Your Photoshop CS5 Questions Answered (well, at least some of ‘em anyway)

by Scott Kelby  |  95 Comments


Thanks to everybody who posted questions yesterday, and who asked questions during our free CS5 Live Webinars yesterday (don’t forget, we’re going two again today—one at 1:30 pm EDT and one at 4:00 pm EDT. Here’s the link to join in).

We’ll be answering your questions again later today live, but in the meantime, here’s a few from yesterday’s post and launch stuff:

Q. I’ve got CS4 right now and want to start doing HDR’s… Should I upgrade to CS5 or go buy Photomatrix Pro?
Think of it this way: If you buy Photomatix Pro, you get HDR. That’s it. If you upgrade to CS5, you get HDR, Content Aware Fill, world class noise reduction, incredible masking features, built-in automated lens correction, better Raw processing, a better way to manage your images from within Photoshop with Mini Bridge, and a ton of other stuff that will improve your workflow and expand your creativity. To me, this is an easy choice.

Q. How|does the HDR processing output compare to Photomatix Pro ?
Photoshop CS5′s new HDR Pro has two pretty significant advantages over Photomatix Pro: (1) It has a built-in Ghosting feature, that can remove much, if not all, of the ghosting you get if anything was moving in your scene when you took your HDR image, and (2) perhaps the biggest thing is that HDR Pro doesn’t add loads of noise like Photomatix. You’ve got to watch Matt’s side-by-side example from yesterday’s live Webinar of a file he processed in both programs. The results were both amazing and shocking (and lots of people who saw it live, said that right there they were sold on HDR Pro in CS5).

Now, Photomatix definitely has it’s fans (I use it myself), and people who are really comfortable with Photomatix may not switch to HDR Pro immediately, but I agree with Matt that new users, who always wanted to do HDR but didn’t want to invest in a separate HDR program (and the learning curve that comes with it), will love having real HDR built right-in to Photoshop, and they’re going to embrace it big time.

This is one of those things that will get debated back and forth (my way’s better—no my way’s better!), but in the end, since it’s built right in to CS5, you can always try it out and see which one works best for you, but one thing’s for sure: 2010 will be the year of HDR.

Q. Will Content Aware Fill remove a watermark?
Absolutely. So will the Clone Stamp tool, the Patch tool, and the Healing Brush. You’ve been able to remove visible watermarks since Photoshop 1.0.

Q. I would like you to please comment on the differences between Photoshop CS5 and CS5 Extended as it relates to Photographers.
There honestly aren’t a lot of extra photography features in the Extended version that aren’t in the Standard edition. For example, on Adobe’s site they have a “What’s New” list for both editions, and under the Standard Edition they list new features for “Photographers & Print Designers,” but for the Extended version, they list new features for “Video Professionals, Cross-media Designers, Web designers, and Interactive designers.”

Q. Could you comment on regarding the major Photoshop plug-ins and their compatibility, or if all new versions/upgrades will be needed?
If there are any compatibility issues with plug-ins, the big name plug-in makers are usually great about providing free updates in a pretty timely manner. As is usually the case with a major update like this, a number of major plug-ins will have to have updates to work perfectly with CS5. For example, OnOne Software announced today that they are fine-tuning their plug-ins for CS5, and those free updates will be available within 30-days of CS5 shipping.

Q. When will you be coming out with a Photoshop CS5 Down and Dirty Tricks book?
My plate is pretty full this year, so although there won’t be a CS5 update of my Down & Dirty Tricks book, I am releasing “The Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers” shortly.

Q. CS5 Camera Raw vs Lightroom beta: does the gap close even more?
Historically, for compatibility reasons, both Camera Raw and Lightroom’s Develop module have pretty much shared the same Raw editing features and if you look at Lightroom 3 Public Beta and the New Camera Raw in CS5, well…..there ya have it.

Q. Is there a NAPP discount on the CS5 Upgrade price?
Absolutely! NAPP members here in the U.S. get 15% off the upgrade of Photoshop or the Suite (so you can save $30 on just the upgrade, $89 on the suite upgrade, or more on buying the full version of Photoshop or a Suite).

Q. As a photographer what is the most compelling reason to consider an upgrade from CS4 to CS5?
That’s a tough one, because it will be different for different photographers. I think a lot of folks will naturally want it to create HDR images, but I think the built-in masking features (using Refine Edge) is even more compelling for most photographers. Content aware fill is big (and it works amazingly well), but then the Noise Reduction in Camera Raw is just insane, so it’s a tough call to make. Luckily, any one of those is worth the upgrade alone, so if you get all four, this is an easy decision for a lot of photographers.

Q. I still have Photoshop CS3 Extended. Can I upgrade to CS5 Extended or do I have to buy the full version?
You can upgrade from CS3 Extended directly to CS5 Extended.

Q. I’d like to know how the noise reduction compares with third party plugins like Nik Dfine or Topaz Denoise or Noise Ninja.
The noise reduction truly kicks butt—partly because it applies the noise reduction directly to the Raw image (before it’s processed, whereas nearly all plug-ins come in after the raw image has been processed), so that’s a great advantage for CS5. It removes the noise, but maintains an amazing amount of detail. Personally, I don’t think I’ll have a need for any third party noise plug-ins from here on out.

Q. Not a single word about Lightroom 3 in the announcements or on the Adobe site.
Well, here’s the thing: Today was the launch of Photoshop and the Creative Suite. Lightroom is a totally separate product, and not part of the Suite. So, even though they’re designed to work together (if you have both Photoshop and Lightroom), Lightroom 3 hasn’t been officially released (it’s still in Beta Testing), so I’m not surprised Adobe didn’t address it during the Photoshop launch.

Q. Will Camera Raw 6.0 features be available as a separate Camera Raw download or is it CS5 exclusive?

A.. It’s CS5 exclusive (in other words; Adobe doesn’t go back and add new features to software they don’t sell any  longer)

Q. How far back can the new CS5 be upgraded? I am running CS2?

A. I believe you can still upgrade directly from Photoshop CS2 to Photoshop CS5 (but anything earlier than CS2, you’ll have to buy the full version).

Q. What time are your free CS5 Webinars today?

A. 1:30 pm and 4:00 pm EDT. (Here’s that link again)

Q. What if I can’t watch live during those times?

A. We’ll be posting both Webinars online for FREE so you can watch them whenever you get a chance.

Q. What do you personally think of the CS5 upgrade?

A. Honestly, I think it rocks. We all do (Matt, Dave, Corey, RC and the gang). I think it’s the most significant upgrade Adobe has released in years. As a photographer, there’s a lot of really useful and helpful stuff here for me, and there’s some stuff that isn’t just for photographers that I’ll wind up using as well. Adobe made lots of improvements and enhancements throughout the program (much more than they did in CS4), and overall I can tell you without reservation that CS5 kicks butt. I think Adobe knew they needed to knock one out of the park, and to their credit—they did.


It’s CS5 Monday!!!!

by Scott Kelby  |  61 Comments


It doesn’t get much more exciting around here than this!!!!

>> At 11:00 am EST this morning Adobe will unveil the new features in Photoshop CS5, and all the products the entire Creative Suite (here’s the link to be a part of their free online launch event).

>> Once Adobe makes their official announcement, we’ll be launching NAPP’s own Photoshop CS5 Learning Center—the largest and most comprehensive learning center and first-day training initiative in our history.

Here’s a peek at what’s in NAPP’s CS5 Learning Center:

16 Videos covering all the new features (from NAPP and friends)
Exclusive Video Interview with Photoshop Product Manager Bryan O’Neil Hughes
Exclusive video Interview with Adobe Camera Raw Product Manager Tom Hogarty
• Full feature list that outlines the 100+ new Photoshop CS5 features and enhancements
• Special video segment on “What the Pros are Saying” about CS5
• Full Pricing Info, which versions are eligible for upgrades, and more important details
Special Photoshop CS5 Tips video for Wacom tablet users
• Comparison of features to show what you missed if you skipped CS4 and are coming from CS3
• Links to other important CS5 learning resources
Special content for NAPP Members only, including a special “Upgrade kit video” to help makes the transition to CS5 fast and easy, including  how to move your stuff, PS/Illustrator integration video, and a video on “10 Little-Known CS5 Tips”

Here’s the link (just remember—it doesn’t go “live” until 11:00 am EST).

>> Of course, we have a special “All CS5″ episode of Photoshop User TV going live this week as well, and well…every week after that, too! (here’s the link so you can watch our free weekly online Photoshop how-to and Q&A show).

>> That will be followed by a Week-long series of Free CS5 Online Webinars hosted by Matt, Dave, Corey, RC, and me, (the times and all the details will be available on our Learning center when it goes live this morning). Also, don’t forget, we’ll be giving away a FREE upgrade to CS5 every day as part of our Webinars.

>> Of course, we’re rolling out all sorts of CS5 support and training throughout our sister sites later today, and this week, (like PlanetPhotoshop.com, LayersMagazine.com, and the NAPP Member Website, among others) so during the week I’ll keep you up-to-date on what’s news (it’s going to be a BIG week!).

>> Lastly, if you’re a Kelby Training Online Subscriber, we are releasing 14 brand new CS5 online classes starting today! That way, we can get you up-to-speed fast on how to use, and leverage, all the new CS5 features (before Adobe even ships the product, no less).

>> NOTE: Tomorrow I’m planning a Photoshop CS5 Q&A here on the blog, so if you’d like, post your questions here today, and I’ll pull from some of those tomorrow.

It’s a really exciting time to be a Photoshop user, and we very grateful that you guys give us the opportunity to share this great new stuff with you. See you online!



Shooting the NBA’s Chicago Bulls

by Scott Kelby  |  91 Comments


I’m in Chicago for my Photoshop seminar tomorrow (over 600 photographers will be there, which is awesome), and since I was getting in the day before, I got a chance to shoot the Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game last night with my buddy Mike McCaskey (we were guests of our other buddy, Bulls Team photographer Bill Smith).

The shot above was taken with a 10.5mm fisheye lens. You have to see it big to appreciate the fish-eye effect, so click on it for a much larger version. I used the 10.5mm fish-eye lens, which is a DX (cropped format) lens on an FX (full frame) body, so it crops in a bit, but I like that it doesn’t look too crazy.


I had a much better time shooting this game than the Orlando Magic game I shot a month or so ago, because of one main thing I learned at that Game—buy a  fold-up portable floor chair for back support (my chair is shown below in the corner of court where we shot for most of the 2nd half).


Man, that thing is worth it’s weight in gold because you basically sit cross-legged on the floor for hours at a time, and it made the whole experience 100% more comfortable and enjoyable (I had Mike pick up one, too and he thanked me several times during the game).


Bill Smith took this shot above of Mike and me shooting during the game (that’s us in the left bottom corner, Mike’s in the light blue shirt). Also, you do have to kind of keep your other eye open while you’re shooting, because you’ll get beaned with the ball (at the very least), or run right over if not you’re watching out (by the way, even if you’re watching out, you can still get run over, but at least you can cover up a bit).


Tech Specs: Here’s what I shot with, then I’ll tell you what I wish I had been shooting with. I used a Nikon D3 with either a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens (most of the night), a 24-70mm f/2.8 (for some wide angle shots and stuff near the close basket), and I took one series of shots with that 10.5 fisheye lens. I shot in Manual mode, at 1/640 to 1/800 of a second, at f/2.8 all night. I used a gray card to set a custom white balance at the beginning of the game, but I shot in raw in case the white balance got squirrely on me. I shot at 2,500 ISO to get that fast a shutter speed (no reduction was applied, which is the marvel of the Nikon D3).


Now, here’s what everybody was shooting out there. They all did have a 70-200mm (either Nikon or Canon), but then just about every photographer had a second body with a 300mm f/2.8 for when the action is happening at the far basket. The 70-200mm is just that little bit too short to cover the far basket the way I’d like (about 100mm too short with a full frame body).

They would sit the 300mm on the floor, lens facing straight down, and shoot the other lens, but then when the action went the other way, they just picked up the 300mm and starting shooting. That part was a little frustrating, but next time I’ll rent a 300mm f/2.8 from LensProToGo.com


Mike took this shot of me during a time out using my iPhone. This is about where I was sitting for most of the game. Here, and just on other the other side of the basketball goal post behind me. We thought Lebron James was going to be playing that night, and that he’d be playing toward our basket in the first half, but we found out right before tip off that he wasn’t able to play tonight because of an existing injury.


So, the good news is I think I made some progress on this, my second NBA shoot. It’s better than what I got on my first game, but not nearly as good as what I’ll get next time (at least, that’s the plan). Either way—-it was an incredible way to spend the night before my seminar (thanks Bill!), and Mike and I both had a ball (we had been shooting earlier in the day around Chicago, and in the Little Italy area. A little HDR stuff at St. Inglesia’s Church, and then followed by a fantastic Italian Dinner at Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap. That place rocks!!!!


Two Last Things:
(1) Don’t forget the big stuff kicking off on Monday (from Adobe, of course, and from us at NAPP, too!).

(2) Hey, isn’t there an Indy car race in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend? Man, that would be fun to shoot (wink, wink) ;-)

Have a great weekend everybody, and we’ll see you on CS5 Monday!


Really Big Things Are Coming From Us On Monday, Plus…

by Scott Kelby  |  45 Comments

……you’ve gotta watch this short video from me and the NAPP crew (it’s just one minute, 59 seconds), about our massive free CS5 training launch on Monday, plus how you can win a Free Adobe Photoshop CS5 Upgrade (we’re giving one away every day next week)—and a whole bunch more, including some brand new online stuff that you’ll totally love (Shhhhh), and you’ll know the whole scoop in less than two minutes:

Click here to watch the video on your iPad or iPhone!.


I’m in Chicago Tomorrow; Corey’s in Boston, Joe Sold Out (again!)

by Scott Kelby  |  9 Comments


Hey gang—Just a quick update:

Grab One of The Last Seats in Chicago!
I’m in Chicago tomorrow with my “Photoshop for Photographers Tour”, and as of yesterday morning, there were only 19 seats left, so if you want to join me, grab one of those last seats now. Here’s the info.

McNally Sells Out Philly!
Yesterday in Philadelphia, Joe McNally kicked some major butt on his Kelby Training Live tour (which was sold out in advance!). This guy is just unbelievable!!!! He’s coming to Denver next, and I’ve seen the pre-registration numbers—he’s gonna sell it out again (if you’ve ever seen him live, you know why). Details here.

Catch Corey in Beantown!
Corey Barker is bringing our “Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks” tour to Boston next Wednesday, and if you’re up that way—you do not want to miss him. He’s got some absolutely stick stuff to show you (in a good way), and you can sign up right here.


It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Frank Doorhof!

by Brad Moore  |  75 Comments


Let me start by thanking Scott for giving me his blogspace for today, I will try to leave it the way I found it :)

My name is Frank Doorhof and I’m a Dutch fashion and sometimes glamour photographer. In our business we made a quite drastic move into teaching workshops instead of aiming for the magazines. I still shoot for magazines and advertising of course, but our main focus is on the teaching of workshops. In the last few years this has resulted in workshops worldwide and the release of 6 instructional DVDs and this year number 7 will hit the market.

So what is the thing I try to do in the workshops? In a time where you can see a lot of photography on the web and photographers who have only been shooting for three months already teaching workshops, it’s a market that is very confusing for the people just starting out with photography or simply people looking for a good workshop. What also struck me with amazement is the lack of basic knowledge in most posts you see online. One of the most asked questions for example on my shots is, “How did you light this?” In most of my work, with just the basic knowledge of light, you can clearly see how something was lit.

To make a long story short I try to start with my students on square one. Don’t, however, think that I only focus on how you should put the lens on the camera. That’s something I skip completely. What I do teach however, is understanding (and I mean really understanding) what light does. Too many photographers are just placing their lightsources in the trusted setup they have used for many years or which they know will work because they copied it from someone else who is successful. The problem with this is that when you don’t understand what you are doing you will one day run into big problems when a situation occurs where you have to improvise, and those situations are the ones where you can get customers for life.

By understanding what light does and how it behaves you can get a good shot in almost any situation, whether it’s with natural light, strobes or bounced light. Because even this blog space is not long enough to explain everything in detail I will give you some very quick tips which I hope will trigger you to search further on the net or maybe visit one of the workshops I teach :) Also please look into one of the greatest teachers ever – Dean Collins.


Why fake it when you can create it?
Most questions you see online are about recreating a certain style. The funny thing is that after seeing pages of people trying to recreate that style, most fail. The reason why most fail is very simple – they use different light setups. In the old days of photography everyone knew that light was the most important thing in a photograph. When your light was wrong, the picture would not come out correct. However, somehow in this day and age with Photoshop, most photographers seem to think that there is a filter for everything and they can just shoot a bad picture and the magic filter will transform it into art….. Well, I’ve seen some amazing things done with Photoshop (just visit Scott’s seminars), but even the best Photoshop users can’t make a bad picture really shine….. That instant killer shot filter still doesn’t exists….. or does it ?


Your viewfinder is your Photoshop
It depends on what you see as filter. For me the viewfinder of my camera is the first and most important step. Learn to look through the viewfinder, and I don’t mean look through the viewfinder to see the subject and shoot, but REALLY look through the viewfinder. Find the right composition, look for factors you don’t like and look for your shadows. Too often I hear the expression, “I’ll will fix that in post.” Remember that, often, fixing it right away will take you seconds while fixing it in post can ruin your picture or take you forever. If you load a picture into Photoshop that’s already almost perfect, then there are some stunning things you can do and really finish that shot into art. But remember, the shot has to be there. In fact, the raw file should already be the finished product. Photoshop should only be used for the finishing touches, or in some cases to create the real art that was envisioned.

Metering is everything
You don’t want to know the discussions I had about using a light meter. According to some the light meter is something from the past and should not be used anymore. “Just use the histogram” is the well known expression. Well think about this… When you look at your models and you look at their skin tones, are they all equal? ?I don’t think so, so when you are shooting on a histogram how do you know when you nailed the exposure? Exactly – you don’t. You can get close, but how about reshooting the same model a week or two later? Can you make a 100% accurate series? With the meter you can, and it’s lighting fast, just use the incident metering, aim towards the light source and you have your exposure. But also invest in a meter that can do spot metering. When using the spot meter function you can very quickly calculate the white or black backgrounds.?Let’s look a bit more into that very quickly.


It’s all in the numbers
To understand the method to calculate backgrounds, it’s important to first understand that 18% gray is seen as middle gray, or in fact a spike in the histogram in the center of it. (Some people claim it’s 12% but I’m more in the 18% gray camp). When you know that one stop of light is double the amount of light it’s very easy with a reflective meter to calculate the backgrounds, but also to see if a dress still holds detail in the shadow areas or highlights.

Let’s start by making a white background really white. When we start out with a measurement of our model on F8 (incident) and we want the background to turn white we can very quickly calculate how that should work. We switch to reflective reading metering and measure the background. For this example it’s also measuring F8 (to make it easier). If we shoot now, our model should be correct and the background should be 18% gray. But we wanted it to be white…… Well it’s not as hard as it seems. Every stop is double the amount of light so one can calculate white at 2.5 stops over. 18% is middle, 1 stop higher is 36%, one stop higher is 72% and add a bit more and you are at app 100, so we normally can say it’s app 2.5 stops over. For black it works the same way. 18% is middle, 1 stop less is 9%, 1 stop less is 4.5%, 1 stop less is 2.2%, 1 stop less is 1.1% so we normally put black at 4.5 stops under.

With this knowledge you can measure incredibly fast if a scene holds its detail (perfect for wedding photographers). However with the new cameras and growing dynamic range it can happen that the numbers will change slightly, so test this with your own camera, but for most cameras this technique will work flawless. When mastering this techique you will know exactly when to use fill in flash or when to just take away light.


Ok, a meter is fun but it’s not accurate?
It’s always a letdown when you buy an expensive meter and it doesn’t work the way it should. However with most light meters this is a fact. This is not the fault of the meter however, not all cameras are using a real ISO100 so you have to “calibrate” the meter to the system you are using. That sounds complicated? Well it actually isn’t. In fact you can do it within a few seconds. As mentioned before, 18% gray should render a spike in the middle of the histogram, so the proper and quick way to calibrate your light meter to your camera is to simply shoot an 18% gray card and check the spike. If it’s not in the center you can use the offset of the meter to make sure it is after the calibration. You now have an accurate tool for measuring your light setups.

Another small tip
I get a lot of mails about the high contrast shots I make, especially in the portraits. People are mailing me examples of their attempt and they don’t seem to be able to pull it off. So very fast the conclusion is drawn that it must be the expensive camera and the expensive light. In reality this is not true (luckily).

The first thing I try to teach is to start out with just one light, don’t be afraid for the shadows. They are (when properly placed) wonderful. But also understand a thing that’s called the inverse square law. The inverse square law dictates the fall off of your lights. When understanding this rule you will know that when you place a light source very close your subject the light will fall off very quickly and for a portrait this will pay back in one side of the face lit and one side of the face in darkness, and this can be done with even the largest softbox.

Understanding this rule will give you an incredible amount of power to use on location and in the studio, and the option to create every possible combination of light and shadow you have in your head.

Styling and concept
You can understand all the theory and light behavior you want, but it doesn’t guarantee a good image. Well, it will often guarantee a technically good image, but to make an image more interesting it’s very important to also invest in the styling and the model. For this a good team of creative people is vital. The best shots I see are rather simple in lighting setups but rock in styling and clothing. But I have to add that I just love over styled themes




A blog post is always difficult to fill simply because there is limited space and so much to tell. What I hope to have triggered is a little spark into the understanding of how you can use light to your advantage. When you know what’s going on and how you can control your light, you can make your own light setups without the need to copy others. And when you learn to look through the viewfinder in a photographer’s way you, will save loads of time in Photoshop. Or in simple words, “Why fake it, when you can create it?”

Thanks so much for having me here on the Scott Kelby blog.

For more info about Frank, check out his website, follow him on Twitter, or visit his blog.

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