11 my most used Photoshop shortcuts

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There are so many shortcuts in Photoshop. But not all are equally useful, as if one does something only really rarely, it’s just not worth it to learn the shortcut. But some, are just essential, and once you learn them, you will be using them constantly. This is more for beginners, for those who are only starting in Photoshop, as I hope everyone who worked already longer with Photoshop, knows all of them :)

These are also the ones I use the most while editing my photos in Photoshop. For those of you who use a Mac, you just have to replace Ctrl with Cmd.

Space – pan

I think this is the very first shortcut everyone has to learn. When you hold the space-bar, the cursor will change into a hand, and you can move the image around. This is so much quicker than looking for the pan too in the toolbox, or zooming out and back in into the image.

Passing red buses

Ctrl + Space – zoom in

Another thing that will really help you to move around the photo. Holding Ctrl + Space will switch you to the Zoom in tool. If you only click with the mouse, you will zoom in. But if you hold the left mouse button at the same time, and move the mouse cursor up and down, you will zoom in/zoom out. I also like to click the right mouse button while hoding Ctrl + Space, to open a selection menu, from where I can quickly choose Fit to screen, to see the whole image.

D – reset colors

This one very important shortcut, especially when working with masks and brushes. Pressing D will reset your foreground color to black, and background color to white. Once you know this, you will never ever again need to open the color picker to get these two colors :)

X – switch colors

This one works together with the previous one. When you start using luminance masks and painting into them, you very often need to change from black to white and back. And here where X comes in. Pressing it will switch the foreground and background color. While masking, you will use this very often.

F – full screen

This one is more about the interface, but also very helpful. Pressing F will switch you into the full-screen mode. There are three states for it, that you circle trough. Normal mode, full screen and full screen without the toolbars. If you have a smaller screen, this shortcut is a must.

Shift + Backspace – fill dialog

Fill dialog is normally used when you want to fill a selection or the whole image with a single color, but for me it’s much more useful to use content aware fill on a selection. I just select an area, hit Shift + Backspace, select content aware fill (if you don’t change the selection, Photoshop remembers the last one used) and hit enter. This is probably the quickest way to get rid of unwanted objects in a photo.

Ctrl + E – merge layer

Merge layer will take the layer you are currently on and merge it with the layer under it. I use this mostly, when doing small retouching edits on a photo, and I just create a new copy to do the edit, or do it on an empty layer. Once I’m done, I just hit the shortcut to merge the edit back into the layer.
London City hall

Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E – merge visible into new layer

This one is not so easily to press, but doubly useful for that. What it does, it will create a new layer for you, which will include a merged copy of all the layers under it. This is very usefull if you need to do an edit that requires a pixel layer, or you want to use a filter effect on the whole image, including all the adjustment layers.

Ctrl + D – deselect

This shortcut any selection you currently have. It very useful as if one uses masking, and luminosity masks, one tends to work with the selection hidden. So it can often happen that you sill have a selection and don’t know about it. Just hitting this shortcut will get rid of it immediately.

Ctrl + Shift + I – invert selection

Knowing this one is will help mostly when using masks. Knowing how to quickly invert a selection can streamline the editing process greatly. Most of the times, if you don’t have to open the Photoshop menus, the more efficiently you work.

Ctrl + Alt + Z – step backward

The undo does not work exactly the same in Photoshop as in other programs. In Photoshop, just hitting Ctlr + Z will let you go back only one step. If you hit it again, you will just redo that one step. If you want to go more back, you have to use this longer shortcut. With this you can go back through the whole available history of your edits.

And thats all for this list :)

Evening in Zurich

posted in Switzerland, Zurich on with No Comments


Photographers on Ello

The list of photographers on Ello recently crossed it’s 500 entry, ant it still keeps on growing and growing. I think more and more photographers will be drawn there, as if you compare the quality of the photos there, no other social network competes at all. And you don’t even have to click on them to see them big :)

You can find me on Ello as @miroslavpetrasko, and you can find the list as always here: Photographers to follow on Ello.

Evening in Zurich

I didn’t had the best sunset while taking photos in Zurich, but one can almost always rely on the blue hour. Same here :) A combination of blue and yellow just works great.

This is a HDR from 5 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop.
Evening in Zurich

Using soft light to dodge & burn

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One of the basic photo editing techniques is, using dodge and burn to brighten, respectively darken and area of a photo. Photoshop of course has specific tools for that, but using them has few downsides. The biggest one, is that you have to apply it directly of a pixels of a photo, and so the effect can not be tweaked or reversed (only undo helps :))

So as I mentioned in my most useful blending modes in Photoshop, you can also use the Soft light blending mode, as a way to do Dodge and Burn in a more control way. Btw. I used a little stronger effects on the sample images, to illustrate the effect.

Soft light

As stated before, Soft light blending mode will either darken or brighten the layer underneath, based on the layer it has been used on. So everything that is 50% grey (#808080) has no effect at all, everything that is darker, will darker the bottom layer, everything that is brighter, will brighten the bottom layer.

Dodge&BurnOriginal photo
Dodge&BurnDodged the foreground threes

Dodge & Burn

Once you know how soft light works, it’s easy to figure out how to use it to Dodge and Burn. What you do is:

  • Create a new empty layer
  • Set it’s blending mode to soft light
  • Take a soft brush, at around 30% opacity
  • Paint with white color on the new layer to dodge
  • Paint with black color on the layer to burn
  • Paint with 50% grey or use erase at a lower opacity, to undo what you have changed

You can also use shift-backspace, if you want to fill the whole layer with 50% grey. Just choose it from the option in the small window that will open.

Dodge&BurnBurned the top part of the photo
Dodge&Burn50% grey has no effect

Adding color

When you are using only white, black and shades of grey, you will only dodge and burn. But if you are using a colour instead of them, you will not only affect the brightness, but also the color of the area. This can help in a lot of situations. For instance, if you to paint more yellow into a sunset, or more green into autumn grass and similar. By using soft light, and a low opacity brush, you can create a very nice transition for most cases. You can of course also change the opacity of the soft light layer, to further tweak the strength of the effect.

Dodge&BurnDodged with yellow color the trees
Dodge&BurnBurned with blue color the sky

Using with luminance and color selections

One thing that works great with this approach, is combining it with different selections. Especial luminance selection work great with Dodging and Burning, and color selections (select/color range) with color painting. Just create yourself a Light selection and paint with black to make the areas darker, or opposite, create a darks selection and paint the area with white to make it brighter. With the selection active, you will only effect the selected bright/dark areas and nothing else.

Dodge&BurnBurnig with a luminance mask
Dodge&BurnColor selection to restrict the are affected

And that’t it. Feel free to ask any questions.

Schwarzsee reflection

posted in Switzerland, Zermatt on with 1 Reply

Vertical photos

Do you take many vertical (portrait) oriented photos? I somehow don’t. Not really sure why it’s like that. I’m just drawn more to wider views, and so my photos are mostly landscape. Also it looks so nice when all the photos are of the same size and aspect ratio. What do you like more? Vertical or horizontal shots?

Schwarzsee reflection

And while on the vertical photos subject, how about one from them. This is a reflection taken at the Schwarzsee under the Matterhorn. The sky was not the best behind the mountain, but the reflection was great, so I took the shot :)

This is a HDR from 4 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop
Schwarzsee reflection

For today I chosen to show you how I edited this photo from the Grand Mosques in Abu Dhabi. This was the main entrance area, so quite busy. That why I chosen this compositin, trying to look more up, so getting a shot over everyone heads. It was also a scene with quite a high dynamic range, so I used 6 exposures, with a -3EV taken for the lights.

So lets look at the final image and the original 0EV exposure.

Entrance to the Grand MosqueFinished photo
Entrance to the Grand MosqueOriginal 0EV exposure

I started as always in Ligthroom. I corrected the lens distortion, removed the chromatic aberrations and corrected the angle. After that I exported all the files as 16-bit tiff files and loaded them into Oloneo Photoengine.

Entrance to the Grand MosqueAll exposures taken
Entrance to the Grand MosqueDistortion corrected in Lightroom 

In Oloneo I just changed the strength and contrast, as I do most of the time. From there I loaded the HDR result and the original exposures into Photoshop, and did the following edits (layers numbered from bottom up):
1. Photoengine result
2.-3EV exposure to darken the lights
3. Curves to brighten the overall image
4. Just a merged layer I needed for Color efex plugin
5. Color efex Detail extractor, to get more detail from the photo. Set to default settings and then 50% opacity.
6. Curve to darken the brightest lists in the photo.
7. Merged layer for noise reuduction
8+9. Added contrast to the whole image
10+11. Desaturated the red color and added more saturation to yellow.
12. Color balance for the shadow areas to remove the red cast.

Entrance to the Grand MosqueHDR in Oloneo Potoengine
Entrance to the Grand MosquePhotoshop editing

And that’s all I did with this image. To find out more on how I edit, check out the guides and before after categories on this blog, or check out my video tutorial series here: