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WHAT IS GOING ON WITH ALL THE “AI” IN PHOTOGRAPHY SOFTWARE?

Image of an Imperial Bromeliad Plant
This blog is a little “long-winded” but it is something I have been trying to figure out and thought I would share. For the last several weeks I have been getting totally confused by all the new Artificial Intelligence (AI) software/plugins/filters and what qualifies them as AI software. This past week Adobe’s Lightroom/ACR modules gave us a new taste of their AI capability with the Enhance Detail command. I decided to do a quick recap on a few of the AI programs. The final image above used Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio’s AI Clear and AI ReMix. I have used the new AI masking capability in On1’s very recent update and gotten good basic masking results. Also Skylum has two filters, Accent AI Filter and AI Sky Enhancer Filter which are very nice effects on images – check out article on what Skylum’s AI team is doing. Adobe Photoshop has previously used AI to upscale images in the Image Size dialog and in the Quick Select Tool’s Select Subject option and now calls their AI Adobe Sensei. Since these other filters are a little different than these I am showing, I will try to do another blog on their AI Technology. There is so much info on AI that I could create a humongous blog!

WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

I found a blog from a C-Net article with this nifty definition -“Enter artificial intelligence — specifically the neural network technology loosely based on human brains’ ability to learn from real-world data, not rigid programming instructions.” In the article Adobe senior research scientist Vlad Morariu said “Using tens of thousands of examples of known, manipulated images, we successfully trained a deep learning neural network to recognize image manipulation.” This may be what started the whole AI software evolution for photographers.

As a good example of how AI is being used effectively in photography software, Topaz Labs ReMix adjustment says on their website that they collected hundreds of classic and contemporary artistic samples; then spent hundreds of hours developing a custom neural network to identify specific artistic styles and replicating the textures, colors, edges and shapes of those styles; and finally the results were put into an adjustment for Topaz Studio. This seems to be the basic process for a lot of the AI software being developed.

LIGHTROOM/PHOTOSHOP’S ACR’S ENHANCE DETAIL VS TOPAZ AI CLEAR

Here is a screen shot of the flower shown above zoomed in to 100% to show a comparison of Lightroom/ACR’s Enhance Detail applied (for LR Develop Module right click and select and in ACR right click on the left strip and select) vs. Topaz Studio’s AI Clear, which was applied with LR as the host program. For a larger view in Flickr, click on image.

Screen Capture of DNG and Tiff file from Topaz StudioThe results to me looks like the DNG file has more texture in it but very similar sharpening – that would make sense since AI Clear has both Noise Reduction which will reduce the texture effect and Sharpening capabilities. All the settings were the same including the Details Panel sharpening and noise before applying the Enhance Detail or AI Clear. (I know, Topaz says do not do this but I do it all the time and it works just fine.) This may be a draw as far as which looks best in this case – the new LR/ACR Enhance Detail works pretty good as well as the AI Clear. But Lightroom/ACR creates a much larger DNG file while Topaz creates a Tiff. I find AI Clear probably the best product out there for subtle sharpening that is needed, especially when hand-holding your camera while shooting. Also Detail Enhance is not available in the Camera Raw filter as far as I can tell, only available when doing your original post-processing. Therefore, if you may want to get back to apply it, definitely open as a Smart Object from ACR or Edit ->Open as a Smart Object in Photoshop from LR. For the Enhance Detail command Julieanne Kost, a PS evangelist, says “I would suggest applying it on an image-by-image basis starting with images that have visible artifacts and which require the highest level of quality (images that will be printed in large format, for example).” Topaz Labs says for AI Clear use it on all kinds of images including High ISO with lots of grain, Nighttime with noisy skies, Action images with some blur, and Telephoto lens shots. My choice at this point is Topaz AI Clear – often my images are just a bit soft and this works wonders – and I can access it as a filter using Topaz Studio in PS on a layer – very easy and quick.

TOPAZ JPEG TO RAW AND TOPAZ GIGAPIXEL

Image of an Old Wooden Windmill in BelarusImage above is the final result after running this file through the various Topaz AI programs – it was from a very old IPhone and had a lot problems already. I do not believe there is an easy way to compare these two standalone packages from Topaz – they each do something that the other does not do, but there appears to be some overlap to me, like in sharpening or noise reduction. JPEG to RAW was specifically developed to take old phone (or current in some cases) and old digital camera jpg images and put them into a RAW format for better post-processing. (See my What Is Topaz’s New JPEG to RAW AI? blog.) I have always loved Topaz AI Gigapixel because it will take a really small image and enlarge it to something that looks pretty nice and detailed. (See my The Best New Software Around-Topaz A.I. Gigapixel! blog for more on it.) Below is a screen capture of how this image actually looked as the original windmill image, then after running running it through JPEG to RAW, then AI Clear adjustment in Topaz Studio, and finally AI Gigapixel (which is at half the zoom since it was doubled in size). This gives a pretty good idea of what is happening here and what basic order to use the software in. For a larger view in Flickr, click on image. The final image was finished up with some Topaz ReStyle effects (not an AI plugin but still one of my favorite Topaz plugins).
Screen Shot of all 3 Topaz AI products
Personally I believe that Topaz is setting the standard for implementing AI use in software and it has some of the big giants scrambling. It is amazing to me to see Photoshop trying to emulate some of Topaz’s software and that can be nothing but good for us Photoshop users. The AI technology seems to be breaking open right now and I can hardly wait to see what is coming next! Okay – I am done!!! Hope everyone has a great one!……Digital Lady Syd

Other Related Digital Lady Blogs:
What is Topaz AI ReMix????
Topaz ReMix – Update and Better Than Ever!
Updates, Updates, Updates! What To Do????
Some Topaz Studio Tips


HOW TO GET RID OF THOSE DARN FENCES IN ZOO SHOTS

Image of a Verreaux Eagle Owl at the Jacksonville Zoo
There’s the easy way and there’s the hard way to do this. And since I love taking images at zoos, I usually fall somewhere in between when post-processing those images with the ugly fence patterns in the foreground. So this blog hopefully will help with some of these issues.

I was so excited to get this beautiful Verreaux’s Eagle Owl image while at the Jacksonville Zoo with my Photo Club – BTW the Zoo is in the process of updating and it is looking fabulous! This guy was located in a very shady area hidden behind heavy black fencing (see images below) and definitely was very hard to see. This guy was so close, like 3 feet and he looked to be at least 2 1/2 feet tall, and yet I could not see his beautiful eyes or beak. It was a major surprise to see he had such colorful eyes and beak once downloaded on my computer! I love birds but the fencing here was so frustrating! (For more on the post-processing, see Image 1 at end of blog – check out how the Charcoal Filter was used for the background of this image.) The closer you can get to the fencing, the easier it was to remove the lines.

Tip 1: Use that Wide Aperture Setting to Remove the Foreground and Background Distractions

But I had done my homework this time and set up my camera to try and eliminate the fence lines. This short 2 minute video called Zoo Tip: Make the Cage Disappear by Tim Migot totally made the difference. The con to this technique is that you have to do this while at the Zoo.
For the above image, the camera was set to its widest aperture with auto focus on and zoomed in. By burst shooting, several shots were obtained that were pretty nice. The above was shot using a 18 to 200 mm zoom lens at 170mm, f/5.6, ISO 200, and -1 1/2 EV. Below is an example of how it looked when it did not work. The image on left does not really show the fencing but it is not sharp at all and one on the right is what the fencing looked like. The image used was in a second set of burst shots that gave much better results. It seems you just have to keep trying until the fence disappears.

Screen Capture of owl shots

Tip 2: To Fix Faint Fence Lines That May Show Up – Use a Darken Curves Adjustment Layer

Image of a Bonobo Monkey at the Jacksonville Zoo
This very striking Bonobo Monkey was sitting in a fairly high up crevice in the Kapok Tree, a new feature at the Jacksonville Zoo. This is a wonderful way for the whole family to view these fun-to-watch monkeys up close. The camera was set up with a telephoto 70-300 mm zoom lens and 300 mm was used to get the close up image. The aperture was set to F/8.0, I could have gone a little wider but this setting seemed to be working. The ISO was set to 400, which allows the shutter speed to increase for this difficult image. In this case the fence was fairly close to me, but the monkey was not. Unfortunately my Exposure Compensation was off a bit at -2 1/2 but it worked out fine – it just made the shot a little darker. In the screen capture below a fence shot is shown and then the used RAW file that did require some light clean up. (Click on images to see larger in Flickr.) See my Image 2 Post Processing Info on the other steps used and how the lighting effect was created.

Screen Capture of the Fencing and RAW file for Bonobo Monkey
If you look closely at the RAW file above (especially through the forehead and ear area), there are definite faint white lines still in the image. The fix? A Darken Curves Adjustment Layer set up so that the curve will overall darken down the image – mine is set up as an action with just one point set to Input 164 and Output 102. Then the layer mask was inverted to black by CTRL+I on the mask. Now with a soft 20-30% opacity round brush, painted over those light lines – set the size to roughly match the width of the lines. If it is too dark, go back into the Curves Adjustment itself and move the point up or down to match. I have used this trick over and over when light is not quite even on an image. And running the image through a sharpener like Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Studio’s AI Clear and for that matter Precision Detail which can help remove an overall soft effect that can result with the fence interference. In the Monkey image the light fence effect was left on the right background as I felt it added a nice soft texture effect to the image. This could have been removed using a Lighten Curves Adjustment Layer. To create a Lighten Curves Adjustment Layer, just set the point to Input 98 and Output 170 and fill the mask with black – paint back area to lighten – then adjust the point to match the surroundings.

Tip 3: Spot Healing/Patch Tools or Paint Out the Fence by Hand

The shooting technique does not work all the time. With the two images above the animal was pretty stationery and the fence fairly close, but when an animal is moving, it is hard to get a good focus on the subject. Doing everything that can be done to speed up the shutter speed, like setting the ISO higher, or turning off the Auto focus setting can help, but sometimes nothing works. If you really want the image, you need to take several shots of the moving animal so pieces can be patched into one if needed. Now you have to resort to removing the fence by hand and hoping you can clone over parts in different images you may have taken. This was done on the Amur Leopard image below. My main tools to start the process are using the Spot Healing Tool set to Content Aware and Sample All Layers, and the Patch Tool – mine is usually set to Patch Content-Aware, Structure 7, Color 5 and Sample All Layers checked. Adjust the Patch Tool settings if those do not work with your picture. After doing this, most of my time is spent using a small brush to sample and dab paint over areas that look rough – this is quite tedious and several different brushes is sometimes necessary. I do most of my spot removing, cloning and painting on individual layers and create a stamped layer (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) on top to finish up.

This may be obvious, but a major key point here is that, if you decided to use a texture to remove a very cluttered background especially, just remove the fence on the subject only. Then create a selection of your subject and place him on top of a different texture. Usually I place a white layer under the subject, then a texture and finally the subject so that blend modes and layer opacity changes can be used. That is what was done on this image.

Image of a Leopard at the Jacksonville Zoo
A lot of spot removing and painting to get rid of the fence and a separate image was flipped and copied over to get the jaw area to look correct. (In screen capture below the original RAW files with the main one used on the left and the copied jaw on the right.) It took several hours to get the image to this point, and I am not sure it is done. He was very agitated in his pen and was pacing and roaring all over the place – very hard to get a sharp image and his mouth really was open and big. Probably 20 pictures were taken (18-200 mm lens at 200 mm, F/5.6, ISO 640, and EV -1 1/2). This was really a difficult shot to get to look realistic while capturing the mood of the big cat. The background texture is one I painted in Corel Painter that had some complementary colors to the leopard. Just about everything was used on this image – Topaz Studio’s Precision Detail and Dehaze, Nik Viveza 2 to bring out the eyes, a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode, Lighten and Darken Curves Adjustment Layers, spotlight effect layers, Color Lookup Adjustment Layer, the Sharpen Tool and Selective Color Adjustment Layer, just to name some of them. His eyes were amazing in several of the images.

Screen Capture of leopard images
Another way to handle the fencing is to remove or paint over the subject and leave the fencing in place – it can possibly look like a fence behind the subject. The image below used this technique. The Monkey image has a similar but less obvious effect on the right side of the image.

Image of a Malaysian Tiger at the West Palm Beach Zoo in Florida
For more info on how the Tiger image was post-processed, check out a short Tidbits Blog I did a while back called The Break Out. It took a lot of time and effort to get this image – to paint out the fencing, one of my a painting brushes, which is based upon a hair brush and set to 35% brush opacity and 65% Flow, was used to sample and paint over the black lines – but it can be done. Topaz Impression was used to gave the Tiger a painterly look instead of hand-painting the whole image back in.

If you like to take images at the Zoo, I hope this blog gave you a couple tricks to try. These same tricks will work if shooting one of your kids baseball games through fencing. I had a great time exploring the Jacksonville Zoo again – the animals seemed ready for our Photo Club – and you will be seeing more of my images in the next few months. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Post Processing Info

Image 1: In Lightroom Serge Ramelli’s Safari Animal Vignette Cold Strong preset was used as starter (see my Showing Some of Serge Ramelli’s Effects blog to download them) and then tweaked the Basic, Detail, and HSL panels. In PS Topaz Studio’s AI Clear came to the rescue – used Remove Noise Auto and Sharpen High, Recover Details 0.10, and Exposure 0.21 – then set it to an opacity of 0.71 before applying. Next the Precision Detail Adjustment was added to just the Shadow areas. Last step used the HSL Adjustment to firm up the color in the eyebrows and beak – used a black mask and painted back those areas. I could not believe how good his eyes looked, just needed a little sharpening to pop them with an Exposure Adjustment Layer (see my The Eyes Have – How to Make Them Pop in an Image blog). This is pretty much my standard Topaz workflow for animals. In Photoshop Dodging and Burning was achieved with Lighten and Darken Curves Adjustment Layers. A little white spotlight effect on just his face using a layer set to Soft Light and white brush with low opacity, and that was it. To get that pretty background color, the Charcoal Filter was used on a stamped layer in Photoshop (had to convert the image to 8 bit before using) and set the Thickness to 4, Detail to 5, and Light/Dark Balance to 47 with foreground color a brownish color (2a2319) and background color greenish (1c2715) – this filter uses the Foreground and Background colors in the swatch. The layer was set to Exclusion blend mode at 78% opacity. Used regular soft round brush in mask painting over the Owl head and used the Sharpen Tool on eyes in mask.

Image 2: In Lightroom no preset was used – just adjusted the Basic Panel and the HSL Panel. This time the image was brought into PS as a Smart Object so the LR settings could be tweaked easily if needed in Adobe Camera Raw. Since this image had more problems than the owl above, I felt this might be needed. In PS The first thing done was to add a Darken Curves Adjustment Layer to paint out the light white fence lines where the fencing was not completely removed. A little clean up was done before a stamped layer was created for Topaz Studio. In Studio the AI Clear Adjustment set to its default settings and then Precision Detail Adjustment was used with Shadow Small Detail 0.22, Shadow Medium Detail 0.43, and Large Shadow Boost – painted in a mask of just the monkey so detail only goes on him – kept Edge Aware on and inverted the mask so the background is black and not affected by the detail. Back in Photoshop a Gradient Map was applied using a gray to brown to light blue preset from Blake Rudis (see his nice gradient presets in download from Advanced Color Toning Made Easy video – excellent video). A vignette was created. Then I decided that I needed a little more light on the image so a large Spotlight Effect was created on the Monkey – just washed it over the Monkey from the opening. A few other steps were done, but this describes the major steps.


SHOWING SOME OF SERGE RAMELLI’S EFFECTS

Image of an African Elephant at the Jacksonville ZooThis week I watched a few videos by the Lightroom guru Serge Ramelli. Thought I would show a few things I have learned from his techniques in the last few weeks. I have found that if you follow a few of his videos, you get the main idea of how he gets the results that are definitely a signature effect for his style. I like it, but not sure it fits all my photos. This blog will show a few things I have learned from him.

He went on a safari recently and created some interesting Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw presets so I decided to try them out. The above African Elephant image was taken at the Jacksonville Zoo and seemed like a perfect subject for my first attempt.

To download the free presets, need to go to one of his U-Tube videos where he has a link to them – How to Edit Amazing Landscape Photos with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop or How to Remove Fence Lines: Simple Camera Trick. You must sign up for his site to get them. I do not feel these are Serge’s best videos, but I appreciate the fact that he has given us some interesting presets to try out. There are 10 presets with the download, and the one used above is called Warm Dramatic Light – it seems to be his favorite. Two Radial Filters were used to brighten up the elephant face a little light reflection on the foreground rock. Two Graduated Filters were used one on the bottom and one on right side. For the rest of the workflow, the image was brought into Photoshop (the latest PS update this week fixed the problem with opening PS from Lightroom to edit an image). I believe if one thing has changed my recent workflow from the holidays, it is Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Studio’s AI Clear. I am now using it on every image as my first step in PS. In this image the Clarity slider was also set to 44. A Dehaze Adjustment was also added and set to 41. Back in PS an Exposure Adjustment Layer was used on the eye and a 50% Gray layer was used to Dodge and Burn on the elephant.

Another trick I learned this week was from Jesus Ramirez, definitely a PS guru, in his Color Matching in Photoshop Fast and Easy – 90 Second Tip #05 (Phew!). This is the coolest tip which uses the Curves Adjustment Layer – check out his video as it is really short and to the point. (I may do a blog on this as it really is a good technique to have in your arsenal of PS effects.) The last steps were just a little clean up in the image. Between the nice Safari preset of Serge and the Curves Adjustment Layer of Jesus, the image has a natural African safari feel to it.

*****

B&W image of Laupahoehoe Harbor on the Big Island in HawaiiThis image was created by following several videos in a class at Kelby One by Serge called Lightroom Classic Techniques for Creating Black and White Images. I felt like Serge did an excellent job on discussing this process and gave some really nice presets with the course. I have not taken any of his individual classes he sells, but for the $9 sale price, it is probably a good buy if you want to learn his black and white technique. This image used a B&W preset created in the class but he does have some that are in his free Welcome Kit (28 presets and lots of other goodies) offered at his site. One thing I did learn is when to use a black & white treatment. He says “Boring colors mean go black and white.” In Photoshop Topaz Studio’s AI Clear was applied. The image was cropped and a few spots cleaned up. A slight vignette was created using Matt Kloskowski’s technique – see my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog. That was it – not even a Curves Adjustment Layer was needed for contrast.

*****

Image of a carved wooden post in the countryside of BelarusThis image was taken on a country road in Belarus and of course it did not have any snow. This image used Serge’s preset called Zoo Hollywood (in a free set of 6 that can be downloaded with his video called How to Turn Your Zoo Photos into Fine Art with Lightroom). In PS, Topaz Studio was opened and AI Clear applied, then Topaz Impression using the Type 03 brush. Next the Edge Adjustment was added to give some interesting edges to the cornfield. Back in PS Serge’s Snow brushes were applied – these are probably the best atmospheric snow brushes I have used – 10 of them in the set. Check out his video called How To Create Snow in Photoshop CC to download them. His video shows a few tricks to make them look good. I just had fun applying them. Nik Viveza 2 was used to even out the colors and that was about it.

Hope you get a chance to try out Serge’s presets and brushes – they are really nice. He takes a bit of a different approach to his images for processing and the presets show this. Enjoy your week!…..Digital Lady Syd


AND THE AWARD GOES TO…..

Image header for blogSince it is that time of year when everyone is evaluating their images from the past year, I have decided that instead of doing my top pix, I am going to create some special award categories for my photography. I am finding this is really tough to look at your images and think about them objectively.

Best Humorous Image of the Year

Image of a Tri-Colored Heron using a Scribble EffectMany choices for this category but they all either were bird images or Christmas images. Still love the effect the Scribble Action created on this guy so he won the Category – for original blog see my Updates, Updates, Updates! What to Do???? blog.

Best Creative Use of a Plugin

Digital Art Image of a Horse and Rider with Fiery BackgroundThis year in my opinion, the best new Plug-In was Topaz Studio’s AI ReMix – something totally different to use to bring a whole different look to your images. This image is my favorite example of the ReMix look so it was chosen as my favorite for this category. For the matching blog on this image, check out my Dodging the Fire blog.

Best Digital Painting of the Year

Digitally Painted image of DandelionsDid not do as much painting this year – this is on my resolution list for next year to do more painting. I did like how these unusual dandelions turned out. Here is blog which contains a little more info: Blowing in the Wind.

Best Animal Picture of the Year

Painted image of a foxI had several animal images and it was hard to figure out which I liked best, but this painted fox was one of my favorites. He appeared in my Introducing the Beautiful Fox blog that contains a little more info.

Best Drawing Image of the Year

Drawn image of a Young LadyThis was my first attempt at drawing a face and I totally enjoyed doing it. I learned the technique from David Belliveau at Paintable.com – for more info on this fun workflow, check out my short blog at Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter.

Best Landscape of the Year

Image of hotels in OahuSort of a strange landscapes where special effects were applied, but it looks pretty cool I think. For more info on this image, check out my blog at Oahu Landscape.

Best Macro of the Year

Image of painted Pink CarnationsThis year I did not shoot as many macros as I usually do, but this one turned out very nice. It was painted using Corel Painter. A short blog called Pink Carnation was created showing more info.

Best Black and White Image

Image of a girl playing an ErhuThis image had been post processed in color previously, so it really surprised me how nice it looked as a black and white image. For more info, check out my Girl Playing Erhu blog.

Best Floral Image

Image of some colorful Queen Emma bloomsOne of my favorite flower images this year just because I loved the way the color came out. For more info on how this was done, check out my Colorful Queen Emma Lily blog.

Best in Creative Category

Image of my Fantasy MapThis may not have been the most striking image, but I like that a lot of my favorite people are on this map and sort of represents me and my taste as an artist and Photoshop nut. It was a lot of fun to do and definitely was creative. For more on how to create a fantasy map of your own, check the original blog called My Personal Fantasy Map.

Best Image Created using a New Technique

Image of Parliament in LondonThis image represents a pretty cool technique used to get rid of camera shake (not the PS filter) and create a really sharp image from Deke McClelland. For links to the video on this, check out my Parliament blog.

Best Use of Texture

Image of a Rainbow LorikeetThis image I was particularly proud of since I created several textures to use in it. For more info on this, check out my Adding Textures to Wildlife Photos blog.

Best Use of Color

Image at The Land, Epcot, Disney WorldThis image is one of my favorites since it is so bright and cheery with a very strong color palette. For more info on how this image was post processed, check out my blog called Three Views of Air Balloons at Epcot’s The Land Pavilion.

Most Dramatic Image

Image of a Church in BelarusThis beautiful Church in Belarus has a nice dramatic night effect applied to it. Check out my First Snow of the Season blog for more info.

GRAND AWARD WINNER FOR 2018

Drawn image of a wolfI decided this was my Grand Award Winner because it represents the various things I have been working on in many of my  images. Mainly, I have been trying to learn to draw (and Aaron Blaise is the master that taught me how to do this), textures, and lighting effects. Check out my Learning to Draw a Wolf! blog for more info. Hopefully during the next few years I will be able to draw more animals and apply more of what I have learned to date.

Hope you enjoyed my photos and my theme for this blog. It is very hard to decide what is your best work, but it does make you really think about what you have done and where you are going with your art. Happy New Year to everyone!…..Digital Lady Syd


CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM DIGITAL LADY SYD

Christmas Greetings CardJust wishing everyone a Wonderful Holiday. This little bird was from a set called Watercolor Russian Birds by Anna Faun and the breast was turned red using a Selective Color Adjustment Layer, my Santa and Reindeer PS brush, and Julie Mead’s A Winter Lullaby White Tree and Green Tree stacked. The lights on tree were from Corel Particle Shop using the Cluster brush. Several different textures were stacked and my snow overlay was placed on top. Finished off the image by going into Topez (see sidebar my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle and applying the Snow Cover II preset. So much fun to do Christmas Cards! Hope everyone is having a good one!……Digital Lady Syd


A SHORT CHAT ABOUT PHOTOSHOP CC2019

Image of a Santa Claus Christmas Ornament
A little late on this post – but then writing about Photoshop is never late to me. As usual whenever Photoshop updates to a newer version, I have mixed feelings. It seems to take me a while to get organized and this was the case with Photoshop CC2019. I have watched several recent posts by some of my favorite Photoshop gurus, Julieanne Kost, Colin Smith, and Scott Kelby, and here are a few things I discovered about this new update:

  • First I got totally confused with the old Edit -> Fill command (for me it used to mean Content Aware Fill) and the new Edit -> Content-Aware Fill command. After playing around with it, it does seem to have much better results than the old “Fill” command and it is much easier to see what is changing right in the new panel. One thing I learned is that if you do not use the Lasso Tool but instead the Magic Wand or Quick Selection Tool, there can be discernible lines where the selection edge was. To fix this, just go into the Select -> Modify -> Expand Selection and set it to 2 pixels before going into the new command. Lines disappear or edges are much smoother.
  • On the Toolbar the tools can be pulled apart and added in by clicking on the three dots near bottom of the Toolbar (under the Zoom Tool) and then dragging the tools apart. I set both the Rectangle Marque Tool and Elliptical Marquee Tool up on my toolbar. Also put the Patch Tool under the Spot Healing Brush (which still contains all the other tools). I added the new Frame Tool onto the Toolbar but not sure it is that useful.
  • There is now a Windows -> New Guide Layout panel (versus the old New Guide panel) where the number of columns (or rows) and a Gutter amount between them can be set up. This is handy to blend two different images together using the Gradient Tool in a mask and placing the gradient between the two line in the gutter area to create a nice smooth transition.
  • Here is something you may have not noticed – when adding an object/texture/image whatever into the main document and a Group is highlighted showing layers, the object layer will go into the group and not above the group. Just close the group before adding the new material to add above.
  • Did you know that if a part of a filter name like Gaus for Gaussian Blur is added in the search field (on the Options Bar on the right side), it will bring up the dialog box without going through all the steps to get there?
  • To me this is a biggie! Regarding those darn layer styles that sometimes just do not look right when applied. Here is one thing that is going on. If applying a style to a group, PS treats all the layers in the group as if they are flattened before applying the layer style to the group as a whole. Same thing with blend modes. So if you start to get some really strange results when applying a lot of different layers styles in image, check out the group and layers underneath to see if this issue is happening. Hope to blog on this later as I want to experiment with this.
  • I personally, and apparently many other people, have been having problems taking an image from Lightroom Classic into Photoshop when PS is not already open – most of the program is grayed out. The work-around is to first open PS before bringing the LR image into the program. Very annoying but it does work.
  • If you are like me and use the File -> Info panel, the Photoshop History field is stuck and you cannot scroll within it. This information is set in the Preferences -> History Log – I always keep mine set to Save Log Items to: Metadata and Edit Log Items: Detailed. It come in handy when you forget what you did not an image. The good news is that the information is contained in Adobe Bridge under the Metadata tab, Edit History section and it works.

I am sure there are lots of other new ways to do things with this update. I just have not had time to find them all. I hope this helped you out a little with some of the things going on.

So how did I get Santa to twist like this? Well once again it is a filter in Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website) Studio called the Motion Blurs Adjustment – set to Type Swirl, placed marker on nose, and Angle to 0.06 (just a little is enough). Then added the Smudge Adjustment set to Strength of 0.13, Extent 0.49 and Sharpness 0.61 and painted it in a mask just on the Santa and letters to get an illustrative feel to the ornament. Then went back into PS.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday – Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd


TRYING OUT THE UPDATE TO PHOTOSHOP PLUGINS

Image of Blooming Plumbago PlantThis week just sharing a few images using some of the new programs that are out there. It seems you just have to try them all out and push the sliders to the limits to see what you get. I have been really pleased with all the ones used in these images. Note that all the shown plugin/software websites are linked in the sidebar of my Tidbits Blog.

On1 Photo Raw 2019

The above macro shot is of some Plumbago blooms growing in my backyard. Very little was done to this image in On1 Photo Raw 2019, but what it did was significant. I really like how sharp and clear this image is. The Effects tab was opened and the image was warmed up a little using the Color Adjustment Filter’s Yellow button, then the Default Sunshine filter, and the Dynamic Contrast (my favorite On1 filter) that just sharpened up the image beautifully. Last thing done was to open up the Local Adjustments tab and add some Detail Structure set to 40 and paint on the petals in a mask. This was all done while using this program as a plug-in to Lightroom. The image was finalized in PS so that I could put a signature block on it and a layer style stroke around the outside for posting. I am really starting to love the update they have made to this program.
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Luminar 2018

Image of backwater in St. Augustine, FloridaThis image was first worked on in Lightroom – used one of Serge Ramelli’s presets from his Welcome Kit called Bad Weather 4 – it gave a good place to start adjusting the image. His preset uses a lot of Gradient Filters and Radial Filters that need to be adjusted and moved for each image so that was done here to get the beautiful lighting effect. In PS, the new Content Aware-Fill command was used to clean up the background which had several buildings sprinkled around. The secret sauce in this image was using Skylum’s Luminar 2018. To get the really sharp effect, Skylum’s free download category called Joel Grimes Preset Pack was selected – I love this set of presets. (Here’s the link to download them directly – they are called Pro Photographer and Artist Presets – then go to File -> Add Custom Presets Pack and select them to add in). The Detailed Warmth preset was selected and set to 39% opacity. A New Layer was added above and the AI Filter Boost was set to 40, and the new AI Sky Enhancer Boost set to 33. The Image Radiance filter was set to an Amount of 38 and an overall filter Amount of 89. Back in PS, a Curves Adjustment Layer and Flypaper Bird Brushes Crows 3 were added at 43% layer opacity. So the birds look natural, I always clip (ALT+click between the layers) a Pattern Adjustment Layer to them – in this case a dark brown pattern set to 100% scale. On a New Layer set to Overlay blend mode was added on top – with a soft low opacity black brush, the foreground was painted in lightly to darken it slightly. That was it. Luminar does such a beautiful job on landscapes. Definitely their strong point!
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Aurora HDR 2019

Image of a land in the Highlands in ScotlandI have loved this program from the moment I tried it out. I like the fact that it does not create that sort of exaggerated HDR effect that was so popular a while back. And I love that just one photo works fine in the software. This image was taken somewhere in the highlands of Scotland – I was wishing I was on the sailboat when I took this image. Not a lot was done in Aurora – just applied a preset that really caught my attention in the Dramatic Collection called Sleepy Drama. In PS a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added and my favorite preset called Foggy Night was added and the opacity was set to 60%. On a New Layer the Sharpen Tool was used on the Sailboat. The biggest problem with this image was the sky. On another New Layer one of my very favorite brush sets, Grut’s FX Cloud Brushes, was opened and the Cloud Lumens Hi was selected using a touch of gray color to it to add into the clouds – the layer was then set to 76% opacity. These brushes are just excellent for these kind of quick touch ups! Last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer the add a little more contrast into the image. The original image was in tones of blues and green and looked very dreary. It is amazing what this plugin did for this image.

I am slowly figuring out which software works for which type of image I am going to using. If the image does not look good with my first choice, it is great to have several other choices to try out. I totally love the AI Clear in Topaz Studio, which I did not show in this blog, but use on almost all my images now. It does a remarkable job of just doing a very subtle sharpening. But then I find that On1’s Dynamic Contrast is awfully close and I use it quite a bit too. Both seem to do a slightly better job of sharpening than Lightroom.  And sometimes I do both, even though I am not supposed to – I find it works okay. I hope this gave you a little more to think about when using these plugins and making a decision as to which you want. I really enjoy all of them so this is hard for me to choose the best one. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd