In Detail: New Content-Aware Crop Tool in Photoshop CC

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With the launch of the new Photoshop CC came many new and exciting features and enhancements. One of the most talked about is the new content-aware crop tool. This tool is super exciting because is so intuitive that it can actually help to add additional space in the cropping of photos by expanding the boundaries of an image with matching detail.

What will it do?

This is a tool that can be very useful if you are attempting to crop an image after you have already straightened it, or if you need to add more space on the sides, above, or mellow to create a better layout. It will also allow you to be able to move the horizon be expanding the ground or even adding more sky. You will also be able to fill in any of the corners when rotating the image so that you do not have to sacrifice any valuable pixels.

How do you use Content-Aware Crop?

Of course, the very first thing that you will have to do to be able to use any of these features will be to go and download and then install the update to your previous version of Photoshop. It is always recommended that you also restart your computer before you begin if the software doesn’t already prompt you to at the conclusion of the installation. The update is available on either app store or on the Adobe website.

As previously stated, this feature will allow you to do a few different things to your images; so let’s break it down a bit further. First, we will look at what to do if you need to use the feature to rotate your image and make it perfectly straight. Begin by clicking on the crop tool and make sure that you have the “content Aware” option checked on the toolbar at the top. Then click on your picture to activate the Crop Shield. Drag your cursor to the outside edge of the picture and be sure that a curved double arrow appears. That is the cursor used for rotations. Once you see that appear, click and drag that cursor to rotate your picture to its desired angle and hit enter. The tool will now rotate your image and actually fill in the corners with the information that it has taken from the other portions of the image.

That is pretty impressive, huh?

Now let’s take a look at how the tool can be used to extend your images further. Again, clicking the “Content-Aware” checkbox on the toolbar at the top of the screen will be key. Begin this process my selecting your image to activate the crop shield, as you did in the cropping process. Next, move the cursor to one of the sides of the picture so that you are able to see the double arrow. Now you can click and drag the mouse to outwardly in the direction that you want to extend the canvas. Keep in mind that the tool will work best for simple images like a beach scene.

Adobe’s ‘Collabograms’ Campaign

In the art and design world, there is nothing that is more dangerous than to constantly play it safe. The best art and most notable designs come from those that are willing to think outside the box and push the envelope. Often times, some of the best pieces come out of artistic duos or collaborations. Adobe has decided to help push artists in a new way by challenging them to come together in order to create something that they may never have been able to do on their own and share it with the world through social media.

According to a recent article published by Adweek, there has been an exciting, and unexpected new collaboration in the art world as a result of Adobe’s campaign. Tattoo artist Robert Klem, and gold leaf artist Ken Davis have decided to team up in the name of creative collaboration, inspired by the challenge from Adobe being called “Collabograms”. The challenging campaign intended to help promote their products on social platforms has brought the unlikely duo together in the hopes of “creating something awesome together”.

What Does Adobe Say About the Challenge?

“This series is about Photoshop supporting creativity and highlighting the incredible results that can come from unexpected pairings and collaboration,” Lex van den Berghe, principal product manager of digital imaging at Adobe, tells Adweek. “The audience is what we like to call the New Creatives – artists who don’t limit themselves to one medium, but pull from multiple influences and materials to express themselves.”

The Work Speaks for Itself

The dynamic duo has certainly arisen to the challenge by designing and crafting an unusual and spectacular tribute to rock artist Lemmy. Their work presents a stunning image of the rock god rendered in stained glass, as you might see done with a saint. Additionally, there are LED lights, votive candles, and song references. The result is not just beautiful and unique, but it is special because it is something that probably never would have come together without the launch of this campaign by Adobe. Although the duo themselves are rather strange, given the nature of their respective works, the result of their collaboration is not due to that fact that they managed to mesh and work so well together.

The Reason for the Campaign

Creators from Adobe say that the campaign was meant to inspire artists to work together in a new and fresh way, but also to help enhance their company’s spotlight on social media; particularly on Instagram. The intention is for the artists to create longer visual story-like platforms where artists can expand upon one another’s creations while also absorbing the enhanced benefits of the products. They believe that these “Collabograms” will hold strong value and presence on social media and also be very “shareable” to help further increase the exposure and ultimately increase sales both inside and out of the artist community.

New and Innovative Photoshop Blending Modes

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Yet again Adobe has released a new and exciting feature to its Photoshop software that comes with more than just a few questions. Blend modes are one of the many features that has brought out a plethora of user questions. Here I will break them down into more basic terms so that you will be able to better understand them and implement them into your work.

How do blend modes work?

Before you can really understand what to do with blend modes it is a good idea to get a better grasp on how they actually work. By using the Opacity slider located in the Layers Panel, you will be able to blend the active layer and any layers that are below it by making the active layer more or less translucent, which will allow the other layers to become more or less dominant. Each version of the software will carry different blend modes. For example, Photoshop CS5 has 27 different mathematical calculations that translate into different blend modes. You can alter your blend modes through the use of a variety of different mathematical equations involving addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication.

Shortcuts

In order to make the process of using the blend modes faster and easier to use, Adobe has implemented keyboard shortcuts. In order to be able to use them you will need to make sure that your current tool is something other than any of the tools that are located in the painting and editing section of the Tools Panel where you see the Stamp, Eraser, Brush Tool, etc. This is due to the fact that these tools actually have their own set of settings and if you have them selected their settings will end up taking precedence over those of the blend mode. Therefore, you will want to make sure that you are paying close attention to what you are doing each step of the way. Some of the keyboard shortcuts will allow you to do things like navigate, change the standard opacity and fill opacity settings or scroll through different layers.

Understanding the Blend Mode Math

As previously mentioned, there are 27 different blend modes and in order to be able to fully understand them you need to understand how the math works in Photoshop. Since the blend modes affect the darkness and brightness levels and the values of luminescence is based on a scale of 0 to 255, you might assume that the math that is performed by Photoshop is based on those values. Instead, Photoshop has standardized the values prior to the application of the math. Those values are placed on a scale from zero to one as follows: white (1), Gray (0.5), and Black (0). All of the formulas and math are then based on those numbers which means that the resulting values are not necessarily what you might expect.

If you would like to see a set of examples to further your understanding of how the mathematics works, you can visit photoblogstop. There are excellent examples and illustrations that further break down how each formula will work for all of the blend modes.

Breaking Down the Individual Blend Modes

Again there are a lot of different blend modes and it is wise to make sure that you have an understanding of how each one works. For example, the normal mode does not have any math applied at all. The Dissolve mode functions on partially transparent and fully transparent pixels and treats transparency as a pattern of pixels then applies the diffusion dither pattern. If you would like to see a more complete list of all of the different blend modes, you can visit the link above. There is a very useful chart with the complete breakdown and description. It may be a good idea to print that chart out for the purpose of studying or to keep at your desk as a quick reference until you have been able to fully understand and memorize them all. It is a lot of content so do not feel discouraged if it takes a while to feel like you have a full grasp on all of it. The more you work with each of the 27 blend modes, the more comfortable you will feel with them.

25 years of Photoshop – Part of History

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It would be easy to argue that Adobe’s Photoshop has been the most influential design software of our generation. For more than 25 years, Photoshop has been the right hand to illustrators and graphic designers. It is one of the most powerful pieces of software on the market today. However, Photoshop did not start out as the sophisticated creation and illustration software that it is today. In fact, it has come a very long way over its lifespan. In celebration of the anniversary of the magnificent software, let’s take a look at just how much Photoshop has evolved since its creation more than 25 years ago.

The Birth of Photoshop

It all began back in 1987 when brothers Tom and John Knoll were doing some work on their father’s Apple II Plus computer. Thomas, a photography enthusiast like his father, decided that he wanted to do some alterations to a photograph image. He ended up writing a subroutine for the computer which enabled him to be able to translate the monochromatic images through a grayscale. Of course it was a very primitive version of the software, but the Knoll brothers continued to tweak and work on the program and found that they were able to create several different processes that allowed them to be able to perform different alterations on their images. Just like that, Photoshop was born.

At the time, John was already working on the development of special effects for George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic. He was the one that recognized the true potential in his brothers programing to turn the applications into a revolutionary image editing software program. Although, it is highly unlikely that either one of them really had any idea just how successful the program would be or how much of an impact it would have. The two teamed up combining vision and expertise and finally in 1988 released the first version of the software which they named Image Pro.

Stepping Stones

Once the program was out on the market, the Knoll brothers recognized the potential for growth if they were to partner up with other companies to launch additional software and expand awareness of their product. Their First partnership was with Barneyscan, a manufacturer of scanners that first purchased Image Pro to ship out with 200 of their scanners. Under that partnership the software was actually named Barneyscan XP. Due to the success of the initial partnership with Barneyscan, the Knoll brothers thought it would be easy to obtain additional partnerships to further launch their program. They were wrong.

It took them months of bids and proposals to a variety of different companies, where they saw rejection after rejection, before they finally pitched their product tot Adobe for partnership. Finally, they were able to win over the affections of the Adobe executives and convince them to rerelease the Image Pro software under the Adobe brand name. Finally in 1990, Adobe released the very first version of Photoshop known as Photoshop 1.0.

Changing Landscapes

The initial launch of the first version of Photoshop was met with tremendous success. It was the first time the software or any of its kind was released for sale to the general public as a standalone software program rather than being bundled together with the Barneyscan scanners. Due to the success, Adobe decided to proceed with further development and expansion of the original software. The following year in 1991, Adobe released Photoshop 2.0 with a plethora of new features to excite users. As the years went on, the brothers alongside with the engineers at Adobe continued to grow and develop the software, constantly adding new features. They saw some bugs and kinks along the way in the early 90’s due to problems with the amount of RAM needed and the transition from being offered exclusively for MAC computers to Windows computers, but their commitment to the products success showed in the software. By the end of the century, Photoshop had become an institution of all its own among the digital design and illustration industry. It was a staple for professional artists of both small and huge proportions and it was changing the shape of the way imaging was created altogether.

Fast forward to today and Adobe Photoshop has become one of the most powerful and instrumental software programs on the market. It boasts a number of features that the Knoll brothers probably never could have imagined when they began working on Image Pro back in the 80’s. It is constantly changing at a rate of never before, which despite causing some frustration among users, allows artists and illustrators to further develop their work in new and exciting directions that were never before possible. The software has become so complex that most people will need to take classes to be able to get started with the program and its many layers. However, it is an absolute must for any modern designer. Just as it has been exciting to watch Photoshop come to life and develop over the last quarter century, it will be even more exciting to see what the developers have in store for the future of the program in the years to come.

Creating Fonts, also with Photoshop?

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Over the recent years there has been a growing interest in typography and the development of new fonts among artists and crafters. Luckily, this interest was recognized by industry manufacturers and software creators. In honor of this expanding art, let’s take a look at some of the top three tips for anyone that wants to begin creating their own fonts, regardless of their knowledge and expertise level.

1. Start with a Brief

Creating a typeface from scratch can be a drawn out and time consuming process so be sure to pack a bit of patience. It is best to begin the process only when you feel that you have developed a strong and clear vision of the final product that you are looking to achieve in response to a brief. In order to develop the brief, you will need to invest some time into research, as well as, some self-reflection. Take into consideration how you intend to use the font, whether it be just for your own personal use or for a project that will be used or seen by others. Just like with anything that you create, it is important to remember to consider your audience and base your design off of what will appeal to their tastes. Also consider what you are trying to achieve with the development of the new font. Is it strictly for personal expression or is it going to be used to alter the formatting of an important document? The sky is the limit in terms of options so it is important to make sure that your direction is firmly set when necessary.

2. Get Hands-on

Once you have decided on a clear and focused direction for the development for your typeface, it is often suggested that you go back to the basics and begin to draw or sketch it out with pen and paper. This is a good idea because there are no limitations when it comes to free-form handwriting, whereas many computer software programs can make the initial design more time consuming and frankly, awkward. It is also recommended that you use a good quality paper and writing utensil to help everything flow together more smoothly. Once you have everything you need, begin by sketching out a few characters of your typeface, being sure to outline the defining features that will be carried throughout the other characters of the font face. Once those have been clearly defined, it will be easier for you to develop and design the remainder of the characters on a digital platform.

3. Selecting your Software Program

Now that you have designed at least the first few characters of your typeface, and you are ready to get them into the computer to continue with your design, you will need to select a software program. It is a good idea to do your research on a few different programs and be sure to pick one that will work best for you based on your comfort level and the complexity of the program itself. The majority of illustrators will likely select Adobe. However, if you are not comfortable using a program like that there are other options out there like Lyphs, Robofont, and FontLab Studio. Most programs will be available on both MAC and Windows operating systems. Keep in mind that the majority of the software programs out there are pretty expensive but if you are just getting started out, you may be able to find smaller versions or trial versions of the programs available for free or smaller fee than the full version online. Again, be sure to do your research ahead of time to save yourself a great deal of time, money, and frustration down the line.

This process is meant to be one of self-expression, creativity, and fun. Do not let yourself get bogged down in the gritty details that could transform the enjoyable craft of developing a new font into a chore. Do you research, develop your focus and goal clearly, and enjoy the ride? For those that get good at it, there may even be an opportunity to sell the fonts to others for their own use and projects. Just like with any artistic skill or craft, typography is something that will take time to develop and get good at. The more that you practice and play with your characters, the further you will develop your skill and expand your creativity. Before you know it you will find yourself developing special characters and new font faces without even thinking about it.

Adobe XD for UX design

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The new Adobe XD for UX design is being praised everywhere for its user-friendly design and for the fact that is so easy to use. In the past, software additions and updates to major software programs like Photoshop have taken even advanced computer geeks a long time to recover from because of their steep learning curve. This simply is not the case with the new UX design. In fact, some are even praising Adobe for making it so user-friendly that it actually works more like a mobile app than a desktop addition in terms of experience.

The software has been organized into two separate tabs to make it easier to use. Tab one is Design and tab two is Prototype.

Design – Under the Design tab is where you will be able to actually build your layouts. You can simply click and drag to make or change many shapes and expand upon your page. One of the great features of the program is that Adobe will highlight which corners are aligned with other elements to assist you in spacing each one of your elements. Of course that is fairly standard but still useful all the same. The “repeat grid” tool will now allow you to be able to perfectly duplicate or repeat all of your wireframes across the entire page. If you want to try to round off the corners of a box all you have to do is select a certain anchor point and then just point and pull. Say that you find that you need a custom button like a marker for a map. Of course you could go back to your Illustrator in order to build it. Or, with the new XD feature, you can utilize the shape design tool to build one.

Prototype – Under the Prototype tab you will be able to do some pretty exciting things, such as add interactivity to your images or build a button-linked workflow for your entire website or mobile app. This portion of the software is particularly impressive and shockingly easy to use. For this all you need to do is select any object, like an icon, and wait for a small arrow to appear beside it. Now drag that arrow onto the screen of your choosing and that is it. It’s linked. Pretty neat huh? Another thing you can do is install some basic animated transitions to occur in sequence. That way you will be able to get a feel for the way that the user interface will actually appear and fell when it Is in motion. Once you feel that you have achieved your final product and are happy with the design, just hit the record button and you will be able to go through your app to export the final results and even share your demo.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most user-friendly and valuable additions ever to be released by Adobe. The company is famous for creating amazing software that is often too difficult for the average computer user, but that is simply not the case with the new UX design. Anyone with a basic understanding of the existing program will be thrilled with the new addition in terms of its shallow learning curve and awesome intuitive features.

Kyle’s Brushes for Photoshop

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An Unexpected Commodity

Illustrator Kyle Webster is making waves with his creation of a set of digital paintbrushes that are all for use in Adobe Photoshop. According to Wired, Kyle has managed to collect an esteemed list of clients that include The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal. However, he says that he is actually making the majority of his income through the sales of his virtual paint brushes which allow illustrators like him to create the appearance of s scratchy technical pen, a dusty pastel, or dreamy watercolor paint.

These digital paintbrushes are being used by budding artists and college students, as well as, major players like the artists that work for Grand Theft Auto, Nike, and Game of Thrones. Amazingly, the preloaded paintbrushes have turned into a six-figure income for the business savvy artist. This is yet another example of a lucrative happy accident in the art and entrepreneur sector. Webster says that due to his eclectic collection of clients, he constantly had to change his style in order to meet their needs. Thant’s when he came up with the idea for the invention of virtual paintbrushes that would allow him to seamlessly transition from one style to the next or combine them to appeal to customers.

Of course with most fine things, the brushes didn’t happen overnight. It took Kyle more than a decade of playing with them to get the final result. Once they were finished, he began showing them to friends and that’s when they started asking for the tools for themselves. It was then that Kyle realized he had something to sell and had found a market with a need. Webster told Wired “Creating brushes, in my spare time, that emulated different kinds of natural media, allowed me to experiment more and then eventually work those experiments into paying work.”

What the Professionals Are Saying About the Brushes?

As stated previously, Kyle boasts a pretty impressive clientele list among the illustration profession. Of course, like with any product, these artists had some pretty strong opinions in terms of the brushes and their abilities to affect their work and results. Sophie Diao, credited with being the one to change the occasional and interesting changes to Google logo that appear from time to time had this to say about the brushes “I especially enjoy that some of his brushes have an unpredictability to them, in terms of how pen pressure and pen tilt affect them.” Here is what a few other major artists and illustrators had to say:

“Kyle’s brushes mimic the ‘happy accidents’ that make painting so magical, and allow them to occur in digital work.” – Samantha Kallis, Disney.

“So many brushes online act more like rubber stamps than true paint brushes. Kyle’s brushes look totally natural, and one brush can give a variety of results.” – Chris Turnham, worked on Laika’s Coraline.

“His brushes really get me excited about drawing again.” – Paolo Rivera, a comics artist whose work includes Wolverine and Daredevil.

Of course the positive reviews have been well received by Kyle. He says that despite the development and sales of the brushes cutting into his time for drawing, they have added a lot of value for him. They have also enabled him to be able to accept only the gigs that he wants to work on because money is no longer an issue. “Most of the work I am making now for clients is work I am proud to show in my portfolio, as opposed to a mix of jobs that pay the bills and keep me busy,” says Webster. That is essentially the dream of every starving young artist that enters the field with hopes of one day being recognized for the impact of their work.

New Big Photoshop CC Update – What’s new?

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There is big news in the graphic design world: Photoshop has finally released the highly anticipated CC update and it is said that additional digital imaging product features will be coming soon. Just about every graphic designer and artist in the world relies on the world-changing software that has enabled artists to create stunning digital images never before thought possible. Therefore, it is no surprise that this major update has been a highly anticipated one in the art community.

New Features

This new expansion of the software features a long list of different features that will allow designers to take their work to the next level in an exciting way. Changes to fonts, creative cloud libraries, artboards, and exportation abilities are just a few of the additions that all you Photoshop geeks can get excited about. For example, here is a list of the updates that have been made to fonts according to the Adobe website:

Search and Organize Fonts Quickly

  • View fonts by family (new this release): A more hierarchical font menu shows font families and lets you toggle to see fonts within that family, rather than seeing all fonts in a giant list.
  • Performance improvements in font menu (new this release): Font menu is faster because of improvements to showing samples for each font.
  • Favorites: Star fonts that you use frequently and then filter to only show those fonts.
  • Recently used: Photoshop will display your most recently used fonts at the top of the font list.
  • Search for fonts: Start to type the name of the font to find a font, rather than browsing with a scrollbar.

Go deeper into a given font

  • Glyph Panel: Use the Glyphs panel to insert punctuation, superscript and subscript characters, currency symbols, numbers, specialized characters, as well as glyphs from other languages into text.
  • On-canvas Glyph (new this release): On-canvas menu allows you to view and select alternate glyphs for the currently selected character.

Expand beyond your commonly used fonts

  • Typekit: Thousands of free fonts for Creative Cloud members to use; integrated into Photoshop’s font menu, missing font check workflow, similarity search and Match Font feature.
  • Match Font (new this release): Start with a raster image of a Latin font and Photoshop will tell you which fonts on your local machine or in your Typekit library are close matches.
  • Filter by Classification: Narrow the fonts in your font list by classification, like serif or sans serif.
  • Filter by visual similarity: Narrow the fonts in your font list based on similarity to your selected font.

Perhaps one of the best parts of this new update is that it is available in a mobile format as well. If you have not tried it, you can go to the iTunes store or the Google Play store and download the free Capture CC mobile app and get started. There are a ton of cool effects and features to keep you busy for hours.

Mark Hamburg’s Going Away Party

Posted By Jeff Schewe

Mark Hamburg, founder of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and former architect of Photoshop is leaving Adobe for a post at Microsoft. Mark, who was the second engineer hired to work on Photoshop after Thomas Knoll, has been at Adobe for over 17 years. He joined Adobe in the fall of 1990–the year Photoshop 1.0 shipped.

He left the Photoshop team after Photoshop 7 shipped and spent time in Adobe’s Advanced Technology Group (ATG) where he worked on a “sandbox project” originally called PixelToy which was later renamed Shadowland. Adobe changed that name to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom when it was released as a public beta in January, 2006. See the PSN story The Shadowland/Lightroom Development Story for more info.

Since Mark has been a good friend and co-conspirator over the years, I decided to use some miles and fly out for his going away party at Adobe last week. Mark’s last day at Adobe was Wednesday, April 23, 2008.

Mark’s office was littered with boxes–it’s unclear if those were his new packed boxes or left over from the recent move to 10 West. The Lightroom team was recently moved onto the same floor as the Photoshop team (I guess in an attempt at “togetherness”). Right: Mark explains that he needed to work on one more Lightroom 2.0 bug before going to the video conference with the Minnesota team, his last such conference.

Here we are in one of Adobe’s video conference rooms on the 8th floor. On the screen is the Adobe Minnesota office’s Frostbite Falls conference room. See this story about the Minnesota office on PSN titled A Visit to the Adobe Lightroom Engineers for an explanation of conference room naming.

The two teams, one in San Jose and the one in Minnesota, reminisced about working with Mark. Some of the stories were funny, some poignant and some were melancholy–but all were good natured.

In an ironic twist, Minnesota actually had some pretty good wine while San Jose only had beer to toast with. I say ironic because most of the time the drinks of choice would be reversed (since Mark and George are a bit wine snobbish).

I lucked out and got a Pilsner Urquell…

Mark and Kevin Conner (right) joke about “life with Mark”. Kevin stated his most memorable aspect of Mark’s career was his pure refusal to accept anything but the best. Mark joked that it was “never too late to change a feature”.

My main comment represented the general consensus of the alpha testers who have worked with Mark over the years; “Be careful what you wish for because you just may get it”–and Mark will make it completely different than you thought it would be.

The last goodbye from Minnesota wishing Mark well.

Mark’s last walk down the Adobe halls (on his way to his Adobe HR exit interview).

We walked out of 345 Park Avenue on the way to the Paragon restaurant where Mark’s going away party was to be held.

VP of Engineering for the Digital Imaging Group, Winston Hendrickson (left) and Kevin Connor, Senior Director of Product Management for the same group (right) hosted the party (and paid for the first two rounds–well, I think they paid for every round actually–there were a lot of rounds).

Here’s Kevin saying a few “words” about Mark’s tenure at Adobe…

…and Mark listening carefully.

Kevin presented Mark with a going away present. A 3D print made by Russell Brown.

On close inspection you can see it says “Mr. Microsoft”. But the 3D part actually shows more…

Here’s the 3D arrangement of image planes (below) showing that Mark is actually holding a sign saying Mr. Lightroom that turns into a sign saying Mr. Microsoft. With fire below of course.

Another parting gift was a guitar (I believe from a Photoshop World keynote or party) signed by the “Photoshop World Dream Team” instructors including Scott Kelby, Dave Cross and others.

If you don’t know, Mark is a bit of a guitar buff (spending a lot more money on guitars than camera equipment).

Winston said a few words, claiming he will always go down as the guy who was Mark’s boss when Mark left Adobe.

Bryan Lamkin, former Senior VP of Adobe’s Creative Solutions Business Unit, showed up to say a few words as well. Bryan retired from Adobe in March of 2006 (see the PSN story)

Sean Parent (center in red: researcher at Adobe Systems and manager of the Adobe Software Technology Lab) recounted the time he had spent working with Mark on Photoshop, including the time he wrote a script on Mark’s computer to turn every iteration of the word Photoshop to be spelled PhotoShop (the intercap was a pet peeve of Hamburg’s).

Russell Brown also talked about the importance of Mark’s contributions to Photoshop.

Mark didn’t seem to mind all the attention.

But Mark’s son Gavin didn’t like so much attention–people with cameras…

Gavin decided to hide.

Gavin was pretty much done (he was hungry). Here is Ann, Mark’s wife getting ready to go to McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant for a last supper.

Kevin was melancholic. Obviously Adobe would have preferred not losing Mark, but Mark had already “made his mark” at Adobe and was looking for a new challenge. Mark on the other hand characterized his departure as the scariest thing he had ever done (and mentioned something about RAIN).

At the restaurant, Winston points out that Mark was missing. Seems the long goodbyes took a long time. Finally Mark showed up.

Zalman Stern (from the Camera Raw team) pours some wine for Ann. I think George picked the wine (he usually does, otherwise he tends to complain about the wine).

Mark was eating oysters (left) while Gavin got his fav grilled cheese.

In a more serious moment, Winston wishes Mark well.

Mark’s now defunct Adobe ID–pretty well worn out.

The next morning, Mark and Ann were due to fly up to Seattle to start house hunting. The prospects were daunting–Mark noted that Seattle had just had snow the previous weekend (April 19/20) and that housing costs in Seattle weren’t a lot cheaper than San Jose. And there’s this thing called “RAIN” up there…

As for Mark leaving Adobe, I wasn’t surprised. Mark had talked about leaving the Lightroom team after 2.0 shipped for the last few months. He felt he had pretty much done what he wanted to at Adobe: 11+ years on Photoshop and almost 6 years on Lightroom. And while Mark is a brilliant coder and conceptually creative in the digital imaging/processing realm, he felt a strong pull to do something completely different. For somebody like Mark, there are really very few options; a startup or going someplace where there are few if any limits. He was heavily recruited by Microsoft and given an unbeatable opportunity to work outside his normal digital imaging field. Mark was invited by David Vaskevitch to come lead a team working on the future of OS User Experience at Microsoft.

This is the way Mark phrased it:
Now, given that I find the current Windows experience really annoying and yet I keep having to deal with it, this opportunity was a little too interesting to turn down. I can’t imagine doing serious imaging anywhere other than Adobe, but, I needed to do something other than imaging for a while.

Mark is leaving the Lightroom team at a time when 2.0 is pretty much done except for the bugs (which Mark was literally working on his last day) and the future of Lightroom is really no longer in doubt. The team that Mark has helped assemble for Lightroom’s development and engineering will now actually be able to step out from underneath Mark’s rather large shadow and take Lightroom where it needs to go.

The raw processing pipeline that Lightroom uses is in the capable hands of Thomas Knoll, Zalman Stern and new hire Eric Chan (and a few others). So there will be no let down there. And Mark has long been gone (but not forgotten) when it comes to Photoshop (although the Photoshop team aways seems to get Mark to try to “explain his code” when they come across something he wrote).

The one thing I noted was the gracious manner in which Mark left and the way everybody at Adobe honestly wished him well. Yes, there was a sense of melancholy and a degree of sadness at Mark’s leaving. But no bridges have been burned and Mark will always have a home at Adobe (hey, Adobe even has a Seattle office if the Microsoft thingie doesn’t work out).

Good luck Mark and best wishes. To Microsoft I’ll only say “be careful what you wish for, you just may get it”…

:~)

 

About Camera Raw 4.1

Posted By Jeff Schewe

Adobe has released Camera Raw 4.1, and rather than a small update just for new cameras, this one is major. New features and new functionality are showing up in a long awaited upgrade of Camera Raw’s sharpening controls, a new control called Clarity, enhanced noise reduction and two new defringing controls in lens correction. All told, there is a surprising amount of “new” in Camera Raw 4.1.


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[Editor’s note: it should be noted that Jeff Schewe was personally involved in the development of Camera Raw 4.1. This article is not an independent review of Camera Raw 4.1 but an explanation of the new tools. Jeff explains at the end of the article how he came to be personally involved. It should also be noted that all the figures contained in the article are available at full size by clicking on the image. You don’t need to click on EVERY image-just those you want to see full sized. PSN regrets that fact that our story formatting requires inline images to be so small]

On the main panel, only the new control called Clarity is visible and I’ll cover that new control later. The big news is the new sharpening functionality in the Detail panel of Camera Raw 4.1 (as shown below).

Camera Raw 4.1 Sharpening


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As with previous versions of Camera Raw, you need to be at a zoom range of 100% (one image pixel for one screen display pixel) to see the effect that the sharpening controls will have on your image. This is an important note as you can change the controls but you won’t see any feedback of what the controls are doing to your image. It’s even more important now that there are more controls in Camera Raw 4.1.

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There are new slider controls for the sharpening;

Amount: as you might expect, Amount is a volume control that determines the strength of the sharpening being applied. It runs from 0 (zero) meaning no sharpening is being applied (this is the default amount set for non-raw images) all the way up to 150. At 150, without adjusting other controls, your image will be pretty much sharpened to death. But it’s because the other controls will alter how the sharpening is applied that the amount goes to 150.

Radius: radius is how many pixels on either side of an “edge” the sharpening will be applied. Camera Raw 4.1′s radius controls goes from a minimum of .5 pixels to a maximum of 3 pixels.

Detail: during development, the team tried to come up with a better name for this, but the word “detail” is at least descriptive. Similar in concept to USM’s threshold (but totally different in application and function) Detail varies how the sharpening attacks your image. If you run Detail all the way to the right (100 setting) CR 4.1′s sharpening will be very similar to Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask. Not exactly, but similar. Running Detail to the left does a halo dampening on the sharpening. Setting Detail all the way to the left (zero) will almost completely pin the sharping edge halo. This is “new tech” and pretty cool.

Masking: as the name suggests, controls an on the fly edge masking creation that will reduce the sharpening of non-edge areas while concentrating the sharpening on edges-which is a principle of “capture sharpening”. The fact that Camera Raw is creating an edge mask on the fly is very way cool. One should note, however, as with Camera Raw’s Fill Light, setting the Masking control above zero will cause a bit of calculation to be done. By default the Masking is set to zero-meaning no masking and no mask being built.


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A hidden preview of each new control is available in 4.1. On Mac, hold the Option key while adjusting a slider. On Windows hold the alt key. On the figure above, holding the option key shows a preview of the luminance data in your image and this is relevant because sharpening is being done not on the color data but luminance data.


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Holding option/alt in Radius shows the effect edge width that the sharpening will be applied to. The “default” Radius setting is 1.


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As shown above, here’s the preview of Radius set to .5 pixels. Shown below the Radius has been set to the max of 3 pixels.


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The figure below shows a preview of the effect of the Detail control while set at the default of 25. Detail is the brainchild (based on a suggestion by Thomas) of Mark Hamburg, founding engineer on Lightroom who worked with Thomas Knoll and the Camera Raw team of Zalman Stern and Michael Jonsson during the development of Camera Raw 4.1. The halo suppression of the Detail control allows you to apply more sharpening without creating ugly light/dark halos around edges. There are some other neato things going on inside of Detail but 1) I don’t really understand them and 2) I can’t talk about them. The best way to see what’s going on is to use the option/alt preview and then examine the effect after setting.


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The two following previews show the effects of Detail set all the way to the left (zero immediately below)…


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…and Detail set to 100 as shown below. With a Detail setting of 100, the halo dampening is turned off and the resulting sharpening is rather similar in effect to Photoshop’s USM. But this is only to give a frame of reference-the settings are not a one-for-one match.


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As shown below, the Masking is set to zero by default, meaning there is no edge mask being built or applied. It would have been nice to develop the ability to auto-select the correct edge mask settings based upon the image itself, but there wasn’t time-this is something you’ll need to set for yourself.


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Shown below is Masking set to the middle setting of 50. The edge mask is being created on the fly from the image itself. This ability to dynamically create edge masking is another offshoot from Mark Hamburg who was inspired by Bruce Fraser’s writings (more about Bruce’s role at the end).


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As shown below, when set all the way up (100) only the edges will be receiving any sharpening-the flat non-edge (sometimes called “surface”) will be severely reduced. Both Masking and Detail can be combined to optimize where and how sharpening is applied to the image-and this is why Amount goes to 150. Increasing the edge mask and reducing the Detail will substantially lower the total effect of the sharpening on an image. I will take a degree of credit for convincing Mark to allow the setting to go to 150-originally it stopped at 100 as the old Camera Raw sharpening did. But by fine-tuning the Detail and Masking, I found settings above 100 that were actually useful. Although truth be told, I’ve never actually found an image that could really look good at 150 (all the way up) regardless of the other settings. But it’s nice to know 150 is there if I ever find an image that needs it.


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As shown below, setting Amount to 150 is “not recommended”. The image here is at a 200% zoom.


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Based upon this image’s particulars, the figure below shows what I feel is optimal sharpening for this image. Remember, the new sharpening controls are not designed nor intended to be all the sharpening that an image may need. Camera Raw 4.1′s sharpening is intended only to be “capture sharpening” that follows with Bruce Fraser’s Sharpening Workflow concept. The intent is to do only the initial “global” sharpening required to optimize an image for further processing. As such, the design is to do “less” than “more” while preserving the ability to edit the image further down the line.


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The figure below shows a screen shot of the processed image at 100% zoom in Photoshop. I think (and we are still testing this approach) that contrary to the old “make it look crunchy at 100%” of the past, the new approach is to make the image “just right” at 100% in Camera Raw & Photoshop. It’s an easier and more visible approach that allows for further work down-stream such as creative sharpening and output sharpening. Stay tuned-I’ll have more info on this in the near future.


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The figure below shows the image at a 25% screen zoom in Photoshop. While not exact, this is at least a bit more realistic in terms of predicting what an image may look like when printed.


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Noise Reduction in Camera Raw 4.1
Thomas Knoll and the Camera Raw team wanted to make improvements in the demosaicing and noise reduction capabilities in Camera Raw 4.1. And while not as revolutionary as the new sharpening, there is indeed an evolutionary improvement in both the demosaicing and Luminance noise reduction. Now don’t get too excited…the new noise reduction is not designed to completely replace 3rd party specialty tools such as Noiseware or Noise Ninja. So, you won’t see magical results running noise reduction on ISO 6400 images and have them look like they were shot at ISO 100. There’s only so much you CAN do within the raw processing pipeline-and only so much you actually want to do.

By default, Camera Raw’s Luminance noise setting remains zero. Also, as with the sharpening settings, to see the effect of Luminance noise reduction you will need to be zoomed to at least 100%-although looking further zoomed in will give you a better idea of what the noise reduction settings are actually doing.


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The figure below shows the Luminance setting at 50 on an ISO 1600 Canon 10D image. Careful examination between these figures will show you the effects at zero, 50 and 100.


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The figure below shows the maximum Luminance noise reduction setting of 100. The noise reduction tries to preserve edge detail while wiping out super high frequency noise. But there will be artifacts between edges and surfaces (non-edge areas) where the lack of noise reduction may be noticable.


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It’s easier to see the results of the noise reduction when zoomed into 200% or more. The three figures below show zero, 50 and 100 Luminance noise settings.


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The figure below shows both Luminance and Color noise reduction settings at zero. You can clearly see the magenta/green color noise that is common with higher ISO digital captures due to the amplification in the analog to digital process.


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The figure below shows what I deem to be optimal Noise Reduction settings. While it doesn’t make this ISO 1600 capture look as good as one shot at 400 or 200 ISO, there is a useful decrease in the noise.


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The image below is a screenshot of the processed image at 100% inside Photoshop. Noise is clearly still visible but the processed shot is better than what one could have achieved with Camera Raw 4.0. But looking at the image at 100% inside Photoshop does not really show you what the image would look like printed.


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The image below is a screenshot of the image at 25% zoom in Photoshop. The screen dithering at 25% is a more accurate prediction of what the sharpening and noise reduction would look like when printed.


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Defringe controls in Camera Raw 4.1
One of the long standing problems with many raw processing applications is how to handle near specular sensor flooding. This flooding seems to add either purple, red or magenta colors in the areas surrounding hot specular highlights. New to Camera Raw 4.1 and found under the Lens Correction tab is a drop down menu selection for Defringe (as shown below).


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There are three options; Off, Highlight Edge and All Edges. As with Sharpening and noise reduction you really only see the effect at 100% zoom or higher.


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The image below shows a section of the water with lots of specular reflection and the dreaded purple fringes. These fringed edges are not the result of chromatic aberrations-they happen because the photosites immediately around the spots that fill to clipping tend to be effected because of the demosaicing process and partially because these photosites get a degree of photon overflow.


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Selecting the Highlight Edges removes most of the color additions caused by problems in the demosaicing but there may still be a degree of fringing.


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Setting to All Edges essentially removes all the fringe effects as shown below. It can have an effect on color saturation in the areas where the defringing is going on so this is something you will want to evaluate on an image by image basis. But for those image such as this example where the color fringing is obvious and a real problem, these new Lens Corrections do a really, really good job.


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Clarity
The word says it all…this new control (one that I’m very fond of since I personally begged and pleaded with Thomas Knoll to put in) is a hybrid of using USM at a low amount and high radius-called Local Contrast Enhancement in an article by Michael Reichmann quoting a technique mentioned by Thomas-and a technique called MidTone Contrast Adjustment taught by Mac Holbert of Nash Editions. Last year during the Epson Print Academy, the MidTone Contrast Adjustment tutorial was one of the most popular of the entire Academy.

Well, on a trip to Ann Arbor to work with Mark and Thomas on sharpening, I got Thomas aside and started working on him. “Thomas, this can’t be too hard to do, right? I mean you’re already doing adaptive image adjustments with Fill Light, how hard would it be to put in an adaptive contrast adjustment?” I asked. He giggled…(and that’s always a real good sign).

Several weeks later he said he had figured out a way to do it and it would be in an upcoming build-it was called “Punch”. And sure enough, it certainly DOES add punch to an image-but in a way you simply can’t do with a curves control because this adjustment actually uses the image itself to make a mask on which to apply the mid tone contrast adjustment. There is a story about how the name changed from Punch to Clarity, but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to tell it publicaly…

The figure below shows Clarity at zero (the default).


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Here the Clarity has been increased to 50…


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…and here all the way up to 100. This is an adjustment that doesn’t need to be previewed at 100% to actually see. But I do suggest you at least look at the image at 100% to see what it’s doing in various areas of your image and to get used to predicting what it will do for and to your images.


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Here’s the image previewed at 100% zoom with Clarity at zero (well, ok, I screwed up the screenshot and Clarity is actually set at 1, but you know what I mean-it’s not really on).


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In the figure below it’s set to 50…


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…and here it’s set to 100.


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In this figure below, I’ve set the Clarity to 30-which I think is just about right. I’ve found that almost EVERY image can do with some Clarity adjustment-I’ve kinda defaulted to about 10 as a basic starting point.


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The figure below shows a 100% zoom crop of a screenshot with the image processed with the settings above and with optimized sharpening and noise reduction settings.


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The figure below shows the processed image at a 25% zoom in Photoshop.


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Summary
I honestly think that with the Camera Raw 4.1 update, it can be argued that Camera Raw 4.1 has now jumped to the top of the heap for raw processing software. The combination of radically improved sharpening, improved demosaicing and noise reduction, the new Defringe functionality and Clarity has made raw processing through Camera Raw 4.1 incredibly powerful and with the potential for the highest image quality.

With the new controls found in Camera Raw 4.0 that unify Camera Raw and Lightroom such as; Hue & Sat controls, B&W conversions, Split Toning, parametric curves and oh yeah, spot healing, I really think there’s nothing else out there that can touch the Camera Raw processing pipeline. And yes, call me biased. Since I had a small role in the development of Camera Raw 4.1, you certainly can’t call me an independent reviewer.

My involvement started last summer when Bruce Fraser, Seth Resnick and I traveled to Ann Arbor to speak at the Photoshop Soup 2 Nuts Conference. Bruce and I hooked up with Mark Hamburg to talk about improving the sharpening functionality in Lightroom and Camera Raw. Mark had been working on some interesting new directions but wanted Bruce to look at what he had done. Mark had viewed Bruce’s involvement as important since Bruce had pretty much designed the Sharpening Workflow that was embodied in PhotoKit Sharpener that PixelGenius released in the fall of 2003. It was decided by Mark, Thomas and Tom Hogarty that Adobe would hire Bruce as a consultant to work with Mark and Thomas and the Camera Raw/Lightroom team. Unfortunately, Bruce passed away last December before he really had the chance finish the consulting and see what Mark had developed. It was agreed that I would step in and finish off Bruce’s consulting. I did my best to add what I thought Bruce would view as important.

This is what Mark Hamburg said regarding Bruce’s involvement…

Bruce Fraser was an invaluable source of insight and penetrating observations. He could look at sharpening results and tell you immediately what was good about them and what was bad about them. He acted as a great reference because he had a strong knowledge of everything that had been tried to date and the strengths and weaknesses of those techniques.
–Mark Hamburg
May 29th, 2007

All of the new controls and functionality will also show up in a soon to be released update of Lightroom. While the capture sharpening has been substantially improved, we still won’t have the final leg of the Sharpening Workflow inside of Camera Raw/Lightroom. But we’re “working on it” (that’s about all I can say at this stage).

So, run, don’t walk to the Camera Raw product page and be ready to download the new Camera Raw 4.1 update-it should also show up in the Adobe Updater (I’m not sure which one will show up first). And if you’ve been on the fence regarding updating to Photoshop CS3, well, jump off that fence dude. Camera Raw 4.1 is big…big I tell ya!