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30 Day of CS5: Cool Improvements

Several minor improvements to Photoshop CS5 offer subtle, yet important, benefits to photographers. As part of their “Just Do It” initiative (JDI), Photoshop engineers took a break from building new features to address annoyances and make changes proposed by Photoshop users. Here are two of my favorite JDI changes and a third updated feature you’ll find valuable for your workflow.

Save 16-bit JPEG as 8bpc I work primarily in a Lightroom>Photoshop workflow and when I export images from Lightroom into Photoshop, I export images in ProPhoto RGB and 16bits/channel to fully preserve image quality and content. Unfortunately, I often forget to convert from 16/bits/channel to 8 bits/channel when I save Web JPEGs. Fortunately, Photoshop now remembers and will take care of this down-conversion automatically through the Save As command.

Straighten button to ruler tool I have a bad habit. My horizons consistently drop to the left. When shooting on a tripod, I use a bubble level to ensure my horizons are straight, but this isn’t always practical. Sometimes, I have to fix my horizons in Photoshop. CS5 makes this much easier than previous versions.

1) Select the Measure tool from behind the Eyedropper in the Tool panel.

2) Click and drag along an edge that should be horizontal or vertical. Photoshop will use this as your reference line for straightening your image.

3) Click on the Straighten button in the Options Bar and Photoshop will automatically straighten your image and crop out the blank edges of the frame created by the image rotation. Pretty sweet, isn’t it!

Protect detail with Sharpen tool Over the past several years, photographers have migrated away from sharpening their images in a single pass toward a multi-pass sharpening workflow. Most photographers today sharpen lightly in their camera raw processor and perform a final sharpening pass for the specific output size and output medium. A few photographers add an optional third pass in the middle of the workflow to sharpen their image selectively to accentuate specific, key details within their images. For photographers performing this third round of sharpening, the improvements to the Sharpen tool will be a welcome improvement to the process. The Sharpen tool, hidden behind the Blur tool, was rarely used by professional photographers because it tended to excessively sharpen fine detail, leaving visible halos on the image. With Photoshop CS5’s new Protect Detail feature, the sharpening tool gives a far more natural effect and is a valuable asset for creative sharpening your photos.

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