keskiviikko 20. kesäkuuta 2018

The Best Way to Improve Your Photography is to Forget About Your Camera

Are you confident using your camera to take photographs in every situation in which you want to shoot? Do you experience anxiety when you think about reaching for your camera? Would you like to feel sure that when you do head out for a photography session you will return more than satisfied with your results? So what is the best way to improve your photography?

portrait of a Kayan girl - improve your photography

If you are anxious or lacking confidence in using your camera you will most likely not be so happy with your photographs. As photographers, most of us like to be improving our pictures each time we use our cameras. I don’t know of a photographer who is not interested in continuing to create better photos than they have previously.

Photography is so much more than having the most up to date equipment and knowing which dials to turn and buttons to push to make it work. The best way to improve your photography is to forget about your camera.

Photography is More Popular Than Ever

Photography is currently more popular than it has ever been. People are taking more photos every day than ever before in history. Why? Because they can and because it is easy. And because everyone always has a camera with them.

Northern Thailand landscape near Suan Sook Homestay, Doi Inthanon - improve your photography

Mobile phone cameras have made photography more popular than ever. This photo was taken with my phone camera.

It is easier and more convenient than ever to be able to take and share your photographs. Most people can take a photo with their phone very easily and without much knowledge of photography technique. Most phone camera users are not concerned with their shutter speed or their ISO setting. But you don’t have to search much to find some outstanding photographs made with phone cameras.

When people take photos with their phone they are most often concentrating on the moment, not the mechanics of how to work the camera. The more you can learn to do this when you are using your DSLR, mirrorless or any other camera the more you will improve your photography.

Make Time to Learn

Make time to study how your camera works. If you are just starting out, begin with the essentials. Become familiar with the settings for obtaining a good exposure and well-focused photos.

Night photo of a buddhist monk at a ceremony at Wat Pan Tao - improve your photography

In any situation you find yourself wanting to photograph, you need to be confident in adjusting your settings well without losing concentration on your subject.

For more advanced photographers, don’t neglect to keep learning more about your camera. Learn to use more of the functions and become proficient at them. If you can do this you will be well prepared whenever you want to head out for a photography session.

If you are constantly trying to figure out how to use your camera at the times when you want to make great photos, you will not be as successful.

Know your camera functions and settings well, so you can use it as quickly and easily as your phone camera. You’ll be able to pay more attention to the moment if you do so.

:aughing Karen woman in a rice field - improve your photography

Be Prepared

When you are in a situation where you want to take photographs, be prepared. Have everything with you that you need. Do you need another lens? Will you need flash? How about your tripod? As well, be mindful of whether or not you will need anything other than your camera and one or two lenses. If not, don’t carry it with you. It will only hinder you.

Always try to anticipate the situation ahead of time. Be well set up with the right lens and any other accessories you need. If you can do this in advance you will be able to concentrate more on making great photos.

Thai woman in traditional costume - improve your photography

Being prepared means you will not miss any opportunities to make great photos.

Review and Critique

Always take a good look at your photos, including the ones you are not satisfied with. Hopefully, you are not deleting any of your photos from your cards before reviewing them on your computer. Aside from this being poor technical practice, you can learn a lot from your dud photos.

lady and giant soap bubbles - improve your photography

Studying your photos for composition, exposure, timing, subject choice, etc., will help you improve. If you are reviewing photos you are not so happy with, this will help you avoid making the same mistakes in future.

Having someone else look at your photos and offer critique can be very valuable. Even if it’s a friend or family member who has little or no photography experience it can help keep you on track, (so long as they are honest and positive.)

Sharing your photos for critique with an experienced photographer can help your growth. They will be able to point out things you may not have noticed. By seeking feedback you will learn directly from your own images.

Reflection of a monk in a puddle of water - improve your photography

Art and Science

Photography is very much a whole brain experience. The left hemisphere of your brain engages to manage the technical aspects. Your right hemisphere is more attentive to the creative aspects. There must be a cohesion and a balance.

If you are too focused on the technical aspects of photography you will not produce such creative pictures. If your right brain takes over you may not get well-exposed or focused images because of not paying attention to your camera.

Pink dahlia photo - improve your photography

Knowing your equipment, whatever camera you are using, will help you improve your photography. A photo that was taken with my camera phone.

Being confident to use your camera, whichever one you choose to use, will help you be more successful. Understand how to use it and to adjust the settings to get the photos you want easily. This takes some study, commitment, and practice, but it’s well worth it to be able to achieve consistently better results.

The post The Best Way to Improve Your Photography is to Forget About Your Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School.

from Digital Photography School

Pinterest Profile Changes: What Marketers Need to Know

Do you use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog or business? Wondering how the latest Pinterest changes will affect your account and overall marketing approach? In this article, you’ll discover the latest Pinterest updates and how to leverage them to improve your business presence. #1: Business Profiles Feature Dynamic Cover Images The first noticeable [...]

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tiistai 19. kesäkuuta 2018

How to do Creative Editing with Layers in ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018

In my first article on ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018, I covered all the elements of the program that a beginner would need to know about. This article covers editing in more detail, starting with processing your RAW file in Develop Mode and then doing some creative editing using Layers in Edit Mode.

Layers are a critical part of editing your images. Either in doing your RAW process and then tidying up areas that need it with curves, levels, and other adjustments. Or if you want to add more creativity to your images, with textures, decorative flourishes, fancy text embellishments. Finally, you can go all the way up to compositing, and using layers is the best way to achieve that.

textured image of flowers - How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018

Let’s look at what ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018 has to offer for editing a RAW file. Then we’ll add a creative edit with texture layers, embellishment layers, and using masks to create a vintage grunge effect.

I am going to assume that you have a basic understanding of RAW editing and using layers and masks and not detail absolutely every step worked through in this process. If you need more help, go back and read: ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 Guide for Beginners first.

Editing a Raw File in Develop Mode

First, open up Manage mode and find the right folder to select an image. For this exercise, I liked the Gerbera Still Life image and decided that the final version should have a grungy vintage look added at the end.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018 - image thumbnails

This is the selected image of three crimson gerbera flowers, with a pair of pointe ballet shoes and some sheet music. It’s a bit dark and dull and needs some tweaking which we will do in the Develop mode of ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018.

original image before editing - How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018

Original unedited RAW file

After some basic editing, the image is brighter and the colors are better balanced.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018 - edited with basic adjustments

However my final vision for this image is more of a vintage look, and the colors are too bright and rich. So, further editing to bring the saturation down and darken the crimson was applied. This now provides the basis for the layers and creative elements, so it’s saved and then we move into Edit mode.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018 - image with lower saturation

Creative Editing Using Layers

Switching to Edit Mode by clicking on EDIT with the edited RAW file open will change your workspace. Now the Layers palette is laid out on the right. As there is only the one image open, it shows up as Layer 1.

At the bottom of the Layers palette are the different layer options – hover over each one to find the one you need and click to activate it. For this exercise, we are going to bring in some grunge textures and additional elements to make it look vintage, old, and more artistic.


I use a lot of textures from 2LilOwls, The Daily Texture, and Distressed Textures. If you are patient you can also make your own but there are plenty of places to acquire them online. The ones used in this article were from 2LilOwls.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018

My preferred option to add extra layers is to use a second monitor, open up Windows Explorer to the desired folder, find a texture I like and then drag across to my image. Note, when using ACDSee, you have to drag it into the Layers Palette (rather than onto the image directly).

The other option is to click on the “Add A File As A Layer” button which allows you to search for a file within your directory and add it. This was a useful feature which I used several times.

By default, the texture is applied in Normal mode which means only the top layer is visible, which is the texture in this instance. In the Layer Palette it is visible as Layer 2.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018 - texture layer

The first texture layer has been added – it’s showing in Normal mode so you can only see this layer and not the one below (the image of the flowers).

Blend Mode

Next, change the blend mode of the layer to something that suits the image – either Overlay or Soft Light are good choices to start with. Also, dial down the layer opacity to soften the effect and make it look more pleasing.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018

Masking parts of the layer

This texture has some heavy vignetting around the edges that is a bit too dark. So to solve that, add a Layer Mask and select a large soft brush at around 30% opacity. Dab the brush in the darker edges and corners to reduce the effect.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018

The Layer mask is white and it shows up the areas you brush in grey (or black) – you can see where it has been applied in the corners.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018

Image with texture and layer mask applied with softer tones in the dark corners now

Add more grunge

It needs more grunge so let’s apply a second texture layer. This one has lots of cracks and scratches for a nice vintage effect. It is also a bit lighter around the edges so should balance out the first texture nicely.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018

The texture file is a different size than the original image but you can drag it out to fit by clicking on the yellow squares on the outside edges and corners.

This layer also had the blend mode changed and the opacity adjusted to suit. The crack effect was quite strong on the flowers so a mask was applied with a soft brush at low opacity that was brushed over the flowers.

More embellishments

The top left and right corners felt a bit empty so I added some decorative embellishments. On the left, is a butterfly with some fancy handwriting and another textural element was added on the right. Both are PNG files that are blended in with low opacity and Soft Light blend mode.

layers - How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018

Each element goes onto a separate layer for full control.  Masks are applied to remove the effect from the flowers.  These become Layers 6 and 7.

Finally, a Photo Effect (Somber) was applied to add a bit more contrast and punch.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018 - photo effect

Before and after images

Here we have the RAW file after it was edited in Develop mode and some creative adjustments for Saturation and Vibrance applied.

before layered editing - How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018

Here we have the final image after the texture layers, embellishments, Photo Effect and masks have been applied.

How to Edit Using Layers with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018 - final image

Additional Notes

As an advanced Photoshop user, I was comfortable using all the layer tools and functions available in ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018. Most of the usual tools were available and functioned as expected.

The one major issue I found was the inability to change the brush shape. It does not appear possible to import .abr files to add creative brush shapes. The only options for changing the brush are blend mode, size, and opacity and the only shape is round.

You can change the size, hardness, and opacity of the brush but not the actual shape of it. This limits the creative choices available. Some of my brush files were present as PNG images so I was able to import them as individual layers.

Additionally, there were several extra features that were new to me which I found useful. The “Add A File As A Layer” button was extremely helpful and I used that on several occasions. There is also a button for “Adding a Blank Layer”, “Duplicating a Layer” and “Deleting a Layer”. All things that happen frequently and usually require a right mouse click, then a selection and second click. ACDSee made these steps much quicker with a single click.

There were extra adjustment layer functions, in particular, “Photo Effect” that offer a range of predesigned creative effects you can apply as a separate layer, to blend and edit as desired. A Vignette option (similar to Lightroom) was also available to quickly add a vignette.


If you are a beginner to using layers and masks then it can be a bit complicated to get your head around. The good news is that with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018 everything that you would expect to be able to do and use to work with layers is all present and accounted for. It looks and functions very similar to Photoshop, so is comfortable for anyone transitioning over.

Except for the ability to change your brush shape, everything necessary to do a basic layer edit was easily recognizable and usable with pretty much no additional learning curve. That is a real bonus for anyone coming across from other programs.

There are also some nice new features that added extra value and made the experience better – in particular, “Add A File As A Layer” is something that I could easily get used to using. For anyone only using one monitor (like on a laptop) that makes adding another image as a layer so much easier. The Move function in Photoshop is really not user-friendly. This is a definite bonus if you are like me and add lots of extra files to your layers when editing.

Working in Edit mode and making a layered image with ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018 was not difficult and the additional features added real value in unexpected places.

Disclaimer: ACDSee is a dPS advertising partner.

The post How to do Creative Editing with Layers in ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio 2018 appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Social Media Explorer: Social Media Marketing: What it is and Why it Matters to You

As a person in the 21st century (with wi-fi and the latest technology), it’s likely that you know and understand what social media is, right? Just a quick glance at your cell-phone and a tap onto Instagram and you’re presented with an entire world of content.  As a consumer, too, you probably have a good idea of what social media marketing is – even if you think you don’t.

We’re here to dive deep into social media marketing. We’ll explain what social media marketing is, how evident it is in your daily life, and how your favorite brands and companies often use social media marketing tactics like influencers and collaboration to market directly to you!

What Exactly Social Media Marketing

Social media is the fastest growing trend in the history of technology – growing even faster than the internet itself. With billions of users worldwide, social media is the perfect place to market to a captive audience, something that many companies, brands, and corporations have established and continue to adapt to and learn from.

Social media marketing, in its most basic form, is simply the process of creating content that is tailored to the context of each, individual social media platform that helps to drive user engagement and sharing. Translation? Social media marketing is a digital marketing strategy that’s fit to each different platform, meaning that a company will use Instagram-specific tactics, Facebook-specific tactics, and so on and so forth to best drive engagement toward their products, services, websites, and more.

It’s more than about gaining traction, though. Social media marketing has been noted as helping companies and brands get the results they need, including ROI (or return on investment). One of the examples of social media marketing is JJ’s House, they have an incredible focus on their social media marketing platform.

Social Media Influencer Marketing

If you scroll through your favorite platform (let’s use Instagram as an example), it’s likely you’ll see a few people you follow who you don’t personally know, but who has a large following with an established credibility in a specific industry. These people are called social media influencers and typically they have access to a large audience and can typically influence the way they think about things and buy products and services. Often, brands or companies will collaborate with influencers in order to show people they’re credible or that their favorite celebrities and influencers rely on their brand.

A great example of social media marketing is Very Voga. With a strict focus on their social media platforms (as well as their brand in general), they’re able to drive traffic from their social sites directly to their online shop in order to increase ROI.

In the end, it’s important to understand what social media marketing is and how it affects your life. Maybe next time you’re scrolling through your favorite platform, you’ll have a better understanding of social media marketing, how it affects you, and how it influences the way you purchase things.

The post Social Media Marketing: What it is and Why it Matters to You appeared first on Social Media Explorer.

from Social Media Explorer

How to Optimize Your Instagram Profile for Business

Want to make a stronger first impression with your Instagram profile? Wondering how to add branding and personality to your Instagram bio? In this article, you’ll discover useful tips to help you build and optimize an Instagram profile for business. #1: Choose a Quality Profile Photo That Reflects Your Branding First and foremost, your Instagram [...]

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