LAB colourmode is a good choice when converting a photograph to black and white, as it seperates the light values from the colours an image. The colours are split into 2 channels, a & b. Using LAB to sharpen means working in the LAB colour space, but with the L-channel selected, which is along side the a & b. This only sharpens the black and white information, leaving the colour pixels untouched.

In the above diagram it shows the different colour channels.



To convert an image from the RGB color mode to the Lab colour mode, we simply follow the same basic steps we used when we converted the image to Grayscale. Go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen and choose Mode (short for Colour Mode). A sub menu will appear listing all the colour modes we have to choose from in Photoshop. The mode that's currently being used will have a small checkmark beside it. To convert the image to Lab, select Lab Colour from the list:

Image > Mode > Lab Colour
You'll know that its changed to LAB when the histogram has changed from; the image on the left side to the image on the right hand side.

Nothing will seem to have happened to the image in the document window. To see the change that's taken place, we need to look in the Channels palette, which you'll find grouped in beside the Layers palette. Click on the name tabs at the top of the palettes to switch between them.

Here's what the three different channels - a Lightness channel which contains the brightness information for the image, and the two color channels "a" and "b"


By separating the lightness values from the colour in the image, the Lab colour mode has essentially created our black and white version for us. All we need to do is select it, and we can do that simply by clicking on the Lightness channel in the Channels palette. By selecting just the Lightness channel, we deselect both the "a" and "b" colour channels, hiding the colour, and leaving us with a black and white version of the photo in the document window.

Click on the Lightness channel to select it, which will deselect the two colour channels.


The Lab colour mode made it easy to select only the lightness values in the image, but all we've really done here is turned off the colour information. We need to make sure the colour is removed completely. We also need to convert the image into a more practical colour mode, one that printers and other electronic devices understand, since most won't know what to do with an image that's using Lab colour. We can solve both of these problems at once by converting the image to the Grayscale colour mode. To convert the image from Lab to Grayscale, simply go back up to the Image menu, select Mode once again, and then select Grayscale:

Convert the image to Grayscale to remove the two unwanted color channels.

Photoshop will pop open a warning box asking if you're sure you want to discard the other channels. Click OK:

Photoshop wants to make sure you don't need the colour channels before it throws them away.

Again, nothing will seem to have happened to the image in the document window, but if we look at our Channels palette, we can see that our image is now made up of a single Gray channel, just as we saw in the Grayscale tutorial, and all of the color information has been completely removed:

In Grayscale mode, images contain only a single "Gray" channel with no additional color information.


If you want to have the original colour copy of the photo, if you save the image at the point it is at, and overwrite the original saved on your computer, the colour information will be lost forever. If you want to save your black and white version without losing the original color version, be sure to select Save As from under the File menu at the top of the screen and save the black and white version under a different name.


Sharpening is something that almost any image can benefit from. Like saturation, it can easily be ignored or overdone if you’re not careful. When done right, it’s a subtle change that results in a big improvement.

It seems that there are many ways to sharpen a photo, and the most common is Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask. It’s a fine tool for most cases, but it can produce terrible results when used incorrectly or without caution.


The RGB color mode is the most common to work with, so I’ll assume that most of us use this as our default. We can still work in RGB even though we’re doing adjustments in LAB color mode, it’s just a little extra work. So open up your image as you normally would and basically process the entire image until you’re happy with it.

main reasons: 1) It’s a very localized adjustment of brightness and any further processing will exaggerate it beyond your original intent, and 2) It’s a destructive process, so we’ll be using a copy layer for the sharpening — and if you stack adjustments on top of those layers, it makes life very difficult if you choose to go back and rework the sharpening. Make a copy of the visible image by doing a “Stamp Visible” command, press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E (Windows) or Shift+Command+Option+E (Mac OS). This gives us a single layer that contains all of the underlying adjustments we’ve applied. Now take this layer and duplicate it to a new document. Once in that new document, change the colour mode to “LAB”.

press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E (Windows) or Shift+Command+Option+E (Mac OS)
This message will appear asking you if you want to merge and flatten the background and Layer 1. Click Flatten.


The lightness channel contains all of the light and dark tones in the image while avoiding any noise caused by the color channels. Sharpening works by darkening the darks and lightening the lights at their boundaries. Any color noise will cause noisy sharpening. In this example, I’ll show the Unsharp Mask to sharpen the image. You could use whatever method you prefer in place of that.

Switch to the channels palette and select “Lightness”. The “A” and “B” channels should be deselected and your image should look like a black and white photo. Now, apply your sharpening directly to that channel. For the Unsharp Mask, you can find it under; Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Every image requires different settings, so don’t just assume that those numbers when you first select are the best for your image. Once you get the sharpness where you like it, apply the filter and reselect the “LAB” channel in your palette.


Photoshop layer styles are a popular way to add an effect to an image, for example adding a drop shadow, to layers in a non-destructive way. With the right knowledge and experience, any effect can be achieved.

A pattern overlay is used to add a pattern to a particular layer. Using Pattern Overlay in conjunction with other effects can help you create different styles, with depth.


Open the image you want to edit in.jpg format - Then create new Layer.
Select "New Fill Layer" and select "Pattern".


This is the window that will pop up once you have selected 'Pattern'
Through this option you can select the colour and mode you want to use.
This is the effect that will be layer over your image. which looks a bit odd because it looks like a totally different image.
This is when you change the opacity of this layer to make the effect blend nicely with the background image.
So this the fished image with the pattern layered over the top. This has given the final photo some texture and a more rustic feel to the image.


File > Scripts
Select 'Load Files into Stack'
Select 2 photos you want to blend
Now you select the areas you want the layer below to show through and select the opacity etc.
The final image is the composite that has blended to 2 images together. It is obvious that there is some tidying up needed.

Layer masks in Photoshop are used in order to make adjustments in a non-destructive way and to isolate a specific area to work on, enabling you to reveal or hide certain areas. When researching this technique, I looked at on line tutorials by Gavin Hoey. I practiced this technique by layering 3 images together and making individual adjustments to each layer using a layer mask. I used blending techniques such as Gaussian blur to further refine the composite images. The background image of the clouds was transformed to alter the perspective and curves levels were altered to affect the mood of the image. I used the quick selection tool to select the house and model before blending the images together.


Layers are probably the single most important addition to Photoshop since the original version, but layer masks are a close second. I would posit that until you thoroughly understand how and why to use masks, you simply don’t understand the power of Photoshop. The term mask isn’t immediately understandable to someone outside the realm of graphic design. At its simplest definition a mask is a way to apply something to a very specific portion of an image. There are two primary types of masks: clipping masks and layer masks. These two tools are closely related in concept, but very different in application. Let’s start by discussing layers masks, which are generally what people are referring to when you hear them discuss Photoshop masking.

A layer mask is something that you apply to a given layer to control the transparency of that layer. Where layer opacity controls the transparency of the entire layer at once, a mask gives you more precise controls over very specific areas. If you want the entire layer to be at 30%, you would lower the opacity, if you want just the left side of a layer to be at 30%, you would use a mask.

Add a layer mask that hides part of a layer

1. In the Layers panel, select the layer or group.

2. Select the area in the image, and do the following: Click the New Layer Mask button in the Layers panel to create a mask that reveals the selection.

To edit a layer mask:1. Select the layer mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. ...

2. Next, choose the Brush tool from the Tools panel, then set the Foreground Colour to white.

3. Click and drag your image to reveal areas in the layer.

4. Set the Foreground Colour to black, then click and drag your image to hide areas in the layer.


Essentially, the liquify tool is a very creative and fluid image editing or enhancementtool found within the Adobe Photoshop image editing application, that allows the free shifting and loose movement of pixels within an image. Although not considered tobea commonly used tool during the image editing process, due to the rather drastic changes that it can make to image if not properly used.However, the liquify tool can be used for a wide variety ofcreative purposes such as the adjustment ofshapes and forms within image, through the pushing, expansion and contraction of the pixels forming the image.As well as this, this tool can be used to add radial blurring toanimage, which may only beof use if the photographer is intending to make drastic creative changes to their image, such asby adding a radial blur to areas of clouds orwater, orto blur a face within an image.

Despite these drastic and harsh image editing tools, it would be assumed that the liquify tool would only beof use to portrait, wedding and fashion photographers, due toit’s inclusion of the powerful and very effective face-aware liquify tool, which would allow them to make small changes to a model’s face such as adjusting the size of their eyes, enhancing the lips, altering facial expressions and changing the proportions of the face.

The face-Aware Liquify tool can be considered tobe the most useful tool within the liquify editing window, duetoit’s ability to change the appearance of the human face very easily and effectively, making it a very useful tool to portrait and fashion photographers, allowing them to make very minute alterations to the face of their model, in order to enhance the visual appeal if required, to correct any distracting facial features and to manipulate the expression of the model if required.However, heavy application of these features toan image is generally frowned upon and is a serious area ofconjecture amongst the public and photographers today, as the human face isbeing enhanced to such an extent, that itno longer shows an accurate and realistic interpretation

With an image open in the main Photoshop editing window, the Liquify tool can be accessed via the filter tab (see example above) at the top of the open Adobe Photoshop window, which in turn will open up the liquify editing workspace, displaying the image tobe adjusted and all of the available tools and features, aswell as a control panel allowing the extent of the manipulations tobe changed.

Shown below on the left side, there are all of the usable tools for shifting and moving the pixels within the image. These tools include:


Firstly, this tutorial will demonstrate the use of the forward Warp tool, which is used to freely shift the pixels within an image in different directions, depending on the size, pressure and density values of brush being used tomanipulate the pixels. The Forward Warp tool can be used by selecting the hand icon from the tool panel on the left of the liquify tool editing window and then by clicking and dragging the circular or square brush areas over the image, in order toachieve the desired effect. Shown below, isan example of the application of this tool, in which the forward Warp tool has been used to change the contours of the models face, to give it a more uniform appearance.Furthermore, in order to reverse this effect the reconstruct brush or Restore All function is used to restore the image back toit’s original state.

The Twirl Clockwise tool can be used within the liquify editing window inorder to apply a specific creative effect toan image, through the application ofthe brush tool that will twist and contort the pixels within the specified area ofthe image. However, itis very difficult to find uses for this tool when editing images within Photoshop. This effect can be applied toan area ofan image, by firstly clicking the twirl icon in the tool panel on the left of the editing window, adjusting the brush settings ifrequired and then by clicking and dragging the brush over an area ofan image, where the twirl effect istobe added. Using the image of a street scene in Munich, the next two pages will show anexample of the use of this tool within an image.The following page will show a screenshot of the image init’s original state and then another screenshot with the effect being applied to the advertising poster in the background of the image, inorder to give it a very contorted appearance.


With reference to the sample image above, it would now be useful todemonstrate a method of reducing and refining the harshness of this tool, byusing the Smooth tool.This tool can be used to reduce the harsh effects of the twirl Clockwise tool, as well as any of the other pixel manipulating tools within the editing workspace. Working with smooth tool selected, the effects of any liquify pixel editing can be reduced or made more subtle by clicking and dragging the brush over the necessary part of the image, where the editor wishes to lessen the effect. Shown below is a comparative example of the drastically altered image and an image in which the effects of the twirl Clockwise have been greatly reduced.


Using a similar method to that described previously, the entire effects of the twirl Clockwise tool and other liquify tools, can also beremoved completely by using the reconstruct tool, which will restore the image toit’s original state, prior to any editing. In order to use the reconstruct tool, itis first selected from the tools panel on the left side of the liquify editing window and then byclicking and holding the left mouse button onan edited section of the image, that area reverts back toit’s original state.Furthermore, this tool is particularly effective, as pixel manipulations via the use any of the liquify tool can be very strong or have a harsh effect upon animage.Shown below isan example of the reconstruction ofan edited area of an image using the reconstruct tool.


Next, the Pucker tool will be demonstrated.As the name suggests, the pucker tool is used to contract the pixels within a specific area ofan image using the brush tool, again with the size, density and pressure values given tothe brush, determining the effect and strength of the application.In order tobegin using this tool, it first has tobe selected from the tools panel, on the left side of the open liquify editing window. After selecting this tool, anarea of pixels may be contracted, by clicking and holding down the left mouse button.In doing so, the pixels within the specified area begin to converge and move inwards. An example of the application of this tool can be seen on the following two pages, showing both the process and a comparison between the image before and after the use of the pucker tool.


Essentially, the bloat tool works in the opposite way to the pucker and by clicking and holding down the left hand mouse button on a specific area ofanimage, the pixels will appear to expand and burst outwards, seemingly enlarging that part of the image. Displayed below isan example of this technique being used within image, aswell as a comparative image, with the bloat tool being used to enlarge both the collar of the t-shirt and the eyebrows.


Finally, perhaps the most used and most effective tool found within the Liquify editing window, the face Aware tool, will now be demonstrated. The face aware tool is very popular amongst portrait, wedding and fashion photographers, dueto the amount of small manipulations, adjustments and refinements that can be applied to the face of a model or subject, which combined with an easy touse interface, allows for fast and effective editing. In order to begin using this tool, the face aware tool is selected from the liquify tools panel, located on the left side of the liquify editing window. After selection, the user can then decided how to apply the facial adjustments that they wish to make, either by using the sliders onthe right of the window orby manually dragging the handles, arrows and control pointsthat appear around the various facial features, when highlighted by the mouse pointer.When using this tool the image editor should be aware not to make any drastic alterations to the image , with the intended changes being applied very lightly in order to avoid creating a very unnatural and false representation of the subject thatwas originally photographed Displayed over the next few pages, are examples of the face aware tool in use, showing the both the application of the face aware tool and comparative screenshots, of the images before and after.


The opening step in this guide isto open up the sample image inAdobe Photoshop.Forthe purpose of this colour management guide, I have chosen to use a portrait image in order to fully show the effect of the adjustment being described, with the aim of giving this rather flat and ordinary black and white image into an image with a more dramatic feel and greater contrast.

Before beginning to work on the tones within the image, a new adjustment layer should be added.In this instance, a gradient Map will be used, as this will allow an easy transformation to black and white, as well as easy manipulation of colour values. By clicking on the layer tab on the menu bar at the very top of the window, a dropdown menu will appear and from which the New Layer option should be highlight using the mouse pointer.With this option now highlighted a further dropdown menu will appear to the right of this menu, from which the Gradient Map option is selected.This will add a new layer called Gradient Map within the layers panel at the right of the screen.

By selecting a new Gradient Map layer, the image itself will betransformed into something resembling the image seen on the previous page.However, within this image the lighter tones take precedence over the darker tones, creating an image that resemblesan old camera film negative.

However, this effect can be corrected and is done so, by checking the Reverse option box, which can be found with the Gradient MapProperties panel. Selecting this option will reverse the gradient, with the darker tones becoming the more prominent than the lighter tones.In essence, the previously created film negative effect has been reversed and the image has now reverted back into a traditional image, despite the visible sepia toning which will be corrected in the following step.

In order to remove the sepia gradient map, the small arrow next to the currently active gradient map should be selected within the Gradient Map Properties panel and the Black to White gradient option should be chosen.Again the image will changed to resemble a film negative but this can again be resolved by checking the Reverse option box.

Although this will change the image into the desired black and white image, further adjustments can be made to the toning of the image inorder to enhance it visually, in terms ofit’s contrast, toning and emotion. By clicking on the black and white gradient bar that runs parallel across the panel, another window will appear, which will allow much finer adjustments and refinements tobe made to the appearance and feeling of the image.

With this new adjustment window open, the image can now be adjust by using the bottom pair of slider points on the black and white gradient map bar, that runs across the bottom of this window.Similarly to other tools in Adobe Photoshop, the left slider adjusts the dark tones and the right slider will adjust the light tones within the image. The adjustment of the sliders will be based on personal preference and the desired look or feel that the editor or photographer wishes togive the image.

In order to create the very dramatic image that this guide aims toproduce, a further set of control points will need tobe added to the black and white gradient bar.Firstly, in order to give more control over the colour values within the image, a central neutral grey point will beadded to the bar.This action can be performed by clicking onan area just below the centre on the colour bar, causing a new control point toappear.However, if the new control point does not appear tobecompletely central, this new point can be adjusted by check the percentage displayed in the Location box at the bottom of open Gradient Editor window.If the display box does not display the desired value, 50 can be typed manually into the box, causing the control point to also adjust.This new control point will mark the 50% grey point for the image, which will be a useful starting point from which tobegin additional black and white tonal adjustments.

Once the 50% grey point has been established on the colour gradient bar, the image will usually alter and become much brighter.However, this can again be corrected through the further use of the Gradient Editor window.With the 50% grey point active, the small white colour panel should be selected, which in turn will open up a new window called Colour Picker (Stop Colour).With this new window now open, the Brightness value should also be changed to show a value of 50, as shown in the example screenshot on the previous page and will adjust the image accordingly.

As the addition of the central has provided further control over the tonal values within the image, more control can be added in order toallow finer and more minute tonal adjustments tobe made.Using the same method described on the previous slides with regard to the establishment of a central control point, further control points can beadded to the gradient bar at the 25 and 75 points (see screenshot displayed on previous page), which will allow a much greater level ofcontrol over the black, white and grey tones present within the image. With these points added, the final step within this process will be the manipulation of the sliders, in order to achieve the desired effect or look for the image.


Exposure blending is similar to HDR in the respect it is increasing the dynamic range of the image but it is a different process.

To start open up your chosen raw image in ACR. You want to make adjustments that affect the sky, mid ground, foreground. Or you can concentrate of highlights, mid tones, and shadows. Play around with exposure, shadows, whites, blacks etc and then for further control move into your luminosity panel.

In here you can control certain aspects through color. For example the sky may be too light so I slide my blue slider down to darken.

Once you are happy save the image as a DNG (digital negative). This is so you are working with the best possible files when you load into photoshop. Depending on what you are doing, name the file something that you can easily distinguish what it is. I am only looking at the Sky and Foreground.

Once you have all your files and happy with the adjustments, select the files in bridge and click;

Tools > Photoshop > Load files into Photoshop layers...

Once loaded you will get an screen like above. Your two/three images loaded into layers in the same photoshop file. Your next step is to order them how you wish and create a layer mask on your top layer. My sky image is on top so I am painting through to bring out my lighter foreground.

As you can see from above, I have darkened my sky slightly and lightened my foreground to make the details pop. You can go into as much or as little detail as you want.



HDR - High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range or HDR as it is more commonly known, is a blend of images of the same scene with different levels of exposure in order to create one image with an unusually high dynamic range.

In order to create an HDR image you will need;

  • A camera with exposure settings. (AEB Optional)
  • Tri-pod
  • A good eye

On location you will need to shoot a minimum 3 images of different exposure of the same scene to later merge into your HDR image.


To begin you will need to open your 3 shot images in bridge. Highlight those image and right click. Select and open in Camera Raw. You will then be brought to this window.

Once you have opened your images in CR you have the chance to make any minor changes to each of the Raw images. This could be altering WB however you don't want to do too much as editing will come later. Once you are happy with your 3 images, select them, right click and select 'Merge to HDR'

The window you are brought to has some options available to you and depending on your images the options you select will be different.

Align Images and Auto Tone are pretty self explanatory however the option to Deghost is probably your most useful. Deghost helps prevent doublings which is good when working in locations such as forests and there is wind (my case) or in the street and people are walking by.

Once merged you will need to save your new DNG file and then open in photoshop. You will have the opportunity to edit the newly blended image in camera raw prior to this.

You will be greeted with an exposure slider at the bottom right which will allow you to see the amount of detail in the 32bit image. You will now want to TONE MAP. Tone mapping is a technique used to give the HDR image its cliche look.

I have used photomatix however there is many different tools and ways to do it.

Once your image is opened in Photomatix you can select from a number of presets but there is options to personalize this to your own preferences. Select the preset or settings that you wish and click okay.

The image is now a tone mapped HDR image. TA DA! However, in order to save you need to convert the image back to 16bit. This compresses the file data and allows for saving.



To begin, open your images in photoshop. Once opened you want to create the displacement map that you are going to use. In order to create the map you have to go into Channels in your base image and chose from the Red, Green and Blue channels. You want the channel with the most contrast for the effect to be at its best

Mines was blue. Once you have your channel, make sure it is selected and right click then select duplicate. Once you duplicate the box in the above image will show up. Under document select NEW name it what you wish and click OK.

This creates a new file which you can then save as a PSD this is now your map.

To note: convert your base image to 8 bit (Image > Mode > 8 bit) Displacement maps must be 8 bits otherwise they will not work.

The next step is to go back onto your original image. Make sure you show all the layers in the channel box by clicking RGB before you continue.

Next you want to select the layer with the image you want to displace. Make sure the image is in view and from the filter tab select DISTORT > DISPLACE.

Make sure the values all match what is in the image above and click okay. This will then take you to select the displacement map that you previously created and saved from the channel that you duplicated.

Once you have selected this you now have a displaced image.

Final steps are to select your blending options. Best to use Overlay / Soft / Hard light.


Colour grading refers to the technique used in post processing via photoshop, lightroom or other editing software in order to give the image a specific look or feel through the manipulation of color. This is done using colours that compliment each other such as Teal/Orange.

To begin i open my chosen image in photoshop and create 2 adjustment curve layers. I name one color and one luminosity and change the blending options on the drop down menu to match the names of my new layers.

In my first layer (color) I want to work in separate channels. So instead on working in the full RGB color space I only want to target separate colours at a time. Starting with red I make my adjustments as follows.

Red - Black slider to the left white slider to the right.

Green - Pulling the black point down and white up

Blue - Pulling black point down and white up

As you can see in the following image my colours in the image have shifted. Play about with the sliders in each of the channels until you find the desired effect.

Next I want to select my luminosity layer. I want to add 2 extra points onto the graph (seen below) and drag both of these points down until a point I am happy that my image is dark and moody enough.


Created with images by Matt Hampel - "EDIT>" • Kain Kalju - "Colored pencils" • Nebenbei - "background texture structure" • PellissierJP - "texture background wood" • PICS by MARTY - "Layered" • wnelweb - "waves" • ** RCB ** - "Way up high" • PellissierJP - "background texture blend" • voidstern - "_MG_7682" • pathlost - "Displacement" • marc falardeau - "COLOURS"

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