6 things about Photoshop CS6 that will help your photography

by blogshaxe

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.

1) EASY SKIN SELECTIONS FOR FASTER RETOUCHING

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.

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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.

 

2) PERFECTLY SPACED CHAIRS WITH CONTENT AWARE EXTEND


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.

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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.


3) MOVE CHAIRS AROUND WITH CONTENT AWARE MOVE

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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!


4) AMAZING WIDE ANGLE LENS CORRECTION!

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.

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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.

Before:

after:
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.


5) GET RID OF UNWANTED “THINGS” IN YOUR PHOTO WITH THE NEW PATCH TOOL

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.

 

6) THE BEST CAMERA RAW YET.

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.