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Introduction

Introduction

If you’re checking out this book because you want to produce embossed type, fractalized tree branches, or 3D logos in Adobe Photoshop, you’re in the wrong place. There are at least a dozen good books on those subjects. But if you’re looking to move photographic images through Photoshop—importing digital captures or scans, bending them to your will, and creating world-class results—this is the book for you. Its raison d’être is to answer the questions that people in production environments ask every single day.

  • How can I quickly and efficiently process the 500 images coming from my digital camera?

  • How should I set up my computer for Photoshop?

  • What settings should I use in the Color Settings dialog?

  • How do I bring out shadow details in my images without blowing out the highlights?

  • What methods are available to neutralize color casts?

  • How do I calibrate my monitor? (And should I?)

My Goals for This Book

This book isn’t just about Photoshop, because to get the most out of the software, you need to know it in context. So, this book is also about photography, about images, and about workflow. Not just what you do in Photoshop, but how Photoshop relates to your camera, your display, and your printer.

Whether your camera captures photons by goo smeared on celluloid or by photoelectric sensors, photography is photography. What has changed is how a photographer gets an image from the from camera to the final print (if it’s even a print)—once chemical, now digital, with Photoshop at the center of this workflow. That leads to another goal of this book: to help photographers translate their own understanding of images into the digital world of Photoshop.

When you’re in a crunch, you’ve got to have an intuitive, almost instinctive feel for what’s going on in Photoshop so you can finesse it to your needs. Canned techniques just don’t cut it. For that reason, you’ll find a fair amount of conceptual discussion here, describing how Photoshop thinks about images and suggesting how you might think about them as well.

My goal is not to detract from the way you’ve been doing things. It’s to help you understand how Photoshop tools can support your photographic goals—not just what they do, but why you should care—and how new tools relate to traditional techniques.

This Edition

If I were to cover every feature of Photoshop CS5 in detail, you’d have to back up a semi-trailer to your front door to get this book home. To keep things manageable, this book concentrates on high-quality photographic editing and output for print and online use, hence the name of this book for the last two editions: Real World Adobe Photoshop for Photographers. The flip side is that this book does not go into detail about topics that stray too far from photography. If you need information about the Photoshop Extended features that enhance medical or engineering workflows, or about designing Web pages in Photoshop, you’ll want to reach for a more specialized book on the subject. (I do cover a few Photoshop Extended features that help photographers, such as image stacks for noise reduction.)

As Photoshop has changed over the years, many techniques that were once state-of-the-art have been superseded by the new features in each Photoshop upgrade. This is a good thing—you’ll find that some techniques that required arcane, clever combinations of obscure Photoshop features are now condensed into convenient one-step tools that work just as well. I try to tell you whenever that’s happened.

A lot happens between each major version of Photoshop. Operating systems change, updates are issued, new plug-ins come out, and new tips appear after this book goes to press. To keep up with these changes, you can subscribe to my blog at blog.conradchavez.com. To learn about updates to this book, visit www.peachpit.com/realworldphotoshopcs5 and complete the process to register your book.

Upgrading to a New Version

Like death and taxes, upgrading your software is both inevitable and not any fun, until you actually start enjoying the new features. Sooner or later you’ll be faced with new challenges, unfamiliar options, and a new bottle of aspirin. Fortunately, I’ve got tips that can help ease your transition.

Migrating Your Existing Settings to CS5

The joy of discovering new features in an upgraded application is often tempered by the frustration of realizing that none of your meticulously crafted personal customizations are in your freshly installed upgrade. Do you really have to go in and reconfigure every last preference and preset in Photoshop? The answer is, probably not. You can get your tried-and-true workflow back a lot faster if you proceed with a little patience and preparation, instead of upgrading and instantly throwing out the old version.

Tip

Don’t delete your old version of Photoshop until you’ve copied your existing settings and moved all of your favorite plug-ins to the new Photoshop folder.


Preferences. There’s no way to directly transfer your current preferences to the new version. Instead of writing down all of your settings, take a screen shot of each pane of the Photoshop Preferences dialog and refer to them as you set up the new version of Photoshop. You can use Adobe Bridge CS5 to browse your screen shots so that you can easily cycle through them as you adjust each preference in the new version of Photoshop.

Presets and Other Customizations. Your custom settings—such as keyboard shortcuts, actions, dialog defaults, and tool presets—are stored in specific locations in your user account on your computer. You can copy the CS4 versions of those files to the locations where Photoshop CS5 will find them. To find these locations, consult the Adobe document Preference files in Photoshop CS5: functions, names, and locations. As I write this, the Photoshop CS5 version of that document is at kb2.adobe.com/cps/828/cpsid_82893.html and the Photoshop CS4 version is at www.adobe.com/go/kb405012.

Note

Don’t expect your workspaces and panel arrangements to survive from one version to the next.


Some presets may not work correctly in Photoshop CS5 if the features they’re based on were changed in the new version, so pay careful attention to how everything works as you begin using your migrated presets in your daily work. If you notice any serious problems with a particular preset, it’s best to delete its preset file from the Adobe Photoshop CS5 Settings folder and re-create the preset in Photoshop CS5.

Tip

You’re most likely to have problems with plug-ins if you’ve also recently upgraded your operating system or the computer itself. For example, if your old version of Photoshop ran on a 32-bit operating system and you just upgraded to a 64-bit system, you’re probably running 64-bit Photoshop now and your old 32-bit plug-ins may not work.


Plug-Ins. Photoshop plug-ins are installed into the Plug-ins folder inside the application folder for each version of Photoshop. This means that plug-ins don’t automatically appear in the Plug-ins folder for a newer version of Photoshop; you have to move them manually. Before you delete the folder for your older version, find each non-Adobe plug-in and drag it to the corresponding folder in the Photoshop CS5 Plug-ins folder. That doesn’t guarantee that the plug-in will always work with the new version of Photoshop; if it doesn’t, contact the plug-in vendor to see if there’s an update for you.

What’s New in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Here are some of the most important changes in Photoshop CS5. I’m not listing every new feature, just the ones you should know about before jumping into the rest of the book.

Performance. Photoshop CS5 takes even better advantage of OpenGL and graphics card processors than Photoshop CS4, for faster and smoother visual feedback. Photoshop is fully compatible with 64-bit Mac OS X and Windows 7, so on both platforms your large images can take advantage of as much RAM as you can stuff into your computer. Read about it in Chapter 1.

Intelligent Selection Technology. For those of you who wondered what happened to the old Extract dialog, this is your answer. The Refine Edge dialog is completely rebuilt, making it much easier to mask difficult edges such as fine hair; read all about it in Chapter 9.

Content-Aware Fill and Content-Aware Healing. When you delete a selection using a Content-Aware feature, Photoshop synthesizes a fill from the content of the surrounding area. This means that removing a tree from in front of a wall results in what you would expect to see in the real world: the wall behind the tree, not an empty hole. I cover these features in Chapter 11.

Adobe Camera Raw 6. Adobe completely rewrote the raw rendering engine for Camera Raw 6, which resulted in, among other things, better sharpness and dramatically improved noise reduction. It’s all in Chapter 5.

Merge to HDR Pro and HDR Toning. Merge to HDR Pro greatly improves on the HDR capability that was available in Photoshop CS4; it’s now more approachable, and it’s easier to be creative. HDR Toning does its best to optimize the available tones in a single image to create an HDR-like effect, and it’s actually useful. I talk about these two features in Chapter 11.

Automated Lens Correction. You can remove barrel and pincushion distortion, chromatic aberration, geometric distortion, and vignetting in one step by applying a lens correction profile in Camera Raw or Photoshop. You can also apply these corrections manually. I cover lens correction in Camera Raw in Chapter 5, and in Photoshop itself in Chapter 11.

Adobe Bridge CS5 and Mini Bridge. The file browser and organizer for Photoshop (and for the rest of Adobe Creative Suite), Bridge CS5 makes it easier to export and synchronize images with online photo galleries such as Flickr, and you can now search and replace within filenames. Mini Bridge provides the file-browsing and batch-processing features of Bridge as a panel in Photoshop, so that powerful browsing doesn’t require switching programs. Read about it in Chapter 5.

Other New Hotness. Photoshop CS5 offers many other small changes, many of which came from an internal Adobe initiative called JDI (“Just Do It”), intended to take care of a lot of things that wouldn’t take much time to fix. For example, you no longer have to convert a 16 bit/channel image to 8 bit/channel just to get the JPEG option to show up in the Save As dialog, and the profiles for the currently selected printer now appear at the top of the Print dialog profile list.

What I Don’t Cover. Because the focus (no pun intended) of this book is on photography, I don’t cover every new feature in Photoshop. For example, I don’t talk about the Mixer Brush, Puppet Warp, or improvements to video editing or 3D—they’re awesome, but a little outside the scope of the book.

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