by Dr. Robert Berdan
February 24, 2016
Winter sunrise in Banff National Park
Photoshop is a primary tool for many photographers. Some photographers prefer Lightroom because it easier to learn. I think Lightroom has limited use and almost everything in Lightroom can be done with more control in Photoshop. The bottom line is that both programs come for one price about $9.95 US\month as subscription to the cloud. A monthly subscription means you don’t have to shell out $700 plus for Photoshop, but it also means you have to pay as long as you use it. The price can go up anytime, but I think if that happens many photographers will search for an alternative. There are free alternatives to Photoshop like GIMP.
I have been teaching Photoshop at local colleges for almost two decades. One of the good things is that now each college classroom will have the latest version of the software. Some colleges would only upgrade the software every few years or use free 30 day download and that made it frustrating when I taught advanced courses.
One of the features of having a cloud subscription is that the software is updated frequently, (sometimes too frequently in my opinion ) and every few months some features are removed and others added. Sometimes the features removed are useful e.g. the ability to export PDFs from Photoshop was removed, then following complaints put back in. The oil painting filter was removed, then put back in. One wonders how the decisions are being made at Adobe as to what is useful and what isn’t. One of the features that I really liked was the extract tool that was removed in CS6 and earlier versions– for this reason I sometimes still use the older Photoshop software. Also in order to use Adobe's creative cloud you must have Windows 7 or higher - it won't work with Vista. Also downloading an update overwrites the older cloud version so some features are removed forever. My extensions to Photoshop CC have disappeared and I liked them. Personally, I would like to see Adobe make updates about once a year - too many changes (unless they are fixes to bugs) is annoying. It takes time to learn and use the new features so if someone at Adobe is reading this – pay attention!
The bottom line is that Photoshop is the most useful tool for Photographers to own and use. You can download and use if free for 30 days. The software can be overwhelming and has a steep learning curve, but the easiest way to get up to speed is to take a few courses – it will raise your photography to a new level.
Download Adobe Photoshop or get the trail version - http://www.adobe.com/ca/products/photoshop.html
Once you subscribe to the cloud you can download the software on two computers, and one can be a PC and the other a Mac. Also if you want more copies, you need to register with a different email for each package that you purchase. I have 2 accounts – a total of 4 copies of Photoshop CC. The Mac vs PC issue doesn't interest me, neither does the Nikon vs Canon or any other brand - it's the photographer that matters not the hardware - folks. As for Photoshop vs Lightroom - well I believe those that want more control will choose Photoshop.
Above the new introductory screen when you open Photoshop 2015cc 2015.1.2 which I disabled in the Prefs
New Photoshop CC 2015.1.2 Features
In this article I am going to show some of the new features that have been added to Photoshop. The first new feature when you open Photoshop is a new start screen. I find this screen annoying and turn it off in Preferences. Edit > Preferences > General > uncheck show Start Workspace When no documents are open.
The second feature that stands out is the modified tools panel. It can collapse into a single column which provides users with more editing space on a laptop and this has been around for several versions, but since I have used Photoshop since 1989, I prefer to double it up. The new feature is the ability to modify the tools palette as you like by clicking on the "… " 3 dots – hold for about 3 seconds and a new palette appears shown below or just click the … and select edit tool bar. You can drag tools from the right side into the left where you want them to appear. Nice feature, but I was fine with where the tools were. In addition on my PC but not my Mac – the Quick selection mask was disabled and I had to click on it for it to appear on the tools palette.
A new feature added to Photoshop Cloud is the Camera RAW filter. By selecting Filter > Camera RAW filter it is easy to open a .jpg or .tif file in Adobe Camera RAW. This is quite a nice feature as you can now quickly modify the white balance or exposure and several other features of a .jpg. You can upsize the image in Camera RAW like you can a RAW file. I am not saying you can now photograph .jpg instead of RAW files, but often I am given .jpg file to work on. I still recommend you shoot in Camera RAW most of the time if quality and flexibility is crucial.
Oil Painting Filter – its Back!
While its possible to use the Mixer Brush tool to simulate an oil painting, this takes time and sometimes I want a quick way to convert a picture to a simulated oil painting. The feature was added, then removed and I presume after receiving complaints it was brought back. To apply the filter you simply open an image and select Filter > stylize > Oil paint – and play with the sliders in the pop up box. Nice, quick and easy.
Oil paint filter in Photoshop CC2015.1.2
This feature allows you to add a variety of trees to a landscape. I imagine this was done for folks working on computer games and architecture. If you are going to add trees to a picture you should first create a new layer so you can resize and position the tree where you want – otherwise it will appear in the center of the image and won’t be editable. To add a tree Select Filter > Render > Tree. You can select quite a variety of trees, change their branching pattern and color of the leaves. They look OK, but its easy to see they are not real trees and hopefully this feature will get better in future versions.
Render Trees pop up box - you can select and add a variety of Trees, modify their branching and color
A tree was added to the photo on the right using Photoshop
It’s not difficult to create and simulate a picture frame in Photoshop and there are many tutorials on the web. Still Adobe has made it even easier to add a picture frame to your images. Select > Filter > Render > Picture Frame – and modify the various sliders to get the type and size of frame you want.
Photoshop's New Add Picture frame pop up box
A frame was added to the photo above using Photoshop's new Picture Frame feature.
Dehaze Filter in Camera RAW
To use this filter open a RAW file in Camera RAW Select > fx tab > and then slide the Dehaze filter to the right to remove haze, to the left to add haze. I like this filter because it can remove haze, or add it to a photo to add mood. Below are a few examples.
Photograph taken in the Fog - Newfoundland
Above I used the Dehaze filter to remove much of the fog
Photograph from Jasper show haze in the mountains which may have been from a forest fire
Left - I removed haze and Right I added haze
The neat thing about the Dehaze filter is that it will remove or add haze which looks much like fog. I will have to play with this filter more in the future.
I don’t see photographers using artboards but web designers will for sure. Basically an artboard is a canvas that can hold several different versions or sizes of a design with all the layers. The artboard can be exported as a PDF so a client can for example a Desktop design, Tablet design and mobile phone design. The individual layers if labelled as filename.jpg or .gif or .png can be exported as individual graphic by selecting File > Generate > image assets and is a real time saver for designers.
Artboard with three designs - Desktop, Tablet and Mobile versions on one canvas with all the layers included.
Improved Font support and Glyphs
In order to add your name and copyright onto a picture you would type your name in a common font like Arial or Verdana then hold down the Alt key and press 0169 or Option – G on the mac to create a copyright symbol. Now it’s easier to add special symbols to your text using the new Glyphs palette. Select > Window > Glyphs and choose a symbol or character from the palette.
New glyphs box allows users to add © and other symbols to their pictures easily
There are other small improvements, but the bottom line is Photoshop is getting better. I wish they would limit improvements to once a year and leave most of the current features there and let the photographers choose whether or not to use an old or new tool. That being said I believe Photoshop is still the best image editing program on the planet.
Many folks use Lightroom as an image organizer - I don't. Instead I like to use Picassa which is free. I learned recently that Google is not going to support Picassa past March 15, 2016. Whether this means they only won't support the online image storage, which I never used, or the program will disappear I don't know. There has been a request that the software be released to the public domain and hopefully will be maintained by programmers on the web. If you don't know what Picassa is - its an automated image database which I use to catalogue over 1 million of my images so I can find them quickly, edit and sell them. Read about it below.
Additions to Photoshop I would like to see
There are other improvements such as touch workspace and gestures, use 3D models in 2D designs, deeper integration with Adobe Stock photos, import and export SVG files - but I am don't use them regularly. Nevertheless what is missing in my opinion is the following:
1. Photoshop can’t stitch spherical images into 3D panoramas or make movies from them. For this I need to resort to PTGui and other programs like Kolor Panotour. Come on Adobe lets add these features.
2. Photoshop can’t export .flv movies like flash - flash isn't going away, its been integrated with Adobe Edge into a new product that will have both of their features - it will be called Adobe Edge - out sometime this year.
3. The anti-shake feature was disappointing in my tests I would like to see it improved.
4. Bridge is slow to open and load files - again more RAM memory will fix this.
5. I would like to see the extract filter brought back even though the quick selection tool is designed to replace it – I still like to use the extract tool with some images.
7. HDR features are better but still very few presets so I often use Photomatrix pro 5 to create my HDR images.
For some folks Photoshop may be too much, in which case Photoshop elements, Lightroom, GIMP and a dozen other programs are available but none of them exceeds what Photoshop can do. I believe all serious photographers should own and learn how to use Photoshop. RB
Robert Berdan is a professional nature photographer living in Calgary, AB specializing in nature, wildlife and science photography. Robert offers photo guiding and private instruction in all aspects of nature photography and Adobe Photoshop training.
Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: www.canadiannaturephotographer.com
Phone: MST 9am -7 pm (403) 247-2457.
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