Photoshop has become a must-have tool for all Photographers. As a travel photographer, you can use it for enhancing your images, adding text/watermarks, or even to completely automate your post-production workflow. If you’re wondering about the last bit, do look up Photoshop Actions and Scripts. They’re a real lifesaver and have, over the years, saved me thousands of hours in post-production work. However, that will not be the focus of this article. We will take a look at a few simple Photoshop tricks that can come in very handy for Travel Photographers like us.
Levels and Curves
Being a travel photographer can be extremely hard at times. You may reach your target location, get all your equipment set and ready to shoot, only to find that the Sun has gone hiding behind a bunch of clouds and it completely messes up your shot. It could also be the opposite. Since you have no control over the lighting, you will have to rely heavily on your ability with the camera and the capabilities of your camera and lens. In spite of everything, you could still end up with a shot like the one below, where the Sun suddenly decided the come out of hiding and spoil the shot.
Yeah, the image is completely washed out and looks almost impossible to fix. However, thanks to the power of Photoshop, we will be able to use a simple Levels Adjustment layer to bring out the details and make the image very much useable. Take a look at the same image post adjustment, below. Of course, Levels and Curves both do the same work and it is only a matter of personal preference which one you use to achieve the desired result.
In a lot of cases, using Curves or Levels will not be a feasible solution or will not give us the desired output. In such cases, we can resort to a secret technique that not even expert Photoshop users are aware of. This is through the use of Photoshop’s powerful layer blending modes. These modes are generally used in Graphic design and in retouching portraits. However, this feature can also be used by travel photographers like us to bring out lost/hidden details from a shot. To illustrate, let us take the same image from the previous example.
The image is completely washed out and a lot of details have been lost to the blazing sunlight. In order to salvage this image and bring out the details, we can use Blending modes as follows. Simply duplicate the image layer using Ctrl+J (Windows)/Cmd+J (Mac). Then change the Blending mode of this duplicate layer to Color Burn, Linear Burn, or one of the other modes based on your need. In this case, we will use Color Burn. If the result is too harsh, you can simply reduce the opacity of the duplicate layer to achieve the desired result. Here’s the same image corrected using Blending Modes.
As travel photographers, you will often come across landscapes and buildings that are wide and will require you to carry a fish-eye lens with you. However, it may not always be feasible to carry a fish-eye lens at all times. So for those occasions when you do not have a fish-eye lens handy, you can take your shot using the normal lens and then, use Photoshop’s lens correction feature to give it that nice fish-eye effect. Here’s a sample shot that would look great with the fish-eye effect.
The image looks rather flat and would definitely have been great if it had been shot with a fish-eye lens. In comes Photoshop. Simply load the image into photoshop and go to Filter->Lens Correction. The Lens Correction window will open up. Go to the Custom Tab and you can simply adjust the Remove Distortion slider to achieve the desired effect. Here the final result.
That brings us to the end of this short piece on useful Photoshop tips for travel photographers. Do feel free to let us know your thoughts and share your tricks on the comments below.
Mohan is a Photography Enthusiast from India who has travelled the World with his camera for over 5 years. He also runs an online store selling cool Photography T Shirts at Swag Swami. He also grooms young children to take up Photography and experience the joy that comes with clicking that perfect picture.