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Adobe Photoshop Software 101: Everything You Need to Know

You have probably seen a lot of talk about Photoshop if you are starting to get into photography. It seems as though everyone uses it, but when they talk about it, they might as well be speaking an alien language if you’ve never used it yourself. Here’s an introduction to Photoshop with everything that you need to know as you start on your journey towards being a professional-standard retoucher.



What is Photoshop?

Let’s start off at the very beginning. Adobe Photoshop is an editing program which is used for all kinds of graphics, from photography to digital art. For the purposes of this article, we’ll talk about its uses for photography – though there is plenty of crossover with the art and graphic design tools when you get into more complex editing.

There are many different editions of Photoshop which have been released over the years, and you may see references to different versions. The current Photoshop build is known as Photoshop CC. It is only available through a subscription package, though you can also trial it out for a short time for free. The last edition of Photoshop to be released before CC, which was available for a one-time purchase fee, was Photoshop CS6.

Photoshop may seem expensive at first, but it’s definitely worth the price. While there are free editing programs available, none of them will provide the editing power and the flexibility of Photoshop. Using actions is just one of the key tools of Photoshop which make it so much easier to work with than other programs.


Where can I get Photoshop?

Getting your hands on Photoshop is pretty easy, but you have to make sure that you go to the right source. If you download the program from anywhere other than the Adobe website, chances are that you are downloading a fake which is riddled with viruses. Make sure that you are on the official site before you start.

Once you are there, you can sign up for either just Photoshop, or the whole Creative Cloud package. Adobe’s other products for creatives include Lightroom, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and other programs you may have heard of. For strictly photographic purposes, Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC are the only ones you will need. You can get both of these under the Creative Cloud Photography Plan.


The Creative Cloud membership allows you to sign in to and use all of the tools in Photoshop, as well as personalizing the program and setting it up just how you like it. If you stop paying your monthly subscription, you won’t be able to log in and use it. The nice thing about Photoshop CC compared to the old versions, is you no longer need to keep purchasing the new software releases. Being a subscriber means you get access to all new updates and releases immediately, without needing to worry about buying new software.


Why should I choose Photoshop?

There are a lot of advantages to using Photoshop over other editing programs. First off is the great package that Adobe have put together for photographers. You can get Photoshop and Lightroom together for a lower price than purchasing just one of them, and you also get a slew of free mobile apps. You can even set up your own portfolio website for free.

Another great reason to choose Photoshop is the sheer range of possibilities that it allows. It is the industry standard in photo editing and it holds this status for a reason. You can edit your photos in any way you can imagine with Photoshop, from smoothing skin to changing body shapes, to replacing colours and even backgrounds, to adding in lots of different images that create one finished image. Whatever you want to do, the tools are there.

Finally, the amount of tools you can download to help even further with Photoshop are incredible. With actions, which trigger set functions in one click so that you don’t have to do them manually, overlays, which bring in new parts of images to change the mood or look of your photo, and batch processing, which edits every photo automatically, it’s a very powerful toolset. Once you have everything set up how you want it, you can professionally edit photos in a matter of minutes – or even seconds – rather than spending hours. Also, Summerana’s products are all compatible for Photoshop and Lightroom.

If you run a photography business or are an amateur looking to get started, there are huge benefits to using Photoshop and Lightroom.


How do I get started using Photoshop?

Once the program is installed on your computer, it’s definitely worthwhile to spend some time playing around and seeing what you can do. Use the ‘file’ menu to open a photograph, and wait for it to load up – which may only take the blink of an eye. Now you’re ready to start editing.

There are a number of basic tools which you might want to familiarise yourself with first. When you first open Photoshop, and before you move the toolbars around to where you want them, there are two main areas to look at. These are along the left-hand side, where you will find basic tools; and on the right-hand side, where you will find adjustments.

Take the time to play around with your photograph using these tools until you get a handle on them. Here are some you will find on the left:

  • Move tool: helps you to move an image around within the frame
  • Rectangular or elliptical marquee tool: allows you to select part of an image within a set shape
  • Lasso tool: allows you to select part of an image free-hand
  • Quick selection tool: automatically selects parts of an image based on the edges that the program detects
  • Crop tool: cuts down an image to any size or proportion you want
  • Eyedropper tool: for selecting a color in your image
  • Brush tool: for painting right onto your image
  • Eraser tool: for rubbing out mistakes

There are plenty more to look through, including some more advanced tools. If you click your mouse and hold it down on any of these tools, you will also find a range of other options which do similar functions – but with important differences

Some of the tools you will find on the right include:

  • Brightness/contrast
  • Levels
  • Curves
  • Exposure
  • Vibrance
  • Hue/Saturation
  • Color Balance
  • Black & White

And so on. These are all used to adjust your image’s color, levels of darkness and brightness, and overall appearance. Try playing around with them and see what happens. You can also use the ‘auto’ function on many of them to see what Photoshop’s processors think is the best way to edit your image or use Summerana’s actions to take all the guess work out.

There are a lot of learning resources across the web to help you get started and learn how to use Photoshop. A great start could be to see our editing education articles and video tutorials and view our video learning channel on Youtube.

Here is a video Grace Pamela put together:


There’s lots more to explore in Photoshop, but these are the basics you need to get started. Once you know a little about how everything works, it’s time to get experimenting with actions and try the more advanced tools!

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