With the first copies of Adobe Photoshop CS2 hitting the shelves as you read this, Philip Andrews takes us through some of the most important new features for digital photographers
After the success of the CS version of Photoshop, Adobe had to address a big problem. Namely, how to make the undisputed king of photo-editing software better than it already was. After all, you would be hard pressed to fi nd a user who thought that the current version didn?t contain all that they would ever need to make their digital photographs great. But here we are, a year-and-half-later, with a new release of Photoshop and I bet you are wondering what more could they fit into a program that already appears to have virtually everything. Well, the short answer for photographers and image-makers is ? loads. The core of the changes in CS2 balances a range of brand new technologies with exciting new inclusions that make the daily work that photographers do more efficient, consistent and, most importantly, faster than ever before. So to keep you up to speed on all that isshiny and new in CS2 here are the best of the new features…
Brand new to CS2 is the sophisticated Lens Correction filter. The feature is specifically designed to correct the imaging problems that can occur when shooting with different lenses. Apart from correcting barrel and pincushion distortion, the filter can also fix the colour fringing (colour outlines around subject edges) and vignetting (darkening of the corners) problems that can also happen as a result of poor lens construction. Controls for changing the perspective of the picture, which are great for eliminating the issue of converging verticals, as well as how to handle the vacant areas of the canvas that are created after distortion correction, are also included. This level of correction was possible in Photoshop pre-CS2 but required the application of several different filters and tools via a series of complex steps. The Lens Correction filter now provides a one-stop solution to some of the image distortion effects that occur when using wide-angle lenses onour digital cameras.
Another brand new feature in CS2 is the ability to create and apply basic edits to 32-bitsper- channel or High Dynamic Range digital photos. Most digital camera sensors are capable of capturing a brightness range of between 6 and 8 f-stops between deepest shadow and brightest highlights. For most shooting scenarios, this range, often called the dynamic range of the sensor, equates to the contrast of the scene, which means detail is captured and held in the file throughout. However, in very bright or contrasting environments, or when capturing a view that encompasses an inside space as well as a brightly lit exterior, the abilities of the sensor will be exceeded. This results in detail being lost in the highlight and/or shadow area of the image. To help solve this problem Adobe has created a new set of tools that can be used to combine the brightness range of several different pictures to create a High Dynamic Range or HDR picture. To create a HDR picture start by shooting at least three pictures of the same scene with exposure differences of 2 f-stops or more. Next load the three files into the File>Automate > Merge to HDR feature. Photoshop will attempt to register the three pictures and determine the exposure difference between each using the metadata stored with the original camera file. If the exposure detail is not found or is stored in a format not accessible by the feature then you will need to inform Photoshop of the exposure settings used to capture each photograph. This is entered via the Manually Set EV dialogue. The Merge-to-HDR dialogue displays the combined image, thumbnails of the source pictures as well as a Set White Point preview option. The finalised HDR file can then be used as a basis for conversion to 8- or 16-bits per channel files. In this latest release of Photoshop the following features and tools are now 32-bit enabled: Crop, Image and Canvas Size, Trim, Free Transform, Selection (save and load), Clone Stamp, History Brush, Info palette, Channel Mixer, PhotoFilter and Exposure Adjustments as well as Add Noise, Unsharp Mask, Gaussian Blur, Motion Blur, Offset and High Pass Filters.
For fans of the Healing Brush and Patch tool there?s now an additional retouching hero. Based on similar technology to the others this new feature provides simple one-click retouching of dust, scratches and other flaws. Simply select the tool, adjust the brush tip characteristics (Size, Hardness and Spacing) and then click onto the offending spot or drag over the scratched area to repair. It is like the Healing Brush but doesn?t require you to select the sample area first before applying the change. The tool contains two different working types of work mode ? Proximity Match and Create Texture. Both types search the surrounding pixels to look for data that can be used to over-paint the problem area. The Proximity Match option looks for selected image parts to paste over the spot and is good for matching existing patterned backgrounds whereas the Create Texture setting produces a new texture based on the combination of surrounding pixels. The Sample All Layers setting in the tool?s options bar provides the extra function of including picture detail from all of the document?s layers in the calculations of the texture and colour that will be applied.
The famous Photoshop guru, Russell Brown, developed the Image Processor feature to demonstrate the power of the scripting engine within Photoshop CS and at the same time to provide a very handy image conversion utility. The feature is designed to quickly convert a range of RAW files into JPEG, PSD and TIFF versions. There are options to manually adjust the conversion settings for the first file and then apply these settings to the rest and the ability to apply an action during the process. The script is supplied as an integral part of CS2 and can be accessed from the File > Scripts menu in Photoshop or the Tools > Photoshop menu in Bridge.
The Vanishing Point filter is a new addition to the specialist filter line up that
includes Extract, Lens Blur and Liquify. Like the others, this feature has its own
dialogue, complete with preview image, toolbox and options bar. You use the filter to plot the perspective different faces of individual picture parts. This then allows the user to copy and paste and even Clone Stamp portions of a picture whilst maintaining the perspective of the original scene. Using the filter is a two-step process:
Step 1: Define perspective planes To start, you must define the perspective planes in the photo, by selecting the Create Plane Tool and marking each corner of the rectangular feature that sits in perspective on the plane. A blue grid means the perspective is correct; yellow is borderline; and red means it?s mathematically impossible. In our example, the corners of a window were used to define the plane of the building?s front face. Next, a second plane, linked to the first, is dragged onto the surface of the left side wall.
Step 2: Copy and Paste or Stamp With the planes established the Marquee Tool can be used to select image parts which can be copied, pasted and then dragged in perspective around an individual plane and even onto another linked plane. Throughout, the perspective of the copy will alter to suit the plane it is positioned on. The feature?s Stamp Tool operates like a standard stamp tool except that the copied section is transformed to account for the perspective of the plane when it is applied to the base picture.
Though not new for CS2, the Camera Raw feature gets a complete makeover
in this new release. As most of you are probably aware, Camera Raw is used to
convert digital photographs from the RAW format to an editable format such as
PSD or TIFF. The process is a lot more complex than simply changing file types. Using a variety of menu options, dialogues and image tools, the user is able to interactively adjust image data factors such as tonal distribution and colour saturation. The dialogue also contains options for the sharpness, colour space, colour depth, pixel dimensions and image resolution of the converted file. See cr-image image. In this release of Photoshop the following features have been added to Camera Raw to make it more efficient and powerful:
?The feature can be used outside of Photoshop from within the Bridge work space
?Multiple files can be selected (either via the File > Open dialogue or by multi selecting thumbnails within Bridge) and edited in Camera Raw
?Pressing Ctrl/Cmd R after selecting several RAW files opens the feature in filmstrip mode. Settings can be applied to individual files or ?Synchronized? across all photos in the film strip
?Processed files can be saved directly from Camera Raw in a variety of formats ? DNG (Adobe?s new digital negative format), TIFF, PSD or JPEG
?Camera Raw now contains both crop and straighten tools
?Pictures can be rated in the Camera Raw dialog (in Filmstrip mode) by selecting the thumbnail then pressing Ctrl/Cmd 1 through 5
The Bridge, Adobe?s new super browser, replaces the standard file browser found in previous versions of Photoshop. Selecting File > Browse from inside Photoshop displays Bridge, which is now the fastest way to open a file from your picture library. Bridge is a separate program to Photoshop, has its own memory management system and can be opened and used without needing to have Photoshop running. To locate files ? Files can be located in Bridge by selecting their host folder using either the Favourites or Folders panel or the Look In menu. Alternatively, the Edit >Find command can be used to search for pictures based on file name, file size, keywords, date, rating, label, metadata or comment. To manage files ? Bridge can be used for sorting and categorising your photos. Using the options listed under the Label menu, individual or groups of photos can be rated (with a star rating) or given a coloured label, to sort and display the best images taken at a large photo-shoot, for example, or grouped in a folder. They are applied by selecting (or multi-selecting) the thumbnail in the Bridge work space and then choosing the tag from the Label menu. Shortcut keys can also be used to attach tags to selected files. Viewing thumbnails ? A real bonus of the Bridge is the multitude of ways that thumbnails can be viewed in the work space. Two different controls alter the way Bridge appears ? Workspace and View. Workspace controls the overall look of the Bridge window. There?s a variety of preset spaces that you can choose, or you can save your own design. View options are used to alter the way thumbnails are displayed in the Bridge workspace. Photoshop provides four basic view modes (Thumbnails, Filmstrip, Details and Versions and Alternatives), all of which are available via the View menu or in button form at the bottom of the Bridge window. Tools used in Bridge ? Although no real editing or enhancement options are available it is possible to use it for many of the operations normally carried out in Photoshop. For instance, selected photos can be batch renamed, printed online, used to create a Photomerge panorama, compiled into a contact sheet or a PDF based presentation, all via options under the Tools menu. Some of these tasks will open Photoshop, others are performed from within the browser. Processing RAW files inside Bridge ? Another useful benefit of the Bridge feature is the ability to open, edit and save RAW files from inside the browser workspace. Now there is no need to open the files via Photoshop. The conversions to DNG, TIFF, JPEG or PSD files can be handled directly from the Bridge by selecting (or multi-selecting) the files and then choosing File > Open in Camera Raw.
This feature includes a Preview window, a Strength slider, a Preserve Details control and a Reduce Color Noise slider. You need to be careful when using this filter to ensure that you balance removing noise whilst also retaining detail. The best method is to set your Strength setting first, ensuring that you check the results in highlights, midtone and shadow areas. Next, gradually increase the Preserve Details value until you reach the point where the level of noise being reintroduced into the picture is noticeable, and then back off the control slightly. For photos with a high level of colour noise you will need to adjust both this slider and the Strength control. When the Advanced mode is selected the noise reduction effect can be applied to each channel (Red, Green, Blue) individually. This new filter also works in 16-bit mode, contains saveable/loadable settings and a special option for removal of JPEG artefacts. One of the side effects of compressing files using the JPEG format is the creation of box like patterns, or ?artefacts?, in your pictures ? most noticeable at the higher compression settings. With the Remove JPEG Artifact option selected in the Reduce Noise dialog, Photoshop smoothes out the boxlike pattern created by the over compression.