5 Reasons Why You Still Need Photoshop

 

Let’s say you’re not interested in compositing or adding FX or inserting text or painting on your photographs. Do you still need Photoshop? Short answer – yes. If so, why?

One Big Reason, Look No Further

One reason alone ends the discussion for me. The single biggest reason is precise localized tone control or dodging and burning with Curves. Nothing but Curves offers as precise control. It can add a special glow into all areas of an image, any one area, and treat different areas differently. I can’t think of anything more useful than that.

But can’t you do something similar in Lightroom (LR) or Adobe Camera Raw’s (ACR) using the six Basics sliders (Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks), in combination with the Adjustment Brush, Graduated Filter, or Radial Filter, even in combination with Color, Luminance, or Depth Range Masks? If close is good enough, yes. If you want to make your images really shine, no.

Is it hard to do in Photoshop? No. It’s easy.

 

1  Open your image in Photoshop.

2  Make a selection.

3  Make a Curves adjustment layer.

4  Double click on the layer mask and slide Feather to the right.

5  Repeat if you want to make a different adjustment to another area of an image.

6  Save your file, when you’re done.

 

If you only use Photoshop to do this one thing, most of your images will improve. I can’t say I use this with every image I process, but it’s close. I can say the number of images I don’t want to do this for is very small. It’s a simple thing really, and I look forward to the day we can do it in Lightroom and Camera Raw.

Go Ahead, Look Further, And Find More Reasons

Want to go a little further? Let’s revisit the question, “Why do you need Photoshop?” Every time Adobe’s Raw processor(s) become more fully featured it is worth asking. Or, you might rephrase it as, “What can Photoshop help me do that Lightroom / Camera Raw can’t do as well?”

Here are five reasons.

 

1  Fine Retouching

2  Precise Masking

3   Advanced Color Adjustment

4  Creative Sharpening

5  Plug-Ins

 

Let me go into a little more detail for each one.


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How To Find The Infinite Possibilities One Image Contains

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Any image can support an unimaginable number of color variations. So how do you find them? Systematically make many variations. Will it take a great deal of time? It will take a little time but not a lot (maybe five or ten minutes) – and it will take less time and you’ll more thoroughly explore the possibilities if you do this systematically. You’ll find this exploration will be time very well spent. Illuminating more possibilities than you imagined will help you find more creative and personally fulfilling solutions for your images. You’ll deepen your understanding of and personal relationship with color thus your images and by extension yourself. Those who view your works will feel the difference. I can tell you from many years of personal experience that it has made all the difference in the world to me. It will do the same for you.

Before you begin …

Start With Your Strongest Image(s)

When you’re processing a number of related images it’s likely that you’ll find the solutions you choose for the strongest image in the set will apply to the others, with minor modifications. It’s rare to have images in a series with widely divergent color palettes.

Plan To Make Many Copies

Don’t try and remember all of these possibilities; there will be too many to remember.

Instead make copies that you can make side-by-side comparisons with. (In Lightroom make virtual copies. Alternately, in Photoshop duplicate files.) It will help if you organize these copies into Collections in Lightroom or organize them (possibly with folders) in Bridge/Photoshop.

Find The Big Picture, Sweat The Details Later

Ditch your perfectionist tendencies – for now. Worry more about the moves you’re making in color that the tools you’re using to make them with. Don’t get lost in the details, instead focus on the big picture. Avoid getting distracted by one exciting possibility.  Instead of rushing to finished results and committing to the most obvious solution too quickly, spend a few minutes exploring more possibilities hoping to find better solutions. More often than not, you will.

So what’s the best way to do this?

Proceed In This Order – Saturation, Luminosity, Hue

With only three elements of color, you wouldn’t think there could be so many possibilities, but the very things that generate them also make finding them manageable. You’ll quickly find the major moves that can be made if you make changes in these three elements in this order – saturation, luminosity, and hue.

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The Art Of Workflow

 

An optimum workflow will ensure you produce the best quality images possible.

 

1. Fine Art Workflow | Download
Create the highest quality master file with this fine art printing workflow.

2. Creating a Master File | Download
How to perform global, local corrections and soft proof your files.

3. File Editing Strategy | Download
How to adjust an image file.

4. Frame Loose, Non-Destructive Crop | Download
Here’s a technique to fine-tune the cropping of your image without using the crop tool.

5. Preflight Checklist | Download
Designed to help you avoid common mistakes before committing to final output.

6. Flexibility | Download
Keep your options open and preserve the flexibilty of your files.

7. Size | Download
Measuring your digital Image

8. High Pass ContrastDownload
Target contrast to contours.

9. Use Screenshots For Notes In Photoshop | Download
Adopt a non-destructive workflow. When you can’t, take notes.

 

When & How To Sharpen – The Creative Image Sharpening Workflow

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When To Sharpen

The vast majority of photographic images benefit from sharpening.
Before you decide how and when to sharpen images, you need to decide why you’re sharpening them.
The goal of sharpening is to enhance detail rendition without producing distracting visual artifacts.
You’ll find many conflicting philosophies and their accompanying strategies for sharpening images. The seemingly conflicting advice can be hard to reconcile.
Should you sharpen once or multiple times? Should you sharpen differently for different subjects? Should you sharpen differently for different sizes? Should you sharpen differently for different presentation material or supplies? Should you view your files at 100% or 50% screen magnification?
Capture source, output device, substrate or presentation device, presentation size, subject, and artistic intention all play a role in sharpening. The characteristics and solutions for many of these factors can be objectively defined for everyone; at least one of these factors, perhaps the most important, your artistic vision, can only be decided individually.
So, if sharpening is a complex subject, how do you simplify your sharpening workflow to one that’s practical without compromising quality?
Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe offer the best advice in their definitive volume on sharpening, Real World Image Sharpening, which I highly recommend you read. Instead of sharpening your images for you, they teach you how to sharpen.
Their philosophy of sharpening is the soundest in the industry, which is why it has been adopted by so many in the industry. They recommend that images be sharpened in a progression of three stages; once for capture sharpening, a second time for creative sharpening, and a third and final time for output sharpening. The objectives and methods of each of these stages vary considerably. When mastered, the whole process can be streamlined to achieve sophisticated results with a minimum investment of time.
Here's a quick synopsis ...
Read more on Creative Image Sharpening here.
Learn more in my Digital Printing and Digital Photography Workshops.


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Many Ways To Convert Color To Black & White

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 There are at many ways to convert an image from color to black and white. Here's a roundup and evaluation of the top seven plus a set of considerations to help you choose the best one for your needs.
1          Desaturate
Desaturate or use the Saturation slider to make all the channels the same without control over the mix. Desaturaton is useful for near neutral images, otherwise it produces compressed tonal structure.
2          Convert Mode To Grayscale
Grayscale conversions eliminate all channels but one. The default mix is 59% Green, 29% Red, 11% Blue. This can be customized by targeting a single channel before conversion, to get 100% of any channel in any color space, including Lab. Quick and direct, this method eliminates future flexibility; its limited use is to create Grayscale images for reproduction but it's not the best way to make a conversion from color to black and white.
3          Channel Mixer
The Channel Mixer set to Monochrome allows you to customize the mix of channels and can be used as an adjustment layer, which allows you to change the mix at any time in the future.


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Seth Resnick's 19 Favorite Quotes


Seth Resnick shares his favorite quotes.
This one’s my favorite from his selection.

“When two dogs fight for a bone , a third dog runs away with it.” – My Father 

Which one is your favorite?

Read all of his selected quotes here.
Find out more about Seth Resnick here.
Learn more in Seth’s D-65 Lightroom Workflow workshops.
Join Seth and I on a Digital Photo Destination here.

Capture Sharpening


Optimal image sharpening is best done in three stages— capture (do it during RAW conversion), creative (do it in Photoshop) and output (automate it).
Capture sharpening benefits all images. It compensates for inherent deficiencies in optical and capture systems. All lenses and sensors have specific characteristics and deficiencies. They don't all have the same characteristics or deficiencies.
To speed your workflow, default settings for a best starting point for capture sharpening can be determined for all images created with the same lens/chip combination and saved for subsequent use. To optimally sharpen an image, you'll need to modify these settings to factor in additional considerations—variances in noise (ISO, exposure duration, temperature), noise-reduction settings and the frequencies of detail (low/smooth to high/fine texture) in an image.


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6 Simple Steps To Good Color Management


Color management is rocket science. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to drive the rocket. Instead, be an astronaut. With a few simple steps you can achieve consistent, high quality color with your images every time.
These are the six simple steps to good color management.
1 – Make Profiled Conversions
Assign an ICC profile to all image files either during Raw conversion or scanning. Use appropriate profiles to make conversions into other color spaces with derivative files only. Minimize the number of conversions made.
2 – Calibrate Your Monitor Using Hardware
Once a month, use a colorimeter to build an ICC profile for your monitor. Minimize the influence of other light sources during characterization. Use the colorimeter’s software to help you set monitor brightness between 90 and 100 and choose White Point D65 and Gamma 2.2. Check the results with know target images afterwards.
3 – Set Good Photoshop Color Settings
In Photoshop’s Color Settings (in the Edit Menu) Set Color Management Policies to Preserve Embedded Profiles and Ask When Opening / Pasting. And, choose a wide gamut device neutral editing space. Start with North American Prepress Defaults and then change RGB to ProPhoto RGB.
4 – Softproof
Simulate the appearance of a print before printing. Go to View : Proof Setup : Custom and choose the profile you intend to print with. Check Simulate Paper Color and choose a rendering intent of either Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric. Make output specific adjustments before printing. Use these adjust- ments only when printing these media.
5 – Navigate Your Printer Driver Correctly
Use Photoshop / Lightroom or your printer driver to manage color – not both. In general, favor using Photoshop/Lightroom as this is the most versatile allowing you to use custom output profiles.
6 – Control Your Environment
Edit and evaluate your images in neutral surround- ings. Minimize the effect of extraneous light sources, such as glare on monitors or backlighting. Evaluate proofs and prints in appropriate lighting.
There’s much more that can be said about each of these topics – but, not much more to do. Take these steps and you’ll be well on your way to achieving consistent, high quality results with your images.
Read more with my color management ebooks.
View more in my color management DVD.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Adobe’s Lens Profile Corrections



Adobe’s lens profile corrections are simply amazing. Lens Corrections automate correction of standard lens distortions, including geometric distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignette. In addition to correcting lens distortions, this feature can also be used to adjust perspective and rotation.
 
Adobe provides support for a growing list of camera manufacturers, camera models, and lenses: Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Samsung, Schneider, Sigma, Sony, Tamron, and Zeiss.
Adobe Lens Profile Creator
If Adobe doesn’t supply a lens profile for your particular lens you have three choices.
First, you may be able to access a lens profile created by another user on the Adobe Lens Profile Creator forum. Find and share lens profiles at Adobe labs. Of course, these lens profiles will only be as good as the creators were diligent about creating them.
Second, you can visually adjust the parameters of an existing lens profile and save the new settings under a new name for future use. There’s plenty of room for user error with this method but it’s more efficient than creating manual corrections from scratch. Expect to check the results frequently when you apply these settings to different types of images.
Third, you can create your own custom lens profile with the free Adobe Lens Profile Creator utility. Download the Adobe Lens Profile Creator at Adobe Labs.Adobe Lens Profile Creator is a utility designed for photographers who want to create custom lens profiles for their own lenses. The process of creating a custom lens profile for your lens involves capturing a series of images of a printed checkerboard pattern with your specific camera and lens, converting that set of raw images into Digital Negative (DNG) file format (using the Camera Raw plug-in, Lightroom, or the free Adobe DNG Converter), and importing the raw DNG images (or JPEG/TIFF images when creating lens profiles for a non-raw workflow) into the Adobe Lens Profile Creator to generate a custom lens profile. If you create new lens profiles, you can share them with the rest of the user community on the Adobe Lens Profile Creator forums, publishing them directly from inside the Lens Profile Creator. These profiles will then be available via new versions of the Adobe Lens Profile Downloader. This is an extended and complex process few photographers will want to go through, but for those using unsupported cameras and lenses worth the time and effort in the long run.
Using Adobe’s Lens Profile Corrections
You can access Adobe’s Lens Corrections in three locations; Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom 3, or Photoshop CS5’s Lens Correction filter. (Lens profile corrections were first introduced in Lightroom 3. To get Lens Profile Corrections in Adobe Camera Raw CS5, you need to download a version that has been updated after the release of Lightroom 3. You can download the latest free update at adobe.com.
It’s far less destructive to make these types of adjustments to Raw files during conversion rather than after conversion. It’s also more flexible. (Use a smart object and reaccess the controls any time by simply by double clicking the smart object.) However, if you want to apply Lens Corrections within Photoshop, after a file has been rasterized, you can use CS5’s updated Lens Correction filter.
In ACR and Lightroom, you’ll find two tabs under Lens Corrections; Profile and Manual.
Under Profile, click Enable Lens Profile Corrections to activate this feature. Using the EXIF data in your Raw file, the software will automatically select the Make (of your camera), Model (of your lens), and the Profile (for that lens). You can use the supplied lens profiles, download a custom profile made by another user, or create your own (manually or with Adobe’s Lens Profile Creator).
Checking Enable Lens Profile Corrections will also allow you to access three sliders –  Distortion, Chromatic Aberration, and Vignetting – for manually fine tuning the results. If you like the results of one correction but not another, you can decrease or increase the effects in one or more of the three fields.
Under Manual, you’ll find controls for visually creating your own lens profile corrections …
Read more on Digital Photo Pro.
Read more in my online lessons.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.