Keshav Sishta's Blog

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Photoshop Creative Cloud ’14 Reviewed – with a bonus tip for Photo/Video artists!


In my last post, I ran through the fresh announcements from Adobe about the new 2014 Creative Cloud (CC) release. In this one, I plan to show you the details on what exactly those changes mean to a photographer .



Photoshop CC 2014

Feature 1: Path Blur

Adding realistic motion blur while accounting for camera-shake/panning would have needed the liquify tool and a lot of selective directional blurring in the past. Given that we spent most of our time trying to avoid it ( the camera shake reduction feature was even added earlier with the Photoshop CC release), it would seem strange that Adobe is now encouraging its presence in our photos. Well, for art’s sake, I’m glad they did.

Most photographers would surely praise the intelligent use of motion blur while panning the lens on a moving subject. This introduces drama through motion and also separates the subject from its background. Here’s how we can apply it to frozen-frame type shots.

We start with a shot of a goat that made a jump across some water (cute, isn’t he?) The narrow depth of field doesn’t separate him enough from his background and there are no visual cues on where he’s moving. (logically, we know it’s forward, but we don’t get that information from the photo)

From the filters panel, we select blur -> Path Blur and create a bezier curve that would have mimicked the camera lens trying to track the goat’s jump.

The results are instant. This is what a panned slow shutter-speed shot would look like.

Now we need an in-focus goat.

This also brings us to the next feature.

Feature 2: Focus Area

Making great selections has been high on the list of improvements to Photoshop over the years. This new feature seems to have a lot of future potential, but even now it’s quite a useful tool to have. Start by going to Select – > Focus Area

That’s a not a great selection, but the illustration is from the default setting. Play around with the parameter slider and the Refine Edge tool to select the part that’s in focus. By combining the two images from the last two features, we have a very believable shot!

Feature 3: Spin Blur

Sometimes when introducing motion blur to an image, components of your subject may also be spinning along with their forward motion. Wheels are common example.

Take this high shutter-speed shot of a motorbike. Just like with the goat example from before, if we simply moved the bike forwards, it wouldn’t account for additional the blur that the wheels should have had.

This is now easily done with the new Spin Blur filter. Simply apply it to the wheels and, importantly, mask out the portions that should NOT be spinning, like forks, mud guards etc.


Add some path blur to the bottom layer and viola! Pretty accurate, eh?!

Feature 4: Improved content aware Patch Tool

Content aware patch is an amazing tool and I use it a lot. Here’s a good example of where it can be used. The clouds on the top-left edge seem distracting on an other wise blue sky.

Sometimes, especially around the edges of the photo, it leaves an ugly smudgy patch.

This issue has been resolved with the 2014 release of Photoshop CC. Simply add a color value to the settings dialogue and watch your worries go away.

This brings us to the end of my review of the Best Features of Photoshop CC 2014. There are many more great updates that may be of use to you if you’re doing more layouts than photo editing. Do look up the addition of Smart Guides and a real time font sampling. There’s also an addition of Typekit which should resolve any missing font errors. Designers can also enjoy the new “Package” export option which packs all your smart objects referenced in a PSD to a neat independent folder.

Until the next time, keep creating!

Oh wait! The promised bonus tip!

BONUS TIP – Apply your Photoshop actions to your video timeline

For many photographers out there, shooting video is already part of the mix of work. Adobe seems to bridge the photo and video worlds so well with their workspaces and common tools. This new feature from Photoshop CC 2014 is a great example of that.

I cherish my library of Actions. I’ve been collecting, building them for years and many of them are integral to my photo-workflow. I’ve tried using After Effects to replicate some of the looks but it’s never the same, and it’s always harder.

Presenting “LUT export”.

Let’s start with an image. I opened up a photo from a recent trip of mine in PS CC ’14.

Quite a view isn’t it? Now say you have a favourite Action (let’s call it Milky Berry from the (free) Cafeshop Action Set)






You hit play and the action does its thing leaving you with a set of curves, levels, solid layers etc. But most importantly, you have a “look” that you really like.


You can now export this look to a Adobe Premiere Project in a simple manner. First, before flattening your layers, (ensure that no flattening has happened during the course of the action too) export the current look into a Color Look Up Table (Or LUT)


Open up Adobe Premier 2014 and in your project, you can either choose to apply the look to a clip in the sequence or to an Adjustment Layer. I’ve done the latter as you can see in the example below. Choose Lumetri Looks under the effects panel.




After picking a look from the presets, you can apply the LUT you created from Photoshop by clicking on button highlighted below.

The same look is now applied to your video. click here to check the video out!


While film colorists have been able to expertly do the same for years, you can appreciate the control and confidence this process gives you. You used to be able to color treat your images like a boss. Now enjoy that control over your footage too.

Big CC news!

I’m back at the Adobe Create Tour (2014) and there’s lots of exciting stuff to talk about. There’s also a new Adobe site up that will run you through one of the most extensive announcements to date. The big news to kick things off?


Yes, the guys who gave us Photoshop those many many years ago have entered the world of things.

A cloud enabled stylus and an accompanying ruler seem pretty interesting. No details on specs and extended features though. Good news for us image retouching types and surely for the illustrators out there. Other applications will surely emerge after the release (I’m talking to you, architecture /interior design guys)

Initially codenamed Neapolitan (because it’s short. Maybe because it’s a “ruler”) and Mighty (because the pen is mightier…) these gadgets look really really awesome and they probably will plug into the Adobe world better than the existing options.


Price Wise

The 13sgd per month Photographer package of Lightroom and PS CC is here to stay!! That’s an amount that any working photographer can easily afford.


Video Updates

“Good ingestion” seems like a topic you’d chat with your doctor about. But just like in the unsavory real world, good ingestion will lead to good…well…digestion of your video files. Adobe Prelude has some great updates that will make it your first step in telling your video story. There’s a cool new tagging window where you can broadly sort and subclip your files into a rough cut. Along with Adobe Story, this might be a great way to shape your project up before you even enter Premiere.

There was talk of porting some of AE features into Premiere CC a while back. With this update, it’s great to see a beautiful mix of embedding the really necessary features such as Lower thirds text editing (editors out there will rejoice this update since it cuts down a number of steps, involving jumping in and out of premiere). There’s also a effect mask tracking feature complete with keyframes that will selectively apply your effects to portions of the clip, tracked for motion.

These updates will surely cut down the number of trips out of Premiere but when you really have to leave, Adobe will make sure this “round trip” business is going to be seamless. By placing Premiere at the center of the editing ecosystem, moving to an app like Speedgrade, for example, is much much easier. You no longer have to flatten your timelines to grade eM. While they nailed this with After effects a while back ( think edit original), what’s going to be good to see is an ability to undo a converted nested sequence that gets sent to AE or audition.

Drone Cinematographers rejoice!

Using a gopro for that awesome aerial footage is fun (I would know!) but getting the fisheye effect out required a trip to AE to fix it. Premiere now has a lens distortion correction and presets for Gopros and the like.

Misc Improvements

* curves in premiere are now bigger and easier to use. Great since it’s the most common tool I use.

* browsing through other premiere proj. files in the new Premiere CC let’s you view them as if they were the current project thus loaded. No more importing projects to bins. Love it!

* Audition now lets you create a surround sound setup for your audio with a new graphical interface.

As always, there’s a whole lot more to discuss but these are the highlights!

Thanks for reading!

Highlights from the Adobe Create Now Tour Singapore

Just a quick recap of the new features introduced during the event, which was held a couple of weeks ago in Singapore. I wrote these down during the event, but never got around to posting them!

These should be great news for the stills and motion folk!

Premiere pro

Some updates to the multicam workflow. You can now add overlays on multicam monitor. I guess this would help even if you had “Camera 1″ and “camera 2″!!

After effects

  • Detail preserving up-scale similar to the update PS received recently.
  • Tracking masks – cutting down a huge amount of time spent animating your masks
  • Easy expression scripting – Represents a shift towards less code and more templates perhaps?
  • Easier access to Cinema 4D


Asset Generator-Makes outputs super easy. Set output settings via layer name. You’ll need to read more into this, but it’s especially
useful for the website/app makers. You can now dictate the asset type before export happens!

I hope this is useful, since I was pretty selective in what I chose to feature.

Adobe Photoshop CC – 6 months later

Adobe moved away from the suite-based model of packaging its apps to a subscription based model exactly 6 months ago. For those of you’ll whom haven’t yet made the switch, maybe the following might convince you to do so.

First up, let’s talk business. Granted, the feel of a hard-case cover DVD with the perpetual option to install and run a software might feel better than “renting” one. But how many serious users can claim to

be fine using older versions of the Creative Suite? The fact is that most users want the latest features from Adobe that make their work-flows faster and easier. (let us not reminisce over the days before selections could be refined and objects were not smart – you get the drift)

So in a nutshell, a Creative Cloud (CC) subscription would mean

  • Constant free updates to the latest features
  • The option to get a full CC subscription for SS$66 a month or a single app (Photoshop CC only for example) license for SS$26(special offer) a month. Existing customers with CS3 or later, however, can get CC memberships for SG$39 per month

These prices are especially attractive if you consider that some photographers spend far more per month on batteries.

Now, let’s talk about the features of Photoshop CC that could make things far easier for you. From day 1, I used PS CC to replace my older CS6 workflow and by simply entering my adobe ID, I was back at the familiar  start pane.

It was so easy that I probably didn’t notice that I shifted through an entire paradigm of how this software works. The CC app manager now runs updates to your apps similar to how many smartphones would do theirs.

Enough of looking under the hood. Let’s get straight to the features that make all the difference.


1) Improved Healing Brush in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR)

Most of my regular work-flow is accomplished within ACR and for those nagging blemish-fixes, I need to move in to PS for some layered action. This is not ideal as my work has to be saved in PSDs for it to stay non-destructive.

The new Healing Brush is no longer limited to a circle – you can paint shapes with it. This takes a lot of the PS work back into ACR. And it’s non-destructive with perfect finished product previews viewable in Adobe Bridge!









This portrait was great, except that on closer inspection, a stray hair moved over the model’s face.

Expand to see more

This would normally take a trip to Photoshop, yes?

By simply drawing over the hair and sampling from a clear portion of skin, the issue is fixed!

And there’s also a nifty “Spot-Visualizer” to help clean things up. Especially great for a dusty sensor

Pay attention to the dust spots in both images

2) Scaling up images while retaining detail

A client recently needed these Archive images of Old Singapore blown up into a 4x6m panel. That’s almost goal-post-huge!

I had two options:

1) Shoot this with a medium format camera and pay a lot on rentals

2) Shoot 7×4 35mm (28 images per poster!) segments of the images and stitch them together in PS.

A third option was to shoot fewer section images and stitch them together – and use the new Photoshop CC

intelligent up-sampling feature.  I was able to breeze through creating these 3Gb files. (thanks to my 32Gb of RAM too, I suppose) It’s pretty

awesome so see the details still preserved on a larger version.

3) Massive improvement to the Liquify tool

No more drawing a selection in your image to apply the liquify tool. You can now load the entire image and “liquify” any portion without

having to take a break to get coffee, while the thing renders. What’s more, it now loads as a smart filter! (provided you make your layer a smart object)

I didn’t have a real application example so look at this work of art instead:

These are full images from a 5dMk2











Smart liquify filter? Pretty cool, yes?









4) Using Camera Raw within Photoshop

As I mentioned earlier here, I love using ACR and sometimes when I’m within PS and looking at a layer, I wish I could

adjust its Vibrancy or selectively push the highlights or shadows. All of which are only possible with the ACR control panel.


It’s now possible to have the same controls not only on a JPG image, but within layers of a  PSD file. And again, it’s non-destructive

as it’s a smart filter!








5) Improved Lens Aberration Correction in Camera Raw

While some perspectives just need to be fixed using the Adaptive Wide Angle filter released with CS6, a large majority of alignment issues and

perspective corrections can be done within good ol’ ACR. Yet another reason to not go to Photoshop!


















6) Camera Shake blur reduction

This filter promises a lot, but only works if it’s genuine camera shake. Normally, camera shake is coupled with subject motion blur which won’t give you ideal results.

But when it works, it fixes photos that could have been write-offs with hardly any artifacts.












These are just a few of the many features rolled out with the CC launch (check out Smart Sharpen, layer isolation, shape handling etc. )

The exciting thing is that we can expect iterations far more frequently with the CC system, so we don’t have to wait ages for the next big improvement. What’s more is that if you use multiple machines like I do, you can

sync your settings over them- no more pesky importing of shortcuts and pane layouts / workspaces. You even get space on the cloud and a Behance integration to show off your awesome work  – hot from the press!

Go on and visit the adobe CC page now!

A Big Night Out

2013 seems to be a good year for live music in Singapore. With a slew of big name indie bands placing Singapore on their touring lists (hooray for bit torrent!), I got very excited when I learnt about this in late 2012.  When rumours of a combo-concert with Band of Horses, Vampire Weekend and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs surfaced, I simply couldn’t wait for it.  Who cares if the Big Night Out was the shorter Asian cousin of the Big Day Out in Australia. With three massive bands rocking Fort Canning, what more could one ask for. We’re ok with smaller servings here, you see.

When the two “supporting bands” (BOH and VW) were done, I think I already had my money’s worth. At this point, I must point out that I thank the good folks at Jagermeister for tickets to this very awesome show.

Band of Horses, with their signature C&W vibe, tubey amp sounds and wonderful slide guitars, blessed us with their beautiful sound from early albums like Cease to Begin and Everything all The Time. I was instantly ported to 2006 when my  non-ipod mp3 player housed these never heard before tunes. It seemed like a better time. Then I remembered how broke I was.

I digress. Yes, nothing like time-stamping your memories with music.

Vampire Weekend picked things up by opening with “Cousins” from their previous album, Contra. The crowd reacted, changed energy states and started to vibrate. (I heart science) Ezra Koenig’s 54 word/sec vocal abilities are truly magnificent. We were also treated to a non-symphony live version of M79 thanks to Rostam Batmanglij’s keyboard skills.

This band was here a while back within the safe acoustic confines of the Esplanade theatre, but they sounded as good in the open air Fort Canning setup. My ears seemed to have disagreed by protesting with a constant high-pitched humming noise the next morning. Well what’s a good live show without some good ol’ tinnitus.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs closed the evening with  a high octane show with some awesome showmanship.  This band formed in 2000 so I’d like to know what kind of octane was used to manage such a show. Please email me with information.



Posting live from The Adobe Photoshop Masters Eclipse Tour

  • Julian Kost says you can
    • Paste textures into masks
    • Directly move drop shadows with the mouse rather than play around with the change angle and distance sliders
    • Apply layer styles to groups
    • Play with blend modes for groups rather than individual layers
    • Make a short cut for tile and tab view of files command + shift + R/T
    • move your tools to the right. That’s where your mouse hangs out anyways- near the properties panels.
    • Add command M for mask short cut
    • Alt mouse left/right increases size. up/down changes softness.
    • Download her black and white tone template with smart objects
    • Read blog on optimizing photoshop

Russel Brown says

  • While creating a panorama, lock the center layer that sits at the center of the panorama
  • Sample smaller sizes in camera raw while experimenting. Faster workflow. In the workflow link at the bottom
  • Make smart objects via copy to make independent versions
  • Layer multiple files to make a super raw file. Merge to psd only. Not HDR
  • Make layers smart object before adaptive wide angle fixing
  • Shift – with move tool to cycle through blend modes
  • Blur gallery to get bokeh effect

On Assignment – Fashion (Beach shoot)

It was a fun day at the Tanjong Beach Club shooting for a very talented designer, Kirti, who  is showcasing her latest resort wear collection, Aria by Kiki very soon.

Click here for to see more images

6 things about Photoshop CS6 that will help your photography

With the launch of CS6 we’ve witnessed a slew of new updates rolled out in Photoshop. I still find Photoshop CS5 exciting, even though it was launched almost two years ago. And I’ve really not even gotten over Puppet Warp. With the introduction of a suite of selection-related tools (refine edge, content aware fill etc) in CS5 it was clear that Adobe was paying close attention to the needs of DSLR photographers and digital imaging artists. It’s almost a given these days to shoot while keeping good ol’ Photoshop in mind and your finger on the shutter button. Stray strobe power cable in frame? Annoying sensor dust spots? Pesky tourist in your bikini shoot background? Not to worry, right? We’ve honestly not really been worrying much since CS4, but with CS6, things are a lot different and a whole lot easier.

I had the fortune to have three photo shoots right after I installed my copy of Photoshop CS6 that brilliantly demonstrated the power of the new and improved tools.


After this resort wear beach shoot, I found that the model’s skin needed some color adjustments to keep it independent from the cross-processing in the background.

Expand to learn how

Sitting under the Select menu, the Color Range option has been been around for a while.

The addition of “Skin Tones” as an option to refine your selection is the game changer here.

By selecting this new option, you can refine your selection very quickly. Although the sand in this picture does get selected too, the face with the sky backdrop is quite easily isolated.



In this interior shot, some of the chairs had a very visible void between them due to the interference of table’s legs. I was easily able to cheat with Photoshop CS6.

Expand to know more


I started with a rudimentary selection around the edge that I wanted to expand from. I refined it and then under content aware selection, I dragged it in the direction I wanted. A few touch-ups later, voila! Note: This worked only because of the perspective created by the wide angle lens.


Know More

The last chair was higher than the rest. Now why didn’t I fix this on location? That’s another story for another blog. What counts is how easy it was to drop it down with Content Aware Move. After making a refined selection around the chair, I simply “moved” it down. There were some artifacts around it that needed to be cloned out, and the bottom portion had to be masked away too. But this was really easy!


Now even if you enjoy shooting landscapes more than interiors, this new tool will knock your socks off. By drawing a few lines around your image in the new Adaptive Wide Angle tool, you can instantly fix a distorted image like so.

Before and After.

And this is just an example with mild lens distortion! This tool works especially well with cityscape shots with tall buildings and heavy distortion.

Expand to see how

In this tool, you begin by drawing lines along objects in the image that should either be vertical or horizontal. If you don’t specify one, PS automatically straightens the line. Within the confines of the Adaptive Wide Angle tool, you can easily draw lines around curved edges as PS automatically fits them for you.

Another example.


Watch how lens distortions/aberrations like barrel distortions etc get easily fixed. This totally trumps the lens corrections filter from previous versions -  as an option to fix perspective problems, that is.


Why be a responsible dog owner when you have the Content Aware Patch tool in Photoshop CS6 to do your dirty work for you.

Ok, so that wasn’t really doggie do, but it needed to be out of my picture, regardless. I could have cloned, healing-brushed etc. But with the new patch tool I was confident that there would be a believable result with no visible edges.

Click here to see why

The old patch tool was great, but with the new drop down selection under Content-Aware, PS has added more brain to this tool.

By proceeding to make a selection around the “object”, and defining a sampling zone similar in its shadowy tone, I let go of the mouse button to reveal a clean area where there was once something. All in 3 seconds.



The new Camera Raw 7 has some powerful upgrades that make sensible changes to your images even when you drag sliders to their extremes.

More about the changes here

The most noticeable change is the sequence of the sliders and their labels.  Contrast is now below exposure. This is touted as the “right” sequence to edit your photos. I honestly don’t believe in a predefined sequence, as a “shaping”, ad-hoc approach works best. Apart from the superficial mods, they seem to work in a different way too. For example, the Highlights slider (formerly “Recovery”),
now very strictly sticks to the brightest parts of your image leaving your whites alone. Even when brought to the minimum, you don’t see that pasty, creamy-white result you’d normally see in the old Camera Raw.

Clarity has been given new teeth, with it showing some super strong gritty mid-tone contrast. What was once the realm of specialized plugins like those from Topaz, is now built in to CW7.

The next big boost to CW7 is the adjustment brush modification.

While this deserves a tutorial by itself, I can summarize what this change does for you by listing what you can now paint into specific portions of your image: White Balance, noise reduction (especially great for recovered shadow regions), moire reduction, and of course, all the new and improved slider controls in CW7


To conclude, I’ve only discussed the 6 best things about CS6 with regard to its photography applications. There are many many more useful changes with this version, so go forth and discover! The only caveat I offer about the changes is that some of the content aware based mods are still susceptible to content aware artifacts. You will still need to tidy up your adjustments from time to time. Be smart about what tools to use, and when to use them. Content aware can fail miserably when confronted with irregular or even regular motifs, along a vanishing point perspective.

Visit Adobe to find out more about CS6 and give it a try.

Happy editing. May you spend less time in front of your screen and more time out there, shooting.

Chase Jarvis and making money with your passion


An awesome video for aspiring creatives and also some solid advice on making money from your passion.


Foldable Wayfarers for the lonesome eater

In  the event that you own a pair of foldable Ray ban Wayfarers and also eat alone a lot, I have a solution for you.