For a long time, Photoshop's use of filters remained quite stagnant, with few new filters added from release to release. Indeed, many of the best filters in the Photoshop arsenal dated back to Adobe's acquisition of Aldus Corporation, and its three Gallery Effects packages almost a decade ago. These 36 filters were eventually folded into Photoshop itself, and there were only a few minor additions to Photoshop's default array for many years.
Now, Adobe has started to move forward again with interesting and effective filters. An increasing number of plug-ins are joining the Filter Gallery, which lets you preview and choose from among most of the filters that have their own sliders or other controls. Recent releases of Photoshop gave us new capabilities with filters like Fibers, Extract, Liquify, and Pattern Maker. Photoshop CS2 has added six brand new filters discussed elsewhere in this book, including Box Blur, Shape Blur, and Surface Blur; Lens Correction; Reduce Noise; and Smart Sharpen. It's tough coming up with new visual effects that can be achieved only by pushing pixels around or changing their brightness. Some of them, like the Photo Filter effect, appear to be more of a shortcut for applying a change you can do manually than a true new filter. However, for those of us who like to tweak our photos to get new looks, any new filter or plug-in is a welcome addition.
After all, in the realm of conventional photography, filters have long been an important corrective and creative tool. The same is true in the digital domain. Filters created for Photoshop can fix bad images, add artistic flair, or transform a shoebox reject into a triumphant prize winner.
Anyone serious about photography comes to depend on his kit of filter attachments that fit in front of (or sometimes inside) his lens. Glass or gelatin filters can correct for improper lighting conditions, add a romantic fuzzy glow to an image, or provide incredible multi-image effects. Indeed, products like the versatile Cokin Filter System have become subgenres of photographic techniques on their own; there are entire books written on the use of Cokin filters, and a large number of unofficial websites dedicated to their use.
As you might guess, having ventured so deeply into this book, Photoshop can duplicate many of these effects through its built-in capabilities. For example, all the capabilities of color balancing filters can be mimicked using Photoshop's color correction features, as you learned in Chapter 6. Many of the special effects possible with Cokin and other filter sets can be achieved using the 100+ filters included with Photoshop, and will be addressed in this chapter. You'll also learn how to use the Photoshop CS Filter Gallery.
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