chin while her jaw is still pulled towards you.  She will feel strange leaning so far forward, but her neck and jaw will look amazing, her midsection and hips will look flattering.  In the images below, her face was at least a foot closer to my lens than her hips were creating this lovely slimming effect.

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Posing Different Sized Bodies Together

Techniques 5: Flattering the Mom in Family Photos

When posing the Mom in family photos it is very natural for her to hold her children, but you can use this to balance the composition.  Simply place the children in front of mom to de-emphasize certain areas.  Also be sure to use the previous techniques and she will absolutely love her family photos.  This same technique applies when using the surroundings to either cover parts of her lower body or midsection, to keep the focus of the attention on her face. 

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Technique 6: Smaller Body Type Faces the Camera, Larger Turn Away From Camera

When posing a smaller framed woman next to a woman who is larger, you can balance out the different body sizes by having the smaller framed woman turn more towards the camera, and the larger woman turn toward the side looking over her shoulder.  Just be sure to have the same amount of body shown on each woman even if one needs to be completely profile and the other mostly facing the camera.  You can also utilize the smaller framed woman’s arms to add even more.  This will balance out the composition and both women will love the image.

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Editing the Natural Way

Technique 7. Fix Clothing Puckering

Many women wear spanks or a belt which can cause unusual bulges at the tightest point that are not her natural body shape.  This is one of the only times I change her body shape.  Natural body curves are not lumpy like the image on the left.  So I even it out. Now changing her body would be to bring the bulges into the smallest point on the belt.  She would look much slimmer if you did this.  Instead, I loosen the belt to make a smooth  transition.  I usually find these problem areas from bra straps on their back below the shoulder blades, waistlines from pants or spanks, or her biceps because her arm is pressed against her body making it look larger than it really is.  After working with her, you will know her body shape…just be sure to not change her beautiful body!

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Technique 8: Editing Skin

I personally smooth skin on every photo because with the incredible glass in lenses today, we get lovely crisp images…but crisp skin is not a women’s friend.  Sharpening during post-processing also adds even more harshness to the skin.  So when I edit, I have a strict rule that I will not remove any permanent features.  However, if a marking on her face will eventually heal or fade or the redness will go away, I will speed up the process by cloning or using the healing brush.  The goal is for the viewer to focus on her eyes and smile, and not a last minute zit.

You can edit skin manually in Photoshop or using tools like MCP’s Magic Skin actions or even MCP Newborn Necessities actions (yes they are not just for newborns).

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Technique 9: Look for Short Lighting and Other Flattering Lighting Patterns

Whether you shoot in natural light or use flash, watch the way light falls on your subject.  You can use lighting to mold the face and body as well as utilize shadows to slim and flatter your model.  In the example below, look how the light is flattering her face.  Also notice how the light source is above eye level casting the shadows from the top of her head to the bottom.  To see if you have your lighting right, always look to see if there is a slight shadow under the nose.  If there is no shadow, either raise your light source, or have her bring her chin down.  Always utilize the light on the most flattering side of her body.

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Technique 10: Stop Photographing a Body Type – and Simply Photograph a Woman!

So often we can get so caught up on what type of woman we are photographing and not who we are photographing.  Every woman has an incredible story, personality and love for life that you need to discover. The most beautiful photos are ones that show who she is and what makes her beautiful.  Her body is only an extension of who she is and should not be the main focus.  Find her.  Find her Beauty.

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As stated earlier, it is not our job to make women look like someone they are not.  However it is our job to be sure we photograph her best self.  Unfortunately there are times that we forgot to have her pull her arm away from her body and it appears larger than it really is, or her clothes are puckering strangely, or camera distortion made her look out of proportion.  If you pose your subject correctly, you should have less editing.  Please be aware that the more you change your subject, the harder you are making it for her to accept and love the body that she has.  All women are perfect because of who they are, not because of how much we can edit.  Remember the vulnerability she feels when she is in your care.  You have such a valuable opportunity to build her self esteem and grow her confidence in herself.

 

Mandi Nuttall is the founder and creator of My Beauty Campaign where photographers are uplifting women all over the world.  Learn more about how you can make a true difference in women’s lives by joining the movement and becoming an My Beauty Campaign Photographer.  Use the discount code MCP for 65% off the photographer’s MBC Kit.  Expires April 5th

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Camera Tips: How to Make the Most of the Kit Lens

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I hear a lot of photographers who have been shooting for many years give flack to the kit lens. And I can understand why – with an arsenal of high end, thousand dollar lenses, why would you shoot with the kit lens? I haven’t touched mine in months, personally – but I remember a time when it was all I had, and for the people who are going to be getting their first camera this season, it may be all they have to start with, too. So let me help you create beautiful portrait images with the kit lens, regardless of how new you are to photography.

Here are some useful tutorials for beginner photographers:

And if you plan to open your own business, these tips may help you along the way:

Creating the illusion of depth of field

Sometimes you want to have that creamy bokeh, but with a kit lens, it is hard to get most of the time. Adding a lot of activity to your immediate foreground and background can assist with that. This image was shot at f~5.6, ISO 200 and 1/1250. The wildflowers and grass in my immediate view are blurred so well with their distance to my camera, creating the illusion that I am shooting a little wider open than I am. It allows for this image to have a nice depth of field, despite being shot at 5.6.

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This image, shot at f~5.6, ISO 200 and 1/500, brings together an even better perspective of a wide aperture with the large amount of flowers in the foreground.

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Enhance a golden hour shot with sun flare

Another way to enhance an image without doing a whole lot to it is using sun flare. You may not have a super blurred background, but you can take the focus off of it with a little bit of creativity and back lighting. This image, taken at f~5.6, ISO 200 and 1/125, is almost over flooded with the sun flare, but it lights it up with a beautiful golden look and enhances the depth of the image.

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This is another image shot at f~4.2, ISO 200 and 1/30, that is enhanced by a subtle, but still beautiful, sun flare coming out of the woodwork in the gazebo.

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Use an interesting texture or story in the background

It goes without saying that you want your subject to be the focal point in your image, but if you fill the background with an interesting texture, you can enhance it without needing a huge depth of field. The leaves in this image below, shot at f~16, ISO 400 and 1/10, add an interesting feel to the image without overwhelming it. The focal point is still on the beautiful subject, who, in her light grey jacket and bright scarf, stand out really well.

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Adding a storyline to the background is another way to enhance an image. Capture who the person is in the photo, and it won’t  matter as much that your depth of field isn’t shallow. This photo, showing a girl who is a country girl that lives on a farm, explains who she is with the handmade fence and tractor in the background of the large field.

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Go artistic with your shot

Create something on the artful side. Don’t just make the photo about your subject, make it about what’s around them. Tell an interesting story with your image. This image, shot at f~11, ISO 200 and 1/15, has a vintage feel, with the old building behind him, but for those who know the senior, it shows off who he is and really brings out the raw nature of his personality.

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This is another image of the same senior that also tells a story about his personality. F~6.3, ISO 200, 1/100.

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Summary

There are a lot of ways to utilize the kit lens to the best of nearly any situation. Learning how to work with aperture, shutter speed and ISO are the first steps, and learning how to manipulate the foreground and background to work with your subject are the next steps. It’s also important to remember that it isn’t the camera that takes the shot – it is the photographer, and you can learn how to create beautiful images no matter what kind of equipment you have.

Jenna Schwartz is a baby and family photographer in the Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada areas. She also travels to shoot high school seniors in the summer and fall each year in Ohio. You can find her on Facebook or her website.

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How to Edit an Image with Improper Exposure in Lightroom

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You may have seen this image on our controversial post about exposure or on our product pages for InFusion and Illuminate Presets. Now we are going to answer “how I created such a bright image and such a dark image from the same photo?”

 

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How to take an underexposed image and pull out detail it in Lightroom: This works best with a raw file!

  1. Started by brightening with one stop of exposure via the Fix Underexposure 3 Preset  (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  2. Clicked One Click Color Base with Highlight Protection – 100% (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  3. Clicked on Lighten Up Shadow Brightener 3 (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  4. Clicked Nostalgia Preset – removed the “film” grain that the preset added in the “Effects” area of Lightroom (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  5. Clicked on Different Directions 1 (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  6. Clicked on Darken Whites 3 (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  7. Clicked on Golden Sunrays + Haze Top Right (Illuminate Lightroom Presets)
  8. When you lighten and alter a photo this much, you will get some digital noise. It’s a trade off.  Lightroom has powerful noise reduction. In my original example, since we don’t have noise removal in InFusion, I skipped it.  But for this tutorial, I clicked on Noise Reduction Medium (Enlighten Lightroom Presets)
  9. Lastly I used the Exact-o-Sharp brush over the faces to bring out some detail. (InFusion Lightroom Presets)

 

But what if you prefer go with the underexposure?  You can take the photo from nearly silhouette to full silhouette too. 

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How to take an overexposed silhouette and make it pop in Lightroom (shown directly above):

  1. Clicked One Click Color Base with Highlight Protection – 100% (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  2. Clicked on Enchanting 3 to add toning (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  3. Clicked on Overexposure 3 to darken (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  4. Clicked on Different Directions 2 to add contrast (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  5. Painted on silhouettes with the Shade brush to darken them (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  6. Painted the balloon with the Dodge Ball brush to lighten it and bring back color and with a low flow to the clouds (InFusion Lightroom Presets)
  7. To add directional streams of light, I used Golden Light Band 2 (Illuminate Lightroom Presets – this is one of the bonus presets for LR5)

And lastly, here’s a slightly different take on this image – also with a silhouette.

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The only differences in this edit below is that I used Peach Parfait 3 (instead of Enchanting 3) and Golden Burst of Sunshine (instead of Golden Light Band 2).

We hope you enjoyed these step by step edits!

 

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An Extremely Controversial Photo of Siblings

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When the word “controversial” pops into your head, is this image what you’d be picturing? Probably not!

I had posted this image on the MCP Facebook Page in February showcasing our newest Lightroom presets (InFusion and Illuminate).  I never expected to hear anything except, “cute kids” or “how did you do that?” or “great save.” No laws were being broken.  No kids were harmed.  It was an image that was not exposed properly.  That’s it!

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Instead, I had angry photographers blame me for all kinds of “crimes,” such as:

  • Ruining the photography industry
  • Teaching people to fix images in Lightroom or Photoshop so they do not need to learn their cameras
  • Helping new photographers undercut experienced pros
  • Showing images from people who have no business being photographers

And well, the list was longer than that but you get the idea…

The back story….

This image is by a wonderful photographer, Dayna More. She is active on our Facebook Group and had shared the image there first.  She had explained that she was practicing flash photography when her daughter reached down,  picked up some sand and started eating it.  Oops!  So she turned off her flash and focused on being a mom.  When her son began consoling her daughter, she was touched and started snapping pictures again.  Guess what she forgot to change in the heat of the moment?  Her camera settings!  It’s not that she did not know how to expose.  It’s not that she is a bad photographer – in fact she is great!  She just had a lapse.  And that lapse was what allowed her to capture the moment.

If she paused and changed settings and took some test shots, and adjusted…. she would have likely missed this precious image. You cannot recreate raw emotion. She captured it, and sure the exposure was not perfect.  She and I never said it was.  But why would you trash the image when you can “save” it as shown above or create art from it as shown below?

This edit was from the same raw file as the one earlier.  Trash?  Nope – not to me.  Amazing image? Definitely!

 

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MCP Thoughts – Tolerance and understanding…

When it comes to photographers, some are looking to become professionals in the future and others just want nice images of their kids, grand kids, pets, or the nature around them. Not every photographer that reads MCP tutorials or uses our products wants to compete with the pros.  Some just want better images.

While new photographers are learning to use their cameras, lighting, etc, should they trash every image?  No.  Why not learn software like Photoshop and Lightroom so that they can keep images as they learn and grow their camera skills?  Sure, the goal is quality images straight out of camera, it just is not the reality.  Particularly when someone is new to photography.

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Broken legs and crutches… what do they have to do with photography and editing?

Imagine breaking your leg at your own wedding…  I did.  It sucked.  Afterwards, for three months (THREE!), I had a cast up to the top of my thigh.  I had trouble walking and needed crutches to get around and even after my cast came off, I needed the extra help of crutches as I worked on my walking skills.  Eventually I needed the crutches less and less. And eventually I walked on my own.

Photography is a lot like this.  When most start out, they rely on auto mode, and then the infamous portrait face or running man.  Eventually as a photographer learns more, they branch out to aperture or speed priority and onto manual. This carries over into editing too.  When you are new to photography, the “crutches” or tools can help you edit.  Sure, our actions and presets can save images that you may otherwise trash.  But they can also make it easier and faster to edit — and many tell us that the way we build our products and teach people how to use them, it has actually taught them the ins and outs of Photoshop and Lightroom.

Your call… take them or leave them.

I truly feel that I am allowing people the opportunity to enhance photos, occasionally “save” an image, and create an artistic interpretation of their imagery. There are times where even the most experienced photographers need a boost in Lightroom or Photoshop, just as the darkroom was utilized from the past. Many experienced photographers (such as Joel Grimes, Trey Radcliff  and thousands of others) use editing software to create works of art. And to me, I think it is wonderful.

Hopefully, no matter where you are at with your photography skills, we can all support and respect the work of others and embrace our differences instead of exploit them.

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