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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Photoshop CS4 And The Nature Photographer

The gold standard in imaging software has been updated. OP takes you through the new features most useful to nature photographers.

Labels: How-ToSoftware

This Article Features Photo Zoom

photoshop cs4 Figure 1
photoshop cs4 Figure 2a photoshop cs4 Figure 2b
To add an Adjustment, click on the appropriate icon for the Adjustment or choose a preset (Figures 2a and 2b). All of these Adjustments are applied as layers and appear immediately in the Layer palette. This means that these Adjustments are nondestructive, just as adjustment layers always have been; they’re now much easier and faster to work with. Many nature photographers don’t want to spend too much time in front of the computer; this answers that need.

Adobe also has provided handy presets that can help you quickly make an adjustment without even knowing much about using a particular Adjustment. You could use a preset to get you started and then tweak it for the needs of your particular photograph.

The Adjustment panel includes all of the standard adjustment layers from earlier versions of Photoshop, but it also adds a Vibrance adjustment, which is similar to Hue/Saturation, but not as heavy-handed. It strongly affects skies and doesn’t oversaturate colors as fast as Hue/Saturation does.

Once you create an Adjustment with the Adjustment panel, you can add additional Adjustments. You don’t even have to know a thing about layers as this is done automatically. When you want to change any of these Adjustments, click on the layer of that Adjustment, and the Adjustment controls show up again in the Adjustment panel.

In order to use the Mask panel, you still have to know how to use a layer mask, i.e., painting on black blocks an adjustment and white allows the adjustment. However, this panel has simplified the control of the layer mask by allowing you to control its density and the feathering, or smoothing, of the mask.

The Color Range button on the Mask panel is a great feature for nature photographers. Often, we need to control the brightness or color of specific parts of the image because the camera didn’t capture it correctly. Color Range always has been a good control for this, but it was isolated in the Selection menu. Now, just click the Color Range button in the Mask panel and immediately go to the dialog box.

photoshop cs4
Figure 3
In addition, Color Range has been refined and improved. The new Localized Color Clusters check box helps you control selections to a specific group of colors for use in creating a mask. This new version of Color Range is an outstanding refinement for nature photographers, which I’ll use a lot.

Camera Raw With Local Adjustments
With the new version of Camera Raw, local adjustments have been added (Figure 3). These are the same basic adjustments that are in Lightroom—an Adjustment Brush and a Graduated Filter. They allow you to quickly and easily affect parts of an image without changing the whole thing, and they’re nondestructive. You can affect elements such as exposure, brightness, contrast saturation and sharpness over a large area with the Graduated Filter or over a small area with the Adjustment Brush.

These local adjustment tools give you direct contact with your image. You can balance brightness, for example, to better match your vision of the scene just as Ansel Adams used to do when working in the traditional darkroom.

Visit Rob Sheppard’s photo blog at www.photodigitary.com.


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