Using the Photoshop CS5 Content Aware Spot Healing Brush

By Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman

Here’s a quick tip for anyone who ever agonized over taking out power lines from a picture.

While there’s been so much attention paid to the new Content Aware Fill feature in Photoshop CS 5, this new feature came with a lesser known, but no less important companion. Though the Spot Healing Brush is not new to Photoshop, it received one heck of an upgrade when they added the Content Aware capability to it.

It works very much like the Content Aware Fill feature, in that Photoshop does a certain amount of pattern matching and analyzing to fill in the area you want to remove with an appropriate texture. However, this tool is much better suited for more localized refinements, such as, power lines, telephone poles, cracks in a picture (think photo restoration), etc.

It’s quite simple to use. Simply choose the Spot Healing Brush from the toolbox and make sure, in the Options bar, the that Content Aware feature is checked. (It’s a little radio button). Then just make a brush stroke over any area you want to remove. There will be a slight delay while Photoshop does its calculations, but the results are amazing.

picture-soup.com photoshop cs5 illustrating content aware spot healing brush gary small tip

The Spot Healing Brush is selected, and the Content Aware button has been chosen.

picture-soup.com Gary Small example photoshop content aware spot healing brush

Here’s a picture I took of Yankee Stadium. Note the offending power line just above the stadium. Normally not too hard to remove, but the clouds complicate matters. Photograph © Gary Small

picture-soup.com gary small photo illustrating photoshop cs5 content aware spot healing brush

Note the dark line that results from making a brush stroke with the Spot Healing Brush. Depending on the size of the brush stroke and the size and resolution of the image, this may remain for a few to several seconds while Photoshop calculates a pattern to replace the area with. Note: the “Click…Shift-Click” method was used to make a perfectly straight line.

picture-soup.com gary small illustrating photoshop cs5 content aware spot healing brush

Here’s the end result. If you compare the Before to the After, you’ll see the light fixture in the top right was also removed. I used the Content Aware Spot Healing Brush on that too! And for good measure, I also used the Lasso Tool and Content Aware Fill to remove the truck parked in front of the stadium. If you look closely, you’ll see it’s not exactly perfect. However, could you imagine trying to remove that truck using previous versions of Photoshop? How long would it take you? The entire edit, power line, light fixture and truck took less than a minute, start to finish. I’m NOT kidding! This new feature is AMAZING! Photograph © Gary Small.

2 tips to make this work even better:

Tip #1: Although in my retouching, I like to use soft edged brushes almost all the time, I have found that the Content Aware Spot Healing Brush works best when the brush has a hard edge. Without going crazy trying to figure out how to change brush hardness, here’s a keyboard shortcut—hold down the shift key and tap the right square bracket key ] to increase brush hardness. Four taps brings it to a fully hard edged brush. Hold the shift key and tap the left square bracket key [ to decrease brush hardness (or increase softness, depending on how you look at it). Four taps will give you a fully soft-edged brush. Remember, for the best results here, a hard edged brush is best.

Tip #2. Straight lines. Ever wonder how to get a perfectly straight line when painting a brush stroke? You’re gonna love this one. Click the mouse button to put down one dot of a brush stroke at the point where you want to begin painting your line (or if you’re using a tablet, just touch the pen down and pick it right back up again to simply “dot” the starting point. Then place your mouse pointer all the way on the other end of the line you want to paint. While holding the Shift key, click the mouse button (or tap the pen down onto the tablet). What you’ll see is Photoshop will connect the 2 points with a perfectly straight brush stroke. This works with EVERY painting tool in Photoshop’s arsenal…the Paintbrush, Healing Brush, Spot Healing Brush, Clone Stamp, and yes, even the Eraser. And you thought those artists just had really steady hands, didn’t you?

Play around with this and have fun!

• Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman is a Professional Photographer, Photoshop Guru and master of color management. Check out his work at www.jsmallphoto.com.

For more information about Adobe Photoshop CS5, go to www.adobe.com.

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Long Island Photo Workshop Announces Instructors for Summer 2010

The Long Island Photo Workshop has announced its list of classes for the August 2-5, 2010 dates. This year’s classes and instructors are: The Power of Light with Tony Corbell, Professional Digital Imaging: Photoshop CS5 for Professionals being taught by Gary Small, “Paint Like a Master” with Corel Painter to be taught by Fay Sirkis, Light is the Greatest Influence being taught by Dave Black, and Professional Polish—Creating Your Signature Style with Janice Wendt.

The Long Island Photo Workshop is a Winona affiliate and PPA affiliate school, so if you’re a PPA member and attend, you will receive 2 merits for your attendance. The LIPW will be held at the Sheraton Long Island Hotel, in Smithtown, N.Y.

For more information about the Long Island Photo Workshop, go to the website www.liphotoworkshop.com.

The Power of Light

Understanding and controlling light quality is at the core of all of Tony’s presentations. You will learn how to see a unique perspective and not be afraid to push the limits of your experience and talents. Tony is a master of lighting and seeing light. Tony will discuss all types of lighting and tools in depth. Lighting applications will include additive, subtractive, reflective and transmission. Tony will show attendees how spending a few extra moments at the time of capture can save you hours in post-production making corrections.

Photographs © Tony Corbell

Tony Corbell. Photo by Bambi Cantrell

Tony Corbell is senior manager, product education and planning for Nik Software. During his career, he has had the honor of photographing three U.S. presidents, 185 world leaders, 65 Nigerian heads of state, about 600 brides and grooms, a couple of NASA astronauts and scores of famous and not so famous faces since 1979. He has spoken at over 450 seminars and workshops around the world.

Tony has received the WPPI Lifetime Achievement Award, the Photographer of the Year award from the IPC, and is one of only 40 worldwide members of the Camera Craftsmen of America. He has also been a published author, has written articles for major photo magazines, and has had his new Location Lighting DVD produced by Software Cinema.

Oh, and he’s [supposedly] the biggest Beatles fan alive!

Light is the Greatest Influence

This workshop class will center around light and how photographers can best use it to define their subject and capture the viewer’s attention, using off-camera flash and Light Painting.

Photographs © Dave Black

Dave Black

Dave Black has been a freelance photographer for more than 30 years, and he is best known for his sports photography, featured in Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Time, ESPN and other publications, however he is a true master of light and has photographed many other subjects during his career.

Dave is also well known for his artistic Light Painting. Dave has been a teacher and guest lecturer since 1986. His monthly website tutorial pages – “Workshop at the Ranch” and BEST of On the Road” attract over 85,000 unique visitors monthly. Last year he released The Way I See It …50 One Page Workshops, an instructional coffee table book.

Paint Like a Master

Attendees will learn how to use Photoshop and Corel Painter 11 to transform their images into paintings that replicate the former Master Painters such as Rembrandt, Money, Norman Rockwell and Picasso. Learning to interpret high key portraits to be painted as watercolors and low key images as classical portraiture for the look of heirloom canvas oil paintings.

Photographs © Fay Sirkis

Photographs © Fay Sirkis

Fay Sirkis

Fay will share her signature style of blending an image, and the new digital “brushes” she has created that replicate the brush strokes of the Old Masters. Students will receive some of these brushes as files to keep. In addition to discussing retouching in Photoshop, applying and blending paints in Painter, and the final printing process, Fay will also offer tips for marketing these photographic works of art.

Fay Sirkis has spoken across the U.S. and Europe. She is a NY-based contemporary digital artist and photographer, with a background in traditional fine art. Fay is a Painter Master, is on the advisory council of Corel Painter, and is also a Canon Print Master. She is part of the “Dream Team” Instructors who teach at NAPP’s Photoshop World Conferences. Fay is known for her teaching methods which simplify the learning curve for students.

Professional Digital Imaging: Photoshop CS5

If you’ve wanted to enhance your knowledge of Photoshop, increase your productivity and learn real-world production time savers, this is the class for you. In addition to tips, tricks, color management and other techniques, you will also learn the nuances to the just released, latest version of Photoshop CS5. Photoshop Lightroom and its use in the digital workflow will also be discussed.

Photographs © Gary Small

Photographs © Gary Small

Gary Small

Gary Small has been a professional photographer since 1979 and has been working with Photoshop since the early versions of the program. Gary was the first person in New York state and only the seventh in the country to receive the PP of A ‘Certified in Electronic Imaging’ (CEI) designation. In addition to running a studio, Gary also conducts private tutoring and consulting on color management, Photoshop and more. He has also been a beta tester of numerous software programs and photographic products over the years.

Gary’s photo may look familiar to regular visitors of Picture-soup.com, he’s our resident digital imaging, Adobe Photoshop, Photodex Proshow Producer, and color management Guru and regular contributor to our website. Prior to his work on Picture-soup.com, he was a regular contributor to imaginginfo.com and Studio & Location Photography magazine.

Professional Polish—Creating Your Signature Style

Want to turn your images from good to great? Ever wonder how top photographers get awesome, edgy images? Want to take your work to the next level? This class will learn the secrets to creative, subtle image enhancements that save you time. As someone who knows Nik Software inside and out, Janice will help students get the most out of each of the company’s programs: Nik Color Efex Pro, Nik Sharpener Pro, Viveza, Silver Efex Pro and Nikon Capture NX2.

(l.) Before (r.) After. Photographs © Janice Wendt.

(l.) Before (r.) After. Photographs © Janice Wendt.

Janice Wendt. Photo by Joseph & Louise Simone

Janice Wendt is Nik Software’s Channel Sales Manager, leading authority and ambassador, as well as often “training the trainers” on various techniques in digital imaging. She is a commercial and portrait photographer with over 25 years of experience. She also regularly gives lectures and seminars within the educational community.

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New course just added to the August 2-5 session of the Long Island Photo Workshop!

Weddings with Passion and Fashion

Martin C. Grahame-Dunn has just been added as the sixth instructor for the August 2-5, 2010 session of the Long Island Photo Workshop. The course is entitled Weddings with Passion and Fashion. Developing your own style becomes your USP or Unique Selling Proposition. In this course you will learn how you can become the photographer you wish to be.

martin grahame-dunn photos

Photographs © Martin C. Grahame-Dunn

Martin C. Grahame-Dunn portrait

Martin C. Grahame-Dunn

Martin, based in Warwick, England has been a photographer for more than 30 years, producing work in the genres of wedding, commercial, industrial, advertising, editorial, fashion, portraiture, and more.

— Diane Berkenfeld

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Photoshop CS5 Teaser: Refine Edge Command

Text & Images By Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman

Today’s tip covers a couple of ideas here. First off, the Refine Edge command is not new to Photoshop. It was introduced in Photoshop CS 3. However, in CS 5, this new and greatly improved version of the Refine Edge command also addresses the fact that (in case nobody noticed) the Extract tool mysteriously vanished. Actually, the Extract tool disappeared when CS 4 was released, but as an afterthought, the plug-in was sent along, to be put back in afterwards. Now, with the new Refine Edge command, there is really no need for the Extract tool anymore. Let’s see how it works…

In this example, I have a nice picture of a girl that was taken on location. Mom would have loved a nice studio portrait of her, instead of using the available location, but time constraints did not allow a background to be brought to the job site. You know how it is. Let’s see what we can do to give mom what she wanted.

Step 1. Using the Quick Select tool, I drag around the contours of the young lady. The Quick Select tool is an amazing tool, because it looks for the edge contrast in the area you’re selecting and “locks on” to those edges, kind of like a souped up version of the Magnetic Lasso tool. Depending on the subject and background, there are some selections that can be made with this tool in one brush stroke. One important note about the Quick Select tool, is that, unlike all other selection tools, where you have to hold down the shift key to add to the selection, the Quick Select tool is always in “Add” mode. What that means is, you don’t have to hold down an extra key to add to an existing selection with this tool. You just make another stroke on the area you want to add and it will add it to the selection. Subtracting from the selection is the same as the other selection tools in Photoshop, in that you’d hold down the Alt (Windows) / Opt (Mac) key, and draw across the part of the selection you want to remove. In the first illustration, you can see the original picture with the selection drawn out.

Here is the original image, after selecting the subject using the Quick Select Tool.

Step 2. The Refine Edge command is found on the Options Bar on top, just below Photoshop’s menus. As long as you have any selection tool chosen in the tool box, the “Refine Edge” button will be available in the Options Bar. Click the button to bring up the dialog box. You’ll see it is broken into 4 sections: View Mode, Edge Detection, Adjust Edge, and Output. If you click the View Mode drop down button, you’ll see several choices of how you can view your selection: Marching Ants, Overlay (like a quick mask), On Black, On White, against transparency, as a Black and White mask, On Layers, and Reveal Layer. In the example here, I have the subject against a black background. I usually look at my subjects against black and against white, to see if there’s any contamination or fringing when they get cut out. But that’s where the real power of this new improved tool comes into play. As you can see in the initial preview, the edges are very sharp and jagged. Let’s see how to make it look more natural.

Here is what we see when we first click the “Refine Edge” button. This shows the different view modes available. For this image, I chose “On Black” to show the selected area against a black background.

Step 3. In the Edge Detection section, move the Radius slider to the right. This increases the size of the radius, which is the area of transition. In other words, this is the area that includes some background that’s being removed and some foreground. The greater the radius, the more transition. But it gets to a point where there’s too much transition and it’s not effective, so if you think you can just crank the slider all the way to the right and get great transitions, think again. The next image shows the radius view. If you check the “Show Radius” checkbox in the View Mode section, you’ll see the size of the radius and can use this view as a means to see just how much transition you want in your selection. Anybody who has had experience with the Extract tool in previous versions of Photoshop will know exactly what I’m talking about when I refer to a transition area. With the Extract Tool, that transition area was defined by the green highlight you drew around the subject you wanted to extract from the background. This is almost the same thing. If you check the “Smart Radius” checkbox, it will try to automatically smooth out the transition. This is great for places where there is hair and uneven edges that you are trying to cut out or select. One new tool that was added was the Refine Radius tool, which looks like a paintbrush that was added to the Refine Edge dialog box. This is an amazing feature. You can actually paint across wisps of hair and it will include them in the selection while keeping everything around the hair or whatever Photoshop considers the “non-foreground” areas hidden (or unselected). If you took away too much, you can switch to the Erase Refinements tool, which is the opposite of the Refine Radius tool, and you can paint away wherever you overdid it.

This is what the selection looks like after increasing the radius. As you can see, the edges around the girl smoothed out a bit, but some areas still need to be refined a little (see the girl’s arm), plus we can make the ends of the hair more realistic too.

Step 4. Looking further down the panel, you can see the Adjust Edge controls. These are very similar (almost identical) to the controls in the previous version of the Refine Edge command. Here you can soften (feather) the edges of the selection, as well as smooth, or add contrast to the selection edge. In addition, a slider was added, called “Shift Edge”. Think of this as a replacement for “Expand/Contract”. Moving the slider to the left (negative amount), you contract, or shrink the selection. Moving it to the right (positive amount), you’re increasing or expanding the selection.

When I checked the Show Radius checkbox, we see exactly what the radius looks like that we’re working with. With this view, we can adjust the size of the radius and fine tune the “transition” area, which will help get us a more natural selection, and cutout.

Step 5. The last section of the panel is the Output options. Here’s where you choose how you want the results to appear. Choices are: Selection (if you just want a refined selection), Layer Mask, New Layer, New Layer With Layer Mask, New Document, and New Document With Layer Mask. There’s also a checkbox marked “Decontaminate Colors”. Check this if you are cutting a subject out of a colorful background (think green screen) and you want to get rid of the color fringing that sometimes comes as a result. I’ve had this happen a lot when I cut people out of a white background and had to spend a lot of time retouching the color contamination that I got afterwards. This works really well. It is not always perfect, but it is a huge improvement! The next illustration shown is the result of choosing New Layer as my output choice.

After choosing “New Layer” as my output option, once I click the “OK” button, this is what I got as a result…a new layer with just the selected area from the original image. Note, in order to see this, I turned off the visibility (the eyeballs) of the other two layers on the Layers panel.

Step 6. After I have my cutout, all that is left to do, is to drop a new background in behind my subject, apply a Drop Shadow layer style, to make it look more realistic, then crop as necessary.

All that’s left now is to drop in a new background. I added a drop shadow layer style to make it look more realistic. Otherwise it would have looked like it was just cut and pasted and not like it was actually photographed that way.

The last illustration shows the finished product, with the addition of a corner burn to make it look like a custom printed portrait. And Voila! We turned a so-so image taken in a hurry, into a studio portrait. Believe me, it took longer to describe the process than it took to actually do it. I believe it only took me maybe 5 minutes, tops.

Here is the finished image, after cropping it square and applying a corner burn, to give it that “custom printed” look. By the way, I used the “Refine Edge” command to help create the soft selection that I used to burn (or darken) the edges of the image too.

If you like these new features, just wait till you check out Photoshop CS 5 which began shipping this week! There are over 100 improvements and new features that are sure to get you excited and trust me when I tell you, any one of them is worth the price of the upgrade! For more information about Creative Suite 5, go to www.adobe.com.

• Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman is a Professional Photographer, Photoshop Guru and master of color management. Check out his work at www.jsmallphoto.com.

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Teaser: Photoshop CS5 Extended's Content Aware Fill

By Photoshopman a.k.a. Gary Small

Hi everyone! Well, I know the buzz is on with the announcement by Adobe of CS 5! As one of the people privileged to work with the beta/pre-release of Photoshop CS 5 Extended, I can tell you it’s an amazing upgrade. There are not only a bunch of new tools and features, but most of the tools and functionality of Photoshop across the board have been greatly improved. It’s like a whole new program!

I was going to write a long article, covering all the new features, but since I know many of you are dying to see what’s new as quickly as possible, I decided to put out a few teasers a little at a time, just to whet your appetites. I’ll try to publish as many as I can as quickly as I can.

So on that note, here is the first installment—what I think is by far the best new feature in Photoshop CS 5: Content Aware Fill.

Content Aware Fill is like the Patch Tool on steroids. I won’t even attempt to explain the technology behind it (because frankly I don’t understand it myself!), but the way it works is incredible. Let’s say you have an object, or even a person, or just about anything (trees, cars, telephone poles, exit signs) that you want to remove from a picture. In the past, it would take hours of Cloning, Healing, and Patching. Along comes Content Aware Fill, and reduces the work to mere seconds.

Here’s a nice outdoor scene with a bride and groom by a bridge. I love the scene and would like to re-use it, or make a background image out of it. But I need to get rid of the bride and groom to do so. All I have to do in Photoshop CS 5 is select the bride and groom (I used the Lasso tool to make a loose selection), then either hit the Delete key (if you’re working on the Background layer), or go to the menu and click Edit>Fill. Then in the dialog box that pops up, click the drop down box and select Content Aware and then click OK. Then watch what happens.

Gary Small picture-soup.com

Original image of the bride and groom. Photo © Gary Small.

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Photoshop CS5 Extended screenshot of the selection around the bride and groom. Photo © Gary Small.

gary small picture-soup.com

The final image, after Photoshop CS5 Extended worked its magic with Content Aware Fill. Photo © Gary Small.

It doesn’t always work perfectly, but in almost all cases, Photoshop analyzes the surrounding area and fills in the selection appropriately, to make it look like the object (or people) selected are replaced with the scenery they were standing in. In the same example, I used Content Aware Fill to fill in the patch of white sky in the upper left corner. It was much faster than cloning the trees or using the patch tool and with better results too!

My next installment will talk about the new “Refine Edge” command, and as a bonus, we’ll see how I combined the two to make a completely new picture in under 30 minutes! Stay tuned!


• Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman is a Professional Photographer, Photoshop Guru and master of color management. Check out his work at www.jsmallphoto.com.

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Photoshop CS4 Tip: Content Aware Scaling

By Photoshopman a.k.a. Gary Small

When Photoshop CS4 was released, it was chock full of so many new features, it was hard to say which one was my favorite. As cool as most of them are, this one, in my opinion, arose out of necessity.

As a professional photographer who was raised on medium format, I got used to shooting square. Because of that, I was able to frame subjects in my viewfinder so I knew I would get a perfect 8×10 every time. Then along comes digital and I, along with many of my fellow pros, gave up our Hasselblads and Bronicas and went to 35mm DSLRs. The big downside to that is, it’s a very long, narrow rectangular format. I’ve found, more often than not, that many photographers would inadvertently fill the frame with the subject, only to find when they went to make an 8×10, they would have to either cut their subject’s feet off or do some serious Photoshopping in order to make it work into the 8×10 crop.

I’ve personally had instances where I had to take my Rectangular Marquee tool and select pieces of the image, in order to stretch the background to make the image fit the crop properly.

Then along comes Photoshop CS4 and a new feature, called “Content Aware Scaling” (CAS for short). This to me was a godsend. In a nutshell, CAS is a way of stretching or squeezing an image into a cropped format, without distorting the main subject of the picture. It’s very cool to see it in action, but takes a little understanding to get it to work properly.

The way it works, is it tries to identify what the main subject in an image is (for example, pictures of people would have a lot of flesh tone and in most cases, be at or near the center of the image.). After it does that, you would scale the image, much the way you would when you use Free Transform except that in this case, the part that was identified as the main subject is protected and Photoshop will stretch or squeeze the remaining pixels to scale the image the way you want it.

Sounds easy, right? Well, Photoshop doesn’t always get it right and as with most things, I’ve found that leaving any kind of adjustments on automatic usually yield less than stellar results. I’ve found that CAS needs a little help most of the time. We help it along by outright telling it what we want recognized as the main subject. [Screenshots showing the entire process step by step are at the end of this article —Editor] How? Well first, we bring up CAS by going to the Edit menu and choosing “Content Aware Scale” When you do this, you get a set of handles around the image that look identical to what you see when you use Free Transform. But, don’t do anything yet! Look all the way up towards the top of the work area at the Options Bar. Over to the right, there’s a little drop down box labeled Protect. This is where we can tell it what we want as our protected subject area. Now, hit the Esc key to get out of CAS for now, because we have some work to do first. Sorry, didn’t mean to be a tease!

CAS uses Alpha Channels to identify that protected area. So in order to do this, as you may have guessed, you have to first create an Alpha Channel. How do you do that? Well, for anyone who hasn’t taken one of my Photoshop classes, an Alpha Channel (which resides in the Channels Panel) is basically a saved selection. What I usually do, is take my Lasso tool, and draw a selection around the main subject of my image. I then go to the Channels Panel. That’s where you see the RGB composite and Red, Green and Blue channels that make up the image. Look all the way to the bottom of the panel and you’ll see some buttons. Click the second button from the left. This takes the selection and saves it as an Alpha Channel. The first one is appropriately named, Alpha 1, and so on. You’ll notice the thumbnail is a black/white picture of the shape of the selection you had previously made.

Now, go back to your image, deselect the selection you made, and click Edit>Content Aware Scale. Again, you’ll get the transform handles and the Option bar. NOW click the dropdown box labeled Protect, and you’ll see 2 choices: None and Alpha 1. Click Alpha 1 and you’ve chosen that selection you made to be the protected subject area. Now grab the adjustment handles and stretch or squeeze the image as needed. You’ll notice everything EXCEPT the area you originally selected transforms, or distorts. It’s very cool to watch and saves a lot of time and work.

(l.) Here is the original exposure. The image was shot too full. (c.) This is what happens when you crop the image to an 8x10. Obviously this is too tight, coming right to the top of her head and cutting into the bottom of her dress. (r.) The quality of the transformation depends on how complex the background is. In this image, you can see some parts of the chairs got distorted and jagged. However, the overall quality of the image was maintained and a nice 8x10 image was obtained with a minimum of effort. This entire process took me about 2 minutes to do from start to finish. (All photos © Gary Small)

One word of warning, if you don’t have much image area to work with, outside your protected subject area, Photoshop may have no choice but to distort some of the protected area anyway, or badly distort the remaining area and you could have unpleasant results. My best advice in situations like that is, when you shoot your images, shoot loose. Leave room for cropping or proper adjusting, and you will save valuable post-production time.

Step by Step Screenshots showing the process:

Here’s the original opened up in Photoshop. Let’s see how to use Content Aware Scaling to make an 8x10 without cutting into or distorting the main subject.

Step 1. Double-click the Background layer in the Layers panel to unlock it and change it to an editable layer (Layer 0)

Step 2. Go to the menu and click Image>Image Size. Then, making sure “Resample Image” is unchecked, change the height of the image (long dimension) to 10 inches.

Step 3. Now go back to the menu and click Image>Canvas Size. Change the width to 8 inches and click OK.

Here is the result of Step 3.

Step 4. Using the Lasso Tool, draw a rough selection around the main subject.

Step 5. Save the selection as an Alpha Channel by going to the Channels Panel and clicking the second button from the left at the bottom of the panel.

Step 6. Go to the Menu and choose Edit>Content Aware Scale.

Step 7. You will see what looks like a “Free Transform” box with handles around the image. You will also see the options bar on top (under the menu) change. Go to the Options Bar, and click the “Protect” dropdown, and choose “Alpha 1”. This will tell Photoshop to use the area you selected with the Lasso tool in Step 4 as the protected area and keep it from being distorted during the transformation.

Step 8. Now grab either the left or right side handle of the transformation box, and while holding the “Alt” (Windows) “Opt” (Mac), drag the transformation box to the side until you get to the end of the document window. Holding Alt/Opt down causes both sides to transform equally in opposite directions. In this case, dragging the right handle will cause the right side to stretch to the right and at the same time, the left side will stretch to the left. That’s it! You’re done.

? Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman is a Professional Photographer, Photoshop Guru and master of color management. Check out his work at www.jsmallphoto.com.

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Adobe Photoshop Turns Twenty

By Diane Berkenfeld

Today is a day of celebration as Adobe Photoshop turns 20 years old and fans of the powerhouse software program are rejoicing around the world. Festivities include an anniversary celebration hosted by NAPP, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, in San Francisco today as well as numerous organized events around the globe; a special Adobe TV broadcast reuniting the original “Photoshop team” for the first time in 18 years to discuss their early work on the software and demonstrate Photoshop 1.0 on a rebuilt Macintosh computer; Facebook and Twitter users sharing of stories online and changing their profile photo to an altered 20th anniversary logo (there are over 400,000 and growing Facebook fans for Photoshop); and Tweeting about the software by adding the tag #PS20.

The impact of Photoshop is everywhere, from the youngest digital photography enthusiast to virtually every professional photographer, to the artists at magazines and newspapers, website design, Madison Avenue and Hollywood.

In the Beginning

In 1987, Thomas Knoll developed a pixel imaging program called Display. It was a simple program to showcase grayscale images on a black-and-white monitor. However, after collaborating with his brother John, the two began adding features that made it possible to process digital image files. The program eventually caught the attention of industry influencers, and in 1988, Adobe made the decision to license the software, naming it Photoshop, and shipping the first version in 1990.

According to Thomas Knoll, Adobe predicted it would sell 500 copies of Photoshop per month. Sounds kind of like a comment made in 1943 attributed to then IBM president Thomas John Watson, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

The Photoshop team thrives off its rich beta tester program, with active and vocal users who have submitted requests and helped shape the development of features throughout the years.

“We knew we had a groundbreaking technology on our hands, but we never anticipated how much it would impact the images we see all around us. The ability to seamlessly place someone within an image was just the beginning of Photoshop’s magic,” Knoll said.

Over the past 20 years, Photoshop has evolved from a simple original display program to an application that has over 10 million users worldwide on Mac and Windows-based PCs. Countless other software companies have created software programs, Photoshop plug-ins and Photoshop actions that enrich the user experience. Not to mention the dozens of books, tutorials, workshops and other educational programs. An entire ecosystem surrounds Photoshop.

Photoshop logos through the years.

Not only has Photoshop grown from version 1.0 to where it is today at Photoshop Creative Suite (CS) 4, but Photoshop Elements, the program for enthusiasts is up to version 8, and there are even web-based solutions now, at Photoshop.com, as well as a Photoshop App., for the Apple iPhone and Android devices, as well as Photoshop Lightroom, now at version 2, (version 3 is in beta testing) for image management.

Photoshopped or Photoshop’d has even become a part of our vernacular to describe a digital image that has been altered. According to Wikipedia, Photoshopping is slang for the digital editing of images.

We here at Picture-soup.com doubt that anyone who uses Photoshop on a daily basis would want to live without the program, having grown to depend upon it for his or her livelihood. From its ability to help you salvage old, treasured family photographs, to retouching images to the point that the alterations are impossible to notice, Photoshop allows photographers and graphic artists to do their jobs better.

Long Time Users Comment

We asked a few of the folks we consider to be Photoshop Gurus to offer their thoughts on Photoshop turning 20. Read on…

Canon Explorer of Light and Print Master, Eddie Tapp (www.eddietapp.com), a photographer and educator first began using Photoshop with version 1. “I would open an image, clone something, close it out and a week later do the same thing. It wasn’t until the next version 2.5, did I jump into what Photoshop was then… more of a creative use with images applying glows, effects, this is when I developed the 90% method of color correction along with a few other techniques… and when 5.5 came out… Color Management became available for the masses for the first time,” he explains.

“What I use to love doing in the darkroom, I now love creating in Photoshop… Photoshop gives [me] so much more control in every aspect of processing my images… I do however, miss the smell of Fixer on my fingers after processing… perhaps I should invent Channel Fixer #5…”

“Photoshop the tool has aged well, becoming more and more sophisticated as it innovates technology at each release… From what I’ve seen and heard… the next release will be a celebration of enhancements and next level imaging…”

Jim Tierney, Chief Executive Anarchist at software company Digital Anarchy (www.digitalanarchy.com) started using Photoshop with version 2.0 and was developing plug-ins for it shortly thereafter with MetaTools. “It’s been interesting to see how the uses of Photoshop have expanded and changed,” he says. “When I first started using it, it was used more for design than photography. Certainly some photographers were using it, but it definitely wasn’t a requirement. You could shoot and print without ever going through an image editing program. And if your photo got scanned in, usually it went straight into Pagemaker or Quark [Xpress]. If the photo did go through Photoshop, usually it was just to tweak the contrast… either that or to do some crazy outlandish thing [to it]. Photoshop was a new tool, digital was a new medium, and people were experimenting. There were a lot of really bad Photoshop’d images out there.”

“Layers really changed things. It became much easier to do professional looking work. Before layers, you really had to understand all aspects of the program to get good results out of it. Not too mention, that around the time of versions 2.0 and 2.5 you were lucky to have a monitor that could display thousands of colors.”

“Digital imaging… the ubiquitous digital cameras that started [showing up] everywhere that made Photoshop such a powerful tool—not only for designers and photographers, but for medical, science, law enforcement uses, etc. …brought it to the point that now everyone knows what Photoshop is. THAT is an incredible difference, especially for someone who was using it when no one knew what you were talking about.”

“And Digital/RAW really changed things for photographers. It’s now become an essential tool for photographers. Those who aren’t shooting digitally and using RAW are a dying breed.”

“So I think the most interesting things about Photoshop turning 20 is all of the things that have happened around it to make it the tool it is.”

Fashion and beauty photographer Helene DeLillo (www.helenedelillo.com) first started using Photoshop at around version 1.5, when it was for scanning software. “They never thought it would be a product except for a tool to use with scanners,” she explains.

“Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are essential tools for photographers in the production and management of their digital images. In my professional work they are invaluable. Photoshop allows me to take my fine art/Sci-Fi creative work of faeries and magical creatures to beyond this world. If I dream them flying or in an eternal forest or garden I can now seam them together and make all the lighting & textures match… My dreams become still imagery.”

“Over the last 3 months my assistant has been archiving all our old files online so that I can access any images I ever retouched or captured…It’s been an awesome process and still is not yet done. However I have been reviewing images from over 10 years ago and what a difference—imagine not having layers and every time you made a big brush stroke you had to wait; in fact the Macintosh OS would give you a coffee cup with steam [coming] off of it instead of the possessed lollypop… sometimes it would be a 15 minute wait for an action or even 30 minutes for the unsharp mask [to take effect].”

“I Love Adobe Photoshop—HAPPY 20th—we love you Knoll Brothers!!!”

Photographer, author and consultant Andrew Darlow’s (http://www.imagingbuffet.com / http://www.PhotoPetTips.com) first exposure to Photoshop was with version 2.5 while he was working at a graphic arts/prepress/printing company in New York City. “Photoshop has been and continues to be an essential part of my workflow and it has helped me to do what I love best—take and make photos that express my vision—without having to deal with the many headaches that photographers have faced for so many years,” he says.

Photographer, Action Hero, and educator Kevin Kubota (www.kkphoto-design.com / www.kubotaimagetools.com) started in digital imaging when, “We can Scitex it out” was the buzz word at the studio he worked at. “That’s when it cost a few hundred bucks to send an image out to have a small blemish removed by a lab with a Scitex machine. Now anybody with Photoshop can easily do that in under a minute. Times have changed. I think I started using Photoshop at version 2 or 3. I remember it was frustrating because at that time it was very costly to have images scanned so that you could actually have something to manipulate in Photoshop. It was love at first sight though, and I ate it up—every pixel (that was pre-MEGApixel),” he says.

“Somehow I knew that this was the direction photography was headed. I eagerly adopted the early digital cameras as well—excited that I finally had a way to quickly get my images in the computer without costly scanning.”

“Being an early Photoshop adopter gave me a couple of advantages: I was able to enhance my images and show things to my clients that very few other photographers were showing at that time. It was a great boost to my business and it kept me excited about shooting…and discovering what I could do with the images in post.”

“I also learned early on how to create my own Photoshop Actions, which I then taught people how to do as well at my early workshops. I soon realized that the looks I created and the tools I used were very valuable to other photographers as well. Photoshop gave me a vehicle, and a common platform, to share these tools and techniques. It changed my life as it gave me another new business and opened new creative doors.”

“I think that Photographers generally fall in one of two camps—those that believe the art of photography happens solely in the camera, and those that believe it happens all the way from camera to presentation. Neither is right or wrong. The only thing ‘wrong’ would be to follow a path you didn’t believe in. I am in camp two. I think that there is no ‘rule’ that photography has to be pure. It’s an art form to me, just like painting. There are no rules in art—you combine tools, techniques, brushes, colors, whatever you want to create your vision. The end product is what matters, not the tools you used to get there. Photoshop has given photographers another tool to express their vision. It has helped to allow Photography to be impressionistic, modern, and fresh like few other artists tools have done. I love that.”

Photographer and instructor Gary Small (www.jsmallphoto.com) started using Photoshop in 1996, with Version 3. “It was the first version that used layers,” he notes. “Over the past 13 years, I have watched Photoshop grow and evolve into the wonderfully powerful program it is today, while at the same time, my skills and knowledge in this fantastic program have grown and evolved as well. I got to see and experience firsthand, the introduction of color management, adjustment layers, vector based text, text on a path, Liquify, Vanishing Point, Extract, Smart Objects, Healing Brush and Patch Tool, History Brush, Smart Filters, Content Aware Scaling, and so much more. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m looking forward to continuing this adventure.”

“Like Photography itself, I’ve found that there is no end to the learning process or the things you can do with Photoshop. Without a doubt, it has had the greatest and most positive impact on my career, over everything else I’ve ever involved myself in. The impact Photoshop has had on my work as a photographer as well as an image manipulator has been amazing. It has given me the opportunity to take my images to new levels, with amazing results that were not achievable prior to Photoshop hitting the scene.”

“As an educator, it is a huge rush to be able to pass along this knowledge to others who share the same passion for photography and image manipulation that I do. Seeing the excitement in others that I had when I first learned Photoshop has made the experience that much more fulfilling for me.”

Yours truly started using Photoshop around versions 5.5 or 6 and while I would not consider myself anywhere near the Guru status of those quoted above, I do know my way around the program. —DB.

Tell us what Photoshop means to you!

For more information about the Photoshop family of products, go to www.adobe.com.

Find Photoshop on Facebook at www.facebook.com/photoshop. Find Photoshop on Twitter at www.twitter.com/photoshop.

To see the NAPP Photoshop 20th Anniversary Celebration, go to www.photoshopuser.com/photoshop20th.

To see the Adobe TV Photoshop 20th Anniversary Broadcast, go to http://tv.adobe.com/go/photoshop-20th-anniversary.

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Color Spaces Simplified

By Gary Small

This map compares how much of the color spectrum (that large oval in the far back) different color spaces cover. ProPhoto RGB covers the most of the spectrum, Adobe RGB is the second largest, and sRGB is the smallest. Also shown is the color limits of the Epson 2200 printer (printing on Matte paper). Image by Jeff Schewe.

Greetings. Here’s a question I hear quite often. What color space should I choose when shooting? The answers I’ve heard have been so varied that it can oftentimes leave you more confused than when you first asked! I will try and simplify it here for you and hopefully it will reduce some of the confusion.

First of all, what is a color space? Well, to put it simply, think of a color space as a container, holding all the colors that were used to display or print a particular image. Some color spaces use more colors, some use less.

Put another way, think of when we were kids and we played with those boxes of crayons. Some of us had the box with only 8 colors. Some had 32 and some had the big box with 64 colors and the built-in sharpener. But you may have noticed that even if you had that big box of crayons, not only didn’t you use all of the colors in the box, but typically you found yourself using many of the same few colors over and over again. That’s the idea behind choosing and using a color space. We try to choose one that contains the colors we will use most often.

The human eye is capable of seeing the most colors. Presently, no mechanical device has been able to reproduce all of the colors our eyes are capable of seeing. So any color space you use will always contain fewer colors than our eyes can see; so we have no trouble there. The place we get into trouble is in reproducing colors across various media. For example, some colors we can view on a monitor cannot be reproduced by an inkjet printer and somehow that has to be dealt with.

Without getting overly technical, the most commonly used color spaces are, sRGB, Adobe RGB (1998), and ProPhoto RGB. The difference between all of these is the number of colors each one uses.

sRGB is the narrowest of all the color spaces and was developed for the web, with the idea of being a universal color space. In other words, any images that would be displayed on a web page would be rendered in this color space. It uses the fewest colors, which keeps images smaller and more efficient.

On the other end of the scale, ProPhoto RGB is the widest color space and uses the most colors out of all of them. It is typically thought by many pros that this is the color space to work in; because you wouldn’t have to worry that a color or color range you want to work with won’t be available to you.

Somewhere in the middle is Adobe RGB (1998). This was considered a good balance between the extremely narrow sRGB and the very wide and robust ProPhoto RGB.

Most digital cameras nowadays will give you a choice of choosing either Adobe RGB (1998) or sRGB. I am not going to tell you absolutely which color space you should choose because everybody works differently. I hope to be able to help you make an informed decision on your own, once you’ve read this article.

To help you, you must first and foremost, think about what will be done with the finished images you are producing. Since most output devices reproduce fewer colors than are contained in the wider color spaces, any images produced in a wider color space will have to be converted before being sent to that device. The simplest idea to think about is, if you are shooting images that will only be going onto a web page and will never be printed, sRGB would be the color space to work in, since that’s the color space used on the web. If you are printing on an inkjet printer, believe it or not, it too has a narrow color space that very closely resembles sRGB. So you’d probably do well with it there, too. If you are going to output onto more complex imaging devices which work with larger amounts of colors, you might consider working in a wider color space like Adobe (1998).

More things to consider:

When you work in one color space and need to output to a device that works in a different color space, a translation must occur. Let’s say you are working (or shooting) in Adobe (1998) and printing onto an inkjet printer that works in sRGB. You’re going from a wider to a narrower color space. What that means to you is, there are more possible colors in the image you shot with your camera than the printer can possibly reproduce. So when translating the colors for the printer (think of a funnel), the colors that aren’t reproducible on the printer have to be converted into different colors that that printer can reproduce. They will be translated into colors that will try to simulate the original colors as closely as possible, but will not always match. So there’s always a chance you will lose some of the original colors your image had when you captured it. This is when you hear terms like “clipping” and “out of gamut”. This refers to dealing with colors outside the range of that device and how to handle them. But again, I don’t want to get overly technical here.

My best advice is, keep it simple. Try to work as closely to the color space that you will be outputting to. If you don’t know where you’re outputting or may be outputting to various places, you may want to choose a wider color space. Although there are many who feel that you should just work in the widest color space possible and go from there, I feel that is not always the best choice or the most efficient. But that’s just my opinion. When photographing social events, like weddings, I usually shoot on sRGB, because the images are going onto the web for the family and guests to view, as well as being printed on printers that work within that color space. When I shoot commercial images, I tend to work in a wider color space, like Adobe (1998), because the clientele tends to be more critical and the subtlety of the colors may be more important.

Of course, I always encourage people to experiment and see what results work best for you. But I believe this should give you a good place to start. Hope this helps. Happy shooting!

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PHOTOSHOP Features: Drag Brush Resizing

By Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman

Have you ever stopped to think how many ways you can resize your brushes when you use the painting tools (Paintbrush, Healing Brush, Clone Stamp, Eraser, and History Brush) in Adobe Photoshop?

  • You can go to the Options bar and click on the little drop down arrow and move the slider to resize.
  • Or you could go to the Brushes Panel, where there are many options for modifying your brushes.

Up through Photoshop CS3, my favorite trick for brush resizing had been the keyboard shortcut using the left and right bracket keys, [ and ]…where the left bracket key makes the brush smaller and the right bracket key makes the brush bigger. In addition to that, you could also change the brush hardness (or softness) by holding the Shift key with the bracket keys… Shift + left bracket key to make the brush softer and Shift + right bracket key to make the brush harder.

Then along comes Photoshop CS4, and with it, a whole new and comprehensive method for quickly and easily resizing your brushes.

  • Give this a try: On the Mac, hold down the Control and Option keys, then drag the mouse to the right to increase the diameter of the brush or to the left to decrease the diameter of the brush. In Windows, hold the Alt key and the right mouse button down and drag left to decrease and right to increase diameter of the brush.

You can also use drag resizing to change the hardness or softness of your brushes. On the Mac, hold the Control, Option and Command keys down and drag the mouse to the right to get a harder edge and to the left for a softer edged brush. In Windows, hold down the Alt and Shift keys while holding the right mouse button down and drag the mouse as above.

As someone who does a lot of retouching, this has just become my favorite shortcut in Photoshop.

  • Now let’s take this idea a step further. If you use a tablet, like the Wacom Intuous 4, you’ll really appreciate this method of brush resizing. I don’t know about you, but when I’m using a tablet and I have the stylus positioned over the area I want to retouch, the last thing I want to do is lift my pen up and move away to go over to a menu or keyboard to resize the brush to fit what I’m doing. What I did with my pen and tablet is as follows: The Wacom Intuous pens have 2 side buttons. I programmed one of them to be a right mouse click (yes I use Windows!). So now while I’m retouching, I just hover my pen over the area I’m working at, hold down the Alt key on my keyboard, and at the same time, hold the programmed side button on my pen and, while hovering (not pressing the pen onto the tablet) I move the pen to the right to make the brush bigger or to the left to make it smaller, same as rolling the mouse. It works great and is very convenient. You would be amazed at how this one simple shortcut has sped up my retouching and increased my productivity.

Look for regular contributions by Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman to the PictureSoup blog. Gary is a Professional Photographer, Photoshop Guru and master of color management.


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