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December 21st, 2006

Photoshop for the Web

This past week, instead of photographs, I worked on building a basic website for a group I’m in. They gave me a CD with the files of a previous HTML based website. From there, they moved to a website using flash and frames. My challenge was to convert it to a CSS based design.

I used Coffeecup Software for the basic 3 column layout. Then I took the logo I was given and opened it in Photoshop. By using the eyedropper tool and clicking on various areas of the logo, I came up with colors for the columns. (I later changed this when I decided to make the colors match the chosen blog theme.) It’s a great tool to make anything match the colors of a photograph or graphic.

Color Picker

First make sure the color box is open. (In this view, it is the small, colorful box on the right.) You can do this by going to the Window menu and checking color. When you use the eyedropper, the color in the square shows the color you clicked and the RGB code is shown on the right. Double clicking the new color in the small box brings up a new box called Color Picker. The bottom line shows the hexadecimal code used by web designers.

The other Photoshop tool I used was Image Size. The logo I was given was too large for the area. The code for the page allows you to type in the height and width, but figuring the correct dimensions by guesswork can be a nightmare. I opened the logo in Photoshop and from the image menu, chose image size. Make sure the box at the bottom marked “Constrain Proportions” is checked. Then at the top, change either the height or width. The other number automatically changes to keep the correct proportion. My logo stayed round instead of becoming oval. I could downsize it a little for the front page, or a lot for the header. Both sizes were easy to do without shape distortion thanks to Photoshop doing the math for me. To view the website, go to lanaflutes.com.

December 16th, 2006

Healing Brush

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This tree caught my eye, standing there against the blue sky and bit of cloud. Then I tried re-framing it as a poster print. Our daughter in college may be able to add it to her Café Press store. If you’ve never heard of it, Café Press is a place to upload your images or artwork to be placed on cups, T-shirts, and a lot of other stuff. Check out her site for ideas of your own. Or help us pay for her college tuition by making a purchase. 😉 Whenever I see an image I like, I take it in both vertical and horizontal. Usually I also try a close-up and a more distant shot. With digital, you have nothing to lose and you may discover the first composition you try is not your eventual favorite. Move out of your composition comfort zone now and then.

These two images didn’t need adjusting. All I did was a little spotting with the healing brush. Have you tried it yet? The healing brush is amazing! Much better than the clone stamp. Don’t think you have it? It was introduced in Photoshop 7. If you have 7, CS or CS2, it’s there only hiding. Look for the patch tool. It looks like a sewing patch – a diamond with stitches around it. Alt click to find other options, or click the tiny arrow next to the tool. Choose the Band-Aid. You’ve got to see this work to believe it! Use it for spotting by clicking over the spot. It will turn black while working. Then it matches the spot to the surrounding background. To remove a feature, click and drag over it. This is not good for a large area, but worked well for a small tree branch I found distracting. Try it once and you’ll never use clone stamp again!

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

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