An Introduction to Photoshop
for the Nature Photographer
©Doug Weldon Photography - www.dougweldon.com


These introductory Photoshop tutorials are provided free to novice nature photographers who wish to use photo-editing software to  better realize the vision they had at time of image capture. 
I am not a Photoshop apologist. I believe that while proficiency in the field is essential, computer-based editing is an integral part of modern photography. It cannot be ignored. I shoot RAW rather than letting the camera make decisions for me, and make my final decisions regarding an image at the computer. When asked, "Do you use Photoshop?" my response is, "Of course!"
Most professional photographers have embraced digital capture, and those who still use film often scan their images for processing in Photoshop or some other digital image editing application. While Photoshop can be used to manipulate images in a way that results in a false or unreal representation of nature, it can also be used in the same way that revered film photographers of the past used darkroom techniques to achieve their vision of a natural scene.
The tutorials that are included here embrace the vision of representing nature as it exists. No gross manipulation of an image is discussed. What you will learn are the importance of using layers in editing your images and five basic, but critical adjustments that can help you to improve the images that you capture and to realize the vision that you had at the time of capture. These are procedures that are commonly used by nature photographers today and can be found in many Photoshop books aimed at the nature photography community. They include:
- the use of "Adjustment Layers" to create an editing environment that is very flexible,
- the use of "Levels" to set white and black points, enabling you to improve contrast, and color
- the use of "Curves" to control mid-tones,
- the use of "Hue and Saturation" controls to make an image "pop,"
- the use of noise reduction software to clean up an image,
- and the use of sharpening tools to prepare an image for presentation on screen or on paper.
These are by no means the only manipulations that can be achieved in Photoshop, but they are a great place to start, and will definitely help you to refine the images you capture.
These tutorials will not discuss the merits of RAW capture, and will not discuss RAW conversion software. It is assumed that you already know how to get your images from your camera to your computer, that you can access them for editing, and that you have Photoshop CS or a later version. It is recommended that when you do convert from RAW format, you work with TIFF's as this is a more flexible format than JPEG and allows one to work in a 16 bit environment rather than the 8 bits that JPEG allows.
Some of the tutorials are Windows-based and others are Mac-based, but all are readily applicable to Photoshop running on any platform. I do not believe that either platform offers a clear advantage over the other, and so use both, depending upon the needs of the task at hand.
If you have any questions regarding the tutorials, feel free to contact me via the Site Contact Form.