Archive for May, 2013

#CreativeFriday – Photoshop CC and enhanced Min/Max filters

There are a couple of hidden gems within the new Photoshop for Creative Cloud (Photoshop CC), and these are under the Filters/Other menu item. The two filters Minimum and Maximum are typically used to refine selection masks, but up to Photoshop CC were limited to squareness and to whole numbers only. Inside Photoshop CC both of these filters have been enhanced to support a bias toward roundness as well as squareness on the mask, as well as supporting decimals on the roundness preservation setting of each.

Here is a picture of a spoon that i shot in a Bhutan kitchen, and i may want to extract and include as part of another composition.

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Using the Pen tool I am able to make a pretty good mask, but won’t be as tight to the object as i need it to be. Also, when i blend this into another image, there will most likely be some haloing on the around the edges.


For each pen path, I have created separate paths (under the paths panel), as the shapes/masks are slightly different (one is more square and one more round), which may be used later in the extraction .

Once the paths have been created, the selection for each can be made, first of all the handle. to make the selection from the path, select the path and right click it, or use the fly out menu on the paths panel.


I want to make sure that there is a feathered edge on the final selection, so that the mask that is created is not so aggressive.


Add a mask to the image to extract the handle, however, as the background layer is locked,  I suggest duplicating the background layer (CMD+J on the Mac, CTRL+J on a PC), then select the new duplicate layer. Create a new mask on this layer by clicking on the new mask icon (at the bottom of the layers panel)


(I have also created a new layer between the background and the masked layer, so i can see the final effect)


To apply the filter, select the mask layer then use the menu item Filter/ Other / Minimum

The Maximum filter has the effect of applying a choke—spreading out white areas and choking in black areas.

The Minimum filter has the effect of applying a spread—spreading out black areas and shrinking white areas.

The Maximum and Minimum filters are useful for modifying masks, the filters look at individual pixels in a selection, within a specified radius. Maximum and Minimum filters replace the current pixel’s brightness value with the highest or lowest brightness value of the surrounding pixels, meaning that the feathered edge will be supported with these filters.

(There is another way of modifying the mask, and that is to use a Levels adjustment directly on the mask (this is different from using an Adjustment Layer). The levels adjustment won’t preserve the feathering as these filters do)


By default the settings will be “Preserve = Squareness” and the Radius set to 1. Ultimately the Radius size won’t be huge, but to demonstrate the feature, i’ll push it much higher than normal. By increasing the Radius to 30 pixels, the mask has been restricted and has taken on a bias towards preserving squared edges, which on a round section, isn’t desirable.


If the Preserve option is changed to “Roundness” (notice that decimals are also accepted into the Radius value), the bias on the mask (section highlighted in Red) is more towards preserving the round edge.


Once both selections have been completed the mask is tight to the extracted object, and has kept the feathered edge.




144 – Maha Kumbh Mela – Largest gathering of human beings on the Earth

Back in February I had the opportunity to visit the Maha Kumbh Mela held in Allahabad (India) for 10 days. The Kumbh Mela is a pilgrimage of faith for Hindus’s around the world and a chance for them to bathe in the holy Ganga (Ganges) river.

The Kumbh Mela is held for 55 days, once every 3 years at one of the 4 holy places (Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nashik and Ujjain) in a cycle of 12 years. The Kumbh Mela is said to be the largest gathering of human beings anywhere on the Earth, and this year (2013) was the largest. During the 55 days, it was estimated that there were a total of 120 million visitors, and on the the most auspicious day, there were about 35 million people at the event. This Kumbh at Allahabad was called the Maha Kubh Mela which translates to the Mother of all Kumbh’s and was said to have been the holiest, one that occurs on the 12 cycle of the 12 years, therefore once every 144 years.

I took photographs to document my experience at the event (there are more on the way), they can be found here. Also, a good friend of mine (Frances Bruchez) has found a video, which I think shows the Kumbh Mela and covers all that is special with this unique gathering.

“Faith Connections” – a Pan Nalin film [ Trailer ] from rapsodieproduction

The 4 holy places are significant as they are all located on 4 rivers (Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar, the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad, the Godawari at Nashik, and the Shipra at Ujjain). To learn more about the Kumbh, and the reasons for it’s existence have a read of the book “Kumbh Mela: Faith and Hypocrisy” by Akhil Bakshi and is available on amazon.

Kuler from Adobe is now available

The new Kuler web site and the Kuler iPhone app are now available for use.

Kuler is a cloud-based application for making color themes using an iPhone or using your browser. With Kuler on the iPhone, you can capture color inspiration wherever you are, using the camera or camera roll. And because we know people need options, we’ve also redesigned the Kuler website; it’s rich, responsive and tablet-friendly.

The new Kuler web siteScreen Shot 2013-05-30 at 18.17.13

As mentioned, there are two ways to capture colour themes on the iPhone, firstly via the camera, and secondly via a photo that already exists on your camera roll. When Kuler is opened, small circles will move around, Kuler is finding themes for you. If the screen is touched, the circles will freeze and individual colours can then be manually selected with a finger or a stylus.


When a theme has been created, there is an opportunity to name, tag and make the it public (Kuler will need to be logged to your Adobe ID for this to work).

The Kuler swatches are synced from the iPhone to the web site and also to the Kuler exchange panel (shown below in Photoshop), as well as to Adobe Illustrator CC to use in your designs.

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Once Kuler has been selected, the panel will open and the new swatch can easily be found. Notice that the theme is linked to me as i signed in with my Adobe ID, therefore linked to my account.

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Other swatches can be created or edited within the Photoshop Kuler panel, then uploaded to the Kuler website.

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Additional screen shots showing the same theme that came from the iPhone App (as shown above) and was synchronised with the Kuler web app  (I am logged in with my Adobe ID to the Kuler Web App and the iPhone to see these themes)

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(additional details of the theme that was just created).

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Use Kuler on your favorite browser: (Don’t forget to login with your Adobe ID)

And download the Kuler iPhone app:

Also, read this article that I posted last Friday.

Adobe Creative Days Teaser

Presenter David McClelland tells you more about what to expect when Adobe Creative Days UK lands in London on June 4th 2013.

To find out more and to register, visit the Creative Days website –

#CreativeFriday – Creative Cloud and Photoshop CC Sync Settings

One of the many advantages that moving to a cloud based service brings, is the power of a server side computing in conjunction with the computer and hardware that is being used locally. The ability to have much more horse power available to perform routine tasks, means that there are many additional options that are not achievable when just restricted to the local desktop. This is even more relevant in today’s world, when we are moving to a more connected and socially engaged environment. More and more people are using smart phones, tablets and are always “On-Line” at more touch points in their life than ever before. People are much more connected with each other, either socially or with their work, peers, friends or maybe even to create an idea whilst on the move. The ability to capture an idea on a smart phone using a photograph or colour swatch (with the new upcoming Kuler App for the iPhone), when they see something that catches their eye, that could in turn be used for inspiration for their next creation is quite powerful.

When it comes to creatives and creative applications we all like to make cool art and show it off to our peers and people that we respect and can learn from, having technology and an eco-system that supports this, is fundamental for continued success.

The Creative Cloud embraces all of these trends and supports the creative user in their workflow, enables them to be connected at all touch points, as well empowering them to be even more creative anywhere at any time. One of the things i enjoy about the Creative Cloud is the complete freedom to create and be inspired anywhere. For example, I can take a Photograph on my iPhone with Photoshop Touch and upload directly to the Creative Cloud. I can take this image almost immediately and populate a mood board with ideas on the iPad using Photoshop Touch and the extra form factor, then sync to my Creative Cloud account once I have finished. When I next get into the office, I am able to use this directly within Photoshop CC to a remind me of the idea, or add to an image or a piece of art work that I have been working on for a while, which may have been in need of something extra to make it visually compelling. This is something that for me was lacking in a non connected, non free flowing creative world.

Adobe has the unique advantage of having the Creative Cloud services, combined with the power of the desktop tools, as well as connecting the mobile touch apps in a complete transparent workflow.

As we have already mentioned, the Creative Cloud tools were previously disconnected from online services as well as within the local working environment. Most creative users are working with the two licenses that are available. however, one of the challenges is having consistency across both of these environments, i.e. not really supporting a consistent way of working with the tools (i.e. using the same brushes, actions, swatches, preferences etc) in the two environments that they are working in, therefore disrupting the creative process. Previously, to work with the same settings on both computers in your environment, you had to copy the files manually from one to the other, then hopefully the files would work without too much trouble or fiddling about.

(N.B.The 2 software installs as part of your subscription can be installed on a combination of Windows or Macintosh computers as well as across the same type of computer. )

Due to the Creative Cloud and server side computing we are able to connect each of the pure creative CC tools (Photoshop CC, After Effects CC, Premiere Pro CC etc) to have a deep connection to the Creative Cloud’s services, that will enable each applications settings to be synchronised with it’s opposite partner application on the other computer (There is more than just one service, but i’ll focus on sync settings in this post, which i think lies at the heart of the creative process), enabling a seamless working environment where ever you are.

N.B. The sync settings is not going to run all of the time and consume additional bandwidth on your Internet connection, slow your Internet connection or even your computer down, but only when you want to synchronise. Also, the settings will stay on the computer even if one of the computer(s) is/are offline (in accordance with the offline lease of the Creative Cloud), which means you don’t have be connected to the Internet all of the time to use the creative applications, so, you are able to go on your travel trip or away from home and still keep the consistent settings and run the applications as you always have been able to do, and ultimately keep your creative process simple and seamless. 

Focusing on Imaging, I’d like to explain how this synchronisation works with Photoshop CC .

You now have a direct login to the Creative Cloud from within Photoshop CC, and access to Synchronise settings (under the preferences menu option).

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The “Manage Sync Settings” will open the following screen


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From this menu item you are able to manage which settings you would like to have synchronised with your Creative Cloud account (and eventually other computers).

In this menu option, synchronise can be turned off completely, or able to sync one or a selection of settings (described above). Because there can be up to the two unique computers in your environment, there is a concept of Local and Remote settings.Local settings are for the computer you are currently working on and remote settings are for the other computer. It is also worth while noting that when the settings are synchronised, they are updated without having to relaunch the App. Before the synchronisation is started , the  configuration for managing any conflicts will need to be setup. In the above example you can see the “When conflicts occur”  is set to “Always Ask”, which means if there is a newer version of the settings within my Creative Cloud account, Photoshop CC will prompt me to choose which settings I want to keep (local or remote ones).  The other options that are available are “Keep Local” or “Keep Remote”, this will not prompt you to select which settings you want to use.

(N.B. The preferences will synchronise everything in the preferences panel (including application interface colour, background save etc)).

By clicking the “Manage Account Online” menu option, the Creative Cloud web interface will be launched and will take you into your online account (Adobe ID).

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Once you are in the web browser, clicking on the “My Application Settings” will take you to the screen that shows the settings that exist online.

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You can see here that there are settings stored for both Photoshop CC as well as After Effects CC. In this case in this example, the settings are from my computer that is in the studio.

The sync settings is also available on each application window, as show in the following picture.

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Once the this button is clicked, the following small window will appear, just above it.

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Once the “Sync Settings Now” is clicked, a progress bar will be displayed, then Photoshop CC will look at the differences between the Cloud files and your local files and work out the delta between the two. If settings don’t already exist, then it will be created for you, however, if they do and there are differences, then an alert will be displayed informing you that the settings are ready to by synced. If there are conflicts between the computers then you will be notified and prompted to make a choice (if “Always Ask” was turned on”) . If on the conflict you select “Local” then you will keep the local settings and these are synchronised with the Creative Cloud, updating the central settings files, if you choose “Remote” then the remote settings will be applied to the local application.

The sync settings is a great feature in CC which fully utilises the Creative Cloud and enables you to improve your workflow.





Adobe Create now eSeminars are back!

From 28th May 2013 the Adobe eSeminar program is back. Following on from the announcements that we made at MAX 2013  (recordings are here if you want to review anything) and the updates that we are making to the Creative tools, we wanted to make sure that you guys have all the information that you need in order to create everything that you have ever wanted to created in the digital world. The sessions will be streamed live and will be recorded for viewing offline as well. But if you join live, there will be a chance to chat to the speaker after the session…

Each session is 45 minutes of demo with 15 minutes or so of chat. It would be great to have you involved, just follow this link to get everything you need to attend!


Adobe Creative Days Comes to London on 4th June


Breaking news for all budding and pro creatives out there! Today marks the start of our countdown to the UK Creative Day and will be broadcast from London! The event is one in a series of 14 Creative Days happening all across Europe as part of Adobe’s bumper Create Now World Tour. It’s taking place on Tuesday 4thJune and will be a celebration of creativity and expressiveness in the UK.

Hosted by tech enthusiast David McClelland, Creative Day will feature a mix of industry luminaries, influencers and our very own global evangelists, including Rufus DeuchlerPaul TraniJason Levine, as well as our UK experts, Richard Curtis, Iona Walters, Rupert Knowles and Niels Stevens. Each will take to the stage – together with inspirational creatives – throughout Creative Day and cover all that’s hot in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Creative Day will be packed with lively debates, exclusive demonstrations and inspirational case studies – all broadcast online at 9.45am. Plus, we’re giving 400 lucky people the chance to be in the live audience – just register here to take part in person.

Liz Wilkins, senior marketing manager for Digital Media at Adobe, said: “The UK creative industry is one of the most exciting and dynamic sectors to work in. Creative Day will be a fantastic chance for creatives to come together, exchange ideas, hear from luminaries and and learn about the very latest in Creative Cloud”.

David McClelland who is hosting the event said: “I’m thrilled to be working with Adobe on the London leg of the Creative Days World Tour and am particularly excited about being able to share my Adobe Creative Cloud  experience with a live audience, as well as with tens of thousands watching online”.

Follow the conversation on Twitter – #CreativeDays.


#CreativeFriday – HDR in Photoshop CC and ACR Toning

Lightroom 4 introduced working with 32bit TIFF images and HDR processing from images that were shot using in camera bracketing and processed with Photoshop. Once the 32bit image is inside Lightroom 4 or 5, the 32bit enabled shadow and highlight recovery sliders can be used to extract the extra tonal range.

Photoshop CC also has a similar way of creating and working with HDR images using Camera Raw 8 and the new Camera Raw as a filter option.

Select the bracketed shots in mini bridge, right click on the images and open in the option Photoshop / Merge to HDR Pro.

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Once opened into HDR Pro, make sure that the “32bit mode” option is turned on, the “remove ghosts” is turned on (if you think that there are items that have moved between the shots (i.e. leaves, foliage etc as these may have moved due to the wind or other forces), also, turn on the “Complete Toning in Adobe Camera Raw” (the histogram is greyed out once this box is checked).

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The “Complete Toning in Adobe Camera Raw” will open the combined image into Camera Raw, enabling non destructive 32bit processing.

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Make the adjustments in Camera Raw and press OK.

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The image is returned to Photoshop as a 32bit image. Notice that the image has been wrapped automatically into a Smart Object/Filter and a white revealing mask has been applied (therefore all adjustments are displayed).

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Now that the image is in a Smart Object/Filter the Camera Raw Filter modifications can be painted out (using the mask, (white box in the image)) as well as a black brush. Smart filter adjustments can be turned on/off using the eye icon next to the mask. Also, the Camera Raw Filter can be re-opened by double clicking (or using a right click) on the Camera Raw Filter text. The eye icon next to the Camera Raw Filter text will cause the filter to be re-rendered, as opposed to being turned on/off.

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Interesting effects can be applied to the image by changing the way that the Camera Raw Filter blends with the smart object image by selecting the “Edit Smart Filter Blending Options” and choosing the blending mode and the opacity.

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Results of Camera Raw Filter once the mode is set to Luminosity and set to 80% opacity.

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(The rest of the blending modes are not available as this is a 32Bit image)

This process should save you a lot of steps in the HDR process within Photoshop CC and enable you to get the maximum tonal range out of your bracket shots, using a 32 bit tonal range.


Sometimes  it is a requirement to convert the 32 bit HDR images to use a 16bit or 8bit tonal range. The 32bit image is created using floating point numbers and is able to store an extremely large tonal range, therefore contains information that is outside of the normal range of the eye or the camera’s sensor. If you want to convert to a lower bit depth you will need to consider that actual tonal range will become compressed and you will need to start thinking about compromising the full tonal range of the 32 bit image. Let us explore the reduction in tonal range in this update (more information can be found in this post).

Start out with the 32bit tonal range image as described in the process above. Then choose menu option Image / Mode / 8 bit or 16 bit. If you have a smart filter applied to the HDR image, Photoshop will inform you some filters may not work correctly on the converted bit depth.

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Press OK.

Photoshop will then tell you that HDR images may not look the same once you perform the bit depth conversion.

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If you choose Don’t Merge, Photoshop will try to calculate the tonal ranges changes that are need for the conversion. Once the conversion has completed the image may not look as it previously did in 32 bit mode.

If you choose Merge, then Photoshop will show a dialog box that will allow you to manually choose the areas of the tonal range that will be changed.

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at this point you will need to experiment with the output choices. There is more technical information in this post.


Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw 8.1 Release Candidate

Photoshop Camera Raw 8.1 RC is now available on Adobe Labs for Photoshop CS6. This Camera Raw 8.1 release candidate includes support for HiDPI capable monitors, new Cameras and Lens profiles.

Photoshop CS6 is still available to buy here.

New Camera Support

The following new cameras are now supported:

  • Hasselblad H5D-60
  • Olympus PEN E-P5
  • Olympus PEN E-PL6
  • Phase One IQ260*
  • Pentax Ricoh GR
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G6
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LF1

* Denotes preliminary support

New Lens Profile Support

Lens Name Lens Mount
Canon PowerShot G1 X Canon
Canon PowerShot G15 Canon
Hasselblad HCD 4.8/24 Hasselblad
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon
HD PENTAX-D FA645 MACRO 90mm F2.8ED AW SR Pentax
HD PENTAX-DA 560mm F5.6ED AW Pentax
SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A013 Canon
SIGMA 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM C013 Nikon
SIGMA 19mm F2.8 DN A013 Olympus
SIGMA 30mm F2.8 DN A013 Olympus
SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A013 Sigma
SIGMA 19mm F2.8 DN A013 Sony
SIGMA 30mm F2.8 DN A013 Sony



#CreativeFriday – Conditional actions in Photoshop for Creative Cloud

Actions inside Photoshop have been designed to save time when processing an image and to gain a pre-defined look, or at least run a defined series of steps within a technique. The outcome is a huge time saver, as well as an accuracy of an effect or a series of steps. Actions maybe a combination of many functions inside Photoshop, i.e. crop images or a manual series of steps to add a photo frame with texture etc. Actions can be even more powerful when they are hooked up to Photoshop batch automation or a Photoshop Droplet. However, previously actions have been limited to straight through processing (i.e. no IF Then ELSE logic) ,and unless you already know javascript it was challenging to work around this. In the Photoshop CS6 for Creative Cloud update in December 2012, the ability to create conditional actions was added, this means we now support simple logic (i.e. IF Then ELSE). This post will take you though a step by step guide of making a conditional action to save your self huge amounts of time and create consistency across your work.

When creating a conditional action you will need to think about the objective and then design the logic that you would like to create. For example, this exercise will test an image to see if it’s Square, Portrait or Landscape and place text on the image, the text could be any that you desire from (Watermarks, to logo’s etc). One idea is that you could use this for your work that you send out to clients.

Open Photoshop CS6 for Creative Cloud (and make sure that the update as of December 2012 has been applied), open the actions palette and choose New Set, and create a new set to hold these actions. Once the Set has been created, created a New Action.

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I am going to use the “Blog Post Actions” set to store all of these logic components.

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Click record to start the recording (used to just to create the action). At this point for this example, you want to stop the recording and open or create a landscape file (we will be automating the action so it is not required to include the file open) .


Then restart the recording, and capture the text layer.


Now the record is turned on, add some text to the landscape layer.


Turn off the recording. If you need other items adding to the action then you will need to add them in this recording process.

The first of three logic components has been created. To create the component for processing a square, re-select the “Blog Post Actions” element (in this example), and select New Action from the fly out menu.

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You should end up with something like the above, comprising of 3 logic components with a make text layer for each (your processing you may have more or less logic components and more or less functions within each).

We can now create the conditional logic blocks which will tie everything together. Re-selected the “Blog Post Actions” element and create a new Action called “Run Me”, then stop the recording, and create another Action called “Test for Square” and stop the recording once again.

Select  the “Run Me” element and click on the fly out menu and choose “Insert Conditional”.

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You can see in the first combo box of the conditional action configuration there are many tests that you can make. One thing to notice is that there isn’t a negative test, i.e. There is a “Document is Landscape”, but not “Document is not Landscape” because the ELSE on the conditional action will take care of this, also, there isn’t a “Document is Portrait”, but there is a test for Squareness.


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The logic that we need to create based on the selections that we have is this. If the document is Landscape then process for landscape, other test to see if it’s a square. If it’s a square then process the square, otherwise process for a portrait.

Set the “If Current” to “Document is Landscape”, then set “Then Play Action” to “Landscape” which was created earlier. Set “Then Else Play” to “Test for Square”, the logic is now set up for the first stage.

For the second stage, select “Test for Square” and set “If Current” to “Document is Square” and then set “Then Play Action” to “Square”, set “Else Play Action” to “Portrait” .

To test the action you will need to create a series of test canvases, in this example i created empty ones for each format and press play on the “Run Me” action. Look at the output on the screen to make sure that the behaviour is meets the intended results.


You may need to debug the action. I have added one for you to download on my Creative Cloud account (you many need to replace the text on each action though. To do this, just click on each text layer, remove and re-create it with your own text (don’t forget to turn on record for each new action)).

Once the Action has been created we can create an automated processes. There are two options in Photoshop, Batch, which will run over images in a folder. Or Droplets, a droplet will exist as an icon and will allow the user to drop any image(s) onto it for batch processing.

1. Batch –  This option will run the action over a batch of photographs. Modify the “Set” combo box to be the “Blog Post Action” set that was created. And in the Action combo box select the “Run Me” action. The Batch automation will read the contents of the source folder and output them to the defined output folder. To configure the batch processing up use the the menu option, select – File / Automate / Batch.

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2. Droplets. Photoshop droplets extendeds the Batch processing and enables photoshop to be run from an icon that will reside on the computer. You will then be able to drag and drop files to it, and Photoshop will start to process them one by one. The rest of the procedure is the same os the Batch processing about (Action to run, start folder and end folder). To set the batch processing up use the the menu option, select – File / Automate / Create Droplet.

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You can see in this dialog, that the input folder is described by the save droplet. The play defines the action and set combination to play. Then the  destination is defined in this case to output to a folder.

The droplet looks like this

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There are many different options and configurations for conditional actions, and wish you luck experimenting with your own.