The Steps in the Digital Process
The digital imaging process contains three separate steps – capture, manipulate and output. Capturing the image is the first step. It is at this point that the color, quality and detail of your image will be determined. Careful adjustment of either the camera or scanner settings will help ensure that your images contain as much of the original’s information as possible. In particular, you should ensure that delicate highlight and shadow details are evident in the final image.
Color or bit depth determines the number of colors possible in a digital file. Confusingly the number of colors is often referred to as ‘bits per color channel’ with most files being made up of three channels – Red, Green and Blue. This gives a total of three times the bits per channel. Images below:
1. 8 bits per color channel or 24-bit total color (16.7 million colors).
2. 8-bit total color (256 colors).
3. 4-bit total color (16 colors).
4. 1-bit total color (two colors).
If you notice that some clipping path or loss of detail, is occurring in your scans, try reducing the contrast settings. If your camera pictures are too dark, or light, adjust the exposure manually to compensate. It is easier to capture the information accurately at this point in the process than try to recreate it later. Manipulation is where the true power of the digital process becomes evident. Manipulation may consist many features, for example clipping path or deep etching, photo retouching, photo restoration, image masking, color correction, ghost mannequin, drop shadow and vector conversion etc. It is here that you can enhance and change your images in ways that are far easier than ever before. Altering the color, contrast or brightness of an image is as simple as a couple of button clicks. Changing the size or shape of a picture can be achieved in a few seconds, and complex manipulations like combining two or more images together can be completed in minutes rather than the hours, or even days, needed with traditional techniques. Manipulation gives digital illustrators the power to take a base image and alter it many times so that it can be used in a variety of situations and settings. Once changed, it is possible to output this same image in many ways. It can be printed, used as an illustration in a business report, become part of a website, be sent to friends on the other side of the world as an email attachment, or projected onto a large screen as a segment in a professional presentation.
Where does Photoshop Elements Fit into the Process?
Photoshop Elements is a program that can be used for enhancing, manipulating, printing, presenting and organizing your digital photographs. Put simply, this means that it is the pivot point for the whole digital imaging process. Its main job is to provide the tools, filters and functions that you need to manage, change and alter your pictures.
Elements is well suited for this role as it is built upon the same core structure as Adobe’s famous professional-level
program Photoshop. Many of the functions found in this industry-leading package are also present in Elements but, unlike Photoshop, Adobe has made Elements easier to learn and, more importantly, easier to use, than its professional cousin. In this way, Adobe has thankfully taken into account that, although a lot of users need to produce professional images as part of their daily jobs, not all of these users are, or want to be, imaging professionals.
In addition, Elements contains features designed to download digital pictures from your camera, or scanner, directly into the program, as well as functions that allow you to easily output your finished images to web or print. When used in conjunction with other programs, like Premiere Elements, it is also possible to edit and enhance video sequences and then combine the images from Photoshop Elements with the movies from Premiere Elements in a combined presentation.