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The 5 Photoshop Tools Every Blogger and Solo Entrepreneur Should Know

Published by Lerna on

Essential Photoshop Tools for Bloggers Entrepreneurs
When was the last time you used Photoshop? You might think it’s reserved for the hardcore photo manipulators. We’re so used to using mobile apps for editing images now, we’re less inclined to edit photos on our computers.
 
Truth is, the mobile apps will take care of the basics. But, they will never be as powerful as Photoshop and the Photoshop tools we go over below.
 
Advanced techniques in Photoshop and Lightroom provide a level of detail and control. They allow for split-toning, head swapping, and making photos into artful masterpieces. No app, at least not now or anytime soon, comes even close to that.
 
Despite so many easy options on the phone, it’s crucial you know how to use Photoshop and Lightroom. It allows your photography to go from good to great in a matter of minutes.
 
These five Photoshop tools provide the basics to master your photography editing. We’ll go through a brief tutorial for each of them.
You can apply these tools to everything from portraits to product photos. If you shoot your own photos, knowing how to edit them will produce professional results.

Five Photoshop Essential Tools for Editing Your Own Photos

1. Spot Healing Brush

The holy grail of smooth skin and perfect smiles everywhere. This one will get rid of any stray hairs, small blemishes, or dark circles under the eyes.
 
The spot healing brush exists both in Photoshop and Lightroom. You can tackle small fixes in Lightroom if you’re starting off there. I’m not as big of a fan of using the tool in Lightroom unless it’s a quick and easy fix.
 
Unlike the standard healing brush, it doesn’t need a source point. Instead, it takes into account the surrounding area. It blends that area’s luminosity, color and texture to blend. This is the primary reason the tool is great for getting rid of blemishes on skin. It’s great for small fixes in portrait photography. 
 
Using the tool in proximity match setting generates the best matched pixels to blend and replace the area you’re trying to fix. This is best done with the smallest brush possible to cover the defect. Don’t drag the tool. Instead, ‘dab’ it on the defective area. Otherwise, the result will look unnatural.
 
Play around with content-aware, create texture, and proximity match settings when using the spot healing brush. Spot healing is usually best done with a very soft brush.

Essential Photoshop Tools Spot Healing Brush

Lerna Photoshop Tools Spot Healing before after

Before and after of the spot healing tool. With a few clicks, all freckles except the ones right below the eyes and on the nose are gone.

2. Crop/Straighten

Ok, we have this on our phones and within Instagram itself as tools, but working with the tool within Photoshop gives you greater control and allows you to play around with crop sizes quickly before committing. You can straighten the image with the straighten tool by dragging the tool along the axis you want to remain central. So, for example, if the horizon of a photo is skewed, you drag the tool along the horizon pictured and the picture automatically straightens based on the angle it registers from the picture. This allows tight control.

Lerna Photoshop Tools Crop Straighten Tool

3. Levels Adjustment

I love levels. You can use curves to achieve similar results too, but levels is a quick and easy way to play with highlights, mid tones, and shadows without too much technical expertise. Play around with the values. You can try using the auto-level feature to see if the suggested settings based on the curves makes the photo crisper. Pulling the leftmost marker to the right will darken the blacks. Pulling the middle marker to the right darkens the mid tones and pulling the right marker further right darkens the highlights.

The peaks of the level chart represent the highest concentration of tonal detail in the respective range (highlights, midtones and shadows). To increase contrast of an image that isn’t using its full tonal range (for example, the histogram stops before going all the way to the end of the highlights or shadows), move the slider inward to the start of the tonal range.

Lerna Photoshop Tools Levels
The “Output Levels” marker on the bottom of the levels screen control the lights and darks of the image. If you pull the leftmost marker to the right, the darks will brighten up and make the picture a bit more “faded.” Pulling the right marker to the left will reduce the highlights.

Lerna Photoshop Tools Levels Before After

4. Sharpen Tool

I only recently started using the sharpen tool, and I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without using it more often! The sharpen tool is your best friend if you find that your photo is slightly out of focus. You have a controlled way of emphasizing details and parts of your photo without risking the over-sharpened look that tends to happen with phone app filters.

Be careful not to go crazy with this as it still produces noise in the image. Sharpening by going over the details once at 50% strength is usually enough to get rid of any slight blurring. Make sure to zoom out to see the effect.

Lerna Photoshop Tools Sharpen before after

Right picture shows increased sharpening, which pronounces the teeth and the outline of the lips.

5. Dodge Tool

So we all know how helpful certain “whiten” tools are in apps like Snapseed and VSCO. Dodge is a more precise and powerful version of that. If you have any underexposed parts of a photo, use the dodge tool to brush over the area. It’s also an EXCELLENT highlighter.

On the left you can see the original image. On the right, the dodge tool creates highlights along the nose bridge, tip, eyelids and cheekbones. All those images of insane highlighters beauty bloggers post? Courtesy of some good dodging.

Lerna Photoshop Tools Dodge before after

Highlighter courtesy of Dodge tool on the right.

Main Photo by João Silas on Unsplash, Edited image by Joe Robles

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Have a question, need advice, or want to share a better way of doing things? We're all ears!

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