About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My 10 Favorite Photoshop Short-Cuts

Shoots and Ladders
This week I have a short article about short-cuts.  Keyboard short-cuts can speed your Photoshop work-flow, but it is impossible to keep track of all of the options.  I find that just a few short-cuts take care of my most frequent and repetitive tasks.

Sometimes it seems as if I spend half of my conscious existence with my eyes wandering through the magical effects that Photoshop can produce on my images. Recently my photoshop time has been substantially reduced by my pre-editing in Lightroom, but all my images still pass through Photoshop for final tweaking. Photoshop can be a confusing soup of menus and options. It is easy to get lost in the seemingly limitless creative possibilities, but, for most images, my editing incorporates a fairly limited number of steps which often takes only a few minutes to complete. 

The Flow
Blueberry Row, Green Mt. Orchard, Putney, Vt
I start by reviewing the image looking for intrusions that may require removal such as cigarette packs or areas of distracting color or brightness along the edges. I determine whether I need to do more to tame or reclaim the shadows and highlight. I routinely try an adjustment in vibrance and then may make further corrections in important individual colors. I usually bring up the curves tool to tweak the contrast, but these changes often get applied to limited areas of the image with the use of a layer mask. At that point, I'm usually done. I save a copy of the unsharpened and uncropped picture at full size and resolution as my base image and then start cropping, resizing and sharpening to fit my specific needs. It is all fairly routine and, where there is a routine,  keyboard short-cuts can help to speed the process. 

Key-Board Short-Cuts
Trevor Morris' List
Editing can be accelerated by the use of at least some of the many key-board short-cuts that are available to accomplish frequently used tasks with a single key stroke or a combination of keys.  The full list of Short-Cuts in Photoshop is truly mind numbing, and I have found it much easier to access seldom used tasks through the menu system or through the click of a button on the screen. I can create a copy of a layer by pressing "Ctrl-J", but I can accomplish the same result by dragging the layer
Menu Short-Cuts
to the New Layer button in the Layers window. I find it easier to "drag and drop" than to search for the "J" key hidden in the middle of the keyboard.  I tend to use short-cuts for tasks that I do frequently or repetitively,  such as when I am using a paint brush to edit a layer mask and have to continuously  adjust the size of the brush as I move in and out of tight spots, or when I repeatedly jump between white and black brushes to add or subtract from the mask. The good news is that keyboard short-cuts are easy to find. There are many lists quickly available on the net, but many of Photoshop's menu options will also show the corresponding shorts right next to the commands. If you frequently go to a particular menu item, the short-cut is right there.  Pressing "Alt Ctrl Shift K" will bring up a list of "K"eyboard short-cuts as well as providing the opportunity to create your own short-cuts.

Ctrl Alt Shift K to View and Create Short-Cuts

For a more exhaustive list, check out Trevor Morris' lists which include the short-cuts for various versions of Photoshop


My Favorite Short-Cuts
Everyone's approach to editing is different and your favorite short-cuts may be quite different from mine, but here are a few of the key-board commands that I find most useful. These few probably account for 90% of the short-cuts I use on a routine basis.

First I have to mention the simple editing functions:

"Ctrl-X" : Cut

"Ctrl-C" : Copy

"Ctrl-V" : Paste

"Alt-Ctrl-Z" : back up one step
Given my fumbling editing, the backup key is used often.

Selections and Masks
My most frequently used short-cuts have to do with the creation and refinement of selections and masks. 

Four Focus-Stacked Images  with Complex Selection Edits

"Ctrl-A" : Select whole image

"Ctrl-D" ; DeSelect

Show the Mask
"\" : Show the mask in red
Revealing the mask in a red overlay is a great help in refining its effect and catching any missed locations.

"Alt-I" : Invert mask
A carefully drawn mask is a great resource within an image and can be copied to control the effect of various layers. Masked can also be inverted to apply an effect to the opposite area. 

These allow quick adjustments in brush size and togggling between revealing and hiding areas of selections or masks.

"[" :  make brush bigger

"]" :  make brush smaller
Quick changes in brush size also helps when painting or cloning.
Brush size can be refined with repeated presses on the "[" or "]" keys.

"X" :  toggle foreground and background color
The mantra is "White reveals / Black conceals " and the "X" key allows easy toggling between the two as editing is refined.

Bringing It Home, Chesterfield, NH

That's it, my top ten, and ten is about all my aging brain can retain.   Those nit-pickers out there will have already figured out that my list actually includes 11 short-cuts. To you I can only say, "Don't you have any better things to do"!  Go make your own list.

I would enjoy hearing about your favorites.

Jeffrey Newcomer

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