Like death and taxes, upgrading your software is inevitable but not necessarily fun. Some people upgrade as soon as the box hits the proverbial shelf; others take years, buying a new version only after their service bureau or printer refuses to take their old files anymore. Sooner or later, though, you'll be faced with new features, new challenges, and a new bottle of aspirin.
What's New in "CS2"
The most sweeping change in Photoshop CS2 is the replacement of the File Browser with Bridge, an entirely new standalone application. Depending on how you use Photoshop, it may affect you hardly at all, or it may present an opportunity to rethink your entire workflow. Some color management features have been moved or renamed, but there's no new functionality there. Ultimately, most of the new features provide either improvements, or entirely new functionality; a few may provoke some head-scratching.
Here are a few important changes in Photoshop CS2 (we're not listing every new feature here, just the ones you'd better know about before jumping into the rest of the book).
Bridge is a new standalone application that's more than a browser but a little less than an asset manager (though it seems irrevocably headed in that direction). While almost everyone will find it useful for managing collections of images, digital Raw shooters will especially find that its ability to host the Camera Raw plugin without tying up Photoshop opens up some interesting new workflow possibilities. We cover Bridge in depth in Chapter 11, Building a Digital Workflow.
Multiple layer selection
Seemingly, the most common reason for linking layers, according to Adobe's usability testing, is to move them simultaneously. In Photoshop CS2, you can simply select multiple layers and move themShift-click to select contiguous layers, Command-click to select discontiguous ones.
However, it's now also possible to have no layers selected in the Layers palettewe're hard-pressed to find a use for that! Layer linking is still possible via the link icon in the Layers palette, but the links are only visible when one of the linked layers is selected. This makes some people crazy, but we found we got used to it pretty quickly. We discuss the new behavior later in this chapter.
Noise reduction has traditionally not been one of Photoshop's strengths, and in the past we've used some fairly demented workarounds. The new Reduce Noise filter is a step in the right direction, but but doesn't quite eliminate the need for these workaroundswe discuss it in detail in Chapter 9, Sharpness, Detail, and Noise Reduction.
Sharpening is an area that's been largely ignored since the Unsharp Mask filter first made its appearance. Photoshop CS2 introduces an all-new sharpening filter, Smart Sharpen. It's interesting, and possibly useful, though it shows signs of being a 1.0 implementationwe cover it in depth in Chapter 9, Sharpness, Detail, and Noise Reduction.
Rounding out the new offerings that address detail is the new Lens Correction filter, which allows you to fix barrel and pincushion distortion, chromatic aberration, and perspective errors. It doesn't turn an SLR into a view camera, but it's a fair substitute for tilt/shift lenses. We discuss it in detail in Chapter 9, Sharpness, Detail, and Noise Reduction.
Menu and workspace customization
Now you can personalize your copy of Photoshop to the nth degree, hiding stuff you never use, and making the things you use all the time more accessible. The downside is that you can also render your copy of Photoshop incomprehensible to everyone (including yourself) if you aren't careful. We'll look at the new customization features later in this chapter.
Spotting for dust or scratches usually involves mind-numbing drudgery. The healing brush tool, which debuted in Photoshop 7, helps a great deal, but the new spot healing brush in Photoshop CS2 saves lots of time by eliminating the requirement that you set a source point for healing. We'll look at it in Chapter 12, Essential Image Techniques.
The Camera Raw plugin, now at version 3, has become something very close to an application within an application. The tonal fine-tuning allowed by the Curve tab, along with the crop and straighten tools, and the ability to batch save directly from Camera Raw, add up to less time spent post-conversion in Photoshop. With digital Raw capture, Photoshop becomes a tool for making localized corrections and layering images rather than a mandatory step in the workflow. We cover Camera Raw in much more detail in Chapter 11, Building a Digital Workflow.
Merge to HDR
If you want to capture the entire dynamic range of real-world scenes, from brightest specular highlight all the way into deep shadows, it's unlikely that you can do so with a single exposure. Merge to HDR lets you combine multiple bracketed exposures of the same scene (ideally in Camera Raw format) in an HDR (High Dynamic Range) file, which uses 32 bits of floating point data per pixel, per channel to record an essentially unlimited dynamic range. We'll look at Merge to HDR in Chapter 12, Essential Image Techniques.
The new Smart Objects feature lets you place vector or pixel-based filesincluding Camera Raw imagesas editable, rotatable, and scalable objects without turning them into pixels. It's an evolutionary rather than revolutionary featureyou can't see the Smart Object in context in the Photoshop document when you edit it, so it's really just a shortcut for going back to the source object, editing it, and bringing the edited version back into Photoshopbut it's a big time-saver nonetheless. We look at it in Chapter 12, Essential Image Techniques.
The new Vanishing Point filter makes cloning objects to match the perspective of existing ones much easier. Add an extra ten stories to the Empire State Building or a second deck to the Golden Gate Bridge with just a few mouse clicks. We'll look at Vanishing Point in Chapter 12, Essential Image Techniques.
Photoshop's huge gravitational force continues to attract features from its little brother ImageReady. The newest casualty is the Animation palette, which lets you create animated GIFs based on the visual appearance of layers. For those who need this sort of thing, we cover it in Chapter 14, Multimedia and the Web.
Photoshop CS2 offers a number of other smaller changes, such as image warping (hiding in the Transform submenu, under the Edit menu), a Red Eye tool for removing those hideous red camera flash reflections, the ability to change the size of some of the user-interface elements, and a WYSIWYG font menu. We were going to say these were all improvements until we got to the font menu "feature"fortunately, this is one you can easily turn off in the new Type panel of the Preferences dialog box.