Column - Digital Media Tools
Adobe Photoshop CS and Wacom Intuos2
The best just keeps getting better.
For more than fifteen years I have been saying that Apple should buy Adobe
and make the Adobe applications available only on the Mac. Once again I feel
like saying it because no digital photographer (which very soon will mean
all photographers) can ignore the superiority of Adobe PhotoShop for manipulating
his images and making them be what he had intended when he pressed the shutter,
or to enhance them to another level far beyond their origin.
PhotoShop CS is a milestone in software development for digital photography.
And I hate it when PC users say to me, "I can do the same thing on my PC".
I want PhotoShop to be an exclusively Mac product. Here are the ten most
important new features of PhotoShop CS (according to Adobe).
Improved File Browser - Quickly preview, tag, and sort
images; search and edit metadata and keywords; and automatically share batches
of files from the improved File Browser.
It isn't as elegant as iPhoto but it sure beats its pants off in the features
that serious photographers want category. Actually a great no-nonsense browser,
I still prefer iPhoto for organizing my image library and giving me the sense
that I know where everything is though.
Match Color command - Achieve a consistent look between
package shots, fashion photos, and more by instantly matching the color scheme
of one image to another.
Ever had a terrible shot that had the exposure just right and a good shot
that was over or under and color balanced wrong, well you can now tell the
software to take a look at the first one and give it's values to the second
one. If you have a whole batch of images that need to be shown together this
could literally save you days of work matching all the images.
Histogram palette - Monitor changes to your image in the
Histogram palette, which dynamically updates as you make adjustments.
If you are a Histogram freak this will make your day. Not only are the Histogram
palettes in one place now, they also operate in real time and show you a
ghost of the old setting while displaying the position of the new setting.
Time to break out the champagne.
Shadow/Highlight correction - Quickly improve the contrast
of over- or underexposed areas of an image while preserving the overall balance
of the photo using Shadow/Highlight correction.
This function, as they say, makes it all worth the price of admission. It
is unbelievable how easily this simple little function makes a bad photograph
into a good one. No more masks, no more agonizing for hours over the right
settings. Just slide the lever and the shadows disappear. Some photographers
might even fire their assistants and throw away their reflectors.
Text on a path - Create eye-catching typography by placing
text on paths or within shapes. Edit the text at any time, even in Adobe
The advantages of this are self explanatory and mostly aimed at poster producing
graphic artists but even the rankest amateur will be able to produce a better
Integrated digital camera raw file support - Get truer,
higher quality output by working with the complete raw data files from most
major digital camera models.
For serious amateur photographers and professionals this was the most wanted
change and it hasn't been a disappointment. Having full RAW support is now
a must for all serious digital imaging software. The interface is well thought
out and thorough.
I personally recommend that all users of high end digital cameras, especially
DSLRs, still buy, update, and use the software developed by their camera
manufacturers because not everything is equal in the world of RAW. But I
also recommend using PhotoShop CS and imagine that most everyone that has
both will end up using PhotoShop CS the majority of the time or in combination
with the camera manufacturer software.
Comprehensive 16-bit support - Perform more precise editing
and retouching with expanded support for 16-bit images in core features,
including layers, brushes, text, shapes, and more.
As mentioned above, Adobe did an incredible job of producing the most all
around useful digital photography manipulation software available at this
time. There are some individual features that are taken further in other
digital image manipulation software but not in combination with all the features
present in PhotoShop CS.
Layer Comps - Create design variations for clients more
efficiently by saving different combinations of layers within the same file
as Layer Comps.
Another feature that will be hard to comprehend by anyone not working in
the commercial art world, but appreciated by those who do.
Macromedia Flash file export - Use ImageReady CS to create
Macromedia(r) Flash(tm) (SWF) animations, complete with vector artwork and
A juicy bone for the multi media users and a tip of the hat to Macromedia.
Customizable keyboard shortcuts - Customize, save, and print a summary of
your ideal set of keyboard shortcuts, so the functions you use most are always
at your fingertips.
Some day I will learn to use the keyboard rather than the mouse, or maybe
Wacom Intuos2 Tablet
The Wacom tablet I am using at the moment is the 9x12 inch model. At first
I thought it was kind of big, with what seems like a very large border around
the active area but once you get used to it, you understand why the extra
real estate is necessary, it just makes it more comfortable to use. You can
really lean into it just like working on a drafting table and have a place
to overhang and tape your artwork for tracing.
The 9x12 area is ideal for a 17" monitor and even with the wide screen of
the 17" PowerBook I never seem to run out of room. The mouse has over 1000
increments of seamless pressure and the overall responsiveness and accuracy
of the tablet has to be experienced to be appreciated.
I won't go into technical details here (you can find that on the internet
at www.wacom.com) but have to mention that for DSLR photographers this tablet
and Photoshop CS make the job of getting rid of blemishes, unwanted bits
and bobs, and those pesky CCD dust spots a breeze.
I am running out of room in this column but will give further reports of
PhotoShop CS in upcoming columns and if Wacom will allow me more test time
on their products I will give further reports on them too. I don't want to
give the Wacom back.
Next column - a comparison report of some of the best external FireWire drives
available. LaCie d2 200MB, Maxtor OneTouch, the IceCube HD drive case, and
Sarotech HD drive case.