photoshop

16 December 2016

How to get old New Document window in Photoshop CC 2017?

Posted in: photoshop, tips|

How to get old New Document window in Photoshop CC 2017?

If you have recently installed Photoshop CC 2017, you have probably noticed completely new & shiny New Document window. You can see it in the screenshot below. Isn’t it beautiful?

New Document window in Photoshop CC 2017The problem for me is that this window is too fancy and it takes much more time to show than the legacy one. So I decided to turn it off and go back to the old one. So here’s a short tip on how to get it back in case you would also like to restore it:

  1. Go to Edit -> Preferences -> General… on Windows or Photoshop CC -> Preferences -> General… on Mac.
  2. Make sure “Use Legacy “New Document” Interface” checkbox is checked (marked in red in the screenshot below)
  3. Click on the OK button to confirm your changes.

Enabling old New Document window in Photoshop

27 July 2015

Photoshop Tip: Load Several Images as Layers

Posted in: landscape, long-exposure, Lulworth Cove, photoshop, tutorial|

Photoshop Tip: Load Several Images as Layers

I have a small Photoshop tip for you today.

Have you ever wanted to load several image files into one as layers (e.g. to blend them)? Unfortunately the option to do so is a bit hidden in Photoshop, so here is how you can do this:

  1. Go to File -> Scripts -> Load Files into Stack… menu.
  2. Select Browse and choose your files.
  3. Click OK button.

Optionally you might want to select “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images” checkbox in case you suspect that the images might be not correctly aligned (what can happen when shooting hand-held or during windy conditions).

If you’re using Lightroom, you’re lucky as it’s much easier:

  1. Select photos you want to open in Lightroom.
  2. Right-click them and select Edit In -> Open as Layers in Photoshop…

Featured photo – Durdle Door

Today I would like to share my long exposure image taken in Durdle Door, England. The sea was rather rough so by using exposure of 20 seconds I got completely blurry water. In fact the water almost looks fake, like painted or drawn with crayons, something like that. It’s one of the cool things about using long exposure – the image you get is something completely different from what you see when taking the picture.

Durdle Door (more…)

20 July 2015

Photo Editing Apps Comparison: Gimp, Lightroom, Photoshop

Posted in: lightroom, photoshop, tutorial|

comparison2There are numerous photo editing apps – Adobe Lightroom, different flavors of Photoshop (Elements, CC), PaintShop Pro from Corel, Affinity Photo, Gimp just to name a few more popular ones. Then there are also specialized apps like Photomatix Pro, Oloneo (both to create HDR images), PTGui (panoramas) or Helicon Focus (focus stacking). And also plug-ins to other apps, like Topaz collection or Nik Collection.

Such broad choice might become a problem for photographers starting their adventure with photo editing. Which one do I need? Which will be sufficient for me? are the questions they might ask. And it’s quite difficult to find an answer.

In this article I’ll pick a few of the more popular photo editing apps and will try to provide short characterization of each of them, mentioning their strengths and weaknesses. I’ll focus on the photo editing apps this time, so will leave products like Photomatix or Topaz aside. But maybe will write on them in a separate article.

Here are the apps that I’ll describe today:

  • Gimp,
  • Lightroom,
  • Photoshop Elements,
  • Photoshop CC.

Adobe Lightroom

screen_lightroomAdobe Lightroom isn’t just normal photo editing app. It’s something more. It’s main focus is in fact to organize your photos and it’s the only app on this list that offers functionality like that. It doesn’t do the same thing as Picasa or Adobe Bridge for instance, i.e. it isn’t a simple photo browser where you have list of folders and files inside them. It’s more a photo database – it doesn’t include your source photos, it holds reference to them. It allows you to quickly search through your photos based on whatever criteria you can think of. You can even find photos taken on a given day using specific lens and aperture of f/4. This might seem useless but it’s really great that you can use so many different criteria!

Apart from organizing photos, Lightroom offers a lot of traditional photo editing features. With each release more and more editing tools are added. The result is that I tend to do most of the editing in Lightroom 6, which is the most recent version, now. I only use Photoshop CC if I have to do more serious editing. Lightroom 6 allows you to change exposure of the image, contrast, colours, apply lens corrections. You can also apply some adjustments locally, using a brush, graduated filter or radial filter. You can also remove noise or increase sharpness of your image. And most of that tools work really great.

And what’s great at any time you can go back to your original photo, or even have same photo with multiple edits (but without using additional disk space!), as edits aren’t done on the image itself – they are kept separately from the image until you decide to export it (save to another file).

And if that’s not enough, you can install numerous plug-ins inside Lightroom, like Topaz or Nik, which will make Lightroom even more powerful.

Lightroom has some flaws, however. For me the user inteface is very unintuitive. I had problems when I started using it because it seemed so complicated! Even today, after several years of using it almost everyday, I sometimes have difficulties finding particular options because they are hidden somewhere in some awkward manner.

Another big problem for me is Lightroom’s speed. Despite supposed improvements in this regard in version 6, it still runs very slowly for me – from importing photos, to browsing the library to doing some editing – everything seems so slow!

BTW you can read my review of Adobe Lightroom here: http://hdr-photographer.com/2015/04/lightroom-6-review/

Price: boxed version available for 149 USD or monthly subscription – 9.99 USD

Pros:

  • Great for organizing photo library
  • Has powerful RAW converter built-in
  • Allows easy editing of photo

Cons:

  • Complicated unintuitive user interface
  • Slow

Adobe Photoshop Elements

screen_elementsFor years Adobe Photoshop Elements, smaller brother to Photoshop CC, was a little crippled. It was limited to 32-bit version and 16-bit editing was fairly limited. Things are changing, however. Most recent version, Elements 13, now runs in 64-bit mode and thanks to that you can use full processing power of your computer and work with very large images.

Unfortunately working with 16-bit images is still very limited. For instance you cannot use Adjustment Layers and you can’t apply certain filters (fortunately most of the photography related ones, like blurs or sharpening works fine). It means that you can only work destructively with your images in 16-bit mode.

Also Photoshop Elements doesn’t have some more advanced tools you can find in CC version, like merging to panorama or focus stacking.

Other than that Photoshop Elements is powerful photo editor app that offers a lot of features present in Lightroom and Photoshop CC (e.g. it uses same RAW converter, offers Adjustment Layers).

There is one more interesting thing about it, especially for beginners. You can work in a number of “views” depending on your experience level (in “less-experienced views” some tools will be hidden).

Price: 99.99 USD

Pros:

  • Powerful photo editor offering a lot of features from it bigger brother, Photoshop CC

Cons:

  • 16-bit editing is still very limited
  • Still missing some photography tools present in Photoshop CC

Adobe Photoshop CC

screen_photoshopEveryone knows Photoshop. It’s the most powerful and popular photo editing app on the planet. And I could stop here. But the problem is, Photoshop isn’t for everyone. It’s so huge and complex that you will probably never use most of its features. And due to its complexity it might be overwhelming at the beginning. Or even after some time. Photoshop isn’t tool created just for photographers – it’s a tool used by painters, designers, illustrators, and yeah photographers too. However, such broad audience means there are a lot of tools that will never be of interest to you.

However, great thing with Photoshop is that at the beginning you might be using only some basic functions. But as your knowledge and experience grow, you don’t need to switch to another app – all features are already there. Maybe hidden from your eyes but you can get access to them easily. And that’s like that all the time. Even I, after several years in Photoshop, am still learning, still discovering exciting features to make my photos even better.

Price: monthly subscription – 9.99 USD

Pros:

  • You can do almost everything you imagine with it
  • If there is something you can’t do in Photoshop, there are plug-in that allow to do that
  • Very nice clean UI

Cons:

  • Might be a little overwhelming at the beginning

Gimp

If you are on a budget Gimp might be a great option because it’s the only software on this list that is completely free! Yes – and if you’re a developer there is more – it comes with complete source code (so you can learn quite a lot from it).

Another great thing about it is that it’s multi-platform. It will work not only on Windows and OS X but also on many Linux distributions where there aren’t that many photo editing apps to choose from. So if you’re on Linux that might be your best option.

As for photography editing it offers all basic adjustments you can think of (colour saturation, levels, curves, etc.) and a lot of photography filters. There are also a lot of plugins enhancing capabilities of this software even further. I even remember a plugin that allowed using Photoshop plugins (like Topaz) and a lot of them actually worked!

Unfortunately, for me there are two big issues with Gimp (and they are the reason why I switched to Photoshop several years ago). The first is lack of built-in RAW converted. If you want to open RAW images you need to download separate program (UFRaw is quite popular for that), convert your RAWs with it and then open the image in Gimp. Some might argue that in Photoshop, Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) is also separate program but it’s slightly different, especially as both photoshop and ACR are developed by the same company.

Anyway RAW conversion is something that you might overcome but there is one bigger issue for me – lack of Adjustment Layers. This term might be cryptic to you so let me explain. In Photoshop you have ability to work non-destructively – you can apply contrast, saturation or even filters like blur and see their effect but at the same time you have access to original pixels of your image and can change them at any time. Why this might be useful? Imagine making a lot of adjustments, changing colour and contrast for about an hour. And after that time you could realize that in fact adjustment that you did at the very beginning was unnecessary and that image would look better without it. Thanks to Adjustment Layers you can do that – you just need to disable this very adjustment and you’re fine. In Gimp you don’t have such option as you have to modify pixels in the image whenever you’re adjusting your image. In worst case you would need to start your editing process from the very beginning. Of course Adjustment Layers are something that you can live without… until you try them. Then there is no coming back.

If you aren’t sure whether this app is worth your time, let me tell you something – I started with it and was pretty satisfied. At that time the main issue was a little awkward user interface but from what I can see, it’s much better now. So Gimp might be a good starting point but probably sooner or later you will decide to switch as it might limit you a little too much.

Price: Free

Pros:

  • Free
  • Supports numerous platforms including Linux
  • A lot of basic photography tools and filters

Cons:

  • Gimp is missing a few important features (like adjustment layers)
  • No RAW support built-in
  • A bit old school UI

What apps do I use?

Right now I’m using two apps from the above list: Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC. Recently I try to do as much editing as possible directly in Lightroom – to save myself some time and also to make my workflow simpler, and it works quite often. If I need to make specific adjustments (e.g. local adjustments to contrast or colour) or I want to make my image perfect I open my photo in Photoshop and continue from there. However, to make things more complicated I’d like to mention that I’m currently slowly switching from Lightroom to Capture One 8. My first impressions are that it offers much better image quality. At this stage I cannot recommend it though because I’m still learning it so I’ll probably update this post in a month or two.

So what would I recommend right now? If you’re on budget, you can give Gimp a try – even with some limitations I mentioned it’s still very powerful photo editing app that should be sufficient for you for quite some time. If you can afford it, I would recommend Photography subscription plan from Adobe – this way you’ll get both Lightroom and Photoshop CC for 9.99 USD per month what isn’t much given how great both apps are. This way you would have not only 2 very powerful photo editors but also a tool to organize and browse through your photos. With ever growing collection of images this might become really important at some stage.

Please note that I don’t recommend Photoshop Elements. Even though it’s getting more and more powerful there are still certain things that you can’t do in it. Also for some reasons I never liked it, found it too basic.

25 October 2013

Fixing distortions in Photoshop

Posted in: landscape, mountains, photoshop, Tatra, tutorial, video|

Photo with fixed distortions
This landscape photo had some serious issues with distortion. I fixed them using Adaptive Wide Angle filter presented in the video tutorial below.

It’s time for another video tutorial, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to be notified on the updates there. Today I will show you various ways to fix distortions inside Photoshop:

  • Using perspective transform tool,
  • Using perspective crop tool,
  • Using upright tool,
  • Using adaptive wide angle tool.

Distortions are something that can sometimes even ruin the photo so it’s good to know how to fix them and that it’s very easy in fact.

26 June 2013

Review: Photoshop CC Shake Reduction tool

Posted in: before/after, macro, photoshop, review|

There was a lot of talk about shake reduction technology in Photoshop prior to release of Adobe Photoshop CC. As it was just released a few days ago and I’m its lucky user I would like to share a few words with you about this interesting technology.

Before we start, take a look at the photo above. Before shows the photo as I took it (+ some minor cropping and contrast tweaking in Lightroom). You can notice a bit of blurriness especially in the wings, legs and abdomen. The After shows the image after applying Shake Reduction filter to it. The image is crisp and almost razor sharp (compare leaf or the wings).

Now back to the filter itself 🙂

First of all, this isn’t the first ever implementation of shake reduction technology although you might think so thanks to Adobe marketing campaign. The algorithms dealing with reducing blurriness (especially caused by camera movement) have existed for a few years now and some companies have introduced their products much earlier than Adobe did, eg. Topaz have their InFocus plugin which I quite like (especially to remove some very minor blurring).

However, I must say that Photoshop Shake Reduction is quite impressive and probably I will use it more frequently than any other shake reduction filter. It’s fast, very easy to use and in my tests it generally performed rather good. But the most important for me is that unlike many other methods I tried it doesn’t introduce many artifacts (and blur reduction is very prone to introduce artifacts in general).

I mentioned that the filter is easy to use. Really – you simply choose part of your image by drawing rectangular selection and based on your selection algorithm will try to guess blur characteristics and based on them will try to “unshake” the image (formally it will do deconvolution). If one selection doesn’t work, try selecting another.

For the above image it worked fantastic. But will it work equally well for other images? Well, the best answer I can give is – it depends. From my tests it seems that the filter performs best when:

  • blur isn’t big (just a bit of hand shaked caused blur or small out-of-focus issues),
  • there is enough contrast and texture in the photo – photos without them perform much worse.

Summing up I find the Shake Reduction filter quite impressive. Although it isn’t ideal, it’s one of the best implementations of blur reduction I’ve seen so far. And given how much interest and research goes into blur reduction these days I think that the technology will improve in next few years.

3 December 2012

List of useful Photoshop shortcuts

Posted in: Canary Islands, fuerteventura, hdr, landscape, photoshop, tutorial|

Photoshop keyboard shortcuts
HDR photo taken at the beginning of sunset on Fuerteventura island.

More a tip than a tutorial today. I believe that using keyboard shortcuts are one of the best ways to improve efficiency when working with any computer application. I use them in every software, whether it is a programming IDE or an imaging application. Today I would like to share with you a set of my favourite and most often used Photoshop CS shortcuts.

Print them and put next to monitor to remember them more quickly 🙂

Layers and image:

  • CTRL + N – create new image
  • CTRL + SHIFT + N – create new layer
  • CTRL + I – colour inversion – it is especially useful when working with layer masks as black becomes white and white becomes black
  • CTRL + J – duplicate selected layer
  • [when modifying layer mask] – red overlay is displayed over the image representing the layer mask. It makes masking much much easier
  • ALT + left mouse click on layer mask – displays only layer mask
  • ALT + left mouse click on the layer visibility icon (small eye) – all other layers are hidden but the clicked one
  • SHIFT + left mouse click on layer mask – disables layer mask (useful to compare before and after applying the layer mask)
  • SHIFT + CTRL + E – merge visible layers (removes all layers)
  • SHIFT + CTRL + ALT + E – merge visible layers and create new layer with the result in it (doesn’t remove any layers)

Selections:

  • CTRL + A – select whole image
  • CTRL + D – select none (deselect)
  • SHIFT + CTRL + I – select inverse

History:

  • CTRL + Z – undo/redo last action
  • CTRL + ALT + Z – undo action from the history (one by one)
  • CTRL + SHIFT + Z – redo action from the history (one by one)
  • CTRL + F – repeat last filter (with the same settings as last time)

Tools:

  • B – select a brush tool
  • C –  select a crop tool
  • D – [when using a brush] restores default background and foreground colours (black & white)
  • X – [when using a brush] when using a brush it toggles background with foreground colour
  • ] – [when using a brush] increases size of a brush
  • [ – [when using a brush] decreases size of a brush
  • SHIFT + ] – [when using a brush] increases hardness of brush
  • SHIFT + { – [when using a brush] decreases hardness of brush

Other:

  • CTRL + SHIFT + ; – toggle snapping on and off
  • F8 – toggle Info panel visibility
  • CTRL + W – close selected file
  • CTRL + ALT + W – close all opened files. Very useful if you have a lot of files opened and you need to close them all.