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Today let’s explore Gradient Maps, and how they might be useful in toning our photographic images.

I received a text message from my son, Brian, this week.  Attached to the text was this photo of my grandson, Owen, who was at the doctor’s office for his 6 month check-up.  The photo is slightly grainy, having been compressed for a text message, but it will work just fine for today’s tutorial.


First I very quickly cloned away the office area on the left of the photo.   I wanted to turn the image into a Black and White, and I was curious to see the difference between a Black and White Adjustment Layer and a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer.

To add the Black and White Adjustment layer, I clicked on the black and white rectangle in the Adjustment Panel.  This immediately changed the image to black and white.  In addition, the Properties Panel opened, allowing me to make further adjustments, if desired.  I left the sliders alone for now.


And this is the result………


Next, I wanted to see what a  Gradient Map Adjustment Layer.  First I made the Black and White Adjustment Layer invisible, by clicking on the eyeball icon on that layer.  Next, making certain that my foreground and background colors were set to the default of black and white, I clicked on the Gradient Map icon in the Adjustments Panel.  Doing so added a gradient to the image.


And here is the result:


And the comparison of the two images:


The difference is subtle, but very nice, I think.

Just as a point of interest – when my husband was 9 months old, his parents had his photo in black and white, by a professional photographer.  When our son, Brian,  was 9 months old, we took him to a photo studio to get a photo of him posed exactly the same way.  At that time, color photography had been popular for about 20 years, so I had to search to find a photographer that was willing to shoot in black and white!  And now, years later, I can manipulate a photo with Photoshop, that was taken with a cell phone, to duplicate the look that I would like to have.  Isn’t technology amazing????


Gradient Map Adjustment Layers are available in Photoshop Elements as well.  The path to locate them is:  Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map


Do you remember tediously hand-tinting black and white images?  Next week, we’ll look at how to EASILY accomplish that using Gradient Maps! In the meantime, explore Gradient Maps and see how easy it is to create beautiful black and white images using this technique.


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Ever take a great photo only to be disappointed that the lighting isn’t right? As in, you’ve got a dark photo? Today I am going to show you how to fix a dark photo. It’s pretty simple! Here is the photo I want to lighten up- My daughter and husband’s faces are a little too dark.

First we are going to play with the exposure. Go to  Image->Adjustments->Exposure. A little box will pop up. Play with the sliders until you get a look you like.

Next we are going to play with the Brightness/Contrast. Go to Image->Adjustment->Brightness/Contrast. Once again a little box will pop up. Play with the sliders until you get a look you like.

Now, you might be satisfied with the look of your photo right about now. Half of the time I am. But if you think it still needs a little something something, then play with the curves too. Go to Image->Adjustments->Curves. A grid with a line will pop up. Move the line around a little bit. Usually it is just a very small move that makes the difference.

And now we have a lightened photo! Not too hard, right? Give it a try, you will probably discover that it’s kinda fun to play with exposure and curves and all that stuff!

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I love the look of vintage photographs. But sometimes I feel like they are “too” vintage…Especially around the face. I like my photos to have a nice clear face. So I am going to show you have to make your own “vintage” photos, without adding noise to the face.

Here is the picture I am going to use. I already made it B&W. Check out my black and white lesson if you missed it -HERE-

You can leave your photo colored if you want, I just wanted this particular picture B&W.

Next we are going to open up a texture and blend it with our photo. Place the texture on top of your picture and group it together with your picture – “Control/Command G”. Then head over to the layer pallet to the right- see the red arrow? Here is where you pick your blending style. I usually do soft light or overlay. But play around. You might like something else better. For this picture, I chose soft light.

Now we are going to erase the texture from the face. Choose a soft edged brush. Set your opacity to about 100% and erase around the face. I wanted a little bit of texture on his clothes, so I set the opacity lower and erased his little suit. If you want more texture on your photo simply duplicate your texture  “Control/Command J”. You wont have to erase again.

And here is our finished photo! I also added a quick edge burn. I love this look. Super easy and so many things to do with all the different types of textures out there!

PS- I love writing these tuts for you all. I love the positive feed back I have been getting. Is there something you would like to see me cover? Leave me a comment and I’ll do my darndest to make it happen!

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Snap, Crackle, POP!

by Steph 18 April 2012

That’s how easy it is to have fantastic , bright, sharp photos. We have already discussed how to play with levels, so if you missed that lesson, check it out HERE. First you are going to open your picture. Adjust your levels to brighten your colors. Now we are going to make that photo a […]

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Cloning: Not just for Scientists

by Steph 10 April 2012
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I like to play photographer at home sometimes. There is just one problem..I’m NOT a photographer! Good thing I am a PS’er though!  I wanted to snap a few pics of my kids in their Easter clothes. It was too wet outside, so my living room became a “studio” This is the only decent picture […]

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Beyond Black and White

by Steph 3 April 2012
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Learning how to turn your pictures into Black and White is one if the first things many beginner scrappers learn how to do. You probably do it simply by desaturating your photo. But did you know this actually turns your picture into shades of grey and NOT B&W? Well I’m here to show you an […]

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Easy Photo Edit in PS

by Steph 12 March 2012
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I love Photoshop and all of it’s neat-o photo editing capabilities. But, if I’m being honest, the actual photo editing it not my favorite thing. However, there is one thing that I do to all my photos. And that is play with the levels. It’s so easy to instantly make your photo POP with levels. So […]

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