4 Ways To Improve Your Outdoor and Nature Photography Skills

As the days get longer, many of us long to be outside. This is especially true for photographers, who know good photographs are waiting to be taken in uncharted territory. If you have the itch to get outdoors, consider going beyond your neighborhood park and tackling a true adventure: a hike.

Once you’ve filled your backpack with the essentials you’ll need for the duration of your hike, it’s time to pack up your camera gear and head out. Before you leave home, though, read through these tips that can help you snap phenomenal photos while also enjoying breathtaking views.

Map Your Route

The first tip is something you’ll need to do before you leave home. Carefully research different hiking spots and choose one that can add to your portfolio. Look for a trail that will add diversity to your portfolio, rather than shots similar to the ones you already have. Once you’ve identified the perfect trail, map your route, highlighting significant hot spots along the way. Apps like MapMyHike can help you plan your journey electronically, allowing you to go offline once you’re on the trail.

Don’t Pass Up a Photo Opp

As you start your journey, it’s important to stop and capture every photo opportunity you see. You may pass something and tell yourself you’ll catch it on the way back, but by then the lighting may have changed or you may choose a different return route. Make plans to arrange your hike around the photos you’ll capture and you’ll find you don’t rush past the highlights. If capturing the perfect shot means varying from your route slightly, make sure you can safely do so, then go for it. Some of your best shots will be completely unplanned.

Look for Unique shots

Nature scenes are so prevalent, they can tend toward mundane if not handled correctly. Develop an eye for noticing a picture that will stand out and take your hike as the opportunity to capture unique images. Along your hike, search for long streams or tree lines that span the length or width of the photo, drawing the viewer in and creating a unique, interesting look. Use leading lines and the rule of thirds for photos that will stand out in your portfolio and possibly even get you noticed.

Avoid the Obvious

Thousands of photographers have snapped photos of streams and mountains. Your goal as a photographer is to find a way to portray nature in unique ways. Look for reflections and shadows that add interest to an otherwise average photo. Even the way the sun peeks from behind the clouds can make an ordinary photo extraordinary. As a photographer, you already have an eye for the unique. A hike merely gives you new ground to explore, where you can potentially find something unique every step of the way.

As a photographer, your portfolio can be dramatically limited if you stay within the same area every day. By venturing out and taking a refreshing hike, you can expand your portfolio with shots that stand out. With a little careful planning and an open mind, you’ll come back with more than a full portfolio. You’ll also have made a few memories that will last a lifetime.

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Photo editing

How to do a convincing head swap in Photoshop?

Swap faces and capture everyone’s best look

Sometimes a photo is perfect, except for that one face. They might be blinking or making a funny face, ruining an otherwise amazing shot. But if you have another photo of them, you can swap out a blinking face for a warm smile. A face swap is a great way to fix a family photo, for example — edit photographers need to make all the time. 

Even if you’ve never seen what’s trending on social networks like Snapchat you’ve probably seen selfie face swaps, face swap memes, or even mind-boggling celebrity deepfakes, fake videos of well-known figures. Novelty face swap apps are a dime a dozen on Android and iOS, but face swaps can look better than those done on a free app for iPad or on smartphones. With Photoshop, no one will know your sister didn’t smile for the family photos. There are several methods for doing a professional-level face swap with Adobe products.

Face swapping with mask layers.

If you have photos of similar size and composition, it’s easy to layer them on top of each other in Photoshop for a basic face swap. Just follow these steps:

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Set the face you want to swap in as a bottom layer, and the picture with the face to be replaced as the top layer.

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Line up the faces in the two pictures. Use the Auto-Align feature and make sure that the two figures you want to join together roughly align.

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Add a white mask layer onto the top. Set the opacity to 100%.

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Select the Brush tool. Set the opacity to 100%. A softer brush style tends to work well for this kind of work.

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Using the black brush, paint over the face you want to swap out on the mask layer. As you paint over the mask layer, the face beneath it will show through in real time.

This method works with pictures that are roughly the same size and composition. Sometimes, though, you want something a bit more complex, such as a cat face swap or trying your hand at a new face swap meme. For those moments, you’ll need to explore a different set of Photography skills.

Face swapping with Object Selection

Photoshop’s Object Selection tool lets you grab whatever you like from a photo. You can use it to grab a single feature, like an eye, a nose, or an entire face or head. Using the Object Selection tool you can cut out the face you want to swap into an image. When you do, save it as its own layer.

Blending and color-correcting a face swap

The lighting and skin tones of people’s faces can vary wildly, and sometimes one person’s look can change across different photos. You’ll almost certainly have to correct for subtle differences between the two photos if you want your face swap to look professional.

Match the multiple skin tones with the Match Color feature (Image › Adjustments › Match Color), using whichever image you want to match colors from. Gradually adjust colors to match the skin tones together. Use the Blur tool to match the amount of blur on the head and face, and use Auto-Blend Layers with Seamless Tones and Colors selected to merge the face and body layer together.

Depending on your inclination, you can make the face swap subtle and natural-looking or over the top. Regardless of what you want to do, Photoshop provides the tools and flexibility to combine images in whatever way you need.

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