Posts in the Tutorials category:

onLocation: Perfect Inspiration – The Alvord Desert Stars

Posted on April 10, 2015 by Patrick Smith

Hudson Henry showcases his photo of the Milky Way from the Alvord Desert. Hudson explains how he shoots stars and the Milky Way as he creates a vertical panoramic merger hand blended using Perfect Layers and Perfect Effects.

He offers some of his tricks for post processing photos of the Milky Way and covers some of his go to effects and filters for getting exactly what he wants. Watch as he walks through creating his stack of effects and selectively brushes them in to certain areas of the photo.


As an added bonus, he explains how to create an intake preset in Adobe Lightroom. It’s key to your camera and does some basic underlying adjustments to your Raw image that you’ll want on every file.

Enjoy Hudson’s video from the Alvord Desert in this latest episode of Perfect Inspiration.

Perfect Inspiration: To Thine Own Self Be True with Brian Matiash

Posted on February 27, 2015 by Patrick Smith

To Thine Own Self Be True

Contributing to this episode of the Perfect Inspiration series is a bit of a homecoming for me. Well, maybe a bit more than a homecoming. You see, I first started this weekly series when I worked at on1 in early 2012 and published a new episode every week for about 58 weeks straight. I held the series very closely and was so proud of it. Even now, I’m beaming over the fact that it has been growing with a diverse group of contributing photographers sharing their own gems of inspiration. If you haven’t had a chance, be sure to carve out some time and go through the series’ entire playlist . I guarantee you that there’s tons of useful information there.

My goal with the Perfect Inspiration series has always been to promote thoughtful content to help spur and excite viewers to go out with camera-in-hand and create something that is truly meaningful to themselves. Whether or not the photo ever gets shared is not the endgame. Rather, the goal is help people become more in tune with their own style and sensibilities around their photography. It isn’t so much about going through the motions over and over. It’s about flexing your creative muscle and putting some serious brain cycles around what it is about your photography that drives you . Because, after all, you are the person that you’re creating for, right? Sure, you may share your work far and wide but you’re not actually creating it for anyone else. You’re creating it for yourself!

The impetus to this post stems from some comments that I read on a recent episode of Perfect Inspiration by the wonderful and lovely Nicole S. Young (fact: she is also my wife). The comments, as a whole, were genuinely positive but there were several that expressed some form of criticism ranging from how she exposed her image to how she processed it.

Now let’s stop right here for a quick second for me to clarify something. I love engagement. If you take the time to leave some thoughts on a photo, good or bad, it truly means something to me. However, I have done this for long enough to know what criticism is worth thinking about and what can be summarily ignored. Nicole is very much in the same boat. My concern is with those who may take this criticism to heart and actually change the way they create.

And that’s the very crux of my point. Here’s a fact about sharing your own personal work with the world: you will always have fans and detractors. You will get positive feedback and negative criticism. It is your responsibility as a creative to be true to yourself and know what feedback is worth considering and what should simply be discarded.

Let’s illustrate this case. Imagine if Nicole wasn’t nearly as thickskinned and capable of a photographer. She goes to her Perfect Inspiration post and sees the very first comment state, “ In my opinion the water of the stream looks over processed and artificial .” Now, imagine if Nicole took this to heart and actually changed the way she exposed her photos or processed her images based on this feedback. In my book, that would be one of the greatest tragedies because, good or bad, the one thing you owe to yourself is to create to your own specification.

So, if I could pass along anything to you, it’s simply to remind you that growth is perpetual and does not necessarily follow a linear path or relative path. Your track should not be built atop the comments that you get. Yes, there is plenty to be said about seeking out trusted feedback and mentorship but all of it is rather meaningless if you don’t know who the photographer is that you want to grow into. Simply, to thine own self be true. – Brian


Perfect Inspiration: Gorton Creek with Nicole S. Young

Posted on February 12, 2015 by Peter Kinnan

Watch Nicole S. Young explore stylizing options with a photo she recently took at Gorton Creek.  Nicole uses both Lightroom and Perfect Effects 9 to give her “Mossy Forest” photo a finished look.  CLICK HERE for Mossy Forest Preset.


Everything You Wanted to Know About Lightroom Presets

Posted on February 3, 2015 by Matt K

Every time I’m out teaching Lightroom I hear people sing the praises of Lightroom presets. People love their presets. At the same time, I also run in to a lot of folks that never tried out custom presets. Regardless of which group you fall in to though, I think you’ll find there’s a lot of little tips and tricks around presets – so I figured I’d share everything you need to know in this quick 8 minute video. Have fun!

onLocation: Perfect Inspiration – The Painted Hills

Posted on February 2, 2015 by Peter Kinnan

Watch Hudson Henry recall his time shooting the Painted Hills in Oregon.  Hudson overcomes a less than ideal setting in this episode and talks about how to shoot for post production of an image.

onLocation: Perfect Inspiration – The Olympic Peninsula Stars

Posted on December 30, 2014 by Patrick Smith

Hudson Henry shows how he processed his photo of the night sky in this episode of Perfect Inspiration. Hudson covers how he scouted the location, set up the shot, and edited the photo. He also shows us his processing techniques in both Lightroom and Perfect Photo Suite 9.

Make sure you check out the onLocation – In the Field episode and view the gallery from this trip.

onLocation: Perfect Inspiration – The Olympic Peninsula

Posted on December 5, 2014 by Peter Kinnan


Watch Hudson Henry in this episode of Perfect Inspiration sharing photos from his backpacking trip on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.  Hudson encounters wildlife, sea life, and beautiful scenery and documents it all with his Nikon D810.  See how Hudson uses Perfect Photo Suite 9 to add the finishing touches to his photos and share some stories along the way.

Masking Your Photos

Posted on October 27, 2014 by Patrick Smith

We’ve been developing (and using) masking tools for a long time. Some of you may remember Mask Pro, which was a plug-in for Adobe® Photoshop® and more recently, Perfect Mask. Perfect Mask was basically a modern version of Mask Pro. Both tools were great for creating complex masks (hair, smoke, or clouds), but the technology was dated.

With fewer photographers using Photoshop and sticking with programs like Adobe Lightroom®, it made sense for us to rethink masking and make it easier for photographers. The traditional way of masking with those tools felt old and tired. It wasn’t how we think of masking as photographers today. The timing was right to develop new technologies and means for creating great masks.

Masking is a technique or technology we use to solve many problems. Rarely is creating a mask the end goal of masking. You use masking to combine images and exposures, swap heads, replace skies and add effects to portions of a photo. In the past, to get a great mask you would go to a dedicated module (Perfect Mask), then take the resulting layer and mask into another module like Perfect Layers or Perfect Effects to finish the job. It was too complicated.

maskingleavesIn Perfect Photo Suite 9, we wanted to give you ability to create great masks where you need them, inside of the tools where you utilize them. We took the best tools from Perfect Mask, improved them, and added them to Perfect Layers and Perfect Effects. Now you can adjust your background layers while masking in Perfect Layers. You can also selectively apply effects in Perfect Effects with more precision than ever before. You no longer need to do all your masking in one place and then send yours masks to the next module.

Perfect Inspiration: Creating a Fine Art Black & White Flower Photo with Dan Harlacher

Posted on April 18, 2014 by Peter Kinnan

DSCF2278It rains a lot here in the Pacific Northwest. There are several months in the winter that can dampen the spirit of a photographer. My solution to this is to photograph flowers. It keeps your eye in tune and allows you to experiment with light in new and fun ways. One of my favorite challenges is to avoid using any fancy studio lights and use unexpected light sources like flashlights and table lamps instead. You can get away with “lighting murder” if you will in modern digital photography. You can use long exposures for low-light and remove any unwanted color cast in a click. The only special equipment you need is a tripod, which is essential. Since flowers are small you don’t need big backgrounds or light modifiers. I just use the walls in my house or sheets of paper from the craft store.

In this video I’ll demonstrate how to process this image from an out-of-the-camera to a finished fine-art black and white. The only light source in this image is a 60-watt light bulb in a desk lamp.

Just Installed Perfect Effects 8 Premium Edition? Get Started Here!

Posted on February 4, 2014 by Patrick Smith

PE-INDI-P-lf copyCongratulations on installing your new copy of Perfect Effects 8 Premium Edition! Now you can bring out the “WOW” in your images with an extensive library of one-click presets, adjustable filters, and powerful tools that create the best effects. If you’re new to Perfect Effects 8, learn more about it.

To get started using Perfect Effects 8 quickly and easily, explore all of these free resources: