What Photoshop Is Used For Today

We hear a lot about Photoshop being used to make models impossibly thin, or remove every sign of wrinkles from someone’s face. Photoshop is no longer the day-to-day photo adjustment app (that’s Lightroom’s job); but it is an invaluable tool for a certain type of photo related work: masking and compositing.

The image below shows the before and after versions of an image. Clearly the before was shot for graphic design use, as it lacks the foreground element to make it a final image in its own right. However, that’s exactly what’s needed to create the type of commercial image required to advertise this gelato cart business.


This type of image makes it possible to create business cards, brochures, and websites before the cart is actually available. In fact, the “Photoshopping” of the cart into the scene is not the only digital trickery here; the cart does not actually exist, it is a rendering produced prior to building the cart for final okay of paint color and graphics.

If the final image below leaves you hungering for gelato, and you are looking to hire such a cart for a special occasion in the Miami area, contact mritzer@gelatobarista.com, and inquire about availability. Buon appetito!


C. David Tobie

Simplified Multiple Image Deletion in Lightroom CC

Adobe applications are powerful; but the flip side of that power is complexity, and the learning curve needed to master that complexity. In the case of Lightroom one of my ease-of-use complaints has always been that deleting a single image was easy; deleting multiple images was a complex, multiple step process any way that you chose to do it.

In the case of the single image, selecting it, and hitting the delete key brought up a dialog allowing you to simply delete it from the Lightroom library (which I never want to do) or to also delete the underlying file from the drive (which I always want to do). I didn’t object to this choice, as it provided a chance to change your mind about deletion, always a good safety factor. However, the same function was not available with multiple images selected; for that you needed to first flag all the images, then run one or another secondary function to delete the flagged files.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.53.40 PM

Apparently I was not the only photographer who found this unnecessary (after all, there is already a safety function) and wished that I could delete multiple images of my choice at a time via the delete key. Because: it now works the same way for multiple images as for a single photo. How long has it been this way? I can’t say, as I’ve only just discovered this convenience.  But, in case others have not yet stumbled across this luxury, I thought I should post a short article describing it. Happy Deleting, Everyone!

C. David Tobie 2015

Warning: Major Data Loss Potential in Photoshop CS6 & CC2015

As an expert Photoshop user I am meticulous about my processes and I do not expect to lose work. Today I have lost the same job, not once, but twice, before I figured out what was causing the issue. Let me share this “feature” with you before it costs you hours of labor as well.

In Photoshop CC2015, as well as CS6, the dialog box for converting a file from one colorspace to another has a line at the bottom named “Flatten Image to Preserve Appearance”. No matter what well-meaning goals Adobe had for including this box, and defaulting it to checked, the results of doing a conversion of a multilayer file with this box checked can be catastrophic. All text layers are lost as text, all layers are lost as layers, and the resulting converted file is a flattened, one layer image. Unless you notice this change before saving the file, then you have a major data-loss situation

Convert to Profile Window

So, if you value your layers, and all the work they represent, uncheck this box before converting. And from now on keep one eye on the bottom of this window, rather than converting without checking these options, for fear that this option may once again have become active, and ready to lose your layers and your work!

C. David Tobie 2015

Disabling Apple’s Photos App Auto-Launch When Connecting a Phone

Having applications intelligently auto-launch is only helpful if you plan to use the application for that function. Since most advanced photographers use Adobe Lightroom to import and manage their images, having an Apple application offer to import your images is redundant, and can cause multiple copies of images to be stored on your hard drive. Apple’s previous iPhoto app could be set to not auto-launch when your iPhone or iPad was attached to the computer through settings in iPhoto’s preferences. The new Photos app that has replaced iPhoto no longer lists that option, leaving photographers puzzled about how to eliminate this undesired auto-launch.

The answer lies with a seldom-mentioned Apple utility named Image Capture. Launch Image Capture from the Applications Folder (despite it’s Utility-like nature, its not in the Utilities subfolder), and look in the lower left corner.

Clicking on the tiny arrow at the bottom left will open up an option for deciding what application to trigger when your device is connected. Choosing “No Application” will solve the issue. You will need to do this for other phones and tablets you connect to your computer, on a per-device basis.

C. David Tobie

iPhone and Android Get Photoshop Touch Versions

Last year’s release of Photoshop Touch for the iPad brought iOS image editing to a new level. However, the camera in recent iPhone models are superior to those in the iPad, and iPhones are the tools most commonly in-hand for photography. So, lacking a phone version of Photoshop Touch meant being marginalized as a mobile editing tool.

Now Adobe has remedied that situation with new releases of PS Touch specifically for the iPhone and Android. The iPhone version of the app clearly uses the same engine and tools as the iPad version, with new palettes and organization to fit the reduced format of the iPhone screen. This provides a level of control, including powerhouse features such as selections, layers, and warp controls, that have not been available in most iPhone editing tools to-date.


But are these tools what users need for the types of editing most likely to be done on a phone? Yes, and no. Yes, there are certainly times when nothing but powerful tools and localized edits will do the job. But no, these are not the features most often used for phone photo editing.


Phone editing, for the advanced user, has always been a game of hop-scotch, moving from app to app for special features or unique filters. Adding Photoshop Touch to the mix simply adds new, and often familiar, tools to the toolbox, without replacing the apps already used for other types of work.

The image below is a night shot of a tree against a dark sky; difficult territory for the iPhone, with its small sensor, and weak low light capabilities. Here the noise in the sky has been used as a feature instead of a flaw, by enhancing it though a series of edits in NIK Software’s Snapseed app, a leading iPhone and Android image editor.


Below is a version edited with the same intent in PS Touch. Touch allowed some amazing capabilities, including inverting the image for some adjustments, then reinverting afterwards. However, while the image retained more detail, the process was slower and more complex, and the artistic intent was not quite as well served. The lack of border effects in PS Touch also meant that the image would need to be saved and opened in another app, such as Snapseed, for bordering, if that was a desired effect.


Overall PS Touch is a welcome, and affordable, addition to the phone editing toolbox; if not a complete toolbox unto itself. With any iOS image editing, remember to check the image in Datacolor’s color managed SpyderGallery app before publishing, to be sure the color is as you intended it to be.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Gradients and Step Wedges in Photoshop

Two common types of synthetic images created in Photoshop are gradients and step wedges. The most common gradient is an even field, from black to white, to test for the smoothness of your display or print. The most common step wedge set is a set of patches from black to white in a specific number of steps, created from the type of gradient described above.

Color Management has required building synthetic images of these types in Photoshop since time immemorial. This gives us the long memory to recall the changes that have occurred over time, with updated versions of Photoshop.

The first of these changes, which happened along about Photoshop 6 (not CS6) was a change to the algorithm used to define gradients. The Photoshop team felt their linear gradients did not look as smooth as they could, so a S-shaped spline curve was introduced into the process. This did, indeed, improve the visual look of gradients, but it was problematic for technical uses, where a linear gradient was needed. So complaints were lodged, and an update included a checkbox for restoring the earlier, more linear, behavior, where the gradient darkened by the same amount for each unit of distance, rather than feathering at the ends.

More recent versions of Photoshop have added a slider control for adjusting this function. It can be found in the Gradient Editor (which appears when you choose the Gradient tool, then click on the gradient itself in the bar at the top). This slider is named “Smoothness”, and its default setting is 100%. This means “100% smoothed” and is the inverse of “100% linear”; so the Smoothness slider is set to zero to get a linear gradient.

Gradient Smoothness Set to Zero

A visual comparison of a smoothed gradient, and a linear gradient, is the best way to understand the difference between the two.

Smoothed Gradient Above, Linear Gradient Below

This may be of value to those wanting to create test images, and know that one inch across is half as much change as two inches across, but there is another, more practical reason that knowing how to create a linear gradient: such gradients are the basis for creating step wedges as well.

A step wedge is a set of patches, typically squares, with known values, typically running from white to black in 10, or 20, or sometimes 256 steps. Such patches can be measured on screen with a screen colorimeter such as a Spyder, or in print with a patch reader such as SpyderPrint.

Gradients are turned into step wedges by using Photoshop’s Posterize function (Image > Adjustments > Posterize), with the appropriate number of levels selected.

Posterize Window

If a gradient is created at Photoshop’s default smoothness setting, the result will be a set of steps which have longer patches at the ends, and shorter patches near the center, due to the smoothing curve. This can cause a great deal of frustration to someone attempting to build a strip or table of patches with both even sizes, and known values.

Smoothed Step Wedge Above, Linear Step Wedge Below

So the magic control for creating evenly spaced step wedges or target patches is the Smoothness control, hiding in the Gradient Editor. Another key to a good set of step wedges is turning off the Dither option in the Gradient bar, to avoid step wedges with grainy edges, from the dithering applied to the gradient when it was created. To assure gradient edges are vertical, and not stepped a pixel here or there, hold down the shift key while dragging to draw the gradient, to be sure it is exactly straight.  And a final tip (thanks to Ernst Dinkla for mentioning this one) has to do with mathematical precision in your patches: choose 16 bit mode, and 16 bit units, if your number of patches does not divide evenly into your scale of 100 or 255. Keep these tricks in mind, next time you would like an even set of patches; for technical, or just for graphic design, purposes.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

ZDNet picks up CDTobie’s Photo Blog on Retina Display MBP

ZDNet’s logo

ZDNet, a major tech publisher, picked up this blog’s recent series of articles on the Retina display MacBook Pro, and published an article of their own consisting of quotes from my series, with short comments by the ZDNet’s writer David Morgenstern. This is a common ZD practice that follows copyright rules of fair usage. So far the result has been an increase in blog traffic, though it has yet to reach the levels of the first few days after I published those articles.

So on the “turnabout is fair play” theory, I’m writing an article about them writing an article about the articles I’d already written. I hope that is “meta” enough for you. I’ll link Mr. Morgenstern’s piece, but frankly, if you’ve already read my articles on the topic, there’s nothing new there. If you haven’t yet read my pieces: they were good enough for ZDNet, so maybe you should reconsider!

ZDNet’s headline; which may sound fairly familiar…

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page