Computer Tips & Tricks

computer-tips-and-tricks

By nature of the hobby, digital scrapbookers spend a lot of time on their computer. It’s kind of hard to scrap without it, huh? However, even if we feel comfortable on our computers and can scrap a page with relative ease, there are always things we don’t know and always things we can learn to make things go faster, to do things better, to make our pages and our photos look their very best.

COMPUTER TIPS AND TRICKS will be a regular feature here at THE DAILY DIGI. Whether you want to learn how to get the most out of Photoshop or are trying to decide between a Mac and a new PC, TDD will be there to give you tip, tricks, tutorials, and a whole lot of fun. If you are new to digital scrapbooking, be sure to check out the section we have created especially for you — in it you can find software recommendations, information on making your first layout, and where you can print these layouts once you are done.

Novice or seasoned veteran…COMPUTER TIPS AND TRICKS will be sure to bring you the information you want and need.

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Today I want to show you one of the best (and easiest!) things you can do to take your photos from good to great.  You’ve probably seen it a million times without realizing what made a specific photo really stand out.

The vignette.  The word has lots of meanings but in the context we are talking about (photography) it means, “any process by which there is loss in clarity towards the corners and sides of an image.” Loss of clarity may not sound like a good thing, but I promise you, it is!  You see, when you have a loss of clarity towards the corners and sides of an image your eye automatically is drawn toward the center of the photo.  Most often, the center is what you want to highlight. By reducing the clarity of the outer parts of the photo, the subject of the photo can truly stand out.

Take a look at this photo:

family_before

It’s a good photo, right? Color is good. Exposure is good.  Composition is good.  However, we can make it even better with a simple vignette.

family_after

The difference is subtle but delivers lots of impact!

Here are a few more examples of good photos becoming great photos.

momandgirl

mom_baby

Now lets look at an easy way to do this yourself in Photoshop/Photoshop Elements:

First, select your photo.  I chose a photo of some friends of mine that I took a few weeks ago.  I love the photo (and the people in it!) so I wanted to make it something they would truly love.

thegirls_before

First, you need to select your Marquee tool (keyboard shortcut M). You can use either the elliptical (oval) marquee or the  rectangular marquee tool.  For this photo, I chose to use the elliptical tool.  I made a selection around the area I wanted to stay clear. Since my subjects weren’t quite center, I nudged the selection up a bit using my arrow keys.

marquee_selection

Now I need to feather the selection so that there is a gradual shift of color rather than a harsh line.  I went to the top of the screen and chose Select>feather> and then set my pixel amount.  The amount of feathering can really depend on the look you are going for and the resolution of the image. As good rule of thumb is 100 pixels for a high-resolution photo and 50 pixels for a low-resolution photo.

feather_selection

feather_selection_100pix

Now I have the subject of the photo selected, but that is not the part of the photo I want to change.  I want to change the outer edge of the photo rather than the center so I need to inverse my selection.

inverse_selection

Now the outer edges of the photo are selected.

Now I will copy and paste this selection onto a new layer (PC: Ctrl+C then Ctrl+V,   MAC: COMMAND+C then COMMAND+V).  Now my selected area is on its own layer.

feathered_layer_330

I am now going to change the blending mode of this layer to multiply, which will darken the pixels.

multiply_mode_315

This is what it looks like now

vignette_toodark

In my opinion, the vignette is a little too dark and too noticeable.  So, I will lower the opacity of the vignette layer until it looks right.  I set the opacity to 70% to get this:

thegirls_after

Now, I just need to merge the layers and I am done.

merge_layers

See the difference?  Subtle but oh-so-powerful.

BEFORE:

thegirls_before3

and AFTER:

thegirls_after1

Now, don’t fret that this will take you forever.  Once you get the hang of it, it goes really fast.  I timed myself and it took me 27 seconds (using keyboard shortcuts for most menu choices).

So there you have it…one little trick to take your photos from good to great…all using our favorite little sidekick…our computer!

janet_sig5