Win the Image Processing Battle

There is nothing easy or quick about doing a reasonable job of image processing.  But fully 50% of the quality of your image comes from correct processing, or you lose that 50% doing only a fair job . Once I get talking about image processing I can rattle on for hours – which reminds me I’m doing a Photoshop for Photographers class at my home in Tulare, CA on Friday, April 27 from 11am to 3pm. $60.

Adobe Photoshop CC can be streamlined to work quicker – so here a couple of ways:

1. Set up and Save your Desktop so the important things are quickly available – this is called your Workspace.  Here is a screen grab of how I set my working palettes up in Photoshop. My Actions Palette is open as shown.  The middle strip contains more seldom used tool palettes – like History (top), Character, Paragraph (because I add text to a lot of images), Notes, and Swatches. On the right are the working palettes as shown.  Now, you can drag palettes you don’t need out of the original palettes when they open and click on the X to close them.  You can always reopen them by selecting them under Window, then dragging them back to a palette you want to add them to.  The edges will turn blue to show the program is ready to add an individual palette – like Navigator, to the the existing palette, like Histogram – as shown here.  This is just the first step in preparing your Workspace.

Workspace Figure 1

The second step is to go through your menus and assign a color (I use red) to menu selections you frequently select.  For example, I almost never “Save” something, I’m always using the “Save as…” command so I don’t overwrite an original photo file. So, I went into Edit > Menus and assigned the “Save as…” command which is found under File,  the color red:

Workspace Figure 2

Then, after closing Menus and going to the File > the “Save As…” looks like this:

Workspace Figure 3

The advantage here is your eye goes right to it, allowing you to choose it quickly and accurately to save time.  Now you could remember the shortcut key to that command (Shift+Ctrl+S), but most people don’t seem to want to remember short cut keys. I have about 15 commands “red” so I can select them quicker.  Now, in both the Edit > Menu and Edit > Toolbar palettes you can tweak not just colors, but shortcut keys, as well as the layout of your toolbar, which is on the left side of the screen for me.

Workspace Figure 4

Now comes the final step to laying out your workspace so it is more functional for you. Go to Windows > Workspace and click on “New Workspace”. Give it a name, as you can see in my screen grab I call mine “Brent’s Workspace”.  In the New Workspace palette make sure you check the boxes for saving the Keyboard Shortcuts, Menus, and Toolbar settings as part of the Workspace.  Tricky.

Workspace Figure 5

Workspace Figure 6


You can always make changes in the future, more tweaks, and then go to New Workspace again and give it the same name, and click “yes” when it asks you about over-writing your old workspace.  For those of you who spend a lot of time going beyond just photography into the graphic arts, etc – you might have a different workspace for each of your different applications. Every time Photoshop opens it will open with your last Workspace ready.

2).  The second way to speed up image processing so your workflow doesn’t become an almost instant headache – is to use Actions in your workflow for the repetitive/common keystrokes you perform on most images.  At the top of this article in the first image example you saw my Action Palette with a lot of individual buttons, all color coded, again – so my eye goes immediately to the set of Actions I need – like Blue for Exposure Actions or Red for Sharpening Actions.

For those of you who Don’t want to learn how to create Actions (it is simple, but just another thing to learn) I have a version of my Actions available on my website on the Tips and Tricks page – here is a link to that page:  LINK

In the center column, second selection down it says “Download Actions”, click on that and the Actions will download to your computer’s download folder, found on your computer. The file is the AWP Actions file, which is a .ATN file, just 16kb in size.  See example below:

Actions Figure 1

Once downloaded, the process is just another series of steps in order to load them into your existing Actions palette. They will appear below the “Default” Actions that Photoshop has included for you – they are basically worthless for photography processing – so I just deleted the whole folder “Default” and only have mine there now. Just close the “Default” folder and drag it to the garbage can at the bottom of the Actions Palette. This is done after taking it out of Button Mode.

Ok. So let’s take a look at the Action’s palette with it’s control box open, to open the control box you simply click the button at the top right, here it is in a red box.  To make changes to your Actions you MUST take it out of Button Mode. If you haven’t messed with Actions before it probably isn’t in Button Mode anyway, but if it is, click Button Mode so there is no checkmark by it.

Actions Figure 2

Now it should look like this (Figure Actions 3.

Actions Figure 3

My personal set of Actions (Brent’s Actions) has many more Actions than the set you can download (AWP Actions.atn) because many of my Actions are specific to me, some for cropping to Instagram size, some for templates, copyrights, etc.

Now, with Button Mode unchecked, go down to the “Load Actions” (See Figure Actions 2) and click on it. When the dialog box opens, go find the AWP Actions.atn file in your download folder. Click Load when you are done.  If you want to see the steps included with each Action, click on the arrow next to the name to see what it is doing.

Now the Actions will appear. Go back to the control tab and click on Button Mode.  Now the Actions will appear as color-coded individual buttons.  You are welcome to add to, delete from, create new – or do anything you want with these actions.

Actions Figure 4

To delete the ones you may never feel you will use, just highlight it, and drag it to the Garbage can (in red box) at the bottom of the Actions Palette.  (See Actions Figure 4).

These two steps – Creating A Workspace and Actions – will greatly speed up your workflow  and you will Win the Image Processing Battle.  I will go step-by-step over how to create new Actions in my next blog article.  BRP

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About brentrpaull

Professional Photographer
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