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Adobe Photoshop Turns Twenty

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By Diane Berkenfeld

Today is a day of celebration as Adobe Photoshop turns 20 years old and fans of the powerhouse software program are rejoicing around the world. Festivities include an anniversary celebration hosted by NAPP, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, in San Francisco today as well as numerous organized events around the globe; a special Adobe TV broadcast reuniting the original “Photoshop team” for the first time in 18 years to discuss their early work on the software and demonstrate Photoshop 1.0 on a rebuilt Macintosh computer; Facebook and Twitter users sharing of stories online and changing their profile photo to an altered 20th anniversary logo (there are over 400,000 and growing Facebook fans for Photoshop); and Tweeting about the software by adding the tag #PS20.

The impact of Photoshop is everywhere, from the youngest digital photography enthusiast to virtually every professional photographer, to the artists at magazines and newspapers, website design, Madison Avenue and Hollywood.

In the Beginning

In 1987, Thomas Knoll developed a pixel imaging program called Display. It was a simple program to showcase grayscale images on a black-and-white monitor. However, after collaborating with his brother John, the two began adding features that made it possible to process digital image files. The program eventually caught the attention of industry influencers, and in 1988, Adobe made the decision to license the software, naming it Photoshop, and shipping the first version in 1990.

According to Thomas Knoll, Adobe predicted it would sell 500 copies of Photoshop per month. Sounds kind of like a comment made in 1943 attributed to then IBM president Thomas John Watson, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

The Photoshop team thrives off its rich beta tester program, with active and vocal users who have submitted requests and helped shape the development of features throughout the years.

“We knew we had a groundbreaking technology on our hands, but we never anticipated how much it would impact the images we see all around us. The ability to seamlessly place someone within an image was just the beginning of Photoshop’s magic,” Knoll said.

Over the past 20 years, Photoshop has evolved from a simple original display program to an application that has over 10 million users worldwide on Mac and Windows-based PCs. Countless other software companies have created software programs, Photoshop plug-ins and Photoshop actions that enrich the user experience. Not to mention the dozens of books, tutorials, workshops and other educational programs. An entire ecosystem surrounds Photoshop.

Photoshop logos through the years.

Not only has Photoshop grown from version 1.0 to where it is today at Photoshop Creative Suite (CS) 4, but Photoshop Elements, the program for enthusiasts is up to version 8, and there are even web-based solutions now, at Photoshop.com, as well as a Photoshop App., for the Apple iPhone and Android devices, as well as Photoshop Lightroom, now at version 2, (version 3 is in beta testing) for image management.

Photoshopped or Photoshop’d has even become a part of our vernacular to describe a digital image that has been altered. According to Wikipedia, Photoshopping is slang for the digital editing of images.

We here at Picture-soup.com doubt that anyone who uses Photoshop on a daily basis would want to live without the program, having grown to depend upon it for his or her livelihood. From its ability to help you salvage old, treasured family photographs, to retouching images to the point that the alterations are impossible to notice, Photoshop allows photographers and graphic artists to do their jobs better.

Long Time Users Comment

We asked a few of the folks we consider to be Photoshop Gurus to offer their thoughts on Photoshop turning 20. Read on…

Canon Explorer of Light and Print Master, Eddie Tapp (www.eddietapp.com), a photographer and educator first began using Photoshop with version 1. “I would open an image, clone something, close it out and a week later do the same thing. It wasn’t until the next version 2.5, did I jump into what Photoshop was then… more of a creative use with images applying glows, effects, this is when I developed the 90% method of color correction along with a few other techniques… and when 5.5 came out… Color Management became available for the masses for the first time,” he explains.

“What I use to love doing in the darkroom, I now love creating in Photoshop… Photoshop gives [me] so much more control in every aspect of processing my images… I do however, miss the smell of Fixer on my fingers after processing… perhaps I should invent Channel Fixer #5…”

“Photoshop the tool has aged well, becoming more and more sophisticated as it innovates technology at each release… From what I’ve seen and heard… the next release will be a celebration of enhancements and next level imaging…”

Jim Tierney, Chief Executive Anarchist at software company Digital Anarchy (www.digitalanarchy.com) started using Photoshop with version 2.0 and was developing plug-ins for it shortly thereafter with MetaTools. “It’s been interesting to see how the uses of Photoshop have expanded and changed,” he says. “When I first started using it, it was used more for design than photography. Certainly some photographers were using it, but it definitely wasn’t a requirement. You could shoot and print without ever going through an image editing program. And if your photo got scanned in, usually it went straight into Pagemaker or Quark [Xpress]. If the photo did go through Photoshop, usually it was just to tweak the contrast… either that or to do some crazy outlandish thing [to it]. Photoshop was a new tool, digital was a new medium, and people were experimenting. There were a lot of really bad Photoshop’d images out there.”

“Layers really changed things. It became much easier to do professional looking work. Before layers, you really had to understand all aspects of the program to get good results out of it. Not too mention, that around the time of versions 2.0 and 2.5 you were lucky to have a monitor that could display thousands of colors.”

“Digital imaging… the ubiquitous digital cameras that started [showing up] everywhere that made Photoshop such a powerful tool—not only for designers and photographers, but for medical, science, law enforcement uses, etc. …brought it to the point that now everyone knows what Photoshop is. THAT is an incredible difference, especially for someone who was using it when no one knew what you were talking about.”

“And Digital/RAW really changed things for photographers. It’s now become an essential tool for photographers. Those who aren’t shooting digitally and using RAW are a dying breed.”

“So I think the most interesting things about Photoshop turning 20 is all of the things that have happened around it to make it the tool it is.”

Fashion and beauty photographer Helene DeLillo (www.helenedelillo.com) first started using Photoshop at around version 1.5, when it was for scanning software. “They never thought it would be a product except for a tool to use with scanners,” she explains.

“Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are essential tools for photographers in the production and management of their digital images. In my professional work they are invaluable. Photoshop allows me to take my fine art/Sci-Fi creative work of faeries and magical creatures to beyond this world. If I dream them flying or in an eternal forest or garden I can now seam them together and make all the lighting & textures match… My dreams become still imagery.”

“Over the last 3 months my assistant has been archiving all our old files online so that I can access any images I ever retouched or captured…It’s been an awesome process and still is not yet done. However I have been reviewing images from over 10 years ago and what a difference—imagine not having layers and every time you made a big brush stroke you had to wait; in fact the Macintosh OS would give you a coffee cup with steam [coming] off of it instead of the possessed lollypop… sometimes it would be a 15 minute wait for an action or even 30 minutes for the unsharp mask [to take effect].”

“I Love Adobe Photoshop—HAPPY 20th—we love you Knoll Brothers!!!”

Photographer, author and consultant Andrew Darlow’s (http://www.imagingbuffet.com / http://www.PhotoPetTips.com) first exposure to Photoshop was with version 2.5 while he was working at a graphic arts/prepress/printing company in New York City. “Photoshop has been and continues to be an essential part of my workflow and it has helped me to do what I love best—take and make photos that express my vision—without having to deal with the many headaches that photographers have faced for so many years,” he says.

Photographer, Action Hero, and educator Kevin Kubota (www.kkphoto-design.com / www.kubotaimagetools.com) started in digital imaging when, “We can Scitex it out” was the buzz word at the studio he worked at. “That’s when it cost a few hundred bucks to send an image out to have a small blemish removed by a lab with a Scitex machine. Now anybody with Photoshop can easily do that in under a minute. Times have changed. I think I started using Photoshop at version 2 or 3. I remember it was frustrating because at that time it was very costly to have images scanned so that you could actually have something to manipulate in Photoshop. It was love at first sight though, and I ate it up—every pixel (that was pre-MEGApixel),” he says.

“Somehow I knew that this was the direction photography was headed. I eagerly adopted the early digital cameras as well—excited that I finally had a way to quickly get my images in the computer without costly scanning.”

“Being an early Photoshop adopter gave me a couple of advantages: I was able to enhance my images and show things to my clients that very few other photographers were showing at that time. It was a great boost to my business and it kept me excited about shooting…and discovering what I could do with the images in post.”

“I also learned early on how to create my own Photoshop Actions, which I then taught people how to do as well at my early workshops. I soon realized that the looks I created and the tools I used were very valuable to other photographers as well. Photoshop gave me a vehicle, and a common platform, to share these tools and techniques. It changed my life as it gave me another new business and opened new creative doors.”

“I think that Photographers generally fall in one of two camps—those that believe the art of photography happens solely in the camera, and those that believe it happens all the way from camera to presentation. Neither is right or wrong. The only thing ‘wrong’ would be to follow a path you didn’t believe in. I am in camp two. I think that there is no ‘rule’ that photography has to be pure. It’s an art form to me, just like painting. There are no rules in art—you combine tools, techniques, brushes, colors, whatever you want to create your vision. The end product is what matters, not the tools you used to get there. Photoshop has given photographers another tool to express their vision. It has helped to allow Photography to be impressionistic, modern, and fresh like few other artists tools have done. I love that.”

Photographer and instructor Gary Small (www.jsmallphoto.com) started using Photoshop in 1996, with Version 3. “It was the first version that used layers,” he notes. “Over the past 13 years, I have watched Photoshop grow and evolve into the wonderfully powerful program it is today, while at the same time, my skills and knowledge in this fantastic program have grown and evolved as well. I got to see and experience firsthand, the introduction of color management, adjustment layers, vector based text, text on a path, Liquify, Vanishing Point, Extract, Smart Objects, Healing Brush and Patch Tool, History Brush, Smart Filters, Content Aware Scaling, and so much more. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m looking forward to continuing this adventure.”

“Like Photography itself, I’ve found that there is no end to the learning process or the things you can do with Photoshop. Without a doubt, it has had the greatest and most positive impact on my career, over everything else I’ve ever involved myself in. The impact Photoshop has had on my work as a photographer as well as an image manipulator has been amazing. It has given me the opportunity to take my images to new levels, with amazing results that were not achievable prior to Photoshop hitting the scene.”

“As an educator, it is a huge rush to be able to pass along this knowledge to others who share the same passion for photography and image manipulation that I do. Seeing the excitement in others that I had when I first learned Photoshop has made the experience that much more fulfilling for me.”

Yours truly started using Photoshop around versions 5.5 or 6 and while I would not consider myself anywhere near the Guru status of those quoted above, I do know my way around the program. —DB.

Tell us what Photoshop means to you!

For more information about the Photoshop family of products, go to www.adobe.com.

Find Photoshop on Facebook at www.facebook.com/photoshop. Find Photoshop on Twitter at www.twitter.com/photoshop.

To see the NAPP Photoshop 20th Anniversary Celebration, go to www.photoshopuser.com/photoshop20th.

To see the Adobe TV Photoshop 20th Anniversary Broadcast, go to http://tv.adobe.com/go/photoshop-20th-anniversary.

Why Photographers Need to Stay in School

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I want to quote part of an article entitled Education Never Stops by Skip Cohen, president of Marketing Essentials International, that was printed in the June 2009 issue of Rangefinder Magazine.

“‘Years ago at a Nick Vedros seminar, I sat down next to Don Blair, who was 71 years old at the time and still recognized as one of the leading portrait photographers in America. I was shocked to notice Don feverishly taking notes on some of Nick’s lighting techniques. ‘Don’t you know this stuff already?’ I teased. ‘Are you kidding?’ he said, ‘This guy is giving me a ton of new ideas!’”

Wow. I knew what a wonderful teacher, mentor, and inspiration “Big Daddy”♦ a.k.a. Don Blair has been to hundreds, probably thousands of photographers in his career but I hadn’t assumed he attended the classes given by others. I figured, when you got to the pinnacle of your career you never looked back. I was wrong.

What amazes me then, is, if such a photographic icon as Don Blair realized at the age of 71 that he would benefit by continuing his education—then why don’t pros half his age (at that time) realize this?

I can’t tell you how many photographers I’ve met who think they know it all, who think there’s nothing left for them to learn, who think themselves above their peers.

Till the day you die, you’ll find yourself presented with new things you never knew before—business and marketing tips, capture and post production techniques. Only you can decide you want to refine your vision, re-craft your techniques, renew your enthusiasm for photography—by educating yourself. Whether it’s self-exploration or seminars and workshops—even opening a book and trying what you’ve read—all of these things can and will lead you to become a better photographer or a better businessman or woman.

There are a wonderful myriad of educational opportunities… just look at some that I’ve come across:

  • Long Island Photo Workshop – August 3-6, 2009 – Smithtown, NY – Instructors are Vincent Versace, Dave Black, Gary Small, Fay Sirkis, Janice Wendt, and Hanson Fong – www.liphotoworkshop.com.
  • Skip’s Summer School – August 16-19, 2009 – Las Vegas, NV – Instructors are Bambi Cantrell, Skip Cohen, Tony Corbell, Ron Dawson, Robert Evans, Jim Garner, Jerry Gihonis, Mitche Graf, Matt Hill, Kevin Kubota, Charles and Jennifer Maring, Dane Sanders, and Ken Sklute – www.mei500.com.
  • There are dozens of PPA affiliated workshops and one day seminars offered throughout the year. Check the website at www.ppa.com for more.
  • Renegade Photo Shoots are unique and different Photo Edu-Experiences. Recent Renegade Shoots earlier this year included City Shoots, Shoot with the Stars, Sip and Shoot – look for more events to be announced soon –  www.renegade-pr.com
  • Like to fly? Check this one out – September 27-30, 2009 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Instructors are Dirk Karsten and Chris Golson – A photo workshop set in the San Francisco Bay Area that will include a photo shoot aboard a Zeppelin in flight and trekking through an ancient cedar forest – www.chrisgolson.com/workshop
  • Sandy (Sam) Puc’ leads many workshops during the year – check her website for dates and locations – http://samspros.com
  • Eddie Tapp – Workshop in Iceland – August 16-22, 2009 – Check the website for other seminars and workshops as well – www.eddietapp.com
  • Antartica with Art Wolfe – Nov. 30-Dec. 10, 2010 – Check the website for other workshops as well – www.artwolfe.com
  • Santa Fe Workshops www.santafeworkshops.com
  • Palm Beach Photographic Workshops – www.workshop.org 
  • Lepp Institue Workshops – www.leppphoto.com 
  • Maine Media Workshops – multiple dates throughout the year – www.theworkshops.com
  • Barnstorm – Eddie Adams Workshop – Oct. 9-12, 2009 – (portfolio review required to be selected to attend)www.eddieadamsworkshop.com
  • National Geographic Photography Expeditions – offered throughout the year – check website for locations around the world and dates – www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/triptypes/photography

Tradeshows that also offer educational sessions:

  • PhotoPlus Expo – October 22-24, 2009– NY, NY – www.photoplusexpo.com
  • WPPI – Mar. 4-11, 2010 – Las Vegas, NV – www.wppionline.com; and this year WPPI goes on the road to four cities throughout 2009. Check the website for exact dates.
  • Imaging USA – Jan. 10-12, 2010 – Nashville, TN – www.imagingusa.org
  • PMA – Feb. 21-23, 2010 – Anaheim, CA – www.pmai.org

Can’t afford to travel? Webinars allow you to sit at your computer and learn. Most are Free. Webinars include:

  • Webinar Wednesdays (as of this writing, dates are set for the summer) – Kevin Kubota – www.kubotaimagetools.com/webinar_schedule.html
  • The Bogen Café series of free webinars cover a variety of photographic topics. An upcoming webinar is Adventure Sports Photography: Round Table with Adventure Photographer Michael Clark – Friday, July 17, 2009, 2- 3pm EDT – www.bogenimaging.us/webinar/
  • Artistry Webinars with Corel Painter Master Karen Sperling where you learn how to turn photos into paintings using Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter – www.artistrymag.com

This is just the tip of the iceberg. My point is, whatever your photographic niche, educational opportunities abound. Open your eyes and mind and your experiences will last long after these events are over.

— Diane Berkenfeld

♦ Big Daddy was the nickname that Don Blair, who passed away a few years ago, had. He will be fondly remembered by all those, including myself, who knew and learned from him.