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What is your favorite Photoshop command?
My all-time favorite command is the "curves" command. With it one can quickly balance the colors in a photograph and make sure that the "whites are white" and the other important colors of the photograph look correct.
A really quick way to get photograph looking good is to use the "options" button for the curves command. Sometimes all the correction that is needed can be done by clicking here, although I have found that it is often necessary to further adjust the tone of the image. This is done by changing the graph that represents the tones in the image from a line to a curve: An "S" shaped curve increases contrast, an upward curve lightens the image, and a downward curve darkens the image. Of course this is something that isn't easily described with words but can be easily done with a bit of practice.
What other Photoshop commands do you use?
I find I am using a number of commands that are new and found only in the latest version Photoshop CS. Firstly, Photoshop's browser works excellently with RAW files. I found that other software for looking through RAW files was too slow and made working with these files impractical. Further, I find the options to adjust white balance, exposure, brightness and other aspects of the image to be easy to use and, probably just as important, fast. This allows a RAW file to be a good digital negative and gives one the opportunity to make even an underexposed or otherwise challenged photograph shine. Of course one gets a 48 bit image to work from, which allows color modifications to be smooth and beautiful if they are required.
I was very intrigued with the new command called "shadow/highlight". This command provides options to illuminate shadows and to subdue highlights and image. It works fast and does what would have taken a long time to do with masks and other techniques. It is the first time I have said "wow" when using a software program in a long, long time.
I also like the ability to have nested layers in Photoshop CS. This is not use much for basic photographs, but provides a great way of managing the complexity of other types of digital images that have many layers.
I have done a few experiments with the new color matching feature, and it seems to work well and be quite useful when presenting a series of images.
I will mention the Unsharp Mask filter last, because I always use it and always use it as the last step of making an image before printing it or resizing it for the Web.
Is there any other software that you use?
I found a program called Noise Ninja quickly gets rid of the noise found in digital cameras images. When using a custom noise profile of the camera it works quite well and it has allowed me to use higher ISO values when taking pictures than I otherwise would have been able to. Of course, I'm hoping the newer digital cameras continue to have less and less noise and in the future will not be a significant concern.
Other than this, I have not found the need for much other software for digital photography.
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