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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Photoshop CS5: What’s In It For You

As the newest update to the pro standard enters the creative marketplace, we look at how some of the new features will affect professional photographers

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Content Aware Cleanup BEFORE.
Content Aware Cleanup
The new Content Aware capabilities for the Spot Healing Brush tool and Fill command received considerable attention in advance of the launch of Photoshop CS5, and some of that attention bordered on hype. This new technology was presented as being a panacea that could magically fix any problem area of any image. To be fair, the technology is rather impressive, and this is its first iteration.

Content Aware is essentially an advancement of the Spot Healing Brush tool (though it’s available in conjunction with the Fill command, as well). The Healing Brush performs automatic blending, and the Spot Healing Brush extends that by locating source pixels from within the image for you automatically. The Content Aware option also determines the best source of images automatically, but then performs some very advanced blending that actually pays attention to the edges within the area you’re repairing so the effect will be more natural.

In most cases, you’ll get the best results from the Content Aware option if you work in very small areas. In other words, don’t think so much about removing huge objects from the scene, and instead think about perfectly blended repairs to small blemishes throughout the image. If you set appropriate expectations, you actually can be quite impressed with Content Aware. But if you expect it to change your life, you’ll likely be a bit disappointed.

The Little Things
In my mind, one of the most important reasons to upgrade to Photoshop CS5 isn’t one of the big-name banner features everyone’s talking about. Instead, it’s the long list of relatively small features that will make your workflow more efficient and enjoyable. Here are some.

• The Crop tool now includes the ability to overlay a grid or “rule of thirds” guide over your image, making it easier to both rotate to correct things like a crooked horizon and also make more informed aesthetic decisions about your cropping.
• The heads-up display (HUD) options for the Eyedropper tool and the Color Picker make it remarkably easy to evaluate and select just the right color for a particular task, whether that involves hand-tinting an image or applying a color correction, among other possibilities.
• A straighten button has been added to the Options bar for the Ruler tool, providing a one-click method for cropping and rotating an image where a line that should be perfectly horizontal or vertical is a bit off-angle.
• You can save 16-bit-per-channel images as JPEGs and they’ll be converted automatically to 8 bit. There’s no longer any need to convert to 8 bit per channel first just so you have the option of saving to JPEG.
• Print settings now can be saved as part of an Action, enabling a relatively automated workflow for producing prints that doesn’t sacrifice the quality or accuracy of your printed images.
• While not truly focused on photographers, the updates to the Brush tool are significant. You now can adjust properties that enable the Brush to behave similarly to its real-world counterpart, including details such as how the paint on the brush behaves. For those who hand-tint images or otherwise perform a good amount of painting in Photoshop, these changes are of particular interest.

Tim Grey has authored over a dozen books on digital photography and imaging for photographers, and also publishes the Digital Darkroom Quarterly print newsletter and the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter. Visit www.timgrey.com.www.timgrey.com.


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