Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Refine Mask Rocks

I’m still playing with the new features of Adobe Photoshop CS5. Every time I turn around I find something else to mess with. Today it was the updated “Refine Mask” dialog box. Today’s image was “interesting” but we were there on a day with a slightly overcast sky that was nothing to write home about. There was enough there that I couldn’t do a quick and dirty Darker Color Blend Mode and get away with it. I went with the old standby of using the Image/Calculations dialog box and had a decent mask in less than a minute. When I looked a wee bit closer I noticed it could use just a little help on some fine edges. I’d seen NAPP’s newest Photoshop TV episode and heard the guys extolling the virtues of the Refine Mask feature improvements. Right clicked on the Layer Mask and opened that sucker up. Really, really nice set of controls there. Slide all the sliders from max to min to see what the effect of each one was before I settled in to using a lighter hand at the controls. Pushed and pulled until the mask was pretty sweet. To get an idea of some of my observations about CS5 so far, hit the “read more”. I was talking to a couple friends last night and each asked what was it about CS5 that would want to make them do the upgrade. To the first, I said Content Aware Fill. I explained what it was and how it worked but he was pretty skeptical. He said “yea, but it can’t do a very good job figuring out what’s behind the object you’re removing, right?”. I told him it does an amazing job on the right image. I have tried a couple that cracked me up when I saw the outcome, but given the right image, it’s nuts. One was a pano of Boothbay Harbor, Maine. The dock I was standing on snuck into the right hand side of the frame. Before doing the Content Aware Fill to draw in the gaps made by the stitching of the individual shots I would have bet you dollars to donuts (that used to be a much better bet) it would screw up the dock and I’d have to crop it out. I about fell on the floor when I saw what CAF did. There was the dock, extended to the edge of the frame, properly. My jaw dropped I’m sure. Content Aware Fill (on the right image) just plain works.

The second fellow is big into HDR (High Dynamic Range). I told him CS5 has HDR Pro. He wanted to know how it compared to HDRSoft’s Photomatix. I told him I thought they were about equal as far as getting the HDR images ready for work in Photoshop, but between the lack of noise produced by Photoshop HDRPro, getting rid of ghosting and decontaminating colors, I thought Photoshop HDRPro was the winner.

A third friend is a paint and canvas artist along with being a very good photographer. His work hangs in some serious galleries. I told him about the natural bristle brushes and paint Mixer Brush and his eyes went wide. He immediately figured out he could now use Photoshop CS5 for his “serious” art work.

All in all, they were impressed by my tales of “strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff, oh.. Puff the Magic…” (Never mind.) It’s very cool stuff and I want to know how I can a job as an Adobe Evangelist. Just the title sounds so cool. It’s all good.


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