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Background Fade in Adobe Photoshop- Video Tutorial

Background Fade in Adobe Photoshop CC- Step by step

Well, like most things related to social media and online, we’re late to the party! Today, we took a big step into 2005 and created our very own YouTube Channel! I was <finally> able to convince our Edmonton Adobe Photoshop CC instructor, Susan Temme, to record herself editing and the result is fantastic 🙂 Here is the first in a collection of Adobe Photoshop Tutorials! Be sure to comment and give this one a lot of love so she’ll keep doing them-  LOL

We started with a fairly simple Background/Backdrop Fade. Often when you’re photographing in a studio, you will notice that you wind up with an abrupt transition between the floor and the background:


If you want to smooth this line out you can:

  • Select a color from the background of your photo, in this case you want to choose something light and close to the hair
  • Add a new layer (+SHIFT+N)
  • Using your fill tool (paint bucket), drop your new color
  • Add a layer mask
  • Select the Gradient Tool (g)
  • Hold down your shift key on the rug and drag up to just below the transition line.


Almost There!

  • Create a new Copy of your background (+J)
  • Merge your layer 1 with the background copy
  • Add a Layer Mask
  • Paint off the color from your subject with your brush (b) tool.

That’s it!


Here is the video tutorial for you! If you have any questions or run into any problems, either comment here or email us at [email protected] and we’re happy to help you out!

Happy Editing!



Mixing White Balances

In this post we’ll discuss the problems of mixing white balances in one shot.

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Using Your DSLR Camera at the CPLC.

White Balance

In a perfect world, all light sources would only shine ‘pure white light’, without any colour cast or hue added. If this were true, than we would never need to white balance or colour correct any images or videos we took.

In the real world, we are faced with the reality that every single light source that can light our scene–be it natural sunlight, indoor light bulbs, or flashes or strobes, shine their white light with a certain colour hue or cast to it. In some cases, such as ‘yellow light bulbs’, the cast is so saturated that the light even appears to us to be yellow, and not just white with a yellow hue. In other cases, like fluorescents or flash bulbs, the light appears white (but isn’t) in ideal situations, but in reality has a blue cast to it.

When two light sources with different colour casts illuminate one scene, photographers are inevitably faced with the reality that the two different colour casts will not match, and the resulting photo will have, usually, an ugly colour cast in one part of its picture. (Sometimes, we get lucky and the two colours complement each other).

In the below images, you see in a dimly hit house how the halogen (yellow) bulbs were turned on. In truth, the house was too dark without them turned on for people to walk through. However, it was also too dark for photography, so the photographer had to supplement the ambient lighting with flash light in order to produce a bright enough image. The resulting image reveals what happens to the ‘yellow’ halogen lighting when the image is colour corrected to the dominant–blue–flash lighting.

Mixing white balances - colour problems - white balance problems - Calgary photography classes

Mixing white balances - colour problems - white balance problems - Calgary photography classes

In the top picture, the women are backlit by the halogen lighting, making the back room look like a sickly yellow light, and also backlighting their hair with that same glow. Their faces and the wall next to them, though, are lit by the more natural flash light. The bottom picture has one of the girls lit by the flash light, and the two girls in the background lit by the yellow halogen lighting. Here the two colours are separated on the subjects themselves, but the overall image still has this jarring distinction in two different light sources.

As such, for some of the shots the photographer asked for the yellow light bulbs to be turned off. While this was too dark for the girls to finish getting ready, it allowed the photographer brief moments of control over the quality of the photography. Simply by turning off a conflicting colour source, the images look better–even if in practical terms the photographer can’t ask the subjects to work in these dark circumstances for too long. While the images are bright, in person, the house is quite dark with the yellow lights off.

Mixing white balances - colour problems - white balance problems - Calgary photography classes

Mixing white balances - colour problems - white balance problems - Calgary photography classes

Clearly, the color/lighting in the second set of shots are more pleasing to the eye. Even in situations where you can’t command complete control of the lighting at all times, it’s still nice to take control for brief moments to give yourself the opportunity to elevate the photography to the next level.


To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Using Your DSLR Camera at the CPLC.

Using Levels in Posing

In this post we’ll discuss the use of levels in photographing portraits.

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take The Art and Design of Photography at the CPLC.


Levels in Portraiture

One of the simplest tricks to make your photos look more professional requires only a one-step stool or small ladder.  A common theme through most people’s photos of themselves and their families is that they’re all taken at your eye-height.  Occasionally we will crouch down to take photos of our kids, but even here most often people will take these shots from their adult-standing-height.


Hollywood movies (at least the mediocre majority) used to largely hold to this as well.  Steven Spielberg, in his film E.T., turned this concept on its head and brought his cameras down so that most every shot in the movie is shot from a 8-year-old’s eye-height, most famously pointed out in the opening shot which is just a set of car keys hanging out of an adult’s hip pocket.

This same concept has been used for years by photographers to add interest to their groups of shots.  Even if nothing else changed, simply having some of your shots at eye-height, some from a crouching or laying position, and some shooting down from a one or two-step ladder, immediately makes your session more engaging and interesting to look at.

The first shot in this series is taken from the photographer’s eye-height.  The next, directly below, is taken at a downward angle, on a step ladder and positioning the subject lower down the hill.


Next, we have a picture taken from ground-height, while the pose is also brought down to add a new dynamic to the shoot.


In addition to the photographer’s height-perspective shifting, a similar effect can be achieved by altering the height of your subjects in portraiture, as seen in the below photo.


Try to keep the level of your lens as well as the levels (sitting, standing, lying, crouching) of your subjects constantly shifting to make your session of photos more dynamic and interesting.


To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take The Art and Design of Photography at the CPLC.

Can you bokeh?

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera and Getting Proper Exposures at the CPLC.

Season’s greetings! A mini Holiday Bokeh tutorial

In this festive season of last minute gift buying, endless Christmas carols, and overindulging in delicious food, we at CPLC would like to remind you that this is also the perfect time of year to pull out your cameras and flex your photographic muscles as a way to combat that tryptophan induced turkey coma. Yes, you can take beautiful portraits of your friends and family, but don’t forget to take advantage of all the stunning Christmas lights/displays to create some unique and creative photos of Christmas Bokeh.

“Holiday Bokeh” – Say What?!

Without delving into sciencey jargon, “bokeh” can be described as the way your lens depicts out of focus areas/points of light, or even more simply, the background blur. Have you seen photos where lights in the background are out of focus, and instead of just being a point, they take on these creamy, soft, and defocused circular shapes? Those out of focus shapes are an example of light bokeh, that you can easily achieve in your photos.

Calgary photography classes

Calgary photography classes

In the above examples, the subjects in focus are the pepsi bottles and a branch in the foreground, while the lights peeking through the trees in the background are out focus, so they get rendered as bokeh. Points of light that are not in focus will take generally on the shape of your lens’ aperture (usually circular). The larger your aperture (or the smaller your f/ number) is set to while taking these photos, the larger the bokeh shapes will be.

Your turn to try!

A couple points to note – in order to make lights on the Christmas tree appear as bokeh circles, they should be

1) out of focus, and
2) photographed with a large aperture.

This is easily done by setting your lens’ aperture to it’s smallest f/number (ie: f/ 3.5, or lower if your lens is able). Then take a photo where you focus on something (the cat, a gift wrapped present, grandma, etc) in the foreground, while the christmas lights are further away in the background. The farther apart your subject is from the background, the more pronounced the bokeh will be.

Calgary photography classes

Even if you don’t have a willing foreground subject because they are all passed out from the Turkey induced coma, you can still take bokeh Christmas lights photos easily. Try setting your lens to manual focus, and intentionally focussing to where a foreground subject would be, while leaving the lights of the Christmas tree in the background out of focus.

Calgary photography classes

Calgary photography classes

In the above examples, neither the lights on the Christmas tree or the reindeer display are in focus, and because they were shot with a large aperture, they become large circular bokeh shapes. Try it out for yourself, it’s very simple to do, and takes little set up.

We hope this mini tutorial helps kickstart your Christmas creativity, and we would love to hear from you in the comments how your adventures with holiday bokeh turn out. From all of us at the CPLC, wishing you and yours a happy holiday season filled with fun, food, and photos!

To learn more about these principles and put them into practice, take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera and Getting Proper Exposures at the CPLC.

Blacks and Whites in Histograms

In this post we’ll discuss the ambiguous position on editing blacks and whites in histograms. There is a subjective element here, so we won’t have ‘bad and good’ versions. Though it is likely you yourself will think one is bad and the other good, the person next to you might disagree. So rather than say you should do it one way here, we’ll just present both options.

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC at the CPLC.

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

The Classical Approach

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

In the classical approach, we could say that it is proper for blacks in B&W photography to be in the ‘true blacks’ section of the histogram, or 0-10% luminance. Likewise, whites in B&W photography should be in the ‘true whites’ section of the histogram, or 90-100% luminance. In the above picture, this is achieved through editing the whites and blacks sliders in Lightroom. As seen in the pictures below, the mouse positioned over the black jacket reveals 7% blacks, and over the white snow, produces 98% whites. (The numbers are visible just under the histogram when you roll your mouse over a part of the picture in the Develop module in Lightroom).

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

A Modern Approach

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

While we can’t speak of ‘the modern approach’, because modern photography is as pluralistic as there are modern photographers, we can say that many modern photographers would prefer what classicists would call ‘bad photography’, namely weak blacks and weak whites. Ideally, classicists say, in B&W photography your darkest shade should be a true black and your brightest shade should be a true white. In this modern take on the same photo, however, a more medium-contrast approach is taken. As seen in the pictures below, the same area of blacks is now 14.5%, and the whites are now 89%. Technically speaking, the ‘blacks’ are actually dark greys, and the ‘whites’ are actually bright greys. Hence, they are seen as mistakes from a classical perspective. Nevertheless, perhaps you like this version better than the classical one.

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

While subjective opinion ultimately triumphs in photography (and this should be recognized), it is wise to know when you are breaking classical rules that you are in fact breaking them. As the universal cliche in the arts holds true for photography, “you need to learn the rules BEFORE you break them”. Whichever way you go, it is wise to know that the ‘breakable rule’ in B&W photography is that you should have some parts of your image be true blacks, and some parts true whites.

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC at the CPLC.

Capturing Autumn in Portrait Photography

We’re back from the summer hiatus, so let’s dig in this fall with an autumn topic: making the ‘autumn look’ look good in photography.

The principles are very basic, but easy to forget, and since they look so much better in the autumn, let’s quickly explore why. The principles we’ll talk about here are depth of field (DOF) and bokeh.

Unfamiliar with any terms we use in this article? Take the “Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera” and “Getting Proper Exposures” classes to get a practical education with your own camera in-class, including in-class exercises and homework, to familiarize yourself with these terms.

DOF and Autumn

To read more about DOF, check out this post here. In terms of autumn, we are already looking at a beautiful landscape when we hit the right place at the right time, meaning enough leaves falling on the ground but there are still enough in the trees too before they become ‘too twiggy’. Once we’re in this setting, we’re surrounded by a beautiful landscape. Unknown to most of us, the DOF our eyes naturally see in (comparable to f/3.2-f/8.3) will naturally blur much of this scenery, giving it the dreamy look we associate with ideal autumn pictures. This is because we’ll always be focussing on something in the distance, and when we do, everything far enough in front of, and far enough behind that focus point, blurs outside our DOF.

edmonton photography school
ISO 320, f/4.5, 1/200 sec

The mistake that’s easy to make in autumn photography is to confuse specific backgrounds (trees) with this ‘autumn feel’, and set our subject in front of–and too close–to one of these pretty trees with its fall colours. When we do this, and when we don’t have enough space between our subject and the autumn background, we’ll end up capturing not only our subject but also the autumn trees inside our DOF, so that we won’t blur the background.

The solution is simply to stage the frame with the proper distances from lens to subject and lens to background. Ensure these steps are taken, and you’ll get a beautiful hazy autumn background:

1) Don’t get too close to the background, but instead get quite far from it–many dozens of feet depending on your lens.
2) Don’t place your subject near the tree, but instead bring them many dozens of feet in front of the tree.
3) Zoom in considerably (preferably 100 mm or more on your lens) on your portrait subject. This will likely mean you must be some distance away from them.
4) Shoot at a reasonably shallow DOF, for example f/4 or lower if possible.

edmonton photography school - autumn portraiture
ISO 160, f/4.5, 1/200 sec

Ensuring you are far from your subject, who in turn is far from the tree, helps to ensure a beautifully shallow DOF that will keep your portrait subject sharp, but blur your background into a haze of colour without the ‘twig and branches’ details that take away from the colour haze look we associate with autumn.

To learn how to manipulate your depth of field, take the “Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera” to learn the theory and gain practical experience, and for opportunities to practice in directed homework exercises and have your shots reviewed in class, take the “Getting Proper Exposures” class.

Histograms in ‘vintage photography’

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Ambient Portrait Lighting Workshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC at the CPLC.

A typical histogram in vintage photography

Vintage photography has several different definitions, but one of them that we will focus on for this post is the common inclusion of sun flare, achieved through shooting towards the sun and allowing a little (and sometimes a lot) of the sunlight to enter into the lens in order to wash out the colours and the contrast. This look is very popular right now and has been for a couple years, and it introduces a non-conventional, or according to some, ‘bad’ histogram that has its own needs for editing.

Vintage Histograms | Calgary photography classes |
ISO 100, f/4, 1/200 sec

Vintage Histograms | Calgary photography classes |

Here is the histogram for the above shot, and as you see, it is very right-skewed. This is a stereotypical vintage shot histogram, which, by the very nature of it’s allowing sun flare to wash out colours and contrast, is by definition lacking in blacks, shadows, and even darker mid tones. In classical photography, this would be considered a ‘weak’, if not ‘bad’, histogram. This is by no means true, but an understanding of classical editing certainly produces a more nuanced and informed view of vintage, which is never a bad thing. That is, we can keep the original vintage look, or find a merger between the two. Both are acceptable and fine, as long as we like the final image. The thing with vintage, since it is a style, is that by definition there will be a subjective response. Some of you will love this image or the edited version below, and some of you will hate it. That’s just the nature of ‘style’ in photography.

One approach to editing vintage histograms

Vintage Histograms | Calgary photography classes |

In this image, the same as above but edited, we’ve added some of the common markers of vintage editing, including split toning, warm tones, etc. We’ve also reduced one of the limitations of all cameras when they shoot toward the sun (namely, small dynamic range), and added some dynamic range in editing by punching up the blacks in order to shift the histogram to the left.

Vintage Histograms | Calgary photography classes |

Vintage Histograms | Calgary photography classes |

Crucially, we’ve kept the vintage look by not actually making the histogram touch the left-hand side (this would undo the vintage look altogether, at which point, we would have done better to never have gotten sun flare in the first place, a simple move achievable by simply shifting our angle), but we have shifted it nonetheless, by first moving the exposure slider to the left, and second moving the Blacks slider in Lightroom to the left. The Shadows slider has been used as a counter-balance to ensure in doing so we haven’t added too much contrast to the image, and by balancing this way we’ve made sure the ‘softness’ of the vintage feel isn’t undone by the darkening of the image.

To learn more about these principles and put them into practice, take the Ambient Portrait Lighting Workshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC at the CPLC.

Using flash with glass

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Portrait Lighting Workshop and Accessory Flash Workshop at the CPLC.

The reflectance of glass

Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes |

Have you ever tried to take a photo of a subject that’s behind glass? You might have noticed that sometimes it works, and sometimes you just get a blinding glare of light, and reflection of what’s behind you, or even you yourself, in the glass, and that what’s behind the glass is erased and replaced by this reflection. The reason for this is that while glass does allow light to pass through it, the angle at which you look through it in relation to the angle at which the light source is lighting it matters (the technical term for this is ‘direct reflection’, which we cover the theory of and do exercises that circumvent the problem in our Portrait Lighting Workshop). So, in the following shot, where we are shooting toward the sun, we would be able to see through the glass of the front windshield because the sun isn’t behind us. However, if the sun was behind us, all’d we see would be white on the windshield, literally a reflection of the white sky, just like the in the first image in this post (because the upward angle of the windshield would act like a mirror, and it’s pointed at an angle toward the sky from the viewer’s vantage point).

Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes |
ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/200 sec

Here’s a close-up of the same shot:
Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes |

Light the subject on the same side of the glass

It is the nature of glass, it’s nature of ‘direct reflection’ specifically, that disallows us from lighting a subject on the other side of glass from our flash (or ambient light source, for that matter). As such, the only way to light a subject that is too dark, as in this case, that is behind a pane of glass is to put the flash on the same side as the subject is. In this case, it meant putting the flash inside the car. Unfortunately, the opportunity for softening the light when the flash is inside a car is minimal, as the flash needs to light up their faces, and there is essentially no room to put the flash behind the glass, but in front of their faces, so that we can light up their faces but at the same time not see the flash. In this first example, we see an unsuccessful attempt which put the flash between the two subjects, pointed straight up at them. Notice the ‘Halloween lighting’ on her face, caused by being lit from below, a general ‘no-no’ in photographic lighting?

Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes |
ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, off-camera flash inside car, pointed straight up at subjects at 1/16 power.

Here’s a close-up of the same shot:
Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes |

Always soften light by bouncing or diffusing

So, in this last shot, we had to figure out a way to make the light come from in front of their faces, but still be on the same side of the glass as their faces. We did this by keeping the flash in the same spot in the car, but instead of pointing it straight up at the subjects, we pointed it forward and up, so that it flashed the dashboard of the car. By doing so, it spread out, became a larger light source, and then bounced back and lit them up more evenly. This worked, in this case, even though the dashboard was largely black, because we also increased the power of the flash 3 stops (from 1/16 to ½ power) to compensate for how much light would be lost to absorption from the black dashboard. You can see that the faces are now lit more evenly and widely, and that the ‘Halloween lighting’ is gone. In addition, since it comes from in front of them, you can see nice big catchlights in the subject’s eyes, popping her out from the dark background in the car even more.

Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes |
ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, off-camera flash inside car, pointed straight toward dashboard at ½ power.

Here’s a close-up of the same shot:
Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes |

Getting Starburst Effects off of Points of Light

For more information and practical exercises on the topics in this blog post, take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera and Getting Proper Exposures at the CPLC.

Noticing the potential

Sometimes you accidentally stumble on the potential for a better image than you originally conceived. Take this next shot as the starting point.

Getting Starburst Effects | Calgary photography classes |
ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/200 sec

After looking at the scene, the photographer noticed that there were several points off of the car where the light was hitting and bouncing as points. The fact that there points or ‘hits’ of reflection meant that with different camera settings, a cool effect could be added to the photo while maintaining the same exposure. In addition, the sun flare which was coming into the camera (caused by shooting toward the sun) had points of blurred colour that indicated potential for another effect.

Higher f/stops and starburst

To take advantage of both these potential effects, we need to increase our f/stops to one of the highest numbers it can go to. On this lens, that meant f/22. In order to keep the exposure consistent, this meant raising the ISO in tandem to keep the exposure consistent (4 stops darker in aperture, and 4 stops brighter in ISO).

Getting Starburst Effects | Calgary photography classes |
ISO 1600, f/22, 1/200 sec

With the exposure the same, the effect of the higher f/stops allowed for two things. First, it turned the reflection points off of the car into a ‘starburst’ effect, a side-effect of having higher f/stops. Second, it brought the ‘haze’ of sun flare into the depth of field, so that the hazy colours were now rendered as more ‘3D’ like shapes of colours.

To learn more about these techniques and get hands-on practice with them, take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera and Getting Proper Exposures at the CPLC.

Picture That Photography Wedding Workshop

                    wedding photography class edmonton wedding photography workshop
Susan and Krister of Picture That Photography have photographed weddings for over 8 years. Experts in both lighting and posing, they have not only many years of photography under their belt, but have also been teaching and developing photography curriculum for over 5 years. They are award-winning photographers whose work has been featured in magazines such as “Bride and Groom Magazine”, “Blush”, and “Canadian Bride”. Their work has been featured on leading industry websites such as “Style Me Pretty”, “Wedluxe”, and “Wedding Chicks”.

In this workshop, Susan and Krister will share how they became successful full-time photographers, by teaching you all they have learned. Learn how to elevate your wedding photography to the next level by learning how to reproduce studio-quality lighting with just one on-camera flash, and how to light receptions to produce bright photographs that preserve the ambient mood and natural colours of the room. Learn how to pose and light brides and grooms to emphasize their positive features and minimize problem areas.
                    edmonton wedding photography workshop edmonton wedding photographer workshop
Learn how to incorporate a given background in your image to complement the bride, as well as how to use spaces that are not attractive in person, and make them look stunning in your images.

You will first photograph a stylized shoot with an emphasis on location and details, and will have time to both pose and light bride and groom models, along with help and assistance by Susan and Krister. A second shoot will strip away the details and focus solely on using various backgrounds, posing, and lighting, on bride and groom models.

Susan and Krister will also share their business model, pricing structure, and sales techniques. You will learn how to find products that complement your style and, a sales system that gets these in the hands of your clients.
                    edmonton wedding photography class edmonton wedding photographer workshop

Susan and Krister will also pass on their editing workflow, from shooting method, organizing, editing, straight through to printing and delivery to clients.

Sign up for this tell-all workshop and learn from some of Canada’s best wedding photographers! Add amazing images to your portfolio and kick your wedding business into high gear!

What some of our past students have said about them: “Susan was amazing” – Ashley “Krister’s Instruction was perfection” – Laurie “Susan wants you to succeed!” – Wynne Vokins, “This pushed me to be more creative. I feel that my photos have transformed from documentation to artistic expression as a result” – Tyler McKay, “Great technical instruction” Dina Honke, “Very good at simplifying complex issues” – Joyce Eckstrand, “Willing to answer any questions” – Carolyn Wilson, Susan is extremely intelligent on the subject matter…pace was fantastic… cannot believe how much I’ve learned… I cannot believe how much I’ve changed. Krister is so knowledgeable I have no idea how he retains so much information. He is very thorough as well” – Amanda Sorge.
                    edmonton photography class edmonton wedding photographer class

Length & Format 16 instructional hours
2 Days 10am to 7pm with 1 hour for lunch
Fee $1,300 SALE! $1050 + GST Ends April 30th
Maximum Number of Students 12
Prerequisites Students must be knowledgeable in using their cameras in manual mode, and basic editing knowledge of Lightroom and/or Photoshop.
Bring With You
  • Camera, Bat­teries, accessory flash, and memory card
  • Note taking supplies
  • Optional: laptop computer with Lightroom and Photoshop installed (trial versions are available for free)
King’s University College (More Info)
11010 Jasper Ave NW
Edmonton AB T5K 0K9
Scheduled Date
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Due to limited spacing reservations and registrations for this workshop are non-refundable.