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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Photoshop CS3

Adobe's latest Photoshop sports a streamlined workspace and powerful new tools that solve old photographic challenges

The Quick Selection Tool is an advancement of the idea behind the Magic Wand (the old Magic Wand resides under this tool on the toolbar if you still want to use it). The new tool is easy to use—you basically just click and drag over the areas you want to select, and it selects based on color (and does a great job with edges). You can subtract from the selection by holding your Opt/Alt key.

Brightness/ContrastDo you stack multiple exposures as layers in a single image file to control contrast and exposure or to combine elements of images? Auto Align will automatically align layers based on their contents to aid in this process. For example, if you take a series of images of an animal with your motordrive, and in one image the light is better but the animal closes its eyes or turns its head, you can use Auto Align to quickly bring two layers into proper registration, then combine the best features of each image with a simple layer mask. It also works great for lining up landscapes when you need to mask in a new sky or a different exposure.

Auto Blend is used to blend the color and brightness of two layers, but it needs to have transparency on the layers for it to work. This means you can’t take two exact images at different exposures and have it blend the images. But it will be useful for blending overlapping images, such as those in a stitched panorama.

Refine Edges is one of the most important new features in CS3. Whenever you make a selection in Photoshop and want to either change the appearance of that selection with an adjustment tool or use the selection to create a mask, you need to make sure the edges of the selection are smooth enough to make the change look natural. In the past, that meant trying to feather the selection or use the Quick Mask to see the selection and then try to finesse it with a brush. Now with the Refine Edges option (which appears in the Tool Options bar on every tool capable of creating selections or as a drop-down from the Select menu), you can refine the selection edge with Radius, increase the contrast edge with Contrast, smooth jagged edges with Smooth, increase or decrease the feather of the selection with Feather, and expand or contract the selection with the Contract/Expand slider. You can also isolate your selection against different color backgrounds by using the icons at the bottom of the dialog box.


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