Beyond Global – Refining YOUR Images

I will be offering a class at the Hershey Library on Saturday morning October 13th. Rather than the usual demonstrations of how I made a particular image or used a special technique, this will be a class where your images are the source material. Requirements for participation are that you bring at least three images on a jump drive, including brackets if available, and be willing to have your images used for demonstration. You will be given the final result as a psd on your drive so you can study what was done after the class.

Continue reading “Beyond Global – Refining YOUR Images”

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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.

Image Navigation for Editing

Dragging the image around with the mouse is simply not the best means of being sure you have investigated all of the image content when retouching. This is especially true if you are dealing with an abstract image or looking at a solid tone in a sky with no reference material. Whether you are looking for small dirt or moisture spots on your sensor or just distracting details there is a better and more methodical way to do this.

First, open your image and make the image at least full size (actual pixels), 100% on-screen. Depending on the image you may want to edit at 200%. Remember that at 100% on-screen your image is being shown to you about 3 times the size it will print given a 300 ppi resolution. The really small details may actually be invisible in the final print, or a reduced image for the web, but you will still want to do a thorough investigation. Editing at 100% guarantees that you will see all pixels in their reality.

Press the Home key and the image will automatically position itself so that the upper left corner is shown on the screen. The scroll bars may look slightly displaced as the canvas surrounding the actual image is still there. Move the scroll bars slightly to convince yourself of the image position. Now you can retouch anything in the first section of the image. When you are done press <Ctrl>[Cmd] Page Down and the image will move one section to the right. How many sections will be available will depend on your screen resolution and the image size and degree of enlargement.

When you finish the top “row” the Page Down key by itself will shift the image down one section. The <Ctrl>[Cmd] Page Up keys will move the image to the left one section at a time so you can move back across the second row. As the sections move there is a very small overlap so you will not miss any pixels for inspection. If you need to move in smaller increments to reveal a particular area such as a place where the pixels for editing run off an edge, simply add the Shift key to the mix and the sections will move 10 pixels at a time. Once you have edited the bottom row on-screen you are sure you have seen every pixel in the image.

This keyboard navigation is much more precise than the Navigator or scrolling with the mouse and you get used to it pretty quickly. The keyboard shortcut keys for moving the image within the window are as follows:

Home = Top Left / End = Bottom Right

Page Up = Move up one screen section / Page Down = Move down one screen section

Add <Cmd>[Ctrl] keys and Page Up moves left / Page Down moves right

Add the Shift key to the <Cmd>[Ctrl] key and the movement is limited to 10 pixels