I remember going to the 1990 Boston MacWorld Expo, and being blown away by a demonstration at the Adobe booth of a relatively new program called Photoshop. My own Mac at the time was a black and white Classic that had 2MB RAM, which, I’m pretty sure, wasn’t even enough memory to allow for the display of a real photograph on the screen. Needless to say, I was very intrigued by this new software, that could not only disply images on the computer, but edit them as well.
Now, seventeen years later, Photoshop v.10, better known as CS3 has just been released and I am as impressed by this version as I was when I saw it for the first time. Having been a Photoshop user ever since I got my hands on version 3, I have seen the product go through an amazing evolution. Over the years, Photoshop has not only allowed photographers to edit and adjust their images with more advanced tools and features, it has singlehandedly defined photography in the modern era. Photoshop is a household word, synonimous with the concept of digital photography itself, and for pros, there is simply no substitute.
With CS3, Photoshop has finally arrived and matured for the professional digital photographer. With the release of CS2, pro digital photography was still in somewhat of a developing stage and many shooters were still adapting to the new medium and establishing their own workflows. In some ways, they didn’t know exactly which new software features would proove the most beneficial in their workflow, because they were still figuring out what they needed. Back then, there were still photographers who had not yet made the transition from film to digital.
Now, as with many of us well along in the learning curve of digital photography, and with camera technology being where it is, we have a much better idea of we want and what we need in an image editing program. We have learned which features will make our workflow run more smootly and Adobe not only listened, they delivered.
CS3 is loaded with an array of new features which are sure to provide tremendous time saving benefits to the digital photographer. Starting with a complete redesign of the workspace, Photoshop’s new palette system is designed to allow for customized organization of the tools you use the most, and with its docking features, it allows you to condense the palettes you aren’t currently using into small icons so that they aren’t taking up valuable space on your expensive monitior.
Perhaps the first feature that most of us will benefit from is the updated Adobe Camera Raw window. With the ability to more finely adjust the levels and color of your RAW images (as well as JPEG’s and TIFF’s now), before opening them up in Photoshop, CS3 allows you to take even more advantage of the high dynamic range of shooting in RAW, with the addition of three great new exposure sliders: recovery, fill light and vibrancy, in addition to a host of new secondary adjustments. Lightroom users will recognize these new sliders, as Photoshop and Lightroom share the same raw conversion technology. Having tried out the beta version of CS3 for a couple of months, I became spoiled by the updated ACR and am excited to have it back now that I’ve gotten the full version.
My favorite so far is the dust spotting feature that’s built right into the ACR window. Now, if you have a batch of images that suffer from sensor dust, instead of having to open and clean the dust from each image in Photoshop, you can now simply dust spot one image and then synchronize those adjustments to all your other images from the same shoot. This feature could proove to be one of the biggest time savers in the entire program and its one that Adobe really delivered on in terms of features that make sense to the working pro. As with all other raw edits, this one is non destructive and can be modified at any time.
Other advancements include new selection tools and the introduction of non destructive smart filters that allow you to continue to adjust the parameters of any filter in a layered image right up until you flatten the image. Also, the curves dialog has seen a major overhaul, as has the functionality of the print dialog.
Bridge has seen a considerable boost in speed and it is also packed with some great new features. I’ve never really used Bridge much before, mostly due to the fact that it took forever to load images into its window. In some ways, it resembles an abbreviated version of Lightroom and it allows a photographer to use it as such. Although I use other programs for my image search, sorting and keywording, I can see myself using Bridge on occasion now that it’s gotten faster.
It will certianly time to fully explore all the great new features that CS3 has to offer, but having only used the full program for a day, I can already see the immediate effects that it will have on the quality of my digital images and the efficiency of my workflow. CS3 is a definite step forward and I look forward to putting it to very productive use in my photography business. If only I could go back to 1990 and tell myself, “You think that’s cool? Just you wait…”
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