Chapter 2. Camera and Lens Effects in Photoshop

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With the new popularity of digital single lens reflex (SLR) cameras, the focus on lenses and their effects has increased. Everyone wants to get the compressed look found in long telephoto shots, or simulate the excitement possible by zooming a lens during exposure. But not every digital photographer is equipped with a camera that has a super-long zoom range, nor can those who've sprung for the price of a dSLR always afford to buy every lens they want to own. Lenses are very cool, but you may not have all the lens power you really want.

Of course, photography is not the only artistic endeavor in which tools can hold as much fascination as the process itself, or even the end result. Serious cabinetmakers may be just as proud of their sophisticated new hollow chisel mortiser as they are of the drop-front desk crafted with it. In the same vein, it's common to meet a photographer who feels you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many lenses.

Fortunately, you don't actually need a dozen lenses, a bag full of filters, or enough light sources to illuminate the Statue of Liberty to take great pictures. Many of you probably get along very well with nothing more than the zoom lens or electronic flash built into your camera. But whether you're a photo gadget freak or a photo gadget phobe, Photoshop has some tools you'll find extremely useful. Built into your favorite image editor are capabilities that let you duplicate many camera and lighting effects.

Simulating traditional photographic techniques in Photoshop is useful for several reasons. First, even if you own every lens or piece of gear known to civilization you may not always have your prized gadget with you when you need it. For example, I've traveled to Europe carrying just one camera body, a 35mm and a 105mm lens. More recently, I've gone on trips with a digital camera, its built-in zoom lens, and a stack of memory cards as my sole still photography equipment. It's also possible that you had a particular piece of equipment available but didn't think to use it, or were unable to put it to work in a fast-moving shooting situation.

A second reason to use Photoshop to mimic traditional photographic techniques is that you simply don't have the interest in or budget for a particular item, but, from time to time, would still like to take advantage of its capabilities. Many photographers who generally work with a single zoom lens (including the one built into their digital camera) might want a fisheye picture on occasion. Photoshop can help.

Yet another reason to use Photoshop is to apply some creative camera and lens techniques to older photos in your collection. A favorite old photo can mimic the effect you can achieve with a lens that you only dreamed about when the original was snapped.

This chapter will show you how to mimic many traditional camera and lens effects using Photoshop. In each section, I'll describe the traditional camera technique first to give you an idea of what the technique is supposed to do. Then, I'll follow with some instructions on how to duplicate, or improve on, the effect in Photoshop.



Photoshop can duplicate the look of many different lenses, particularly some of those specialized optics that cost an arm and a leg, even though you probably wouldn't use them more than a few times a year. For example, for my film cameras, I happen to own two fisheye lenses (7.5mm and 16mm versions), a perspective control lens, several zoom lenses, and a massive 400mm telephoto. Other than the zooms, I don't use any of these very often. I use even fewer lens add-ons with my digital point-and-shoot cameras, relying on my favorite electronic viewfinder (EVF)-equipped camera's unadorned built-in lens 28mm to 200mm (35mm equivalent) for 95 percent of my shots.

The situation is a little different with my digital SLR, of course, as I've succumbed to the Lens Lust disease in a big way, and own four zoom lenses that cover the 35mm equivalent range from 18mm to 750mm, plus a 105mm macro close-up lens. In addition, five or six of my film camera lenses also can be used with my digital SLR.

So, my lens swapping ranges from nil (with the digital EVF camera) to as-needed with my dSLR, but I still find myself encountering shooting situations that call for a lens or focal length I don't have available. I often end up taking a straight photograph and using Photoshop to apply the special effects.

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Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Understanding Adobe Photoshop Features You Will Use

Adobe Photoshop can be a complex tool only because you can do so much with it, however for in this video series, we're going to keep it as simple as possible. In fact, in this video you'll see an overview of the few tools and Adobe Photoshop features we will use. When you see this video, you'll see how you can do so much with so few features, but you'll learn how to use them in depth in the future videos.

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