December 31, 2009

Quick tip: Reviewing images as B&Ws in Bridge

I just saw a feature request for Adobe Bridge that covers something that’s already possible. A photographer requested a way to review all his images as black & whites. Here’s my simple suggestion:

  • Open an image in Camera Raw and create a B&W treatment you like.
  • Create a preset via the “Save Settings…” option in the little menu* on the right-hand side of the Camera Raw tabs.
  • Once you’ve made a preset, you can batch-apply it to images in Bridge by selecting the images, then choosing Edit->Develop Settings->{Your Preset Name}.

* Side note: I can’t adequately describe how annoying I find it that we (Adobe collectively) make this menu & similar ones so hard to see. I don’t have control over all such decisions.

1:17 PM | Permalink | Comments [7]

December 30, 2009

Interesting green-screen montage

I’m kind of astonished at the amount of digital compositing that now goes on, as shown in this set of clips. Sure, in many of these cases it makes obvious sense, but in others, was it really easier/more cost-effective to do a composite than just to have the crew walk outside? Apparently so.


6:44 AM | Permalink | Comments [13]

December 29, 2009

(rt) Photography: News photos of the decade & more

6:11 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

December 28, 2009

(rt) Interesting Designs: Killer vodka, brutal cash, & more

8:54 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

December 27, 2009

(rt) Infographics: Cereal selection, nukes, & killer jellyfish

8:41 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

December 26, 2009

(rt) Illustration: Negative space, minimalism, & more

7:08 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, everyone

Wherever you are, and whatever holidays you may celebrate this time of year, I wish you great peace and happiness. Thanks for reading & for making it possible for me to do this fascinating, frustrating, often greatly rewarding job.
Oh, and our toddler Finn just walked up and would like you to know:

bvvdddgr xzxgm//jgzzzzzzzzzzzzafhh hmmm/k;/;’\dsamnnnnn .mvbj. wq

I’d like to think he’s working on a highly sophisticated encryption algorithm, but somehow I doubt it. :-) (Note to self: Time to fire up AlphaBaby.)
All the best for the rest of ’09 and a great start to 2010,

4:38 PM | Permalink | Comments [10]

December 24, 2009

(rt) Type: Know your history, Great letterpress, & more

7:10 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

December 23, 2009

Doing the right thing with Cmd-H

Here’s another little glimpse into the future:

As I’ve written previously, when OS X took over long-standing Photoshop shortcuts, it created a tricky situation: break Photoshop users’ habits/flow by changing PS to match the OS, or deviate from the new OS conventions?

In Photoshop CS4 we changed Cmd-` (Cmd-~) to cycle among open documents, matching the standard Mac convention (while continuing to honor the Windows-standard convention, Ctrl-Tab, as well). As expected, it’s been a painful move for some customers*, but sometimes that’s necessary.

With regard to Cmd-H, Photoshop’s keyboard shortcut editor has long made it possible to assign Cmd-H to hiding the app. Doing so takes just a few seconds, yet many people are unaware of this or unwilling to invest the time. Therefore our plan is that in the future, the dialog you see above will pop up once (on Mac only) the first time you hit Cmd-H, asking which behavior you prefer. Special thanks to John Gruber (who independently suggested this solution) for offering the team some timely words of encouragement.

Yes, in terms of these little tweaks, there’s always much more to be done, but we made some good progress in CS4 and plan to make even more in the future. I thought you’d like to see a little proof of that commitment.

* It’s possible to switch shortcuts back by dropping in a plug-in/running a registry entry (here’s the download). In the future we plan to make it easier to control this preference inside Photoshop.

11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments [56]

December 22, 2009

(rt) Photography: Nanosecond fireballs, high-speed fluids, & more

7:34 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

December 21, 2009

The littlest things

[Warning: Contents may cause excruciating boredom.]
I switched from Microsoft Entourage (sorry, old friend) to Apple Mail a few weeks ago*, and I’m almost embarrassed to note my favorite “feature”: Mail doesn’t abusively “help” me by inserting a space before pasted text. Entourage would drive me crazy with that behavior, especially when putting URLs between parenthesis.
On the other hand, I loved how Entourage would auto-insert the correct accent when I’d type “vis-à-vis” (<–pretentious much? sorry). Maybe more importantly, when I'd tab from the address field to the message body, Entourage would remember the previously active insertion point in the body text. (Who cares? I care, as apparently I tweak addresses/subject lines with some frequency.) And Entourage would also keep everybody on the "To" line when replying to all.
Why am I boring you with this? Okay, yes, things are a bit quiet in the office today, but I also want you to know that I'm a perfectionist. I'm writing up a long and hopefully thoughtful piece about the Photoshop UI (responding to recent posts**), and “sweating the details” is a big, big deal to me–and to many of my colleagues. More interesting bits to come.
*Why? By not relying on one giant database, Mail should play better with Time Machine (and, I’m hoping, be less vulnerable to global freak-outs).
** Let’s not try to delve into a discussion of those other points yet. Sit tight. I’m writing a lot.

10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments [26]

December 20, 2009

Photography Quote o’ The Day

Regarding HDR & its discontents: “This style of tone mapping has become synonymous with HDRI in a way that isn’t good at all. It’s as if T-Pain’s Auto-Tune tracks were the blanket description for ‘music.'” — Author Jack Howard, who’s just started an HDR group on Facebook. Check out Jack’s tutorials (one, two) on “soft” tonemapping techniques.

[Update: Fixed typo in the Facebook link.]

2:19 PM | Permalink | Comments [24]

December 19, 2009

“Enhance!” A funny montage of fake image processing

During the screening of Avatar yesterday, the Photoshop team burst into spontaneous laughter when a character uttered the magic word:

At least I did get to give the on-screen effects crew behind CSI some good-natured grief a couple of years back.
[Via Stu Maschwitz & everyone ever]

12:50 PM | Permalink | Comments [15]

PS Elements voted Photography Gadget of the Decade

Viewers of Channel 5’s Gadget Show have voted Photoshop Elements Photography Gadget of the Decade. On behalf of the Elements team, wow, and thanks, everyone! Evidently I can’t watch the video from within the US, but I’m told that Elements gets mentioned about 5 minutes into it. [Via Emma Wilkinson]

12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

December 18, 2009

See how Photoshop & Adobe apps helped make Avatar

“Literally the first piece of software we went out and purchased was Photoshop…”
Check out this 2-minute overview of how PS, Lightroom, After Effects, and other Adobe tools were used in the production of Avatar:

Adobe’s Mike Kanfer won an Academy Award working with James Cameron on Titanic & has been a great conduit of information during the making of Avatar. Too bad I never did manage to twist his arm & get behind the scenes during shooting…
Ah well: this morning the Photoshop team is off to see Avatar–a welcome little break from the whole march to Cocoa. I justified it to my wife, saying, “Well, they used Photoshop to make the movie.” Raising a dubious, I-know-you’re-all-cutting-class eyebrow, she asked, “Don’t they use Photoshop to make every movie?” Hush, woman!!
[Update: Evidently Photoshop co-creator John Knoll was the Avatar visual effects supervisor at ILM.]
Semi-related bonus fun thing: Slate talks about Cameron nearly dying while making The Abyss, punching & then firing a rescue diver.

8:34 AM | Permalink | Comments [10]

December 17, 2009

Camera Raw 5.6, Lightroom 2.6 now available

Camera Raw (Mac | Win) and Lightroom (Mac | Win) have been updated to versions 5.6 and 2.6, respectively. These releases add new camera support for the following models:

  • Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon PowerShot G11
  • Canon PowerShot S90
  • Leaf Aptus II 5
  • Mamiya DM22, DM28, DM33, DM56, M18, M22, M31
  • Nikon D3s
  • Olympus E-P2
  • Pentax K-x
  • Panasonic FZ38
  • Sigma DP1s
  • Sony A500
  • Sony A550
  • Sony A850
  • See the Lightroom Journal for additonal release notes. As always, you can use the free (and now updated) DNG Converter (Mac | Win) to make files from these cameras compatible with older versions of Photoshop & Lightroom, as well as other DNG-savvy software.
    [Update: Added the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV that I’d originally neglected to mention.]

    4:50 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

Inspector panels: Food for thought

In previous entries I’ve noted the need for a properties inspector/editor in Photoshop:

The richness that’s possible in a PSD file has totally outstripped the Layers panel’s ability to display & control it. […] Photoshop needs a properties inspector, a panel that lets you view & adjust the parameters of the selected object. […] Such a panel can supplant & control other dedicated panels, making it possible to display more info & yet fewer panels on screen.

New panels in CS4–Adjustments, Masks, and 3D–represent movement in this direction. It’ll take time to unify things more fully.
I mention this because I happened across UI designer Keith Lang’s inspector ideas & thought you might find them interesting:

Some of the details remind me of what’s been shown in Adobe’s interesting “Rome” application sneak peek (worth popping into full-screen mode):

Lots of good food for thought. Feedback is welcome as always.

4:16 PM | Permalink | Comments [14]

New Photoshop contest from Deke McClelland

Our friend Deke McClelland has been posting a series of videos counting down the Top 40 Features in Photoshop, and now he’s kicked off a related contest:

Create a magnificent piece of artwork that celebrates your favorite features of Photoshop. But you must do so using not fewer than three of the Top 40 Features I’ve posted so far. (Note that you’ll need to be a member of dekeOnline to participate so that you can post your artwork and include comments.)

DEADLINE: December 22, 2009, 5p.m. Pacific

Prizes include an Olympus E-620, a free premium subscription to, signed copies of all three CS4 One-on-One books, and more. Check out Deke’s site for more information.

Previously: Me on Deke’s Martini Hour podcast.

2:09 PM | Permalink | No Comments

December 16, 2009

(rt) Illustration: Top 10 Book Covers, Man-hunger, & more

10:56 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

December 15, 2009

(rt) Motion: Stop-motion intrigue, bustin’ on B-roll

8:26 AM | Permalink | No Comments

3D face + augmented reality business card


12:13 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

December 14, 2009

How could we improve Photoshop for iPhone developers?

If you use Photoshop in conjunction with mobile development (iPhone or otherwise) and have ideas on how we could streamline your workflow, please let us know. It’s not as if we lack ideas, but rather than risk biasing your responses, I’ll leave the query open-ended. If there’s feedback you’d prefer to send directly, I’m jnack at adobe.

4:03 PM | Permalink | Comments [76]

December 13, 2009

(rt) Illustration: Accidental geography, Expressionist video games, & more

9:57 PM | Permalink | No Comments

December 12, 2009

“And now, elephants on trampolines…”

I’m guessing it’s impossible for almost anyone to take as much pure delight in this little CGI video as my 21-month-old son is taking today (“Elephant bursting!!“), but it’s fun to try. :-)

Also delightful: Feist on Sesame Street, singing a custom 1234.

1:01 PM | Permalink | Comments [8]

(rt) Type: Ampersandwiches, Aoles, & more

7:01 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

December 11, 2009

SimpleViewer 2.0 available, works with PS, Lightroom

Felix Turner has updated his excellent SimpleViewer Web gallery package with a number of enhancements (embeddable compact mode, Flickr integration, and more). You can use it to create galleries directly from Photoshop or Lightroom.

3:58 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

Download Photoshop help as PDF

Here’s a small but potentially useful bit of info: you can download a PDF copy of the help for Photoshop CS4 by clicking the “View Help PDF” link in the top-left corner of the app help page. (And, what the heck, here’s the direct link.) The same is be true for other Adobe applications.

This is obviously handy if you’re frequently working offline. In the future, you’ll be able to download help content right from within the new Adobe desktop help app, currently available for testing via Adobe Labs.

PS–You can redistribute the content & more as it’s tagged with a Creative Commons license.

3:27 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

December 10, 2009

Photo nerdery for a good cause

Scott Kelby has created some geeky off-camera-flash t-shirts:

If you’re looking for a really unique holiday gift for the photographer on your list (or you just want a really cool t-shirt that nobody else will have), AND you totally love the idea that 100% of the profits go to feeding and caring for kids in a orphanage in Kenya that you guys helped to build (see below), then man have I got a holiday gift idea for you!

Very cool, Scott.

3:07 PM | Permalink | No Comments

WebKit & Creative Suite extensibility

Hey, what if I told you that to offer consistent, Suite-wide extensibility we’d ditched Flash Player and had gone with WebKit instead? Would we hear a bunch of attaboys about open standards, HTML5, etc.? Would Mac aficionados in particular cheer Adobe’s embrace of an open source, largely Apple-driven initiative?

Good, because we are indeed embracing WebKit for extensibility. We just happened to keep Flash as an option, too. (The union of the two is at the heart of Adobe AIR, and that’s what we’ll leverage going forward.) Now, let the touch-of-gray-finding begin…

6:07 AM | Permalink | Comments [73]

December 09, 2009 Mobile makes Time’s Top 10

The Mobile app has made the list of Time’s Top Ten iPhone Apps for 2009. Groovy.

According to team lead Geoff Baum, “The app surpassed 4 million downloads this week and has been the #1 app in many App Stores around the globe, including the US, France, Japan, and Italy, among many others.”

9:03 PM | Permalink | No Comments

Adobe TV: Masking, cloning, and more

Adobe TV is hosting some new photography- and Photoshop-related content:

  • Designing Minds – Ben Watts (Part 1)

    This episode of Designing Minds features industry-praised photographer Ben Watts. In the first of a two-part series, Ben discusses the power of photography and how his love for the craft enables him to capture timelessness in a frame. He goes on to discuss how the streets and youth of New York City influenced his early work, later shaping his process and practice for commercial work.

  • The Russell Brown Show – White on White Masking

    In this Adobe Photoshop CS4 Tutorial, Russell Brown show us how to use the masking tools in Photoshop on really complex problems such as masking a polar bear standing in a field of ice and snow.

  • Photoshop With Matt – Cloning With a Preview in CS4

    The Clone Stamp tool got one of the best upgrades in CS4. The Clone Stamp brush now has a preview that let’s you see exactly what you’re about to paint with and exactly where to place the newly cloned area.

  • Creative Suite Podcast: Photographers – Mobile for iPhone

    In this episode, you’ll learn the features of Adobe’s new Mobile for iPhone and iPod touch

  • 7:17 AM | Permalink | No Comments

    December 08, 2009

    Expert tip on lighting a kid for holiday photos

    1. Wrap that little sucka* in Christmas tree lights.
    2. Start firing for effect.
    3. There is no step 3.

    *He sees you, sucka.

    2:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [10]

    Psst… want some Uggs?

    You know, I’ve heard that Ugg boots can let us warm and comfortable. So If you want to buy some gifts to you lovers or friends.I think is a right choose.
    Ugh. Apparently spammers now know the answer to “2+2.” Unfortunately it seems that Movable Type’s* anti-spam features (at least as we’re using them) are completely ineffective. When I try to batch-delete these messages, the server times out with an error.
    Anyway, if you’re subscribing to the blog’s comment feed, sorry about this.
    *No need to tell me to use some other blog software, thanks; that’s not my call.

    10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    Amazing iPhone video + CGI for a great cause

    The team at The Mill have rigged up an iPhone in a novel way in service of City Harvest. First, check out the finished product:

    Then see this brief making-of:

    FreshDV has a bit more back story. Super cool. [Via Stu Maschwitz]

    7:11 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

    December 07, 2009

    FluidPaint: Digital painting using actual liquids

    For a little Monday mental stimulation, peep “FluidPaint: An Interactive Digital Painting System using Real Wet Brushes”:

    Here’s related info (PDF). [Via Jerry Harris]

    3:18 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    (rt) Infographics: Megafonzies, mind mapping, & more

    9:10 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

    December 06, 2009

    (rt) Photography: Gorgeous ice, giant rockets, & more

    6:36 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

    December 05, 2009

    (rt) Illustration: Great business card designs, laser-etched Macs, & more

    8:14 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

    December 04, 2009

    Video: Tablet publishing demo

    The team at Sports Illustrated has created an interesting mockup of how the magazine could be made interactive on a tablet. It’s worth hitting the fullscreen button:

    Here’s more info on the project.
    I’ll admit, when I’ve seen InDesign adding interactive authoring features, integration with Flash, placement of video content, etc., I’ve raised my eyebrows a touch. Seeing how publishers would like to evolve their offerings, however, the logic & direction seem much more clear. (As I’ve heard InDesign PM Michael Ninness remark, “Print isn’t dead, but print only is dying.)

    9:38 AM | Permalink | Comments [7]

    December 03, 2009

    Video: Excellent stop-motion paper animation

    “Somewhere a Kindle is ashamed…” Check out Going West from Maurice Gee:


    1:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

    New panel, scripts let you batch-eliminate “copy” in PS layer names

    God bless scripters and the spirt of “Just Do It.” Responding to reader feedback here about the desire to remove “copy” from duplicated layers, scripter Mike Hale used Configurator to create a simple panel (screenshot) that does just that–nuking “copy {#}” from all layers or just the selected layers.

    • The panel for Photoshop CS4 is downloadable from It’s wrapped as an MXP file, meaning you can simply double click it to install it using Adobe Extension Manager. After installing the panel, relaunch Photoshop and look under Window->Extensions for “RemoveCopy.”
    • Sometimes Extension Manager doesn’t play well with Vista (as I think it requires you to be logged in as an administrator), so I’ve posted the panel in a simple ZIP package as well. You can unzip the contents, then place the panel folder into “Adobe Photoshop CS4/Plug-ins/Panels.”
    • You might want to use the scripts on their own (not via the panel), especially if you like to assign keyboard shortcuts to commands. You might also want to use them in CS3 or older versions of Photoshop. Therefore I’ve posted just the scripts as well. Drag the expanded contents to “Adobe Photoshop CS{whatever}/Presets/Scripts,” then relaunch PS. Once they’re installed, you can choose Edit->Keyboard Shortcuts & assign shortcuts if you’d like.

    Thanks to fellow coders Trevor Morris and Jeff Tranberry for their quick help in making this happen. Please give Mike props & speak up if you encounter any problems.

    7:02 AM | Permalink | Comments [10]

    December 02, 2009

    Illustration: Great marriage proposals

    10:42 AM | Permalink | No Comments

    Demo: Next-gen GPU optimizations in Adobe video apps

    Speaking of the future, here’s a glimpse of future 64-bit Adobe video products taking much greater advantage of GPUs:

    Presenter Dave Helmly writes:

    In the video you’ll see incredible AVCHD playback and scrubbing, working with DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D & 7D, 9 Layers of P2, Native Red 4K Multicam editing and RED keying and lastly, you see accelerated rendering for exports.

    Check out this post from last week for more info.

    6:59 AM | Permalink | Comments [6]

    December 01, 2009

    (Optional) Death to “Copy”

    Stick a flashlight under your chin & cue In The Year 2000, because here’s a tiny glimpse of the future:
    (Optional) Death to "Copy"
    Thanks for all the feedback on this one.

    2:38 PM | Permalink | Comments [20]

    A color perception optical illusion

    Should you encounter someone who doubts the importance of context in color perception, you might try whipping out this little demonstration:


    11:42 AM | Permalink | Comments [6]
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