Archive for January, 2013

Royal Photographic Society and Adobe Road Shows

The Royal Photographic Society and Adobe have teamed up and are running a series of Lightroom and Photoshop roadshow to RPS members and non-members around the UK over the next few months. Please find a quick overview on this post, but for more details of the events and booking facilities please following the hyperlinks on the title headings.

  • 22nd March 13 – ABOBE Photoshop & Lightroom 4
    Yorkshire Region are pleased to be able to bring this special workshop demonstration presented by Richard Curtis of ADOBE which has been developed for the RPS with a focus on the new 3D engine that has developed within Photoshop CS6 Extended.
  • 24th March 13 – D.I.Group 2013 Special Presentation Tour
    For this special event we are moving from our normal venue to Clyst St Mary as we want to invite as many of our photography friends along to enjoy hearing Richard present to us on Elements 11, CS6 and Lightroom 4.  There will be the three sessions throughout the day PLUS we will have a couple of trade stands and a members print display for everyone to enjoy.
  • 18th April 13 – Macro and Art Photography
    We are delighted to announce an extension of John Humphrey’s Macro and Art Photography workshops through a joint venture with Adobe Systems. Based at Adobe’s new state of the art headquarters, the day will include John’s techniques and tips for producing images with impact, together with a presentation from Adobe on the latest features in Creative Cloud, Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4.
  • 19th May 13 – DI.Group 2013 Special Presentation Tour
    This Photoshop/Lightroom Master Class is designed for both beginners and intermediate users. Richard will be looking at both Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 and how we can use both Adobe packages to improve our images before printing or publishing.

If you require more information about the content please get in touch.

#CreativeFriday – Cleaning up your images using a Transparent Layer

Cleaning up a photographs has always been part of the post processing stage and for most people looking after the fidelity of the final image and not overworking the pixels is normally the first priority. This clean up process can be performed in both Lightroom and Photoshop and which ever solution is used can create highly polished images. Lightroom helps the user and protects the RAW image by using a Non Destructive Workflow. Photoshop on the other-hand will not protect you and extra precautions are usually taken to protect the orignal pixels. One of the techniques used to do this is to duplicate an image layer as a reference ((using CMD (Mac)/CTRL (Win) and J) to perform the work. This technique is good and will protect the original image, however duplicating layers will dramatically increase the file size, as well as not being able to see which pixels have been changed (some times it’s required to back out some of the modifications and not all).

A much more effective and lighter way of working is to use transparent layers to hold the modified pixels as part of the re-touching processes. This will not only keep the file size down by including only the pixels that have been modified, but also the ability to see what pixels have been modified with the ability to remove them when required.

Let us take an example image that needs to be cleaned up, into Photoshop and add a transparent layer that will contain the modified pixels.

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 21.42.27

At the base of the layers palette are options that will work on layers in the image. The 2nd one icon from the right (highlighted in red) is the new layer function.


Clicking this option will create a transparent layer (i.e. no pixel information) at the top of the layer stack. The layers palette should look similar to the image below (depending on where you are in the process)

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 21.57.00

You are able to rename the layer by double clicking on the name, this is useful to describe what you will be performing on the layer, i.e. Spotting or Clean up etc.

The tool that will explain this process the best is the Spot Healing Brush tool. Once this bush has been selected a series of tool behaviours (see below) will appear.


The Content-Aware/Create Texture or Proximity Match options have no impact to this post, however,  the Sample all layers check box will have an impact. When this option is checked, Photoshop will sample all layers in the layer palette when it is spot healing parts of the image. At the point of healing, the new pixels will be automatically transfered to this new transparent layer. If the Sample all Layers is unchecked, nothing will be transferred, therefore, no pixels will be transferred and nothing will happen on the spot heal activity (this is a gotcha and worth double checking if nothing happens when re-touching the image). The original pixels on the background layer will not be changed and only new altered pixels be created on the transparent layer.  The following image has had some healing applied and is showing the pixels that have been transfered onto the transparent layer.

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 22.16.01

The modified pixels can then be removed  (if required) using the eraser tool in Photoshop. Once the pixels have been created on this layer, the layer can then take part in many options, i.e. blending modes, layer opacity, and many more possibilities (you can use Photoshop and experiment with these and many techniques). The most important takeaways are that no pixels on the orignal background image are harmed, the modifications can be managed and removed if required and the file size of the final PSD/TIFF file will not increase each time you work cleaning up the image.

This technique can also be used with other tools in Photoshop as well :-

.Spot healing brush – Sample all layers

.Healing brush tool – Current and below / Current Layer only / All layers

.Patch tool – Sample all layers (Content aware mode only)

.Content Aware Move and Extend – Sample all layers

.Mixer Brush Tool – Sample All Layers

.Clone Stamp – (Current and below / Current Layer only / All layers)

.Magic Eraser Tool – Sample all layers

.Paint Bucket Tool – All layers

.Blur Tool – Sample all layers

.Sharpen Tool – Sample all layers

.Smudge Tool – Sample all layers

Looking at each of the tools, most of them support Sample All Layers, which means that all layers will be sampled to create the new pixels that will be created. Some tools have the ability to choose between the layers that will be used for new pixels (Current and below / Current Layer only / All layers, as noted on each tool above).

Some tools also have an extra option


The Healing brush tool and the Clone Stamp have an extra option, they have the ability to ignore any adjustment layers or include them in-between this layer and the bottom layer when making new pixels. When this option is turned on, then the adjustment layers will be ignored. By default the option will be turned off (and adjustment layers will be considered).

If you are working on transparent layers with the clone tools and are using blending modes other than “Normal” on the tool it self, then make sure that the blending mode for the transparent layer is in the same mode (you may want to create a separate transparent layer to do this).

As food for thought, this technique can be performed over 3D layers as well as video in Photoshop.



#CreativeFriday – Content Aware Fill with a Panoramic

The ability to make a panoramic images from Lightroom has been there for a while, this post will explain how to preserve the whole image using content aware fill and remove the need to crop the image (this technique is image dependent, it works great with Sky, Grass and other non complex pixel areas)). Once the images that need to be stitched together have been selected in Lightroom, right click one of the images and select ‘Edit In/Merge to Panorama in Photoshop’.



The files are automatically transfer into Photoshop and the Panoramic dialog box is displayed.



For now, leave the ‘Layout’ to Auto and the ‘Blend Images Together’ checked on. Then click ok.

Photoshop will automate the layer alignment, cutting out and blending of the images.


Blend the active layers together (Make sure they are all selected (notice the blue colour in the layers pallet)), right click, then choose Merge Visible.



The two layers will be merged together.

For Photoshop to make new pixels  it needs to know more information about the pixels it will be generating from. For this we will follow the next steps to tell Photoshop this information.

1. Choose the Magic Wand tool and select the transparent space (the checker board looking areas)

2. To make sure that all transparent areas are selected, choose, menu item ‘Select/Similar’

3. To provide Content Aware with enough pixels to work it’s magic, choose menu item ‘Select/Modify/Expand’ and choose 2px or so (this tells Photoshop what pixels to base the new one’s on).

4. To make the extra pixels, choose menu item ‘Edit/Fill’ and make sure the ‘Use’ option is set to ‘Content Aware”, then press Enter.

5. Photoshop will work it’s magic and try to create the new pixels. (This example works really well on these images due to the non complex image information around the edges).

The final image is displayed below


There may be new pixels that have been created that are in a similar pattern to the original pixels. This is simple to change using the Clone stamp tool, but more on that next time.


#CreativeFriday action – Why not try this technique on your images and see what results are possible.


Introduction to the 3D Capabilities of Photoshop CS6 Extended with Steve Caplin

Photoshop CS6 Extended (box) and the Adobe Creative Cloud Membership version is packed with new and exciting features to help you work with and create 3D objects much more efficiently. In this tutorial, Steve Caplin will introduce you to these new design features, so you can start to incorporate them into your workflow.
To see the post on PSDTUT’s and access to the source files, please follow this link. Find the project source files here.

Creating Contact Sheets with Lightroom Collections

A recent conversation prompted this Blog post. Traditional photographers still use contact sheets for reviewing and arranging their work with clients. Lightroom offers a flexible way to reproduce the same thing, however will add a few enhancements to the process. Contact sheets can be created equally using Photoshop, but Lightroom has it’s advantages, by providing a way to organise your images, and modifying the caption/description of the image on the contact sheet.

Images that have been imported into Lightroom are organised within the folders panel, this panel is a mirror of the physical location on the disk drive (Lightroom only provides a view of the file structure and doesn’t contain the files inside the program, regardless of a Windows or a Mac). Images cannot be moved around in this view, only sorted, which maybe required when telling a story using the contact sheet. Lightroom collections can be used in this case, allowing the manual organisation of images, therefore creating the required image order. Lightroom collections are also useful as they exist under every module within Lightroom (Library/Develop/Map etc).

To make a collection, click the plus button to the right of the collection panel and choose “Create Collection” (see below), this will create a simple manual collection that will give you control of the order of the images. Other options that are available to you here are “Create Smart Collection” which are used to apply automatic rules to the images it will contain, i.e. include images in the collection with 3 stars, or contains a keyword or a combination of rules. A “collection set”  is a group that can store other collections or groups (this all depend on how you would like to organise your collections and images).


The Create Collection dialog will be shown, you can name the collection and decide where to place it relative to the existing collection structure. If you would like the current images to be added by Lightroom, then make sure the “Include selected photos” is checked, otherwise turn off the check box.


Once the basic collection has been created, images can be added to it, by either manually dragging and dropping from the grid view under the LIbrary module, or they can be added by choosing the new collection to be a target collection. To make a collection into a target collection, right click on the selected collection and choose “Set as Target Collection” from the fly out menu.


The target collection indicator will be displayed by using a + by the side of the nominated collection (see Test Collection + below)


Any photo can be added to the target collection by pressing the “B” key when the image(s) is selected, when the “B” key is pressed a notification will be displayed that the image has been added to the target collection. The “B” key will also remove a  image(s) from the target collection. The chosen target collection is also changeable at any time, by removing the target collection (right click on the collection) or by making another collection a target collection (as we saw earlier in this blog post)

As soon as the images for the contact sheet are in the target collection, then click on the collection if not already selected.

In the collection, images can be moved around to create the story and placed in the correct order. To move an image(s), select it/them and drag to the new position in the grid (see below to show the 2nd image being moved in the grid)


Once the adding of images has been completed, there are a few ways to include the images into the actual contact sheet, one way is to pre-select them on the film strip (select all is CMD+A on a MAC and CTRL+A on a Windows computer), then choose the “Print” menu option (available at the top right of Lightroom). You can see in the screen shot above, all of the images in the film strip are selected (you are also able to use the “Use” function in this mode to select the required images).

Note that at the top right hand side of the screen the Single Image/Contact sheet function is selected. In the screen shot below there is only image per page. In the configuration below we have 5 pages (5 images have been selected in the film strip (located at the bottom of Lightroom dock)).


By changing the Page Grid (rows and colums) sliders under the layout panel you are able to re-layout the images and  including more images on a single page. Also, the Margins / Cell spacing and Cell size under the same Layout panel will help you get the correct look of the conact sheet that is applicable you for your client (see below for an example).


Typically for the client to be able to communicate back to you about the appropriate image, there is usually a label for each image. The current contact sheet is showing the file number as well as the date of the image (This configuration will depend on how you would like to reference the images with your client).

The Photo info option on the Page panel will enable you to use default labelling tags for each image, i.e. Caption, Date, Filename etc. Sometimes, this information is enough and needs to be more flexible.

Clicking on the “Edit” option on Page panel,will enable configuration of the data that will be displayed under the contact sheet images.


In this example the File name and Date are used to be the label for each image. A combination of other meta data elements may also be selected in the template editor (as shown below). Be aware of the amount of space that you have under the image, Cell Spacing, Margins, Cell size  and Font size can be adjusted to make sure that all your data is displayed correctly for each image.


When you have completed the contact sheet, you are able to print it using the Print job panel. (You are able to change the print resolution, print sharpening and if it needs to be 16 Bit output or if unchecked, will be 8Bit).


You are also able to Print to file, by selecting “JPG File” as the Print to option. In this mode, a JPG rendition of the file will be created, you are able to control the quality, file resolution as well as the quality of the JPG. These options will modify the size of the resulting output, which will make the file useful for other delivery options (i.e. email, web site etc)


N.B, you may find that Lightroom menus can become very cluttered due to the number of options that are available under each module. I always have my Lightroom configured so that panels are automatically closed down when a new one is open, to so this you will need to enable Solo mode.


If you right click on any menu item. you can then select “Solo Mode”, which will enable this panel collapsing feature. i find this cleans up the menu’s and allows me to work in a non cluttered environment.

UK Lightroom 4 Photoshop CS6 Travel Photography Master Class

I look after Digital Imaging for Adobe in the UK, with a focus on Photoshop and Lightroom. I am also a Photographer and have also been taking Photographs for over  20 years, and have been working in the digital world for over 10 of these. My personal focus and interest lies around Travel and Street Photography and I have wanted to share my knowledge on this topic for a while, but with a focus on post processing, vision and retouching.
Adobe and the UK London Photographic Adobe User group ( are re-running the highly successfully Lightroom and Photoshop CS6 Travel master class once again. The event will be held at the Tabernacle in Nottinghill London on Saturday 19th January from 10:30am to 1:30pm. If you are interested in attending this event, or want to register for the group, then the link to the event page can be found by following this link.


In this Master Class I will be covering travel and street photography and how to get the best from the tools inside Photoshop CS6 as well as Lightroom 4 to make your images really stand out. This class will be based upon real world photographs as well as my actual workflow, encompassing RAW processing, Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6. This master class will also help define where the two solutions overlap and clear distinctions of when to use which and why. We will also have a small section on Screen and Printer Colour Management as well as Camera calibration and I’ll bring along some hardware along on the day and can answer questions on this topic as well.


Lightroom 4 – We will look at how to manage your catalog and optimise your time in the Library module with a focus on organising & key-wording your Photographs. We will also look at when to use the Lightroom develop module and the RAW conversion engine, combined with Photoshop Camera RAW. We will look into the enhanced  highlight, shadows and clarity sliders, as well as the the more powerful adjustment brush and gradient filter. Also for the people with less time on their hands we will look at the Lightroom Presets to do a lot of the heavy lifting.


In Photoshop CS6 –  We will look at working with eyes, skin and dodge and burning tools to enhance shape and form, we will also look at color and black and white processing. Other aspects of image making will be looked at as well, i.e. masking, selections, blending modes, Content Aware Technologies as well as simple image compositing. We will also spend a bit of time focused on toning and sharpening of your final images.

We will also touch and present the Adobe Creative Cloud, answering any questions that you may have about this technology.

If you find this class of interest and are already a travel photographer, are planning a travel photography trip for yourself or just looking for ideas and would like to understand more about the software,  then this IS the place to be! The group is full of people of all ages and have a real passion for the craft of Photography, as well as the social side of course. It’s free to join the group with a small charge for the sessions (just to cover the costs of room hire) and it’s a lot of fun!!


For more information on other activities or joining the group,  then please head on over to to find out more.

Adobe UK and the Royal Photographic Society – Macro Photography Lecture

Adobe UK and the Royal Photographic Society have teamed up to provide a special lecture on the new features inside Photoshop CS6 for Photographers as well as a lecture on Macro and Art Photography. John Humphrey ( will lead the Macro and Art Photography session, and I will be presenting the Photoshop CS6 update, as well as being on hand for any related questions on anything Adobe/Photographic/Imaging or Creative Cloud related.

This special event will take place on January 30th at the Adobe UK headquarters in Maidenhead and is open for registration for RPS members and non members here. This event will be useful if you are looking to enhance your Photoshop skills and image manipulation craft, or are interested in learning more about Macro or Art photography or are even just thinking about exploring this field of photography.

Macro and Art