February 1, 2016No Comments

Photoshop 101 – How to simply switch colour

Even the thought of switching a colour of a subject or object can be considered daunting, when in reality it is actually quite a simple process.

You firstly have to ask yourself what do you require?

A Light to Dark conversion or a Dark to Light Conversion of colour

There are typically two variables to consider when switching any colour of any subject/object:

Luminosity & Colour + Suitable Mask of the Area you wish to effect

Once you understand this process, you will be able to perform both conversions.

Team building games are supposed to be not only educational, but also enjoyable. They help the team learn about each other — how each person thinks, works, solves problems, and has fun.


Luminosity Adjustments
In simple terms, any adjustment of luminosity (Exposure, Brightness or Contrast adjustments) through the use of Levels, Curves or Channels to make your image lighter or darker.

A quick way of generating a variety of different options is to use luminosity masks.
If you are unfamiliar with the use of Luminosity masks, it is simply showing you variables of lightness for Highlights, Midtones and Shadows within your image.

These "masks" can be used on any adjustment and effect your image proportionally.

To load a channel as a selection simply (command or ctrl + click) on the channel you wish to use and then add it as a layer mask to your adjustment.

Please note if you wish to load a selection it will normally be as a positive.
If you require a negative Channel simply invert the selection once it is loaded or or Invert the mask on the adjustment.

I personally use Zone Masks as it shows you a different range of information compared with Channels.
Once again these can be used as a mask for any adjustment layer.


Top line: Zones 0-4 are Shadow Values
Middle line: Zone 5 is your Midtone value
Bottom line: Zones 6-10 are Highlight values.

The reason I primarily use Zone masks for Colour Switching is it can create a +4 to -4 Difference of Light in Luminosity of your image.
Please note you will have to invert zones 0 - 4 to see this.

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Colour Adjustments

You can choose to use any solid colour adjustment layer or colour swatch.

To tweak the colour I normally use the following adjustments which can be found here


Shortcuts for Selections!

Load any channel as a selection - Command (or CTRL) Click on the Channel/Mask
Inverse any Selection - Command (or CTRL) + Shift + I
Invert any mask - Command (or CTRL) + I
Deselect the selection - Command (or CTRL) + D
Reselect the selection - Command (or CTRL) + Shift + D

Now for the fun...

Select All - Command (or CTRL) + A
Copy - Command (or CTRL) + C
Paste - Command (or CTRL) +V
Load a Channel as a selection - Command (or CTRL) Click on the Channel/Mask
Opening up your selection with itself (making it the Channel brighter) - Shift + Command (Or CTRL) Click
Closing down your selection with itself  (making it the channel darker) - Shift + Option (or ALT) + Command (Or CTRL) Click
Intersecting your selection with itself - Option (or ALT) + Command (Or CTRL) Click



•On your image
•Load your zone masks using the action above
• Invert zones 0-4 so that they are now positive
• Start with Zone 6 as it will likely be your base, copy this to its own layer
•Depending on how dark or light you need to switch, choose the appropriate zone mask
• Select an appropriate colour you wish to use; set the layer to color blending mode
• Group these two layers (colour and luminosity) in their own group and apply a mask to the area you wish to effect.


Original Image.

1. Selected the appropriate luminosity Mask for switching the Royal Blue to the yellow.
As the luminosity of the blue needs to be lighter. A lighter zone is chosen of +2
2. Sampled the colour of the yellow
3. Created a mask where it is required

1st Conversion - Dark to light Result

4.  As the final luminosity is darker for the colour switch (Light blue to Purple).
I simply selected the default Zone 0 and applied a levels adjustment to this adjustment.

5 . Purple colour Sample
6. Select the final mask
2nd Conversion - Light to Dark



May 20, 2015No Comments

The differences between Brightness vs Luminosity inside Photoshop

If you are struggling with the concept of how Brightness and Luminosity affect colour check out the video above.

My good friend Conny Walstrom talks about the differences between Brightness and Luminosity within Photoshop.

He covers a few modules of how Photoshop Handles colour inside HSB (Hue, Saturation, Brightness), HSV (Hue, Saturation, Vibrance), HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminosity), Grayscale, Luminosity and Perceived Brightness.

March 2, 2015No Comments

Behind the PSD! – The Crashing Wave

crashing wave

Here is a recent edit of mine of a crashing wave against the rocks near Coolangatta, Queensland Australia. The aim of this edit was to try and retain as much highlight detail as possible on the edge of the wave.

Camera - 5dmk2 with a Canon F2.8 70-200mm IS Lens
Exposure - F9 1/160th of a second 200ISO


• I processed the original raw file in Aperture and reduced the highlight exposure by -1.5 stops. It was then opened up in Photoshop and processed using a process action.
• The sharpening layer was removed from the layer setup; the highlight curve was  set to +10%; the shadows were set +25% and the midtones were increased by +15%. The normal clean and boost layers were to their default values.
• I used my apply image method to darken the respective highlight information, it was then selectively masked and and limited to the highlights using Blend If.
• I then performed a stamp visible layer ((Command/Ctrl + Option/Alt + Shift + E) and I applied a level of midtone contrast of Clarity +100. This was then targeted to only the highlights.
• A merged layer apply image set to multiply was then used to create a natural vignette and give more contrast separation to the edge of the wave.
• Sharpening targeted to highlights only using blend-if. For this particular image I used the 'sharpening details' function from within Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension. *Please not this is only available for users of Photoshop CC and higher
• An Appropriate level of noise was added to the image.

 crashing wave before and after
Before / After

March 1, 2015No Comments

Behind the PSD! – Grade for HAN

Grade for Han

Here is a recent grade of my recent fashion shoot with HAN. The aim of this grade (edit) of this image was to seperate the difference of contrast between the model and the background.


Camera - 5dmk2 with a Canon F2.8 16-35mm Lens
Exposure - F6.3 @ 1/125 second 100ISO


• The image was initially processed using Aperture. It was then opened in photoshop and processed using a workflow action designed specifically for this job.
• A blank layer was used to clean up both the tape on the floor (as a marker for the model to stand on) as well as the electrical piping that ran across the wall. A simple method of stamping the layer and selecting a good piece of wall or floor detail, moving it into place over the area and then selectively masked to hide the issue.
My grunge action was used to create a soft monochromatic grade across the image, the layer was set to softlight blending mode and 50% opacity layer opacity.
• I used a channel mixer adjustment layer set to 50% R, 50% G on the Red Channel and 50% G, 50% B on the blue channel to desaturate the image. It was the targeted to the shadows using Blend If
• A levels adjustment was set to 60% opacity with 32, 224 set respectively for the output levels. This adjustment layer created a light haze over the image.
• A solid colour #4b4b4b was set to 30% opacity and set to Lighten Blending mode. Both of these two layers were grouped together and masked so that it only affected the background.
• A 15% Highlight adjustment curve was added to give the highlights some added contrast.
• The layer stack was then stamp merged visible using the shortcut (Command/Ctrl + Option/Alt + Shift + E) and I applied a level of midtone contrast of Clarity +60. This was then targeted to only the highlights. The layer was then set to 50% opacity.
• Finally a blank layer was used to clean up the imperfections on the model face.
• All of the layers were then grouped inside a folder and then masked at 50% density. The model therefore is only being affected at 50% and the background is being completely adjusted.

han layer stack 2han layer stack


Before / After

March 1, 2015No Comments

Behind the PSD! – A Portrait of Keith


Here is a recent edit of my portrait of Keith during the SP Lager Campaign over in PNG. I edited this image using my photoshop abilities to create a natural portrait given the extreme dynamic range of the original image.

Camera - 5dmk2 with a Canon F2.8 24-70 Lens
Exposure - F4 @ 1/500second 200ISO


• Create an appropriate balance of tonal ranges, fix the blown highlight detail and open up the shadow information.
• Used my apply image method to open or dodge Keith's face. I was able to subtly mask this onto his face and open up the shadow information. The next stage was use another apply image method to multiply the highlights and re-introduce the original sky and colour to the blown highlight detail.
• I repeated the dodge apply image method twice to create a soft transition still on Keith's face.
• Another multiply apply image layer was used to purely limit and reduce all of the highlight detail. The layer was limited to the highlights only by Blend If.
• The layer stack was then stamp merged visible using the shortcut (Command/Ctrl + Option/Alt + Shift + E) and I applied a level of midtone contrast of Clarity +100. This was then targeted to only the highlights.
• Finally an auto levels adjustment was used to bring up the exposure of the image, it was sharpened using the Facebook Powertools and appropriate noise was added to the image.

keith before and after
Before / After

January 8, 20151 Comment

Behind the PSD! – The State Law Building in Brisbane

The state law building brisbane _brockmcfadzean

Here is a recent edit of mine of the State Law building in Brisbane, Australia. It was photographed earlier this year using my iphone5, during my lunchtime break. I wanted to re-edit this image using my Photoshop knowledge and apply some nice tonal ranges for my black and white conversion process.

Camera - Iphone 5.


• Creating an appropriate channel of contrast to determine the overall tonal value and range of my black and white conversion. Apply this to a single layer above the background set to Luminosity blending mode.
• Selective colour adjustments to increase the cyan and blue values to add more contrast to the sky.
• Black and white solid colour layer set to colour (black and white conversion).
• A overall 10% highlight increase in a curve.
• Selectively darkening using curves the right hand side of the building and selectively brightening using curves on specific lines of the main building.
• A gradient map fill to accent a vignette to give more depth to the image.
• Sharpening targeted to highlights only using blend-if. For this particular image I used the 'sharpening details' function from within Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension. *Please not this is only available for users of Photoshop CC and higher
• Added noise to the image.



Before / After

January 5, 2015No Comments

Behind the PSD! – A portrait of Cesar Casier


It is quite amazing to see how you dictate your vision....endless possibilities and choices of simply changing a simple view of how you edit your image. This particular thought was about how light can effect an image and mood. This natural light image was a (Behind the Scenes) photo whilst I was assisting a photographer late 2013. Quite amazing to see the change of direction of where it came from.

Camera - Canon 1D-x with a 24-70mm F2.8 Lens
Exposure - 35mm at F4, 1/125th of a second.


Cesar - Original Image

Original Image
The Original image was opened in Photoshop and I generated a variety of Zone Masks to see the luminosity of each zone mask/channel*. This is ultimately to create the appropriate channels and determine the overall tonal values and range for the image.

Zone 10 - The darkest possible zone of highlight information. Very little detail in the eyes or the right side of the face.


Zone 9 - Slightly lighter then Zone 10, however starting to have more detail in the skin.

Zone 8 - Lighter then both Zone 9 and 10, ability to see more detail within the eyes.

Zones 8, 9 and 10 were selectively masked with each other to bring out the appropriate amount of light. Ability to merge each layer

I used the healing brush to clean up any minor blemishes or imperfections to the image.

Some minor Dodge and Burning to remove the unwanted bumps and scratches on the forehead, and reduce the light inconsistencies that are present on the face.

Removal of the earphones using the clone brush.

Skin adjustment using an Inverted High Pass Adjustment to reduce the transitions of light on the skin.

More dodging and burning was required to even out the subtleties to the skin.

Dodged the upper and lower lips and eyes. Selectively masked in some hair detail

I refined the dodging and burning to create shape (a 3-dimensionsal structure to the face).

Adding more highlights and shadows to the face, opening up the eyes and refining the light fall off.

Final Dodge and Burn to clean up the image.

Final tweaks to the image included adding Mid-tone Clarity adjustment using (Adobe Camera Raw) detail to the image only targeted to the Mid-tones and Sharpening targeted to highlights only using blend-if. For this particular image I used the 'sharpening details' function from within Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension. *Please not this is only available for users of Photoshop CC and higher. I also added noise to the image.

Before / After

January 5, 20151 Comment

Behind the PSD! – Titanic Museum – Belfast. Northern Ireland


This image was photographed at the Titanic Musueum in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Camera - Iphone 5.


1. To create a really simple high contrast black and white image.
2. Utilise channels efficiently to produce the desired contrast.
3. Add an appropriate vignette to help focus the viewers attention and create more depth within the image.


Step 1. Import the original square iphone image into Photoshop CC2014.

IMG_2988-originalOriginal Image

Step 2. Select the appropriate channel to edit the luminosity of the image. As this image is already monochromatic, it only gives you two main options for your choice. Both the composite channel of RGB (or known as grey) as well as the individual channels of red, green, blue which will all be the same value. There is a slight difference between the RGB and the Individual channels.
*Please note that you do have to have the Channels palette open to view your channels within your image. Simply go to File > Window > Channels to display the channel palette if you can't find it.

Step 3. Once the channel is selected decide how you wish to edit the contrast of the Channel. You can use any method of adding contrast to your channel (curves, levels, brightness/contrast methods), I simply used my method of Apply Image to both darken and brighten the contrast of the channel.

Original Image, Selected the RGB (Grey) Channel - Multiplied x 3 using Apply Image


Same Channel Selected, Inverted the Channel or Selection - Multiplied x 3 using Apply Image


The Inverted Channel of the Last Selection; The combined effect of (6) multiply adjustments only using Apply Image

Step 4. Once the combined channel has been created. I copied this channel onto its own individual layer within the layer stack.
*A useful shortcut I use is by pressing Command/Ctrl + A (select all) then Command/Ctrl + C (copy), Create a new layer (Shift + Command/Ctrl + N) and then to (paste) Command/Ctrl + V.

Step 5. To create a selective vignette using the gradient fill adjustment layer.


This Gradient Fill was set to Reflected, 128Degrees and with Reverse enabled.

Step 6. Using the combined channel as a mask for a curve adjustment layer. (exactly the same channel as per step 3).


This adjustment performed through the combined mask, subtly lifts boost the highlight information.

Step 7. Created a noise layer using the Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension.


Before / After

January 5, 2015No Comments

BEHIND THE PSD! – A portrait of Paul Giggle.


This recent portrait of Paul was photographed when I was assisting him in Milan late last year for his 12 Natural Wonders 2015 Campaign. I wanted to create a natural light portrait of him, showing the depth and qualities of light within the location. This image was captured using only available light with his Lecia S2.

Camera - Lecia S2
Exposure - F2.8, 80mm Contax lens, 1/90th sec, ISO 320

paul-giggle---originalOriginal Image


All of my raw files are imported into Aperture 3 for Raw processing. I specifically use Aperture 3 for two main reasons (1) To be able to reduce exposure for the highlights and retain the most amount of detail (2) colour temperature; how the software actually treats my raw file as a base and determine what my "colour temperature" will be. The raw image file was imported into Aperture 3. The image of Paul is slightly overexposed however it doesn't appear to have any highlight clipping warnings. I changed my exposure adjustments of my file to -1.0 recovering nearly all of the blown highlight detail on his face.

paul-giggle---exposureExposure Adjustments Only

The image was then exported as a 8Bit file .PSD file and imported into Photoshop CC 2014 for the remaining bulk of processing and retouching.


With regards to the final outcome of the editing, I typically design or create specific outcomes depending on the image. For this particular image, I wanted to create a very high contrast black and white effect to the portrait. With this in mind, I have to create an appropriate edit with several considerations:

1. Choose a suitable black and white conversion method which is appropriate. Does it give enough contrast to the image? Does it allow you to edit selectively or adjust any particular regions within the image?
2. Does the image require any further refinements? Do you need to even out the skin in terms of lighting? Do you need to edit the skin in any way? Are there any refinements needed to be made?
3. What is the chosen output size of the image? Do I require the image to be printed or is it simply used for web?

With these considerations in mind, I am now able to refine and create the desired outcome.


Step 1. The image was imported into Photoshop CC2014.

Step 2. The image was then processed using my latest Film Styles Action. I selected the Kodak Technidol preset within the action set. This action created the suitable contrast that I desired for my black and white conversion.

1. grade

Step 3. I then added a Grunge Effect set to Multiply blending mode (set to 60% opacity) to reduce the amount of highlight information within the image.

2 grunge and clean

Step 4. I edited an appropriate channel by darkening the highlights using my Generate Highlights action. This selected the luminosity of the image and closed it down by 2 stops. This was selectively masked onto the image. The Blend-if sliders were also adjusted to target the highlights only. If you are not familiar with the use of Blend-if, you can read more about how to effectively use Blend-if Sliders here.

Step 5. I cleaned up the image by removing the dirt from his jacket using the Healing brush. I performed this adjustment using the new Retouching Toolkit by Conny Wallstrom.

Step 6. A selective brighten curve adjustment with an inverted channel as a layer mask, was applied so that it acted like a Digital Reflector. This allowed any adjustment when applied, to selectively brighten any shadow information. As you can see this was selectively applied to the eyes to create better depth in the portrait.

Step 7. A similar adjustment as stage (6) was applied for the iris.

Step 8. I used the Retouching Toolkit to generate a variety of appropriate Dodge and Burning layers to even out the transitions of the skin.

3. d&b

Step 9. I felt the image needed to refine some of the mid-tone contrast. I simply used the camera raw filter as an adjustment layer, applied some Clarity to the image to bring out this mid-tone contrast detail. The layer was then set to 60% opacity and split using Blend-if so that it only filters through the midtones.

4. detail

Step 10. The next step in my workflow was to use my custom sharpening method which I originally learnt from Guy Gowan. It has been adjusted to suit my preferences when working with my files and has the ability to sharpen the highlights and shadows independently.

Step 11. One of my final steps within my workflow is to add a level of noise or grain to my images. This was created using the camera raw filter and applying grain to the image.

Step 12.Lastly the PSD was saved to my appropriate backup hard-drive and a copy of the high res image was exported out onto facebook using the Facebook Powertools.


5. Before and After - Paul
Before / After

December 11, 2014No Comments

Photoshop 101: Free Hue, Saturation and Brightness Image Assets

I recently created a few image assets to help analyse how Colour Luts and Actions can effect the Hue, Saturation and Brightness of your image.

HUE - Image Asset
Example: This Hue Colour palette below is designed with 10% shifts of Hue from 0 - 360.

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SATURATION - Image Asset
Example: This Saturation Colour palette is designed with 10% shifts of saturation.



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BRIGHTNESS - Image Asset
Example: This Brightness Colour palette is designed with 10% shifts of brightness.


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December 11, 2014No Comments

Photoshop 101: Free Photoshop Actions – DXO Styles

"Discover some of the styles below that are included in DxO Optics Pro or included in DxO FilmPack. You can apply these renderings to your photos in just one click, and you can also edit and customize them. Take a look, too, at some of the additional styles that you can download. These renderings have been carefully crafted by our Image Masters to work with all use cases — Portrait & Landscape, Black & White, Atmospheres, Single-shot HDR, etc." - http://www.dxo.com/intl/photography/styles

Recently the developers of DxO Labs released an update to DxO Optics Pro 10. This included various standardised atmospheric styles or presets. I have successfully been able to recreate these filters as Photoshop Actions. These will provide the same outcomes as using DXO Styles but in Photoshop. It is simply a one-click effect to alter the contrast, tone and saturation of your image.

dxo atmospheres preview


+ Atmospheres • DXO - Generates the build for the action. It creates the appropriate contrast, tone and saturation layers
Reset • Atmospheres -
Resets the build for the action.
•Mist - A film-like matte effect
•London Night
- a bleach bypass effect
•Blue Hour - a slight cool (blue) grade
•Twilight - a slight warm (brown) grade
•Old Film - Antique tone effect
•Polar - A monochromatic blue tinted tone
•Heather Purple - A punch of contrast with slight purple tones in the shadows
•Old Film - A warm brown desaturated antique tone

*Please be aware that when each desired effect is pressed, it will regenerate the appropriate grade.*


Method #1
1. Open your downloaded folder or file and navigate to the actions file. It will end in the .atn file extension.
2. Double-click the .atn file and then open Photoshop.
3. Now the set of Photoshop actions should show up in the actions panel and should be ready to use.
To access the actions panel, simply go the top bar in Photoshop and click Window > Actions. The panel should then appear somewhere within Photoshop.

*Remember to 'Enable Button Mode' (simply navigate to the drop-down menu within the Actions Panel) so that each of the actions are instantaneous*

Method # 2
1. Start this method by opening Photoshop and navigating to the drop-down menu in the Actions Panel.
2. Next click the load actions link that is highlighted in the image above.
3.Clicking the load actions button will open your folders.
4. From there navigate to the downloaded folder with the specific Photoshop actions file you have downloaded.
5. Now select the file and click Open.
6. After all this your Photoshop actions will be visible in the Actions Panel and you are ready to start using them!


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January 3, 2014No Comments

Retouching 101: Retouching Considerations and Guidelines

The general term “Retouching” can be categorised under the following subject-specific areas of Portrait, Editorial, Commercial, Beauty and Creative Retouching.

Each of these areas possesses its own assembly of considerations around what “retouching” is when editing the image in question. In other words, the decisions and actions one undertakes when editing in the area of “Portrait” will be different from those undertaken when editing an image in “Beauty”.

So how does one determine the category (and its implicit techniques and time allocations) to be applied to any image?­­­ The following questions can help you evaluate which category your image falls under and how much time is needed to retouch each image.­­

1. Who is the client and what is the image to be used for?

2. How many images are to be retouched and delivered?

If you can answer both of these questions before you begin retouching it will give you an outline as to what is required and how long you should spend on each image.

As mentioned above, each retouching “category” will still have its own set of reference points that will need to be followed if one is to achieve the desired end result.


With regards to Portrait Retouching, we typically try and keep all of the personal qualities and characteristics of the person intact. The image should appear as natural as possible, as if it hasn’t been retouched. Headshots and Model Tests are generally considered in this category, as they require depicting the subject as naturally as possible for them to be given potential work based on their natural appearance.

We try to leave all permanent features like scars, freckles, and moles alone. Depending on the image, you may wish to emphasise these or reduce the intensity of these features on the image you are working on. However non-permanent features like pimples, redness of skin, bruises should be cleaned up and removed.

The skin is generally left intact apart from removing non-permanent features.

Please keep in mind that if you are wishing to improve the skin texture, add contrast, adjust colour correction and sharpen the image; keep it subtle. Do not detract from the original image or depiction of the subject.


With regards to Editorial Retouching, we once again try to keep the image as natural as possible and only remove distracting elements. This form of retouching typically needs to sell a product or service as the images are commonly used for lookbooks/editorials/advertising in magazines or publications.

We try to remove all permanent features like scars, freckles and moles. However we tend to reduce the intensity of wrinkles and adjust any skin discolorations within the image. Typically the skin is cleaned however it is not excessively evened out.

Editorials are typically a series of images. Adjustments of contrast, colour correction and the chosen grade of the image all need to match and be consistent across all images.


Similar to Editorial Retouching, Commercial Retouching is typically used to sell a service or a product. The main difference between the two categories is that the viewer needs to be able to relate to the subject on a personal level.

Once again, we remove all distracting elements. Depending on what this means in any image it can take a number of hours to complete. While each image will have its own considerations in terms of this element, one cannot forget that the client will also have their own requirements about how the final image should look. The important thing to remember here is that the collection of images needs to have a level of consistency above all else.


We try to remove all permanent “imperfections” within the image. Typically the skin is flawlessly cleaned and evened out. For a more highly polished look additional dodging and burning is used.

Depending on what is required for the image, beauty retouching can easily take more then 4 hours per image to complete.


Unlike the other forms of retouching, Creative Retouching is seen as an artwork or a particular creative vision rather then depicting “the truth” about a subject. Compositing multiple image or elements fall under this category as they can create different realities or imaginative realms that can’t be achieved from a single image. Thus this work will be the most time intensive and demanding in terms of ensuring that the image as it is “built” and completed still maintains its own integrity as an image.


© Brock McFadzean 2020

Sydney, Australia
Phone: +61 434 035 561
Email: info@brockmcfadzean.com
Instagram: @brockmcfadzean