Photoshop Tips and Tricks – I continuously work on my Photoshop skills and have found some really good videos on YouTube.com from various people that show how to do neat tricks with Photoshop. I’m adept at most things, but need more work on layer masks and channels. Here is a Photoshop page where list things I find during my unending training.
Upgrade to CS5 and Lightroom 3 – I’ve been getting a lot of email from Adobe on upgrading from CS3 to CS5 and from Lightroom 2 to Lightroom 3. On the Photoshop upgrade I noticed that the price was the same for upgrading from CS2 so I could probably wait for one more version before I had to do it. There was a sale in December so I did it. The upgrade went well. I ordered DVDs for both upgrades. The annoying thing about the CS5 upgrade was that it was installed from the DVD then it checked on the Adobe site for upgrades and installed the entire program again! I guess they want you to install using the Internet… Another good thing was that all the file structure and previous Lightroom files migrated from version 2 to 3 without any problems. Here are some of my impressions.
Lightroom 3 – The feel of the program is exactly the same as the old one. One big improvement is the dialog box for importing photographs. This has been greatly expanded, has more options, yet is easier to use. You can see where the backup will be made and where the photos will be copied. By the way use the “Copy” setting at the top of the screen. Using “Move” erases the file in the original location. I like to do that myself when I’m ready. A small confusing item is that you only need to give the picture file location. I added the subfolder 2011 for this year’s photos and it added another 2011 layer into the 2011 subfolder I already had.
Another small change is that you are asked to back up the files after you finish your session instead of before you start. I always backup the Lightroom files and had to wait 5 minutes before I could do any work. When you are leaving Lightroom seems like a better time to back up files as you are leaving anyway.
Photoshop CS5 – There have been many changes to CS5 that are readily apparent. One great thing is that the Adobe Bridge CS5 is greatly enhanced as well and I like it a lot better. Bridge is a great way to look at your files as they are organized in your folders. I didn’t use Bridge with CS3 very much (especially after I got Lightroom 2), but I think I will be using Bridge CS5 to look at metadata on the photos. Here are some of my impressions.
Photoshop CS5 has a new healing brush that uses the context of the photo to make corrections. This has been mentioned in the ads for CS5 and this is a great improvement, but as with any of the healing brushes it works really well in some areas and not so well in others. I had a great photo for a test of this new feature you can see below. We were going up the gondola at Lutsen and I took a picture of Eagle Mountain in the distance, but the gondola cable was in the way.
My first try was to do the entire cable at one time with the healing brush, but this didn’t do a very good job of the sky so I did the trees first. It’s always better to zoom in and make the size of the circle as small as possible. This did a great job as you can see in picture 2. The only thing that it changed was the tree at the very bottom. I did the sky next with a slightly larger circle diameter and it left some undone areas as you can see in picture 3. If fixed up the tree and the sky manually as you can see in picture 4. Overall, a big thumbs up. The sky is easy to do anyway, but the trees and building would have taken a lot of time. Click on the picture for a full resolution view of this work.
Another big change in Photoshop CS5 is the improvement to HDR, now called HDR Pro. An issue with digital SLR cameras is the lack of dynamic range. At least you know about this when you take the picture because you can look at your histogram. Normally, you have to choose the highlights or the shadows. HDR has always held out the promise of being able to take multiple images shot at different exposures and combine the highlights and dark areas into one image. I could never get the HDR feature in CS3 to work well, but CS5 seems to have improved this although I doesn’t give the result that I would expect to see.
Here is a photo the Old St. Joseph’s Chapel at St. Norbert’s College. It is difficult to get the interior of the church and the stained glass windows at the same time. For HDR, it is recommended that you shoot your photos 2 stops apart. Since I knew the interior was generally uniform in exposure I took one of those and then I increased shutter speed (not aperture) until I had the windows properly exposed. HDR Pro has a number of features. I like the HDR effect, but reduced it here.
Photoshop CS5 has a number of other features that I have yet to explore. There is a direct link to Adobe Bridge that could be useful, although I generally edit directly from Lightroom. Open photos are displayed at the top of the viewing area which makes it easier to switch between photographs, for example when I made up the content aware sample above.
Other versions of Photoshop have many warping techniques. CS5 has added “Puppet Warp” to the other warping methods. This is more complex to use, but allows you to pin certain areas and move others. One example is to keep a horizon level by pinning it and adjusting other areas. On youtube.com there is an example of moving a snake around a person using Puppet Warp. The key to start using Puppet Warp is that you have to separate the object you would like to warp from the background. Puppet Warp needs to have an empty area around the item to be warped. Interestingly, you can warp the object over itself by choosing whether a pin is in front of or behind the image.
Interesting Photoshop Items
Using the Clone Tool. Sometimes you need to get a line or edge exactly lined up for the clone tool. When I press the “Alt” key and right-click for the location to copy from I noticed that is makes a bull’s-eye mark. When you let go it goes back to the round marker so it difficult to get the exact copy to location. If you hold down the “Alt” key (don’t right-click) you can set up your copy to location exactly. Release the “Alt” key and copy.
Using the Healing Brush. I use a combination of the healing brush and the clone tool to retouch photographs. The healing brush is great and generally makes a good selection to repair damage. I found that if you try to heal a long scratch the healing brush doesn’t do a very good job especially if the background under the scratch changes. To solve this, use the healing brush in sections where the background is similar in each section.
Here is a web site with a full listing of CS3 shortcut keys. I like the “[ ]” for increase decreasing brush size. Ctrl 0 (zero) for fit to window, Ctrl A for select all, Ctrl D for deselect all.
Puppet Warp – Using Puppet Warp in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Awesome Eyes in Photoshop - I have already mentioned this previously and it works well in both color and black and white. You need to be careful not to overdo this. Actually you need to be very careful with any corrections to people.
Create Harry Potter Style Text - This is a great exercise on how to use styles with the text layer.
Virtual Weight Loss - Sometimes you need to reduce some areas in a photo and this shows you how to do it. It is an extreme example using the “liquefy” tool.
Fake Depth of Field - It’s difficult to make things blurry areas sharp, but it is pretty easy to make sharp things blurry! Here is a way to simulate depth of field. There are many opinions about Photoshop modifications, but I’m not averse to changing things in Photoshop as long as they look natural!
Vibrance vs. Saturation - Saturation increases the intensity of all colors while vibrance increases color intensity while leaving skin tones the same.
Another great video series on YouTube is by Tim Grey at timgrey.com. He does a great job of explaining exactly what he is doing on each step. You can get a free daily Photoshop tip by subscribing Signing up for the free “Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter.” Here are some of his videos on YouTube. You can see all of Tim Grey’s videos on YouTube here.
Intro to Selections - Selections are an essential skill to master in Photoshop because adjustments only apply to selected areas.
Layer Mask Blending - Tim Grey puts a new sky in a picture and reviews how to refine the edge of a selection to make the transition look natural.
Copyright Text in Batch – Adding copyright text to your photos can be tedious. Tim Grey shows how to do this with multiple sized photos in a batch process. I modified the actions to add a black border around my pictures and put white text on the border.
Black and White Conversion – I thought that black and white conversion of your color photos was strictly based on the luminosity of the image. (Thanks Jackie!) Photoshop allows you to adjust the darkness of each color value to create great black and white conversions. Tim Grey shows how to adjust the darkness right on the photo.
The Complete Guide to Night And Lowlight Photography / Michael H. Freeman ¶¶¶
This book has a lot of information about low light photography and is a great reference book on programs that correct noise and color errors. I got this book to find out about high dynamic range (HDR) photography where photos of different exposures are combined to make an image with higher dynamic range. I found that this area is not well developed. Photoshop CS3 seems to do a poor job of it.
Photoshop Restoration & Retouching / Katrin Eismann ¶¶¶
I’m always interested in tips on how to retouch photos since this comes up occasionally and it’s always good to know more. Katrin Eismann has many practical tips on how to correct many different items and this is a good reference for this type of work.
Exploring Photoshop CS3 / Annesa Hartman, Ken Sholar ¶¶¶
I’ve been looking for a good Photoshop book and this one is pretty good. I find I learn snippets of information from each book that I read on Photoshop and I learned a few interesting things here.