Aperture Tutorial: Black & White Brushes

You have mastered the basics of image editing, now to get creative. Photographic editing has come on leaps and bounds as technology has evolved. Photos can be edited creatively, with effects being applied not for technical or practical improvements, but for artistic reasons. You do not need to be David Bailey to know how to do it. Sometimes, in even the most obvious of image subjects the point is missed. Using the selective Black & White tool, you can highlight the most important part of your image whether that’s a particular person, landmark, animal or event making sure it catches your audience’s eye first. Pull up a chair, get comfy, stick the kettle on and before it is even finished boiling you’ll know how to brighten up the most monochrome of images with a splash of colour but do not forget to open Aperture first.


Step 1: Getting started
Choose a photo to adjust. The best ones to use are landscapes or those with not much activity going on. Select Photos on the left-hand side of the interface.


Step 2: Choose your image
In the Photos Library, find the image that you want to apply the selective Black & White effect to. Click on the image it will be highlighted with a white box.


Step 3: Open your image
Double-click on the image to open it up. It will appear in its full-size glory in the Viewer. Click on the Adjustments tab on the left-hand side of the interface.


Step 4: Begin the transformation
Click on the Adjustments box and choose Black & White. This will transform your image to black and white in preparation to add the colour back.


Step 5: Make adjustments
Scroll down to the Black & White box on the left-hand side of the interface. Drag the colour sliders to adjust the colour intensity until you are happy.


Step 6: Be prepared
Click the cog icon in the Black & White box. Select Brush Black & White away from the drop-down menu. Get ready, because this is where the fun really begins!


Step 7: Brush sizes
Use the pop-out box to adjust the size of the brush you want to use. Make sure it is the right size, otherwise you risk over-brushing the colour back in.


Step 8: Play it smooth
For more precise results, check Detect Edges. This ensures that the brush does not go over any lines great for landscape photos or images with people.


Step 9: Brush away
Brush the areas that you wish to be coloured, leaving the rest of the image black and white. That is it! You will have beautifully edited images in just minutes.

Focus On Life

A quote to get you focused for life.

Life is like a camera.  
Just focus on what is important and capture the good times, develop from the negative and if things do not work out, just take another shot.

Gradient In Pixelmator

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide designed to show you how to edit and apply gradients to your images to enhance your projects using Pixelmator on your Mac.
When it comes to creating your own images in Pixelmator, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making things look a little too ‘flat’. Even if a ‘flat design’ is the look you’re aiming, it’s worth noting that the best examples of this style make use of subtle gradients to give some sense of hierarchy and structure to different elements in the design itself. With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to applying and editing gradients in Pixelmator. Enjoy!


Step 1: Prepare your layer
Gradients can be added to layers, but the selection tool can limit the application area. You can create irregular selections with polygonal lasso tool.


Step 2: Customising
You can change the colours used by opening the Gradient menu, choosing the one you want and clicking the points on the slider at the bottom.


Step 3: More points
Clicking this slider anywhere else will let you add more colour stops to your gradient. You can add transparent sections too, if you want a fade effect.

Step 4: Linear, radial or angle?
There are three kinds of gradient, and each one works differently. Try them all, and see what each one can do by playing with the preset options.

The Landscape Concept

It is no longer just about taking the right photograph, it is more than where the sky and the land meet or the sea and the clouds join. To achieve a successful balance or counterbalance in your landscapes, there is a concept that once followed will make your landscape or seascape photographs truly amazing.
By telling stories with your camera, you are forced you to slow down and contemplate the details. This one factor alone could greatly improve your skills as a photographer!
Consider a few important questions.

What is it about this scene that inspires you?
What elements found in the scene have attracted your attention?
Which elements (such as theme, line, or point of view) do you wish to preserve?

As you ponder these questions, remember that the best landscapes are rarely found along side the road. If you are prepared for hiking with a map or GPS, then you will be more likely to come across some of the truly stunning scenes that will motivate you to find answers to the above questions. Then, as you seek out the most interesting locations, you will begin to create a habit of viewing the beautiful and asking how you can recreate the essence even in scenes that are more challenging.

Epsom Common (6)

One simple concept that is extremely helpful in creating balance is dividing the scene into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. You can do this by using two vertical lines and two horizontal lines evenly spaced, but your horizon (or any other prominent line) should still fall on one of the two horizontal lines. Then, a general rule of symmetry would be to place your focal point on one of the four intersections created by these lines.
With balance in place, you can then leave yourself room for creativity. Portraits can even be changed into landscape shots when you feel you’ve explored all other options. Shooting a portrait in landscape is best when up close and personal, such as a head and shoulders photograph. As you try placing the main subject off centre, you create interest that can be enhanced with a few graphic elements, such as lead-in lines or interesting background.


Candid styles of photography are increasingly becoming popular both in general day to day photography but also in formal photographic situations.
Below are a number of tips to help photographers improve their ‘candid’ photography. Please note that these tips are not about taking sneaky, voyeuristic or true paparazzi shots (ie photographing people without their permission) but rather about how to add a more candid feel to the shots you take of people that you know.

Take Your Camera Everywhere
Probably the best way to take spontaneous photographs is to always be ready to do so. As I have my iPhone with me all the time then this is what I prefer to use for speed and the sheer fact that I can whip out at a moments notice to capture the many opportunities for a good photo that life presents us with. Taking your camera or phone with you everywhere also helps people to be more at ease with you taking their photo. I find that my friends and family just expect me to have my iPhone out so when I do fire it up it’s not a signal to them to pose but it’s a normal part of our interaction this means that they are relaxed and the photos are natural.

Zooming In
Obviously the further you are away from your subject the less likely they will be to know that you’re photographing them and the more natural and relaxed they’ll act. Using a telephoto lens or long zoom on your camera helps and also zooming in on your iPhone enables you to shoot from outside their personal space but keep the feeling of intimacy in the shot you’re taking.

Kill The Flash
Perhaps the most obvious way that you can signal to another person that you’re photographing them is to use a flash. There’s nothing like a blinding flash of light in the eyes to kill a moment. If possible (and it’s not always) attempt to photograph without the flash if you’re aiming for candid shots.

Shoot Lots
Shoot multiple images quickly of a person you can sometimes get some surprising and spontaneous shots that you’d have never gotten if you shot just one. Switch your camera to continuous shooting mode and shoot in bursts of images and in doing so you’ll increase your chances of that perfect shot, you can get some great applications on the app store for burst shooting or just can simple take lots of photos and if you use your iCloud account then you will have all your work stored safely for sorting the good and the bad out later, just snap away.

Position Yourself
While Candid Photography is about capturing the spontaneity of a moment and getting that perfect shot at the right split second of time I find that if you think ahead and anticipate what is about to unfold in front of you that you can greatly increase the chances of getting some great shots.
Which way will people be facing? What will they be doing? What will the light be like? Thinking through these issues will save you having to run around repositioning yourself when you should be shooting images it will also mean you take a whole heap less shots of the back of people’s heads!
But sometimes the back of the head is good as your see in this photo.



People Doing Something
Images of people doing things tend to be much more interesting than people sitting passively doing nothing. For one your subject will be focussed upon something which adds energy to a photo (and takes their focus off you) but it also puts them in context and adds an element of story to your image. Timing is everything in Candid shots so wait until they are distracted from you and fully focussed upon what they are doing or who they are with and you’ll inject a feeling into your shots of them being unaware and that the viewer of your image is looking on unseen.

From The Hip
If your subject is aware that you are there and that you have your camera out they might tense up or act a little unnaturally as they see you raising your camera to the eye. The beauty of digital cameras is that it does not cost you anything to take lots of shots and it can be well worth shooting without raising your camera.

The other beauty of shooting from the hip is that it gives you a slightly different perspective to take the shot from (ie shooting from 3 feet height instead of 6). This adds to the candid nature of the shots. In fact sometimes it’s the slightly crooked, slightly out of focus or poorly composed shots taken from this type of angle that ends up looking the best because they come across as quite random. Of course you can add all these new perspectives to your shots without shooting from the hip. Crouch down, get up high, frame your shots on an angle, zoom in close and then quickly zoom out to a wide angle, break the rules of composition etc and you will add a new perspective to your shots that can mean they look fresh and surprising.

With this shot I have my subject in the distance and my foreground at eye level making this shot feel very unnatural for most to look at by a real talking point.
With all the above to help you out, your candid shots can be more than just a photograph but more of a story.

Photographing The Exotic

Taking pictures of exotic animals in their own environment is one thing that can take years to master and even with all the experience on your side, you never know just how animals will react in front of your lens at any given moment in time. So I have compiled a list of handy tips to help you get the best from taking photos of the exotic or not so exotic.
Safety first! Try not to get into the position of injuring yourself when dealing with the animals. When in doubt, have the person responsible with the animals manipulate them. Photography will get a lot less practical if you lose your index finger.
If you dim the lights, but not so low than you end up with another problem of not enough light on your subject, this can make the environment as less stressful to the critter.


Getting down to their level will give a more natural shot of your subject, or in some cases getting high enough to your subject, say a giraffe for example. This is a general guideline that also works great on kids and pets, and usually gets you crawling on your belly.
The use of a telephoto lens will help you to get a lot closer without bing in the jaws of the beast, this will also allow you to capture some of the unique and interesting features and details.
For shots of creatures that pose no harm then getting close up with the use of a macro or close-up lens could prove to be really useful.


On the other side of the coin could be to use a wide angle lens to capture unique perspectives.
Above all, try to anticipate your subjects behaviour, this is often the key to photographing a great pose as these kinds of good shots don’t come by chance, if anything they require long stake outs as you may have seen on many a wildlife documentary.

Food Porn

Taking pictures of food is nothing new, but the growing number of diners who come to restaurants armed with cameras of all sorts has triggered photo bans all over the country.
Just look up #foodporn on any social media and you have got yourself a whopping 11,000,000+ photos to sift through. Some restaurants are more lenient than others by only restricting flash photography, but there are some that have banned food photography altogether, even if it means free advertising. A few chefs and restaurant owners have found a way to cope with today’s trends by inviting foodsnappers back to their kitchens so that they can get a better shot and a better opportunity for a more lucrative advertising opportunity.
Others are not as forgiving of iPhone food photography. After all, it is not unusual to see someone standing on their chair just to gain a better perspective of their plate, or disgruntled dining companions waiting for their photographer friend to finish documenting their dishes.
I admit that I have been guilty of keeping a food diary and posting the occasional food snaps, but I have never disrupted another diner’s experience with my photography. I would much rather take a photo from where I am seated than take a good one from on top of my chair and anyway the trend for food shots from another angle is much more pleasing than that from a direct above shot.
What about you? To what lengths do you go for food photography?

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I feel like I have neglected the blog side of this site somewhat, this is due to putting my writing skills into its sister site. So I have thought long and hard to whether I should be posting not just interesting photo related blogs but now to include some great tips, inspirations and some links to some free downloadable content from third parties.
Keep focused.