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Adobe Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview

Adobe has released a beta of Photoshop CS6, the newest version of the photo editing software, and the changes couldn’t be more significant.  Updates include a simplified user interface, several impressive new editing tools, the refinement of existing editing tools, and for the first time video editing capabilities.  The new additions are aimed at eliminating the need for you to go between other applications and Photoshop to meet the majority of your post-production editing needs.

Photoshop has long been a great tool for creative professionals, but usually required the partnership of another piece of software or two to completely manage an editing job all the way through to output.  The new enhancements will have you spending more of your post-production time in Photoshop.  For those who are already proficient using a previous version of this software, you will love this update.

New Interface

The brand new user interface in CS 6 is built on a minimalist approach that provides the necessary flexibility to customize the interface to suit your unique workflow.  It appears much cleaner than previous versions of the software, removing clutter and streamlining the editing panels.  This simplified and customizable workspace should translate into a more efficient workflow, along with a new look that will appeal to the individual user’s eye.


Imaging Tools

Camera Raw 7.0

Adobe has included a new camera raw 7.0 image editing palate in CS 6 that is similar to what you might find in Apple’s Aperture or iPhoto software. The palate includes slider bars that allow you to selectively manipulate highlights and shadows in an additive or subtractive way.  Selective processing provides enhanced control across the histogram.  I was particularly impressed with how well the subtractive adjustment on the highlight slider recovered detail in overexposed areas of an image.  The enhancements of camera raw 7.0 might inspire you to open up images that you previously sent through post-production and tweak them further using these new features available in CS 6.

Adaptive Wide Angle

There is a new tool for photographers who enjoy shooting with a wide-angle lens called the adaptive wide-angle tool.  This tool will automatically detect which lens created the image, and assist you in correcting common issues that occur in wide-angle shots.  Distortion and convergence plague photographers who love capturing scenes in a wide-angle format.  An adaptive wide-angle tool allows corrections to be made easily in post-production.  These manipulations can be used to straighten curved lines, create a more natural looking horizon line, and better shape a scene to suit the viewer’s eye.

Filters

Users who enjoy using blurring techniques in their images will be excited about the new blur gallery in the filters section which offers three unique techniques to add blurring effects.  The popular tilt-shift effect allows you to creatively draw the viewer’s eye to a selected area of focus, and create those impressive miniature effects to scenes shot at a high camera angle.  The iris blur selection provides a circular type of blur that increases in intensity the further out from the selected focus point. Field blur allows you to selectively blur areas within an image by dropping pins and choosing the amount of blur affecting those particular areas designated by each control point.  By toggling on or off, the blur mask allows you to see where and to what degree the chosen effect is changing the image.  This mask can then be copied and pasted over a separate image to recreate the same desired effect.

The crop tool has been refined, now allowing the image to be rotated instead of the crop area rotating, which is a much more logical way to make this adjustment.  This provides a more accurate view of the potential end result.  You can now straighten a horizon line in an image directly in the crop tool with just a couple of clicks.  In previous versions of Photoshop, if you forgot to select an aspect ratio before clicking the crop tool, you had to back out, but now you can select the desired aspect ratio while in the crop tool without having to retreat.  These changes provide much better control and add logic to how this tool functions.

The text tool has also been updated, providing functions for a faster, more efficient workflow when laying out a web page, or text heavy documents requiring an element of graphic styling.  When selecting the text tool, you can manipulate larger bodies of text using preset paragraph styles, similar to the styles drawer in Apple’s Pages application.  This allows you to change larger bodies of text faster using predetermined styles for titles, headings, and paragraphs.  Character styles can also be manipulated in a selective way, making changes easier to apply, like adjustments to smaller text selections, which can now be done in a multitude of ways.

Content-Aware

The content aware technology that is found in the new content aware move tool and the refined patch tool are some of the most impressive advances to come out of the new updates to CS 6.  The power this technology provides can save incredible amounts of time compared to previous techniques.  The content aware move tool allows you to make a rough selection around an object, and then move that object to a different location in the image.

Once the move is complete, Photoshop is able to determine where the object was moved from, based on the neighboring pixels.  It then automatically replaces the pixels with others that fit via the context of the surrounding area.  The patch tool itself has evolved, making it very simple to replace pixels in one area, by simply sampling another area within the image, even along the edges of the image which proved to be very difficult in the past.

Video Editing

Finally, video editing has been incorporated into the latest version of Photoshop.  At first glance, you would think Apple’s iMovie had been integrated into CS 6.  The timeline, as well as the drag-and-drop method of editing sections of video content on separate layers, with a layer for audio proves that the best form of flattery is imitation.  Transition effects can also be added at the beginning or ending of a video clip by a simple drag-and-drop method.  Key framing allows for multiple pieces of footage to be spliced together in the same frame.  The tools used when applying creative effects, filters, text, and adjustment layers in photos can now be used when manipulating video footage, giving you a vast amount of creative options.   If you are already comfortable working in Photoshop, the addition of these video editing tools will help you make the leap to motion editing, without having to learn a completely new application.  This move is in no way meant to keep video editors from using Adobe’s Premier or After Effects, but to open basic motion editing techniques to a new group of users who are comfortable in Photoshop.

The updates Adobe has made to Photoshop CS 6 are very impressive.  The content aware technology is magical in the way it functions, allowing you to change an objects location and patch where the object was moved from effortlessly.  The incorporation of video editing is a huge surprise, but logical since many users are now branching out into other mediums to meet market demand.  I’ve spoken with still photographers who now have to incorporate video production into their skill set to meet client needs.  This gives them the ability to approach a new medium through an application in which they already have a solid grasp, making the post-production work less intimidating.  The new Adobe camera raw 7.0 provides editors a great set of adjustment tools to manipulate images early in the post-production process.  The evolution from previous versions to Photoshop CS 6 will certainly validate an upgrade based on the additions I’ve seen in this beta version.

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