Retouching – Quick Tip #01

This tip may apply to most of today’s image editing programs but in this case I’ll show you how to use it in two that are part of my usual digital workflow, Capture One and Affinity Photo.

The first is Capture One and although this is not a program with all the features to correct problems such as spots, dust, blemishes, etc., it still has good tools so we can achieve excellent results without the need to use other applications.
As we edit/clean an image, there are sometimes details we could miss so to prevent this situation there is a simple method to make them visible, even the most hidden one.


The technique consists in creating a new Layer, choose the Fill Mask option and use the “Curves” tool to draw a curve similar to the one above. This may vary and may need to be adjusted but will always be identical to the one in the example. By default and to keep everything organised, I always call this layer Hide and Seek and I check it whenever it’s needed. This method is quite effective at highlighting these problems as you can see from the before and after screenshot below.

The second program where I use this technique is Affinity Photo. This one has all the features we need to make the most complex image editing/retouching. But we can still face the same problem and miss something that must be removed. We can use the same method to avoid such situations but in this case we go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves Adjustment and make a curve as in the example of Capture One. Then just edit the image preferably in an independent layer to make your edits non-destructive.

Another similar technique that works particularly well on skin is to create a black & white adjustment layer where we set the value for the Red to -200, all the way to the left. And depending on the skin tone we can also adjust the value of the Yellow slider. The image below is a good example.

Since I use this techniques very often I have chosen to create in Affinity Photo two Macros (actions) for each of them. That way the whole process gets even faster. If you want to start using these resources you can download the Macros I’ve created using the links below.
I hope this tip can be useful and if you want you can subscribe to my blog to stay up to date on the latest news.

See you soon


Capture One
Affinity Photo

Hide and Seek – Curves Method.afmacros
Hide and Seek – B&W Method.afmacros

7 Essential Foundations

Having a solid base for knowing how to judge where we are and for where we are going is critical not only to reach our destiny successfully, but also to do it efficiently. In this article I intend to help you lay the foundations for a better and faster workflow,  improving the decisions you make and consequently in the way you work. I will not address retouching in particular as this is a subject requiring a separate article. I’ll just suggest 7 practical tips covering the different stages of the creative process and its execution.

Rembrandt van Rijn: Evangelist Mathaus and Angel, 1661

01. Know your art
It may seems basic but the truth is that we do not always have the knowledge that should be present when we begin to define ourselves as artists. It’s also true that sometimes we go on our own path but for the most part there is already an artistic, historical and cultural route that can help us build our own style. Even when we want to be different from the rest, to know the work of those who have been before us and of those who are our contemporaries can only be seen as a good thing. Let me give two examples. I like particularly of Rembrandt’s lighting and it’s something I use a few times in my portrait work. Knowing the techniques behind this style not only facilitates my work but also makes it more fluid and creative. I also like black and white photography so I believe I should know some of the greatest masters of this art or know what the Zone System is. It’s impossible to know everything but this basic knowledge can help a lot in making the right decisions to achieve things faster.

Comandos personalizados

02. Know your tools
This is another aspect that may seem essential but is often neglected. Back in the 90’s when I started taking the first steps in image editing I heard the opinion of a “teacher” saying it was impossible to know and use all the features of Photoshop. He was right because each artist has his own needs and uses his tools in a particular way. In the case of Photoshop you also have lots of features to satisfy the needs of different artists, so each one uses it differently. So you can say that multiple paths can lead to the same result. However, when I choose Capture One as my RAW editor, I’d better learn how it works and how I can get the most out of it in my work context. Knowing our tools also allows us to shape them to the way we work, which also makes us more efficient.

Wacom Tablet Intuos Pro

03. Choose the right tools
Not always we have the opportunity to have the tools we would like. But when that’s possible we must choose them properly. This principle applies to both photographic equipment and accessories as well as to the software we use (in the context of this blog). Regarding the equipment, this is a delicate subject because of the amount of tools we can find, the difference between photographers and personal styles and also by the diversity of jobs and their own requirements. While suggestions may be given, it is up to each one to assess which tools suit them best. In terms of software nowadays we can test almost everyone before choosing what is best for us. Features, ways of working and results are conditions to take into account. Finally, I want to share a personal example regarding this topic. One of the tools that influenced my work in recent years was/is a Wacom tablet. For some time it was part of my list of priorities, I knew well the impact it could have on my workflow, but for various reasons I was delaying the acquisition of it. Today I can only recommend over and over to consider using one for the entire image editing process. I chose the medium size because I think it’s the best compromise.

04. Judge correctly
I have a characteristic that occasionally can become a problem, being a perfectionist. I say this because many times what happens to those who spend a lot of time editing images is to edit more than necessary. How? It’s easy to understand when we know that the retouching needs of a photograph is different when its going to be used in a social network, magazine or billboard. A correct evaluation of the purpose for which an image is intended can save us a lot of time. Being a perfectionist sometimes causes me to forget this rule and edit to the smallest detail when no one will see that stray hair. Here comes an important tip, always edit non-destructively. More on this in an upcoming article.

Painéis Macro e Library com diversas acções gravadas.

05. Automatisation
When we work on a regular basis in a certain type of work, we see ourselves doing systematic tasks repetitively. This is specially truth when it comes to editing and retouching images. Nowadays a good part of the programs give us the possibility to automate several of these processes. In Capture One I like to save styles and presets to use countless times even when they are just a starting point for a totally different result. In Affinity Photo I use Macros (actions) where the range of possibilities is much greater. From the simplest functions to the most complex effects and styles, whenever it’s possible I save a Macro for later use. What sometimes took a long time to create is now a click away. Use and abuse this feature.

06. Take a break
Overwork is not a good friend of perfection. When we spend too much time working on an image, normally one of two things happen, or we begin to edit details that didn’t needed to be edited, or we lose our way and we go over the ones that needed to be corrected. Ideally, we should take short breaks of time or interpose what we are doing with other tasks. The time between periods of work and rest depends but normally after an hour we begin to loose focus. This suggestion seems counterproductive but believe me that it’s a principle worth putting into practice.

07. Organization
One of the ways to be more efficient is to maintain a working methodology for all stages of our project. The consistency and repetition of procedures makes us faster and more objective. From the renaming of the photographs to the attribution of keywords and their classification, to the way how we edit them, everything helps to create a routine. Let me  give you another example, in Capture One I have the tools on the workspace organized in the order in which I edit an image. This way its an automated process allowing me to stay free for more creative issues.

Simple procedures and decisions can make a big difference, in this case time. Usually it’s the little things that contribute to great results. I hope some of these tips can be useful in the same way they are for me.
Some points discussed in this article will be the subject of further development in upcoming articles.
See you.


Zone System
Capture One
Affinity Photo
Intuos Pro (Wacom)

Um Conto de Inverno

O Inverno é por larga maioria a estação que reúne menos adeptos, mas o mau tempo sempre foi amigo do fotógrafo. Esta é uma realidade absoluta, ainda que apenas os mais destemidos ousem enfrentar as condições climatéricas mais adversas. O aconchego do lar fala quase sempre mais alto. Além disso esta “amizade” tem um preço, e digamos que ter o corpo gelado e molhado não é propriamente a melhor definição de conforto para a maioria das pessoas.

Eu sou dos que gostam de se aventurar por esta estação tão particular. No entanto, ou por questões de agenda profissional que impede determinadas escapadelas, ou para dar liberdade às minhas indagações criativas,  opto por usar às vezes uma técnica que permite transformar (quase) qualquer fotografia num lindo dia de Inverno como neste caso em que utilizei uma paisagem outonal.

Esta imagem foi usada para demonstrar como adicionar neve de forma realista a uma fotografia (ver artigo Branca, Leve e Fria), um pormenor que ajuda ainda mais a acentuar as características desta estação. Neste tutorial demonstro a técnica que utilizei para mudar de estação com o uso dos channels, layers e filtros.

Esta técnica consegue resultados bastante bons em quase todo o tipo de fotografias mas há, não obstante, algumas em que se conseguem melhores resultados do que outras. Podemos sempre combinar mais do que uma técnica para conseguir o melhor resultado possível. Foi o que fiz neste segundo exemplo para dar mais destaque à neve nas árvores e também para “arrefecer” a imagem

Independentemente do caminho, temos as ferramentas para dar liberdade à nossa imaginação, sendo que a mesma só está limitada pela nossa criatividade e limite técnico. Espero que com este tutorial esses dois factores possam ter agora um menor peso na hora de “voarem”…


Branca, Leve e Fria

E podia acrescentar desejável. Pelo menos em termos fotográficos. Para quem ainda não fez a associação, estou a falar da neve e o título é uma alusão ao poema de Augusto Gil — “Balada da Neve”.  À parte das memórias de infância, o título mais apropriado seria, Affinity Photo Tutorial: How To Create “Good Looking” Snow (ver video), ou seja como criar a nossa própria neve de forma realista no Affinity Photo.

E porquê criar neve? Bem, a maioria aceita que a neve cobre seja o que for de uma beleza única, mas nem todos temos a “sorte” de sermos presenteados todos os invernos com a mesma, ou esta encontra-se a distâncias proibitivas. Eu sou um desses “infelizes”. No entanto, às vezes são devaneios criativos que me levam a explorar outras estações. À parte dos motivos, brincar na neve e com neve é sempre divertido. Vejam o video, comentem, coloquem questões/dúvidas e leiam o restante deste artigo onde poderão encontrar algumas surpresas…

Como sempre existem várias formas de chegar ao mesmo destino mas esta é a que utilizo mais vezes e a que acredito ser mais flexível e realista . Espero que esta dica possa ajudar a nevar para o vosso lado criativo.

Já agora, a imagem que serviu de exemplo neste artigo percorreu um longo caminho até ser o que é. Esse caminho fará parte de dois futuros artigos. Deixo aqui um “before and after” para revelar um pouco do que irei demonstrar.

E finalmente, para quem não quiser estar com o trabalho todo de criar o “brush”, disponibilizo para download as minhas duas versões, Light Snow e Heavy Snow. Divirtam-se nas vossas criações e partilhem o resultado.

Pedro Soares Snow Brushes.afbrushes