Posts tagged with Photoshop

Burning an impression

I did say I certainly reacted to the Photoshop box cover, but I didn’t mention how I’d been wowed by the splash screen – you can see a relationship  between the two. So I enjoyed this article on how Adobe developed the CS6  branding:

We know that every release requires change and that the change will make some people unhappy. Like many of you, we are life-long users and fans of the tools, and we do our best to create something that we can be proud of, knowing full well that some people will not agree with our choices. Then again, if no one reacts negatively, it’s probably not very interesting.

Trivial, perhaps, and nowhere near as useful as being able to filter my layer palette down to  the pixel layers. But I still like to open Photoshop and find a carefully-designed welcome mat.

Eastern Front

Here’s the interesting story behind the striking and rather gruesome picture used on the Photoshop CS6 box. Interesting for me because I didn’t expect it was a Russian rather than an American artist, and because I hadn’t the faintest idea how the effect had been achieved. The artist Oleg Dou says “I am looking for something bordering between the beautiful and the repulsive, living and dead. I want to attain the feeling of presence one can get when walking by a plastic manikin…” It’s clearly a very fine line….

Photoshop CS6 Beta

Photoshop CS6 was released as a public beta last night – see 20 things you need to know and 7 things to know about the new interface.

Now who do you know who goes to Blea Tarn and does lots of B&W? Buy the next Practical Photoshop for my thoughts on what’s there for photographers.

Also see the post Painted landscapes which uses the amazing Oil Paint filter – it’s great fun.

Painted landscapes

These are all photographs I’ve taken in my beloved Lake District over the last few years and reworked with a new effect which I found pretty addictive but can’t disclose, not yet anyway. You may of course say it should remain that way, but I rather liked the results and it is my party….



As usual they are being served from my SlideShowPro Director content management system, but I recently heard that they have discontinued the Slidepress plug-in (why is explained here). So instead I am using their Publish mechanism, copying code from Director and pasting it in WordPress. I’m not sure it’s totally reliable and WordPress has a habit of correcting – or rather deleting – the code.


Mark Laita’s Created Equal is a series of portraits of American stereotypes. Each image would be interesting-enough in its own right but becomes more fascinating by its being paired with a contrasting type. So a Mormon polygamist family is juxtaposed with a pimp and his harem.

In America, the chasm between rich and poor is growing, the clash between conservatives and liberals is strengthening, and even good and evil seem more polarized than ever before. At the heart of this collection of portraits is my desire to remind us that we were all equal, until our environment, circumstances or fate molded and weathered us into whom we have become.


Refined edges

Yesterday I needed to look up some tutorials on extracting people from backgrounds in Photoshop. You usually need a variety of techniques but if you don’t know CS5’s Refine Mask/Edges take a look at these:

Jan Kibili’s tutorial is a particularly good starting point
Martin Evening
Russell Brown – less idiosyncratic than usual, but remember “don’t select areas of transition” and paint close to the transitions
Deke McClelland

Free stuff from George Jardine

George Jardine has assembled all his free tutorial videos onto one page, which you can find here. I particularly recommend the one on black and white.

Photo Professional

August’s Photo Professional carries the third of my four-part series on aspects of workflow.

This time I’m looking at raw processing but not from the usual angle of how to squeeze out the best image quality. Instead I discuss how to respond to the problems caused by having large numbers of raw files to process. So the article looks at how one can automate Photoshop and the pros and cons of actions, scripts, droplets and Configurator.

Eventually though you have to recognise that you’re trying rather too hard to turn a program designed to work on one image into a batch processing tool worthy of Heath Robinson (Rube Goldberg). So the article then looks at the role the new workflow tools such as Lightroom and Aperture.

September’s article, a sceptic’s guide to colour management and soft proofing, is already submitted.

Battlefield tourism?

More pictures and text (German) on the Spiegel site

The NY Times Lens blog and the Spiegel have a set of pictures showing the Eastern Front in World War II (Barbarossa was 70 years ago tomorrow). They are apparently from the personal album of a Propaganda Korps photographer whose identity, despite his self-portrait, remains unknown:

First and foremost, he documented the progress through Eastern Europe of a bus convoy in the service of the Reichs-Autozug Deutschland, a Nazi Party unit whose responsibilities included the logistics needed to stage mass rallies. Judging from graffiti written on the dusty bus windows, the overall itinerary was Berlin-Minsk-Smolensk-Munich. Identifiable landmarks in the album show that the convoy made its way through Gdansk, Poland, which was then Danzig; Kaliningrad, Russia, which was then Königsberg; and Barysaw, Belarus.

Little of the battlefield is seen (the front was, by then, far ahead), but a great deal of destruction is evident. Minsk, the capital of what was then the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic and fell within days of the beginning more…

Salgado in Alaska

Sometimes I think writing about landscape photography has a porn corner which drips with the obligatory stories of waking so long before dawn that the previous day’s sun has barely set, and then heading off up a near vertical slope lugging a monumental camera bag and a tripod hewn from solid granite – both which of course roll all the way down again just after you’ve reached the mist-shrouded summit. There’s a bit of that in the NY Times’s new interview with Sebastião Salgado on a project to photograph areas of Alaska:

The most important thing for me is to have my cereal. I have milk and granola and cheese. And that’s it. I have a lot of cereals that I eat all day long, and I have a big appetite. All over the planet I carry my cereals!


Practical Photoshop

Just picked up my copy of the first issue of Practical Photoshop from my local Sainsburys. It’s hot off the press, out today, and contains a wide variety of Photoshop-related tutorials and guidance (digital sampler here). Best of luck to Ben Brain and the team down in Bath.

I should be doing monthly contributions as an “expert” and a “genius” (hey, you take such titles in your stride when one publisher hyped you up as one of the industry’s “glittergurus”), and in this issue is my technique for making a photo look like a watercolour (also a smaller piece on Hockney-style joiners). Of course, I don’t always use the technique to create watercolour puppies, you know….

Taming the President

I’m still enjoying the NY Times’s excellent series of articles on the American Civil War, and today’s Lincoln Captured! is particularly interesting for photographers as it describes the President’s relationship with Matthew Brady:

Brady, the former painter, was not averse to certain forms of retouching (he made Lincoln’s neck less scrawny by artificially enlarging his collar), and the result was a surprisingly normal-looking candidate. Not a savage from the wilds of Illinois, or a baboon, as he was often called, but a reasonable facsimile of a human being. That image was widely disseminated during the tumultuous campaign, as Americans by the thousands bought small buttons with his tintyped image affixed to them.

Ragnar Axelsson

Last night I found myself watching an excellent documentary on BBC4, Last days of the Arctic, and thinking Ragnar Axelsson’s excellent b&w work seemed familiar. It’s mainly about his pictures showing the fast-vanishing farming communities of his native Iceland and the hunting people of Greenland, but it also covers other areas of his work (he’s a press photographer) such as last year’s volcanic eruptions. Here’s his web site.

The programme’s well worth watching if you’ve access to BBC’s iPlayer or there’s an extract on YouTube.

And his work was familiar – mentioned here back in 2006.

Practical Photoshop

UK readers may be interested in the new Practical Photoshop magazine which Future Publishing launches on June 2nd. The goal is to:

unleash your creative side through smartly written, straight-talking tutorials and accompanying video lessons

The first edition contains a couple of pieces from me – a photo-to-watercolour technique, and how I like to simulate Hockney-style joiners – and there will be more in the coming months. As well as being a regular contributor, I’ll be one of the ‘resident’ experts for the Artist Insight section, and there’s even a chance I’ll be doing the odd, straight-talking video.

Silver Efex Pro 2

I’ve never been one who photographs in colour and occasionally dabbles with black and white. It’s very much the other way round, and I often look at pictures I’ve left in colour and think they’re rather monochrome anyway. But I’ve never seen doing a lot of b&w work as a reason why I would want to buy Nik’s Silver Efex Pro (SEP) or any of the other dedicated black and white plug-ins that it has now overshadowed. It’s not that I felt SEP1 deficient in any way – quite the contrary. SEP1 was a very polished piece of software, produced good results quickly (even if I doubted the film simulations), and I could certainly see why people liked it so much. I simply felt its price was steep, and I’ve not feel any real need for it.

Nonetheless, I was looking forward to seeing Silver Efex Pro 2 and these seem to be the new features:

History Browser – good, session-only and like Photoshop except with more detail,
Amplify Blacks and Amplify Whites – I remain neutral about this
Visual Presets – thumbnails on more…

Silver Efex Pro 2

I plan to try out Silver Efex Pro 2 shortly and we’ll see if it changes my old view of it (good software but overpriced), but for now see Bret Edge’s short tutorial showing how he used Silver Efex Pro 2 for a black and white picture:

The great thing about Silver Efex Pro 2 (and all the Nik plug-ins, for that matter) is that it affords tremendous creative control to those of us who aren’t and never will be Adobe Certified Experts.  I like anything that allows me to spend more time outside making images and less time chained to my desk.

That’s OK, but you really don’t have to be an ACE to do great black and white quickly with Lightroom or Photoshop…..

Nyiragongo Crater

There’s an awe-inspiring set of pictures at the Big Picture today by a group who abseiled into Nyiragongo Crater in Congo and camped down there for a couple of days.

Some of the captions are hilarious:

At the beginning of the descent to the second terrace, falling rocks are a major risk. The gas often blinds the climbers.

Volcanic gases heat the base camp. Members often need to don gas masks for sleeping.

Approaching 282 million cubic feet of lava requires extensive protection.

B&W from different angles

There’s an interesting comparison of doing black and white in Capture One 6, Silver Efex 1, and Lightroom 3 by Mike at The Intuitive Lens. It’s a two parter with Capture One vs Silver Efex and then both vs Lightroom. I’m not sure it proves much, if anything, other than one if one tries to do so one can produce similar results in different products! Leaving settings at default is a little odd, and there’s no real attempt to use the b&w conversion process to separate neighbouring colours into distinct tones – eg those in the left woman’s blouse or between the brown briefcase in the foreground and the middle person’s red sweater. Why didn’t he use Lightroom’s targeted adjustment tool, for example? I’d argue that it alone produces better b&w images because you’re keeping your eyes on the image. But it is an interesting exercise.


See discussion here and here.

My view tends to be that there are no jacks of all trades and skilled hands can squeeze the same “objective quality” out of each app. So my emphasis is less more…


I posted the other day about the UK’s landcape photographer of the year competition winners which were hidden behind a paywall. They are now here and I’ve got to agree with much of what Tim Parkin said. Does your definition of landscape photography include a bloke in a goblin costume or a parkour enthusiast in dark city streets, a bunch of  teenagers slouching around a market or in public telephone boxes, or a traditional British breakfast with a city and steam train through the window? All are good shots, especially the last one (even if has rather a lot going on), but are they really landscape photography?

I don’t think anyone has problems with urban landscapes. Whether you like such overtly man-made landscapes is a matter of taste, but depictions of our towns and cities seem just as much part of the landscape photography genre as pictures of our countryside and wilder regions (if not as macho as the latter). After all, if it’s urban vs natural that worries you, it’s only a case of the degree of unnaturalness – more…

Pixel-pushing power

John Nack has posted a beautifully-concise summary of how to set up a great Photoshop machine:

At Photoshop World this week, performance testing lead Adam Jerugim presented a performance guide with hardware recommendations and information about the CS5 performance preferences.  I’ve put his notes in this post’s extended entry.

RAM: Enough to keep Efficiency readout at 100%. If Efficiency is low (<95%), adding RAM will provide biggest benefit. 4GB will cover most digital photography uses. 8GB leaves room for other apps and fits huge documents in RAM…..

I do like my new computer – for now, at least, I’m well ahead of the ideal specs 🙂

Also see:

Optimize Photoshop performance (CS4, CS5) Windows 7, Vista, XP
Optimize Photoshop performance (CS4, CS5) Mac OS
Photoshop CS5 64bit benchmarking (pdf)