“An introduction to working NON-DESTRUCTIVELY in Adobe Photoshop.”

“An introduction to working NON-DISTRUCTIVELY in Adobe Photoshop.”

photographers who use Photoshop are very well practiced in using adjustment
layers such as Curves, Levels, B&W, etc. This is the accepted normal
workflow for most of us…BUT we often forget that it is a “DESTRUCTIVE” workflow.
Let me remind you why it is destructive…it creates gaps where there should be
continuous tones. Let me demonstrate this “destruction” to you. I want you to
open a raw file in Photoshop. Now select the curves adjustment layer and
brighten up your image by clicking and holding the middle of the curve line and
moving the curve line toward the top left corner of the curves box. Now look at
your histogram window at the top of your screen, which you should see if you are
in the Photoshop Photography Workspace. Notice there are gaps in the histogram,
indicating the removal or “destruction” of information.

Now select
the levels adjustment layer and drag the little triangle on the right side under
the histogram to the left slightly to brighten up your image. Now look at your
histogram window at the top of your screen, again notice it now has gaps in the
histogram indicating the elimination of information in certain tones.  As you continue to improve your photograph
your are at the same time deteriorating it. This is a problem!

Here is
the solution:

I’m going
to teach you how to work non-destructively in Photoshop using a “Smart Objects”

Here is how to
get started: Open a Raw file in Camera Raw. You will notice when you open a Raw
File into Camera Raw that at the very bottom and in the middle of the Camera
Raw Window there is a line that looks like a Website Link, click on that. Now,
in the Window that opens check the box beside “Open in Photoshop as Smart
Objects”, click “OK”. Camera Raw will now display “Open
Object” instead of “Open Image”, click on “Open
Object” the file will open as a Smart Object in Adobe Photoshop. Double
Click directly on the Smart Object Layer Icon in the Layers Panel, you will see
the Smart Object is sent directly back to Camera Raw for developing. You can
make some creative changes if you wish and then click “OK”. The Smart
Object will be sent directly back to Photoshop along with any changes you made
in Camera Raw.

Now that you are
back in Photoshop right click on the Solid Colour to the right of the Smart
Object Layer Icon and choose “New Smart Object Via Copy”. Now add a
Layer Mask to that new Smart Object Layer by clicking on the little icon at the
bottom of the Layer Panel that looks like a white square with a grey circle in
the centre of it. A white filled Layer Mask Icon will appear to the right side
of the Smart Object Icon. OK now you can develop this second Smart Object image
separately from the Smart Object underneath it. “Why would I need to do
that?” you say. Simple, so that you can have more control over selected
areas of your photograph.

Here is what you
need to do. Double click on the top Smart Object Icon and it will as before
open up in Camera Raw, but this is a distinctly different smart Object than the
one underneath it. Make some creative changes you would like to see in some
parts of the image now click save. Your Smart Object will update in Photoshop.

Click on the
Layer Mask Icon in the Layer Panel (It is all White). Now select the Brush Tool
from the Tools Panel and choose Black from the Color Picker. With a Black Brush
start Brushing areas you want to Conceal from the changes just made in Camera
Raw. By Concealing the Top Layer you are “revealing” the Smart Object below it.
As you Brush on the photograph and you will notice the Layer Mask Icon in the
Layer Panel will actually turn Black where you brush Black. If you want to undo
an area of your photograph that you Brushed Black, change the colour to white
and Brush it White.

If you’ve persisted this far you can see that you are able to process the same
image with two different Smart Objects; process them both differently and pick
and choice with the brush tool which areas you wish to reveal or conceal from
both Smart Objects. It will take some practise to master, but once you do you
will discover that it is a very simple repeatable workflow. You will start to
discover an amazing amount of creative possibility start to open up. You will
also notice smoother colour transitions and much better prints! Congrats! You
are now working non-destructively using Photoshop!

If you’re
interested in more information about best practises using Adobe Lightroom or
Photoshop you’re welcome to contact me.

I offer one on one
lessons and small group classes.


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