The Practicing Photographer

Photoshop and Automator


The Practicing Photographer

with Ben Long

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Video: Photoshop and Automator

I really enjoy post production. There's something that happens in the editing and correction and printing. I, I feel like that's just where so much of image making happens. I, I really like that part of the photographic process. However, it's often very tedious and repetitive and repeats itself, over and over, again and again. Saying the same thing. But, you get the idea. Anyway, there is, if you are a Mac user, a technology you can use that can help speed up some of the just tedious part of post production. In this week's Practicing Photographer we're going to look at automator, a, an application and technology that's built into the Mac OS that you can exploit as a Photoshop user if you add on an extra little piece of software.
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  1. 7m 23s
    1. Understanding options for tripod heads NEW
      7m 23s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 11h 38m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 56s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s
    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
      3m 15s
    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
      4m 40s
    73. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
      2m 55s
    74. Getting your project out into the world
      6m 25s
    75. Exploring how to think about shooting a new environment
      3m 56s
    76. Discussing the book "The Passionate Photographer" with Steve Simon
      6m 4s
    77. Highlighting iOS 8 updates on the iPhone5S
      10m 46s
    78. Exploring manual controls with iOS 8 and ProCamera
      5m 30s
    79. Understanding how to compose with an empty sky
      4m 54s
    80. Using an iPhone to make a print in the darkroom
      7m 16s
    81. How to use glycerin as a photography tool
      2m 16s
    82. Understanding micro focus adjustment and Lens Align
      11m 19s
    83. Working with hair in post
      3m 28s
    84. Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject
      5m 50s
    85. Getting inspired through the work of others
      11m 22s
    86. Taking a flattering portrait with flash
      4m 21s
    87. Creating an unaligned HDR image
      3m 3s
    88. Exploring how to use Bokeh
      5m 38s
    89. Shooting stills from a drone
      6m 57s
    90. Using a monitor to get a first person view of the aerial camera
      8m 0s
    91. Understanding lens profile correction
      5m 33s
    92. Working with models
      2m 40s
    93. Understanding the labels on SD cards
      10m 32s
    94. Setting up a macro time lapse of a flower
      6m 18s
    95. Taking a portrait that's tightly cropped or slightly obscured
      3m 24s
    96. Tips for shooting panoramas
      7m 16s
    97. Carrying a point-and-shoot camera
      4m 44s
    98. Adjusting the color of shadows in an image
      5m 35s
    99. Evaluating camera-strap options
      4m 42s
    100. The 100th Practicing Photographer
      3m 31s
    101. Using light-pollution maps for planning night shoots
      3m 26s
    102. Shooting a series of star shots for a stack
      8m 32s
    103. Stitching together stacks of stars
      8m 59s
    104. Understanding how to clean sensor dust
      10m 27s
    105. Dry sensor cleaning
      6m 23s
    106. Cleaning the sensor with moisture
      7m 32s
    107. Composing in the center
      2m 48s
    108. Working with an electronic shutter control
      2m 50s
    109. Understanding how to use the Wi-Fi feature in some cameras
      2m 56s
    110. Exploring the software equivalent to graduated ND (neutral density) filters
      7m 8s
    111. Don't be predictable in your framing
      10m 21s
    112. Shooting with ND filter and flash to balance subject and background exposure
      2m 42s
    113. Understanding when to go low contrast
      3m 15s
    114. Reasons for shooting images alone
      4m 5s
    115. Working with colored lens filters and converting to black and white
      14m 4s
    116. Waiting for a subject when the light is good
      5m 2s

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Watch the Online Video Course The Practicing Photographer
11h 47m Appropriate for all May 16, 2013 Updated Jul 23, 2015

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each installment concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.

Ben Long

Photoshop and Automator

I really enjoy post production. There's something that happens in the editing and correction and printing. I, I feel like that's just where so much of image making happens. I, I really like that part of the photographic process. However, it's often very tedious and repetitive and repeats itself, over and over, again and again. Saying the same thing. But, you get the idea. Anyway, there is, if you are a Mac user, a technology you can use that can help speed up some of the just tedious part of post production. In this week's Practicing Photographer we're going to look at automator, a, an application and technology that's built into the Mac OS that you can exploit as a Photoshop user if you add on an extra little piece of software.

So first a little history. In the gosh, mid 90s, Apple added a technology to the Mac OS called AppleScript. It's a little scripting language that sits below pretty much everything else you'd do on the OS. If you go into utilities folder in your application folder you'll find something called AppleScript Editor and there's a little interpretive programming language you can use to script applications that are scriptable. Photoshop is a scriptable application. In, I don't know, maybe about ten years ago, Apple added a layer on top of AppleScript called Automator.

Apple Script is a real little programming language. You have to learn it, and it can take a while. Automator was meant to be a front end to AppleScript, a way for non-programmers to easily get access to some automation tools. Automator also sits in your Applications folder. You may not ever have known it was there. And with it, you can automate all sorts of things on your Mac. By default, you can not automate Photoshop. To do that you need to add something called automater actions to your OS. I wrote a bunch of Photoshop automater actions that you can get from

If you come here you'll find right at the top, learn more and download, this takes you to a page where you can get a set of Automator actions, that is, little plugs ins that will let you drive Photoshop from Automator. Let's see. And right now I've got them for CS6, CC, CS5.55 and 4. I've got older versions that go all the way back to the original Creative Suite, which is when AppleScript was first, AppleScript Support and Automator Support was first added to Photoshop. So you just download these. There are two sets. There's a free set that gives you a basic level of functionality.

And then there's a $20 set that gives you a whole bunch of other stuff. The package comes with an installer. You run it. It puts the stuff in the place it needs to be, so that it will work with Automator. As I said, Automator sits in your Applications folder and if I go in Automator to create a new document, I'm asked to choose a type. One of the things that's cool about Automator is that you can trigger one of its automations in a lot of different ways. You can attach it to a folder, so if you drop something in a folder, it automatically gets passed to that script. You can create a little stand alone application or you can simply run it within the Automator window itself.

An Automator script is called a workflow. And don't worry, there's no actual scripting involved. So I'm going to tell it I want to create a new workflow. Over here are a bunch of applications that I have actions installed for. So I can use Automator to script everything from Safari to the QuickTime player to iTunes. I can script the dictionary. I don't know what I, I've got it automatically looking up words for me. And if I've installed my actions, I will have an entry for Adobe Photoshop. If you are not seeing your Automator actions organized this way, it might be because you need to go to the View menu and tell it to arrange actions by application rather than category.

So I'm going to click on Photoshop here. And you can see I just got this huge list of Photoshop commands. First thing is I need some images to process. I have made a folder of images. Pull it over here. So these are just some raw files shot with a Canon camera. I'm going to drop those into this Automator work flow. And the first thing that happens is it makes a little action here that says, Get Specified Finder Items. So it's saying, get these items, and pass them on to the next item in the work flow. Right now there is no other item, so I'm just going to add some. I'm going to go up here and grab a Photoshop open command.

So that will open it. Let's say that I am preparing these for posting on a web site or something. So I just want to do some basic things. I would like to do an auto levels adjustment on them. I would like to resize them and I would like to convert them to JPEG files. So the first thing I need to do is open them. Then I'll go up here and do Auto levels. If I just double click on this, it gets added to the end of the workflow. Then I'm going to do a fit image, and I'm going to tell it that I want these to fit within an 800 by 800 pixel box. Fit image is different than a normal image size.

It's going to say no matter what the orientation of the image, it's going to fit it into that size. So this could be a mix of portrait and landscape images, I'll still have resulting images that I'll fit within the size correctly. Finally, with all that done I want to render out some JPEG files. Every Photoshop workflow, begins with an open action, and ends with a render action. Here I can tell it what I want to do. I can either just say Save, which will save over original files. Or I can spit out lots of different formats. I can say, save me some JPEG files into this folder.

I can give it naming options, I could tell it JPEG parameters. I could even then go and say, oh, and I also want TIFF files saved in another location. So I can save out multiple formats automatically. When I'm done, I just hit the Run button. That will launch Photoshop, pass the images to it, and start doing all these operations on them. Now, at this point, you may be thinking, you're doing a whole lot of work just to do what I can do own my own with the Actions palette in Photoshop. And that's true, a lot of this you can do with Actions. But with Automator, I get a few extra things.

Let's see where it's at here. So Photoshop is staying in the background. If I want, I can tell it to bring Photoshop to the front when it's done. I'm just going to, zip over here to Photoshop. I don't see anything open here. Because it, opened my documents, processed them and saved them. So let's go out to that folder that I created, which is here for the web. And we see that there are five little JPEG files that have all been resized. Auto levels and converted to JPEG. So, Automator took care of that for me. Again, nothing I've done here I, is nothing that I couldn't do with Photoshop's built in actions.

What Automator gets me though, is some stuff that I cannot do in Photoshop. First of all, I can control other applications with Automator. So let's say what I wanted to do was generate these JPEGs and then upload them to an FTP site. Panic's Transmit, a very good FTP client for the Mac is controllable. You can control it by Automator. So I could install actions for Transmit and then I would just have an FTP, an FTP action that I could drag at the end of my work flow. And things would automatically be pushed onto there. End design is automatorable.

I could add actions that would automatically take these pictures and put them into an end design document. I can build very complex multi application workflows. I can do some other things that I cannot do with normal actions. I can use a little bit of logic, which is something that I can't do normally in Photoshop. And the way that works is through Filter Actions. So if you come down here, you see Filter by Aspect Ratio, Bit Depth Color Mode, EXIF, File Type, IPTC, Orientation. So I could grab a whole big mess of images and say get those, and then Filter By Orientation For Landscape Images.

That would pull only the landscape images from that match. I can then do specific things to them, size them to a particular size, do other operations, then say, now go get all the other images, those will be the portrait ones. I can then do something different to those. Similarly, I could filter by aspect ratio. Do something to images that are three to two, something else to images that are four to three, and so on, and so forth. So I've got some logic operations that I don't get with Photoshop's built in actions. Finally, I can interface with Photoshop's built in actions, by using the Do Action command.

This lets me trigger any action that's currently installed in Photoshop. So in addition to everything that I can do within Automator itself, I can then use Automator to trigger Photoshop actions. So again the big advantage here, is I've got multi application scriptability, and I've got the ability to add a little bit of intelligence. What I use these filters for sometimes is let's say I'm preparing images for a book, I know that I want my color images converted to CMYK. I want the grayscale images output in a slightly different way.

I can build a complex workflow that really facilitates the complex needs of a print publishing pipeline. So, again, this is Automator, a built-in technology for the Mac. I'm sorry if you're a Windows user. There's no way to create this because you need this AppleScript layer in your operating system for this to work. But for Automator to work with Photoshop, you need to go grab those extra little add ons which you can do at

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A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.
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