Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Mysterious World of Photoshop

PHOTOSHOP: Has ever the name of a computer program suggested more mystery and possibility? Perhaps, but not to me. As far as I'm concerned, Photoshop is the ultimate mystifying miracle-worker. Rumor has it you can use it to change colors, textures, effects, backgrounds, and even (gasp) remove a person from a photo altogether.

I've long wished to venture into the uncharted universe of Photoshop, but frankly it has been a little daunting. I open up the screen and am overwhelmed and utterly confused by the options I am presented with. Despeckle? Mezzotint? Craquelure? Are those ways of manipulating photographs? The terms sound like they belong in A Standard Book of Spells: Grade Four by Miranda Goshawk.

Fortunately, when the need to tinker with a photo is truly desperate, Ashkon comes to my aid. That was the case with the picture above, which I took a couple of weeks ago on a rainy day in New Haven, Connecticut. The colors of the house, the tree, the leaves, were so vibrant in real life, but I just could not capture that in my picture. I was so disappointed. My polarizing filter, which I now invariably use to block the glare and deepen the color of my photos, had fallen out of its frame the week prior and was unusable.

I knew there had to be a fix for a washed-out, should-have-been-polarized photo. And I knew Photoshop had to have it somewhere. Rather than meander around trying out different things, Ash suggested Googling something along the lines of "photoshop AND tutorial AND polarizing filter." Lo and behold, we came up with something. And thank goodness, because it was absolutely the least intuitive series of steps you could ever imagine. But it worked! Amazing!

Perhaps I went just a tad bit overboard. In real life the leaves were not approaching fluorescent, bright though they were. Sorry, couldn't help myself; it was just so thrilling to figure out how to do something in Photoshop. The question is, could I ever duplicate it without the tutorial? We're not there yet... Next project: to figure out how to remove pesky things like power lines.


Ashkon said...

There must be some great tutorials online for beginners. Anyone have any suggestions?

amy sahba said...

I don't have any suggestions for online tutorials, but I know this guy who is really a Photoshop master and you just need to figure some way to bribe him into teaching you the basics... I'd be interested in such a class ;)
Or maybe you can try a book? Something along these lines:

ROBERT said...

Photoshop is a pretty amazing program. I have been using in for about four years now and I still finding new tricks on it. If you have any questions feel free to call me. The sites below are pretty good tutorial sites. (This one has video tutorials which is cool) (This site is a little more advanced. Click on the “Photoshop” section and there is a wide variety of tutorials)

Also, my friend uncle Dr. Russell Brown as a free pod cast on Itunes with weekly tutorials…he is quite a character!

luckybeans said...

It's the clone tool. You can use it to paint over your powerlines with bits of the photo right next to them. You can probably google it, too. That is one of the only things I do in Photoshop consistently. The rest is still beyond me.

What kind of camera do you use? I am trying to learn more about photography myself, and it would be wonderful to have someone to talk to!

ews said...

Thanks for the tips Amy, Robert, and Luckybeans!

Shamim said...

ok. let's do this class thing!

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