Friday, June 20, 2014

Overcoming the Shock Factor

In this post I offer one illustration of how to embrace new post-processing tools: all from the comfort of your own home!
When adopting any new tool or post-processing workflow, there is the obvious initial ‘shock factor’, and unless you get through this phase, there is a risk that you won’t adopt the technique, ie “…too much effort to learn…”.

In my experience one can break through the ‘shock factor’ barrier quickly these days by doing several ‘obvious’ things, albeit at increasing cost: 

  • Read web-based articles; 
  • Download an e-book on the subject; 
  • Download some video training; 
  • Attend a seminar/class.

Reading what others have written on their web site will get you going, but there is a risk here that you may get conflicting information, as Photoshop (the tool I would argue you should be using) doesn’t always have a single way to achieve an outcome.

I have found downloading an e-book (assuming there is one on your subject) to be slightly better than ‘randomly’ searching the internet; as you get one author’s ‘integrated’ view.

Better still, and these days relatively easy and cost-effective, is to download a video training session.

Finally, attending a class, by a guru, may be the best, but will certainly be the most expensive, eg class cost plus (unless you are lucky) hotel, flight & food.

These days I tend to seek out downloadable video training courses; as I have personally found these to offer the greatest value in my PS post-processing development. After all, I can watch them on my PC and do parallel work in PS; or I can download them on my iPad and watch them at anytime: there is nothing better than being ‘trained’ at 30,000 ft!

As an example, let’s take luminosity masking (LM). 

I believe LMs are one of the most powerful tools in any post-processing workflow. Like many I first explored LM via ‘handraulically’ creating the masks myself, which means you need to understand alpha-channels etc, plus remember special multiple keyboard shortcuts. My experience is this: you can use LM by doing things yourself and those that wish to carry out a penance should consider this approach.

However, it is much better to step on the shoulders of others!

The first step I took was to download one of the free LM action panels, many also being associated with free on-line training, eg or . Better still is to seek out the LM gurus who have distilled their knowledge into PS actions and have related video training; but, rightly, are asking for a few dollars so that you can become a better image maker.

IMHO the ‘best’ of the LM gurus are the ‘partnership of Tony Kuyper ( and Sean Bagshaw ( ).

Tony’s LM PS Action Panel and Sean’s video training will, together, turn you into an LM convert and ‘expert’. Also, Tony has just updated his LM panel, which is now a ‘command-centre power house’ to making quick, but complex, changes to your image. Tony has an offer on at the moment ( ) that means for about 20 cups of Starbuck, I believe you get the best armchair training on luminosity masking around, ie all PS Actions/Panel and Videos for $79.

Bottom line: as photographers we continually seek to gain ever more skill and knowledge. The dilemma we face is that the camera-side of photography is relatively easy to learn and doesn’t really help that much in creating an image with that je ne sais quoi. The ‘only’ way in a digital world to make an impactful image is to spend time in, say, Photoshop (or some other post processing software). In my experience you can ‘shortcut’ your post-processing development by downloading video training and buying into other peoples’ (PS Action) developments. As an example, if you have not made the transition to luminosity masking, or undertaken any web-based training, here is a great opportunity to see if spending a few dollars (with Tony Kuyper and Sean Bagshaw) can help you move towards being a better maker of photographic art.

New Mexico Early Summer Storm

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