It hasn’t been quite a full year since Adobe last released a new version of its consumer-centric image editor, Photoshop Elements. During this time, the company has worked hard to incorporate more code from its big brother, and the impressive results are available now.
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Adobe Systems is having a big week, shipping Creative Suite 6 on Monday and Creative Cloud expected on Friday, but in-between they’ve quietly slipped Photoshop Lightroom 4 into the Mac App Store, marking their fourth title to land on Apple’s virtual store shelves.
Landscape shots can often turn out mildly disappointing. What we don’t tend to notice with the naked eye is that the sky is usually a lot brighter than the foreground, yet the camera really picks this up.
Normally, you might try to tone down bright skies using a selection and a Levels adjustment, for example, but you can also do it using a Gradient adjustment layer and Photoshop’s Overlay blend mode.
The bleach bypass process, as it’s used now, is associated with bright, desaturated images with heightened contrast. It works well with distressed or urban subjects, but it can also produce striking portraits too.
It gets its name from the days of color film, where the silver in the film emulsion is washed away (bleached) when the dyes that make up the final color image are formed. If the silver isn’t bleached, you get a color and a black and white image combined. You can simulate this by creating a duplicate, black-and-white version of the image on a new layer and blending it with Multiply mode.
When you want textured prints, you buy textured art paper. Simple, right? Unfortunately it doesn’t always provide the solution you’re looking for. What if you want to create an aged, "distressed" look? And what if your picture’s going to be displayed on-screen rather than printed out?
This is why it’s much easier to cheat and create this textured effect digitally. You can do this by combining two images – one of the textured background you want to use, and one of the photo itself.
When you’re layering one image on top of another, it’s often difficult to make a clean selection around the subject. There are nearly always stray pixels of a different tone around object outlines, for example, and these are an unavoidable by-product of the way digital camera images are captured and processed.
Elements and Photoshop have a Reduce Noise filter that looks like it offers all you need to reduce the noise in high ISO images without sacrificing too much fine detail. In practice, though, it’s not so easy, despite the sophisticated controls.
When you’re out walking and you have a camera, it’s always worth looking out for interesting skies, because you never know when they might come in useful. You don’t have to snap loads – a single sky can often be used to enhance lots of different images.
This is what’s been done here to transform a dull-looking landscape, creating a vivid sunset effect that’s quite easy to achieve. Usually when you blend in a new sky, your first thought might be how to create the right kind of selection, especially if you’ve got a complicated horizon with tricky tree lines, for example.
Photographers use depth of field to blur distracting backgrounds and make their subjects stand out clearly. It’s a very effective technique, but it’s not so easy to do now as it used to be, partly because sensors are smaller and partly because most of us use zoom lenses with restricted maximum apertures, rather than the fast "prime" lenses of yesteryear.