Introducing Mary Grace Varela:  360º Contributor of the Month – September – 360Cities Blog


Mary Grace Varela is a newcomer with a passion for 360º, a fresh face in the 360Cities community who has wasted no time in making her mark. Although we don’t yet know where she is from, her contributions during the month of September have been shot in the Philippines.

Mary Grace officially joined our community on September 18, 2023, and has already shared her perspective through 27 panoramas and 71 360º videos.

Her work takes us on a virtual journey to various breathtaking locations, showcasing the natural beauty and cultural richness of these places. From the Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig, Surigao del Sur, to the Limunsudan Falls, Camiguin Island, Sohoton, Bucas Grande, and Najandig Peak in the Philippines, Mary Grace’s creations offer an immersive experience.

Dive into her panoramas and videos to explore destinations like Hagonoy Island Beach, Tinago Island in Tagana-an, Surigao del Norte, the Santos City Fish Port Complex, and the bustling public fish market in Iligan.

Visit Mary Grace Varela’s profile page and enjoy her 360º world now!


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What’s New in March 2021 Lightroom Classic and Cloud-Based Lightroom Releases


When to Update:

I don’t have any indication that things won’t go smoothly with these small updates. That said, if you’re not urgently in need of the latest bug fixes or features, it couldn’t hurt to wait a week or two to see if others experience issues, unless you need to update urgently to hopefully resolve bugs introduced in the last release(s). If you install the update and then encounter bugs that you can’t live with, you can use the Creative Cloud app to revert to the previous version.

Important Lightroom Classic bug now fixed: There has been an interface performance issue since 10.0 that was related to having a custom monitor profile. Users affected by this had to revert to 9.4. This has now been fixed!

If I hear of serious widespread issues with these releases I will post them here in this section – please check here rather than emailing me.

That said, I don’t plan to report all bugs here –click here to check for bug reports and to report bugs or issues that you encounter.


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20+ Best Photoshop Actions for Creative Text Effects


Typography is a powerful tool in design, branding, and marketing, but finding the perfect text effect can be a challenge. Fortunately, with the help of Photoshop actions, creating stunning text effects has never been easier.

In this collection, we’ve compiled some of the best Photoshop actions to enhance your typography game. Whether you’re looking to add vintage text effects, colorful 3D text, or photorealistic liquid text effects, you’ll find a range of creative options to choose from.

The beauty of these Photoshop actions is their ability to streamline your workflow and allow you to apply your favorite effects to multiple images with just a few clicks. Imagine being able to create consistent, professional-looking text effects across all of your designs without having to start from scratch every time.

With this collection, you’ll have access to a variety of creative text effects that can add vibrancy, depth, and uniqueness to your graphics. Whether designing logos, branding materials, or simply creating art, these Photoshop actions will help you take your typography to the next level.

You might also like our free collection of text effect layer styles. And if you’re looking for text effect tutorials, we have those for Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects.

Top Text Effect Actions for Creatives

Memphis Style Photoshop Text Effects

Inspired by the 1980’s Memphis Group, these Photoshop text effects are perfect for making your message loud and clear. You’ll get eight bright and colorful styles that will give you stunning results in a few seconds!

Memphis Style Photoshop Text Effects

Vintage Photoshop Text Effects

Nothing is quite as charming as vintage. So the next time you’re working on a project that needs a vintage aesthetic, make sure you use these Photoshop text effects. From traditional vintage to retro styles, there’s plenty to pick from. Just replace the placeholders with your own text.

Vintage Photoshop Text Effects

3D Text Photoshop Action

Create gorgeous typography with these 3D Text Photoshop actions. This pack includes plenty of options: four extrusion directions, ten extrusion sizes, 30 shadow sizes, and 360-degree lights and shadows that will give you photorealistic results instantly.

3D Text Photoshop Action

Sloppy Press Photoshop Typography Styles

Turn on the printing press with these gorgeous letterpress Photoshop typography styles! You’ll get 33 typographic layer styles to give your standard typography a hand-printed effect. This collection includes actions, effects, styles, PNG textures, and brushes, so it’s the complete package for your next vintage-inspired project.

Sloppy Press Photoshop Typography Styles

Jelly Text Effect Photosop Action

These Photoshop actions give your typography a 3D jelly text effect in five optional colors. Use them with text and pixel layers, vector shapes, smart objects, and folder groups. They’re perfect for fun projects!

Jelly Text Effect Photosop Action

Vibrant 3D Text Effects

Perfect for covers, banners, titles, and other essential marketing materials, these dynamic 3D text effects are an excellent choice for giving your typography a little boost! You’ll get eight different styles to work with as Photoshop actions and ten different mockups to use for creating beautiful results.

Vibrant 3D Text Effects

Liquid Tasty Photoshop Action Text Effects

These liquid Photoshop action text effects will give your typography a delectable charm. They mimic the effects of jelly, jam, honey, juice, and water.

Liquid Tasty Photoshop Action Text Effects

New 80s Text Effects for Photoshop

Travel back to the 1980s with these vaporwave text effects for Photoshop. Bright and reflective, with creative waves, this retro-futuristic Photoshop text effect action pack offers ten unique compositions and ten PSD mockups you can work with to create incredible typography instantly.

New 80s Text Effects for Photoshop

80’s Retro Style Text Effects

Give your typography an incredible neon charm with these retro-style text effects. Rendered in the vaporwave, retro-futuristic style seen in the 1980s, these text effects will work perfectly well for titles, posters, covers, banners, apparel, and more! This pack contains ten different PSDs to give your standard typography more vibrancy.

80's Retro Style Text Effects

Grass Text Effect Photoshop Action

Beautiful and natural, this Photoshop action helps you transform your standard typography into grass. You’ll get photorealistic grass actions in four styles: green, autumn, red, and tropical, as well as brushes and patterns. It’s perfect for nature and eco-related projects.

Grass Text Effect Photoshop Action

Hologram Photoshop Text Effects

These Photoshop text effects will help you create astonishing graphics within the hologram style and will work like a charm for covers, banners, titles, and more! You’ll get eight different mockups and Photoshop styles to work with. This hologram effect stands out best on dark backgrounds.

Hologram Photoshop Text Effects

80s Retro Text Effects vol.2

Punchy and bright, these retro text effects are perfect for your old-school cool projects! From flyers and posters to opening sequences and logos, you can adapt them for various purposes.

80s Retro Text Effects vol.2

Glitch Effects for Photshop

Add a glitch to the matrix with these glitch text effects for Photoshop. You’ll get ten styles, from scan lines to eerie VHS glitches. They look amazing on posters and graphics with cyberpunk and retro-futuristic vibes. You can easily add your own text with smart objects.

Glitch Effects for Photshop

Double Light Photoshop Text Effects

You’ll get nine vibrant shadow combinations in different, complementary colors to give your projects a fun and engaging double exposure feel. You can also pick from three different sizes for every shadow to create the effect you’ve dreamed up.

Double Light Photoshop Text Effects

Epic Text Effects for Photoshop

Defeat every dragon on your path with these epic fantasy text effects for Photoshop. They work as smart objects, so you can easily add your own text for covers, banners, flyers, cinematic titles, and more.

Epic Text Effects for Photoshop

Mobile Game Photoshop Text Effects

Press play to start! These ten Photoshop text effects have been inspired by those cartoon styles in modern mobile games. Convey dynamism and entertainment through ten different styles, from bright and punchy fantasy to Pokemon-like effects

Mobile Game Photoshop Text Effects

Comics Photoshop Text Effects

Superheroes or super-projects – both are equally cool after you use these Photoshop text effects mimicking the traditional and retro comic style. From effects inspired by Captain America sequences to the Aquaman logo, you’ll get everything you need for creating excellent logos, flyers, covers, and other similar materials!

Comics Photoshop Text Effects

Cyberpunk 80s Retro Text Effects

You’ll love this Photoshop action pack if you need to work on projects that require retro-futuristic branding. This excellent pack contains effects such as cyberpunk, vaporwave, glitch, and much more. With these ten styles, you’ll have everything you need to create cool cyberpunk graphics.

Cyberpunk 80s Retro Text Effects

Retro Colorful PSD Text Effects

These colorful and vibrant text effects give you everything you need for creating unique and memorable cinematic sequences, logos, flyers, posters, and more. You’ll get ten styles that work as smart objects, so you can easily add them to any text.

Retro Colorful PSD Text Effects

Ember Effect Photoshop Action

Light a majestic fire in your audience’s hearts with these ember effect Photoshop actions. You can create phenomenal fire, lava, and magma effects for your epic projects. The best part? You can pick from three colors: red, blue, and green. You’ll also get a few brushes and patterns!

Ember Effect Photoshop Action

Text Effect Photoshop Action FAQs

  • What are Text Effect Photoshop Actions?

    They are automated sequences in Photoshop designed to enhance and transform standard text into visually striking graphics with various styles and effects.

  • How Can These Actions Enhance My Graphic Design Projects?

    These actions add creativity and flair to your typography, making it more attention-grabbing and effective in conveying your message in graphic designs.

  • Are Text Effect Actions Suitable for Beginners in Photoshop?

    Yes, they are great for beginners. These actions simplify complex text transformations, making it easier to achieve professional-level designs without extensive Photoshop skills.

  • Can I Customize These Text Effects to Match My Project?

    Most text effect actions allow for customization. You can adjust colors, sizes, and other elements to align the effect with your specific project needs.

  • Do These Actions Work with Any Font?

    While they generally work with a wide range of fonts, some effects may look better with specific types of fonts, like bold or script styles.

  • Are Text Effect Actions Useful for Both Digital and Print Media?

    Absolutely! These actions can be used to enhance text for websites, digital graphics, as well as printed materials like posters and flyers.

  • How Can I Ensure High-Quality Results When Using Text Effect Actions?

    Start with high-resolution text, and make sure to tweak the action’s settings if necessary to get the best quality for your project.

  • Will Using Text Effect Actions Overwrite My Original Text?

    No, most actions create new layers for the effects, leaving your original text layer unaltered.

  • Can These Photoshop Actions Be Used for Logo Design?

    Yes, text effect actions can be creatively used in logo design to give a unique and professional look to your brand’s typography.


These Photoshop actions are an excellent addition to your standard design kit and allow you to maximize the results you get from your graphics. No one can resist creative typography, so pick the perfect Photoshop text action, download it, and get to work. We promise you that your audience and your clients will love it!


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Bird AF, Auto Capture, Pixel Shift


Nikon just announced a major firmware update for the Nikon Z8, bringing it some highly-anticipated features from the Z9 and Zf cameras. The headlining features are a dedicated bird-detection autofocus option, the addition of Auto Capture (borrowed from the Z9) and a Pixel Shift shooting mode that allows capture up to 180 megapixels (borrowed from the Zf). There are also a variety of smaller things added in Version 2.0, including more custom options when assigning buttons, a new “Rich Tone Portrait” Picture Control, and additional shutter sounds.

Taken together, these changes will make one of the best mirrorless cameras on the market even better. I’m encouraged to see Nikon following through on their promise to release such major firmware updates to their mirrorless cameras – it’s an exciting trend!

You can download the new firmware here, as well as reading a full list of all the improvements under the header Changes from “C” Firmware Version 1.01 to 2.00. (The changes are quite extensive, and not everything is listed in the press release):

Nikon also updated NX Tether to Version 2.0. The software now allows a wider range of settings to be controlled while tethering your camera. You can download NX Tether 2.0 here:


Nikon Also Releases Updated Free NX Tether Ver. 2.0 Utility Software to Seamlessly Support Professional Photographer and Videographer Workflow

MELVILLE, NY (February 6, 2024) The critically acclaimed, editorially celebrated and award-winning Nikon Z 8 is getting even better. Today, Nikon announced the availability of the first major firmware update for the Z 8, Firmware Ver. 2.0. This free update adds multiple features and enhancements for still-image, video capture and improved workflow. Additionally, Nikon has also announced availability of the latest version of NX Tether, Nikon’s free tethering software for still and video professionals.

“The Nikon Z 8 already offered best-in-class features; with this latest update, we are once again proving that we are always listening to our customers and will work to surpass their expectations,” said Naoki Onozato, President and CEO of Nikon Inc. “We also realize that our users’ workflow is an important part of the job, and NX Tether Ver 2.0 is an example of the software ecosystem we can provide that integrates seamlessly to enhance the capture experience.”

Z 8 Firmware Ver. 2.0

Similar to the feature previously added to the Nikon Z 9, a dedicated option for birds has been added to the AF subject-detection options, increasing bird-detection performance in a variety of situations and providing greater support for bird photographers. Additionally, support for the Auto Capture function enables automatic shooting when the subject meets one or more pre-configured criteria, providing users with new options for both stills and video shooting.

The update also adds Pixel Shift shooting, which enables the creation of super high-resolution photos by using dedicated software to merge multiple NEF (RAW) files captured with the function. With the Z 8’s high-resolution sensor, images can be captured with an astonishing 180 megapixels. Pixel Shift shooting is ideal for capturing the finest details in subjects with intricate designs, such as buildings and art pieces, while providing precise rendering of the subject’s colors, textures, and structures.

There’s more to love with the update, as Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control is added to enable the rendering of rich tones while retaining skin details for portrait photography. In combination with other functions such as Skin softening and Portrait impression balance, portrait photographers have more control than ever. More functions and operations can now be assigned to custom controls, and users now have access to new shutter volume and sound options.

Primary Updates: Z 8 Firmware ver. 2.0

  • A dedicated [Birds] option has been added to the Z 8’s AF subject-detection options. In addition to increased detection, tracking and AF performance with complicated and high-contrast backgrounds such as forests and mountains, this option better enables the detection of birds in various circumstances, including flying, perched and even those with unique-looking appearances.
  • The Auto Capture function has been added, enabling the automatic shooting of stills and video when the subject meets one or more pre-configured criteria. The three criteria that can be configured are a [Motion] option that detects subjects that move in a designated direction, a [Distance]1 option which begins shooting when a subject is within a certain range of distances, and a [Subject detection] option that detects people, animals, vehicles, or airplanes within the frame.
  • Firmware version 2.0 adds Pixel Shift shooting, allowing users to create high-resolution photos by using dedicated software to merge multiple NEF (RAW) files recorded with the camera mounted on a tripod or otherwise stabilized.
  • For portrait photographers, the addition of the Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control increases options for portraiture by realizing the rendering of portraits with rich tones while retaining skin details. This Picture Control is ideal for the creation of a base image in scenes where retouching is presumed, such as at weddings and for studio photography. In combination with the variety of other functions offered by Nikon for portrait photography, such as Portrait impression balance and Skin softening.
  • Other functions, and additional enhancements to operability and functionality:
    • The number of functions and operations that can be assigned to custom control has increased.
    • A function has been added that enables users to exit zoom with a half press of the shutter-release button when focus mode is set to manual focus.
    • New shutter sound and volume options.
    • An option that allows users to choose the width of focus-point borders has been added.
    • An option that allows users to choose not to record shooting orientation information in image EXIF data has been added.
    • A new [Prefer focus point (face priority)] option that centers the display on a face when one is detected while scrolling through photos during playback zoom has been added.

NX Tether Ver 2.0

Nikon is pleased to announce the release of Nikon Tether Ver. 2.0, a computer software application that enhances functionality for tethered shooting2 with a Nikon digital camera, available free of charge.

Ver. 2.0 adds support for popular functions that were part of the Camera Control Pro 23program, such as the configuration of a wide variety of camera settings, live view display during remote tethered shooting and support for video recording. This software helps increase efficiency for solo photographers working unassisted in a studio setting with hand-held shooting or commercial products. This software enables the output to be confirmed with the client on a large monitor as the shoot progresses. The variety of camera settings that can be configured remotely from the computer have also been increased to provide professional photographers the powerful support they need for effective still image and video recording in a wide variety of situations.

The user interface has been designed for ease of use and offers an organized layout of various functions employed with tethered shooting, enabling users to freely adjust the layout of the live view and control displays to better suit their workflow. The simple, yet multi-functional design enables intuitive operation without hesitation for increased work efficiency.

Primary Features: NX Tether Ver 2.0

  • Support provided for still image and video recording.
  • Full-coverage live view display that allows photographers and clients to check that the desired results are being achieved on a large monitor, even when they are away from the computer.
  • Camera operation functions that offer control over shooting settings unique to Nikon, such as Picture Control and Active D-Lighting.
  • Users can select the format (JPEG, RAW, HEIF) in which images are recorded. What’s more, when recording to both card slots (RAW + JPEG or HEIF), the user can choose to have only the JPEG or HEIF images transferred to the computer.
  • Wireless control is also possible by utilizing the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi to connect to the computer with Nikon’s free Wireless Transmitter Utility software. (supported cameras: Z 9, Z 8)
  • Supports an efficient workflow when switching between still image and video recording, and a multi-functional yet simple and easy-to-use user interface.
  • The application window layout can be arranged to suit each user’s preferences and workflow, providing flexible operation in any situation.

Supported OS

  • Windows Version:
    • Microsoft Windows 11
    • Microsoft Windows 10
  • Mac Version:
    • macOS Sonoma 14
    • macOS Ventura 13
    • macOS Monterey 12
  • Cameras supported with Ver. 2.0.04
    • D-SLR Cameras: D6, D780
    • Mirrorless Cameras: Z 9, Z 8, Z 7II, Z 6II, Z 7, Z 6

Price and Availability

Both the Nikon Z 8 Firmware Ver. 2.0 and NX Tether Ver. 2.0 are available for free on the Nikon website. For more information and to download, please visit the below links.

For more information about the latest Nikon products, including the vast collection of NIKKOR Z lenses and the entire line of Z series cameras, please visit

About Nikon 

Nikon Inc. is a world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and technologies for photo and video capture; globally recognized for setting new standards in product design and performance for an award-winning array of equipment that enables visual storytelling and content creation. Nikon Inc. distributes consumer and professional Z Series mirrorless cameras, digital SLR cameras, a vast array of NIKKOR and NIKKOR Z lenses, Speedlights and system accessories, Nikon COOLPIX® compact digital cameras and Nikon software products. For more information, dial (800) NIKON-US or visit, which links all levels of photographers and visual storytellers to the Web’s most comprehensive learning and sharing communities. Connect with Nikon on Facebook, X, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Vimeo and Flickr.

# # #

Specifications, equipment, and release dates are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer.

Trade names (companies, products, services, etc.) are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

  1. [Distance] is available only when a NIKKOR Z lens is used with the camera. Auto Capture may fail to function when lenses other than NIKKOR Z lenses are used.
  2. The process of connecting a camera to a computer or tablet and confirming images and video real-time on-screen as they are shot.
  3. New functions and support for new cameras via Camera Control Pro 2 are not planned in the future. Current users of Camera Control Pro 2 are recommended to use NX Tether.
  4. Only some basic tethered shooting functions are available for use when using the following cameras: Z f, Z 5, Z fc, Z 50, Z 30


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CoffeeShop “Vintage Valentines” Frame and Card Set!


I found these gorgeous valentines, so I cleaned them up in Photoshop to share with you. I also made each one into a pretty vintage photo frame, simply drag your image under the frame layer. These frames are large resolution so can be printed for scrapbooks or posted on the web. They also come with free commercial TOU, so feel free to use them in any of your designs.

Check out all of my other Valentine freebies.

I had some requests to start designing some papers that can be used in more masculine designs and I am already on it. Camping, fishing, hiking, flannel, etc. If you have any design suggestions please leave a comment. I love when you give me some ideas!

Download the CoffeeShop “Vintage Valentine” Card and Frame Set!


Do you want to download thousands of professional CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop actions (including exclusive ones not found anywhere for free), textures/overlays, scrapbooking papers, clip art/design elements, photo storyboards and frames, and Lightroom presets from this site in one convenient zipped file AND help support this one-woman blog?

Just click here for my CoffeeShop Mega Download Pack!


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Photographer Helga Paris, Who Captured Life in East Berlin, Dies at 85


YouTube video

Helga Paris’s work is from a different era. She photographed East Berlin after WWII when German papers preferred to show photos of a happier reality instead of what was really there. Helga opposed this trend and deliberately worked to capture what life was really like in Berlin at the time. Now, Helga leaves us at the age of 85, so out of respect to the veteran photographer, let’s look back on her work and who she was.

Who was Helga Paris

Helga Paris was born on May 21, 1938, in Gollnow, a small town (at the time) in northern Germany. World War Two would start only a year later, changing the course of her life. Helga had to flee with her mother and sister while her father and brothers were still away from home. She would find herself later living in Zossen, a small town near Berlin. There, she was raised by a community of mostly women, many of whom were workers. This was also when her aunts, who were photographers themselves, first introduced her to photography.

However, Helga did not immediately pursue a photography career. Instead, she studied fashion design in Berlin until 1960. After that, she worked as a commercial graphic designer and later as a costume designer in Berlin. Only after graduating did she begin to use her 6×6 Flexaret camera. She did not start her professional photography career until 1967. And it wasn’t until after the German reunification that her work gained traction.

Everyday life in East Berlin after the war

Most of Helga’s work is about showcasing Berlin as it was at the time, with the two main themes being the old buildings and the working women of East Berlin. She had the goal to capture everything as naturally as possible.

“I’ve always been drawn to the every day, the unspectacular,” Helga writes. “But I didn’t photograph it clinically, aseptically; rather, I tried to reproduce it as realistically and as hauntingly as possible.”

” This means that when I photographed women in factories or people on the street, I had to create a certain level of trust in a very short amount of time to bring the people to a state of inner peace where they could meet my gaze with a certain degree of self-confidence. In this peace, every face is an experience; in particular, the rather unremarkable, unattractive ones gain an unforeseen beauty.… My subjects are people. The need to document everyday life in photographs developed out of necessity. In East Germany, only favorable photographs were shown in the papers and to the public—ideally of the happiest people possible. Real life was hardly ever documented”.

In conclusion

The work of Helga Paris is an invaluable piece of German history that will remain important for many years to come. Her work shows the significance of capturing life as it is and is a great example of how one’s work can continue to hold importance for future generations.

We have lost many talented individuals this year, including fashion photographer Hans Feurer and portrait photographer Brian Griffin. However, we should continue to remember their work and allow it to teach and inspire us for years to come.

[via Petapixel]


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File Renaming in Lightroom Classic


Need to brush up on your Lightroom or Photoshop? Having Catalog or Missing File or Folder issues and need help? Using a variety of services, I can help you online with either.


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DAY ONE: Overcoming a Fear of Speedlights


Alex Smith has been using a camera since she was 7 years old to document her life and the lives of her loved ones. She says, “as a photographer, there’s just one thing that makes me nervous that I have avoided for years: using my speedlight.”

Buried in the bottom of a drawer for 11 years, her speedlight started becoming the little monster in the closet she was scared to use.

“People know you can photograph, so they just assume you can do everything. I don’t want to let them down”, she reflects. Yet, feeling uncomfortable using a flash gave Alex a serious case of impostor syndrome.

Overcoming Fear of Failure

Even if we’ve mastered our craft, there are always aspects we are still learning. Learning is messy. It requires time and practice, not to mention the thing we try to avoid: failure.

Failure leads to self-doubt which stops us from trying in the first place.

CreativeLive instructor Mel Robbins shared in her class How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence, it’s natural to be feel nervous and scared when we try something new. The result? We either succeed or we survive but either way, we learn something.

Mel emphasizes the key to breaking the cycle of self-doubt is action. Mindset and positive thinking alone cannot break the cycle. When we learn by doing, we build competency. The more competent we become at new skills, we start to experience less fear, less anxiety and increase our real confidence.

Learning a New Skill

To conquer her fear of flash photography, Alex enrolled herself in Mark Wallace’s Speedlights 101 class.

Alex Smith taking Mark Wallace's Speedlight 101 class from CreativeLive

Using her husband as a model, Alex put the class into action by shooting different scenes around her house. Her main goal? Stop using TTL (automatic mode) on her camera flash and start using manual to control the light hitting her subject.

Deliberate practice in a low pressure environment can help us feel comfortable experimenting and making mistakes. The point isn’t to create award winning shots on day one, but to set simple yet challenging goals to start learning the basics.

“Normally I would see a bad shot with my flash and panic. I’d take the flash off and shoot it with natural light.” Yet because Alex intended the session as practice, she was more willing to persevere and keep experimenting.

Comparison of two photographs taken while learning to use a speedlight for the first time

Permission to Suck

The process of learning involves small wins and a whole lot of failure. The only way around it is through. The key is to give yourself permission to suck and keep the risk small.

Small successes are the building blocks to learning new skills. In his book Creative Calling, CreativeLive CEO Chase Jarvis writes, “your conscious mind is a critic. If you rely on it too much while you’re working, you’ll struggle to make progress.”

His recommendation? Don’t judge your shitty first draft. Just get the draft completed and then start iterating.

Chase reminds us it takes a volume of work to develop skills. It’s not about getting it perfect, it’s about getting it done. As he likes to say: Make it, till you make it.

Alex noted about the practice session, “I’ve come a long way since my first (over exposed) images to giving someone side lighting. That’s a huge win for me.”

“Ideally we never stop learning no matter how old we get”, adds Alex. “I needed to jumpstart this in my own life again. I often find myself avoiding uncomfortable things or situations until they very last minute. It isn’t until there’s a deadline that I pull myself off the couch and get to work.”

Learning to Use Speedlights

If Alex’s first day with her speedlight inspired you to dig out yours, here are some classes she recommends:


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Parametric Filters in Photoshop Ultimate Guide



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Why PhotoShelter is the Best Way to Back Up Your Entire Image Archive


What would you do if you lost all of your photos? Years of client work, building up your portfolio, telling stories that matter and precious memories – gone, just like that. It happens more often than we’d like to believe. Hard drives break or get lost, computers crash, and hackers hack. It’s downright unthinkable for a professional photographer, a worst-case scenario.

If reading this fills you to the brim with anxiety, you’re not alone. We’ve got your back.

March 31st is World Backup Day, the perfect time to make sure your photos are backed up and better protected. But at PhotoShelter, every day is World Backup Day. So don’t worry. We’re here to bring you some much-needed peace of mind.

7 things you may not know about PhotoShelter and why we’re the best way to keep your photos safe

1. PhotoShelter was the cloud before the cloud

Since 2005, we’ve operated our own highly secure, lightning-fast network with a track record of 100% durability. We don’t rely on other cloud platforms to keep your images safe, and we’ve never lost a single bit of data. Ever. We’re proud to bring you the most secure cloud-based technology and performance in the industry (and since we were early pioneers of this technology, we have more management experience than other cloud platforms, too).

2. Every aspect of our infrastructure has geo-redundancy

From the network to the servers to the drives that store your photos, your backups have backups here. We keep multiple copies of each file on multiple servers in multiple geographic locations – so you’ll never have to worry about a damaged or lost hard drive again.

3. No restrictions on image type or size (and all the storage you need!)

You’re able to back up ALL of your photos with us. Not just the JPEGs, not just the smaller files. Upload any image format, any size. Give us your RAWs, your TIFFs and everything in between. Add totally unlimited storage with our Pro plan and you can build a truly robust online image archive with absolutely no limitations. 

PhotoShelter has changed my professional life. My process has revolutionized since making the switch and my clients have gotten spoiled. As my equipment improves and my file sizes more than double, I love that unlimited storage doesn’t interrupt the workflow for me or my clients due to space restrictions. Being able to upload full resolution allows my clients to freely choose what download size works best for them, and I can track what images are being downloaded to better learn what works for their creative needs.

Casey Templeton, Corporate & Commercial Photographer

4. Uploads are effortless

Uploading to PhotoShelter is seamless, even when you have a large batch of photos you need to add all at once. From simple drag and drop to our Lightroom and Photo Mechanic plugins, you’ve got options. You can even FTP directly from your camera.

5. We’re all about easy access

Making sure all of your photos are safe and organized in your PhotoShelter archive is great – but not so great if you can’t easily access your files when you need them most. That moment may come when you’re sitting right in front of your computer, or when you’re on a job in a remote location with nothing but your camera, phone and a spotty connection. Either way, we’ve got you covered. Instantly access your entire archive from any device, from anywhere in the world, at any time. All you need is a little bit of wi-fi, and you have full access to all of your files. (Shoutout to our FileFlow app!)

I rely on PhotoShelter daily for my commercial, editorial and fine art photography. I am often traveling on assignment and it is not uncommon for magazines or clients to contact me frantically in need of a certain image. Thankfully, because I’m able to have so many of my photos uploaded to PhotoShelter, I can quickly get them the photos they need. It’s great because it’s so quick for image delivery and it doesn’t matter where I am or where they are. The last 4 cookbooks I’ve photographed have had the high res final images all delivered to the publisher via PhotoShelter.

Paulette Phlipot, Food Photographer

6. PhotoShelter isn’t just a backup

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How to Use the Refine Edge Tool in Photoshop


Refine Edge Photoshop

What is the Refine Edge Tool?

Photoshop offers a variety of selection tools which are all incredibly versatile and potent.  However, none of these tools possess magical capabilities. 

When dealing with complex or intricate subjects, achieving a PERFECT SELECTION often demands a significant amount of time and energy, regardless of the tool you use. 

To help with this task, Photoshop has included a tool for this exact purpose called the Refine Edge Tool.

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When to Use the Refine Edge Tool?

The Refine Edge Tool is helpful whenever you need to make intricate selections—for example, animals, people, or trees.

Whenever the edge of your subject has small details, the Refine Edge Tool will help you to do more precise work in less time.

Even for more straightforward selections, you can use the Refine Edge Tool.  For example, to remove the fringe that often remains on selected subjects.

This type of work is needed whenever you want to make a cut-out, a collage, or a photo composite.

Photoshop Refine Edge

Where to Find the Refine Edge Tool?

If you use Photoshop CS6, you can find the Refine Edge button on the Options bar (at the top of the canvas) whenever you use a selection tool.  Alternatively, you can go to the menu Select>Refine Edge or use the keyboard shortcut CMD+Opt+R (Mac) or CTRL+Alt+R (PC)

If you use a CURRENT VERSION of Photoshop, you will need to enter the Select and Mask Workspace.  To do this, click the Select and Mask button on the Options bar of any selection tool.  You can also access it through the menu by going to Select>Select and Mask.

How to Refine Selection in Photoshop

From there, go to the toolbar on the left and click on the second icon, the Refine Tool.  You can also click the “R” key on your keyboard as a shortcut.

Refine Edges Photoshop

Quick tip: If you want to open the Refine Edge panel like the one from CS6 while using a CC (Creative Cloud) version, go to Menu>Select.  Then, hold the Shift key while you click on the Select and Mask option from the menu.

What are the Refine Edge Settings?

The Refine Edge Tool has multiple settings that will help you to make a more precise selection.  Let’s review some of the important settings:

How to Refine Edge in Photoshop

View Mode

The first setting you can change is the View Mode.  This will help you to see more clearly what your selection looks like and the adjustments you make with the Refine Edge Tool.

Here are some of the Refine Edge View Modes you can select:

  1. Marching Ants:  In this mode, the selection shows the standard animated dashed line border that appears around the selected area with the image still visible.

  2. On White:  This mode displays the selection against a white background.  It helps you assess the edges of your selection more clearly, especially if your subject has dark or complex edges.

  3. On Black:  Similar to the “On White” mode, this mode presents your selection against a black background.  This mode can be useful for evaluating light or intricate edges.

  4. Overlay:  The Overlay mode superimposes a red overlay on your image, indicating the areas that are included in your selection.  This mode can help you identify areas that need further refinement.

  5. On Layers:  In this mode, the selection is displayed against the original layers of the image.  This is helpful for understanding how your selection interacts with the rest of the composition.

Depending on the mode that you choose, there may be additional options.  For example, you can change the color and adjust its opacity if it’s a view that includes an overlay mask.

How to Refine Edges in Photoshop

Refine Modes

These edge Refine Modes are ONLY available when using the Refine Edge Tool INSIDE the Select and Mask Workspace and are used by Edge Detection, Refine Hair, and the Refine Edge Brush Tool.

    • Color Aware:  Use this option for simple and contrasting backgrounds.
    • Object Aware:  Use this option for hair and fur on busy backgrounds.

Refine Edge Refine Mode

Edge Detection

Within the Edge Detection settings, you can adjust the Radius.  This defines how many pixels around the edge will be considered by the Refine Edge Tool.

Keep in mind that enabling the Smart Radius option gives Photoshop the autonomy to decide the radius.  It will use a bigger radius for complex edges and a smaller radius for simple edges.

When you enable or disable this option, you won’t see any changes unless you start brushing over the selection with the ACTIVE Refine Edge Tool.

Photoshop Refine Edges

Global Refinement / Adjust Edge

Inside the Select Mask workspace from Photoshop CC, you will find these settings on the Global Refinement Panel.

In Photoshop 6’s Refine Edge panel, this section is called Adjust Edge.  They work in the same way regardless of which panel you are using.

These settings will affect the selection as you move the sliders WITHOUT manually going over the edge.

    • Smooth:  As the name indicates, this slider makes the selection edges smoother or sharper.
    • Feather:  This slider softens the edges making a smoother transition.
    • Contrast:  This slider increases the contrast of the selection creating harder edges.
    • Shift Edge:  This slider expands or contracts the edges of the selection.

Refine Edge Global Refinements Panel

Output Settings

The Refine Edge Tool provides various output settings that allow you to select how you want to use your refined selection.  For example, how the selection is displayed, saved, or applied within your workflow.

Here are some of the more common Output Settings:

  • Output To:  Here, you can tell Photoshop how to apply the selection you just made.  You can have it on a different layer, as a layer mask, etc.  Use the drop-down menu to select the option that works best for you.
  • Decontaminate Colors:  Enabling this option helps eliminate any color cast caused by the background.  If enabled, you can use the slider to determine its strength.

Refine Edge Output Settings Panel

How to Use the Refine Edge Tool

Now that you know what the Refine Edge Tool is, where to find it, and are familiar with the various settings, let me show you how to use the Refine Edge Tool on an example subject:

1. Select the Subject

For your initial selection, you can use the selection tool of your choice, including the Quick Selection tool, Lasso tool, Magic Wand tool, Marquee tool, Object Selection tool, etc.  The choice should depend on your skill level and the type of selection you want to make.

For this example, I used the Object Selection Tool.  It successfully isolated the tree, but the edges were far from perfect, not just around the tree but also between the branches and leaves.

This is a situation where the Refine Edge Tool can save you a lot of time and effort.  So, click the Select and Mask button on the top to launch its workspace.

Refine Edge in Photoshop

2. Choose the Refine Mode

Next, choose the Refine Mode you want to use.  I chose the Object Aware mode for this example, despite Photoshop’s recommendation to use it with hair and fur.  This is because the leaves in this image create an intricate pattern that’s just as complex for the algorithm as hair would be.

Refine Edge Tool

Step 3. Choose the View Mode

Next, choose the View Mode that’s more comfortable for you or the one that works best for your particular image.  I like to use the Overlay to see where I need to brush over with the Refine Edge Tool.

Then, typically switch to Black and White mode to check my work and adjust the settings.  But these are personal choices.

You can cycle between View modes by pressing the F key on your keyboard and choosing the View Mode that works best for you.

Refine Edges in Photoshop

Step 4. Apply the Refine Edge Tool

Next, we will use the Refine Edge Tool.  Make sure the tool is active by clicking on the second icon on the toolbar.  You can also activate it by pressing the R key on your keyboard.

Define the number of pixels using the Radius slider.  You may also enable the Smart Radius option if you want.

Then, click and drag the mouse around the edge of your selection to refine it.  I find it’s better to do small bits at a time.  However, this depends on the complexity of your selection and how powerful your computer is.

Where is the Refine Edge in Photoshop

Step 5. Adjust Global Refinements

There aren’t any precise instructions for this step, as it will be different for each selection you make.

Simply drag the sliders until you find the right balance.  I like to use the Black and White View Mode to make these adjustments.  Then, I review them in two or three DIFFERENT View Modes to ensure the selection is as precise as possible.

You can also enable and disable the Decontaminate Colors option to see if it improves your selection.

How to Refine Selection in Photoshop

Step 6. Choose the Output

When your selection is ready, you can decide how you want Photoshop to output it from the Select and Mask workspace into the standard workspace.

Your selection will depend on the editing work you are doing.  For example, outputting the selection on a new layer is helpful if you want to add a new background.  Also, using a mask allows you to work non-destructively. 

For this example, a New Layer with a Layer Mask is best.

You might also want to use it in a different document or just as a selection.  The choice is yours. 

Once you’ve chosen your output option, click OK, and you are DONE.

Refine Edge Brush Tool


Doing precise selection work on intricate subjects is one of the most challenging skills to master.  Thanks to the Refine Edge Tool, you can do them so much easier!

You will likely need some practice to get the hang of this tool, but it’s totally worth it.  Give it a try, and let us know how it goes!

Do you have any questions or comments about How to Use the Refine Edge Tool in Photoshop?  Leave us a comment below – we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

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