Thursday, March 24, 2005

Photoshop Conference

Yesterday I spent the entire day at a photoshop conference in Minneapolis. I almost didn't find the convention center it was at, though, thanks to Yahoo's wonderful driving directions. They need to do some updating because it gave me the wrong street name to turn onto so I had to drive around the sprawling lot of hotels and convention centers that are littered around the Mall of America until I finally found it.

Since I've never had any formal training on how to use photoshop, I figured it was time I actually went somewhere to have an actual teacher show me how to do stuff. I did end up learning a lot during the conference's 5 sessions, but how much of it I'll actually remember is yet to be found out. You could tell that this conference was mainly for people in the advertising and print business since a lot of the examples, especially the color correcting and color sampling ones, were geared towards becoming print standard compliant. That's all fine and good if you're in the print industry, but all of the photoshop work that I do is for web design, page mock-ups, and digital photography.

Not everything was geared towards the print industry, and even some of the examples that were I could see ways that they could be applied to the web world or to digital photography in general. What was most applicable for me were some of the examples on techniques for selection methods. The stupid magic wand tool in photoshop is a joke for cutting out images, but I've never known a better way to do it. I now know a much better way using color channels and thresholds to get a much more defined (and halo-less) cutout.

It's always great to see someone actually going through the steps to performing a certain action, especially with a program as complicated as photoshop, as opposed to reading the steps in a book or tutorial. Now remembering everything, especially some of the more complicated routines that we were taught, is a real pain. Thankfully, our instructor put all of his notes up on the web in PDF format so that we can revisit them down the road. In case you want to see some of the stuff we went over, you can visit our instructor's site here.

It's a lot different reading through a tutorial after you've seen someone doing it instead of just looking at a tutorial and trying to simulate it yourself. One thing I did notice about the examples that were used, and the examples that are ususally used in classes, is how obvious they are. For example, the example that was given for using the color thresholds to make a more precise cutout consisted of two yellow flowers againt blue sky. It would have been better if maybe the photo used wasn't so obvious. Use a picture of a kid taken against a bustling city environment or something. Most photos that I'm going to be working with won't be as perfect as a bright flower against a uniform background.

Anyways, I'm anxious to tool around with photoshop on some of my mom's professional digital pics at home and see what I can do. No doubt it'll be much, much harder than our instructor made everything out to be, but the only way I'm going to get a lot better is by practice, and I need a lot of practice as evidenced by the craptacular banner at the top of the page I put together before I went to the conference.

No comments: