Adobe CS5 adds many features

by imageguy

As a member of NAPP, I had the good fortune to be included in Beta testing the new Adobe Photoshop CS5. So often when a new upgrade comes out, the tendency is to wait a version or two to allow more new features to be added to make the upgrade price worthwhile. I’ve been using CS4 for less than a year, but can easily say that I will upgrade to CS5 because the new improvements are so numerous and so dramatic. The time savers and new capabilities make it well worth the cost to upgrade and, since NAPP offers a 15% discount on all Adobe products, the price is even better (a bonus). We were prevented as beta testers from revealing, first, that we even were beta testers, and second, from saying anything about the new features in CS5. But Adobe announced the release of CS5 on Monday, and so now the lid is off and we are free to talk. NAPP has been running webinars twice a day all week to tout the new release and all its new features. I still have not tested everything, but what I have tested is amazing. Here are a few things I have to show you.

One of my more recent directions with my photographic art has been the creation of photographic abstracts. In Photoshop CS5, there is a new tool called Puppet Warp that will help me to do new things in my abstracts that I simply could not do before. Puppet Warp allows you to place “push pins” at location on a mesh type grid, anchoring the image at those points. You are then free to warp the image and maintain those anchors where they are. It’s amazing to see. These two images were created using Puppet Warp in the process with other steps.

CS5 abstract 1

CS5 abstract 2

During the webinars that NAPP has been running, R. C. Concepcion showed a demo using Puppet Warp with a small cartoon character on a white background. By anchoring points on the body, he could warp-move the arms and legs and head like animation. The anchors even have depth or order about them that allow you to bring the points forward or send them backward, warping objects in front or behind others. It’s amazing.

The second abstract above also uses another new feature in CS5. HDR toning.  HDR or High Dynamic Range photography is all the rage these days with programs like Photomatix being the software of choice for this kind of manipulation. Essentially it allows the combination of several images of the same scene, shot on a tripod at a range of exposures so all areas from deep shadow to bright highlight can be compressed to appear in the image. This can be a subtle effect or it can be exaggerated (as you will see in many HDR images these days) to create very edgy high contrast graphic images.

CS5 has incorporated HDR Pro now that allows this to be done directly in Photoshop. Unlike Photomatix HDR images, Photoshop controls the amount of noise that results with much greater success. The controls are fairly elaborate, though not as extensive as Photomatix. But very wide ranging in their ability. This HDR feature can be used to create the same edgy look as many popular HDR images or can simply be used to control contrast and dynamic range in general images such as in this landscape, created from four exposures. One of the big advantages of HDR Pro in CS5 is the anti-ghosting feature that allows you to choose the frame from which you wish to extract detail that might show movement in the combination resulting in ghosting, such as water reflections or leaves moving in a breeze. The image below was shot on a breezy day, but no ghosting appears.

hdr 1

In addition, Photoshop CS5 also has a feature called HDR toning that is simply an adjustment operation to a single image, that creates the popular HDR look without combining several images. It comes with a number of presets (none of which seem to look very good at first, unfortunately) and the ability to create your own presets and save them. Here are a few examples of the HDR Toning adjustment using my own preset.

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Probably the most talked about feature in CS5 to be added is Content Aware Fill. When I first saw this, I was blown away. This is a feature that is not well suited for every instance of object replacement in a scene or repair of a mistake. But what it can do, when used in the right place, is often unbelievable. It may not do everything you’d like when you apply it, but it will bring you so much closer in a fraction of the time, that what you have left to do is minimal. For those who do Panoramas by merging several shots, you know how you must crop major areas to square up the panorama.  Content Aware Fill does an amazing job of creating content to fill those edge areas so extensive cropping is not required.

Here are some examples of Content Aware Fill. The first shot is one that had a bad lens flare. This one took a bit of experimenting with the selections, but with a little cleanup work, the results were very good and took far less time than I would have spent without Content Aware Fill. Here’s the before and after.

caf 1

caf2

Here are a couple of other before and afters just to show how well this works. Both required minimal cleanup with healing brush or the clone tool.

caf3

Before

caf4

After

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Before

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After

In addition to Content Aware Fill, there is also Content Aware Healing Brush. Here’s one that was just fun using Content Aware.

caf7

It actually has great promise for retouchers and those who repair old images.

These are just a few examples. CS5 also includes new Noise Reduction in Camera Raw as well as the addition of Grain effects. There is an amazing upgrade to Refine Edge when dealing with tricky selections like wispy hair. There’s 3D Repousse that allows you to turn almost any shape, type, etc. into a 3D object with just a click. There are new perspective features, a big upgrade to Lens Correction, great new brush features, and Mini Bridge, a small version of Bridge that allows you to view files in Photoshop in a small panel without having to shift out to the Bridge application (although Bridge does have to be running in the background because Mini Bridge is actually connected to the main version of Bridge). And there’s even more.

So if you are a regular Photoshop user, you’re gonna love the enhancements. Adobe is planning to ship by mid May say all the reports, so preorder now. You’ll be glad you did.

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