The beauty of art is that it can transcend the reality of the world we live in and take us to places accessible only through our imaginations. Swedish artist Erik Johansson has made a name for himself turning dreams and ideas into magical works of art in Photoshop. I recently met with Erik to discuss his experience in retouching, his creative process and what makes his brilliant (and eccentric) mind tick. Chatting with him fired up my creative brain and I hope that reading this will do the same for you:
Your image creation process is part photography, part Photoshop magic and part prop handiwork. Can you describe your evolution as a photographer?
I’ve always been interested in computers and drawing. When I got my first digital camera, I discovered photo manipulation by accident or chance. I always saw those interests as separate things, but now I could suddenly combine them. I started playing around with photographs, changing them to create something different because reality was just too boring. To me, photography has always just been a way to collect material. I want to create and realize what’s in my mind; capture an idea instead of a moment.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It’s from everywhere, I think it’s more about trying to look differently at the world. Trying to see how you can combine visual elements into something new and unexpected to create art from items that are normally not combined. I get inspired by all things I see, you just have to keep thinking and be open to the unexpected.
When you create commissioned art, does it interfere with your creative process?
Well, it can be a bit different. Sometimes I get a concept from an agency and just create it. It’s an interesting challenge as well, trying to realize someone else’s vision. But I think the main difference between the commissioned and personal work is the time pressure. I normally spend months on each image, from idea/sketch to final image. With commissioned work, I normally don’t have that luxury but it’s a lot of fun as well.
A massive amount of work went into last month’s release of Photoshop CC, and now that the dust has settled, I got a chance to meet with Principal Scientist Eric Chan to talk about what’s new and what role he played in creating the product. Eric’s a brilliant scientist who takes a deep personal interest in the software he helps to develop. I learned a lot from him and I’m stoked to share part of our conversation with you:
Tell us about yourself and your history at Adobe. What features have you helped develop?
I joined the Camera Raw team at Adobe in February 2008. My first project was to improve the color rendition for pictures developed in Camera Raw and Lightroom. Boy, that was a lot of work — and a lot of fun! Since then, I’ve tinkered with improving others aspects of picture quality, including tone mapping, noise reduction, and lens corrections. I also work on raw support for new cameras and I build profiles for lenses.
Photoshop CC includes the newest features in Camera Raw such as Upright. What kind of research went into the new Camera Raw features?
Both Upright and the improved Spot Healing Brush in Photoshop CC are based on research from Adobe’s Creative Technologies Lab (CTL). I’m very privileged to work with those folks: they’re really good at tackling common yet complex photographic problems.
In the case of Upright, the idea was to straighten pictures automatically — fixing not just tilted horizons, but also converging lines (keystone effect). To accomplish this, the research team developed a robust line-estimation method to extract the primary lines within an image, and a system for determining how best to straighten images with several competing goals in mind (e.g., aligned edges vs perspective distortion). The underlying techniques are rather complex, but we tried to make the feature itself easy to use.
Last week, we shared a conversation I had with a team from the Newseum that worked on restoring a series of Presidential family photos for an exhibit titled “Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe.” That team was generous enough to share a small peek into the process they used to retouch Lowe’s historic photos. Here is an illustrated step-by-step guide to one part of their retouching process.
Some original photo prints are scratched and covered with blemishes. I’ll share an editing technique for removing the artifacts, without the healing or clone brush tool. This technique works in any tonal range. I selected a cropped photo from the Camelot theme below.
I live and work in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Adobe has a small engineering outpost in the Twin Cities with the majority of folks working on Lightroom, Photoshop, Revel and Premiere Pro. Prior to joining Adobe, I worked in advertising doing motion graphics and web development.
I originally joined Adobe as part of the Photoshop development team in 2001 focusing on quality and usability. My first assignment was working on our web graphics engine and helping migrate from OS 9 to OS X. Over the years, my main focus was Photoshop’s architecture and core functionality – helping re-architect the Layers panel for multi-select and adding non-destructive editing through Smart Objects and Smart Filters. I was also a quality lead on the 64-bit/Cocoa work in Photoshop CS5.
More recently, I’ve switched roles to focus on customer advocacy and customer engagement. I spend about half my time engaged directly with our customers in person or through social media. You may have exchanged comments with me on Twitter, Facebook for Photoshop or Lightroom, our Community Forums for Photoshop or Lightroom, or our Feedback site.
Photography is often an overlooked force in our understanding of history. Strong photography depicts how we feel about what is happening in the present and lasting images of historic events shape the way future generations experience the past. The photography of Jacques Lowe is at the intersection of two of the most important moments in United States history, separated by more than 40 years, and without Photoshop and a talented team of photo restorers at Washington D.C.’s Newseum, it might have been lost forever.
As a presidential photographer, Jacques Lowe covered John F. Kennedy and his family for three years, developing an intense relationship with the President and a first family that would capture the nation’s attention like no other. For three years, Lowe was given unparalleled access to the Kennedys at a time when they were taking over the American political scene. Lowe’s family members recount his meticulous dedication to preserving his images of the Kennedys for decades after his tenure as the presidential photographer. “There are no words to describe how attached my father was to his Kennedy negatives,” said his daughter Thomasina in 2003′s Remembering Jack.
Unfortunately for Lowe, his decision to store his prized collection of photo negatives in a vault in the World Trade Center (a decision he made in order to guarantee their security) would result in their destruction during the attacks on September 11, 2001. Around 40,000 of Lowe’s negatives were forever lost when the towers collapsed. All that remained of his legendary photography was a collection of around 1,500 faded, scratched and worn contact sheets, stored in another location.
Those contact sheets were never meant to be used as anything more than a reference for Lowe. The minuscule images were marked with wax, ink and paint to note which ones were valuable. More than 50 years after the original images were shot, a team of highly-skilled photo retouchers from the Newseum transformed those tiny contact sheet images into large, museum-quality prints to celebrate Lowe’s Kennedy photography in a display titled “Creating Camelot: The Photography of Jacques Lowe.” More information on the display can be found in the video below:
I had the opportunity to discuss the historic photos and the retouching process with the Newseum’s team of Indira Williams Babic, Sarah Mercier, Neil Petti and Brendan O’Hara. Their work on this exhibit has been truly inspirational to me and I’m happy to share our conversation with you.
What does “Creating Camelot” add to our historical understanding of the Kennedy family?
“Creating Camelot: The Photography of Jacques Lowe,” showcases intimate and iconic images of President John F. Kennedy and his family taken by Kennedy’s personal photographer. Jacques Lowe started photographing Kennedy when he was a Senator in DC and his coverage continued through his campaign for the Democratic nomination, his campaign for the Presidency, the historic and glamorous Inauguration and ended during the first months of Kennedy’s presidency in the White House. The role of “Personal Photographer” was new in the political world and, in that capacity, Lowe had unprecedented access to Kennedy and his family. This allowed him to produce intimate and compelling images; on many occasions, Lowe was the only photographer present to capture photographic history.
Layers, lighting, masks, f-stops … with so many moving parts, photography and photo editing can be tricky, especially when you’re just starting out! When you’re looking for the latest tips, tricks and tutorials, having someone to turn to for advice can be the perfect solution. Introducing the Photoshop Elements Ambassadors!
Over the next few months, we’ll be working with five sensational bloggers from across North America, whose expertise makes them perfect for the role of Photoshop Elements ambassadors. You’ll find each one to be completely unique, with photography tips and tricks that perfectly reflect the activities of their daily lives!
Our ambassadors are experts in telling stories through photos and imagery, and have been sharing stories of their daily lives online for years. We knew there was no one better to share tips with the community. Whether they’re out discovering the best wildlife photography tricks, or using Adobe software to make an outfit photo perfectly perfect, they’ve got something special to say.
Over the next few months, the Photoshop Elements Ambassadors will be providing photo editing tips and tutorials, plus tricks related to how they get the best photos. You’ll also see DIY-photo projects, and so much more! Read on to learn a little bit more about our new ambassadors.
We are delighted to announce the immediate availability of Photoshop CC. This version of Photoshop is a milestone release for the Photoshop team. Not only is it packed with fantastic features we’ve sweated over for years, it is also the culmination of a year of major change in our feature deployment process, moving from 24-month cycles of the past to delivering innovation to customers as soon as it’s ready, throughout the year.
In celebration of today’s announcement, I’d like to join with Barry Young, my co-director of Photoshop, to reflect on this release and our experiences working on Photoshop.
Dave Hackel, Director, Photoshop
Monday, July 13, 1992. Just out of college, it was my first day as a Mac Type Tech Support Engineer. My monstrous font training manual in front of me, I read through the various scenarios that led to a corrupted ATM Font Database and what to do about it. My name is Dave Hackel, and this was the beginning of my Adobe story.
I recently celebrated 20 years at Adobe and was asked what makes it a special company to work for. I joined the company for the technical vision that founders John Warnock and Chuck Geshke espoused, but that was just the appetizer for my experience here. The main course as a long-time Adobe-ite is enjoying a place in the company where I can directly interface with customers, whose loyalty and commitment can fuel another 20 years at the company. This relationship is what has made my last five and a half years on the Photoshop team so incredible.
The customer is central to the Photoshop team and we’re constantly looking for new ways to help you work faster and more creatively than ever. In the past, we have struggled to simultaneously build the next great release with amazing features like Content-Aware Fill, worthy of a two-year wait, while also delivering those less magical, but incredibly useful time savers you ask for like the Conditional Action feature we added in Photoshop 13.1 last December. This is why I am excited by our move to a more frequent delivery model. This new model enables us to develop features and fixes and deploy them as soon as they are ready.
We are thrilled to announce the release of Photoshop CC, packed with new features for designers, photographers and digital artists. There’s something in Photoshop CC for everyone: improved design tools, a number of new sharpening features, and seamless integration with Creative Cloud to allow you to streamline your creative workflow.
The Photoshop team is proud to bring you the latest technology in digital imaging with this release. Each improvement has been carefully created with our customers in mind. We love all of the new features, but here’s a list of some of our favorites:
- All-new Smart Sharpen: Photoshop CC analyzes image data to maximize clarity and minimize noise and halo. A range of new editable options lets you fine-tune images to get richer textures, crisper edges and more distinct details.
The Lightroom team is proud to announce the availability of Lightroom 5 as a standalone license and as part of Creative Cloud! Lightroom 5 is now available to try or buy on Adobe.com, and as a free update to Creative Cloud members.
A number of you downloaded Lightroom 5 beta, and we are thankful for the valuable feedback that you provided during the last couple of months. Thanks to your input on our public forums, we’ve made more than 400 tweaks since releasing Lightroom 5 beta. It truly was a team effort that we can all be proud of. Thank you.
Lightroom 5 has all of your favorite features from Lightroom 5 beta including the Advanced Healing Brush, Upright, Radial Filter, Smart Previews, improved photo book creation, and slideshows that mix video and still images. The final version of Lightroom 5 also contains several new updates including more than 400 bug fixes, the ability to share photos using the Behance Publish Service and an expanded range on the Radial Filter’s feather slider.
Here’s a brief description of some of our favorite new features: