Creative Computing: Weeks 1 & 2
In Lessons 1 & 2 of the Creative Computing module, we were given instruction on editing and touching up images in Adobe’s Photoshop CS3.
Usually a Windows OS user, I have had to familiarise myself with the mighty Mac operating system. Something which I have found surprisingly interesting and enjoyable. Why surprised? Well, as far back as I can remember, a lot of people I’d spoke derided Mac systems for various reasons and assured me that Microsoft is the only way to go.
Now I’m not so sure. I find the desktop uncomplicated and user-friendly and the machines we use in the Mac lab at TSD Lampeter are powerful and professional systems. What’s not to like?
Ok, so some keyboard shortcuts are different and there is a certain frustration to Mac virgins (like myself), when trying to find taskbar drop downs that are in different places etc, on the whole though, I don’t see what all the poo-pooing was about. Maybe hardware compatibility issues and ‘code monkeys’ who I know, having a professional gripe with browsers such as Firefox (oh the updates!) and Safari.
Anyway, Photoshop CS3 performs the same (more or less) on the Mac as it does on a Windows OS, using the program on one or the other is essentially the same. So far.
In Lesson 1 of Creative Computing, we got to know the work area and covered a few of the fundamentals when using PS CS3. We were shown how to use Adobe Bridge in conjunction with Photoshop which gives you easy access to files and helps organise your workspace when working on several documents at once. Other basics were covered such as the use of various popular tools like the marquee tool and the zoom. The lesson also covered the use of a few adjustment techniques such as manually altering the Curves settings to darken a selected area as well as changing font colours using the swatches tab.
In Lesson 2 we were taught about RGB and CMYK colour and their different uses depending on how a particular document is to be published, for example an online document would be saved in RGB mode but one would have to change to CMYK mode for printing correctly in four-colour process inks.
We also looked more closely at image resolution and basic photo corrections.
Firstly we looked at pixel dimensions and their relationship to image resolution, measured in pixels per inch (ppi), as are most monitor resolutions. Other basics such as printer resolution, which is measured in dots per inch (dpi) and screen frequency which is measured in lines per inch (lpi) were covered.
The really exciting part was the practical session in the Mac lab, wherein we were charged with correcting a scanned image. The image in question had to be straightened (as it was askew), cropped, adjusted in colour, highlights, contrast, tonal range. We also learned how to remove a colour cast and basically, improve the quality of the image, preparing it for publication.
The lesson was very interesting and covered certain techniques that I had never had previous experience of using, such as replacing colour in an image using the mask selection and Replace colour dialogue box options. I had changed particular colours in an image previously by masking the element with a brush tool rather than the eyedropper and then using the shortcut CTRL/Command + (U) to pop up the Hue/Saturation panel and checking the Colourise option. It’s always great to learn a new way of doing something and Photoshop certainly has more ways than one to achieve a similar effect.
Later in the week I was out walking around the wilderness of the surrounding countryside, armed with a digital camera. I was fortunate to be making my way back towards campus just as the most incredible sunset developed in the firmament. I must have snapped at least a hundred photos of the sky, set against the darkened silhouette landscape. Once back home I opened the images in Photoshop, decided upon a couple of images to work on and applied some of the techniques we covered in Lesson 2 to improve them. The results were pleasing and I have included a little before and after section here for you to see the results for yourself.
Img 1 – Before
This first image had to be cropped to remove the excess black at the bottom of the picture, I also manually adjusted the tonal range to lighten the picture and enhance the colour.
Img 1 – After
These images were 4000 x 3000 ppi which is far too big to post on the web, I reduced their sizes to 400 x 300 ppi (although I’ve cropped about 100 pixels of this one making it more like 400 x 200) and saved them as jpgs at about 80% quality, making them much lighter and therefore suitable for publishing online.
Img 2 – Before
Img 2 – After
Just a few subtle adjustments and the image is looking much nicer and probably truer to reality than the image that came straight off the camera!
Img 3 – Before
Once again I applied the same processes but also used the Dodge tool to adjust the lightness of the ‘Cattle Crossing’ sign, giving it more emphasis in the composition.
Img 3 – After
Img 4 – Before
Img 4 – After
The enhancements in this image is more subtle, but I think you can see the slight change in the colour range and contrast, which makes all the difference.
I also found a few useful links that may be of interest to you. The first site is called 5 min Life videopedia and it’s full of useful tips and hints about all sorts of things. I found some useful video tutorials based on image manipulation in Photoshop. Check it out!
The website url is http://www.5min.com/
and I’ll post a useful video about creating a reflection for an image in Photoshop, at the bottom of the page. I would’ve liked it to be from the same site but I had trouble embedding a video from it so I’ve posted a similar one from You Tube!