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Social networks

Yesterday I noticed a tweet by my friend Jim Nix, in which he mentioned, that he no longer uses Facebook and Instagram that much, but he appreciates Twitter more and more. And funny enough, I feel exactly the same way. But why is it so? I though about it, and this is what I gotten to.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

All social networks are different. And one joins them for many different reasons. I joined Facebook because of my friends. Instagram to share photos and follow other photographers. Twitter mostly from curiosity. There are one’s where one shares more, and ones where one reads more. But over time I lost most of my interest in them. I removed Facebook from my phone around a year ago, and don’t plan to add it back. Instagram is still there, but have not been used in a while. But I do visit Twitter daily.

I though abut why this is, and in the end I found the reason. The biggest difference is, why I follow people (and companies) on these different social networks. There is a different reason for every single one.

  • On Facebook, I follow mostly family, friends and acquaintances. But over time, I noticed, that those that I care about, I talk to and meet outside of Facebook, so I don’t need to check on them there. And the rest is just too much information I don’t need.
  • On Instagram, I follow accounts based on how good or interesting their photos are. It’s all about photography. I don’t think I followed anyone there for a different reason. Of course as a photographer I’m interested in photos but I don’t feel the need to check them out all the time. It’s same as with 500px and Flickr. I go there sometime, but don’t feel the need to be there all the time.
  • On Twitter, I follow accounts that share stuff I like. I have many interests and there are a lot of accounts that fit them. People share about photography, movies, books, games, software, anime, models, drawing, culture and much much more. Like this, my feed is very diverse, full of stuff I like. I also find there is much less personal updates, which you get much more on Facebook or Instagram. It feels more as a place to share ones interests. And that’s why recently I been mostly just there.

This all could be because how the different social networks started, and what kind of content they were build for. Even if you can find everything everywhere, there are still associations to the content they have been started for.

What are you still using? Or nothing anymore, like a lot of people tend to do now. Maybe the era of booming social networks is over. Who knows.

You can find me on Twitter here.

Evening clouds over Bratislava

This is a quite common view of Bratislava now, after they replaced the Old bridge. For few years, with the old bridge closed off, and then being completely gone, this view was not accessible at all. Still, with the trams passing quite frequently on the bridge, getting a nice evening photo is not that easy. The bridge can shake like crazy. Even with this photo, I started editing a different shot, and then I noticed that the bracket were completely miss-aligned and bury. Luckily, I tend to do multiple shots in places like this, to be sure one is good enough. And one was.

This is a blend from three exposures, done in Photoshop.

Evening clouds over Bratislava

Mobile wallpapers


Photos with a lot of bokeh usually work great as wallpapers, as the icons stand out quite nicely in the out of focus areas. So today I have for you some of my spring photos, with a lot of bokeh. And they are all formatted as mobile phone wallpapers. These are all in 1080×2160 resolution, and will work great for most phones. Even if they get cropped a bit or stretched, they look great on an average size phone screen.

I have not added a watermark to these, as on wallpapers this size, it would be too distracting and won’t look so great.

Don’t forget to check out other available wallpapers:

Spring themed mobile wallpapers

And here are the wallpapers. I kept them bright and colorful, perfect for a Spring feeling :)

Early morning in Downtown Dubai

Let’s stop by Dubai in today’s photo. This one was taken a year ago, very early in the morning, right as the sky started to brighten for the sunrise. It was not the easiest shot to take. Right in the middle of where I was standing, is a camera overlooking the area. It would be ok, if there was not a huge cover on it. It really is in the way. Even with a very tall tripod, I could not get over it. So in the end, I took the shot handheld. I stood as close as I could, and braced myself against the camera cover. Not everything worked perfectly, but after few tries, I got few shots I could use.

This is a two shot blend, done in Photoshop. This series was three shots, but one was blurred as I could not hold it still. Luckily I did not need it.

Early morning in Downtown Dubai, UAE

Luminosity selections and masks

Last week, I shared with you, what are luminosity selections and masks, and how to create them in Photoshop. Today, I will show you, how to use them when you are editing photos. There will be another post about this topic, where I will show you how to use them to blend images.

But before you get into today’s guide, I suggest checking out this post on understanding masks in Photoshop here, and the post explaining luminosity selections and masks here.

Editing photos using luminosity selections

Let’s start with a photo in the state we left in the last post. Go into the channels window, and create the Bright 1, Bright 2, Bright 3 and Dark 1, Dark 2 and Dark 3 channels. Each time from now on, when we need to select a certain one, just go back to selections and Ctrl+click on the one you want to select.

There are two ways we can approach editing from here on. Either we want to effect the whole selection, or just paint in a part of it, exactly where we need it. The process is a bit different for both of these, so let’s look at them now.

Global edits on whole selection

When you want to effect the whole selections, the two steps you have to do are:

  • Select the luminosity selection you want to use – Go into the channels window, and Ctrl+click on the selection you want to use. Go back to the layers window afterwards
  • Add the edit you want to use – Create new fill or adjustment layer, by using the button (circle icon, half white, half black) in the bottom right. You can use any adjustment you need. The selection will be automatically added a layer mask to the new layer and you can then edit your adjustment.

Let’s look at an example to understand this. For this photo, I want to brighten the shadow areas and I want to darken the highlights. Let’s start with the shadows.

  1. Go into the channels, and select a Dark selection. The more restrictive selection you choose, the less efect your edit will have. So if you go to Dark 3, or even 4,5 and higher, you effect only the very dark areas in the photo. For this example, let’s choose Dark 2. Ctrl+click on the channel with that selection
  2. Go into layers and add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer (one can use also other adjustments, like curves or levels to get the same effect). A new layer will be created with the mask applied to it.
  3. Now in the properties of that layer, adjust brightness to make the shadow areas brighter. You will see, that the bright areas of the photo are not effected at all and only the shadows are brightened.

Going to the second edit, darkening the highlights, just do the same, just change the selection and the adjustment. For instance, select a Bright 2 selection, create a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and lower the brightness. And you have darkened the highlights of the photo.

Don’t limit yourself to just darkening and brightening a certain area. You can use this to change the color balance, saturation, detail, white balance and much more. Just use the adjustment layer you need. Also, one note about changing the brightness. Each time you brighten a dark area or darken a bright area, you photo looses contrast. A good practice is then, that every time you do this, to add a bit of contrast to the same area. If you use Brightness/contrast, add a bit of contrast, in levels, move the mid-tones a bit, in curves, create a S curve. Like this, your edits will look natural and photos will not become grey and flat.

Local edits by painting in the effect

If you don’t want to use the whole selection, the process is a bit different. The steps you have to follow then are:

  • Create an adjustment layer – In the layers window, create the adjustment layer you need, and set it to parameters you need. It will effect the whole image, but that is OK for now.
  • Add a black mask to it – We need to hide this layer for now. So click on the white mask next to this layer, and press Ctrl+I to invert it to a black mask
  • Make a luminosity selection in the Channels window – as before Ctrl+click on the Bright or Dark channel that closely matches the part of the image you want to edit. This will create a selection for you.
  • Paint in the edit – now go back to the layers window, choose the Brush tool, white, 0% hardness. Select the black mask you inverted before and start painting in the areas you want the edit to have effect. If the marching ants of the selection are distracting or in the way, you can hide them by pressing Ctrl+H. The selection will limit where you can paint, so you will only effect the area you need to.

Let’s go back to our example. Let’s say I still want to brighten the shadows, but not everywhere. I want to just brighten them around the buildings in the middle of the photo. I will use levels in this example

  1. create and edit a new adjustment layer – With the button in the bottom right of the layers window, create a new levels adjustment layer. Brighten the photo by moving the white triangle to the left
  2. invert the mask – Select it’s mask, and press Ctrl+I to invert it. Now the adjustment layer will have no effect on the image
  3. create your selection – Go into channels and let’s select the Dark 2 one by Ctrl+click on it
  4. paint in the effect – go back to the mask, hide the selection with Ctrl+H, and with the white brush start painting around the are you want to brighter. The more times you paint over a spot, the stronger effect the adjustment will have on it. But it’s all limited by the selection, so for instance the bright castle in the middle will not be effected at all.

If you ever add to much, just switch your brush to black color, and paint over the same spot. By switching back and forth between white and black, you can add or remove the effect until you are satisfied with your result. If you see that you selection is too narrow or broad, delete the layer and start again. Don’t forget you can use this with any other adjustment. You can paint in saturation, detail, colors, brightness, contrast and anything else you can put on a layer.

That’s all for today, next time I will share with you how to use these same selection to blend multiple exposures together.

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