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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Work In Progress

I have been out and about from location to location using my iPhone and Hipstamatic along with Instagram and slowly working on my still life and landscape photography skills, sometimes seeing what happens and other times planning a shot.
So far all is looking good and I think next month some happy accents might come to light and produce some nice results.

Instagram Vs Hipstamic

When it comes to iPhoneography, the vintage look seems to be the fad that is not going away. Everybody is obsessed with having their iPhone photos look like old school photos from the sixties and seventies. There are a lot of applications out there that will apply filters to your shots, but there are two clear front runners when it comes to the vintage look Hipstamatic and Instagram. So which is better? The truth is these applications have quite different focusses, with a small overlap.
Hipstamatic has been around since 2009 and is extremely an extremely popular app Apple even named it app of the year for 2010. Hipstamatic is a camera application in the most traditional sense possible, when you launch the application the interface emulates a camera the creators of Hipstamatic claim it was inspired by an actual plastic camera with changeable lenses, but this may have in fact been clever marketing and completely made up.

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With Hipstamatic you cannot edit photos that were not taken using the app while some find this to be a limiting feature, I think part of the charm of the app is the integrity with which they stick to the camera metaphor. Because of the strict metaphor you take your shot and you get a result your choices are made prior to shooting, there is no post production to be done and the results are often great.
What really sets Hipstamatic apart from the myriads of lesser vintage look apps is the quality of the filters. The app has several ‘lenses’ available, each one giving a different vintage look, with some ‘films’ and ‘flashes’ also available to tweak the effects. You can see a comparison chart of all the combinations here.
I have yet to find an application with a better set of filters than Hipstamatic, and although I have a fair few photography applications at this stage, Hipstamatic remains an application I return to frequently. Hipstamatic costs £1.28 and comes with 3 lenses, 2 films and 3 flashes. You can buy more “Hipstapacks” from £0.69
You can also order great quality prints from within the app, and share your prints to FaceBook, Flickr or Tumblr.
The application is beautifully designed, but does take a little bit of getting used to and because there are plenty of features accessed through the visual metaphor of a vintage camera it can be a little fiddly to use just like the real deal. I love to use this application in a random mode so I never quite know what type of images I am going to get until I see them in my photo stream or camera role. It is so nice to just shake the iPhone to get a random, film, flash or lens.

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Instagram is a newer app, launched in October of 2010, but by December they already had over a million registered users.
Although Instagram allows you to take pictures, and apply vintage effects, if you visit the Instagram site you will see their tagline is “Fast beautiful photo sharing for your iPhone”. Instagram is primarily an application to integrate your photos with your social media presence.
Instagram is a community and photo sharing space in its own right, but currently they do not have a web profile for users your photos are viewed and accessed via the Instagram app by other iPhone users. It does look like web profiles are being developed, but the main feature of the application is that it is super easy to share photos to Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, FaceBook and Foursquare.
The interface is clear and really easy to use, feels very zippy and is generally a pleasure to interact with.
Instagram allows you to find people to follow by looking through your friends on FaceBook or Twitter so you can very quickly have a stream of your friends photos to peruse, like and comment on.
The filters that come with Instagram are almost all vintage photo type filters, some of which are nice enough, but not nearly close to the same quality as Hipstamatic.
One thing to be aware of is that Instagram creates images that are 612pixels by 612pixels. You can pull higher res images from your camera roll into Instagram to share, but they will be converted to 612×612.
If you are using Instagram as a camera it is possible to choose to have the app save the original photo (as it would look if taken with the default camera app) as well as the Instagram 612×612 version but the photos shared via Instagram will always by 612×612.
612×612 is fine for fast sharing on the web, which is what Instagram is focussed on, but would not be great for printing. To give you a comparison Hipstamatic shots are 1536×1536.
Of course, the other big feature Instagram has on its side is that it is free.
If you are into photography on the iPhone you will want to own Hipstamatic, it gives you dependable results with a vintage feel at print quality.
Instagram is really more about social media and interaction, it gives you the ability to quickly share a moment with your online friends, but the image is screen quality only.
So there is no real verses between the two applications as in the right frame they compliment each other and I use both to get the right shot.