Creating Advanced Photo Effects - Teach Yourself VISUALLY iPhoto for iPad (2013)

Teach Yourself VISUALLY iPhoto for iPad (2013)

Chapter 11: Creating Advanced Photo Effects

You can combine iPhoto’s effects for impressive creative results. This chapter introduces recipes for a few advanced effects and explains how you can take iPhoto further by creating your own.


Understanding Advanced Editing

Add a Color Gradient

Work with Vignettes

Create a Fake Miniature

Add Mood and Atmosphere

Improve a Portrait

Prepare a Photo for Framing

Combine Effects

Understanding Advanced Editing

Once you master the basic features of iPhoto, you can begin to explore more advanced effects. Some advanced effects are built-in one-tap effects. For example, you can use the tilt-shift effect in the Artistic effect strip to transform your photos into miniature scenes. Other effects are more open-ended, and you may need to combine multiple steps to create the result you want.

One-Tap Advanced Edits

The Artistic effect strip in iPhoto includes powerful ways to enhance photos with a single tap. The gradient effects apply a smooth color shading from the top of the photo. You can use them to enhance the sky in landscapes and outdoor photos, and to add atmosphere to some interior shots. The quirky tilt-shift effect blurs the top and bottom of a scene, creating an unusual optical illusion that makes outdoor scenes look like miniatures. You can set the size and position of the blurred area to maximize the illusion.


Enhance Mood and Impact

iPhoto has many options, and it can be difficult to master them without a guide. Concentrating on mood and impact helps you make more sense of iPhoto’s features. You will find editing becomes less technical and more emotional and creative. The best photos have a definite mood and a strong visual impact — often a blend of clean shapes, a clear subject, and strong colors or textures. If you try to bring out these features as you work, you may be surprised how easy it is to convert snaps into eye-catching images.


Ask Creative Questions

Because you can transform your photos in so many ways, it is good to have a guide. For inspiration, take any photo from a website, book, or magazine, and pull it apart to see how it works. Look at the colors, the shapes and composition, and the emotional impact of the subject or scene. Look especially at how the photo distorts reality. Are the colors realistic, muted, or exaggerated? Are they shifted towards red, green, or blue? Are parts of the photo deliberately blurred or darkened to lead your eye to the subject? Are there strong lines or other shapes? Once you understand the look, you can experiment with the tools in iPhoto and try to re-create it.



You can never destroy a photo by editing it, so you can experiment without worrying that you may lose your favorite images. Mistakes are essential for creativity. With iPhoto you can experiment with your photos as much as you want. Once you know how to save versions, you can keep experimenting over and over, starting with the same photo or with different variations.


Understanding the iPhoto Workflow

iPhoto is designed with a workflow in mind — a standard sequence of edits that can help you create a good result. Typically you crop and rotate a photo, correct or modify its exposure, correct the color, and perhaps apply a brush effect. You can apply one of the artistic effects, but you can apply only one effect at a time. iPhoto uses a page flip display to show partially modified versions of a photo as you work on it. This can be confusing; the secret is to understand that iPhoto shows the result of one tool at a time. The flipped view shows the combined result. It is visible only when you finish working with each tool, effect, or brush set.


Combing Effects

You can break out of the standard workflow with a simple trick that gives you extra creative choices. Simply save a photo to the camera roll after each major edit, and reload it for further work. You can use this trick to apply any combination of tools, effects, or brushes in any order. You can also apply the same effect more than once — for example, you can apply two vignette effects with different centers. Best of all, you can produce multiple versions of the same photo and keep the ones you like best.


Add a Color Gradient

Professional photographers sometimes use a gradient filter (grad) — a piece of glass with a fading color tint fitted in front of a camera lens. The bottom half of the glass is transparent. Photographers use grad filters to darken skies, make clouds more obvious, and add drama to landscapes.

You can simulate the effect of a grad filter with iPhoto’s Color Gradient effect, which adds a warm orange, cool blue, or neutral gray tint. You can change the width and position of the gradient and rotate it through 360 degrees for creative effects.

Add a Color Gradient


001Open the thumbnail browser.

002Tap any thumbnail to select a photo for editing.

003If the bottom toolbar is not visible, tap the Edit button.

004Tap the Effects icon (9781118443606-ma041.tif).

005Tap the Artistic effect strip.


A iPhoto moves the strip to the bottom toolbar, ready for editing.

006Tap the first thumbnail to add a gray gradient.

007Pinch with two fingers to set the upper and lower edge of the gradient.


008Tap the second thumbnail to add a warm gradient.

Note: iPhoto cancels the previous gray gradient and adds a warm gradient.

Note: On its own this gradient may look gray, but if you compare it with the previous gray effect, you can see it is a sepia color.

009Pinch with two fingers to set the gradient.

Note: You can rotate the gradient by twisting your fingers.


010Tap the third thumbnail to add a cool blue gradient.

011Pinch and rotate the gradient to position it.


Why are there three color options?

You can match the gradient to the strongest colors in the scene and to change the mood of a photo. The blue gradient works well on sunny midday photos with blue skies. The red effect is good for scenes taken around sunrise or sunset with warm colors. The gray effect can work on almost any photo, but it lacks the punch of the colored gradients.

Is it better to use a real glass filter?

You may not have a choice, because not many budget cameras support glass filters, although more expensive SLR cameras usually do. A good glass filter usually produces more dramatic and striking results than a software effect but the effect becomes part of the photo. In iPhoto you can add the effect later and adjust it until it looks good.

Work with Vignettes

You can use the vignette effect to simulate a vintage look, hide clutter, and to draw the eye to one part of a scene. Vignettes are simple but powerful. Viewers do not usually notice a subtle vignette effect consciously, but they do notice that the photo has a different mood.

The vignette effect is built into the Black & White and Vintage filters, and is also a stand-alone filter on the Artistic effect strip. All versions are identical and work the same way. You can pinch to change the size of the vignette, and drag its center point with your finger.

Work with Vignettes


001Open the thumbnail browser.

002Tap any thumbnail to select a photo for editing.

003If the bottom toolbar is not visible, tap the Edit button.

004Tap the Effects icon (9781118443606-ma041.tif).

005Tap the Artistic effect strip.


A iPhoto moves the strip to the bottom toolbar, ready for editing.

006Tap the fourth thumbnail to create a vignette.


B iPhoto adds the vignette and darkens the corners of the photo.


007Pinch the photo with two fingers to change the size of the vignette.

008Drag your finger on the photo to change the center of the vignette.

Note: Be careful to keep the effect subtle. Too much can make a photo feel claustrophobic. Sometimes you may want to do this deliberately.


When would I use a vignette?

Experiment with a vignette when you want to add atmosphere to a photo. A good tip is to track your eyes when you look at the photo. Where do they spend the most time? Adding a vignette can control a viewer’s point of interest. You can enhance the effect by using the Soften brush to blur the darkened area.

Can I change the shape of the vignette?

The vignette is always a circle. You can change the size of the circle so it covers only the edges of the image, and you can move the center of the circle. iPhoto does not support square or rectangular vignettes.

Create a Fake Miniature

You can use the tilt-shift effect to blur a photo deliberately and make it look like a miniature model. The effect simulates a narrow depth of field — the size of a photo’s in-focus area — creating the illusion of a tiny scene shot from close-up. You can also use the effect with portraits to blur the foreground and background, assuming the model is near the center of the shot.

For a good result, start with a photo of a distant scene. Buildings surrounded by tiny cars and people work best.

Create a Fake Miniature


001Open the thumbnail browser.

002Tap any thumbnail to select a photo for editing.

003If the bottom toolbar is not visible, tap the Edit button.

004Tap the Effects icon (9781118443606-ma041.tif).

005Tap the Artistic effect strip.


A iPhoto moves the Artistic strip to the bottom toolbar, ready for editing.

006Tap the fifth thumbnail to create the tilt-shift effect.

B iPhoto blurs the top and bottom of the image.


007Pinch the photo with two fingers to change the size of the blurred area.

C iPhoto displays two lines to mark the edges of the blurred area.

008Drag your finger on the photo to move the blurred area up and down.

Note: The closer you move the two lines, the stronger the effect.

Note: You can rotate the lines with your fingers, but the effect is usually stronger if you keep them horizontal.


iPhoto makes the photo look like a miniature.


When would I use the tilt-shift effect?

This is a striking effect and a handful of professional photographers have built their careers around it. But because it is so quirky and unusual, you are unlikely to use it often. However, you can also use this effect to add top/bottom blur on portraits. The results are less specialized and can be more useful.

Why is it called tilt-shift?

The effect can be created optically with a special camera/lens combination. The lens can be tilted to shift the focus point in the scene. The iPhoto effect looks almost as good but is very much cheaper to buy.

Add Mood and Atmosphere

You can use any of iPhoto’s editing tools to add mood and atmosphere to a photo. Each photo is different, but you can usually make an obvious improvement by adjusting color saturation and exposure. You can also use the soften brush to add soft focus effects.

This example creates a very obvious enhancement — sometimes dramatic changes can look good. The next two examples in this chapter demonstrate how to create more subtle improvements.

Add Mood and Atmosphere


001Open the thumbnail browser.

002Tap any thumbnail to select a photo for editing.

003If the bottom toolbar is not visible, tap the Edit button.

004Tap the Exposure icon (9781118443606-ma035.tif).

005Move the black-point slider to darken the shadows.

006Move the white-point slider to brighten the highlights.

007If the photo needs it, use the central sliders to enhance the contrast.


008Tap the Color Editor icon (9781118443606-ma036.tif).

009Drag the saturation slider to the right to bring up the colors.

010Drag the skin tone slider to the right to warm up the photo and make it redder.

011If the photo needs it, drag the green and blue sliders to the right for even more color.


Note: Not every photo needs every step. Aim to increase the power and impact of the photo.

Note: The colors in this example are deliberately exaggerated for effect.

012Tap the Brush Effects icon (9781118443606-ma038.tif).

013Select the Soften brush.

014Stroke your finger on the photo to soften the subject and the background.

Note: This example softens the girl’s hair and the foreground detail to bring out the dreamy and artistic mood of the original photo.

Note: You may need to undo and repeat the coloring and softening until you get a result you like.


Is there a summary of tools and effects?

The variations are almost endless, and the best way to explore them is to experiment. Here are some tips to get you started.



Soften brush

Create areas of dreamy soft focus

Lighten brush

Brighten a subject — similar to fill-in flash

Darken brush

Darken a background

Increase color saturation

Add richness and warmth

Decrease color saturation

Create coolness, starkness, and distance

Lighter exposure

Create a lighter, more delicate mood

Darker exposure

Add drama and weight


Create a more distant, reflective mood

Improve a Portrait

You can use the tools and effects in iPhoto to enhance portraits and make them more appealing and eye-catching. Improving a portrait has no set recipe, so use the basics of photography — color, light, emotion, and composition — as a guide. Look at a photo before you try to improve it. How well does each element work, and how can you make it work better?

This example uses a photo of a baby with good composition and strong emotion. The lighting and color can be improved with editing.

Improve a Portrait


001Open the thumbnail browser.

002Tap any thumbnail to select a photo for editing.

003If the bottom toolbar is not visible, tap the Edit button.

004Look carefully at the photo to find ways it could be improved.

005Look especially at the lighting and color of the main subject.

Note: In this example the face is slightly dark, the colors are not very strong, and there is limited contrast between the subject and the background.


006Select the Brush Effects icon (9781118443606-ma038.tif).

007Tap the Saturate brush to improve the color.

008Carefully paint the face to bring out the natural warmth.

009Paint the hands and to make them more colorful.

Note: The saturation in the example is slightly exaggerated for clarity.


010Select the Lighten brush.

011Paint the face to lighten the brow and remove the shadow.

Note: The lightness in the example is slightly exaggerated for clarity.


012Tap the Desaturate brush.

013Paint the background around the subject to remove some of the color.

Note: The contrast between the saturated subject and desaturated background brings the subject forward and adds to the impact.


Is it always useful to look at background and foreground contrast?

You can improve a portrait in many ways, but creating contrast between the subject and the background is a popular option. You can create contrast with any feature of the photo — exposure, saturation, sharpness, and so on.

Does it matter if the enhancement is obvious?

Aim for enhancements that improve the photo and do not distract the viewer. If you change the original too much, you can create a photo that looks unnatural and obviously fake. But “too much” depends on the audience. Some viewers are happy with obvious edits as long as they like the mood you create.

Prepare a Photo for Framing

You can use cropping and portrait enhancement to improve a photo before you frame it. iPhoto’s Crop tool can cut out clutter and resize the photo to match a standard print size. Use the other editing tools to make a portrait more flattering, usually by making the image warmer, smoother, and more colorful.

You can use the effects introduced in the previous chapter to create dramatic portraits — for example, you can use the Aura filter or create a duotone. This example uses more basic edits to crop and enhance a color photo of a model.

Prepare a Photo for Framing


001Open the thumbnail browser.

002Tap any thumbnail to select a photo for editing.

003If the bottom toolbar is not visible, tap the Edit button.

004Look at the photo to see how it can be improved.

Note: In this example the empty space around the subject is unnecessary, and the overall color balance is slightly blue and cool.

005Tap the Crop tool (9781118443606-ma032.tif).


006Tap the settings (gear) icon (9781118443606-ma402.tif).

007Select a standard print size.

Note: This example selects the 4 × 3 size.

008Drag and pinch the photo inside the frame to fill the area with the subject.

009Use the rotation dial to rotate the subject.

Note: Steps 8 and 9 are to taste; aim for a result that looks good to you.


010Tap the Color Editor icon (9781118443606-ma036.tif).

011Adjust the sliders to the right to enhance the color.

Note: The settings in this example warm the skin tone and increase overall saturation.

012Tap the White Balance icon (9781118443606-ma037.tif) and select the Face Balance preset icon (9781118443606-ma052.tif).

013Place the loupe on the rock to create a warm red color shift.


014Tap the Brush Effects icon (9781118443606-ma038.tif).

015Select the Sharpen brush.

016Carefully paint the subject and the water drops to make them stand out.

017Select the Lighten brush and paint the subject to bring the details out of the shadow.

Note: Some portraits work better with softening instead of sharpening.

Note: This example exaggerates the edits for clarity. Changes are usually more subtle.


Can I overuse soft focus?

Blur and soft focus are very strong techniques, and they can become distracting if you overuse them. If your subject looks plastic or waxy you have overdone the effect. The best edits are so subtle that most viewers cannot see them without a side-by-side comparison with the original photo.

Why does the photo look different when I print it?

Professional photographers use color calibration, a technical process that matches colors in cameras, monitors, and printers. The iPad does not support this, so the colors you see on its screen may not match the colors you see on a different screen or on a paper print. You can compensate by trial and error. If colors are exaggerated on paper, use the color tool to decrease saturation slightly.

Combine Effects

iPhoto does not give you an easy way to apply multiple effects to a photo. The undo feature can step back through edits, but does not save versions for you.

You can fix both problems by saving photos to the camera roll as you edit them. iPhoto treats each saved version as a separate photo. You can edit it from scratch to create unique combined effects. You can delete unwanted versions in the Photos app, or manually when you sync. And you can use this option to load edited photos back into iPhoto on a Mac.

Combine Effects


Note: This is an advanced technique. You do not have to use it, but it is useful to know you can.

001Open the thumbnail browser, and select any photo for editing.

002Edit the photo using any of iPhoto’s tools and effects.

003Tap the Share icon (9781118443606-ma023.tif).

004Tap the Camera Roll icon.


005Tap the Selected option.

Note: Optionally, you can select and save more than one edited photo at a time using the features introduced in Chapter 4.


006Tap the Camera Roll button.


iPhoto saves the photo to the camera roll, automatically opens the Camera Roll album, and reloads the photo.

007Use any of iPhoto’s editing options to continue editing the photo.

Note: You can repeat steps 3 to 7 every time you want to save a new version to the camera roll.

Note: The most recently saved photo always appears at the top of the thumbnails.


Why would I keep different versions?

Because you can dump working versions back to a Mac or PC where memory and storage space are cheap, you can experiment with creating many different interpretations of a photo. A good tip is to save versions as you work, leave them for a day or two, and then look at them with fresh eyes. You will see immediately that some versions work better than others. You can then decide which versions you want to keep.

How can I work on an older version?

Select it from the camera roll. As long as you do not delete the versions from the camera roll, you can select any saved version for further editing. You can use this option to save different versions so you can compare them later, and perhaps start editing from a different point.