Post Processing in Photoshop

Intermediate to Advanced Post processing in Photoshop

“Great artists don’t just happen, any more than writers, or singers, or other creators,” … “They have to be trained, and in the hard school of experience.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Digital photography has made making a decent image pretty easy. Using ACR or especially Lightroom allows you to render the basic color and contrast of an image very well. But, the primary purpose for which they were created was preliminary global adjustments. Global adjustments are those which address the overall image in terms of color and contrast, but do nothing to address specific issues in smaller local areas. Yes, many of the tools added to ACR and Lightroom were put there to make some of these modifications possible, but the real tool for image polishing is still Photoshop.

Many photographers are satisfied with what they can accomplish with basic raw processing. In some cases it is all that is needed. But the refinements to an image that can push it over the top still require more work. What we are finding when we shoot is the “raw” material (pun intentional) needed to produce a good photograph.

The good news is that Photoshop post processing is really not complicated. The bad news is that Photoshop post processing is really complicated. It is not complicated in terms of the mechanics, but it is complicated in that many of the processes are simply not intuitive. They need to be learned, and that learning is a curve that can be rather steep. That is experience. Like any craft, it requires time to get to know what can be done.

Like anything worth the effort you first need to learn to think in Photoshop. If you take piano lessons you learn scales first, you do not sit down and learn to play a complicated piece of music. In Photoshop you need to learn the scales too. Layers and masks are really not that difficult – the second time. Blend modes and other more exotic tools require more time, just like playing the piano with both hands. Some of the ways to use Photoshop tools, like making selections, are a never ending learning process.

The advantage of knowing how to use the tools and options in Photoshop is the ability to mold an image into something better than what the camera handed you. Some of the techniques are actually pretty simple to use, but first you need to know they are there. Blend modes are like that, and I guarantee you that I can show you in a very short time – like 15 minutes – ways to use them that you will love and use immediately in your processing workflow. Others require deeper thought to apply to your work, but you have to start somewhere. If you don’t know it is out there, you can’t use it.

I will give a presentation to the Hershey Camera Club on May 3rd. The primary topic will be selections, but any presentation in Photoshop always covers larger ground. No technique stands alone. The program is open to the public.

I will present a workshop/seminar on Intermediate to Advanced Photoshop Post Processing on Saturday, May 19th from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Hershey Library. Cost for the program is just $45. The program will include Layers and Masks, Curves, Selections, Blend Modes and much more. I will address controlling the image while avoiding bad practices. There are tools in Photoshop (eraser, burn, dodge) which are simply not worth using as they are not modifiable. Imagine being able to get better results without the pain of backing up in history.

Please email me if you wish to attend so I can inform the library and make appropriate plans for the seminar. Locals can sign up and pay in advance at the library. Learning Photoshop is an adventure, and I hope you will join the experience.

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