March, 2014 Photoshop SIG Notes


You can view these notes online at and also download them as a pdf.

This month

This month we will look at:

  1. The use of lines (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, converging) to help you create a strong, compelling picture
  2. Introduction to layers
  3. A look at the entries for last two challenges.


April Photoshop Challenge Entries

The April challenge is to:

  1. Take a photograph with your camera that uses lines of some sort (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, etc.) as part of the composition. This is the Before photo.
  2. Next, create the After photo by using Photoshop adjustment layers for Levels and colour Balance.
  3. Send me the before and after images (

The winner will get a lunch voucher from the New Hope tuck cafeteria.

We will show the ones that have been submitted at the next meeting.

Part One – Using lines in Your Photos

For a quick introduction, click on this YouTube video by Mike Browne:

Please do not tell me that the best part of the video was watching Mike walk through the fields for ages to get a new location to take his photo. He’s the only one that I came across with a sense of humour. The other clips were either too long or dead boring.

Now , what are some of the things that lines can do in a photograph?

Here is a summary of some of the comments from the Digital Photography School website and from Ted Forbes.

Type of line

Visual effect


Vertical lines create a bold statement. They tend to suggest power with a strong foundation. They indicate a feeling of solidity.

Vertical lines have the ability to convey a variety of different moods in a photograph ranging from power and strength (think of skyscrapers) to growth (think of trees).


Horizontal lines indicate stability as well, but in a much more calming way. They suggest balance, harmony and in some cases finality or a sense of cadence (ending).

There’s something about a horizontal line in an image that conveys a message of ‘stability’ or even ‘rest’. Horizons, fallen trees, oceans, sleeping people – all of these subjects have something about them that speaks either of permanency and timelessness or rest.


Diagonal lines also create a strong feel, but indicate a sense of energy or motion. Mixing diagonal lines with vertical or horizontal lines can create a nice blend of power and dynamics.

Diagonal lines generally work well to draw the eye of an image’s viewer through the photograph. They create points of interest as they intersect with other lines and often give images depth by suggesting perspective.


A leading line paves an easy path for the eye to follow through different elements of a photo. Usually they start at the bottom of the frame and guide the eye upwards and inwards, from the foreground of the image to the background, typically leading toward the main subject.

Now that you have an idea as to what and how lines are used in your photos, let’s look at some examples.

Vertical Lines


Horizontal lines


Diagonal Lines


Leading Lines

Live Oaks

A little bit more from Michael Browne again in Part 2 of his Leading Lines video at:

Well, hopefully that is enough to get you started thinking about lines when you look through the view finder of your camera.

Here are some links to give you more information and examples. All of these are easy to read and only have one key point in each video clip.

Let’s finish off this discussion of the use of lines by watching Part 3 from Michael Browne again. Here is the link.

Now that you have a few things to try with your camera, let’s look at how we can use Photoshop Adjustment Layers for some non-destructive edits of your image.

A last plug for Michael Browne. He has a website that has a whole series of short videos about how to use your camera. From just a short look, it seems to be easily absorbed information that he presents.

Part 2 – Using Photoshop Adjustment Layers

For this month we will take a look at how to use the Levels and the Colour Balance adjustment layers in Photoshop.

These techniques are detailed in Richard Lynch’s The Adobe Photoshop Layers Book. It is worth buying for the background that he provides with his techniques.

The Levels adjustment layer gives you three choices – automatic, presets, or DIY (Do It Yourself).

Let’s do it!

Levels Adjustment Layer

(1) Find an image of your own that you want to perk up a little bit. Well, that was one way to have a pleasant two hours looking through my photos from the last two years. I seem to be doing better on flowers and close ups. I decided on this one that I took a few weeks ago at Pelican Point South Australia.
Image 1 -  Original January, 2014 Sunset at Pelican Point
(2) The next step is  to open this image up in Photoshop. (Notice the title of the file – Original January, 2014 Sunset at Pelican Point.JPG. this lets me know to duplicate it and then to close it so that I do not muck it up and have to do the walk of shame in front of the AUSOM SIG.)
(3) Next click on Image/Duplicate and rename the file to WIP January, 2014 Sunset at Pelican Point.JPG. The WIP lets me know that it is a Work In Progress (WIP). I know that I don’t have to spell it out for you. But just to be sure! Looks like this:

Image 2 - both original and WIP files open in Photoshop

(4) Now close the original file so that you only have one open – the WIP file.
(5) Click on Layer/New Adjustment Layer/ Levels.
(6) When the dialogue box appears, change the layer name to 1 – General Levels Adjustment.
(7) Click on OK.

What comes up next is called a histogram. This is a graph that shows the range of tones from black to white. The black slider on the left is for blacks. The white slider on the right is for highlights. The grey slider in the middle is for the midtones.

It looks like this on my computer:

 Image 6A - Histogram Blue Channel After

The RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue colour channels as you would see on your monitor. This means that we can adjust each channel separately and do a final adjustment on the combined RGB channel.
(8) First see what changes you get by clicking on Auto – #1 on the diagram.
(9) Use Edit/Undo any time that you want to back up a step. Now is a good time.
(10) Next, try a click on the arrow on the right hand side of the Levels box at the top of the histogram.
(11) Use your Down arrow to slowly cycle through the choices that range from Darker down to Midtones Darker.

You may find that one of these is all that you need to improve your photograph. Not happy? Or wanting to get in and try the DIY approach?
(12) Click on the box that is labelled RGB (#2 in the diagram ) and select Red.
(13) Move the blacks (#3) slider on the left and the whites slider (#4) on the right end as needed.
(14) Here is the before and after of the blue channel in my image.

Image of Table of blue Channel

(15) Click on the Mystic Eye of Destruction to see the change that has taken place. This gives you a Before and After preview.
(16) Repeat this twice more for the green and blue channels.
(17) Finally, click on the RGB channel.
(18) Adjust the grey slider in the middle to get midtones (#5) that you like.
(19) Have you been saving your work?

That takes care of the first adjustment layer for this meeting. Hopefully, you will try a few images in the DIY mode and be satisfied with your result.

Colour Balance Adjustment Layer

Once again, this explanation is from Richard Lynch’s Photoshop Layers book. Buy it! Support your local bookstore. His explanation goes like this.

“The goal of Colour Balance adjustment is to achieve more vibrant, balanced colour.

The Adobe Colour Balance feature lets you shift the balance between opposite colours to enhance your image. These pairs of colours are:

  • Cyan against red
  • Green against magenta
  • Blue against yellow”

Let’s give this one a try.

  1. Go back to your image from the levels adjustment section.
  2. Click on Layer/New Adjustment Layer/Colour Balance
  3. Click on OK in the dialogue box.
  4. You should get something that looks like this:

Image 3 -  Create Levels Adjustment layer

Here is the outline of what we are going to try to do.

  • First, adjust the sliders for the Midtones.
  • Next, adjust the sliders for the Highlights.
  • Third, adjust the shadows with the sliders.
  • Repeat until satisfied with the results. Best to stop after twelve hours and have a short break.
  1. Move the top slider for cyan and red slowly back and forth from about -50 to +50. Use your judgement as to where it looks better to you. Look for where you can see the most detail. This means that you are on the right track.
  2. Notice how you can decide if you want a warm image (oranges and yellows) or a coolish (blues) image.
  3. Do not show it to anyone else at this time because they will shatter any confidence that you have by saying, “Oh dear, that looks awful. Do you need to have your eyes checked?”
  4. Click on the Highlights button next and repeat the process with the sliders again.
  5. Ditto for the Shadows.
  6. How’s it lookin’?
  7. Click on the Mystic Eye of Destruction to see the change that has taken place. This gives you a Before and After preview.

I hope that this will be of some help to you as you play with Photoshop.

Part Three – March Challenge Show and Tell

A brief look at the entries for February and March Challenges.


Well folks, that should be enough to get you started on the April Challenge!

That’s all, folks!


About woldham

Concise! Retired and loving it!
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