Adobe Creative Cloud For Photographers

CC-For-Photographers

As you probably aware, a while ago Adobe went to a subscription model for their popular products so the Creative Suites are no longer and have been replaced with the Creative Cloud subscription model. In the photography world many people complained a lot about this, why pay $49.99/mo for the creative cloud when you only use Photoshop and Lightroom. Sure you can get a single app for $19.99/mo so this would get you Photoshop which is a pretty ok deal but nothing stellar. Yesterday at the Photoshop World Conference during the Morning Keynote speech Adobe announced a new program, Creative Cloud for Photographers. For $9.99/mo if you’re a CS3 or later owner you can now get Lightroom 5, Photoshop CC, 20 GB of cloud storage, and Behance Pro.. The new service will go live in a few weeks and this special introductory pricing of $9.99 will be offered until the end of the year.

To get the $9.99/mo price you need to have at least CS3 or later, existing Creative Cloud members can also take advantage of this new pricing. There is no word as of yet if this will be offered to non CS customer or if they will offer the $9.99/mo for this package to those who do not have CS3 or CC. But if they offer this at $19.99 which is what the single app pricing is, this could be a great offer for Photographers that want Photoshop and Lightroom.

The $9.99/mo deal should be live in a few weeks and is only expected to be offered until the end of the year, but no indication what the price will be after that.

So if your running on an old version of Photoshop and/or Lightroom and looking to upgrade and don’t need all the other applications offered in the full CC package, just hold on and wait a little longer. Once it’s released my personal opinion is jump on it. At $9.99/mo your yearly cost is less than $120, a new version of Lightroom offered at special discounts seen from time to time tends to run about the same, a new version of Photoshop CS6 (while you still can get hold of the boxed version) runs well over $600. If you get lucky and managed to find a boxed version of Photoshop CS6 upgrade it will set you back at least $200 and an upgrade of Lightroom will set you back $79 or all in all close to $300 (figure shipping for the boxed version of PS CS6 and electronic download of LR5) and you can get 2.5 years worth of Creative Cloud for Photographers for the same amount of money and in my experience we’ve seen a new version of Photoshop and Lightroom every 12-18 months and with the Creative Cloud service they are pushing out smaller updates much more rapidly, since I became a CC member Photoshop has gotten 2 minor updates and this in less than 9 months.

Worried that your files will be held hostage if you let your subscription lapse? Well that seems to be a bit of Myth and you are supposed to be able to open your psd files in PS and save them in a different format in expired PS CC, however you will not be able to edit the files.

Expect to see more interesting news both from Adobe and other companies coming out of Photoshop World this week. So stay tuned.

Photoshop Tutorial- Mystery Masks

Introduction

Masks can often be a source of confusion and mystery for people when you first set out on your Photoshop journey. However, once you get the hang of them they soon become a “can’t live without it” tool. In this tutorial we will go through some of the basics and how they can be used.

What is a Mask?

Putting it simply, a mask either shows or reveals parts of a layer or a layer effect. Where the mask is White, the layer or effect it is attached too will show through. When the mask is Black, the layer or effect it’s attached to will be invisible. A big plus with this is that we can make an adjustment to part of an image in a non destructive way so the original layer remains untouched.

Lets go through a few steps to demonstrate this. If you want to download the image I’m working on to follow step by step you can find it here by right clicking and “Save image as”. And as always clicking on an image in the tutorial will make it BIG 🙂

Lets Get stuck In

Once you’ve opened the image (Or your own) than the first step is to duplicate the layer, this can be done by selecting the background layer and pressing “Ctrl J” (or Cmnd J on Mac) or by going to the menu bar and clicking LAYER>>DUPLICATE LAYER . This is generally good practice whenever you work on an image. If things go wrong at any point you can always come back to the original.

Duplicating the background layer is good practice when editing just in case you make a mistake

What we are going to do is change the colour of one of the peppers by using a mask. To do this we will first add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. This is achieved by either clicking on the icon that is a circle coloured half black and half white at the bottom of the layers tab, then selecting HUE/SATURATION from the pop up menu. Or by clicking on the HUE/SATURATION button in the Adjustments tab. The image below shows the location of the button and the Adjustments Tab.

When you do this you should see a window pop open in the adjustments tab (The location will vary depending on what version of PS you are running and how you have your workspace set up) The window will have three sliders, Labelled “Hue” “Saturation” and “Lightness” as seen in the image below. You will also see that in the Layers Tab, an adjustment layer has been created, and it already has a mask attached.

This is where you will find the Adjustments Tab and the Add Adjustment layer Button
Notice that the new Hue/Saturation layer (in Blue) has a mask already attached

We are going to use the Adjustment layer to change the colour of the peppers. As Hue and saturation only affect colour, the background will remain white. So grab the top slider and move it left or right to change the colour. I went for a nice shade of purple found at -62 on the hue slider.

If you move the Hue Slider to a value of -62 you will see the peppers go purple. The adjustment effects the whole layer because the mask is set to white

The first thing you will notice is that all the peppers are now a pretty shade of purple but we only want one purple pepper. The reason the adjustment is effecting the whole image is because the mask on that layer is white. Remember that where the mask is white it lets the effects of the layer show through. The next step is to turn the layer mask black to hide the effect from the whole image. Single click on the mask so it is selected, then Invert it. To do this either press “Ctrl+i” (Cmnd+i) or make sure the mask is selected then on the menu bar click IMAGE>>ADJUSTMENTS>>INVERT .

Make sure the Layer mask is selected by left clicking it, then invert the mask.

You will now notice that the peppers have gone back to being red, and that the layer mask icon on the adjustment layer has turned black.

Paint the effect back in.

To make just one of the peppers purple, we need to tell the layer mask where the effect needs to be visible. We do this by simply painting the mask white. Select the brush tool by clicking this icon2013-08-04_205252

Alternatively press “B” on the keyboard and select a round brush with a hardness of around 60%. Select white as the foreground colour for the brush by pressing “D” on the keyboard which is the shortcut for selecting the default colours of white for foreground and Black for background. Now make sure you have the mask selected and just paint over the pepper that you want to make purple.

Paint WHITE on the layer mask to let the effect show through

The beauty of masks is that if you make a mistake you just change your brush colour to Black (If you press “X” on the keyboard this is the shortcut to swap background/foreground colours) and paint the mask black again to hide the effect.

If you want to change the colour of another pepper then just repeat the steps, The mask controls the effect it is applied to. Add another adjustment layer by selecting Layer 1 then clicking on the Adjustment layer button (Circle half black and half white at the bottom of the layers tab) and selecting Hue/Saturation. You can change the colour again with the slider (I went for a sickly green at +67 on the hue slider) Again the adjustment effects the whole image until we invert the layer mask by selecting it and pressing “ctrl (cmnd) + i “ Now just paint white on the mask where you want the pepper to be green.

You can use as many Adjustment layers as you like, each layer comes with its own mask that allows you to control where the effect will be seen

Now at any point you can click back on an adjustment layer and change the settings and the changes will only be visible where the mask is white.

Masks are capable of doing much MUCH more than this, but hopefully this tutorial will have helped you grasp some of the basics and get your mind round how they work. In the future we will look at some more complex ways of manipulating masks. Cheers for reading guys, and please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section 🙂

Photoshop Tutorial – Selective Colour / Colour Pop

Introduction

This technique is as old as Photoshop itself, in fact it’s older. Ever since the days where the colours of a photo were hand painted, people have been altering colour, or selectively colouring images to create this very powerful effect.

Red Lady

This technique is simple to achieve and anyone with a version of Photoshop should try it out. This simple tutorial will show you the basics of creating a Colour Pop image.

Choosing an image

Any image will work using this technique, but I find the best images are ones in which the item that you want to “Pop” has a good strong colour that is well saturated, and that the rest of the image works well in Black and white. This is why you often see Selective colouring techniques used on a red subject, this is because reds are often well saturated and contrast well against a black and white background.

Duplicate the layer.

I will assume that you already know how to open your image in your version of Photoshop. Once loaded the first thing we need to do is duplicate the layer. There are several ways to do this, but I find the easiest method is to right-click on the layer thumbnail, then select >Duplicate Layer… ­

Right click on your layer, then select Duplicate Layer.

What this action does is create an exact copy of the original image directly on top of your starting image.

Convert To Black and White

The next step is to convert this “Top” layer into a black and white image. To do this, make sure you have the top layer selected on the right hand side, then click “Image” (located on the top menu bar) >Adjustments>BlackAndWhite .

Make sure you select the top layer (single left click) then “Image”>”Adjustments”>”BlackAndWhite”

When you do this you will notice a dialogue box pop up, with several sliders to adjust. For the purpose of this exercise you can ignore these and just press ok.You should see your image be converted into black and white.

Create a Layer Mask.

Layer masks seem to be a mystical force of sorcery according to many people I speak with, but it’s really quite a simple concept. When you put a layer mask over a layer, it hides the contents or effects of that layer where the mask is black, and shows them where its white. That’s as complex as it needs to get for this task.

To add a layer mask, make sure once again that the top layer is selected, then click on the button at the bottom of the layer tab, that looks like a box with a circle in the middle.

The Layer Mask button is located at the bottom right of the screen.

Once you’ve done this, you should see a layer mask appear next to the layer. It should be a white rectangle depending on your settings, but if its black then select it with a mouse click then hold ctrl (cmnd for Mac) and press “I” this should turn it white and reveal the Black and white layer again.

Paint Back The Colour

Now for the fun part. All you have to do is select your brush tool by either clicking th icon on the left hand side, or just press “B”. Make sure that you have selected the mask by clicking on it and that you have black selected as your brush colour, then just paint black on the mask where you want your colour to show through. If you make a mistake, you can undo it by simple painting the mask white again where the effect is unwanted.

Once you are happy with your result click “Layer” (Top menu bar again) then “Merge Visible” This will compress the image back into one layer and allow you to save the file in the format you prefer.

I hope this tutorial has been of some help, and that you enjoy making the most out of your images.

Processing Techniques – HDR Workflow

I’ve recently been having an increasing number of conversations on G+ with people who are new to processes such as HDR and wanted some tips and tricks. When I first became interested in HDR Someone was good enough to share their knowledge with me so I thought it was a perfect time to “pass it on”. As a result I will be putting together a few short tutorials on a few photographic techniques, starting with this one: HDR, Using Photomatix.

There are several very good HDR / Tone mapping packages available, I picked Photomatix because I like the interface and results, that’s not to say other packages are not as good, they are but I prefer Photomatix.

HDR Workflow

I tend to use Adobe Bridge for selecting images, note I shoot in RAW almost exclusively and use a tripod for HDR work. Here I have selected 5 RAW files, although the minimum required is 3. I normally shoot at 1EV steps and will take up to 9 RAW’s depending on the light variance and camera histogram. You can use the Photomatix plugin for Lightroom if you have LR and not Photoshop.

Import to Photomatix

Either Drag & Drop  selected files into Photomatix or use the import pictures facility, here you are faced with a couple of pre-processing options and the chance to specify EV values if you have multiple files with the same value. As you can see from the screenshot, you have the ability to select deghosting (manual or automatic), great for windy days and where movement may occur in the image. You can also automatically align images and crop them to match each other, set colour temperature and reduce Chromatic Aberrations and  noise.

Deghosting

If you chose to manually deghost the image (if not why not?) you will be presented with the screen above. The process is simple, use your mouse, tablet pointer etc. to draw around the ghosted areas, as you can see I have selected areas to correspond to the foliage in the foreground and the clouds. Push the Preview Deghosting button to check the effect.

When in preview you can hit the Return to Selection button to add more areas if needed.

When happy with the deghosting hit the OK button to proceed.

Tone Mapping

Hit the button arrowed and the RAW files will be merged by magical pixel pixies into an image ready for Tone Mapping. This is the fun part where the RAW files are analysed and tweaked to produce something approximate to the final image. At this point you will see progress bars on the screen as the images are being processed and combined.

Tone Mapping

Now the real fun starts, along the bottom or side of the screen you are faced with a series of Tone Mapping presets, these are a great starting point and you can select each in turn to see the effect it has. different presets work best on different scenes and to achieve different moods, but as I say they are a starting point. Here I have selected Enhancer Painterly which tends to give a medium amount of processing leaning a little towards grunge.

Also worth noting the pop out Histogram box, I use this all the time to assess how the changes affect the image.

Fine Tune

As I said above, consider the presets as a starting point, the circled control sliders at the left now provide a myriad of options to fine tune the image. You can adjust pretty much any aspect from Saturation & Vibrance to the various lighting effects. Some of the controls I use a lot are Micro Smoothing, white point and detail contrast. Using a combination of these tends to give a more natural looking image whith whites staying white not turning grey, a little POP to the colours and reduction of halos around bright areas. When you are happy with the result, save the file, using File>Save gives the option to save in various formats (I opt for TIFF) and also to automatically export the image to a photo editing suite (in this case Photoshop). It should also be noted that you can save Tone Mapping settings which will be applied as a start point on the next image (great for doing batches taken under the same conditions).

Final Tweaks

Once in Photoshop I tend to make some basic adjustments such as Levels (it’s that histogram again) and localised highlight and shadow control. Dependant on the subject and my mood I may also make some adjustments to sharpness and blur or perhaps tweak saturation or blend in a layer or 2 taken from the initial RAW files.

The Finished Article