Adobe Photoshop--Observations, Questions & Stuff

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I have noticed that there are very few postings on this site re: Adobe Photoshop manipulations of images--which is perhaps good.

I have just finished another photoshop class & perhaps know a little bit more but..... . It is mind taxing if you are not a nerd or if you do not utilize Adobe on a constant basis, imop. I also feel it is more usefull if one is into color rather than traditional bw.

For my work, which is 99% bw as a fine art, I really do not utilize Photoshop as I do my work in the traditonal darkroom--I may use photoshop manipulation for sending images (snaps) via email but that's about it.

So where are the rest of you re: photoshop???? I have a digital snap camera, scanner, read reviews, attempt to keep current in the profession and on occasion wish for this & that and wish I had a more talent re: manipulation. I still plan on utilizing Adobe for this & that but that's about it, for now.

Do you have particular suggestions for a very good Adobe book which is a cut above the rest if one is a "dummy"? I have utilized the "Adobe classroom in a book".

Obviously, if one were a commercial shooter, digital is where its at.

-- Raymond A. Bleesz (bleesz@vail.net), April 12, 2002

Answers

A slight detour to your question, but check out Norman Koren's web site, particularly: http://www.normankoren.com/makingfineprints.html#Imageditor for alternatives to PhotoShop. I too have been frustrated with trying to learn and use PhotoShop -- a memory hog and full of tools that are for graphic artists rather than photographers. Yes, PhotoShop is an industry standard, but for non-commercial users it is overkill and I don't use it for my day job. Norman uses and recommends Picture Window Pro from Digital Light and Color. The author is Jonathan Sachs who developed Lotus 123. It's made for photography, and it's "professional" version only costs $90.

-- Donald Brewster (dpbrewster@prodigy.net), April 12, 2002.

I don't use PhotoShop. I consider it too expensive and over-bloated with graphic arts features I really don't need for straight photography. So I use an unsung program called Picture Window (see http://www.dl-c.com/) which is designed expressly for photoediting and works more directly with photographic metaphors (it even has a color to b&w function that allows you to simulate the effect of placing colored filters over the lens). It also costs about $100.

I really don't want to establish a wet darkroom in my house for a variety of reasons. So an Epson 2450 scanner and 1270 printer do the job for me at an amateur level. The scanner reopened medium format and newly opened large format photography for me, and so far I've been happy scanning both color (6x6) and b&w (4x5) and printing them on the printer. I feel that at my stage of development I can make prints that are far better than any I could ever make in a wet darkroom, although I will concede that, especially with black and white, a master printer can, at this point in technology, make better prints than are possible with inkjet media. The electronic technology keeps getting better and better, though, and by getting myself skilled at digital image manipulation, I will be ready to go when that is not the case anymore. That is my take on it. I would, however, be sorry to see film go and with LF I think it will be quite awhile before that happens given the expense of digital equipment.

-- Tony Galt (galta@uwgb.edu), April 12, 2002.


Raymond,

Some of my opinions and experience:

I think that the easiest way to learn how to use Photoshop is to play. That's how I've done it. Create a big, blank file, add a photo, and create something that you think is funny.

I like to move/change/add/remove things such as trees, cars, shadows, text, etc. Changing the wording of signs can be a challenge, especially if I need to correct the perspective (I once had to add logos to about a million products for an ROTC web site). The techniques that I discover in creating these weird images are very useful when I'm touching up photos and/or building web sites.

A long time ago I created a folder called "silly" on my computer. It is perhaps the most useful folder that I have. It has sub-folders and tons of experiments. Files currently in this folder include a test of a layers technique, a futuristic design for a web site, a carefully-planned ad campaign for a central-American country, an examination of the history of designs of American transportation, and tests of techniques to use with Macromedia Flash. Sometimes, I may open the folder and play around with things that strike my fancy. I recommend this approach.

One thing that I think is important to remember when learning to use Photoshop, is that you really can't break it. Go ahead and push all of the buttons and see what they do. Change settings, invert this and that, play with all of the tools... If, somehow, you manage to make it very hard to use, you can reinstall the program.

Life's short. Have fun!

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), April 12, 2002.


I use it on a daily basis and have since version 1.0 (quite a few years). To be honest with you, there are alot of good books on the subject RE Photoshop and you will learn numberous things from different books. I too believe in just fooling around with it or take some more courses. If you have specific questions, email me here or at scotlynn@shore.net. Cheers

-- Scott Walton (walton@ll.mit.edu), April 12, 2002.

Try Adobe Photoshop 6.0 for Photographers by Martin Evening (Focal Press, 2001). It is a pretty good, well written --i.e. a maximum of understandable English and a minimum of geekspeak-- guide to what you can do with Photoshop, also a a very well written explanation of various Color space(s), calibrating your work flow so what you see on your film, what you see on your monitor, and what you see in your output, matches; as well as what the various tools can do. It is also loaded with good illustrations to help you grasp the concepts being discussed. From the point of view of a commercial photographer, the underlying photography is also very good.

Now how do I use Photo Shop/ Much as I would a darkroom either in color or B&W: dust busting, cropping, dodging & burning, and sizing for specific needs.

I agree with the point that the full powered version of Photo Shop is a huge, and hugely complex machine and is as much overkill for non-commercial photographers as would be using a Sinar P2 for backpacking nature photographers. That is why Adobe makes the "lighter weight" Photoshop Elements program.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), April 12, 2002.



Underscore off?

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), April 12, 2002.

This time?

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), April 12, 2002.

Photoshop 7.0 should be shipping in the next week or two. Books updated for PS 7.0 should follow shortly after (the authors have had the beta pre-release of PS 7 for months). You might want to wait for the updated books, although most of the material in PS 6 books is still valid.

I have found the "Real World Photoshop" book to be most useful.

-- Michael Chmilar (chmilar@acm.org), April 12, 2002.


Though I still wholeheartedly embrace every aspect of traditional photographic processes, I absolutely love the tools I have at my disposal in Photoshop. I used to have the light version, but bought full 6.0 once I had the funds because for what I do, Photoshop LE just doesn't cut it. I pretty much learned by doing, as well as reading some reference material, but more than anything else what has helped me has just been playing around with files making simple goals for myself like editing poles, wires, etc out of photographs. The more used to it you get, the easier it is to do more advanced thigns. Kind of common sense, but a lot of people seem to see it as being a lot harder to learn than it really is.

-- David Munson (apollo@luxfragilis.com), April 12, 2002.

The Adobe site itself is quite informative, and has tutorials etc., as well as links to forums if you have a specific question.

There are almost too many PS books in print to mention, your best bet is to go to a local bookstore and browse to see which instructional style suits you.

The Adobe " Classroom in a book " series is good, and comes with a CD containing the files necessary for the lessons.

The initial learning curve is steep, but after a while becomes second nature. Try to do a little PS work every day to keep your acquired skills sharp.

PS is overkill for anyone like yourself just wanting to size files and e-mail them. But for the majority of commercial photographers, PS is the indispensible gold standard.

-- Michael Mahoney (mike.mahoney@nf.sympatico.ca), April 12, 2002.



It has always been harder to demonstrate/explain the tools and effects/filters in Photoshop than to understand them. In the past, the manual has occaisionally left out a step in multi-step process to achieve an effect, which you only find out about after calling tech support. Photoshop is simpler to understand than it is to explain.

The quickest way to learn Photoshop bar none, is to find a friend/tutor/somebody with too much time on their hands, to show you, if you can't find anybody, you can't find anybody, but doing it reading a manual is doing it the hard way.

My brother has occasionally tutored folks in Photoshop and he says that most often than not, his students say that they had reservations about shelling out the money to be tutored, but after saving an incredible amount of time and frustration, that it was worth it.

You find somebody to show you if you can, network if you have to, and you get the benefit of not having to make the same mistakes that thay've already made, and tips on their unique ways of doing things.

A big part of the fun of Photoshop is the combining of tools/filters/effects in new ways than what they were intended, and when you're successful in doing that, you've come up with a new tool/effect.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), April 12, 2002.


My theory is to master the basics first, which I have done: painting out backgrounds, growing a new arm, restoring 100 year old photos etc.

I scan 6x6 @ 4,000 to get 6,000 x 9,000 pixels, which fills A3 @600 dpi. 6x9 to A3+ will use nearly twice the film area.

I have ordered 7, and I believe that removing wires and poles is easier in 7, so I will not bother in 6.

STITCHING

How do you get on joining or stitching pictures? My scanner only scans up to 69 in one bite, so, with the Sinar p (yes Ellis I will back pack with it for landscape and wildlife photography) I will shift around the coverage, tiling the picture. This eliminates the distortion you would get by panning - which would work for landscapes, but not architecture. Stitching is an option in Elements, but not 6. I hope that they will include it in 7: please, everybody go to the adobe website and put in a feature request for stitching in 7.

CALIBRATION

I have not bothered to calibrate by system but, using ordinary paper for proofs it seems ok, but glossies are too dark. I have set up a spec for glossy and turned down the brightness and ink volume, so that should do the trick is calibration worth the trouble?

-- Dick Roadnight (dick.roadnight@btopenworld.com), April 12, 2002.


I would add that having someone (who is using it as a photographer) and who knows there way around photoshop show you the ropes is the best way to get going.

I would also say that the Blatner and Fraser Real World Photoshop books are excellent. Bruce Fraser, who is the colour management guru is also on another list I'm on and spends time to give helpful responses to questions.

-- tim atherton (tim@kairosphoto.com), April 12, 2002.


Dick r asked "is calibration worth the trouble?" if you are a professional or just voluntarily anal-compulsive and a tech fetishist to boot (Wait! those qualities do make you a professional...hmmmm...) then yes. Professionals are advised to because they will be sharing their files with others. But what is equally important is to learn to always work in Adobe RGB (1998) and to go by the numbers.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), April 12, 2002.

The Visual Quickstart Guides from Peachpit Press are very good.

I say forget the boring, tedious tutorials. Instead, invent yourself a little project, such as printing up a promotional postcard with type, or restoring an old messed-up family picture, or creating some joke composite pictures to send around via email. In order to complete your project, you'll have to learn something, looking it up in your Photoshop Quickstart Guide, and it will be fun.

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), April 13, 2002.



Dick R. had a point about stitching ... there are many good, cheap, and some freeware programs which do a very good job of stitching. " Pano Tools " by Helmut Dersch (sp?) is a very good start, and it works as a PS plug in. Also is the " Panorama Factory " by Smokey City Design. But I'd also like to see a panorama facility contained within PS written by Adobe.

-- Michael Mahoney (mike.mahoney@nf.sympatico.ca), April 13, 2002.

I took a course from West Coast Imaging 2 mo ago but since I didn't have much of a clue re: PS 6 it was sort of a waste of money, BUT it did illustrate the magnitude of changes that can be wrought from an already "good" color image. I'm talking subtle, not adding or subtracting wires or cars. They are giving hands on courses too now. I have PS Elements and will be experimenting with it as it has all the features I need (I hope). I just bought a 1280 and 2450, but have yet to start scanning my 6x7's. George

-- George Nedleman (gnln@thegrid.net), April 13, 2002.

As a tutor of Digital (Photoshop 6.0) and an art photographer I've wrestled with this question too. I think the big thing about digital is that we can start with absolutely nothing and create whatever we like with the tools available. Conventional photography has restrictions such as lighting, type of camera, film stock etc... Those very restrictions have made photography what it is today. Look at what was being achieved over 100 years ago. The tedious and difficult technical challenges of yesteryear made for some of the greatest ever images. The danger also is that Photoshop can take us away from the 'photographic' moment. That brief slice of reality that sets photography apart from every other visual medium. My point is that digital is a continuation of conventional photography. Not something seperate. I thing digital is still too new and too fresh for any kind of perspective to have really occurred. The synthesiser has been around in music for about 30 years now and its still hard to gauge the overall impact. Perhaps we will have to wait for the next new thing to come along before we finally see the impact of digital photography for what it really is.

-- Andrew Ginther (sebastia@paradise.net.nz), April 16, 2002.

"The tedious and difficult technical challenges of yesteryear made for some of the greatest ever images."

Name one.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), April 16, 2002.


Ellis:

I do not know about the greatest ever images, (I live in the present and look to the future) but we have always done what we can with what was avalable -

The tedious and difficult technical challenges of today is to get a decent photo with a digital camera!

-- Dick Roadnight (dick.roadnight@btopenworld.com), April 17, 2002.


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