Whether you love or hate Photoshop, it is transforming photography and how photography is perceived. Many of you reading this may be more experienced with Photoshop than I am, but you might gain insight from the Photoshop masters who have helped me in the digital interpretation of my father pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde’s photographs, as well as the journey I have been on in the process.
“Most of Ansel Adams’ iconic images required greater printing skills than most photographers possess,” John Sexton said in the newly released book, Ansel Adams in the National Parks. (Be sure to catch the upcoming Landscape Photography Blogger review of this excellent new book about arguably the best black and white printer of the 20th Century.) John Sexton is a master black and white darkroom printer and was Ansel Adams’ photographic assistant in the 1970s. Landscape photographer Carr Clifton and other acknowledged Photoshop masters such as Terrance Reimer of West Coast Imaging, Kim Reed of Reed Photo Imaging, David Staley, Jr. of Outdoor Plus Digital Photo Lab and Ed Cooper, who was also a pioneer mountaineer and large format photographer and now works mainly on restoring his own color shifted early Kodak large format film, these Photoshop experts have all helped me work on Dad’s photographs. Future blog posts will feature some of them. These five gentlemen have a combined Photoshop experience of over 60 years. Even so, matching the printing of my father’s black and white silver gelatin, color dye transfer or color Cibachrome and Ilfochrome prints, has been a challenge for even these very best in the business.
Fortunately Carr Clifton was a friend and neighbor of Dad’s for over 35 years and a photographic protege as well. With the color prints that Carr Clifton has made, we have improved on a number of Dad’s prints, a large number are essentially nearly as good or equal and a small number of Dad’s prints just can’t be matched without whole days of time invested tinkering in Photoshop. Typically in our process in the last two years, after Carr Clifton finished his master work on Dad’s images, I took the finished prints and put them in front of some of the top gallerists in the world representing landscape photography and Dad’s professional landscape photographer friends. Then I often returned to Carr Clifton for more tweaking. However, from now on I need to do more and more of the Photoshop work myself rather than outsourcing it. I also intend to do all Photoshop work on my own photographs. This puts pressure on me to learn 10 years worth of skills in a year or two or less. I have to become one of the best Photoshop masters ever in crash course fashion, to have what it takes to work on Dad’s photographs. In the midst of fulfilling my many other obligations, over the last year I have been looking around and learning, gearing up for an inevitable transition to me doing most of my Photoshop work. I will share here some of the resources I have found that I like. If I forget any resources that I ought to have included, please chime in and tell me about those that have helped you.
Carr Clifton himself recommends Lynda.com because he says it teaches all levels of Photoshop skills, even the most advanced fixes to difficult problems. Lynda.com also sells a video called, “Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography.” After meeting Bob and Betty Reed of Reed Photo Imaging in Denver, who print for John Fielder and David Muench, and meeting their son Kim Reed, the technical backbone of the business and a Photoshop genius, I bought Kim Reed’s Photoshop course called, Inside The Master’s Circle Training: Adobe Photoshop Edition. Kim Reed and John Harris, the course’s instructors, according to the DVD’s back matter, “have been retouching images for renowned fine artists and Fortune 500 companies since the early pioneering days of digital imaging.” I have only started the course and had a few short lessons from Kim himself, but from what I have seen so far the presentation is easy to follow and covers A to Z everything photographers need to master. (See a future blog post for a specific review of this DVD set.)
At the end of 2008, I first started learning to use Photoshop by purchasing Elements and attending a three evening basic class through the Boulder Valley School District’s Life Long Learning For Adults program. The teacher recommended the Classroom In A Book series for learning Photoshop. I also bought Teach Yourself Visually: Restoration and Retouching with Photoshop Elements 2. In time I graduated to Photoshop proper and now have a large list of e-books that my computer guy downloaded for me, but I have not yet had a chance to read. I also have several printed books on Photoshop Lightroom 2.
Speaking of Lightroom, recently I was browsing around on blogs and ran across Rob Sheppard’s new blog called Nature and Photography. I remember him as the former Editor and now Editor At Large of Outdoor Photographer who had published articles about Dad numerous times and without hesitation paid Dad’s rather high minimum licensing fee for using Dad’s photographs. Ah, how times have changed, and Rob Sheppard has too. He is producing a range of interesting new books and materials as he freelances and photographs. In one blog post he discussed the use of Photoshop 9 with Lightroom. What he had to say is surprising. Here’s a taste:
Adobe just announced Photoshop Elements 9 last week, and this is a very significant upgrade that does affect digital photographers, including nature photographers. It now allows us to do some things that make work easier for certain techniques, such as double-processing RAW (really an important technique for nature photographers — more below). I have been working with the beta for a few months as I worked on a book about it, Top Tips Simplified, Photoshop Elements 9. I believe that most photographers using Lightroom and Photoshop Elements work on images more effectively and more quickly than any but the most proficient users of Photoshop…
That is a strong claim and well-substantiated by the rest of his informative post. Also in the Lightroom vein, Mark Graf on his Notes From The Woods blog, posts a link to a site called Lightroom Killer Tips as well as an extensive resource called Photoshop News. Robert Rodriguez, Jr. on his Beyond The Lens Blog, posts great videos on various Photoshop methods and other topics. Here’s one called, “Controlling Exposure and Blending in Photoshop.” Jim M. Goldstein keeps us informed with dozens and dozens of posts on Photoshop, it’s uses, techniques, and darker side. Master landscape photographer Lewis Kemper teaches Photoshop classes through several organizations and offers a superb Photoshop Training DVD set. For more on Lewis Kemper and his expertise see the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog: Lewis Kemper.”
Guy Tal’s Web Journal On Landscape and Images, often holds forth more on the philosophy of digital print making and landscape art, than on specific methods or strategies, though he covers those too. He is a crusader on behalf of the good that can be done with Photoshop and its possibilities versus old printing and developing technologies that a nostalgic minority work to hold over from the film era. Michael E. Gordon wrote an excellent review of Guy Tal’s new e-book, “Creative Landscape Photography,” that shares more on Guy Tal’s approach. Stay tuned for the soon upcoming Landscape Photography Blogger review of “Creative Landscape Photography” as well.
One of the finest teachers I have seen yet of digital landscape photography is Michael Frye. His popular and entertaining blog posts called the Photo Critique Series offer some of the best advice available today on how to whip your photographs into shape. They also encourage a lively discussion that is the most energizing and interesting aspect of all, particularly with Michael’s experienced moderation. Here’s one recent post in the series and another here to give you a sense of how it goes.
If you choose to go beyond landscape photography there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of resources out there. I will share one top quality one here: Chromasia. Anyone who wants to be impressed by a professional, high-traffic photoblog, go see this expression of the new era in which we now live. You may not even like what David J. Nightingale can do to photographs, but you will know you are seeing something that not many can do, though he does offer a full range of tutorials and coaching, so look into that too if you like too.
If I know you or I don’t know you and you provide a significant or even minor amount of Photoshop teaching, tools or some form of skill development, please don’t take it personally that I did not include you here in this post as I am typing into the wee hours and going bleary-eyed. Please do take two minutes to add a link and short, tastefully helpful blurb about your offering in the comments below.