Activate the camera-Photoshop partnership

Think like your digital camera. What does that mean? Read on!

Photographers from the darkroom ages learned to take pictures in a way to facilitate further improvements in the darkroom. They would "expose for shadows and develop for highlights."

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We, too, should take pictures in such a way that easily enables further improvements with software like Adobe Photoshop. Before you take a picture, do you adjust your technique with Photoshop in mind? And how does knowing that Photoshop

First you have to know its core capabilities, and then you need to consider and adjust for them based upon a scene's needs.

For a scene with important highlights, you might underexpose one half stop knowing that you can later use Photoshop's fill light feature to open up shadows. Or you might expose normally but shoot in the RAW file format, and use the highlight recovery function to hold highlight detail. It should be a given to shoot in the RAW mode when the lighting is tricky and may require extensive adjustment.

Shoot knowing that you can selectively address specific scene problems, opening up shadows, darkening distractions, blurring backgrounds, replacing skies, and more. Knowing that you can change scene emphasis should encourage you to take pictures of subjects that may otherwise seem unworthy.

If your camera has trouble maintaining highlight detail like in this mug, know that you can open even jpeg images in Camera RAW and use the Recovery function to restore some lost highlight detail.

With the high dynamic range (HDR) technique, at long last high contrast is yielding to technology. Now when you spot a white dog sleeping on a sunlit porch below a black cat in the shaded window you can take take two to five pictures at different exposure settings (lighter, normal, darker) to use the high dynamic range (HDR) function. With it you can combine pictures to extend dynamic range, thus reveal detail in shadows and highlights of a very contrasty scene. This is something that was almost impossible to achieve ten or more years ago.

If you don't always trust your camera's white balance function, you can either custom white balance your exposure during picture taking or as here, place a white balance tool in the scene and click on it in Photoshop using the white balance tool in Camera RAW or the white eye dropper in Photoshop's Levels function.

Next up? Breathtaking vistas. No longer need they be constrained in a single shot. Now Photoshop and other programs let you take and later combine multiple shots to form panoramas and stitched images whose resolution can be high enough to create billboards. Stitched pictures holding a billion pixels have been made.

Although the camera makes only photos, Photoshop filters and other functions can transform images into painterly subjects. Sometimes a scene fails as a photo but might succeed as a Photoshop "painting" or other Photoshop artifice.


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