What is Photoshop?

A Beginner’s Guide

Adobe Photoshop is and has been, the photography industry’s standard go-to editing software for years.

Despite the rise of competitors such as Lightroom, Luminar, Affinity Photo and more it’s still photo-editing royalty. The reason for that is there is almost no processes/effects that Photoshop can’t replicate that its competitors boast about.

  • Luminar has its amazing sky replacement tool – so has Photoshop.
  • Lightroom has a simple interface and easy to use slides – Photoshop has Camera Raw.

Why is this the case? Well, everyone else based their software on Photoshop, and sometimes the original is the best.

Let’s have a look at what Adobe Photoshop can offer a beginner photographer when it comes to editing photos.

Photoshop CC Icon on a computer

Isolate an Object with Selection Tools

If you’re looking to isolate an area of your photo to edit, then using Photoshop’s selection tools will make it a breeze.

Whether it’s using the freehand lasso or the constrained marquee tool then you can be as precise as you need.

This is ideal if you’re wanting to darken an area of your picture without affecting the rest.

selection tool photoshop
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Stack Photos and Blend with Layer Tools

If you like getting a little more creative with your photography and you want to use more than one picture in your final shot (called a composite), then having access to layers is vital.

Photoshop’s layer panel is like creating a cake, but we’re seeing it from overhead. Pile one image / block of colour / layer of text on top of each other and then using masks or erasers you can let parts of the layer(s) underneath shine through.

And if you’re an overthinker, then make a duplicate layer of your photo to make adjustments on and then compare. It’s a brilliant asset to help you adjust colours/tones independently without affecting the layers below.

blend modes

On top of the structure of layers, you can also change the relationship between 2 layers by selecting different blending modes.

These modes make the appearance of two layers interact differently; for example, the ‘Multiply’ mode shows everything that is pure black but will hide anything that is 100% white in the two layers. It takes some getting used to, but it’s brilliant for making multiple exposure effects.

Non-Destructive Editing using Layer Masks

If you’re new to Photoshop and don’t want to make any permanent errors as you go, then using layer masks is the way to go. Layer masks are non-destructive ways of erasing parts of a photo.

Add a layer mask to your photos and using a black brush to ‘erase’ and a white brush to ‘reveal’. This is great for removing complicated backgrounds where you need to go slow.

Of course, you can always use the ‘undo’ tool or ‘history’ panel but using layer masks gives you much more control throughout a project.

Photoshop Layer Masks

Remove Anything from a Photo

content aware

Do you ever get home after taking a photo and find a really distracting bit you didn’t spot when shooting? It happens to all of us. But fear not, Photoshop’s got your back.

With various tools such as clone stamp, healing brush, patch tool and the incredible content-aware there is virtually nothing that can’t be amended.

Content-aware has improved massively over the years and it’s almost so perfect that a single click will remove anything from your photo seamlessly.

This helps out every photographer and is a great insurance plan if you’re shooting on the hop.

Improve your Workflow with Presets

They aren’t the be-all and end-all of photography but having presets to hand, in different forms, will make your editing time shorter and more efficient, especially if you’re a pro.

Photoshop offers access to different types of presets either in Camera Raw, or as LUTs or even creating your own pre-defined editing process as an Action.

Photoshop Before Image iPhotography Copyright 2020
Photoshop After LUT Image iPhotography Copyright 2020

Presets aren’t just about changes in colour. Instead through using Photoshop’s Action tool, you can record your own step-by-step process where you can crop, recolour, duplicate layers, transform layers, resize and so much more in a single click. 

Plus, if you’ve got yourself lots of Lightroom presets, they’re compatible with Camera Raw in Photoshop too. Bonus!

sky replacement

Other Creative Tools

If you want more creativity out of Photoshop then check out other tools such as;

  • Sky Replacement
  • Render Filters
  • Free Plugins
  • and the Filter Gallery for more fun.

Even if you’ve just started in photography stock photo plugins are available for you to find royalty-free photos to use in your composites.

Join our Photoshop Course

If we’ve got you wanting to know then it’s time to let us show you. As an iPhotography member, you’ll get FREE access to our ‘Introduction to Photoshop’ bonus course. We’ll show you every panel, tool, drop-down and menu a new user needs to know.

And if you want to go further why not embark on any of our 12-module courses to improve your digital design skills in Photoshop? Click below to read more.

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