Photography Tutorial | How to Straighten a Photo in ACR

I love straight lines, but I’m a crooked shooter and find myself straightening photos all the time. I sometimes choose to straighten photos in Photoshop, but most often I straighten in ACR because I like to begin editing with a straightened photo.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to straighten a photo in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw)

Here’s the original photo:

how to straighten a photo in ACR, straighten a photo in Adobe Camera RAW

As you can see, there are strong lines in this photo but they are a bit crooked. I’m going to choose to make the vertical line of the patio door straight because it’s close to the center of the frame and draws the eye. Also, I think that straightening that line will make the horizontal line of the arm of the couch a bit straighter.

First, I’ll select the straighten tool in ACR. I’ll move the tool to a point on the line I want to straighten (I’m using the vertical line of the door frame), click and drag to a point on the opposite side of the line, and release the mouse. Now I have a dotted line along the line I’m going to straighten and there’s a box around my image. The crop tool is now automatically selected, so I can move the box to get the crop I want.

how to straighten a photo in ACR, straighten a photo in Adobe Camera RAW

Then I will hit “enter/return” to crop and straighten and that’s it. Easy peasy.

how to straighten a photo in ACR, straighten a photo in Adobe Camera RAW

That looks pretty good to me, but if it didn’t I’d just re-select the straighten tool, the box would come back and I could re-draw the line where I wanted it. I could also tweak the image again in Photoshop using either the crop tool or the ruler tool. But really, there’s hardly a need to do that when it’s so easy to just straighten the photo in ACR.

Here’s my final edit after straightening in ACR and doing final edits in Photoshop.

how to straighten a photo in ACR, straighten a photo in Adobe Camera RAW

Photography Tutorial | How to Adjust White Balance in Photoshop ACR

The good thing about shooting in RAW is that you can adjust the white balance and exposure of your images very easily in Photoshop. This is especially helpful when you are shooting on auto white balance, or if you have a tricky lighting situation. Here’s a quick tutorial.

How to Adjust White Balance in Photoshop Using Adobe Camera RAW

Here’s an image I took in on auto white balance (AWB) in a pink bedroom. As you can see by the original, the whole image has a pink hue (and is quite underexposed).

how to adjust white balance in photoshop, photoshop tutorial

There are a couple ways to adjust white balance in Photoshop ACR. You could play with the white balance presets or the temperature and tint sliders.

how to adjust white balance in photoshop, photoshop tutorial

Or, you could select the white balance tool and click on something white or gray in the image.

how to adjust white balance in photoshop, photoshop tutorial

Using this method usually gets me pretty close to a good white balance, so I’ll start here. I’m lucky that the footboard is white here, so I’ll select my white balance tool and click on an area towards the middle of the white area.

how to adjust white balance in photoshop, photoshop tutorial

Okay, that looks a lot better, but now the image is too cool and is still underexposed. I’m going to go ahead and bump up the exposure to +1.05 and then I’m going to move the temperature and tint sliders until the skin tone looks pretty good and the white looks like a nice warm white.

how to adjust white balance in photoshop, photoshop tutorial

Now the white balance looks much better and the exposure looks better too. I didn’t want to remove all of the pink color, but I wanted to make it less pronounced in the image. I think this looks much better.

ACR makes adjusting white balance in Photoshop really easy, right? So, now I’m going to go ahead and open this in Photoshop to finish tweaking the colors and do my final edits. I’m mostly going to add a tone curve for contrast and a little matte effect. Here’s the final…

how to adjust white balance in photoshop, photoshop tutorial

This final edit is also straightened, just for your information. To see my tutorial on straightening in ACR, click here. It’s super easy.

Note: This tutorial is a great reason why you should shoot in RAW if you know you are going to need to make adjustments in post processing. Adjusting white balance on a JPEG image is definitely not as easy as it is on a RAW file. Luckily, it’s just one setting to change in the menu setting on your camera. That way adjusting white balance in Photoshop is quick and easy.

If you like this tutorial, please let me know! Shares and comments are appreciated.

Photography Tutorial | Exposure Triangle

The exposure triangle is made up of Aperture, ISO and shutter speed. Each of these elements need to work together to create a correctly exposed image. When you are shooting in manual mode, you’ll need to control each element of the exposure triangle in order to get the exposure you want.

exposure triangle


ISO controls your camera’s sensitivity to light. You’ll use a low ISO, like 100, in bright light situations and a high ISO, like 8400 in very low light (with no flash). It’s true that high ISO images can be noisy or grainy, but a correctly exposed image taken at at a high ISO will likely be less noisy than an underexposed image at a lower ISO. Depending on your camera’s capabilities, shooting at high ISOs can enable you to capture amazing images in very low light. The below image was taken at ISO 4000 to allow a fast enough shutter speed to keep the image in focus.

high ISO image

ISO: 4000 Aperture: f/1.4 Shutter Speed: 1/30


Aperture refers to the lens opening and is measured in stops of light called f/ stops. At a wider aperture (low f/ stop, like 1.4 or 1.6), your lens is opening is larger to let in more light and at a narrower aperture (high f/stop, like 11 or 22), you lens opens less to let in less light. A wide aperture, such as f/1.8, creates a narrow depth of field and blurred background (called bokeh) and a narrow aperture, such as f/11, creates a wider depth of field where more of the image will be in focus. This image was taken at f/4.5 because I wanted draw attention to the flowers and hands and leave the girl and background out of focus. I then adjusted the ISO and shutter speed to accommodate for the wide aperture.

wide aperture

ISO: 1250 Aperture: f/4.5 Shutter Speed: 1/250


Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the amount of time the camera’s shutter opens to let in light and expose an image. Generally you want a higher shutter speed to freeze time and a slower shutter speed to show motion. For example, when I photograph my moving children I don’t let my shutter speed drop below 1/200 but if I were photographing a girl twirling I might slow my shutter speed to 1/80 to show some motion. Here’s an image that was taken with a shutter speed of 1/1250 to freeze motion. I set the aperture at f/2 with an ISO of 250.

fast shutter speed

ISO: 200 Aperture: f/2 Shutter Speed: 1/1250

As in the above examples, I begin by choosing the one element of the exposure triangle that is most important to me for creating the look I want. If I’m shooting in low light, that element will usually be ISO because I will need a greater sensitivity to light in order to achieve an in-focus image (since I mainly use natural light). But if it’s a sunny day or if I have plenty of light, I look at the conditions, environment and my subject and decide what is most important. Many times aperture is most important because I either want to isolate my subject from the background or I want everything in focus. So I choose my aperture and then adjust my ISO to allow for a shutter speed of around 200 or more. If shutter speed is my priority, I set it as high as I need and then adjust my ISO and aperture using my camera’s light meter.

If you aren’t comfortable shooting in manual mode, you can use your camera’s creative modes to achieve proper exposure while gaining control over the element of exposure most important to you. Try AV (aperture priority) or TV (shutter priority). 

Photography Tutorial | Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds (ROT) is a the compositional idea that an image looks most balanced and pleasing to the eye when the subject or focal point is positioned within one third of the frame.

If we divide our frame into vertical and horizontal thirds, we’d end up with four intersections on which we’d ideally want to place our subject.

Here are a few examples of The Rule of Thirds

rule of thirds, ROTrule of thirds, ROTrule of thirds, ROTrule of thirds, ROTrule of thirds, ROT

The rule of thirds is probably the most popular photographic composition. It is something every budding photographer must learn and practice, and is also widely used by expert photographers. You’ll find this idea practiced in art and graphic design as well.

If you are just starting out in photography, or if you are just learning about composition, the rule of thirds is a great principle to practice. It helps that you can use your camera’s focal points or grid while shooting and Photoshop also has a rule of thirds grid to crop.

In my opinion, the rule of thirds is an important concept to know and master, but it’s not the be all end all of composition. Once you know and understand the rule of thirds, you’ll be able to decide when to follow this type of grid and when to try something a bit different.

Rules are made to be broken, but first you should know why they exist.

Nikky - Great blog post! I love the images you shared too!

Editor - Thanks, Nikky! I hope this photography tutorial is helpful! 🙂

Making Colombian Tamales

Every Christmas, my mother-in-law and her siblings gather to make Tamales Tolimenses, a traditional Colombian food. It takes time. They go to the market to buy fresh chicken, meat and veggies, they clean and prepare the plantain leaves, they grind the cornmeal. They wash and cut until it is time to cook. Then everything is put in pans and pots, boiled and seasoned, cooked to perfection. When the ingredients are ready, they assemble the tamales. It is a labor of love.

But it is more than food. It’s a family, people crowding in and running around, laughter, whiskey, everyone helping where they can. It’s tradition. I wanted to capture this special ritual in photos this year, for my daughters.

I hope that in these photos you can feel a little piece of Colombian culture.

colombian tamal
colombian tamal

A special thanks to my husband’s family for putting up with me and my camera, and for understanding why I wanted to create these photos.

Concha - Gracias Betsy.
Muy bueno tu registro de fotos.

Cecilia - Felicitaciones a mi querida Betsy, por tan bonitas fotos, y por haber seguido todo el
procedimiento de hacer estos tamales, que para nuestra familia es un bonito encuentro,y un agradable momento.
Aunque es un gran trabajo, se hace como algo divertido.
Gracias a todos, especialmente a nuestra fotografa por un trabajo especial,