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5 Observations from Photoshop World Orlando 2011

As a Photoshop user for nearly 15 years, I attended Photoshop World 2011 looking to add to my knowledge. Here are my 5 observations.

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by Eric Sharp

Photoshop World made its way to our neck of the woods a couple weeks ago.

With such comprehensive knowledge and inspiration only being 30 minutes from ProtoFuse’s headquarters, it was a no-brainer to leave the team behind for a few days (sorry guys) and attend at the Orange County Convention Center.

Though the conference certainly appeals to photographers, the workshops, classes and expo focused on a wide range of Photoshop fundamentals, resources, tricks and new features released in the latest version (Adobe CS5). Regardless of your craft (Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Print Designer, Retouching Artist, etc), there was opportunity to sharpen your Photoshop skillset and therefore become a more efficient creative resource for your clients.

Plus, it was just cool to be around thousands of other Photoshop geeks. Some of the best gurus in the world walked that convention center — a very humbling experience in itself.

Here are a handful of observations I took away from Photoshop World 2011 in Orlando!

#1) Shortcuts, Shortcuts, Shortcuts

Shortcuts are a wonderful thing. Just as websites try to eliminate clicks with clear hierarchy and organization, shortcuts in the world of software also help eliminate clicks & increases user proficiency.

Julieanne Kost held a Creative Composition session and was rattling off shortcuts faster than I could write them down! Here are a couple new ones I learned (note > these reference a PC keyboard):

  • X KEY = Toggles from Foreground to Background color
  • ALT + RIGHT MOUSE drag Left/Right = Adjusts Brush Size
  • ALT + RIGHT MOUSE drag Up/Down = Adjusts Brush Softness
  • You can duplicate a mask in the Layers panel by simply dragging it onto another layer (holding ALT key)

#2) Black and White Photography doesn’t stop at Desaturation

I feel slightly embarrassed admitting this, but I thought B&W photography was simply about going to the menu Adjustments > Desaturate and Voilà!

That it is…right? Shame on you Eric.

Adding a Black & White Adjustment layer is just the beginning. Though your image looks b&w on screen, you still have the ability to tweak the color in the image. Darken the blacks, lighten the whites, tweak the reds, yellows, etc.

If I had a penny for every time I heard “adjustment layer” and/or “channels” throughout those 3 days, I’d have enough coin to buy Starbucks tomorrow morning. It’s obviously a very powerful aspect of Photoshop and the pros are evangelistic about it!

My dog Yogi helped me exaggerate the technique above. Isn’t he handsome?

#3) Start shooting in RAW

I’m a novice photographer, so again, I’m ignorant to these types of details. I’m not going to list out reasons WHY you should (I’ll let you Google that), but a common process I kept observing was the ability to take a RAW image and directly edit in Adobe Camera RAW. This was extremely beneficial while creating Smart Objects within Smart Objects.

Note to self: stop shooting in JPG format

#4) Extracting hair is NOT a mystical technique

Extracting people’s hair from a background can be one of the most difficult, and infuriating, techniques to master.

Using REFINE EDGE is a great start, but the steps after refine edge are where the magic happens. There’s been a need for this technique with many of the websites we’ve built — extracting hair from a stock photo so it overlays a background image without the fuzz around it. Next time I’ll certainly feel more confident that it can be done while retaining supreme detail in those curls, waves & little frizzies.

This session with Ben Willmore was packed! Understandably so.

#5) 3D capabilities are extremely powerful

Wow. This is one area of Photoshop that I need to become more acquainted with. From logos to headline text, the tools go fairly deep in allowing you to stylize and customize your design.

The Expo’s floor had ongoing sessions – non-stop information!

#5.1 Protect your laptop’s Power Adapter pre-conference

Thanks to my other dog Klondike, I was 100% reliant on my battery life for Day 1. Have a backup! (if you have a teenage dog with an appetite for wires)

My MacBook’s Power Adapter – KLONDIKED!

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