Laura Shoe's Lightroom (and Occasionally Photoshop) Blog for Digital Photographers

Posts Tagged ‘Photoshop’

More 2010 Lightroom and Photoshop Workshops Posted!

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I have posted my schedule of Seattle workshops for the rest of 2010 on my website.  I will continue to offer my two-day Lightroom Fundamentals workshop, focused on the Library and Develop modules, where you import, rate, keyword, organize, fix and enhance your images.  I am also introducing a one-and-a-half day Lightroom Review and Lab session, for those who want more reinforcement of concepts covered and practice with your own images.  Finally, I am re-introducing Lightroom Fundamentals Part Two, where we cover Print, Slideshow, and Web, as well as some topics in Library and Develop that there isn’t time for in Lightroom Fundamentals.  Here are the dates:

Lightroom Fundamentals:   May 22-23,  July 24-25,  Oct 9-10

Lightroom Review and Lab:  Aug 14-15, Nov 6-7

Lightroom Fundamentals Part Two: Sept 11-12.

I will also be offering a 5-day Photoshop for Photographers workshop November 11-15.  While Lightroom is a powerful tool, there are still many functions that photographers need that Photoshop is still best for.  After mastering Photoshop basics, we move on to these specific areas.

Click here for all course descriptions, prices and registration.  I hope you can join me for one or more courses!

Join Me on Facebook

In Uncategorized on February 15, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I have finally set up a Facebook page.  I see it not only as a way to let folks know that I have posted on my blog, but also a more casual forum for quick tips.  I’d love to see you become a fan!  Feel free to post ideas for blog posts, workshops, etc, or your latest Lightroom and Photoshop discoveries that you’d like to share.

A Handy Curves Trick

In Uncategorized on January 29, 2010 at 12:51 am

Curves isn’t exactly intuitive, so Adobe lately has been introducing tools to make it more accessible.  As I mentioned in my “Introduction to Curves” post, the sliders available underneath the curve in Lightroom (and Camera Raw) to adjust brightness of Highlights, Lights, Darks and Shadows are one example of this.   Another example is the targeted adjustment tool, which allows you to select tones you want to brighten or darken by clicking on those tones in your image and dragging up to brighten or down to darken. The tool detects the brightness of the tones underneath where you click, and adjusts those tones throughout your image.    Click on the tool to activate it, then click and drag in your image.   PS or LR will modify (i.e. bend)  the curve to reflect your instruction.    In Photoshop, first create a new Curves adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves.)  Then in the adjustment panel   the tool is the hand with the double arrow:

Photoshop Curves Targetted Adjustment Tool

In Lightroom, it is the small bulls-eye symbol in the Tone Curve Panel:

Lightroom Curves Targetted Adjustment Tool

When you are done, deactivate the tool by hitting the Escape key.

Try it!

An Introduction to Curves

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Curves is certainly not one of those intuitive features of Photoshop (or Lightroom), or at least that was my perspective when I tried to figure it out on my own before I got formal training. Curves is used to brighten or darken tones in your image, and at a more advanced level, to do color correction work. The best way to use it in PS is with an adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves.) In Lightroom simply go to the Tone Curve panel in the Develop module. The curve will look like this (with different buttons and features around it depending on your software and version).  Photoshop gives you more point-by-point control, so I will begin there.

The Curve Dialog Box Before Any Changes are Made
The Curve Dialog Box Before Any Changes are Made

So how do you read the curve? It is a two-dimensional chart showing tones before and after. Along the bottom (X) axis, you have tones ranging from pure black at the left to pure white at the right. These are the tones  of your image before you make any changes. Along the left side  (Y axis) are the tones, again from pure black to pure white, AFTER your changes to the curve. The diagonal line running bottom left to top right says what change you are making. If you visually run a line straight up from a tone on the x-axis Before to the Curve and then straight over to the left to After, you will see what that tone will be after, as shown below:

Before We Make a Change
Reading the Curve: Before We Make a Change

Of course in this case we haven’t moved the Curve, so there is no change from before to after, all tones are the same.

Let’s put a point at the center of the curve by clicking on it, then hold  and drag  straight up. Now if you follow medium grey up from the Before axis to the Curve and over, you see that it is now a significantly lighter grey, so we have lightened that tone. All other tones in your image have been lightened as well, other than pure black and pure white —  but not by as much as the midtones.  (Note that the histogram has changed in the screen print — it is simply that when I started writing this post I was using one image, than a few months later when I got back to it, I had to choose a different one — so ignore it.)

Brightening an Image with One Point to Raise the Curve

The opposite would happen if you put a point in the middle and you dragged downward — you would darken all tones in the image except pure black and pure white, but the most  darkening would be applied to the midtones.

Darken, Focused on the Midtones

This technique to brighten or darken your image protects you from blowing out your highlights, or blocking up your shadows.  A point in the center moved up or down achieves the same effect as using the Brightness slider in LR or ACR.

You can target the tones you want to affect and protect others — for example, in the following screen print, I brighten the lighter tones, and put two more points on the curve to prevent the midtones and darker tones from brightening as well.  Be careful that you don’t make the curve too abrupt.

Brighten bright tones, Anchor mid tones and dark tones so that they don't changeBrighten lighter tones, Protect midtones and dark tones from brightening

Hint:  If you put a point on the curve that you want to delete, click on it and drag it off the chart.

Adding contrast to your image involves brightening the bright tones and darkening the dark tones.  This is done with a classic S-curve:

A Typical Contrast "S" Curve

Of course you can also reduce contrast in an image, by darkening the bright tones and lightening the dark tones:

Reduce Contrast:  An inverted S Curve

For contrast, points exactly on 1/4 and 3/4 tones, as I demonstrated above, give you the same result as you would get with the Contrast slider in Lightroom.  With the curve though you can make a more conscious choice of which tones to focus on.

Lightroom also allows you to click and drag on the curve to bend it, though visually points aren’t laid down.    However, you don’t get quite the same degree of fine control as you do in Photoshop.  In a way, this is a good thing — Lightroom protects you from yourself by not allowing extreme (and therefore potentially disastrous) curves with many, many points or shifts in direction.  On the other hand, if you know what you’re doing with curves, and want that fine control, you will want to take your images from Lightroom into Photoshop to achieve it.

Lightroom also offers sliders below the tone curve.  This is particularly handy for those who don’t understand the curve itself, but is also a convenience for all of us.   Highlights, Lights, Darks and Shadows by default each represent 25% of tones from black to white.

Lightroom Curve, with Tones Represented by Each Slider Shown

If you want to brighten highlights in your image you can click and drag on the curve, or you can drag the Highlights slider to the right.  If you want to target just the brightest 10% of tones, for example, rather than the brightest 25%, you can narrow the range that the Highlights slider affects by clicking on the triangle slider at the base of the curve diagram (i.e. on the x-axis) and dragging it to the right to redefine “Highlights”, and then drag the Highlights slider to brighten:

Highlights Defined as only the 10% Brightest Tones, Then Brightened with the Highlights Slider

In the same way you can redefine what tones Shadows, Lights and Darks cover.

In Lightroom, I tend to use Brightness and Contrast in the Basics Panel to achieve overall midtone Brightness and Contrast, and then I move to the Tone Curve to finesse any specific tones that need attention — often I use it to dampen down my highlights, or to brighten up deep shadows.

Give it a try!

UPDATE MARCH 2010:  The point curve, previously only available in ACR and Photoshop, has now been introduced in Lightroom 3 Beta 2.  Click HERE for my post on how to access it.

Do You Wonder What to Do to Make Your Images Really Stand Out?

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Most of us occasionally or often can use some advice about what we can do to make our images really pop.   More contrast? Less contrast? Brighten up that corner? Change the color cast of just the mountain?  It’s  about conveying a mood, and understanding how to lead the viewer’s eye where you want them to go.   If you have some favorite images and you want help from a master at this, consider doing what I just did — purchasing a Print Treatment critique from Tim Cooper.  Tim is a very talented fine art photographer and photography and Photoshop instructor.  For $25, you will receive a movie in which he works two of your images in Photoshop, talking about why he chooses to do what he does to your images, and showing you how it is done.  It is a great deal, and really can help you learn how to take your images to the next level.  Click HERE for more information (the Photo Critique tab, then scroll down to Print Treatment.)  Also check out his new venture, Tim Cooper’s Photo Circle.

Some Cool Composites

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2009 at 4:29 pm

I post this link particularly for RMSP students who took my compositing classes this summer.  Enjoy!


Adobe Labs Announces Content-Aware Healing and Fill

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Want to remove telephone lines, whole buildings, or other objects from your photos?  Adobe posted a video on Facebook today from Adobe Labs, demonstrating technology that they are working on for a future release of Photoshop.  CS5 perhaps?

Click here to go to video.  Be sure to watch all the examples — it just keeps getting better!

I have Lightroom. Do I need Photoshop?

In Uncategorized on July 12, 2009 at 2:30 pm

I have been meaning to write a post on this topic.  However, I noticed today that my colleague Gene McCullagh has just written about this over on his blog, Lightroom Secrets.   I agree with Gene that Lightroom will serve most photographers needs most  of the time (and some photographers, all the time).   My advice to serious amateurs and pro’s is to learn Lightroom very well, and only then,  if you find you need more sophisticated pixel-editing tools, consider Photoshop (or even PS Elements) for just those advanced needs.

I believe that today, with Lightroom so well established and powerful, educational programs that start photographers out in Photoshop rather than Lightroom are doing them a real disservice.  I hope that programs that continue to take this outdated approach will catch up soon.

Click here for Gene’s post.

By the way, there is alot of great material on … do check it out!

Understanding Resolution

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Two factors determine how big your image will be when displayed — the size of your image in pixels, and how many pixels are displayed per inch, which is referred to as resolution.

Both of the example images below have 6 pixels (3×2):  the first is displayed at  1 pixel per inch, and the second is displayed at 2 pixels per inch.

3 pixels x 2 pixels at  2 pixels per inch
3 pixels x 2 pixels at 1 pixel per inch
3 pixels by 2 pixels at 1 pixel per inch

3 pixels by 2 pixels at 2 pixels per inch

When you prepare your images for print, you specify  what resolution your images will print at.   If you have a 6 megapixel camera (i.e. 6 million pixel camera), your image is approximately 3,000 pixels wide by 2,000 pixels high  (3,000 x 2,000 = 6 million).      If you print this image (with no upsizing or downsizing) at 300 pixels per inch, your image will be 3,000/300 = 10″ wide, and 2,000/300 = 6.6″ high.   If you print at 100 pixels per inch, your image will be 3,000/100 = 30″ wide, and 2,000/100=20″ high — much larger, but it will look less detailed because at this much lower resolution the individual square pixels are larger and more visible to the eye.

When you prepare images for display on a monitor (such as for the web or for sharing by email), what resolution you specify is not important, because the viewer’s monitor will control the resolution.  For example, if you view an image on a monitor that displays 90 ppi, that is exactly what you will see, regardless of whether you specified a resolution of 90 or 3000 when you sized the file in the LR Export dialog or the PS Image Size dialog.    All you need to worry about is the size of your image in pixels, and whether this will fit on your viewer’s screen without alot of scrolling.  Since you probably won’t know for sure what size monitor your image will be displayed on, I suggest sizing your images to fit on most monitors.  Most people today have monitors that display at least 1024×768 pixels.   I therefore size my images for email at 800×600, because I know then that they fit well on most monitors, with room around the image for menu bars, docks, etc…

Adobe TV

In Uncategorized on March 11, 2009 at 11:42 am

I’ll get back to making my own tutorials and videos soon, but in the meantime, check out Adobe TV.  Click here for Lightroom videos, and here for Photoshop videos.  (They load in two stages, so give it a little time.)    Check or uncheck the Release, Skill Level and Topic checkboxes on the right to narrow your selection.  Enjoy!