Thursday, December 30, 2010

Study or Practice?

I've been reading a lot and watching lots of videos to improve my Photoshop and Lightroom skills. Last night, I popped open Lightroom and put that study into practice.

OMG! I had fun. I'd picked out a set of pictures from the cruise that I wanted to work with. When I was done, I created a slide show.

Next, I want to try a bit of digital scrapping with CS5. I hit Lorie Davison's Christmas sale (it was only two days) and I've got two new kits to play with.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leaps and Bounds

I've had books on Photoshop and Layers and photography all over the house for a while now. Sometimes I read sections of the books, but I don't start at the beginning and work my way all the way through. That's not my learning style.

Even with the videos on Kelby Training, I'm not working my way through them one section at a time. I'll skip some sections and play others several times.

It's working. I'm putting an amazing amount of information into my brain about settings inside Photoshop and Lightroom. Many of the things that used to give me trouble are now things that I understand. The building blocks are getting larger and I'm putting more and more of them together to work with images.

It feels really good.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Adjustment Layers

I'd always had a difficult time with adjustment layers. I'd watch tutorials on using them and the teachers would spend so much time on working with the layer, that I never captured how to create an adjustment layer. I decided they were 'difficult' and I worked around them. I knew that someday, I was gong to have to learn to use and create them, but that was always for later, not now.

CS5 has made creating an adjustment layer so simple that I decided it was now later, and time for me to learn adjustment layers. I pulled out my reference book and started reading where I'd left off.

One of the problems I always had was that I'd create an adjustment layer, then try to make a selection. It can be done, but it's much easier to make a selection and then add an adjustment layer. This would be one of the reasons that I like Matt Kloskowski as an instructor. He spells things out in simple sentences, or he demonstrates things clearly.

Why did I decide to really learn adjustment layers? Because Dave Cross was demonstrating something that he called 'simple' and it involved many layers, groups, smart objects, and filters. I've watched the video in several sections, breaking down the steps and it is far from simple. I'm sure it will be possible for me to understand what he's doing eventually, but I've got to understand each of the steps before I can put them together.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bud took this one. It's extremely different from what he would have taken before he started using my camera.

First Image!

I knew what I wanted to do with this photo. My struggle was getting my new software to do what I wanted. I didn't do things the easy way, but I got them done. I learn best when there is a task to complete, rather than learning isolated steps and put them together into a process later. Part of my trouble was that I couldn't remember keyboard shortcuts. I'd gotten frustrated with CS3 and had stopped using it at the beginning of the year. If I don't use keyboard shortcuts regularly, they drift out of my head.

My husband used to look at me funny when I'd stop to take a photo of something like this. After he saw the results a few times, he is now much more patient. He's also getting an eye of his own and the pictures that he takes look different than they used to.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lightroom 3

This application makes Bridge look horribly poorly designed. And Bridge isn't really that bad. But Lightroom is that good. I've been importing my photos into Lightroom, one year at a time. One year is a manageable chunk. I can get everything imported, get it sorted into collections and then I can run a backup of what I've gotten imported so far.

Lightroom does not substitute for Photoshop. In fact, to do some things, you move into and out of Lightroom and Photoshop.

The learning curve isn't quite as steep as it would be if I didn't already have some skill with Photoshop. But it isn't a cakewalk, either.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Post Processing Photos

Post processing is what is done to a digital photo in an application like Photoshop, after the picture has been taken. If it's too dark, crooked, has funky colors because of the light, has problems because of the lens used and so on, that's corrected in post processing.

I've been watching videos on Kelby Training on how to use Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3 to post process photos. I can do many of the same things in Lightroom and Photoshop Camera raw. Lightroom is designed to manage photos in groups better and it is designed to be nondestructive to originals. I would have to work very hard to make permanent edits to the original file using Lightroom. CS5 does a whole lot of things beyond what Lightroom does.

One of the things that I've learned is that most people do the same things to post process a photo. RAW photos have more options than .jpgs. Even if I'm using Camera RAW to post process a .jpg, I won't have those options. I watched one instructor go through his process in Photoshop, then watched a different one go through it in Lightroom. Their explanations for why were slightly different, but only in the word choice. The base reason was the same. The Lightroom class was designed to go into much greater detail.

I had been a bit concerned that I'd have a huge learning curve for Lightroom 3. Since I've discovered the similarities between CS5 and LR3, I'm not concerned. I'll be functional in no time flat.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Better Prices

Drat! I was gently alerted to a much better price for Lightroom than I'd paid. I did some comparison shopping. I will be returning the software that I just ordered and am getting it for less. This is not some piddling amount I'm saving, it's $140. That's the problem with only tracking a single source. There might be a sale, but it doesn't mean I am getting the best price.

I'm feeling a little smug, because I got an even lower price than the person who alerted me to the low price they paid. I'm still very happy with the sale on the Kelby Training, though.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Preparing for new Toys!

I have finally ordered Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3. They were on sale. I had enough left to get (also on sale) a year of Kelby Training. Also something I'd wanted for a while. Kelby Training is a mix of pro and consumer level education. That's exactly where I am. I'm a 'prosumer' in photography terms.

While I am waiting for my new software to arrive, (I ordered the CD versions) I'm watching videos from Kelby Training on how to set it up and use it. The level of instruction is perfect for me. There's a lot of 'where' and 'when' included and a little bit of 'why' but not much 'how' because I don't really need 'how'. I watch for a bit, go do something else and let the information perk through my brain, then go back and watch more. Sometimes I re-watch parts that I think will be important.

The learning curves for Photoshop and Lightroom are steep, but I've already done a lot of the work to learn CS3 and I've been watching videos on CS5 since it was announced. I'm excited about CS5. I am really looking forward to playing with the improved selection tools and with content aware fill. Wheee!!!