Five surprising tips for Apple’s new Photos app

Lesa Snider
30 April, 2015
View more articles fromthe author
AAA
Help

Most of the reporting to date on Apple’s new Photos app logically focuses on getting your pictures into the program, dealing with iCloud Photo Library (the syncing service used to copy all your pictures onto all your devices), the Adjustment panel’s smart sliders, and so on. In this column, you’ll learn a few slick Photos tricks that you may not have read about anywhere else. Read on and prepare to be impressed!

Eight Levels sliders

Photos sports some seriously advanced image editing controls in its Adjustments panel, the most powerful of which is Levels. But wherein a Levels adjustment in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements has just three sliders, Photos’ has eight. This gives you precise control over the brightness levels—hence the adjustment’s name—of allthe tones in your image. For example, you can control brightness levels in just the darkest shadows, just the midtones, just the lightest highlights, in the tones that fall between shadows and midtones, and in the tones that fall between midtones and highlights (and you can control which tones are affect by the latter two using the sliders perched at the top of the histogram).

Plus, you can adjust the RGB histogram — the one that shows the red, green and blue graphs superimposed atop each other — or each colour channel’s individualhistogram. You can also adjust the luminance channel, which produces a histogram based on how our eyes perceive colour. To open a Levels adjustment, open the Adjustments panel, click Add and choose Levels from the resulting menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photostips 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behold, Photos’ eight Levels sliders (one is hidden behind this menu). Of course, teaching you how to use them all is fodder for another column!

 

 

 

Add text to any slide in a slideshow project

Yes, you read that right — you can add custom text to any slide. To do it, activate a slide in a saved slideshow project and click the plus symbol at lower right of the Photos window (not shown). From the resulting menu, choose Add Text. Highlight the placeholder text that appears and enter whatever you want. You can’t change the position of the text, but you can change fonts, size, and text colour using OS X’s Fonts panel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photostips 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Press Command-T to summon the Fonts panel. Using the eyedropper tool in OS X’s Colors panel, you can steal a color that exists in the image and use it for text.

 

 

 

Customise pages in a book project while you’re viewing all the page thumbnails

Happily, you can change page layouts, swap pictures between pages, and add pictures to pages while you’re viewing all the page thumbnails in a book project (in other words, you don’t have to double-click a page to do it). As a result, you get a much broader view of the overall book project than you ever did in iPhoto because you can see all the pages while you’re designing the layout. To swap pictures between pages, click and hold your mouse button until the picture on the page sprouts a blue border, and then drag it atop an image on another page. To move the pages themselves, click to activate them and then drag the handle that appears underneath them (shown below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

photostips 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key to swapping pictures between pages is to keep holding down your mouse button until the picture itself — not the page — is active. Though when you start to drag, the blue border around the image itself disappears.

 

To change the layout of page, click to activate a page and then open the Layout panel by clicking the button circled below. Scroll through the resulting Layout panel to find the layout you want and give it a swift click to apply it. If you’ve got any unused images in your project, they appear in the Unused section at the bottom of the window — just drag a photo onto a page to place it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photostips 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Layout panel gives you quick access to all the page layouts a design theme contains.

Add a custom dark edge vignette

You can easily apply a customisable dark edge vignette to any picture. Just open an image in Edit mode and then click Adjust (or press the A key on your keyboard). Next, click the Add button at upper right and from the resulting menu, choose Vignette. Use the Radius slider to change the size of the vignette or rather, the size of the area over which it’s visible — drag it right to make the vignette bigger or left to make it smaller. Use the Softness slider to control the width of the transition area between what is darkened and what isn’t — drag it right to increase the feather effect, thereby making the transition wider and softer. Click the blue circle with a white checkmark to toggle the vignette off and on to see a before and after.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photostips 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dark edge vignette gives your portrait a classy and elegant final touch, and helps tone down a distracting background. Your author’s kickboxing instructor, Ms Logevall, is pictured here.

Edit a slow-motion video

When you capture a slow-motion video on your iOS device, the footage seems to starts out fast, then it slows in the middle and speeds up again at the end; but that’s not really what’s happening. In the background, your iOS device captures the entire video at a high frame rate (120 or 240 frames per second, to be exact), which is what creates the illusion of slow motion. The iOS device merely speeds up the beginning and end of the video but you can change the timing of that speed-up and slow-down. Open a slow-motion video in Photos your Mac or in Photos on your iOS device and a row of tick marks with two handles appears. Simply drag the handles to mark where you want the action to slow and speed up again. By positioning the handles at far left and right, you can slow the entire video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photostips 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These slo-mo controls appear near the bottom of the screen in Photos for Mac (shown here) or at the top of the screen in Photos for iOS. 

As you can see, Photos has several surprises up its sleeves. Until next time and may the creative force be with you all!

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us