Archive for 'Photoshop'

Shooting from 50' above, no medical professionals were hurt in the making of these photos!

UHS_Circles_for_blogThe call from my client asked if I could help photograph a large group of people from a high angle. It wasn’t until a deeper conversation that I understood the high angle was to be from directly overhead and the group was to be 30 people!

As you can see from the resulting image here, when all was said and done we wound up with 26 people and we did indeed photograph them from directly overhead. Considering my stomach generally turns back-flips when faced with heights it turned out to be a project with interesting challenges to overcome.

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Photoshop Tip: Reset Your Dialog Boxes Quick and Easy!

Photoshop logoHere is a quick Photoshop tip that might save you a bit of time. Some of Photoshops dialog boxes can get a bit busy and before you know it you are thinking you want to go back and start again from square one. It is simple enough to just dismiss the dialog box using the Cancel button then start over. But you can get there quicker and easier. Here’s how.

From almost any active Photoshop dialog box which presents you with the OK and Cancel buttons you have another option. The option that I speak of is the Option key (Alt on the PC) on your keyboard. No kidding, bad play on words I know. Reset-buttonWith your dialog box active just press-and-hold the Option key (Alt on the PC) and Photoshop will instantly change the Cancel button to read “Reset”. While still holding the Option key, click on the Reset button. You are now reset back to where you began when first opening up this dialog box and you never had to leave the dialog box to get there! Now you start over changing your settings and adjustments as needed.

Change Adjustment Layer Intent While Retaining Layer Mask

Change Layer Content menu itemIf you have come to appreciate Photoshops adjustment layers and layer masks, then you are probably also aware of their remarkable power when used together as a team. The great benefit of an adjustment layer lies in its non-destructive nature. So too with the layer mask. Both tools can be used and adjusted over and over without any destructive effects on the original image they manipulate.

So imagine now that you have created an adjustment layer in your image and also added a complicated layer mask to it. You’ve spent a considerable amount of time fine-tuning this layer mask to limit the adjustment layer effects to specific areas of your image. Now you realize that you need the adjustment layer to apply a different intent. What you thought should be a Curves adjustment would be better suited as Hue/Saturation instead. Do you really want to recreate that complex layer mask again? I certainly wouldn’t.

One approach to solving this problem might be to create your new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer then copy and paste the layer mask from the old to the new. But there is an easier solution. Here’s what you do.

First be sure that the adjustment layer which contains your carefully crafted layer mask is active, by clicking on it in the layers pallet. From there, simply choose the Change Layer Content submenu found in the Layer menu. In the submenu just select the intent you wish to change the adjustment layer to apply. In this example we would be choosing Hue/Saturation. You are done. The adjustment layer is now applying a Hue/Saturation adjustment instead of the original Curves, and the complex layer mask remains in tact! Now you can make changes to the Hue/Saturation applied by this adjustment layer until you are satisfied with its effects.

More information about Photoshop adjustment layers.
Here is a basic tip on using Photoshop layer masks.

Did You Call Me a Professional Fraud? Cheers!

I’ve been accused in the past by loving family members (who will remain nameless here) of being a “Professional Fraud”. And while there could be some elements of truth in that moniker, I none-the-less actually take this name-calling as a compliment to my imaging skills rather than an accusation of wrongdoing!

This project is a good case in point of exactly how I’ve come to earn the title of Professional Fraud. My approach champagne-glassto digital imaging work has always been based on the goal of fooling the audience. My goal is to create an illusion that is so convincing that the viewer of the image will not be able to tell exactly what I did to the image. I like to say, “My best work is the work that no one ever spots!”

Which brings us to the champagne glass you see here. I’d not be so brass as to suggest that an experienced eye would not be able to see what I’ve done to this image from within Photoshop. But I would venture to bet that the casual viewer would not have a clue as to the true extent of the retouching that has been done.

So…what exactly was done? Let’s see, there are probably some obvious things… I dropped in a gradient background, cleaned up and smoothed out highlights and lighting on the glass and seen through the champagne. Sure those would be obvious. But not exactly right.

Truth be told, this glass of champagne never existed. Every pixel of this image was created from within Photoshop without the benefit of any original photography or other source artwork. I started quite literally from a blank white canvas. From there, step-by-step I created this glass of champagne using a laundry list of tools available in Photoshop.

Why did I do this rather than make an original photo or (perish the thought) just buy a stock photo that can be found online royalty-free and dirt cheap? Let me tackle the stock photo issue first. Why not just buy a stock shot? Well… I am a professional photographer! It would be hard for me to conceive of a good reason I should ever buy stock photography when I could create the image myself.

That of course leads directly to the second question. Why on earth, as a professional photographer, did I not simply capture the image I need rather than build it in Photoshop? Well, I considered this but there were two reasons why I did not create my own original photo.

First, I had a tight deadline (2 or 3 hours), which didn’t allow the time I would have needed to gather all of the elements, set up the shot and shoot it. There just wasn’t time. Second, I really felt that I could produce the image I wanted more quickly by building it from scratch in Photoshop. I felt that the result from Photoshop was going to be superior in the end anyway. I had control over literally every single pixel that made up the image. Every bubble in the champagne could be what and where I wanted. The color of the beverage, the shape of the glass, the visibility of the background… all completely under my control. In the end it seemed the most efficient route with the greatest control.

I think it worked. Call me a Professional Fraud. I’ll take it well. In the end I got the image I needed with minimum fuss or hassle, met my deadline and spent precious little budget to do so.

If you are interested in learning more about how I created this image in Photoshop, leave your comments and express your interest. I may pull together an overview/tutorial on it if there is interest.

Oh, and before you go there. I do know the image is not flawless. There are some elements that should be in the image that I just did not have the time to get to. (Remember the deadline I mentioned above.) I won’t name the flaws here, but if you do I’ll give you kudos for your sharp eye!

Drag & Drop Your Drop Shadows!

Photoshop logoPhotoshop makes so many things so very easy we sometimes take if for granted. Adding a drop shadow for instance, on any layer which contains some transparency, is as easy as pulling up the Layer Style dialogue box (Layer —> Layer Style —> Drop Shadow…). Then customize that drop shadow to your hearts content with all of the options offered.

But, it may be even easier than you realized! Once you have the Layer Style dialogue box available on your screen, move your cursor outside that box and into your image window. You will notice that the cursor turns into the move tool! Now just click in the image window and you can drag and drop your new drop shadow into the exact position you would like it to be! Simple as pie!

Drag and Drop Your Drop Shadows

As you drag the drop shadow around your image window, Photoshop instantly updates both the Angle and Distance settings for you. Once you’ve tried this out you will never again go back to manually typing the numerical information into the settings text boxes!

Would you like to see more Photoshop tips like this? Let me know you found this helpful and I will keep adding more right here. To get even more insight into Photoshop, consider membership in National Association of Photoshop Professionals, it’s worth every penny!

Sample Any Color From Anywhere

It is an easy task to grab the Eyedropper tool in Photoshop and pick a color from anywhere in your open document. Just click anywhere in the document window to choose a color from within the image.

But how do you pick a color from somewhere else on your screen? Maybe from that web browser window or open Word document elsewhere on your screen?

Just click within your Photoshop document first, and then drag your Eyedropper tool directly to the object from which you would like to sample a new color. When you release the mouse button Photoshop will sample the color from that spot. This works in Adobe Illustrator too!

Rotate Your On-Screen View

Photoshop logoIf you have ever worked on an image or graphic in Photoshop and just could not get your hand to follow the line you need, this tip will be like gold for you. Been there? Twisting your wrist in an odd way or tipping your head to get everything lined up so you can follow a line just right? Do that too long and things are going to start hurting, really.

New to Photoshop CS4, you can now rotate the image on-screen view. Just hold down the “R” key and then click and drag in your image view. As you drag in an arc across your screen the image view rotates to the angle you choose. You are NOT actually rotating the image file itself, just your view of it on screen. Photoshop even displays a compass like graphic for you, so you can always keep track of where the top of your document really is.

With one small variation, you can also rotate your view in 15 degree increments. Hold down the “R” and Shift keys together, then click and drag. Your on-screen view will snap to 15 degree steps!