I recently joined the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. NAPP has been an extremely valuable resource for helping me hone my Photoshop skills. If you are comfortable using Photoshop but want to take your game to the next level, I highly recommend joining NAPP. The member magazine, Photoshop User, is full of product reviews, interviews, tips, and tutorials. Practice files for the tutorials can be downloaded from the website so you can follow along with the same files used in the magazine. Photoshop User TV is a weekly video podcast in which The Photoshop Guys (Scott Kelby, Dave Cross and Matt Kloskowski) discuss Photoshop and demonstrate loads of valuable tricks, tips, and tutorials. Members get access to all previous shows.
NAPP has introduced me to it’s president and co-founder, Scott Kelby. Scott has written extensively about Photoshop and is the Training Director at his company, Kelby Training. I recently picked up two of Scott’s recent Photoshop books, Scott Kelby’s 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop and The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book for Digital Photographers.
I’ve only completed the first of 21 lessons in the 7-Point System book, but so far I am very impressed!
The premise of the book is simple: take what would be a throw away shot and process it into something amazing; make blah shots brilliant. The twenty-one lessons each start with a RAW file and guide you through the digital workflow in a series of clear steps. Scott teaches all the techniques and tools required to fix each lesson’s photo, instead of focusing on just one or two topics. The files used in the book are downloaded from Kelby Training so the user can follow along.
The book addresses what Scott says are the three biggest problems people have with editing their photos in Photoshop.
(1) They open a photo, and they know it looks bad, but they have no idea where to begin to fix it. They don’t know what to fix first,what to fix next, or even how.
(2) If they already have a book on Photoshop (including one of mine), and they read about using something like Curves or Camera Raw, they can somewhat fix their photos while the book is open in front of them, but if they come back to Photoshop after their next shoot (which might be three days–or three weeks–later), they’ve pretty much forgotten what they learned three weeks ago, and now they’re back to reading the book again, so things are moving really slowly, and that’s very frustrating for them. What they learned doesn’t “stick”.
(3) They know Photoshop can fix their problem–they know it can not only make their photos look at least as good as it looked when they originally took the shot, it can make them look even better–they’re just not sure which buttons and sliders will get them there.
I consider myself an intermediate Photoshop user; I hope this book will introduce me to tools and technique I can use to make my own images really pop.
The picture above is the before shot from lesson one. It’s flat and gray. Usually this photo would be marked as reject and discarded. After following the thirty steps in Lesson 1, the picture is remarkably improved and looks quite good. I learned a bunch, even about tools I use every day. Some of the tools and techniques that I hadn’t used before are: using the Threshold dialog to select the lightest area of the photo so that you can properly set the highlights in the curves dialog, Smart Filters, Gradient Adjustment Layers, the Photo Filter, and using Lab Color channels along with Apply Image to punch up the color.
Lesson 1 was fun and did a great job of introducing me to new tools in Photoshop that I will be able to use to improve my own photos. I’m excited to go through the other twenty lessons and to see the improvements in my own work.