Photoshop's Chameleon Features

What I appreciate most about Photoshop CS5 (soon to be 6), is the depth of its features and the endless ways that it allows users to synthesize, combine, and devise new and subtly different ways of accomplishing a particular look or feel to an image. I learn a new way of doing an old task almost daily, and each one provides a little different advantage and appearance to your image. This ‘fungibility’ of product features is the most compelling aspect of this marvelous software.

For instance, you want to selectively lighten or darken (or both) different areas of your image there are numerous ways to accomplish this task depending on the composition and characteristics of each image. You can choose to simply create another duplicate background layer and use the stock ‘dodge and burn’ tools on the toolbar which renders very controllable and often stunning effects. Or you can create a blank adjustment layer above your background layer, fill it with 50% gray, and then paint your brightness or darkening in using a soft brush set to a very low ‘flow’ (this gives you the ability to step up gradually to your desired effect). Or you can make two separate exposures, one for highlights and one for shadows, using Camera Raw and then open them as separate layers in an image. Once layered you can mask off unwanted areas of the upper layer using a soft brush (white to reveal black to hide) revealing the layer below and its particular exposure characteristics.

Or say you wish to sharpen your image. Once again you have options as to how you might accomplish this. You can, on a separate layer, utilize the unsharp mask, sharpen, or smart sharpen tools to universally sharpen the image. Or if you want to sharpen just edges and not create any noise in the rest of the image you can create a duplicate layer, select the ‘high pass’ filter, change the layer blend mode from ‘normal’ to ‘overlay’ or ‘soften’ (depending upon the desired strength of the effect) and then use the opacity slider for that layer to moderate the effect even more. You can also selectively sharpen areas by making a selection around the desired area to be sharpened and simply apply the sharpen filter to just that area, or you may instead sharpen the entire layer and then mask off those areas of that layer that you wish to leave unsharpened, such as the sky or large graduated tonal areas of little detail. Again you may use the opacity or fill adjustment slider for that layer to moderate the effect.

If it sounds like I’m a shill for Photoshop I assure you I’m not, but it is, I believe the most powerful and versatile post processing tool on the market and it continues to amaze and dazzle me on a daily basis with new and surprising methods that I discover either on my own or through the kind tips of others who use the program.

If you haven’t had a chance to use the program, or even one of its smaller cut down versions or siblings such as Photoshop Elements, or Lightroom, you may wish to download a trial copy and play around with it.

Photo credits: Lightart.

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April 24, 2012


When you create a %50 gray dodge and burn layer, just remember to change it's mode to "soft light" :) I think Lightart forgot this simple step mistakenly while he was writing this helpful blog :) thanks for sharing

April 09, 2012


Michal, many thanks for your insights! :)
I did not actually find any CMYK feature in my GIMP. Strange they would not introduce it. As for the canvas, one can increase it manually if needed (if that's what you meant). Still need read more of comparison reviews of the two...

April 04, 2012


Thanks for sharing

April 02, 2012


Interesting blog !

March 31, 2012


Hi Lightart! Great post and portfolio too. :)
Andromantic, some years ago I've tried Gimp and its modification named Gimpshop (it was very handy for me, familiar with PS, especially using the same shortcuts as PS).
Well, Gimp is very powerful program and it provides many great tools, but there was some reasons that I do not use it (and that was impossible to achieve in GIMP ;) ):

Gimp/Gimpshop does not support CMYK.
Is cropping a layer to a working area (everything outside the visible area was removed).

Maybe these inconveniences were removed until now...
Beside that, I can really recommend Gimp.

Well, let's talk something about PS CS5.
Look at: Terry White’s Top 5 Photoshop CS5 Features and discover its new and powerful tools.
Do you find them useful?
Also Camera Raw module gives you the possibility to adjust a photo by selecting the model of camera and lens you have used – I did not found that in any other stuff.

In fact, Photoshop is a unquestionable leader in photoediting and manipualtion software market and is worth its price.

Besides you are using a program A or B, yours imagination gives you the biggest possiblilities.
And it's great to attend such a creative community here on Dreamstime!

March 30, 2012


OK, thanks for the link! I'll do my research... :)

March 29, 2012


Thanks for sharing, great blog...

March 29, 2012


Could you give a link to that review? I wonder what are those advanced tools they are talking about. :)

March 28, 2012


Great Protfolio !

March 28, 2012


Nicely written and useful blog.
I wonder if you ever tried GIMP? From what you describe (and my earlier experience with Photoshop) I see a lot of similarities in the possible workflows in the two. So I wonder what would be impossible to do in GIMP that Photoshop allows to do. It's just my curiousity... :)

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