I was very fortunate to get a ticket for the Royal Photographic Society Photo Journalists Group event last evening when Adobe presented their latest and greatest offering, Photoshop CS5.
I had already read stories of how you could cut out a tree from a landscape with ease but nothing had prepared me (or indeed anyone else who was there judging by the gasps of amazement) for seeing what it can really do.
The first “killer” new thing is Proximity Match. Simply by selecting an object with the lasso but including some of the surrounding area (ie. not selecting too accurately) and then choosing Proximity Match, you can remove an object even if it has fine detail on the edges and it will leave you with a background that looks as if the object never existed.
On the edges of a picture, you can use “Content aware fill” and expand the sky or other key landscape areas to fill the edges of your selected area. For me, this was the most incredible thing to witness as it really seems that the program is reading your mind.
There are a few “mundane” things like Lens Correction that emulates the use of different (very specific) lenses. This could save you a fortune and cost the lens manufacturers dear. Camera RAW 6 automatically improves the image quality for you!
And then there is “Puppet Walk”. With this, you can put three of four dots on a horse’s leg, for example and then move the leg to a new position in the picture. Now, we are out of the realms of what we currently know as image manipulation and into changing pictures to be what we wished they were in the first place. You might even make the local carthorse look like Red Rum!
There are many people, particularly those outside photography who feel that using Photoshop in this way is cheating and part of me has to agree. One cannot help but feel that the future will belong to image manipulators, not photographers. However, we can’t hold back the tide and the reaction from the RPS members last night convinced me that CS5 is set to become the “must have” item for photographers in 2010.
I know that we have always manipulated images, even since Ansel was a lad, but we really are on the threshold of a time when we all will be able to produce results that would have been considered award winning just a few short months or years ago.
I have been racking my brains and trying to think of good analogies to the situation but it is difficult. Robots build economy cars today that are consistently better than luxury ones of a few years ago. TV, the web, mobile phones etc allow us to do more that we ever thought possible. But there are many rich people who are still prepared to pay large sums of money for a hand built car or a designer brand of electronic equipment.
I am sure that the “photographers??” of the future will develop the new skills in new areas to continue to amuse and stimulate us, but it seems to me that it is going to get much harder to compete with the robots.
Congratulations to the Adobe team of software engineers on their amazing achievements but I am not sure that they are really on the side of the serious photographer. Perhaps I will have to take a look at video. Oh dear – I think I’ll have to think it out again!
Tags: Adobe, Ansel, background, cheating, Content Aware, existed, fine detail, landscape, lasso, Lens Correction, manipulation, manipulators, object, photographers, Photoshop CS5, Proximity Match, Puppet Walk, RPS, tree