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Old Nov 22, 2008, 3:56 PM   #1
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I've been playing with a couple of new (to me at least) features in Photoshop.

The first one is merge to HDR. This was in CS3, but I didn't have it, so it was new to me. My first attempt was a scene in the botanical gardens that was really extreme - a sunny day, a shady fish pond reflecting the trees, ferns and thick greenery that grows around it. I found out that there's really a limit to how much the program can handle - I had used 1 shutter auto bracketing with either a 1 stop (might have been more, I had been experimenting with a couple of different settings), 5 exposures to the set, and ended up with nothing useable.

What was far more satisfying was another merge layers option in CS4 - I think this one is new. You can merge layers in stacks and that will extend your depth of field. I took a series of 6 photos using a 100mm lens with slightly different focus points in each one. Then I asked CS4 to merge them and it took the sharpest parts of each of the frames so that the whole subject was in focus.

Here is one of the frames I used. As you can see, the DOF wasn't big enough to get the entire fork in focus.



Here's the picture after CS4 merged all the layers. It isn't perfect, but I thought it worked out pretty well.



I found a tutorial published by Layers Magazine that told about another way of merging two layers to do HDR. I used that method on two layers, thought it looked pretty good and flattened it, then used that for the next exposure etc. through the 4 of the 5 exposures I wanted to use (the last one was just too over-exposed to offer much). I'm still not completely satisfied but it was better than letting photoshop figure it out on its own. The conclusion I came to is that photoshop is limited when it comes to HDR.

Here's the darkest and lightest frames I used:



And this is what I came up with. I thought it was better than what CS4 made of the same frames on its own.



I can't decide if I would be interested enough in HDR to invest in a program like Photo Matix or the like.

The other thing that CS4 can do is align layers based on content. So even though I used a tripod with the fork picture, one frame was slightly off, throwing the focus merge off a bit. My results were much better once the program aligned the files when it merged them. It also can match exposure if the frames are different. I was quite impressed with this.
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 4:33 PM   #2
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Doesn't look too bad, Harriet. My husband had been playing around with various programs a few months ago. But, either wasn't using the correct type of photos, or something. Nothing ever really seemed to come out.

Patty
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 4:36 PM   #3
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I've used CS2 and CS3 constantly for about 2 years now and I have yet to made a dent on how much stuff you can do in photoshop.

I never really made an attempt to use the HDR in photoshop, I've always manually do it myself instead of the automated program built in. I tried a few times but the results always come out half decent.

The layer merger for the DOF seems interesting.

How is the speed compared to CS2/3? Is it noticeable? I don't have CS4 yet. I still think CS3 is good enough for me. I will upgrade to CS4 when I get a 64bit OS.
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 6:24 PM   #4
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I can't really compare them, as I've gone from a 4 year old PC laptop with 2 GB of RAM running CS2 to a new MacBook Pro with 4 GB RAM and CS4. Its MUCH faster and doesn't get bogged down when opening multiple files, but how much of that is new Mac vs. old PC? Lightroom 2 also runs significantly faster/better than Lightroom did. I'm glad that I upgraded from CS2.
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 8:02 PM   #5
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mtngal wrote:
Quote:
I can't really compare them, as I've gone from a 4 year old PC laptop with 2 GB of RAM running CS2 to a new MacBook Pro with 4 GB RAM and CS4. Its MUCH faster and doesn't get bogged down when opening multiple files, but how much of that is new Mac vs. old PC? Lightroom 2 also runs significantly faster/better than Lightroom did. I'm glad that I upgraded from CS2.
Harriet

I like what you are doing and I saw some amusing utube video on what the software can do.

But once I started to do some shopping I am confused as to the cost effectiveness of these software.

CS4 cost? Do they have sale price or rebate? Do I have to wait for Boxing day sale or something along that line?
If I install it in a laptop, can I delete and transfer the installation to a new comp (either a laptop or desktop)?
If I install CS4 in a computer can I install a future (say CS5 ) as upgrade to another comp?
The way they do business is very confusing indeed. Maybe that is the reason Adobe is so successful. If I buy a K20D version 2 , I do not like it and I can return it.
Meanwhile with the cost of a software , I am sure it can buy quite a few great lenses.

Daniel
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 9:18 PM   #6
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The cost of software really depends on the individual and what they do with their pictures. I happen to really like Photoshop, ever since someone gave me a bootleg copy of PS3. I worked a tutorial, learned the basics and liked it enough to buy PS4, then 6, then CS2 and now CS4 - a case where Adobe should be very grateful to that person who bootlegged their program way back then. I seriously doubt I would have bought it otherwise.

I have the advantage of being associated with a school, and both Adobe and Apple give nice academic discounts, making the software much more affordable.

The software I have comes with one license - you can only have it installed/running on one computer. I think there's a way to transfer the software to a new computer (I've done that before) or re-install it on a computer if your hard drive fails (that's happened to me too). I know one of my earlier licenses allowed me to have the software on two different computers, but only use it on one at a time. I've never actually had any of my licenses on two computers at a time - though I did re-install CS6 on one computer twice, then installed it on a replacement computer.

When I installed PS6 back on my old computer (long story), I was able to install it without having PS4 already on the computer, though I did need the original PS4 serial number and I think I needed to install the original disk at one point in the installation.

Now days these things are more sophisticated so I'm not sure there's as much leeway as there was way back then. When I bought CS4, I understood it was 1 license, and I'm not sure if I could have it on two computers but only using it on one. It's not a problem for me as I only have one computer.
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 11:00 PM   #7
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Looks like I am going the Mac route sooner than I thought. Thanks for sharing Harriet. Looks good to me.
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 11:54 PM   #8
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CS4 has a different interface, and has panels instead of palettes, much like Lightroom has. One part of the panel has icons for adjustments - making adding an adjustment mask a 1 click operation. There's a number of presets connected to them, which are really fun to play with. One of the things I had noticed is that Photoshop's HDR options seems to affect colors. I played a bit with hue and color adjustment with the one I posted above, but still am not totally happy with it. So I took the opportunity to play with black and white conversion options. The b&w presets simulate adding colored filters to b&w film, and I came up with these two rather different pictures:



This first one simulates putting a blue filter.



This one simulates a yellow filter. I'm happier with the results using the b&w conversions - I'm going to have to play with this some more!

P.S. The new MacBook computers have a different type of trackpad. I always hated the trackpad on my HP laptop, but the one on the Mac is really cool. Scroll a page by using two fingers - no need to hold down a button. The whole track pad is a button for clicking, you can "right-click" by clicking with two fingers. It took some getting used to but now I really like it.
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Old Nov 23, 2008, 9:21 AM   #9
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Hay Harriet,
you've done good girl!

Can any of this be done in CS3 or do I have to get CS4?
GW:bye:
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Old Nov 23, 2008, 3:45 PM   #10
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The layers merge that adds DOF is new to CS4.

I didn't particularly like the HDR routine results I got in CS4, and I don't think its any different than CS3. The method I used for the HDR picture I posted could be done in CS2 if I had known about it. It was described in an article in Layers Magazine.

There is an easy way for CS4 to align the layers, if they aren't exactly the same. I'm not sure that's available in CS3, but in the HDR method I used, I lined them up manually. The panel for adjustments is new to CS4, but all it does is make it easier to add adjustment layers, something that's been around since at least PS6, I think. There's also a way to do panoramas and adjust the geometry, for instance if you used an extreme wide-angle lens. I don't think that was in CS3 (the panorama option was, but not the ability to use it in conjunction with adjusting for lens perspective).
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