Adobe Photoshop is a program that is willing to be just as complex and advanced as you want it to be. Newcomers are able to quickly and easily touch-up, delete red eye, and add glowing light-sabers to any photo they choose—and all without breaking a (virtual) sweat. But the more you learn about the photo editing software, the more you begin to notice that all of those little icons and options sitting unassumingly over to the side actually open up into countless digital rabbit-holes that you can slide down into to discover an entire wonderland of possibilities. Here are five things you might not have known were possible.
1. Removing people/things.
Maybe you’ve got a great photo of you from your cousin’s wedding last year. You’re in shape, your clothes are perfect, and best of all, your smile looks charmingly unforced. Unfortunately, your date looks like a train wreck. Well, no worries, because you can still show off this stunning photograph of yourself without having to explain what you were doing eating cake next to a baboon. There are multiple tools available on Photoshop that let you delete objects from the image without having to whip out the scissors. The clone stamp tool, for example, lets you use the surrounding area to realistically cover up anything that you might not want in your picture—even people.
2. Add shadows.
One of the earliest forms of photo manipulation is collage. Seriously, people have been Frankensteining together pictures for hundreds of years (just ask Abraham Lincoln). It doesn’t take much effort or Photoshop know-how to figure out how to copy and paste one image into another. However, once your new image is in place, you might notice that it tends to stand out from the background. No one is going to believe that you got into a fist fight with William Shatner if your face looks like a cardboard cutout floating against his right hook. Well, one way to give your digital lie credibility is to add realistic shadows. This can be done by adding lens flares, copying layers, and doing a host of other amazing, yet not-too complex, actions.
3. Blur faces (or anything else).
So, you’ve built a digital masterpiece of photo manipulation. But before you send it off into the ether of the Internet, you wonder how ethical it is to include all those unwilling bystanders in a picture that’s been so far removed from reality. Well, take a cue from the FBI and give those faces the “witness protection” treatment. Blurring faces (or license plates, or pretty much anything that shouldn’t end up in the final image) is actually really easy. All it involves is a little area selection and a click or two on the filter option. There. Identities are safe, and you’re ready to shock the world.
4. Isolate colors.
It’s a common misconception in photography that black-and-white photos are somehow artsy. That’s OK. If draining the color from an image manages to stir your emotions and set fire to your soul, then good for you. It’s easy enough to accomplish in Photoshop. Just de-saturate the entire image. Bam! Monochromatic. However, for much cooler images you can choose to spare a single area of the picture from decolorization. Let’s say your subject is holding a rose (again, this does not make it automatically artistic). By using duplicate layers and layer masks, one can simply “brush” color back onto an area, resulting in an eye-popping contrast that will be sure to turn heads.
5. Add rain effects.
Have you ever tried to take a photo in the rain? It doesn’t always turn out. Sometimes the lighting is too poor, or the drops are too small to show up. Don’t worry about it, because with a little help from Photoshop you can take otherwise dry images and hit them with a splash of inclement weather. It’s simply a matter of filling a new layer with a bit of “noise,” and then blurring that noise, giving it an angle, and reducing the layer capacity. Now you can make that intense game of table tennis seem even more epic. Have you ever played ping-pong in the middle of a downpour? You have now.
Jared Jaureguy is a Technology Consultant for several of the biggest tech companies in the world. You can follow him @JaredJaureguy.