‘Essential Photoshop’ 18 September 2018   

AL squirrelTuesday evening saw the club welcome Allen Lloyd ARPS AWPF for a talk on image processing using Adobe’s Photoshop programme.  Allen had travelled over from Caldicot in Monmouthshire, via the Severn Bridge, causing the Chairman to remark that Allen would have to pay to get home!
Allen has had an interest in photography from a very early age, inspired by his father producing prints in his kitchen.  By the age of 12 he was helping his father in his makeshift darkroom in a section of their garage.   Over the years he went on to produce images in his own darkroom, his speciality being Landscape and Steam Railway.  With the transition to digital systems he also branched out into wildlife photography with a penchant for birds.   He took early retirement from a long career in teaching to focus his energies in photography, which includes the provision of one-to-one courses, either in indoors with Photoshop, or outdoors in Wales’ glorious scenery.

Allen is self-taught in Photoshop and Capture One Pro, but it was in Photoshop that he came to share his considerable skills.  As many of us will know, Photoshop is an enormously powerful and complex programme, sitting alongside its sister processing programmes of Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom, and would take many weeks to cover it in its entirety.  So, Allen focused on just 6 key tools/adjustments; Noise, Levels, Shadows/Highlights, Healing, Cropping and Transform.

AL cloneWhat Allen was able to clearly convey (no doubt a result of his teaching background) was his particular ‘workflow’ and the reasoning behind it.  For example, he will always tackle ‘noise’ first as this detrimental product of shooting images, particularly at higher ISOs, increases with each step in processing, therefore it makes sense to start with the lowest noise possible.  Next he demonstrated the superior flexibility and subtle control afforded by adjusting an image’s tonality range, highlights and shadows by using ‘Levels’.  This method produces a much more nuanced result rather than the broad-brush approach achieved with the more basic ‘Highlights’ and ‘Shadows’ sliders.

Next he tackled that area associated with getting rid of our mistakes!  Namely the ‘Healing’ tools.  Here we learnt the utility of the ‘Lasso’ tool in conjunction with the ‘Content Aware’ fill.  This was expanded upon with the use of ‘Layers’ to deal with issues in more complicated regions of an image.  Despite Allen’s recommendation to deal with ‘Noise’ first, he went on to say that if an image required work to correct mistakes, he would tackle this first in case he wasn’t able to achieve the desired corrections, thereby wasting time carrying out all the other work to reach this stage.  Yet another advert to us photographers to get the image correct in-camera first!
What followed was a shorter piece on ‘Cropping’, but again Allen was able to demonstrate the wider utility of this tool, including ADDING space to an image (utilising ‘Content aware’); this was a bit of a revelation to the audience.  This blended well with the final stage of his presentation which revealed the power of the ‘Transform’ tool.  Using the ‘Transform-Distort’, in conjunction with the ‘Transform-Scale’ tools, he was able to correct what many of us suffer from when shooting architecture with a wide-angle lens - namely converging verticals! 

Overall Allen gave us an excellent presentation on the power of Photoshop and his techniques for fine tuning his images, although he was at pains to point out that
Photoshop has several differing menu routes to achieve the same ends, so we barely scratched the surface of this powerful tool. Nonetheless, we should all be better equipped now in getting our images to a higher processed standard.  And Allen is certainly able to walk-the-walk as well as talk-the-talk as his gallery will testify.
It’s highly likely that many of us will be re-visiting images for a bit of re-processing! CP                                                                               
Images © Allen LLoyd ARPS AWPF