Tuesday, September 7, 2010 7:07 AM
Good Tuesday morning!
One of my favorite ways to kill an hour when I'm in the neighborhood is to stop in at either the Borders on Hylan Drive or Barnes and Noble at the Pittsford Plaza. It's always the same routine: Vanilla bean something.... the one with the ice. Then off to the video production/web design/digital photography/Photoshop section - whichever one is my interest d'jour. Sometimes it's to shop for a book, but lately it's been more to shop for material for yes, these letters... and for some classes I'll be doing this Fall outside of RPEG.
Scott Kelby is an author who has my full attention whenever I see something he's written. For those who don't know, he's the single best selling author of books on digital photography, and I've recommended the first two of his three book series on digital photography here before (The Digital Photography Books 1 and 2). He's also an expert on Photoshop for photographers as well, and when I saw his name with CS4 next to it in the Photoshop section Friday night, it was the only book I pulled to skim.
Here's my test of a great how-to book: When you open to three sections at random, and EACH of those three has you reaching for a pen and paper to take notes. That happened with this book. Number one was a way to crop an image so that the original aspect ratio - i.e. length to width - is maintained, using selections rather than the crop tool. Number two is TAT, or the Targeted Adjustment Tool. No, I knew about that one already. You can select one part of a picture - a sky for instance - and adjust its color or saturation independent of the rest of the picture (sometimes it even works!). What I didn't know is that there's a TAT for curves, as well (curves is a tool for adjusting contrast and exposure).
Number three is the best of the lot: You can lighten photographs by duping the layer and applying a "screen" blend mode to the top copy. That's it. The top layer lightens the one underneath when it's in the screen blend mode. Want it lighter still? Dupe the layer you just created. Nothing more. When you duplicate a layer, the new layer has ALL the attributes of the original, including it's blend mode. Lighter still? Dupe it again. Try again. Now, thanks to this tip in Scott Kelby's book, tomorrow night I'll be showing an image that has SEVEN screen blend mode layers of a photo that was almost black with underexposure to begin with. You won't believe the difference between the original and layer #7. We'll show it alongside the same photo with a levels adjustment and let you decide which is better.
Three whole things! Guess what book is on my "must-get" list now? Scott Kelby's Photoshop book for my version of PS (he's done several for several different versions). In the meantime, I know where it is at Borders now, and the next time I go in, I'll be sure to have more note paper with me!
Oh... and now today's tip: I learned three new Photoshop techniques when I read them in that book. I learned them again even better when I scribbled them on the back of that Walmart receipt.... and later again when they were copied more carefully into a PS notebook that I keep. The screens technique was learned one more time when it went into my Powerpoint for Wednesday, and all three of them YET again here for you this morning. That's the process. We've all used it, and it still works: One step at a time.. repetition.. and a willingness to be a beginner. But the best learning technique of them all?
Tomorrow night. RSVP and bring a friend!