Photography tips

Check your masks

When masking, it’s easy to miss out areas when you’re absorbed in the imaging process. To check your mask is well-made and complete, hold Alt and click on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. This will show the mask alone, and allow you to paint in any gaps. To revert, just Alt-click on it again.

Reset if you fluff it!

If things go wrong when you’re adjusting the settings in a palette and you mess up the image, the obvious bail-out is the Cancel button. This will exit the palette and restore your original pic. Instead of doing this, hold Alt and the Cancel will become a Reset button. Click this and you’ll return to your starting point without having to exit the palette and reopen it.

Boost or cut specific colours

Within the HSL panel in Lightroom and Camera Raw, you can radically enhance the colours in a scene by adjusting any of eight individual hues. To ramp up the blue in a sky, click on the Saturation tab and increase Blues, then click on Lightness and decrease Blues. To adjust the colour of the sky, use the same slider under the Hue tab.

Benefit from adjustment layers

Because they change data rather than alter pixels, Adjustment Layers are more flexible than pixel-based layers. Instead of copying a layer and making changes to it, click the Adjustment Layer icon and select the type you want from the list. You’ll get the same palette, but the changes you make are not permanent. To change the settings later, double-click the Adjustment Layer’s thumbnail.

Add mono toning treatments

To apply a single colour tint such as sepia or blue toning to a shot, click on the Adjustment Layer icon in the Layers panel and select Hue/Saturation from the list. In the dialog box, tick the Colorize box, then adjust the Hue and Saturation sliders to get the colour and intensity you want.

Go back in time with Undo

To undo the last thing you did, press Ctrl/Cmd+Z. If you want to step back further, press Ctrl/Cmd+Alt+Z. At the default settings, you can go back up to 20 states, but if you want more, you can increase the number of History States in Edit > Preferences. (Select Photoshop > Preferences if you’re using macOS).

Correct your lens

Before doing anything else to a raw file in Lightroom or Camera Raw, go to Lens Corrections and tick the Remove Chromatic Aberrations and Enable Profile Corrections boxes. This will automatically detect the lens used and compensate for any colour fringing or distortion that’s present.

Set your black point

When converting raw files in Lightroom or Camera Raw, Set your black point by Alt-dragging the Blacks slider to the left. You’ll see a mask view where true black occurs: this provides a great way to set the darkest parts of an image. You can do the same with Alt and the Whites slider to set a white point.

Recompose with Transform

The Crop tool isn’t always the best way to reframe an image. Instead press Ctrl/Cmd+A to select the image, then Ctrl/ Cmd+T to enter Transform mode. Now hold down Ctrl/ Cmd and pull out the corner handles of the bounding box to reshape your image to the frame. When you’re done, press Return to confirm. With this method, you can improve composition while you crop.

Behind the photo

Documentary photographer Marc Wilson says: "Technique is important, but the power behind a photograph is the story it tells."