Preserving Memories, One Frame at a Time

December 9th, 2006

Playing With Levels

The first lesson in Photoshop? Layers! Always use adjustment layers for any adjustment you make. This preserves the original in case you want to re-do (or undo) a change you make. This is an important lesson I learned the hard way after making mistakes in Photoshop that I had no way of reversing.

Levels Before

For this photograph, I used the top menu. Go to Layer, New Adjustment Layer. The number of options seems intimidating. The flowers seem to need more contrast and some saturation. Which to choose? I began with levels. Byron is so patient. He’s tried repeatedly to show me how levels work. I just didn’t see why it was useful until I played with it for myself. Simply by setting a new white point and adjusting the gray slider, my photograph really popped! Click on the photo for a larger image to get the full effect.

Levels After

I did only the levels adjustment. No contrast or saturation adjustments were needed. Now, levels are the first thing I try. It doesn’t help every photo, but at least 80% of the time that’s the adjustment to use.


Need more help with the levels feature? Contact us

November 24th, 2006

The Photoshop Journey Begins

Wow! What a ride! Byron and I spent three weeks in October camping and photographing in Arizona and Utah. Since we were both trying out new digital cameras, we came home with thousands of photos to process. Although I had photograghed on film for years, digital processing is new to me. I need to learn new software for each step of the process. Byron tutored me in downloading and saving camera raw images. Then we used a combination of Bridge (a part of Photoshop), and Extensis Portfolio to catalog each shot.

Bridge is good for working with camera raw files before converting them to another format. It also has a powerful batch re-name feature that allows you to convert large numbers of images at one time. At first I didn’t see the value of the star rating system in Bridge. Now I use it constantly and love it. The one feature I dislike in Bridge is Keywords. I find Bridge difficult to use for that.

Portfolio is strictly a way to keep your photographs organized. Their keyword feature is much easier to use although it is not intuitive to learn at first. The feature I love most is their smart folders. For example, I love clouds. I want to find my cloud photographs and group them together. Using the Find feature, I find all photographs labeled with the keyword “clouds.” All folders are searched and results are displayed. You are then given the option to save as a smart folder. What’s the difference? With a smart folder, anytime you add a photograph with the keyword “clouds” it is automatically added to the folder! No extra work for you!

Once the photographs are converted, rated and labeled with keywords the real work begins. Going through each chosen photograph individually in Photoshop will take some time. Each week, I’ll share some of my Photoshop adventures. Since I’m pretty new at it, we’ll be learning together. Byron has had a lot more experience and will be our guide. We’ll be using photographs from past and future outings as well as our Southwest trip. Stay tuned.

Questions about the software we use? Contact us.