photoshop Archives

September 6, 2006

Roid Rage.....

A continuing series, of glimpses of my Polaroid project as it gets uploaded.

I am over halfway now in the scanning and processing, thankfully Photoshop™ has a nice set of features allowing a level of automation that alleviates the drudgery of resizing and converting file formats.


September 26, 2006

Photoshop Prac Days

I have had some interest in a open prac day using the labs at PIC to allow former attendees of my workshops. So now that the year is winding down I guess I better get off my backside and do something about it.

The idea:-
Open access to a Lab of Macs with Photoshop CS on them, access to a scanner, and a printer. I then drift around the room and help people when available.

10:00am to 4:00pm, $50.00 per head, minimum of 6 attendees. Colour film processing [35mm and 120] $3 plus the Prac fee. Cash on the day.

Saturday October 21 or Saturday October 28 2006.

E-mail me with your interest, I am prepared to accept Flickr contacts as well in this endeavour.

I will probably squeeze in one or two more workshops between now and December as well more info on my website.

October 2, 2006

Some Photo Tips

Here's a nicley distilled list of tips to help take better photos. I've just used the headings, the whole article is over on MSN. Aimed manily at people who like to wander the world at large camera in hand.

  • Lens hoods, Use them Always!
  • Steady your camera, if you want sharp images do everything in your power to make them so.
  • Get outside more often, seeing what is going on around you is a good thing, learning to read light is a lifelong craft.
  • Get outside when others don't. Capitalise on dramatic lighting situations.
  • Find an unusual viewpoint.
  • Keep the composition and the background simple.
  • Use selective focus carefully.
  • Hurry up and wait."Fortune favours the prepared"
  • Don't get caught with your camera down.
  • Think about different ways of framing your subject, try them out.
  • Texture, kind of self explanatory really.
  • Mood, use it to your advantage.
  • Meaningful juxtaposition, even though I hate that word juxtaposition, it is so true, and in the urban environment everywhere.
  • Always bracket [in the beginning, once you understand the intricacies of exposure, this is a last resort, see hurry up and wait.]
  • Padded camera bag, handy but not essential.
  • Supplementary lenses, handy but learning to see with one lens first only improves your ability to see all the time.

I offer these tips to stem the "oh I'll fix it in photoshop" attitude that is becoming more and more prevalent these days.

October 16, 2006

Blogged Elsewhere on the Web

On the Digital Photography School Blog in fact, in an article about using light to add impact to your photography.


October 31, 2006

Live Picture the King of all Photo Editing Software

The King Of Photo Editing Apps

I have just finished Gallery submission number 2 for 2007 [fingers crossed on this one]. Anyway for some reason I decided to really tweak my images for the gallery application, in a way that I hadn't for some time. Live Picture, a now dead piece of software, was my app of choice back in the day when I began digital photographic print making. It runs OK in Classic on my laptop, but screams in OS 8.1. After a bit of a fiddle on my laptop, I felt my time would be more productive if I used my old beige G3 running OS 8.1.

Ooooooo drool. I had forgotten about the speed and ease of use on this gorgeous app which coincidentally originally retailed for $3,000 Canadian upon it's release. When it came out it in the mid 90's, it could open 200 meg files as if they were txt files and on a power Mac with the then whopping great pile of 128 meg of ram. A brush stroke happened in real time, there was no destruction of pixels in the editing process, as it was NOT a pixel editing app magnification was limitless, and it just does things the way Photoshop will never be able to do.

So with 8 images to tweak and edit for the then due proposal over the weekend, away I went, feeling guilty for spending such little time trying to achieve an end result, all up I think I spent 3 hours with 8 images. Some minor masking and curve adjustments, working swiftly with my pen and tablet as if I was really drawing. Oh the joy of it all. It will be a sad day when my beige G3 finally dies, this application really made the process of image editing a real joy, encouraged time spent with images, allowed infinite undoes all retrievable at any stage of the process. The editing is done in 16 bits internally and no pixels are harmed in the process. The edited files fit on a floppy disk, can be built out to suit the web or a billboard, and at at no point is the app getting in your face, it just edits.

Graceful, elegant, simple.

December 16, 2006

Photoshop CS3!

Photoshop CS3's default interface

Photoshop CS 3 is now available in beta!

More learning is just around the corner, so I can keep my photoshop workshops current.

Edit. So I tried my CS Licence number and hey presto that doesn't work so it looks like I get a peek at it for a grand total of two days!

December 18, 2006

A Bit Over 24 Hours Later

Photoshop Splash Screen Day 2

As I ran a workshop in Photoshop over the weekend I didn't get much of a chance to have a play with Photoshop CS3. One thing though I learnt was that my ability to convert my raw files using Photoshop 7 has been removed! When I delete the beta version hopefully this will correct itself? Another thing I learnt is that you can only use a CS2 license not a CS license number to activate the full functionality of the beta software.

Why am I NOT surprised? Of course Photoshop are determined to sell you the latest, fair enough too I guess, they are a company they need to continue to make money. What worries me though is the must have the latest and greatest mentality that exists in these kinds of things.

Everything I do in photoshop revolves around curves, levels, adjustment layers and layer masks, all features that have been available since version 5. Sure 16 bit editing* has come in since then, sure, the History Palette has also been implemented since then, and sure the Lens Correction filter has been an added bonus as well, do I NEED any of these features, no. Well the 16 bit editing is a bit of a must but as for the rest, whatever. But hey I open an image I crop, I adjust levels, I burn and dodge a little I emphasise colour slightly, I sharpen, all of this is gone globally and or locally on an image, do I need any of the other guff no, but more importantly do my students?

What my students need is to be able understand what constitutes good exposure either digital or analogue, what constitutes good lighting, and good composition, the rest is simply workflow and can almost be automated, on a global image level anyway.

So, do I need photoshop CS2 or 3? No! Would I appreciate it if as an educator I was given a real opportunity to find the strengths and weaknesses of an application by trying it out properly, so I can then share this knowledge with my students. Abso-fucking-lutely. Is this ever going to happen, I severely doubt it.

I want my students to understand first principles, I want my students to understand the idea of finding a workaround, I want my students to be creative and critical thinkers, so sorry Adobe, I'm off to find a creative solution to the problem of modern day digital photography editing and I beginning to doubt that Photoshop CS3 is part of that solution.

*I am however still waiting for TRUE 16 bit editing and while we are at it, non-destructive pixel editing and correct colour handling, I can only hope and dream I guess?

December 28, 2006

Extending the life of Photoshop CS3's Beta

Wating Wating Waiting

There is apparently a legal workaround with older versions of Photoshop to extend the beta's life, I am still waiting however to hear back from Adobe for the answer. I guess it's to be expected given the Christmas period and all?

Update on Extending The Beta License On CS3

So now I ring the help line and get put through to tech help. Tech help claim that it is not possible to extend the life of the licence beta with an older license number, and could I send them the file in question where I read that this could be done.

This is spiralling out of control

I have to find the file and send it back to them!

What ever happened to customer service? The shear fact I was told NO you must have a CS2 licence to do this blew me away! Keep going Adobe, you app is looking less and less likely to be the application of choice taught in MY college


Well I guess for a change*, I have egg on my face, I can't find the read-me file that I could have sworn allowed you to use an older Photoshop Licence to extend the beta of the Photoshop CS3. It seems I was wrong. I cannot find the file in question and the only read-me that comes close only talks about upgrading to CS2, ah well. Looks like Photoshop might be going to take a step back in our program at PIC? There are alternatives.

I've also e-mailed the support team at Photoshop to express my concerns over this issue. Part of me wants to think that they will take notice, but another is more realistic.

Here is a copy of the e-mail I sent:-

Hi I am an educator/artist/photographer, I teach photography and photoshop, to post secondary students, over 100 students a year in fact. Photoshop has been the main photo editing tool taught in our college for many years.

Needless to say I was excited to be given an opportunity to trial the beta version of CS3.

However, my disappointment sank to great depths, after speaking to Technical help today and was told that older Photoshop licence numbers can NOT be used to extend the 2 day trial period of CS3.

Given that I am unable to reasonably evaluate the software, I will no longer be in a position to advise as to it's suitability for my students. The outlay for my college is very high and I am not prepared to pay for a product that MAY not suit our needs.

I will be advising ALL my future students to seek out and find alternatives to Photoshop, and personally will investigate options open to myself and my students for cheaper smaller and faster applications to use to edit their photographs.

Yours Sincerely

Stuart Murdoch

*For those of you who know me this is a joke.

The Last Post

Here's the final word on the issue of Photoshop and their money grubbing attitude, at least they responded very quickly, pity about the grammar and spelling.

Dear Sir,
Thankyou for your email.

Above is a link that has information about Photoshop CS3 Beta Version.

I certainly understand your frustration about not being able to fully use the Trial.

Though it is a trial version and only last for 2 days, it might be possible to download the trial onto another computer, I hope this may be helpful?

Adobe Customer pride themselves on being good at what they do, and giving 100% commitment in all they do.

We of course are binded by rules , that for example apply to trial versions being available for a certain period of time.

I hope this is of some assistance.

Warmest Regards and Season's greetings are sent to you!


January 14, 2007



Not too much to say really, hardly surprising after 2 days of talking about photoshop.

This scene at the end of our street is one I've had my eye on for a while, very happy with this shot, the sense of pace and light combined with the weird combination of the play equipment and industry speak volumes to me about modern suburban living, in Australia anyway.

I'm also really enjoying ShoZu at the moment an application that allows direct uploads to flickr straight from my mobile phone, best of all it's free.

March 18, 2007


Is slowly resuming. While the prints for my solo show lay here in my study all rolled up, ready to hang, I figured I'd share some tips on photoshop. This process is remarkably similar to a wet darkroom context, fwiw.

What all this really means is another of my photoshop workshops, is on the horizon.

lomo 1/6

Here is the original 16 bit scan, unadjusted. [I prefer to adjust post scanning, not that Silverfast isn't a good scanning package, I just prefer to work at home, whereas the scanner is at work.]

This is obviously nowhere near the original photograph, in terms of colour, density, and contrast.

The first thing then is, adjust the available data to see what the image looks like. A small aside here, if I may, I will be editing in 16 bits to minimise loss of data throughout the process, as Photoshop is a pixel editing application, and it destroys pixels in the process of editing, I'm told in part because of something called a rounding error.

Anyway my first move is to examine then if needed, adjust the levels on the image.

A note here, I always adjust each channel individually, the red, the green, and the blue. I adjust by pulling the black sliders inwards and the white slider inwards, if there are gaps.

Holga levels red

no gaps here?

Holga levels green

no gaps here?

Holga levels blue

no gaps here?

Interestingly enough, these histograms confirm the poor exposure I would expect from a camera such as a Holga. What to do then, as normally I would drag in these sliders hit OK and move on to the next part of the workflow.

Adjustment layers to the rescue.

Holga 2/6

By adding an adjustment layer to the mix I can now, non-destructively make modifications to my image.

In this instance I have used curves, to darken the image, particularly in the middle values.

All good and dandy, but it's got a ways to go yet. I can now see the image and start to think about how I want it to be perceived.

The image still seems a little cool?

Holga 3/6

Again I'l use an adjustment layer, this time colour balance.

The colours are cool, generally speaking, but I can tell without using the info palette and the eye dropper tool, this is a Cyan colour cast mainly in the mid-tones and highlights. A quick application of these adjustments and it's now starting to resemble a more realistic interpretation of the scene.

Note I'm not going to even begin to talk colour and it's emotional impact to this image.

Holga 4/6

Not only am I going to use an Adjustment Layer, but also, I am going to paint on that mask to reveal and hide at a local level the colours I want to emphasise.

The last stage of the basic adjustments.

Holga 6/6

Personally I want a little more punch to this image to add some more grunge to an overall post-punk kind of scene, so my last adjustment layer will be a curves layer and this time I'll simply pull the shadows in and the the highlights across by about one square, on a 10 square dialog, and bang the image is now ready for some serious contemplation and tweaking.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

March 31, 2007


Basalt Plains, west of Melbourne Australia

As I am on term break from one of the schools I work at, things may hot up here for a while. My solo show, at Trocadero comes down on the 7th, so if you haven't had a chance to see it, check it out, the prints are something to be seen, even I was impressed when they finally hit the wall. The next body of work is forming well, and I've a couple of small projects in mind in the interim. But other than catching up on some shooting and film processing things are otherwise quiet. Also I recently found an awesome location and plan on shooting out there over the next week or two.

Meanwhile here's an interesting article written by, Wayne J. Cosshall, it rather succinctly sums up an aspect of what photography both digital and analogue is really about, for me anyways. Lets' see what the crew in the Melbourne Flickr pool have to say about it?

My online experiment in photo publishing is trundling along well, after a couple of hiccups a week or so ago. Occasionally, I have a little trouble choosing images, which is part of the experiment, and usually more driven by me simply commuting to and from work and not really being attuned to my surrounds and the light notice anything worth capturing, and therefore not having enough images to choose from despite me upgrading to a 512 mg card for the phone camera.

While we are on photo-blogging. I am trying to locate a photographer, who, used to post to Usenet, low rez b&w on a regular basis. I've had a bit of a dig around using 'Unison' [a neato little app if I may say so] and have had no luck in there, [given the wild west nature of Usenet, I need to be careful where I look], so if either of my readers remembers this person can they send me the name of the group they posted too?

I have 2 friends who are who will be in a position to use the interwebs for news from distant places, looking forward to what Thomask sends back from his trip OS, and what Gayle and I manages to upload, Thomask will be in a highly technologically advanced culture,[so I'm lead to believe] and Gayle and I will be in a place where the internet is scarce and expensive [I think?].

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

April 25, 2007

New Software

Soft Laboratory have produced a Raw Processing tool that I am about to download and trial, stay tuned for the results.

This paragraph in this Month's Mac world was what caught my eye.

“The range of control is phenomenal. A piece of software with this level of command is welcome and will suit the ultra-fastidious image worker The GUI is attractively and professionally executed.”

I am constantly on the look out for ways to subvert the use of Photoshop, this looks like it maybe another tool in the arsenal of image processing work-flows that hopefully will give Photoshop a run for it's money.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

First screengrab

SILKYPIX Developer Studio 3.0 ( )   1/1

After installing the software and opening a raw file from my hard-drive.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

May 6, 2007

Not sure..

if this guy is lazy or smart? Using photoshop's tools to tweak an image, why not just wait for the right light, hmmm?

Thanks to bart for the headsup

[posted with ecto]

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

May 13, 2007

Sebastião Salgado

The Kamchatka peninsula is one of the most remote and barren places on earth. In the latest stage of his mammoth Genesis project, photographer Sebastião Salgado finds an eerie beauty in a land of volcanos and bears.1

Nice images indeed, however why is it that some photographers pay so little attention to the details of their images? Looking at the sky in the background there seems to me to be evidence of poor manipulation, is this by Salgado himself or by a sub-editor or editor of "The Guardian"

To do this correctly would be so simple in photoshop even? The rest of the images are magnificent and worth a look; even "on screen"

Read the interview while you are there too

1From The Guardian

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

May 16, 2007

Education & Software Corporations

As we gear up to purchase the next version of Photoshop. I can't help but wonder, is Photoshop really worth teaching?

From where I sit, education is about helping people to develop into free thinking and creative individuals. Photoshop is one of the areas I teach.

I've wondered about this before.

Photoshop has been around for 10 plus years. In the interim it, Photoshop, has become the dominant photo editing application. Dominant but not necessarily the best, fastest or cheapest.

This places me as an educator, between a rock and a hard place. While Photoshop is a powerful tool, any professional photographer knows that up to 80% of it's functions are not of any real studio/commercial use. Look at Lightroom and Aperture for example. The breadth and depth of photo editing tools and raw processing tools out there, is astounding, and probably ever growing.

Do I teach the students how to use photoshop, well, a time consuming task and skill, and risk them being curious about to how to do the job cheaper, faster and easier, or show them how to use and evaluate software that may give them more options at some point in the future, but only give them a fleeting understanding of photoshop?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

July 18, 2007


Well yesterday I rambled on a bit, in the cold light of dawn here, well pre-dawn actually, I've decided that I will heed Ian's advice and compare several of the RAW processing tools I've downloaded and opened, the ones I could get to work at least.

Hopefully I'll have some results by the end of the week.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

August 1, 2007

Camera Raw in CS3

Poking around the interwebs this morning I found a small gem by none other than… Adobe Photoshop

A short video that shows, how to make a minor post exposure correction using the Raw Processor in CS3, which now allows you to open ANY file and process it. Being able to open ANY file in the raw processor is at last starting move phtoshop to become a real photographer's tool. A good thing in my opinion. I also like that you can work in full screen mode with the processor and everything you need is there.

However, I actually disagree with the way that the narrator makes the white balance adjustment, but that's a whole other story in itself.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

August 28, 2007

Measuring & Judging an Image on Screen

Is this image too dark?

I was recently asked by a friend from flickr if I could look at an image of hers and see if it was too dark. A quick visit to photoshop, and using the colour sampler tool proved that it wasn't, for the screen. However if I was to try and print this image yes some areas would fall off to darkness and probably be unacceptable as an image.

Curves Adjustment

Big deal I hear both my readers say, or is that 3 now? Well given that anecdotally, the majority of images are made these days to be seen on screen exposure and contrast are the least of most people's worries. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Personally I'm not sure?

Not wanting to get into a High versus Low Art argument, I like the fact that many many more people are exploring their lives and worlds using cameras of all shapes and forms. How to judge the merits of these images though?

None of course are worthless. everyone presses the button at the moment they do for SOME reason.

Unfortunately, technique forms a part of 'judgement' of an image from many levels. And of course people have their own means of 'measuring' these values, often, based on their own knowledge and experience, and their own willingness to 'ask questions' of themselves and the images they find interesting.

All this will hopefully mean more and more folks WILL ask some questions and seek answers, a positive thing me.

This is the slightly tweaked version.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

September 17, 2007

Raw Processing

Spent 2 hours today processing a job shot earlier in the week, decided to use the Beta Version of Capture One 4.

This is one elegant and powerful tool. The beta version on my screen cut off the curves section of the exposure tab, but other wise it all worked really well.

The interface seems to have an adobe Edge though, which is okayyy, but certainly a step away from Apple's GUI guidleines.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

September 18, 2007

More On Raw

Why shoot RAW, and what is the big corporations are doing about it?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

September 29, 2007

Tips on Photography...

Tips on Photography* you won't find in any book.

  • When outdoors on location, turn around, 180 degrees and take another shot.
  • Shoot one Vertical and one horizontal.
  • ALWAYS use a lens hood.
  • Everything in photography doubles and halves.
  • Old photos look sepia by accident.
  • What you exclude in your shot is as important as what you include.
  • There is little point in shooting after 10.00 am in summer and before 3.00 pm.
  • The light in Australia is 'different' to other parts of the world.
  • Your best images will often be made when you are alone.
  • Photoshop is a powerful tool, be careful with that power.
  • Photoshop DESTROYS pixels.
* hat tip to thomask and gregor_y on flickr for the inspiration, and Kent for letting me steal two of his, the 1st two.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

October 14, 2007

Test Results

IMG 0829_innuendo

Have I said how much I'm loving this camera?

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

October 17, 2007

Black & White in CS3

cs3 channelmixer 1

Using Photoshop to create greyscale images from full colour ones just got even better using the new channel mixer in CS3.

There are several way to do this, and the channel mixer has always offered the most control. Now in CS3, it offers some very interesting pre-sets as well. All based around traditional b&w film & coloured filters. This image shows the dialog box accessed by the menu-bar, image>adjustments>channel mixer.

The presets drop-down menu at the top allows you to choose between several predetermined spectral responses and creating your own custom set of values.

cs3 channelmixer 3
  • Infrared
  • Blue Filter
  • Red Filter
  • Orange Filter
  • Green Filter
  • Yellow Filter

Use of these kinds of filters have had a long history in b&w, photography. Panchromatic film in itself has only been a reality in photography since the 70's. Prior to this b&w film was more Orthochromatic ie sensitive to the blue and green but not the red end of the spectrum, this is why so many photographs from the early history of photography had washed out skies, and also saw many many smart photographers take 2 exposures, one for the foreground and one for the sky, from the same camera position, then in the darkroom simply sandwiching the 2 negatives together to produce a print. Others simply, kept a collection of skies on hand in the darkroom and used as needed.

Now CS3 enables you to mimic the effects that these filters have in how colours are represented in a black and white print. Yellow for example it is said most closely mimics the world the way we see it and of course Red filters produce dramatic skies, while colours like green and blue can be used quite effectively in the right situation.

When working traditionally the colour of the filter you used with block it's opposites and passed more of it's own colour. So for example when using a Red filter less Green and blue light strikes the film than red. Red objects reflect more red light creating a denser negative, producing a lighter print. Where as less blue and green light strikes the film making for a less dense neg and a darker print.

I can only wonder now at the demise of silver gelatin printing. As anyone, armed today with a modern DSLR, and a good A3 ink-jet printer can easily produce some wonderful prints using these technologies.

the real question is though is there a measurable qualitative difference between the two output methods, personally I still see differences in Silver Gelatin prints over ink-jet ones, but after 20 plus years of working with the medium I've come to appreciate some unique and subtle qualities that I've yet to see in ink-jet prints.

I may, in an upcoming article, show the differences between the pre-sets at least.

Another approach on Luminous Landscape

October 18, 2007

Black & White

Here's 2 samples of the presets I was talking about previously, including the original file

First the original.


Next, the Yellow Filter pre-set.


Finally the blue filter preset.


Technorati Tags: , , ,

November 27, 2007

Photoshop & Layers

One night a week, I privately tutor a friend in Photoshop. Typically at the end of the session, I come away with insights about the application and how people understand it. Monday night was no different, except this time I still feel invigorated enough to talk about it in the hope that it will help others to understand this cumbersome destructive & powerful tool.

So I guess i've got the next few days covered in terms of blogging.

Here's a copy and paste from the help files for Photoshop CS3

About layers
Photoshop layers are like sheets of stacked acetate. You can see through transparent areas of a layer to the layers below. You move a layer to position the content on the layer, like sliding a sheet of acetate in a stack. You can also change the opacity of a layer to make content partially transparent.

You use layers to perform tasks such as compositing multiple images, adding text to an image, or adding vector graphic shapes. You can apply a layer style to add a special effect such as a drop shadow or a glow.

Work nondestructively
Sometimes layers don’t contain any apparent content. For example, an adjustment layer holds color or tonal adjustments that affect the layers below it. Rather than edit image pixels directly, you can edit an adjustment layer and leave the underlying pixels unchanged.

A special type of layer, called a Smart Object, contains one or more layers of content. You can transform (scale, skew, or reshape) a Smart Object without directly editing image pixels. Or, you can edit the Smart Object as a separate image even after placing it in a Photoshop image. Smart Objects can also contain smart filter effects, which allow you to apply filters nondestructively to images so that you can later tweak or remove the filter effect. See Nondestructive editing.

Organize layers
A new image has a single layer. The number of additional layers, layer effects, and layer sets you can add to an image is limited only by your computer’s memory.

You work with layers in the Layers palette. Layer groups help you organize and manage layers. You can use groups to arrange your layers in a logical order and to reduce clutter in the Layers palette. You can nest groups within other groups. You can also use groups to apply attributes and masks to multiple layers simultaneously.

Essentially there are 4 types of layers in photoshop. Each has a use that can be combined with other layers to provide a level of photo manipulation unheard of for the average person prior to Photoshop 4, Photoshop itself is over 10 years old maybe 15.

  1. Plain Layers, clear of information, waiting to be edited.
  2. Adjustment Layers, used to adjust, in a non-destructive way, things like Hue & Saturation, Levels, Curves, ETC
  3. Layer Mask, which is used to hide and reveal differences between 2 or more image layers, again in a non-destructive manner.
  4. Text Layer, used for, well text.

More tomorrow, hopefully.

Continue reading "Photoshop & Layers" »

November 28, 2007

Photoshop Layers 2

Yesterday, I talked about 4 kinds of layers. The first in my list was just a Layer, an empty one. As an artist with a training in wet darkroom processes and the production of photographic prints as objects, I actually have little use for many of photoshop's features, this layer does however have a fantastic use. If I fill it with 50% grey, and change it's blending mode to soft-light, this enables me to burn & dodge an image in a NON-DESTRUCTIVE manner as I would in a wet darkroom.

I've never quite understood HOW¶ this works, but it's power, simplicity elegance, and infinite un-doability makes it a must have trick in my bag of photographic darkroom tricks.

Then using either a) a paintbrush and black or white at low opacities, or the burning & dodging tools again at low opacities, in photoshop you can totally re-map the tonality of your image shifting emphasis on areas in a way that painters have understood for 100's of years.

The real beauty of this is if applied subtly there will be no obvious artefacts creeping into your image and even if they do, they can be wound back by using the opposite colour to change, not to mention that no pixels are edited directly in the image thereby non are destroyed and no issues such as banding creep into you prints†.

colour picker 50%
¶Many of the blending modes remain a mystery to me, and as photographic tools there are only really a couple that I would use regularly, this being one of them.
† All of these articles will be written from a paper output approach, as when producing screen based work I rarely make modifications to my images, due to the great unknown which is monitor calibration, and monitor colour spaces.

Continue reading "Photoshop Layers 2" »

November 29, 2007

Photoshop Layers 3

Today, I'm going to look breifly at how I use adjustment layers.

From Photoshop's help files:-

An adjustment layer applies color and tonal adjustments to your image without permanently changing pixel values. For example, rather than making a Levels or Curves adjustment directly to your image, you can create a Levels or Curves adjustment layer. The color and tone adjustments are stored in the adjustment layer and apply to all the layers below it. You can discard your changes and restore the original image at any time.

As a small aside you can now access an extensive set of help files on the web directly from the help applicaiton in photoshop.

The key issue here for me is the ability to make and adjustment to say colour balance density or saturation of an image and then brush through the mask to locally adjust the image to best suit my ideas and intentions in photograph.

This approach offers a degree of control unheard of in the history of colour photography. Combined with a desktop inkjet printer like the Epson R2400, I now have a complete home colour darkroom. And of course, again, no pixels are destroyed in the process.

adjustment layers

Continue reading "Photoshop Layers 3" »

November 30, 2007

Photoshop Layers 4

Layer Masks, one of my favourite tricks is to duplicate a layer, make some changes to it, whether it be colour contrast b&w, or some other effect I want to, apply to the image then add a layer mask and brush in any differences I want to see applied to the image.

Using a black and white image on top of the other is one of the most common, but intensifying colour using curves or levels is one of my favourites. Again this approach in non-destructive, and infinitely un-doable, while the layers are unflattened.

Lastly the Text Layer, which is relatively self explanatory, I hope? Handy for adding a copyright watermark to your image I guess?

January 26, 2008


Is this kind of work more prevalent because people can; easily do it? Or because of photoshop itself? Hand re-touching, a long lost art form, was capable of this kind of work but so time consuming it may not have justified it's cost? I suspect this use of photoshop and it's wide spread dissemination of the tool itself and what the tool is capable of, has changed the public's perception of photographs and photography.

January 27, 2008

New Image Editor

Just discovered this new app,, which is still very much in beta, once they iron out a few issues, it MAY be worth watching. Personally it's too early to tell as so many of the main features I need in this kind of app just don't exist yet. Curves, working levels, are to name but two. It did do some strange things, when I got some levels to apply to my standard RGB image, though.

Developers please look at this old app and give us another one like it.

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

January 29, 2008

Photo Editing Apps cont'd

A couple of days ago I mentioned a new kid on the block in the digital photo-editing arena.

Over the years there has been a shift towards soft being available online, rather than on a desktop machine, giving user un-precedented mobility in their choice of work place and environment.

Now Adobe is thinking of joining the ranks and adding their highly regarded photo editing application Photoshop.

Adobe Systems has announced that it will ship a beta version of its Photoshop Express online editing tool by the end of this year, with the full product to be complete sometime in 2008.

"By late this year, we anticipate having a beta version," said John Loiacono, senior vice president for Adobe Creative Solutions, speaking at the 6sight digital imaging conference. And next year, the online service will be "available to anyone," he said.

I wonder how such an application would perform, particularly given that photoshop loads all image data into RAM, regardless of zoom and screen usage, and over the years has gotten worse in terms of it's processing power and needs?

Thanks to subbzy for the heads up.

February 10, 2008

Free Image Editing Software

Found this free image editor for the Mac today, photoshop it ain't but a simple quick editor it's worth having.

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

February 11, 2008


Oops, yesterday I mentioned an open source light-weight image editor for the Mac, it's called Seahorse and can be downloaded, from their website.

Apologies folks, things are heating up around here, it's going to be a big year all round.

February 17, 2008

Lobster Version 2

It has been a while since I talked about one of the best digital photographic tools on the market, Lobster, that overcomes one of Photoshop least talked about shortcomings; colour.

Recently, I received an e-mail from the developer, that Version 2 will be released shortly.

The funniest part, for me, however was in his e-mail he stated that he knows no-one who uses a Windows box, and wondered if I could help him find a tester for the Windows version, and of course I, actually, am in the same position, all the Photographic power users of Photoshop I know run Macs.

Here's a screen-grab in my flickr stream.

March 2, 2008

Workshop Lecture

Michael Reichmann in AUSTRALIA

Michael Reichmann, runs the well known Lumious Landscape Website. He is giving a workshop demonstration here in Melbourne, sadly I'm not going to be able to make it and probably it is booked out already? Anyway the details are,

Melbourne: Tuesday 4th March 2008
Sponsor: L&P Digital Photographic
Participation fee: $88 or, $66 for AIPP members
For registration and information about venue and time please contact:

Something I will be attending is the CCP workshops run by Les Walkling, sometime this year. So much to chose from, though so I'm not sure which one to attend?

On another note, I'm running some workshops in Photoshop again this year, I've changed the format, they now run over 2 Saturdays, if you know someone who would be interested contact me.

March 3, 2008

Photoshop Gripe #1435667

Does anyone else hate this black background in CS 3? Can it be changed?

photoshop black
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

March 10, 2008

Mental Note to Self #1

Scale and size, are almost irrelevant on the internet. Real in 'our hands' prints are reliant* on scale, as part of the grammar of photography.

* is reliant even the right word?

March 16, 2008


Despite the heat today, over 35°C, we managed to go out for Lunch to Lavandula, the place where we married a few years back. I shot a few frames, [Nik also shot a couple], on a borrowed Canon 5d. So far I've narrowed them down to 11, some processing ahead of me, it seems.

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

March 25, 2008

Zone Ruler, [5% increments]

As I prepare a file for a competition submission, I decided to make yet another zone rule scale to help me think about the values in the file as I tweak it, using photoshop, [because I'm in a hurry] in preparation for the submission, this time in 5% steps.

Click on the image to see the whole image and download it if you like.

March 28, 2008

Adobe Photoshop Express - Made You Look - "you dirty chook."

Photoshop, joins the burgeoning online application community.

[From Adobe Photoshop Express.]

Will it compete, review to come.

Thanks; again, to TK for the headsup.

Adobe Express

Ok after creating an account here's the default interface, more to come.

Adobe Photoshop Express
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Photo upload to Adobe Photoshop Express

FWIW, I'm using firefox to access the site, as Safari at V3.1 doesn't seem to be working.

Adobe Photoshop Express 2
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Adobe Photoshop Express -Editing

The default editing interface.

Adobe Photoshop Express 3
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Adobe Photoshop Express

Well it will certainly be a fun tool for the amateur and serious amateur alike, some good editing tools, all fairly intuitive, for someone like me. Not quite high end enough and unlike flickr there appears to be NO social component to the app, other than the ability to link one's facebook or photobucket account to it.

Two gig of free usage seems OK, haven't dug around the fine print yet to see where and how they may charge for the service?

March 29, 2008

Don't Bother

Well it didn't take long, the TOS of Adobe's new service certainly favour them over the user, thanks to Addie, and Albert and TK for the heads up, my advice don't bother, especially if you already have Photoshop. There are alternatives out there Picassa being one of them.

March 31, 2008

Photoshop Express 'terms of use'

The cynic in me wants to exclude this completely.

[From John Nack on Adobe: A note about PS Express terms of use]

You decide.

May 3, 2008

Picture Australia | Re-Picture Australia

Want to contribute to Australian Picture History? Got something to SAY about Australian history? Got some good photoshop skills? Great! Picture Australia, has opened it's archives and started a group on Flickr. The idea is to download an image or two and mash them up, with your own.

[More Instructions.]

Go for it.

June 14, 2008

Photoshop Sharpening

All digital files, jpeg, or raw require some level of post processing, to achieve film like appearance. this technique is a combination of Smart Objects and the High Pass Filter*. A word of advice, I have NOT used this technique on a print, only screen images, which require different approaches I'm told.

First process your image in your favourite raw processor. Next, duplicate the background layer twice. Now, convert each layer to a smart object. On the top layer, apply the high pass filter at a setting of about 30-50. On the next layer, convert the image to b&w, using black and white converter in image>adjustments. Apply the high pass filter again, this time however, at a much lower setting, say around 1.5 to 3. Now change the layer blending mode to soft light on all layers above the original background layer. hey presto a crisp image with the kind of acutance we've become accustomed to from our years of film use.

The original image


The finished image.

photoshop sharpening
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

*This technique requires Photoshop CS3, Kent Johnson first showed me this idea, I've tweaked it slightly, as I'm sure others will have.

Less is more, as always, be careful, not to go too far overboard with the sliders, but if you do if you've used smart objects you can edit the setting at a later date, on the un-flattened file. So even without CS3, you can simply apply the high pass filter to the image directly, and the results will be the same, but you won't have the infinite undo-ablitiy that the smart objects allow.

July 21, 2008 - DAD?

Fun with photoshop!

[From - DAD?]

August 22, 2008

Perfections Plus

Today's quote comes from the New York Times

“If you can’t have the perfect family,” she added, “at least you can Photoshop it.”

This quote, is almost as good:-

It’s a Western sense of reality that what is in front of the lens has to be true

August 28, 2008

Spot the bad Photoshop!

The Australian - Photo galleries and slideshows - Myer Collections launch 2008
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Thanks to the Australian Newspaper

September 28, 2008

CS 4

As I'm doing less and less in photoshop these days, I guess I missed the announcement of CS4

Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Just another thing to learn, well my PD file will get a shot in the arm.

January 2, 2009

What's the point?

Recently discovered this filter/plugin for photoshop, that adds film grain to a digital file. From where I sit if you want film grain use film, sheesh?

film filter
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

March 28, 2009

Another Graphic Editor

Pixelmator website

Thanks to my Wakoopa account I discovered this new little app called Pixelmator. Quoting the weekly mail from, it is the 5th most popular Mac graphics editor and:- trying to do what Photoshop couldn't: make a simple to use graphics tool that doesn't create a lesser end result.

After mucking around with it on this fine sunny Saturday afternoon, I was quite impressed. The interface, has some neat features that make it really cool to look at. I like the fact that I could add a mask directly to the 'background' layer, and the fact that is just opened my raw files no fuss. Generally though, it doesn't do anything special that photoshop doesn't. Of course I'm lucky Photoshop forms part of my job so it is provided for me, therefore cost never need be an issue. More troubling though was the way curves and levels handled colour. Pixelmator handles colour in exactly the same way that photoshop does, so that is a big no-no for me anyway. Also a quick test with levels seemed to indicate that pixels are indeed 'destroyed as I worked, one of Photoshop's most troubling problems, and one never talked about.

Some screen grabs to show how I test these apps quickly and easily.


First a test file I make to see how some of the basic tools work and to check the way colour works at a default level.

test file for editing apps

The file was easy enough to create, for the grey-scale measurements, the colour wheel a bit more difficult and I would need more time to make sure it was 'correct'. Even so the blue is meant to be a value of R0, G0, B255, and it looks off on my monitor, which was calibrated only a few weeks ago.

A feature I quite liked was the way tools and their options were enlarged while in use.


On my test file at a zoom factor of 200%, there was evidence of banding, bit of a concern, no higher bit depth editing available, not surprising given the price I guess, but the banding would/could be an issue for larger prints?


Raw Files.

I was very excited to see that the tool just opened the raw file I asked it to, no questions asked, again though, some processing controls at this point would be nice, even if it was just exposure, contrast and white balance.

no raw tools

There seemed to be some problems in some areas of the file, in terms of colour, but this could be the lens or the software.


Here is the file opened in the raw processor of Photoshop, and, the evidence points to the software; but not conclusively.

same file psp

Colour Editing

This software works the same as photoshop ie incorrectly, using both curves and levels. Lobster, made by Ian Lobb, goes into an in-depth discussion about why and how Photoshop handles colour incorrectly. Have a read for more information and background on this issue.

Firstly levels. An image made of pure colour, in this case, red, should display some changes when applying changes using the levels dialogue, none were apparent. Note the position of the sliders and the readout from the measuring tool.

fail x 1

Curves; same situation

fail x 2

Pixel Destruction?

Just like photoshop, these two screen grabs of a simple albeit heavy move with the levels tool suggest some data was lost.

levels 1

The second image below show excessive gaps, which suggests some loss of data.

levels 2

Photo Browser

Like any good app these days, the facility to 'browse' stored photos is a must and this app has that facility. However, because I have tested several of these tools over the last 6 months, or because of the apps shortcomings, I was unable to locate my external drives where all my photographs are kept. Pixelmator, very cleverly found my small iPhoto library. I however, rarely use it, and so many folders had been created by apps like Lightroom and Aperture already, I gave up trying to locate my files on my external drives.

Whether it is my system of organisation or the applications approach I'm not sure, but the option to choose the location of my files, somewhere in the preferences for example would be a huge improvement.
photo browser but where's my desktop and other folders?

long long long list

Colour Management.

One of the least understood and most important aspects of digital photography is colour management. Pixelmator's approach is simple and easy to use, a real plus for a such a piece of software aimed I'm assuming at a level of the market that may not really need to know or care.

colour manangement wow


All the usual suspects here. I guess standard these days. One standout feature though that Photoshop doesn't do is allow you to add a mask to the default image, or as Photoshop calls it 'background'. However I forgot to screengrab it, and am too lazy to go back and re-do it, you'll just have to trust me.

the usual suspects and more

One of my favourite techniques is to use adjustment layers in Photoshop to enhance and manipulate my images, Pixelmator doesn't seem to have the option despite being able to mask a background layer, ah well can;'t have it all I guess.


brushes options

The options for the brushes, were somewhat buried I felt. [Of course at no point did I read the manual] but once found were easy to use and modify brush types and sizes, exactly the same as Photoshop.

Here they are, the stand settings for brushes really.


Maybe the jitter options on, hue, saturation, lightness, are different, again not a tool as a photographer I use a great deal, so hard to say how useful it could be.

Value, but...

At 50 bucks US, it's a good piece of software. It has some major strengths, is easy and intuitive to use. If you were starting out in the design industry it's a real replacement for Photoshop. Pro photographers though, well, with Aperture and Lightroom really kicking Photoshop's arse at the moment, I doubt you'd bother.

July 6, 2009

Lifehacker - Five Best Online Image Editors - Image Editing

Sadly even Photoshop Express [online] seems the mot popular, accoring to this lifehacker article.

Editing your images on a desktop image editor might be ideal, but sometimes you're away from your home workstation and need to do some impromptu editing. Check out these five options favored by Lifehacker readers

[From Lifehacker - Five Best Online Image Editors - Image Editing]


May 7, 2010

CS5 Roadshow 2010

So; I spent Thursday at the Sofitel in Collins St. in the city, all day. I went to view the circus that is a Corporate sales pitch. In particular, Adobe's new Creative Suite 5.

The Sofitel was an excellent choice of venue, and the crowd was at some where near the 1000 mark.Almost packed to capacity on Twitpic The check-in process looked like it was in a log jam, but went rather smoothly and the guy who handled my 'booking' even greeted me by name, a nice touch, but not the first I'm sure. I was given my red enviro-freindly Adobe bag, full to the brim of printed materials and found a seat.[When I say full I mean 3 or 4 and is it just me or is there somewhat of an oxymoron in the idea of presenting an enviro-freindly bag full of printed materials?]

Once inside the 'vibe' was typically Melbourne, i.e. somewhat reserved. [I feel for the presenters in these instances as it is really hard to work a crowd, at the best of times, never mind one that is reserved almost to the point of hostile]. Free Adobe Rubic's cubes were handed out to the crowd if they were boisterous enough. Which some people tried to exploit. Needless to say not many were handed out, due in part I suspect by the lack of WOW factor in the product being demonstrated. At least the majority of presenters were Aussies, there's nothing worse than having an American Company send American minions to sell you on an idea/product.

The Keynote sold the main features of the Creative suite, they were.

  • 64 Bit processing
  • Publishing to multiple platforms
  • Cloud based services, and several other business level ideas.

The day began with Video Editing, not much there for me, so I used the time to tweet as best I could on my Sony Ericsson C902. The keynote referred to the the fact that all the apps have been re-built from the ground up to run in 64 bit mode, a real advantage for Video editors, not sure where Final Cut Pro sits in the scheme of things here though, but a plus for Photoshop and large raw files.

The big surprise for me was, Flash Catalyst, an interesting looking application that makes building flash applications easier, which is a pity because to quote a friend, far more tech savvy than myself:-

"Flash must die, it is the obese treacle elephant of the Internet and a culling of its inaccessible ass is long overdue."
I have never liked flash either personally, but for me it's more about the semantic nature of the web, for example it makes sharing links difficult, particularly when photographers use it to build 'galleries'. Perhaps it was just me but there also seemed to be a sub-text of anti W3C standards and contempt for the debate regarding Apple and it's not allowing the use of Flash to build apps for the iPhone. No surprises really, but the crowd of, what appeared to me, to be Graphic designers all lapped up every bit of stuff about Flash and the new app called Flash Catalyst.

By now, I am starving and beginning to realise that they are saving Photoshop till the end, I wish I had read the 'agenda' earlier[again this is made in flash so not sure if it will work, it didn't on my mobile device], as I could have saved 1/2 a day. The free wifi was not happening anyway so I gave up and turned it off to conserve battery. When lunch time did arrive I headed outside, and found some free wi-fi across the road at a cafe called, The Paris End Cafe, great sandwich guys and thanks for the free wi-fi.

Back inside, the Sofitel, I found a seat close to the aisle so I could make a quick exit towards the end, a good move it turned out. Next, Indesign's new features were demonstrated and again, it was primarily about multiple platform delivery of content, this is something Quark has been trying to sell for some time, and so Adobe gets no prizes for this, but now it makes sense to me given my own use of mobile devices and their current popularity, an idea that seemed alien to me 3 years ago. There are indeed some cool new features in Indesign, but this is not an application I 'teach' so, it was more about my own personal use of the program. It will help me publish my work to a variety of formats and devices, something that, is important to me now.

Finally Photoshop gets a look in, and of course it begins with the much touted 'content aware fill tool'. This is a great tool if your are a graphic designer or a lazy photographer, I rarely need to remove that amount of visual garbage from my images, in fact it is what makes part of the challenge for me, making a good image when we are surrounded by it, the garbage that is. So this tool worked well, in real life but the software was demonstrated on a PC laptop, so I'm yet to be convinced it will work well on a Mac. The two other features that made an impression on me were, the new masking tools, and the lens correction tool.

The masking tool now speeds up the whole process of removing models from backdrops and has the ability to quickly and easily refine that selection, and either create a mask, a separate file, or a combination of layer mask and file.

The lens correction tool was indeed awesome. After launching the filter, it, the tool draws on a database of lenses and using the metadata embedded into the file 'automatically' corrects the distortions in the image created by the lens. Using the new Adobe Lens Correction application you can even create your own files and add them to the database.

Creative Suite 5 is an impressive set of tools, Adobe have tapped the market well in as much as, they can see that the distinction between DTP, Designer, Web Designer, Videographer and Photographer is really being blurred. However as a photographer, given Photoshop's demonstrated poor handling of colour, there was not much to grab my attention. I am more excited by tools like Aperture and Lightroom than Photoshop now, and probably will only use Photoshop to demonstrate a handful of ideas and approaches in my teaching practice, I can in fact see an end for Photoshop in Photography education already, other than for use as a studio/fashion tool where a photographer works closely with a Graphic Designer or is a DTP operator as well as a photographer.

For a commercial take on the software, try Macworld's review, I'll pass you the grain of salt after you've read it.

Continue reading "CS5 Roadshow 2010" »

May 8, 2010

Another View

Macworld critiques Photoshop CS5. Let's not forget about the hand that feeds it etc..

June 2, 2010


updates for the new CS suites, both Photoshop & Camera Raw
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

About photoshop

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to musings from the photographic memepool [the shallow end] in the photoshop category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

photography is the previous category.

publishing is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 4.26