Do I Need to Learn Photoshop?

Photoshop came first from Adobe.
Everything that any creative person needed in one place.

The Photoshop program is becoming less and less needed.  At one time, all the tools were in Photoshop.  

Then Adobe made Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and moved Photoshop’s photography tools into sliders.  We had everything we needed to process our photos in one place.  Adobe gave us Bridge as a “light table” where we could layout all our photos and work with them.

Then Adobe made Elements and put photography tools into sliders.  

Then Lightroom came along from Adobe

Then Adobe made Lightroom and put those same photography tools into sliders.  Lightroom took the Bridge concept to a new level.  Lightroom’s Library is a database so you can layout lots of photos from different folders onto a “light table” and work with them.

Lightroom’s Library is super-powerful and super-complicated.  I recommend the Scott Kelby book to learn and understand Library.  Life gets complicated when you update computers, work on two external hard drives, merge or split catalogues, etc.  Sometimes you have to call in an expert because the Library is a mess.

Thanks to Adobe we have three programs to process our photos.  

·         Bridge/Adobe Camera Raw, 

·         Elements, or 

·         Lightroom.  

The one you choose is up to you.  Bridge/Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom do exactly the same thing when it comes to processing.  The difference is interface.  

Bridge/Adobe Camera Raw lets you file your photos the way you want.  

Lightroom files your photos for you and you need to understand what it’s doing.  Hence the need for Scott Kelby’s book, lots of online videos, The Lightroom Queen, etc.  I tell people on my workshops “I will not help you find your lost photos in Lightroom.  I will help you process your photos in Lightroom.”  If you use Lightroom, take time to understand the Library feature.  In my experience, this happens in only 25% of Lightroom users.  

Personally, I find the Bridge/Adobe Camera Raw combination easier to use.  I copy my pictures from my card to a folder under My Pictures, open Bridge, go to that folder, start processing.  Simple and easy.  The 25% who understand Lightroom’s Library say the same thing about Lightroom.  (The Lightroom versus Adobe Camera Raw argument is amazing among photographers.  More powerful than Mac vs. PC or Canon vs. Nikon.)

But what about Photoshop?  Photoshop has Layers and we still occasionally need layers.  There are still photographers who use layers to make vignettes even though we have a slider for vignette in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw.  There are still photographers who use Layers to open shadows despite the great shadow slider in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom.  

Layers in Photoshop are needed for a lot of advanced processing.  Merging star trails, for example.  Merging lightning strikes for a more dramatic photo, for example.  Photos with light painting need layers.  We can make a mat for our photos in Layers.  Good stuff happens in Layers and we can only get that in Photoshop.  

At one time, we could only get panoramas with Layers.  Now we have a feature in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw for that.   

I’ll offer a Photoshop Layers class in the coming weeks.  Layers is a powerful tool but has a steep learning curve.  I’m not a master but know how to get what I need – most of the time. 

Check out my class schedule at www.kathyadamsclark.com

Transform Tool on Travel Photos

I’m working through the thousands of photos I took in Spain during my recent photo tour to Andalusia and Barcelona.

Buildings were our most common subject.  Often it was hard to get right in front of the building.  Many times we were shooting straight up when we really needed to be higher  like on the second floor of the building across the street.

The Transform tool in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom is really coming in handy.

Take a look at this before and after:

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 12.05.25 PM
Here’s the original photo Iglesia del Salvador.  It’s a lovely church in the Seville’s Santa Cruz neighborhood near the hotel where we stayed.  I included a lot of sky and a lot the building because I knew I’d use the Transform tool in processing.  

The Transform tool is activated in the photo above and ready to go.

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 12.04.51 PM
Here’s the finished photo.  I put a vertical Transform guide on the left and right white column.  Then I put a horizontal Transform guide on the two main horizontal lines.  I finished with a bit of vertical tweaking with the slider to bring the building a bit more upright.

Transform tool to the rescue.

Have you used the Transform tool?  Does it work well for you?

Use The Shadow Slider

When traveling, we don’t always get to choose when we can be at a location.  Harsh light can get in the way of a good photo.  That’s why I suggest you make friends with the Shadow slider in Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom, or Elements.

Spain; Seville; Plaza de Espana
Well exposed image with no highlights blown out.  The area on the right is in deep shadows, though.

Spain; Seville; Plaza de Espana
Same image with basic processing in Adobe Camera Raw. The shadows on the right have been opened thanks to the Shadow slider in Adobe Camera Raw.  Same slider is in Lightroom and Elements.

Have you used the Shadow slider?  Does it work?