Monday, March 29, 2010

Beta Testing Adobe Photoshop CS5 - WOW

Adobe has unleashed the hounds and given permission for its Beta Testers to talk about their experiences using PhotoShop CS5. Take a look at the past ten posts or so and you’ll see the power of some of the new arrows we’ll have to put in our quivers. There are a couple caveats Adobe has put on our talking about it. No one is allowed to show the interface, and we can’t say what the tool or routine’s name is that we’ve used. Guess they’re saving something for the grand reveal. Today’s image, and the last post, use one of the most talked about new tools that’ll make the price of the upgrade pretty much a “no brainer” (for me at least). What I will tell you about today’s panorama is that it would have been much thinner without CS5. I’ve tried this new feature on several images (panoramas mostly) and I can report that you do need the right image for it to work “as advertised”. Today’s image is a great example of the “right” sort of image. The sky could have been much more complex, but the lower half works amazingly well. The shift in color and light, the randomness of the detail and the repetition of the pattern make the math doable for CS5. Not every image will produce such excellent results. I’ve had a couple that just cracked me up. It reminded me of being back at Intel, doing demonstrations of early speech recognition software. I’d read from a script something like “I sat and wrote a letter” only to have it come up on the screen as “Is that Ann won’t let her”. You can, sort of, fit one into the other, but the computer translation really isn’t what was said. The photographic results are equally amusing. Like I said, it has to be the right image. It you’re interested in some general information about today’s image, hit the “read more”.
I’ve read all sorts of “hard and fast” rules about making panoramas. Some of the folks who were adamant about following “the rules” have come around, but others are just as obstinate as ever. The number of panos I’ve taken on a tripod, leveled, on manual, fixed focus and manually stitched number in the zeros. I just haven’t done it. I have shot on a leveled tripod. But, that has to be the exception rather than the rule. Typically I hand hold, rotate around my waist, make sure I overlap the views and, literally, hold my breath. I almost always shoot in Aperture Priority mode. It’s easy enough to change shutter speed through F-Stop control and it allows me to make the decisions and let the camera do the math.

I do have the earliest panorama I believe I ever took framed and hanging. I just looked it up and it was made eleven years ago. It’s about 4” x 12”, taken with a 4 MP (slightly more than) a point and shoot camera and stitched probably using Microsoft “Picture It” software. You can see the vignette of each frame, even though I spent hours trying to get rid of them. Is it a “great picture”? No, but it’s still a great memory. Making panoramas has come a long way since the image along the St. Lawrence in 1999, and CS5’s celebrated new feature makes another giant stride forward.