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Old Jun 26, 2005, 5:00 AM   #1
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Hey guys!

I've just started on the job of editing my digital photo collection, and I need to develop some healthy habits :-)

Like I said I am a semi-noob, so I do not use the most advanced editing options. Until now I have used Picasa for my needs, and mainly cropping, redeye and the 'I'm feeling lucky'-button... Have a few questions I hope you can answer, so that I can take the step up to senior-noob

1. In what sequence should I edit my pictures? ( do cropping before contrast, color before contrast etc etc)

2. Is Picasa good enough for my daily troubles, or should I bother to learn Photoshop or another program? Any skilled people got any opinions on this?

3. If I decide to use Photoshop, do you know of a quick step-by-step guide to the common way of editing a photo. Cropping, contrast, color, shadows ++?

If I ask already debated questions, I humbly apologize.
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Old Jun 26, 2005, 3:28 PM   #2
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I always crop first because the computer runs faster running the smaller file. If you plan to print the image or want in a certain proportion use the crop tool and put the dimensions of your print in the box. Put nothing in the pixels/inch box and it will keep all the pixels you don't crop out without a resample. If you want to keep the format of your image just put 4 inches in the width and 3 inches in the height (or the other way round). The inches don't matter as long as you leave the PPI box blank. You would use 3 and 2 inches for a DSLR image to maintain the proportions.

Don't use contrast. Photoshop help says it isn't for advanced editing. I know you don't consider yourself advanced, but that is Adobe's way of saying to avoid it. It just moves your white and black points in or out an equal amount and you seldom want to do that. You want to use levels or curves – levels being by far the easiest to master: http://www.earthboundlight.com/photo...tml?source=rss

Auto-Levels is pretty sophisticated. It seems to work in the color channels and is often hard to beat manually. Try it first. If it doesn't do what you want just go back a step in the history and use levels.

I find that many shots from non-DSLR cameras benefit from defogging. Filters>Sharpen>Unsharp mask. Set the amount to about 16 and the radius around 180 with the threshold zero. Switch back and forth in your history to see if it improved the image. Sometimes it makes the image too contrasty. If it does just drop back one step in the history . It isn't really a sharpening step. Sharpening should always be done last. But if I am going to use defogging I want the rest of my work to be based on it.

I've been using Photoshop since version 3 and still haven't mastered it. I use other programs only for very specialized tasks. I would advise you to use Photoshop for everything and forget about Picassa for editing. Start with some beginners tutorials to get the nomenclature down and then look up tutorials for anything specific you want to do. There are thousands of good Photoshop tutorials online and Google search usually finds them quickly once you go through the beginner tutorials and know what to look for. As an example, if you wanted to cut your head out and put it on a hulks body you would look for "Photoshop selection tutorial".

If your photo has very dark and very bright areas and you want to bring out the dark areas without blowing out the bright ones, the shadow/highlight in Photoshop is incredible. Mess with the settings. Image>Adjustments>Shadow/Highlight. Get back if you don't have CS and I'll give you a method to do that in older versions.

There are extensive sharpening tutorials and excellent scripts and plug-ins for sharpening. I would start out with just a dose of unsharp mask – Filters>Sharpen>Unsharp mask. Keep the radius low and mess with the amount. The larger the image the greater the radius. I would start out with 2 in the radius and 50 in the amount for a full sized 5Mp image. For normal sharpening the threshold is usually zero. Some people like the radius even lower and that amount will be too high if your camera sharpens the image a lot. Most photos can benefit from some sharpening if you keep it subtle. Don't set the in-camera sharpening too high. I run both the sharpening and contrast at minimum on my cameras but all of your images require a little work to look good if you do that. You can set up an action to batch process them to another folder so you have the originals for post processing and another folder that looks good for viewing. That might not be worth the trouble to you, but don't go past default sharpening in the camera.

You should be careful of your original. Most people just go Layer>Duplicate layer>OK. That eliminates the Save command because it can't save layers in JPG. If the original was TIFF you get a warning that you are saving layers. It keeps you from overwriting your original unless the original was PSD. Others work with a copy. It is best to save as a PSD or TIFF, but if you want to save it as a JPG go Layers>Flatten image. Be very careful after that to :Save as" and not "Save" or you will overwrite the original. If it is the same file type, save as a different file name. If you accidentally "Save" it isn't a big deal. Go back to the original in the history and select "Save as". You will have to use a different file name.

A very simple workflow:
Duplicate layer
Auto levels – go back in history and use levels if you don't like the result
Defog – go back in history if you don't like it
Unsharp mask
Flatten the image if you need to save as a JPG.

Actions are a great tool. Make a simple action.
Open an image
Go to the Actions palette.
On the bottom next to the trash can is a "create new action:
Name it something like "Standard"
Click OK. It will start recording.
Layer>Duplicate layer
Image>Adjustments>Auto layers
Filters>Sharpen>Unsharp mask and 16 in amount and 180 for radius
Filters>Sharpen>Unsharp mask with radius 1.5 and amount 40
Click "Stop recording" on the left at the bottom of the actions palette.

You want to be subtle with the final sharpening. If you have the sharpening high in the camera even that will be too much.

Close the image you just used to make the action. Open another image and select your Standard action. Click the little arrow at the bottom and it will do all of the things you just did to the other image. The history will have all the steps, so if you don't like the result you can go back to the different steps and see where it messed up the image. Start at the previous step in history and do whatever you like. You can crop the image after you run the action.

Do a Google search for [Photoshop "beginners tutorials"]. Look through and find some that are at your level. This has only a couple of pages and explains some of the basics, but it is only the first example I ran across: http://tutorials.beginners.co.uk/rea...dobe+Photoshop

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Old Jun 26, 2005, 3:50 PM   #3
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Thanks a lot, slipe. Let the games begin :-)
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Old Jun 26, 2005, 5:10 PM   #4
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Slipe has a reasonable process, but keep in mind that there are always excetions in photography. As an example, his advice to crop first. That is OK if you are sure that you know what aspect ratio you are going to be using, e.g., 4x6. 5x7. 8x10. ... However, if you crop to one specific aspect ratio, you might have to go back to the beginning if you decide that you really wanted to print at a different one.

I'd suggest that you continue to use your current editor until you want to do something it cannot do. Keep in mind that no photo editor with a lot of capability will take a fair amount of time and effort to learn.
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