Adobe Photoshop can be overwhelming to use for many beginner photographers. We decided to put together a detailed guide that goes over the basics of the most popular, and arguably most powerful post-processing tool on the market.
Many of us have heard others say something like “This image is photoshopped” at least once. Even non-photographers use this phrase all the time when referring to digitally-manipulated images. In other words, Photoshop has become synonymous with post processing.The Complexity of Photoshop
Even though there are many tools for processing an image, very few have come close to Photoshop in terms of features and functionality. Without a doubt, Photoshop is a vast and complex piece of perangkat lunak, and there are so many built-in and third party tools available for it, that it would be impossible to try to learn it all. In fact, Photoshop’s tools evolved so much over the years, that one could get similar results using very different tools.
If you search online for a way how to get something done in Photoshop, you might be overwhelmed by what you find. In many cases, photographers end up showing a number of different techniques to get to the end result, which can be very confusing, especially for those who are starting out.
This very nature of Photoshop demands a steep learning curve. I haven’t come across anyone who can say “I know everything in Photoshop”. Instead of trying to learn everything about the perangkat lunak, many of us choose to only learn the particular tools that we actually need on a day-to-day basis. This is the right way to learn Photoshop.
Once we learn a particular tool in Photoshop, it does take time and practice to put it to use. It might be a slow process, but once you get used to it, the results are highly rewarding.
So please keep in mind that this article is not meant to be a complete guide to Photoshop. Instead, I wrote this article as a foundation that hopefully makes it easier for our readers to understand some of the basics.Lightroom vs Photoshop
Serious photographers rarely ever publish images straight out of their cameras, so the journey is usually started with basic post-processing tools like Lightroom. It is important to note that there is a huge difference between Lightroom and Photoshop when we open the aplikasi for the first time. With Lightroom, everything seems relatively easy to understand. With a bit of exploration, we can soon get familiar with the perangkat lunak.
On the other hand, when we open Photoshop for the first time, we feel like we are in the middle of nowhere. All we see are unfamiliar tools, tabs and windows. Now most of us would have asked ourselves “When I have Lightroom why would I ever need Photoshop?”
The answer is, almost everything that is in Lightroom is available in Photoshop. But Lightroom cannot even do 10% of what Photoshop is capable of. The difference between Lightroom and Photoshop is similar to the difference between riding a bike vs driving a race car. It is vast. However, most photographer’s won’t care for the features that are not relevant to them, such as inserting 3D graphics, editing videos or running specialized filters.
Lightroom is pretty simple and has most of the functionality that is relevant to photographers. It has built-in functionality for image editing, but it is also a pretty powerful photo organizing tool, which Photoshop is not.
Also, Lightroom is “non-destructive” by nature, which means that all the changes you make to images do not get written on the image itself, but rather into the Lightroom database. Whether you shoot in RAW or JPEG, the original image is always intact. In contrast, whenever you open an image in Photoshop, it has already been demosaiced and flattened, so if you make a change to it and save the document, it will either overwrite the original image (in case of JPEG), or create a new arsip.
The bottom-line is, if you are going to make simple edits like adding or removing a few stops of light, adding contrast or saturation, sharpening or basic blurring, Lightroom does the job. If you want to take your editing skills to a new level and gain access to a whole suite of superb tools, then you have to get into Photoshop.
If you subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan, you get both Photoshop and Lightroom. They are meant to coexist in harmony, so that you can jump between the two when needed. For example, if you make some basic edits in Lightroom, then open it in Photoshop through Lightroom, you will see all the changes you made in Lightroom within Photoshop. Once you save your changes in Photoshop, it will automatically import the adjusted image into Lightroom.
To find out more about the differences between the two, check out our Lightroom vs Photoshop article.Opening an Image in Photoshop
As mentioned above, you can either open an image from Lightroom with all the tweaks that you made visible in Photoshop, or you can open an image directly in Photoshop. As I have mentioned earlier, there is more than one way to do a single task in Photoshop. I am going to explain only the one which is the simplest one I personally use. The most widely used way of opening an image in Photoshop is just dragging the image from into the Photoshop window, as shown below:
Once you open a picture in Photoshop, you see a tab on the upper left (marked in red) with the name of the image. You can also open multiple image documents which will be opened as tabs. On the bottom left, you see the crop percentage (marked in orange). You can zoom in (by pressing Control/Command and +) or zoom out (by pressing the Control/Command and -) to either see the entire picture, or to pixel peep at 100% crop ratio.
Pressing Control/Command + 0 fits the image to the workspace while pressing Control/Command + 1 gets it to 100% crop. While using Ps try to memorize the keyboard shortcuts as they help make things easier and faster.
Next to it is the arsip size display (marked white). Depending on the type of arsip you are working with, the size of the arsip increases substantially. For example, the size of a 24MP full frame RAW file would approximately be 30 MB. The same arsip can go up to 1 GB if you add a dozen layers added to it. We will get to layers in just a bit.
When you convert it into a JPEG of the same resolution, you might end up with a 8-12 MB file. For every layer you add to a Photoshop document, the size of the arsip increases in multiples of the size of the base layer.
On the right upper corner, you see an RGB Histogram (marked with green). Right below it, is the Adjustment toolbox (marked yellow). Below it, marked with blue, is your current layer selected inside the Layers tab. On the left you can see an eye icon (marked purple) which can be toggled. Once you click, the eye symbol appears, which means the corresponding layer is visible.
When you click it again, the eye symbol disappears which means the corresponding layer becomes invisible. On the other end, marked with indigo is a lock symbol meaning the layer is locked. It means, certain tweaks cannot be applied directly to the layer.Opening a RAW file
The above holds true if we are opening a .psd, .tiff, .jpg or any other image format that Photoshop can read. But that is not what we often want to open in Photoshop. Most of us shoot RAW and once we decide an image has to be edited to some extent, we have to shoot RAW. When we try to open a RAW arsip in Photoshop, instead of just opening the file directly as it does with a TIFF or a JPEG, Photoshop does something extra.
Once you drag a RAW file into Photoshop, you see a new window with the title “Camera Raw”. This is Adobe’s specialized tool for reading and editing RAW files. If you are already familiar with Lightroom, ACR’s (Adobe Camera Raw) layout will not look alien.
ACR gives you some basic functionality that is pretty similar to what you find in Lightroom. But do note that, if you have the latest camera but you do not have the ACR update that includes that camera model, you will not be able to open the RAW files from that camera.
In such cases, you have two options. The first option is to use Adobe’s RAW to DNG converter, which is available for free. Once you convert images to DNG format, you will be able to open them even in older versions of Adobe Camera RAW.
If Adobe has not yet provided support for your camera, you will need to resort to the second option, which is to use the proprietary aplikasi that came with your camera in order to convert the RAW file to something Photoshop can read, such as TIFF.
Also note that while editing an image, you will need maximum possible data to work with. That is one of the primary reasons why we shoot in RAW, isn’t it? If you convert it to a JPEG, you are left with 8-bits of data to work with. But if you choose TIFF or preferably a format like DNG, you can work with all the original data without losing anything.