Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Photoshop and Digital Printing Workshop: Making the Complexities Easy to Understand

Do you have a love-hate relationship with Photoshop? You’re not alone. One the one hand, it’s an incredibly powerful tool, capable of doing fantastic things. You know that if you mastered this program you could get the most out of your images and make beautiful prints. On the other hand, Photoshop can be cryptic, complex, and confusing. The learning curve can seem downright crooked.

I was lucky. When I first started using Photoshop in the late ‘90s, I got to spend a weekend with Bill Atkinson, who probably knew more about digital imaging than anyone else in the world at the time (maybe he still does). He started me in the right direction and helped me avoid the confusion caused by gathering random bits of information from books and the internet. Like Charlie Cramer, Keith Walklet, and many other fine-art photographers Bill taught, I still use a variation of the simple, powerful, and flexible workflow that Bill showed me.

I’ve since taught Photoshop (and now Lightroom) skills to dozens of people in workshops for West Coast Imaging and The Ansel Adams Gallery. I try to make the complexities of Photoshop easy to understand. The truth is that Photoshop is simple. Anyone can learn to use it. And if you’re already familiar with it, you can learn to harness its full power. The secret is that you don’t have to deal with most of the tools. If you learn to use a few powerful tools well, you can do almost anything in Photoshop.

My next workshop with The Ansel Adams Gallery, Digital Printing and the Zone System (January 19 - 23, 2010) is designed for people who already have some Photoshop experience but want to master this powerful beast. You'll learn both simple and advanced techniques for getting the most out of your images and making beautiful, fine-art prints. I included the Zone System in the title because getting good exposures in the field is vital to getting good results in Photoshop, so we’ll be working with the entire process, from capture to print. The Zone System also gives us a framework for understanding contrast throughout the workflow—an important tool in this age of HDR. Here’s a partial list of the topics covered:

- Zone System Exposure for Digital Cameras
- Color Management
- Overall workflow
- Raw Image Processing
- Making a Master File
- Using Layers for Flexibility
- Controlling Contrast
- Mastering Curves
- Flexible Dodging and Burning
- Retouching
- Making Difficult Selections Easy
- Converting to Black and White
- Sharpening
- Combining Images for Greater Depth of Field
- Combining Images to Expand Dynamic Range, both with HDR and Photoshop

There’s still space available in the class if you’d like to join us. Click here to register or get more information.

So how do you feel about Photoshop? Do you love it, hate it, or both? And if you’ve learned to love it, how did you get there?

By the way, I’m planning to add more Photoshop tips and tutorials to my web site soon, but for now here’s one tip that you might find interesting, about imitating the effect of a graduated neutral-density filter.

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