April 23, 2009

PhotoShop Magic

I have been working with Adobe’s Photoshop for years, and there is always something new that I am discovering. It has so many tricks and shortcuts, that it might be impossible for one person to know them all!

I am responsible for the publications and communications at the charity where I work, so I find using PS invaluable. We have just published our annual report (e-mail me if you'd like to receive a copy!) and I needed a photo of the Chair of the Board and our CEO, but the only time I could get them together was a rainy dark morning. So I took a photo of them against a plain wall.
But that didn’t convey what I wanted, so I found an image I’d taken of the back porch at the historic house where my office is. I deleted the background behind the two men and added the porch to the background as a new layer.
But I’d taken the picture in the heart of the summer, and I wanted to image to look a little more fall-like, because our corporate colours are orange and brown. I selected the greens one at a time, and then adjusted the colour slider to make them more red, brown and orange.
When I finished, I showed the picture to the CEO and he thought his tie was a little loose and wanted it tightened up, so I selected his tie and moved it up a bit, taking care to match the patterns so it looked natural. Next, I finished cleaning up the "aura" around the men, checked to see if the perspective was right, and sized the shot to the proportions of our annual report. Then I merged all of the layers into one and converted the picture to a JPG. I used a very high resolution throughout so the print quality would be high. Here's the final picture.
There are a couple of resources that I receive via e-mail that have tips and tricks to improve my skills. I like Digital Photography School, which reviews cameras, interviews photographers, and shares tips and tutorials for shooting and processing. I also like Photojojo, which has fun things you can do with photography and photographs. For PS tips and tutorials, there’s a hilarious series on YouTube called You Suck at PhotoShop. If you can deal with crude and vulgar humor, you will actually learn a lot from this series.

For really bad PS pictures, there’s Photoshop Disasters, which highlights professional mistakes and goofs from print sources, including bendy bones, missing limbs, and additional fingers and hands.

The PS suites are expensive (between $700 and $1000), but there’s a starter version called PS Elements which is less than $100 and also comes in a Mac version.


  1. this is terrific! brilliant tightening up of the tie ; )

    the final image is sharp!

  2. I didn't realize what your "day job" was. I did pr/fundraising for a charity, too. We were so poor in the beginning I did paste-up on the windows. I did graduate to computers and desktop publishing, but photoshop wasn't in my bag of tricks. I retired to the garden 13 years ago (I once organized garden tours for our charity and loved the peace I saw in gardener's eyes). I applaud your great skills and your devotion to doing good work by doing good.

  3. I am so glad you posted about PS. I don't have it because I've been daunted by the price, but now that I know about PS Elements I'll have to give it a closer look.

  4. good job meg! photoshop is truly an art, and one i'll never master, so my hat is off to those of you that can!

  5. you photo shop wizard - i took a free class at the my public library - so much you can do but the hours it must take to learn and get it right - i am talking about me - of course a few good tutorials would be helpful - thanks for the links -

  6. Nice, I wish I had those Photoshop skills!

  7. I want to purchase PS for my office. Do you think PS Elements offers enough for the average very non-power user?

  8. Meg,

    This is so impressive, not only in technique, but in providing valuable information, as well as tailoring the photo to fit corporate messaging and identity (color scheme).

    Like another reader mentioned, I, too, am heartened to learn of the PS Elements version. I've longed to dabble in photoshop, but found it prohibitively expensive.

  9. Well done! And generous of you to share your tips :-)


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