ACDSee has a range of lighting tools, allowing you to approach your adjustment from a variety of angles. The software is known for its patented lighting technology called Light EQ.

This technology makes it possible to adjust specific areas in images that are too dark or too light without affecting other areas. You can simultaneously lighten dark areas that are too dark and darken areas that are too bright. If the foreground subject is backlit, you can easily lighten that subject up without blowing out the background. For a quick adjustment, this technology can be found in Edit mode’s 1-Step lighting tool within the Light EQ tool, which makes it possible for users to merely open an image and have it intuitively improved automatically.

Light EQ technology also powers View mode’s Auto EQ. This tool allows for users to press the Auto EQ button and view their image with an automatic exposure boost, commitment-free. What does commitment-free mean? It means that you can see what your image would look like with responsive lighting correction without saving the correction or even entering Edit mode. This makes it easy to determine which images in your collection could benefit from adjustment as you browse, expediting your cataloging and organizing process.

This tutorial will discuss how to use Standard, one of the lighting tools found in Edit mode, powered by Light EQ. Standard works like a sound equalizer, but with light. You can adjust the brightness and contrast of different tone bands of the image (areas of relative brightness or darkness) independently using a slider for each tone band.


To start, open an image that could use lighting correction or enhancement in Edit mode. Open the Light EQ tool. At the top of the Light EQ tool, choose the Standard tab.


A graph shows the amount of brightening or darkening applied throughout the tonal range of your image. The gray areas in the graph indicate suggested boundaries for adjustment to help you avoid clipping and loss of detail. They turn red to indicate where you have adjusted the sliders far enough to cause clipping.

There are two sets of sliders. The top is for brightening and the lower for darkening. The gradient on each slider indicates a tone band, which you may choose to darken or lighten by moving it up or down.

You can also make adjustments by left-clicking your mouse on the image and dragging upwards to brighten the dark areas. Conversely, you can right-click and drag down to darken bright areas.

However, before you get into doctoring things on a finer level, you may opt to simply press the Auto button. When you press the Auto button, Light EQ technology automatically analyzes the image and lightens or darkens accordingly. It may be that once you have pressed this, only a few minor tweaks, if any, are necessary.


As Auto worked so well with this image, we don’t need to adjust as many tone bands to make it perfect. You can adjust the number of tone bands to fine-tune the brightness ranges you desire to change by selecting a number from the # Tone Bands drop-down menu below the sliders. 


Play with the sliders until you find the perfect balance between dark and light.


We can see our before and after by pressing the Show Previous button at the bottom left of the image. 

Sunbeams in a forest

Sunbeams in a forest

If you have Microsoft’s OneDrive, you are in luck. You have already been storing your photos there and you have access to them any time, on any device. But nowadays, with ACDSee’s OneDrive integration, you can access your OneDrive photos in ACDSee, and both your originals and any edits you have made in ACDSee will be continuously backed up into the cloud. You can also simultaneously manage your photos across multiple OneDrive accounts, copying and moving them from account to account.

What does this mean? What can you do with this?

Your photo collection can be synced between multiple PCs, meaning your photos are wherever you are. Photos you take on your mobile device and save to your OneDrive will automatically show up in ACDSee on your PC — there is no need to manually import them. In Manage mode, where you can view, organize, and batch edit your photos on a folder to folder basis, OneDrive is now available like any other folder. In the Folder pane, select your OneDrive folder from its location in your folder tree. Your OneDrive contents will now be visible in the File List pane. From here you can take your OneDrive photos in whatever direction you choose. All the power of ACDSee is available to you.



Perhaps you would like to perform a variety of corrections to a series of photos at once? You can use batch editing to convert formats and color space, correct lighting and color, resize, rename, etc. And if you find a correction configuration or combination that works really well for you, you can save that as a setting for future use.

You can also use Manage mode to organize and search through your OneDrive photos for that one special shot. You can classify your photos using hierarchical keywords, tagging, categorizing, labeling, and rating, to name a few. Add, manage, and edit IPTC metadata. View or assign the locations your images were taken with the Map pane.

If you would like to view your OneDrive photo (or video) collection on a file by file basis in full size, you can open them in View mode. Double-click the image you would like to view in the File List pane of Manage mode and it will automatically open in View mode.

For non-destructive RAW and JPEG image processing, you can open any of these images in Develop mode, if you are using ACDSee Pro or ACDSee Ultimate. You can improve white balance, tone curves, sharpness, lens distortion, reduce noise, lighting with Light EQ, and a variety of other elements of your photos non-destructively.

In Edit mode, you can apply fine-tuned adjustments while being confident that your originals are preserved. In this mode, there are a variety of tools available to you, such as the ability to make selections, add text, watermark, borders, drawings, brushes, blurring, and pixel targeting. Edit mode also has a full set of adjustment tools, like a collection of lighting and exposure tools, advanced color, color balance, clarity, and geometry and flaw removal tools. Most Edit mode tools can be used in combination with the Layered Editor in ACDSee Ultimate to create composites and photo manipulations.

After you have beautified your photos, you may wish to share them. To view your OneDrive options, such as sharing a OneDrive link, you can press Ctrl + right-click an image to display the Windows context menu within ACDSee.

Your photo collection is safe on OneDrive, but what you can do with those photos doesn’t have to stop there. Access your OneDrive folder in Manage mode in your ACDSee application to take your cloud-traveling photos wherever you want them to go.

If you’ve never driven a standard transmission, it’s possible you’ve wondered why anyone would bother with a car that involves extra work to drive. Sure, you look cool doing it… But seriously, foot-hand coordination? Why?

One word: Control. The Tone Curves tool is like the stick shift of photo light and color adjustments. Yes, you can use lighting and exposure tools, but Tone Curves gives you a whole other level of control over the tonal range. You can select specific colors, (red, blue, or green), to adjust, or the entire range of the image. And then still adjust lighting and exposure after and beyond to get the image just how you like it.

Let us first look at adjusting contrast and learn how the tool works. Begin with an image in Edit mode (or Develop for non-destructive adjustments if you’re a Pro or Ultimate user). In the Exposure/Lighting section, open the Tone Curves tool.


Inside the tool, notice the bars on either side of the x and y axis of the graph.


The dark area of the bar represents the shadows in your image. The middle represents the midtones, and the white area is the lightest parts of your image. You’re ultimately trying to improve the contrast of the image by changing which pixels map to the brighter area of the graph and which map to the darker area.


Let’s take a closer look. The following photo is nothing special, but it is helpful for demonstrating the concept behind the graph. The input, represented on the x axis, shows you what tonal range the pixels in your image fall into. The Output, or the y axis, shows you where any of the given tones are mapped to. Look at any point on your x axis, find where it hits on the curve (the line through the graph), and then find where that hits the y axis: this is where the tone is being mapped to. As you can see in the histogram of this image, most of the pixels are concentrated in the area closest to where the axes converge — the shadows. And, as we haven’t made any changes yet, their output is also mapped to the shadows.


Now, for the sake of understanding, check out what happens when I move the curve down.


Even the pixels at the lightest point on the x axis are mapped low into the shadowy area on the y axis, hence the image is almost entirely black. Conversely, on this image below, I have moved the curve up, so even the darkest pixels on the x axis are mapped high into the light area of the y axis, and therefore, the image is significantly lightened.


Generally, you want to achieve heightened contrast in your image. And this is done by what we call an “S curve”. It’s when you make an S with the curve, (you don’t say!), dragging the shadow section down, darkening the darkest pixels, and dragging the lights up into the highlight section, lightening the whitest pixels in the image. However, it’s important to note that you can’t add contrast to one tonal region without decreasing it in another region. The steeper you make the curve in the shadow region, the more detail you will get.

This image starts out kind of flat.


But then—Tone Curves tool! Through an S curve, I made the dark darker and the light lighter, achieving greater overall contrast.


But this is what happens if you get out of hand….Ok, it’s kind of fun.


Adjusting the Tone Curves tool is a useful time to take advantage of the Exposure Warning. Exposure Warning (blue)1 In the upper left corner of the tool, enable the button in order to display clipped shadows and highlights. Click the icon or press E on the keyboard, to highlight over- and under-exposed areas of the image.

You can also adjust the tonal range on a color by color basis. From the Channel drop-down menu, choose a color channel.


Play with the curve to get the effect you want. Less is more if you are seeking a natural look.


From this point, you can really take it wherever you want, be that adjusting it in other tools, or being satisfied and sharing it in a variety of ways. That’s basically it. Hopefully this has shed some light on how to use the Tone Curves tool. I know at first I found the look of this graph as daunting as my first hill start in a standard. (A graph?? I don’t do math!) But once you understand how it works, it’s easy to get your lighting, color, and contrast show on the road. ;D


In the latest release of ACDSee, ACDSee Pro, and ACDSee Ultimate, a nifty little feature was added for the creative on the go.

So you’re browsing your images in View mode, making decisions about the fate of the shots in that particular album. For example, could some of these look great with a special effect? You’re thinking that maybe a certain photo might look decent in black and white. Ordinarily, you would take that image into Edit or Develop mode to find out for sure. But now, you get a sense of how it will look on the fly, without having to leave View mode. Here’s how:

With your image open in View mode, press the Auto Lens button. auto_lens_button


Then, select the filter you want to try out. It’s worth mentioning that this is a commitment-free preview of what these effects would look like. You are not applying the filter to the file.


If you want to try out this effect on a number of photos, use the Filmstrip or Previous/Next button to preview more images with your selected filter. The Lens will remain turned on in View mode until you turn it off.

To turn off your selected filter, press the Auto Lens button and select None.


There is also another button following the same concept but for an exposure boost. It’s called Auto EQ and it’s located right next to the Auto Lens button. auto_eq_button Before Auto EQ:


After Auto EQ:


This tool takes the guesswork out of assessing an image’s exposure. And, perhaps in some cases, helps to quickly establish which ones are worth the time of actually adjusting. Hurray! Time saving!


Well here it is: The definitive aperture, shutter speed, and ISO guidance!





Turns out there’s a blog out there for all of us anal, OCD-types, but for photography inspiration! Check out Things Organized Neatly.


In Edit mode, I used Lens Distortion Correction to alter the perspective and give the clouds more of a presence.

Then, in Lighting on the Equalizer tab, I used the Auto button. And then darkened the clouds by dragging on the photo.

Then in Advanced Color, I upped the Vibrance and Saturation sliders slightly to give the photo more interest. I didn’t go crazy on this, though, because I wanted the colors to remain natural-looking.

Then in the Clarity tool, I upped the slider to give the sand more definition.

And that is that! Five minutes later, my image is completely transformed.


As you may or may not recall, a while back I posted a tutorial taking a look at Pixel Targeting. At the end of that tutorial, I did promise that we would eventually look at a variety of Pixel Targeting applications. Well, we took a break to look at some other functions, but we’re back! Let us now explore!

As a quick reminder, Pixel Targeting allows you to target distinct tones, colors, and skin tones, and then select any number of Edit mode adjustments and apply them to those targeted colors, tones, or skin tone.

I find this picture pretty drab. It probably doesn’t help that I was there and my eyes told me it was pretty spectacular.


I would like to make the colors pop a bit, but I also want it to still look realistic, and not like a fantasy seascape. (Fantasy seascape has its place, but that’s just not what I’m into today.) So I open the image in Edit mode, and then enter Advanced Color. If I indiscriminately pump up the Saturation and Vibrance, it gets a bit much. It doesn’t look very realistic… It looks a bit insane. Look at those umbrellas! It’s like a carnival.


It’s true that you could just up the color value on the blues and greens by dragging your cursor up on the water and the trees, for example.


But then all of the greens and blues in the image are heightened, which leaves the rocks looking pretty green and the sky a bit nutty. Maybe you’re thinking I’m getting a bit picky. But what I’m thinking is: it’s Pixel Targeting Time. At the top of the panel on the left side, I press the Pixel Targeting button. Under Targeted Tones, I press Min. This deselects all tones. Then under Targeted Colors, I press Min. This deselects all colors. Now I can choose only the specific colors I want to target. In other words, I can choose to ignore the lightest or darkest version of a specific color, or any tone in between. Just stay with me, it’ll make sense.

Here we are with everything at neutral. Note that the Target Mask is black, which means that nothing is being targeted.


Say, for argument’s sake, I wanted to just target the blue of the sky, while ignoring the blue of the ocean and the accents on the boats and houses and such. In the Targeted Tones section, I turn the lightest value up to Max, and on the Targeted Colors section, I turn the blue value up to Max. You can see on the Target Mask that the sky is displayed in white. The white illustrates which part of the photo is being targeted. The sky is the lightest blue value in the photo, hence, it’s targeted.


Now if I expand the Targeted Tones to include more light values, you’ll notice that more areas are lit up in the Target Mask. That part of the water matches the criteria of being blue, (which we’ve targeted), and an almost mid-range lightness.


Now that we’ve acquainted ourselves with the concepts behind using Advanced Color with Pixel Targeting, let’s move on. My goal is to target just the ocean and the trees. But I want to leave the sky alone, as I’ve already discovered that nothing natural looking has come from me messing with it. So I experiment with targeting different tones until I find the one that displays the ocean in white in the Target Mask — directly in the middle. I now add green to the Targeted Colors to target the trees. Then I use the Saturation and Vibrance sliders to make the colors pop specifically in the targeted areas. I even drag my cursor up on the trees for more green. This didn’t affect the seaweed, as it would without Pixel Targeting, because the seaweed isn’t within the tonal ranges targeted. Et Voilà! Observe how the colors of the ocean and trees stand out, but the colors of the rocks are still natural. This, I feel, makes the difference between something vibrant, yet still realistic-looking, versus the circus-and-sequins catastrophe above, when I just indiscriminately raised the saturation and vibrance across the entire photo.


Let’s compare this with the original.


It’s subtle, but a definite improvement, I think.

Pixel Targeting can be used in a variety of ways—some very subtle, some much less subtle. Happy playing!

I’d like to take a quick look at a nifty little feature that was added to ACDSee back around the release of ACDSee 18 and Pro 8, and is also found in Ultimate 8. It’s possible that it could slip under the radar because, unlike other new features, PicaView is not actually visible inside ACDSee. I know, sounds devious. But, in fact, PicaView couldn’t be more transparent. That is, in a way, its function. ACDSee PicaView is a quick file viewer add-on for File Explorer. Well, what the heck does that mean? It means that when you’re browsing away in Windows Explorer and you’re trying to find that one specific file, you’re going to save quite a bit of time.

Before PicaView, I found it particularly bad when I was looking for a certain image, but it was in a folder full of several hundred similar images all taken in the same setting, at the same time. With PicaView, you can simply right-click an image and see a larger version of it in your context menu, reducing the wild goose chase to a very tame duck chase….not even a chase. You just find it. You “catch” the duck before it even started waddling away.


PicaView will allow you to identify the image you’re looking for without having to launch it in a viewing application. It saves so much time! You can use it on any image file type supported by ACDSee.  This works on RAW files, too. And, in addition to viewing a preview of the image, you can also view the EXIF information.


Did the flash fire on that pic? Well, let me just check on that. Right-click!


Why, no. No, it did not. How easy was that?

If I want to launch the image in ACDSee, I just need to click the preview.


I can also customize the size that the image previews in, what version of the image displays, etc. To reach the options, right-click an image file. At the top of the preview, click ACDSee PicaView | Options. In the Options dialog, you can elect to have it so that when you right-click, your image displays in a sub-menu, rather than the main menu. You can also choose a size for the image preview.


Small small
Medium medium
Large large
Extra Large extra_large

You can also select the Show Original checkbox, and what this does is ensures that even if you’re viewing images that have been edited or developed, you will see a preview of the original.

Lastly, you can toggle the Show EXIF Information checkbox. You would turn off this checkbox if you only wanted to see a preview of the image and didn’t care to see the EXIF info.

And that’s all there is to it. Hope you enjoy this quick previewing feature designed to make life just that little bit easier.


Here’s a quick look at how to use gradients and special effects to change the emotion of an image. In this video, we give an image verging on being a nightscape a bright daytime look.


Check out Glen Barrington’s blog post about resizing photos with ACDSee Ultimate 8!

We will soon get back to the nuances of Pixel Targeting, but first we need to take a break and make time for checking out the next big thing: ACDSee Ultimate 8! This is a brand new product that combines the digital asset management and editing power of ACDSee Pro with a layered editor. This is a big deal because, not only is there no other product out there like this, but it blows the ceiling off the limits of what was possible with your photo editing. You can make some crazy stuff, you can make useful/practical stuff, you can do whatever the heck you want. Now let’s get started.

Layers allow you to work on a single element of an image without disturbing other elements. This makes it possible to add effects, shapes, text, watermarks, etc, and edit them all individually. You can perform photo manipulations, create composites, and pretty much whatever else you can dream up. You can make every layer as transparent or opaque as you want, and stack each element to hide and reveal what you want. You can use layers in conjunction with image effects and adjustment tools, drawing tools, text, and more. Effects and adjustments will be applied to the layer selected in the Layers pane. You can also create a blank image and layer other elements on top of it.

Let’s do something fun to start with. Let’s generate our own meme. In my opinion, a good meme should touch on a shared experience, no matter how silly, and perhaps make us laugh or feel assured that we’re not alone in our silliness. We all make mistakes, and, personally, I find that if I’ve attempted to learn from my mistake and things still go wrong, it’s time to blame an inanimate object. Thus, my Scumbag T-Shirt meme will be created!

Step one: Take your base photo — in this case, the object, but sometimes the subject, of the meme — and open it in Edit mode. If the Layers pane is not already open in Edit mode, go to View | Layers. You will see your image as Layer 1 in the Layers pane on the right side.


At this point, personally I would do any adjusting that I felt the base photo needed, just because I like to keep things simple. Step Two: I’m going to add the next element, which I will have on the second layer so that I can edit it independently. In order to do this, I drag the image from the Filmstrip at the bottom of Edit mode, or, if the image I want is stored in another folder, I can go to Layer | Import from File…


I add the scumbag hat, which has a transparent background. This automatically appears in the Layers pane as Layer 2. Step Three: To move and resize this element, I first ensure that I have Layer 2 selected in the Layers pane, and then I enter the Move tool, which you’ll find amidst the Selection and Drawing tools on the top of the Edit mode tools.move_tool Yellow squares and circles appear around the scumbag hat. I can click and drag on the squares to resize the hat. Observe that in the bar above the image there is a checkbox that says Lock Aspect Ratio enabled by default. Leave this checked if you would like to make sure that your element doesn’t end up a wonky shape when you drag it to the size you want. Use the circular handles to rotate the element one direction or another. To simply move the element, click in the middle of it and drag to where you want it to go.


Once I have the hat just where I want, I press the Commit button, (up in the top Context bar near the Lock Aspect Ratio button), to exit out of the Move tool.

Step Four: I want to add my text. So, I click on the Text tool under the Add group.


I would like my text to remain as a separate element that I can move, rotate, resize, or change its layer order, blend mode, or opacity on a whim, so at the bottom of the Text tool, I check the Add text as a new layer checkbox. I configure the text settings as desired. Then I press Apply. This allows me to add a second set of text at the bottom, and it will also be on its own layer. I press Apply and then Done and I exit out of the tool, and now I can continue to move the text by selecting its layer and using the Move tool.


And that’s that! My meme is complete. I press Done and press Save As. In the Save Image As dialog, ACDSee Ultimate offers to save it as a .acdc file. I choose Save, as this format will allow me to edit the layers individually again, should I choose to open this image in Edit mode in the future.

I present my Scumbag T-Shirt meme!



If you don’t know what a scumbag meme is, just smile and nod. It’s not essential information. All you need to know is that shirts that shrink are jerks. What is important is that you now know how to create an image with several layers!

Now, let’s move on to something a bit more complicated. I want to make something along the vein of a pamphlet. Let us now pretend I own a vineyard (I wish!) and I want to promote my sauvignon blanc.

I know I want to blend two images at least, so to save myself extra work, I make sure they are the same size. Or rather, I choose the image that I want to be the size of the final product as the basis for resizing the other photo. (You don’t have to do it this way.) I can see that that photo is 2736 x 3648, so I open the image I want to blend with it in Edit mode and go to the Resize tool in the Geometry group. Here, I uncheck the Preserve Aspect Ratio checkbox, because I want these images to match up properly. This may not always be the case, but it is for me in this scenario. Then under Pixels, I enter 2736 x 3648 and press Done. So why don’t I just open both of these images in the Layers pane and do the resizing then? Well, in that case, resizing affects the whole canvas that the images are being stacked on. So, if I make the canvas smaller than one of the images already is, bits of that image could get cut off.

All right, now to begin. I will start with a background photo of some grapes, which I took (in somebody else’s vineyard, OK).


First, I make the adjustments I need to in order to get that bit out of the way. Now I’ll add my second layer: a wine bottle and glass. To do this, go to Layer | Import from File… This new photo will appear in the Layers pane as Layer 2. Select the Hand tool.


Then go to Layer | Mask | Add White Mask. A layer mask will allow you to control a layer’s transparency. Since we aim to put two images together, this is exactly the sort of tool we need. Because I added a white mask, I will now use a black brush to brush “holes” through the mask to reveal the layer beneath. So, I select the Brush tool, followed by the color box, which I will change to black, if it’s not already.


I can now brush the background of the wine bottle image to reveal the vineyard image below.


What if I screw up? What if my hand slips and I brush over the bottle, as seen here:


I really don’t sweat it. All I need to do is switch my brush color to white using the switch arrow at the color box. switch_arrow Then I’ll “brush the mask back on”. By using white, I am making the mask visible once more.


Once I’ve revealed the vineyard behind the bottle and glass, I’ve decided that I don’t want the bottle and glass centered as they are now. So, i click the Move tool, move_tool and then drag the wine bottle image to my desired location. Then I press Commit in the Context bar when I’m finished moving it. I am also going to make the wine bottle and glass somewhat transparent by selecting their layer and adjusting the Opacity slider in the top of the Layers panel.

As I’d like to make this an ad, I’m going to add a vignette. I go to Layer | Add New Layer so that the vignette will be made on its own layer. Then under the Add group, I choose the Vignette tool. In the Vignette tool, I configure the sliders until I get the vignette to cover just the area I want. When the vignette looks how I desire, I press Done.

Next, I’m interested in adding some text. For this, I will add a new layer, so that I can edit the text independently. However, I can do this from within the Text tool. I choose the Text tool under the Add group. I enter text and add it as a new layer, as detailed earlier. Hint: Check the Add text as new layer checkbox. I can configure the text settings to make it look exactly how I want. I press Apply. Then repeat, to add more text elements.


Lastly, I am going to add a logo. This is a .png file with a transparent background. Same deal as above. Layer | Import from File…, then use the Move tool to place it. I press Commit in the Context bar, and bam! We’ve got ourselves an ad.


Power kitteh!!!!!

DSC_0089aPhoto credit: Lauren Beason


Pixel Targeting, available in ACDSee Pro 8 and ACDSee Ultimate 8, selectively adjusts pixels with a variety of Edit mode tools by targeting specific colors and tones within the image. You can even target skin tones. This is a quick look at how you can put Pixel Targeting to work for you, including how you can combine it with the Edit Brush for ultimate precision editing.



This 52 week challenge offers inspiration for both photography and business endeavors. Somewhere within these ideas just might be the kick in the pants we all need to make the most of our 2015!

Hey Everybody,
ACDSee Ultimate 8 is now here! What’s it all about? As the first digital asset management software with layers, it’s able to answer an unparalleled number of creative graphic and image composition needs. And it has all the editing power and the digital asset management capabilities of ACDSee Pro 8. Check out this video for a quick peak at what you can do with the layered editor:

Stay tuned for a more in-depth look on how you can get layers working for you.

As you may or may not have heard, ACDSee Pro 8 (and ACDSee 18) are now available! There’s a ton of new features to explore, but let’s start with the biggest. Pixel Targeting!

Generally, you use Edit mode tools to make a variety of global adjustments to your images. Pixel Targeting, on the other hand, allows you to target distinct tones, colors, and skin tones, and then select any number of Edit mode adjustments and apply them to those targeted pixels. Pixel Targeting itself does not do anything to the image, but allows you to specify which pixels the tool that you are working with will affect in your image.

What am I talking about? Well, the best way to understand is through example. There are so many applications for this that it’s hard to know where to begin. But this time, let’s start with something really simple — a targeted exposure adjustment.

I start by finding an image that could use some exposure adjustment in specific areas, but that I’m hesitant to make a global exposure adjustment to because I’ll blow out parts that are already light enough. I then open that image in Edit mode, and click on the Exposure tool.


In the Exposure tool, on the top left, I press the Pixel Targeting button.


On the Pixel Targeting panel, you will see the Targeted Tones, Targeted Colors, Skin Targeting, and Target Mask sections. Targeted Tones allows you to target pixels based on their brightness. Targeted Colors let you pick which colors you want to be affected by the current tool, (in this case, the Exposure tool). Skin Targeting, we’re going to return to in a later tutorial. And lastly, the Target Mask, which displays in white which areas of the photo are currently being targeted.


You will notice that at the moment, the Target Mask is all white. This is because I haven’t specified any targeted tones or colors. All of the sliders are at Max. And if I made exposure adjustments right now, they would still by applied to the entire image.

Under Targeted Colors, I press Min. This deselects all colors. Now I can choose the specific colors I want to target. You will now observe that the Target Mask is entirely black. This means that no colors are being targeted.


Let’s take a quick moment to learn about the Target Mask. Now, let’s say that I wanted to target just the green of the grass and trees. Under Targeted Colors, I would move the green slider up somewhere between 0 and 100, depending on my desired intensity. In other words, just play with the sliders until you see the area you want to target in the Target Mask in white.


Maybe I want to expand the target to include yellows to make sure I get all of the yellow flowers, etc.


Hopefully this is becoming a bit clearer. Now, let’s get back on task. The sky of my selected image is very light. A lot of detail is lost. By experimenting with the Targeted Colors, I can figure out which setting I need in order to apply an exposure adjustment to just the background — the sky and the sea. Once I see the area I want to target in white in the Target Mask, I can configure the settings on the Exposure panel. These adjustments are only applied to the area that I targeted.


Beacon Hill a

And, the before and after.


Ta da!

Next time we talk about Pixel Targeting, I’d like to take a look at how you can use it to achieve natural, but augmented color. I also want to talk about how to combine it with the Edit Brush for absolute precision adjusting. And let’s also talk about using Pixel Targeting for fun with some effects. And targeting skin tones. And—and—There’s so many applications to explore!






ACDSee Pro 8 and ACDSee 18 are here! These babies are jam-packed with new features to accelerate your photography management and editing workflow. And by “babies”, I kind of mean the opposite of babies. They’re colossal applications — yet somehow move swiftly and stealthily like great golden eagles!

Check out photographer Peter Pereira’s first look at ACDSee Pro 8.

Let’s talk about customization. When it comes down to it, we’re kind of strange, persnickety creatures. Many of us have a layout in our homes that suits us. Our toothbrushes have their own special spot. Anyone who has had a roommate will validate this.You will never realize how particular you are about your stuff until someone else messes it up. The same may be true for your software workspace layout. If you are sharing your copy of ACDSee with someone else, or if you just find that you like your panes laid out in a certain way, you may find it helpful to be able to save a custom workspace. Maybe it’s for efficiency, or maybe you just like it a certain way because it feels better. You’re entitled.

So, first you need to get things just how you like them. In Manage mode: You can do this by grabbing panes with your cursor and pulling, or clicking the drop-down arrow in the pane’s top right corner and selecting Floatingfloat

Drag the pane’s title bar and hold your cursor over any of the arrows of the Docking Compass. What is a Docking Compass? Check out the arrows circled in red in the image below.


When the shaded marquee displays the position of the pane you want, release the mouse button.

shaded marqueenew_pane_position

To return a pane to its previous location, double-click its title bar.

You can resize a pane by holding your cursor over the edge of the pane until the cursor changes into arrows and lines. resize_arrow Drag the edge of the pane to the size you want.

You can also hide panes temporarily by clicking the drop-down arrow in the pane’s top right corner and selecting Hide.


To reveal it again, click View | [desired pane].

Once you have all of your panes the location and size that you want, it’s time to save your layout. Go to View | Workspaces | Manage Workspaces. In the Manage Workspaces dialog box, click Save Workspace. Give your workspace a name. I recommend putting something that identifies it as yours, if you’re sharing the application, or, if it’s a task-based layout, name it based on that. ex) “Cataloging Layout”. It will save you time if you choose a name that immediately tells you what the layout is.


Click OK, and click OK again.

To find a layout you’ve saved, go to View | Workspaces. Select the name of your layout.

If you realize you have moved the panes around to the point where you barely even recognize Manage mode anymore , and you really don’t like it, don’t panic.

I Have Made a Big Mistake

You don’t have to remember where things go. You can return the panes to their default position at any time by going to View | Workspaces | Default Workspace.

There you go — right to persnickety behavior granted!

I found this video on lighting reflectors really interesting. Sometimes it’s just cool to see how the pros do it. Get inspired here.

There was a time when I thought that I needed a variety of software to achieve a few simple tasks, even though they were somewhat related. For example, I thought I needed a screen capturing app, never bothering to realize that I can do this in ACDSee.

When you encounter hiccups in your day to day computer use and you need to communicate with the technology expert in your life, when you really want to show your friend, teacher, mom, therapist, etc just what the heck you’re talking about, when you’re too tired or lazy to use your words: a screenshot will speak volumes.

When you are ready to take a capture of any part of your screen, in Manage or View mode, go to Tools | Screen Capture… The Screen Capture dialog will allow you to configure the area you want to capture. You can select between capturing:

  • your current monitor
  • an entire window, or just the content inside of it
  • a region with a fixed size, (which you can specify from the drop-down menu), or a region that you select with your mouse cursor
  •  an object, such as a child window, or a menu under your cursor


When capturing any area, except for a region, you can elect to include your mouse cursor in the shot by checking the Include mouse cursor checkbox at the bottom of the dialog.

Next, decide on the destination for your capture. Do you want to place it on the clipboard? From here, you can paste it to a new location. Or do you want to open the captured image in your default editor? Or, choose File to have the Save dialog come up after you have taken your capture, at which point you can choose a name, location, and format for the file.


Next, identify how you want to take your capture. Since you won’t want the Screen Capture dialog in your way, you must choose how to initiate the capture. If you want to choose a combination of keys to act as a keyboard shortcut to initiate your capture, enter them in the Hot key area. I chose “P” so that I can press the key and go, “Pow!” If you would rather the screenshot be taken at a designated point in time, you can use the Timer option. Choose enough time to set up whatever it is that you want to capture on your screen.


To begin, press Start. If you have opted to take a capture of a selected region, drag your cursor around your desired area when prompted. If you opted to use a hot key, enter it when ready.

And, there you go. Find your capture according to where you selected to put it. I saved mine here:


Control which areas of your photo are sharp with Digital Camera World’s Depth of Field cheatsheet.


The concept behind, or perhaps the need for, Develop mode can be a bit confusing when you’re first getting into processing your digital photos. I know that it wasn’t intuitive for me. But it’s a pretty sweet mode, so it’s worth taking the time to understand its value. So what’s this Develop mode I speak of all about?

When adjusting your images in Develop mode, the original file is never changed. The changes are saved in a separate file, and are applied each time you open the image. This allows for what we call “non-destructive” developing of your images. It is there to ensure that even if you go very far down a path altering an image, that even if you wind up with something you’re unhappy with, you always have the opportunity to start from scratch, as you possess an untouched original.

When you open a developed image in Develop mode, it displays the settings you previously left them at. This allows you to revisit the image at any time to adjust the previous settings.

So what does this mean for saving in Develop mode? When dealing with a RAW image, you make your changes, then click Done. The image’s develop setting are stored in the XMP file of the RAW and in the ACDSee database. If you’re talking encodable files, such as JPEGs, when you develop an image and press Done, the develop settings are stored in an XMP file, and the original and the XMP file are moved to the [Originals] folder. In Manage and View mode, the image with the changes applied is displayed. The develop settings are also stored in the ACDSee  database. Basically, your original is safely preserved and stored with your changes, and your changes are added every time you look at it.

Ok, now that we’ve gone through the concept, let’s put it into practice. So take an image that you think could use some sprucing, and open it in Develop mode. Apply settings to achieve the look you want.


Now that you’ve got your image just as you want it, press Done. You’ll notice that your options are Save or Save As. Save As means that you save a version of your developed image with a new name or format and switch to the updated image. Maybe you’re generally inclined to play it safe in these cases and use the Save as option. But stay with me on this workflow first. So, press Save. *Cue dramatic music*

But, the next day, you come back to it and … what were you thinking? Your changes do not, er, stand the test of time, and your opinion on them has changed. Well now you’re in trouble, right? The original is gone.

Guess again! The original is preserved. In Manage mode, right-click the image. Go to Process | Restore to Original.


Et voilà Your original is back, no harm done.


In Edit mode, your original image is also preserved. However, the difference is that with Developed images, you can remove any of the changes you have made, regardless of the order that you added them. This allows you to avoid having to start from the beginning. In Edit mode, everything you do to an image is done on top of the results of the previous operation. If you added a series of 10 different edits, but wanted to remove the fifth edit, it would be necessary to start from scratch. But Develop mode bypasses the issue of an order of operations. You can even change the settings on individual selective adjustments, like brushes and gradients.

Furthermore, Edit mode is destructive, which means if you edit and save and edit and save and edit and save, each save degrades your image quality. But in Develop, your changes are all applied at the same time — you always start from the original.

What Else Makes Develop Mode Worthwhile?

Develop mode really makes a difference in the context of RAW photos. What is a RAW photo? A RAW image straight from the camera is undeveloped — it is merely sensor data. When you take the picture, the camera records all the light levels on its sensor and writes them to a file. It also writes in metadata from the camera, such as white balance settings. This is the RAW data.

When you shoot JPEGs, the camera takes that RAW sensor data and does develop processing on the image using the current camera settings, such as exposure and white balance, which produces the image that you see on the preview window or on your computer. Like a polaroid camera that produces the decent-looking image out directly from the camera, the develop processing is done in the camera and never needs to be done again.

Develop processing has to be done in order for a RAW file to be viewable. This processing occurs automatically using default settings, (based on the settings that your camera wrote into the RAW file, such as white balance), as ACDSee displays the image on the screen. Develop mode allows you to change and customize that automatically-applied develop processing to whatever you want it to be. So imagine you take a photo with the wrong white balance settings on your camera. If you’re shooting a JPEG, you can improve the image, but no matter what, you started out with a blueish image because of that wrong setting, and your ultimate image is never going to be perfect. However, if you shot the same image as a RAW, you can change the white balance settings in Develop mode and your results will be as though you went back in time and used the correct white balance settings from the beginning. You will get perfect results because you are working with the pre-white balance RAW sensor data.

Opening a RAW image in Edit mode does not do the same as Edit mode opens your RAW image with the RAW processing already applied.

It’s worth noting that if you alter an image in Edit mode first, and then take it into Develop mode, ACDSee will prompt that the edits will be lost. Develop mode needs to work with the original pixels, as opposed to pixels that have had develop processing added to them, and then editing.

Develop mode is also awesome for the advantage of develop presets.

I think there’s a small part in all of us that likes to impress our friends. Don’t deny it. We’re all in this together. And it’s not a negative thing. We’re social creatures.

This is evidenced by the existence of social media. And where better to show off? I like to think of my Facebook profile as an online space with potential to exhibit, amongst other things, my style and aesthetic. This I do with a snazzy cover photo developed from my own photography. But I have very little artistic skill, so it makes impressing people with arty stuff a bit of a challenge. Or it would, if I didn’t have access to tools to cover up my artistic handicap. This is where ACDSee comes in.

To start, you may want to tidy up any exposure, lighting, or sharpness-related flaws. While the photo will be smaller than the original, might as well make it the best that it can be.


After tidying up the image, you can add some special effects to make it pop. In the Add group, go to Special Effects. Select a special effect that looks good to you. On that special effect’s panel, you will be able to adjust the settings. (Note: not every special effect has settings to configure.) So, for me, I find that, more often than not, the special effect applied to the entire image can be a bit much. This is where the brush comes in handy. At the top of the panel, click the Edit Brush. brush As I spent time brushing an area, in this case, a branch in focus in the forefront, I am disinterested in doing more brushing. So, on the Edit Brush panel, I select Load last applied brush strokes.load_last_applied Now,  I click Invert all brush strokes.invert_brush Now, the brushed area — the mask — is every part of the photo that is not the branch in the foreground. So effectively, I did a little bit of brushing in the Sharpen tool and can leverage that effort into masking the entire rest of the photo in this other tool. Time saving for the win!


It may be better to uncheck the Show brush strokes checkbox to better fine-tune where the effect begins and ends.


But ultimately, you may not have to fuss with it too much, as the photo is not going to be this big on your Facebook profile. Change the sliders to get just the look you want. From here you can add more effects, or if you like what you’ve done, then it’s time to take it into the Resize tool. Press Done. In the Geometry group, click Resize.

resize  On the Resize panel, uncheck the Preserve Aspect Ratio checkbox. Under Pixels, change your dimensions to 851 wide by 315 tall. Press Done.


As the in-focus element of my photo is located on the left, right where the Facebook profile photo sits, I am now going to flip the image. Under Geometry tools, go to Flip. Select Flip horizontally.

There we go. We’ve got a cover page ready for upload. What’s the fastest way to get that sucker to Facebook? Right from the ACDSee application, actually. Press Done on the Flip panel. Press Done again on the Edit mode panel. Save when prompted. Open Manage mode. Above the File List pane, select the Send menu.


Under the Send menu, choose To Facebook…


On the Facebook Login window, enter your Facebook login credentials. Once logged in, you will see two options at the bottom of the window. Choose Upload photos to an existing album, then select Cover Photos from the drop-down menu.


Press Upload. After your image uploads, select View in Facebook. Facebook will open in your internet browser. Navigate to your profile. Hover your cursor over your current cover photo and choose Change Cover. Select Choose From My Photos in the drop-down menu. It should show your photo as a recent upload. If not, navigate to your Cover Photos album and select your freshly uploaded image. Once the image has loaded, if you mouse over your cover photo, you will see Drag to Reposition Cover, but that will not be necessary as your photo is already the exact size of the area.

Ta da!


Your options are pretty darn infinite:






fb_option7Or even:


And so on and so forth. Give it a try. I think you’ll find a special sort of joy in experimenting. You can re-purpose mediocre or even bad photos, and in the long run, your friends think you are an artiste.

For example, this:


came from this:



If you’re spending a lot of time adding the same develop settings to more than one image, that’s kind of lame. (Don’t worry. It’s not your fault.) You don’t have time for that. Besides, if there’s a scenario where you need to add precisely the same settings to several photos, you could be wasting your energy writing these settings down and applying them to each photo individually. Don’t do that.

You can save your develop settings as a preset and then apply the same adjustments to additional images. Presets allow you to quickly apply changes to an image without having to repeat the steps each time you want to apply the same change.  You can create a preset with one or multiple develop settings. You can apply as many presets as you want to an image. Each time you add a preset, the settings are applied on top of the previous settings.

In each of the groups in Develop mode, (Lighting, Soft Focus, Crop, etc), there is a Develop Settings button. Settings Under the Develop Settings button, there is a menu item called Save Preset. Selecting Save Preset will save all of the settings that you have made in that group alone.


Enter a name for your preset and press OK.


You can now find your saved preset on the Develop Settings menu in that group.This is the only place you can find and access this saved preset.


At the top of the pane, there is an additional Develop Settings button which allows you to save and access presets relevant to all of the changes on that pane. In other words, if you are on the Tune tab and say, you make some changes to the White Balance group, the Soft Focus group, and the Lighting group, you can use the Develop Settings button at the pane level to save all of those changes as one preset.


access_tab_savedAccess the saved preset using the same Develop Settings button at the top of the pane.

Lastly, for global develop presets, access the Develop Settings button at the top of the Develop Tools panel. The presets that you save under this button include the changes you’ve made under the Tune, Detail, Geometry, and Repair tab.


Once you have made all of the changes you would like to make on all of the Develop tabs, click the Develop Settings button and select Save Preset. On the Save Develop Settings Preset dialog, select which settings you would like to include and exclude from the preset you are saving. (This gives you complete freedom to add as much or as little of the settings to other photos or batches of photos.) Then enter a name for your preset and click OK.


This preset will be available for you to apply to multiple images at once in Manage mode, for maximum time-saving awesomeness.

To apply your preset to one or more images, select the images in Manage mode. Right-click and select Process | Apply Preset | <name of your preset>.


ACDSee Pro will now apply your preset to the selected images.


And bam! Now you know how to process huge batches of photos in a snap.

A lot of us are on a budget. We don’t have the money to splurge on expensive lighting or props for our still life photography. However, Alex Koloskov has put together a video outlining how you can spend $30 on a dimmable  LED light bulb and rig it to mimic expensive studio lighting. Check it out. koloskov

One minute it’s sunny…The next, it’s rainy… Sounds like spring to me! I found some interesting tips on how to capitalize on the season in order to get truly striking and unique spring landscapes. Check it out!

Spring-landscape-photography-tips-5-bluebells©Colin Varndell

If you’ve been cruising around ACDSee/ACDSee Pro, you’ve definitely come in contact with the File List pane. You know, that place in the middle of Manage mode with all of the thumbnails of the images in the folder you’re currently viewing?

From time to time, you’re going to come across what we call “overlay icons” on these thumbnails. These icons let you know relevant info about your photos at a glance.

Navigating the Complex World of Overlay Icons:

Ok, it’s not actually complicated at all. I just wanted to make it sound cool. Some icons are just to let you know stuff, whereas others are interactive. So, let’s break it down:

If your file displays a little red speaker, sound2 the file has embedded or associated audio. If the red speaker looks like this:sound1 , then that means you clicked the regular speaker icon and now the sound is playing at this very moment! (Just relax; it’s only sound. You’re not a chinchilla.)

A number on your thumbnail is the rating. You must have rated it at some point. If you want to rate your photo, do this: rating_process

A colored bar across the bottom of the thumbnail is a color label. If you want to assign your photo a color label, do this: color_label_process

If you see an adorable blue hamburger icon on your thumbnail, database that’s the Embed Pending icon. It appears if your file has ACDSee metadata stored in the  ACDSee database, but it hasn’t been written to the file yet. Metadata like what? Like you added a color label or rating, etc. To get rid of that icon, you can either embed the metadata, (write the metadata to the file), or clear the icon. For the former, right-click the thumbnail and select Embed ACDsee Metadata. For the latter, right-click the thumbnail and select Clear Embed Pending Flag. This gets rid of the icon, but doesn’t write the metadata to the file.

The file format icon lets you know what kind of file you’re dealing with. It doesn’t do much else, but if you left-click it, you’ll get a display of the file information, image attributes, and EXIF metadata summary on the File tab of the Properties pane. You can also get to this by left-clicking on the Embed Pending icon. file_tab

The icon that looks like a green label you’d find on a Christmas present categorize is to represent a file that has been categorized. You can left-click this icon to open the Categories section of the Organize tab on the Properties pane to identify/edit/whatever the category.

This eye getting rudely covered up by a postage stamp is the icon that tells you that that file is stored in an offline device: offline

The Don’t Play icon, (for all you Uno fans) excluded, represents files excluded from the ACDSee database.

The orange square with a checkmark represents a file that has been tagged.tagged To tag a thumbnail, click this: untagged1

The turquoise Ouija board planchette geotag means that your file has been geotagged. To investigate, left-click it to open the Map pane.

This purple rotate symbol appears if the file has been automatically rotated.rotate Left-click this symbol to rotate the image permanently and update the EXIF information.

The half moon represents a developed file, developed-16x16 (as in, you made changes in Develop mode).

And the blue crayon edited tells you that you have edited the file, (in Edit mode).

Overlay Icon Visibility:

If you’ve got some kind of beef with the overlay icons, — maybe overlay icons insulted your mother, — you don’t have to look at them. You can decide if you want them visible, visible in color, or if you just want specific ones in color.

At the top of the File List pane, click View | Toggle Overlay Mode to control the visibility and color. Toggle through the available modes with this ] key.

Alternatively, click View | Highlight Overlay to select which icons appear in color. Toggle through the modes with this [ key.

For more control over overlay icons, such as whether individual icons are displayed, go to Tools | Options. In the Options window, under File List, choose Thumbnail Info.

There! Not so complicated. Now you know what is up with those little icons on your photos.


As in, who knew they could be this accessible?  Well, if you did, you’re a smarty pants. Or, y’know, you already learned about them… But for those of you just getting started and feeling daunted by this weird graph thingy (“I don’t do math!”) and what it’s saying about your photo, Rick Nunn has come up with a very simple explanation to quell your fears.



That’s “nerd face”. Now you know.

To all you speed demons, it may surprise you to know that a number of ACDSee commands have predefined keyboard shortcuts. These exist in Manage and View mode. This is to help you work quickly and efficiently, and to feel awesome as you look like a genius from a 90s hacker movie. I’m serious — the more you can get done using only the keyboard, the more people assume that you’re on top of things, a master, a ninja, etc. If the predefined presets aren’t enough for you and you want to maximize how little you have to touch your mouse, you can assign keyboard shortcuts to more commands. Or, if one of the existing shortcuts just doesn’t feel right to you/is cramping your style, you can assign a different keyboard shortcut as desired.

Some commands, such as Open and Copy, are available in both Manage mode and View mode. You can use the same keyboard shortcut for these commands in Manage mode and the View mode, or you can define different shortcuts.

So if you want to customize keyboard shortcuts, access the customize panel one of the following ways:

  • In Manage mode, click View | Toolbars, and then select Customize.
  • In Manage mode, click the drop-down arrow, located to the right of the Main toolbar or File List toolbar, and then select Customize.


  • In View mode, click the drop-down arrow, located to the right of the bottom toolbar, select Add or Remove Buttons, and then select Customize.


In the Customize dialog box, click the Keyboard tab. From the Category drop-down menu, select a menu item, like File, Edit, or View. When you select a menu item, the command associated with that item will show up in the Commands list box. This is where you select the command that you want to assign a shortcut. If a command has a shortcut already assigned to it, it will display in the Current Keys box.


If a keyboard shortcut has not been defined for that command, the Current Keys box will be empty.

If you want to remove an existing keyboard shortcut, select the keyboard shortcut in the Current Keys box, and then click the Remove button.

If you want to assign a shortcut to a command, make sure you have the command selected in the Commands box. In the Press New Shortcut Key field, type in the shortcut you would like. Text under the field will let you know if the keyboard shortcut you’re trying to assign is already being used by another process or available.


When you find a combination that works, click the Assign button.

If you’re feeling like you just need to wipe the slate clean, you can remove all custom keyboard shortcuts and restore the default keyboard shortcuts by clicking the Reset All button.

Click Close and you’re done. Now you know you can have your looking-cool-and-being-efficient cake and eat it too!

I don’t want to shock you, but there is definitely opportunity for your content to get ripped off on the Internet. Your amazing photo is just innocently sitting there on some site, minding its own business, then BAM! Stolen by a jerk! Not only is it stolen, but it’s re-posted without credit, perhaps even accredited to someone else.  A lot of time and effort went into making that photo the beauty that it is. Can your photo ever find its way home again? Not easily, if ever. Because of this phenomena, many artists watermark their images so that the whole world knows where they came from.

So, let’s walk through how you can add a watermark to your images. For this, you will need your name or logo as an image file, preferably with a transparent background.

In Manage mode, select the image you want to watermark, and click Edit mode. In the Add group, select Watermark.


Click Browse to find your watermark image. To stand in as my logo, I will be using this weird wee dog as the watermark for my photography business *wink wink*, Tiny Dog Photography.


Drag the image to your desired area and resize as you like by dragging the marquee handles. Select Maintain aspect ratio when resizing if you want to resize the watermark image without distorting it.

If your watermark doesn’t have a transparent background, choose Apply Transparency. Then click the color in the watermark that you want to make transparent, or enter the RGB value.

Select an option from the Blending Mode drop-down list to specify how you want the watermark to blend into the underlying image. For this, you’ll just have to experiment with what looks best for your watermark.


Lastly, select your opacity level using the Opacity slider. This will determine how subtle you want your watermark to be. When satisfied, select Done and save your changes.


To Add a Watermark to Series of Images at One Time:

Adding a watermark to one image at a time? Nobody has time for that. You can use Batch Edit to add your watermark to as many images at once as you want.

In Manage mode, select the images.


Go to Tools | Batch | Batch Edit. In the Batch Edit window, in the list on the left, click Watermark to see the watermark options. Now, it’s important to note that this is not the same as clicking the checkmark next to Watermark. You have to select the word “Watermark” to see the options, then select the checkbox next to it to say, yes, I actually want a watermark.

Once again, browse to find your watermark image. If the watermark does not appear on the preview, click the Position & Blending tab and then click back to the Image tab.


Configure the checkboxes on the Image tab as mentioned above. On the Position & Blending tab, you will find your Blending Mode drop-down menu, Opacity slider, and Location fields, which allow you to position your watermark precisely using percentage or pixels.


(You can still position and size the watermark by dragging the marquee handles, as well, if you prefer.) You can then use the Image List tab to preview the look and position of the watermark on all the selected images in your batch.

When you are happy with the way the watermarks look, press Next on the bottom of the Batch Edit window. Under the Output Options, you can configure where you want these images to be placed, if you want to change the file names, or file format, etc. Press Next. ACDSee will then apply the watermark to the images and, when complete, you can find them in the location that you specified.

The final step is to share and set free your work as you desire, with a bit more peace of mind!

IMG_7007 (2)

Making sense of f-stops can bring you that much closer to being able to take sharper, more creative photos. This handy f-stop cheat chart can help get you there.IMG_7031

Glen Barrington demonstrates a comprehensive mastery of ACDSee Pro’s develop brushes. He shares that expertise with us in his accessible tutorial on Using Develop Brushes in ACDSee Pro 7.

If you have confusion about the terms “telephoto lens” versus “zoom lens,” then the What is a Telephoto Lens? tutorial is clarity made just for you. : D


Urban Dictionary’s description of Instagram looks something like this:

1. Every hipster’s favorite way to make it look like they take really classy pictures when really they are still using their phones. Yeah, you might look really cute/old school/vintage/retro, but it’s still a cell phone picture.

(I love their other four definitions just as much.)
Now, I’m not going to slam Instagram. It seems to provide everyone with a lot of fun, and if I don’t love fun…Well, what do I love? However, it is an app and it works great with your cellphone pics. What if, though…What if…What if there was a way to hipster your photos, y’know, not on your cellphone. And way better. *cough* I didn’t say that.

Firstly, I should tell you, I have played around with the functions I’m about to mention and they can make ANY photos look cool. I think that’s actually why Instagram is so popular. It makes your crappy pictures look interesting, retro, and artsy. Your bacon and eggs end up looking like you’re at a roadside diner on the interstate, circa 1968, and any moment someone is going to walk through the door and pull you into their frenzied, Tarantino-movie life. When in reality, you were at iHop with your cellphone.

Allow me to demonstrate:





If you like the lame version better, it could be that you’re just missing the hipster gene, and that’s ok. I see enough pictures with filters on my Facebook wall to know that this is a thing that people like. That’s ok too.

So, how do you use ACDSee Pro to make any photo look funky?

Step 1: Find a photo that you think deserves (more) attention. From Manage mode, select the photo and click Edit to enter Edit mode.

beforeNote: You can also hipster non-destructively by using Cross Process in Develop mode. The only down side is that you  will have to add another step to get the vignette effect by using the Post-Crop Vignette tool.

Step 2: (Pssst! You may want to amp up the intensity of the colors in your photo first, but you didn’t hear that from me.) In Edit mode, in the Add group, choose Special Effect. From the list of Special Effects, choose Lomo.

special_effectStep 3: Configure the settings according to the level of desired hipsterism. I feel like a hipster might go for a whole less-is-more thing, but maybe it would depend on their age and how well they’ve come to terms with their own hipster ways. Myself, I prefer being immature, so I’m going to crank the settings way up.

So the Color Distortion slider is exactly what it sounds like, and depending on the color pixels in the image, you may get more blue/purple hues, or yellow/green. The Vignette Strength controls how much darkness curves into the photo from the edges for that bulb-is-about-to-burn-out-in-the-kinetoscope look.
Et voilà!

hipsterifiedWhere did all this come from?

Ok, so we’ve got all these elements coming together. Lomo filters, cross processing, hipsters…Perhaps where they intersect could provide some explanation for the popularity of the Instagram filter.

So back in the days of film, when photographers were hand processing, sometimes through experimentation, or by mistake, they would mix up the chemical solutions that were intended for certain types of film. So, you have chemical solution A, which is supposed to go with film type A. And chemical solution B for film type B, and you end up processing film A with solution B, etc. Perhaps, at first, subverting the norm was enough for these early hipsters, but the concept of intentionally mixing the solutions soon led to art. The resulting photographs are characterized by high contrast and over saturation, creating a sort of hyper reality or dreamlike look. And I don’t mean “dreamlike” as in dreamy. I mean like an actual dream where you’d go on a quest through a blue desert with a talking armadillo as your sidekick. And, like in a dream, some photographed subjects look better and others look worse by conventional standards, but either result is atmospheric, and, some would say, inspiring.

So what about “lomo”? Well, in the 90s, some students in Vienna came across a Lomo camera, a Russian-made analog from the 80s, and began experimenting. They were stoked by the unique results — over-saturated, colorful, — and they formed the Lomographic Society International. This movement is still going strong today and has found a great home on the internet.

Put this all together and I think you’ll find a look that is so popular that Instagram had to get a piece of the pie… but for cellphone pics. But today, you don’t need to be limited to your so-so cellphone pics, or mixing chemicals in your bathtub. We have both destructive and non-destructive solutions in the Cross Process tool and Lomo Special Effect.



From composition to camera settings, these 10 tips can help you capture what you see.

Take advantage of the tempestuous winter weather for the spectacular photo opportunities it provides. Find out how in Bad Weather = Good Photography.


Don’t sweat it!
When you’re in a hurry, or you’re lazy like me, or even can’t see the display because the sun is shining on the screen, you may take some crooked, off-kilter photos. The fanatical photographer who hurts his or her neck and can’t straighten their head, doesn’t have to suppress the urge or throw away the resulting photos. There is a solution. In addition to the usual cropping, rotating, correcting lens distortion and such, you can also straighten photos based on whatever angle you want in ACDSee Pro.
It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
In Manage mode, select the image you would like to correct. Open it in Develop mode. Select the Geometry tab and expand the Rotate & Straighten group.


At the bottom of the Rotate & Straighten group, you will see the Straightening tool button. straighten_button Click this and draw a line across the image to set where the photo should straighten to. Most people choose the horizon or the ground.


The image will flawlessly correct its orientation to your line, making it look like you shot it perfectly right from the start. Press Done, and voilà!



In writing, we use the concrete to get at the abstract. But in photography, perhaps it’s possible to use the abstract to get at the physical. Without a clear view, the imagination has stimulus, but also freedom. Explore your transcendent side with an abstract self-portrait.


For many people, sorting and organizing their photos is a giant chore that inconveniently sits in the middle of their photography workflow. This problem is situated smack in the middle of the joy of taking photos, and the fun of processing or touching them up. The satisfaction of publishing or sharing the finished photos seems like a distant dream. Still, not every photo will be good enough to make it to this final stage, and leaving scores of photos uncatalogued will making finding specific ones an impossible mess later on. Thus, the cataloging, sorting, grouping, organizing, and tagging begins.

Fortunately, ACDSee has included a number of tools to expedite this potentially boring process, and to allow users to organize in the way that feels most natural to them. It’s easy to jump right in and just get it over with. It might even be enjoyable.

Opening and Viewing Your Images:
Getting started in ACDSee is not complicated. You can access the images on your computer directly through the application. There is no need to import, unless you want to grab images off of an external device and add them to your PC. This allows you to get right to the good stuff without any messing around.

Start by accessing your photos. Open ACDSee Pro. In Manage mode, (where the application opens by default), you can use the Folder pane to navigate to your content on your hard drive.


Or, if your images are on another device, such as a CD, DVD, or USB key, insert the device in your computer and choose to Import with ACDSee Pro.


In the Import dialog, you can also perform additional tasks, such as renaming, placing images in subfolders, creating backups, rotating, and more.


Once your images are where you would like them, you can browse them by clicking the desired folder in the Folder pane. Notice that the folders are organized in the same tree structure as on your computer. You can view the contents of your selected folder in the File List pane. For better visibility of a specific image, double-click it to open it in View mode. To view a version of the image that is slightly larger than the thumbnail, but still continue working out of the File List pane, refer to the Preview pane on the lower left side of the window. There you can see a selected image alongside its EXIF information and histogram. To display the image, select the drop-down arrow on the Preview pane. Under Image and Information, select Show Image.


When you open ACDSee Pro for the first time, you are instantly set up with a database called Default.dbin. ACDSee Pro automatically adds file information and thumbnails to the database as you browse. You can add large groups of photos to the database without having to browse them first. This is called cataloging.

To catalog your files, click Tools | Database | Catalog Files. In the Catalog Files dialog, add the folders you want to catalog, and select the information you want to include in the database under the Options section. Click Start.

Categorizing, rating, labeling, or keywording your photos makes it easy to search for specific ones, to refine your collection, and to whittle out the junk. There is no right way to organize your collection; it is entirely defined by your own preference and the system you find the most efficient.

Fyi, ACDSee Pro contains a variety of ways to filter, sort, or group selective content.

Tagging is the most simplistic way of differentiating your photos. Probably the fastest, as well. 

To tag a photo, hover your mouse over the photo and click the box in the lower right corner with the checkmark in it. to_tag When the box is orange, it’s tagged. tagged To untag, just click it again. For speed, you can use the \ backslash key to toggle the tag on or off. You can hold down SHIFT and select a series of images and then just tag one to tag them all. Or you can use CTRL to tag a selection of images.

You can create and assign all the categories you want, which allows you the freedom to completely customize a management system that makes sense to you. 

You can find your categories in the Catalog pane, tabbed with the Folders pane on the left side of the window.

If you don’t see the Catalog pane, go to View | Catalog.

To create a new category, right-click one of the default categories and select New Category. Alternatively, go to Edit | Set Categories | New Category. In the Create Category dialog, select whether to create a top-level category, or create one at a sub-category level of the default category you right-clicked. Give it a name and select an icon from the drop-down list that you feel is relevant. Ideally, you could glance at the icon and know what the category is. However, note that you can’t choose an icon for a category at the sub-category level, as its parent category already has an associated icon. Click Ok.

To manage your categories is incredibly simple. To move it, drag it to where you want it to go. To edit or delete it, just right-click and use the context menu.

To assign a category to an image, all you need to do is drag the category to the image. Or drag the image to the category. That’s it! In fact, if you wanted to mass-assign a category to several images, you would simply select them all and hold down SHIFT, then drag the category to any one of them. You could also categorize several images that may not be all together in the File List pane, by selecting one and holding down CTRL, then selecting the others from wherever they may be. Then follow the same step: drag the category to one of the selected images. You can save a ton of time this way.

Some users may prefer categorizing from the Organize tab of the Properties pane (View | Properties). Select as many photos as you would like and click the checkbox beside the category you would like to assign to them.


To view the photos assigned to a specific category, click the category.


To unassign a photo from a category, right-click the photo and click Set Categories from the context menu. Then, just select the category you want to remove.

Using numerical ratings is probably the most intuitive way for photographers to thin out their collections. By identifying which ones are worth keeping and putting the effort into post-processing, versus which ones may be destined for the recycle bin, saves a lot of time down the road. You could rate so that photos assigned a rating of 5 are your best, destined to be shared and celebrated. Photos rated with a 4 could require minimal processing. Photos with 3s could need a lot of processing. And so on. But don’t forget that the meaning of the ratings is entirely up to you. Maybe 1s are your gold standard. There’s no wrong way to rate.

To rate a photo, hover the mouse over the photo and click the gray box with the line through it. Select your rating, like so:


Again, use the SHIFT key to select several images and rate them all at once. Or use CTRL to rate a selection.

To remove a rating, follow the same process as rating, but instead of selecting a number, select the box with the diagonal line.remove_rating

Color Labeling:
Color labels are ideal for identifying your images at a glance. You can use different colors to represent different stages of your workflow. They also make your images more easily found in searches.

You can name your color sets, so it’s easy to keep track of which color has which meaning. In the Catalog pane, click the Labels setting button Settings and choose Edit Label Sets. From here you can name and save as many label sets as you want.

To rate a photo, hover the mouse over the photo and click the gray label icon.gray_label_icon Select your color label, like so:


Use SHIFT to select several images and label them all at once. Or use CTRL to label a selection.

To remove a color label, follow the same process as for labeling, but instead of selecting a color, select the gray option. remove_label

Arguably, hierarchical keywords are the most dynamic way to organize your photos. By attaching words to your photos, they become easier to find and organize, and allow photo buyers to find appropriate images. They may even help to preserve some of the memories associated with them. While there are a lot of ways to keyword and keyword efficiently, the following steps include the basics.

To create keywords, open the Organize tab on the Properties pane. If the Properties pane is not already open, go to View | Properties. On the Organize tab, in the Keywords group, right-click Keywords (under the gray table). Select New Keyword. Select what level you would like the keyword to be at, enter the word and press OK. The keyword will be added under the word “Keywords”, (expand the group by pressing the + symbol).


To assign the keyword to one or more images, select the image(s) and drag the keyword onto it/them. An image is keyworded if when you select it, there is a checkmark in the box next to the keyword in the keyword tree.

To create a hierarchy, you can add more keywords using the same method and then just drag the lesser keywords onto the keywords that you want to be the parent.



You can also create a hierarchy without a lot of dragging keywords around. In the keyword field, type the less or more specific keyword, followed by the less than symbol, followed by the greater or more general keyword. Press Enter.

For example: Owl < Birds


The keywords will be added to the tree below. You can easily delete, edit, or manage keywords by right-clicking them in the tree and using the commands on the context menu.


For better shots, get to know the Rule of Thirds.


4yygd Lately I had a fun night playing butchering ping pong. Yet, now I have all these photos with a lot of quick movement and low lighting. This got me thinking — are these pictures useless? What if I want to make the most of them? Do photography tutorials always have to use “good” photos and then make them “exceptional”? What if I wanted to make a so-so, borderline crappy photo “decent”? Or at least not destined for the recycle bin.

So here we go. A tutorial for the every person! The every day Joe or Josephine who isn’t a professional photographer but still wants to make something of those hasty shots snapped in the dim light. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this is an experiment, so come along for the ride, and let’s see what can be done.

The Original:

This is a cute picture of my friend, Emma, juggling. If I’m being honest, I’d confess that I know right away that this photo is never going to be sharp. But there are some steps I can take to make sure that she still looks good….recognizable. I kind of like working with imperfect images because the expectation is lowered. You can almost get away with going somewhere unconventional with it. I don’t believe in a single beauty standard.


Ladies and gentlemen, start your ACDSee Pro engines!

Reduce the Area:

The first thing I think I’m going to do is crop the image because I want to reduce the overall area that I have to make look decent. So, in Manage mode, I select the image and click the Edit mode tab (top right). I then go to Crop in the Geometry section. Personally, I only mess with the exact dimensions if I have some final destination for the image, like a Facebook cover photo, for instance. It’s easier to just click the Constrain cropping proportion checkbox and then drag the window around on the image. So the part inside the guides is what you will be keeping after you click Done. (The darker area outside the guides is the part that gets the boot, so choose wisely.)


Overall Noise Reduction:

Next, I figured I should remove noise from the whole image. For those of you that don’t know, noise is the weird speckled pixels that make up areas of photos that should be a solid color. Noise tends to occur in photos with low lighting, or with over-sharpening. To reduce noise, just go to the Detail group of Edit mode, then click Noise. Here you’ve got a bunch of options, depending on what sort of noise you have. In this case, I just stick to Hybrid and reduce the Strength slider ever-so-slightly. It’s a delicate balance because noise removal can also smooth out the photo so much that it looks unnatural and works against you in the sharpness department.

Edit Brush and Lighting:

So, obviously, we need to sharpen this stuff up and add a variety of lighting changes and such. But taking on the whole image is pretty ambitious. I want to keep it simple and make her and her ping pong balls the central focus. In order to perform edits to just her and not the background, I’m going to make use of the Edit Brush. So, I’m going to start with lighting. Open the Lighting group in the Exposure/Lighting section and click the Brush button at the top of the panel. It looks like this: brushes

Then I brush a mask all over her. And her balls. Select the Show brush strokes checkbox so you can actually see where the brush strokes are without changing any of the Lighting settings. Or, to save time, toggle the S key.


This will now be the area affected by the tool that I’m about to apply. I want to darken the background to put the emphasis more on Emma. But you brushed her, you say. Well, my friend, we have a dynamic, time saving friend in the Invert Brush button. invert_brush


So now all the adjustments made will apply to the background, unless I switch it back to Emma. At this point, it’s a good idea to turn off the Show brush strokes checkbox so you can actually see the changes as you’re making them.
So, I added some darkening via the Darkening slider, and increased the intensity with the corresponding Amplitude slider. Now I want to lighten her, but, since I’ve applied darkening, if I invert the brush again, Emma will become the one darkened. So, I press Done. Then I enter back into the Lighting tool, open the brush panel again, and press the Load last applied brush strokes button. load_last_applied So now, I can apply brightening to Emma alone. You can click directly on the image and drag up and down to brighten or darken, but this time I just stuck to the Brightening slider.


Now for color! Open Advanced Color in the Color group and click on the brush button once more. I load the last applied brush strokes and invert them to work on the background. Using the Saturation and Vibrance slider, I desaturated the background a little bit — maybe negative 10 or so.


To further put the emphasis on her, I’m going to blur out the background a little bit. Once again, I load the last applied brush strokes and invert them so that the blur will apply to the background. This time I’ve decided to try going with Gaussian blur and only add a value of 49 to keep it looking natural.


Sharpen It Up:

It is now time to sharpen her. Personally, I find sharpening one of the trickiest functions in photo editing. Often times, when you over-sharpen you introduce or reintroduce noise back into the photo. It’s also a struggle with this image in particular, as there aren’t a lot of edges for the tool to utilize. In this situation, I’ve cranked up the Amount slider and tempered it with the Mask slider, which allows for the targeting of edges. I also take the Detail slider all the way up to max, as it suppresses the halo that happens around the edges, making the transition between blur and …not-so-blur a bit of a slap in the face. I put the Threshold at 15 and the Radius at just 10.

Quiet Down:

Now, let’s see if we can get any results by going back to the Noise Reduction tool. For this, I’m going to brush on a new mask to target just the really noisy parts of her arms, rather than washing out her face all over again.
Once again, I went with Hybrid. I backed off on the Luminance slider to try to remove noise but keep some of the shirt’s texture.


A Brush for the Details:

In a last effort to get some more sharpness, I’ve gone in with the Detail Brush on the Sharpen setting.
The Detail Brush can be found in the Detail group and allows you to selectively sharpen or blur. The difference between using this versus using the Edit brush in the Sharpening tool is that with the Detail Brush, you can go over and over an area and it will just keep sharpening (or blurring, if you are using the blur). It will add sharpness until the cows come home. Using the Edit brush, you can only create the mask by brushing over an area once and then adjusting the sharpening settings on that area.

So, I’ve selectively sharpened bits here and there, and made the scarf pop a lot more. But the truth is that this is where it starts to deviate from a natural look. I honestly can’t decide if I like it or not.

Here, let’s let you decide which is best. The one on the left is where I went to town on the Detail Brush. The one on the right has no Detail Brush, and I tried reducing noise on her before sharpening.


(You know when you see before and after photos on the internet and you’re like, “I can’t tell which is which”. That’s when you know that the person behind it has spent far too long staring at it.)
That concludes our experiment. It’s not perfect. But I do feel like I salvaged a nice picture of my friend. Give it a try yourself some time. Remove your expectations and just have fun!
Vote on your favorite in the comments, or let me know what you would do to improve a photo like this one. (Click any photo to see it full size.)


_APO6807Announcement: I don’t ever want to stop learning.  Let’s become better photographers together! *high five*  ISO is a good place to start. Here’s some helpful hints for getting the most out of your ISO setting.

Glen Barrington wrote an epic tutorial on sharpening in ACDSee Pro 7 for… And I couldn’t have said it better myself! Check it out.