A Commercial Photographer's Guide to Animated Gifs in Photoshop CC | Brian Rodgers Jr. South Bend Commercial Photography

Often times we see animated gifs in the form of humorous animals doing funny things in the context of an email or social media site. However, in this tutorial, I'm covering a more practical use to approaching animated gifs. I'm calling this tutorial "A Commercial Photographer's Guide to Animated Gifs in Photoshop CC."

Depending on your client, it's a safe bet to say that they are not experts in the field of photography. Some clients have a better understanding than others, however, it is our job as commercial photographers to educate our clients. In this tutorial, I will show you an effective way to create animated gifs that visually demonstrate the creative post production processes we endure to create a finished retouched image.


I'm the Guest Blogger on Today! | Brian Rodgers Jr. Commercial Photographer

I wanted to let the readers of my blog know that I wrote a guest blog post for Scott Kelby! So make sure you head over to and check it out!

The Grid: The Path to Inspiration Episode 142 | Brian Rodgers Jr. Commercial Photographer/Digital Artist

Hey everyone! As photographers and artist's, we all need sources of inspiration. We use that inspiration as fuel to ignite our own creativity. What inspires you? Music has been a driving force in the creation of much of my work over the years, even at an early age. There's just something about the feeling you get when listening to music that moves you. When I'm shooting and retouching, I'm always listening to music. I truly believe that for me, it helps shape my images and the mood they create. It's that feeling that drives my creativity. For some reason I can always turn on Oleander's latest album Something Beautiful and get into my creative zone. Great album! And it's really cool to see an awesome band that went away for a while come back with such a powerful record. Check it out!

I just happened to be watching last weeks episode of The Grid. The episode focused on The Path to Inspiration. I am absolutely honored to have been referenced in the discussion for my automotive self assignment (I'm referenced at about 34:20 & 1:03:15) I've been watching The Grid since it first aired and I'm a huge fan of the show. Kelby Media has been such a huge inspiration of mine for a long time.

I just wanted to thank Pete Collins for sharing my work on the air and for posting to the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) member site. I also wanted to thank RC and Mia as well.

What inspires you?

• Check out last week's episode of The Grid!

• Also check out some of Pete's awesome illustrations at

• You can see the automotive self assignment here:

• Recommended listening Oleander Something Beautiful:

Commercial Automotive Photography Retouching Time-Lapse | Brian Rodgers Jr. South Bend Commercial Photographer/Digital Artist


Recently I went out and shot an automotive self assignment. The subject: a Ford Focus Titanium. I think the overall design of the car speaks volumes over it’s predecessors, and I really wanted to capture that in this composite image. I cannot stress enough that self assignments are worth your time. You need to shoot for yourself, not just for clients. It’s the only way you will ever bring out your true vision as an artist.  

The Studio: I used an empty parking lot as my studio for this shoot because I knew that I wanted to build a composite shot of the car in some kind of scene, at the time of shooting, I had no idea what that scene would look like. 


Composition: The composition for this shot was so important! I can’t stress that enough. If you want to get a professional commercial automotive shot, it starts with the composition. I suggest looking at a lot of commercial automotive photography for inspiration. Look at where the light falls on the vehicle. Notice that this front 3/4 shot of the vehicle shows off the design of the car? Notice the interior details? 

The Lighting: I used natural light for the most part. I paid very close attention to where my light was falling on the vehicle. Notice that beautiful horizon line that paints the landscape on the side of the vehicle? How about that beautiful light that kisses the hood of the car?  That was completely intentional. You really have to pay attention to the details on a shot like this. If the car had been positioned in a different direction, the light would have looked completely different. I used a speedlight to light the interior of the vehicle ever so slightly. Even though this shot is primarily an exterior, It’s important to show some interior detail as well. 

The Composite: I had no idea what the background would end up being until I started building it. I shoot backgrounds all the time and keep a library of images that I can pull from on any given day. In the video, you will see me experimenting with some different backgrounds. They all looked pretty good, but I thought the mountain range worked perfect for this shot. The background was derived from the smoky mountains of Tennessee during a family vacation. I shot them years ago, with no intention of ever using the as a background for an automotive composite, in fact I was using a point-and-shoot camera at the time.  With Photoshop and a little creativity, the possibilities are endless! So never throw away your images, you may end up using them as backgrounds someday ;)

Composite side notes: Notice that the background light matches the light on the car? When looking through your library of backgrounds, keep that in mind. Look at the overall direction of light. Also, I knew that when building this composite image, that the foreground would work to my advantage. I had a little cleanup to do on the pavement, but I didn’t have to go out and shoot separate pavement and build a new shadow for the car. I used what I had shot, defined the horizon line of the image, and composited in a background that I thought fit the car. For this shot, I wanted to convey traveling in style. If this image makes you want to to test drive this car, and possibly buy it, this image has served it's purpose.

Until next time, Rock & Roll



Desaturated High Contrast Effect for Commercial Portraits in Photoshop | Brian Rodgers Jr. South Bend Commercial Photography

hidden Photoshop gem: you can use adjustment layers and simply change the blend mode without having to use the adjustment layer for it’s intended purpose.

In this tutorial I will show you how to get that really cool desaturated high contrast portrait look you see in so many commercial portraits. Now keep in mind, this is only one way to achieve this effect. We start by duplicating the layer twice; press Command + J and Command + J again. Select you first copy (should be your middle layer) and press Shift + Command + U to completely desaturate the layer. Change the opacity of that desaturated layer to 40%. Then turn on your top layer (copy 2) and change the blend mode to soft light (Shift + Option + F). Lastly change the blend mode to about 50% opacity. Keep in mind that each image will be a little different. Now, that’s one way to do it, on to tip #2! 

Tip#2, Now we are going to achieve that same effect using adjustment layers and blend modes. This time, start from your base layer and add a black and white adjustment layer above that. Set the opacity of the black and white adjustment layer to about 40%. Now create a curves adjustment layer above that. Change the blend mode of the curves adjustment layer to Softlight (Shift + Option + F). Now set the opacity of the Softlight adjustment layer to around 50%. Boom, same results achieved. 

So what’s the difference between these two methods? Well, by using adjustment layers instead of duplicating your base layer, you are creating a smaller Photoshop file, thus saving hard drive space. If you have a Photoshop file with a few layers, the first method is just fine. However, when you retouching commercially, chances are, your files will be growing Popeye arms in no time. So working smarter in Photoshop can not only save you time (because your files will run and save faster) you will also save money (takes less hard drive space; consuming less storage and working faster puts more money in your pocket). 


Lastly, this is a hidden Photoshop gem: you can use adjustment layers and simply change the blend mode without having to use the adjustment layer for it’s intended purpose. For example, in this tutorial, I didn’t use the Curves Adjustment Panel to modify the curve in any way shape or form. I simply added the adjustment layer, and used it for a blend mode, which is the same as duplicating a layer and changing the blend mode…the only difference is, adjustment layers are much smaller and rarely add to the size of your Photoshop file. Furthermore, you can use almost any adjustment layer in this manner. You can do the same thing with Bightness/Contrast, Levels, Curves, Exposure, Brightness, Hue/Saturation, Color Balance, Channel Mixer, Color Lookup, & Selective Color, I just tend to stick with curves (personal preference). You may notice that I didn’t mention all of the adjustment layers. Here’s why: When you add a Black and White Adjustment Layer, an effect is automatically applied, you can still change the blend mode, but you cannot use the adjustment layer simply for the blend mode. Same goes for the Photo Filter adjustment layer, as soon as you apply that adjustment layer, it applies an effect automatically, thus changing the image before a blend mode is applied. 

There you have it, two 2 tips in one this week! 

Rock N' Roll!

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