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Photoshop CS4 for Photographers is an essential course for any digital photographer who wants to master the software's vast array of image enhancement techniques. Professional photographer and instructor Chris Orwig uses his own compelling images to demonstrate how the power of Photoshop can make photographers more passionate about their work. He covers many aspects of the application, such as working with RAW images, using curves and levels, making images snap, and enhancing bland photographs by converting them to black and white. Exercise files accompany this course.
The Performance preferences are actually pretty important and you'll notice that the Performance preferences are divided up into four different categories: Memory Usage, History & Cache, Scratch Disks and new to Photoshop CS4, GPU Settings. Let's jump up to Memory Usage. You can see I have my available RAM amount. It gives me an ideal range of that RAM and what I should use and how much should I let Photoshop use. Now to change this all I need to do is drag this slider one way or the other and I can see my percentage here. Now what exactly is RAM? Now a lot of us know this, yet some of us don't. So here is a helpful analogy. Someone explained it to me this way. They said, let's say you are a magazine editor and you have a really small desk so you can only open up two magazines at once. You can only look at two spreads. So it's hard to do your editorial work. In that case you have a small amount of RAM or small desk size.
Then all of a sudden, let's say you get a promotion. You have this huge desk and you can open up ten different spreads. And as you do your editorial work, now you are much more productive because you can layout all these different magazines on your big desk. So you can think of your RAM size like that desk size, and it's how much you can do at once. And if there is anything that helps Photoshop out, it's RAM. So if you are ever getting a new computer or upgrade in your computer, one of the things that you'll get the biggest bang for your buck is increasing the amount of RAM. All right, well, that we've talked a little bit about RAM, what's the ideal amount for Photoshop to use? Well, this is going to really depend on how you use Photoshop. Let's say you use Photoshop and use it in with some other video editing applications, and you want to have all those running at the same time.
Well, then you can't dedicate all the RAM to Photoshop because you need some of those applications to be used in RAM as well. Yet in my case, when I'm typically working in Photoshop, primarily focus on Photoshop. So I'm going to take my percentage to somewhere up about 80%. Now again, this amount is going to be contingent upon your system and upon how much RAM you have. Yet I recommend you try to target this around, somewhere between 70 and 90%. And again that's going to depend on your workflow. Now I have other colleagues that crank this up even further. For example, I have a colleague who does retouching and that's all he does. And when he does his retouching, the only applications he has open are his e-mail program, iTunes and Photoshop. In that case he cranks his percentage way up to about 95% because he really wants to give Photoshop everything.
All right, we'll experiment with that a little bit, but at least target some, 70 or 80% would probably a good place. All right, well let's jump over to History & Cache. Now the History States is actually interesting. What this allows you to do is to set how many History States are retained or are remembered in your History panel. Now you can change this anywhere from 1-1000. Now you wouldn't want to go anywhere really in my opinion above 100. Why would you want to change this? How this works as it remembers what you've done in the past. Now the advantage is it's like a safety net, right. Like if you've made a mistake, you can then go back to that particular History State and undo what you've done. Yet it comes at a cost. The more History States you have the more file size it takes up. Also, the slower things are going to run.
So typically what I find is you want a relatively low amount of History States. That default setting of 20 is pretty good. Let's say you are really new to Photoshop; I mean you are brand new to Photoshop. You may want to increase that number a little bit, let's say to 30, or even to 40. So you have this really big safety net so that if you make a mistake you can always undo that. Yet my own workflow and then the workflow that we're going to be talking about in this training, we won't need a lot of History States. We're going to be building some other 'history' into our Layers panel so we can access what we've done. And we're going to be making a number of our edits in a non-destructive way so that we can always undo what we've done. And we're going to do that either by using masking or adjustment layers. We'll talk more about that later.
Yet for now, let's say History States at the default 20, that's pretty good, we're good to go. All right. Well, Cache Levels. What's the big deal with Cache Levels? Well, those are also interesting. Long story short, you can change these between 1 and 8. Okay, kind of interesting. Why the default 4? When you want to go with a lower number, if you're going to have smaller files that have tons of layers, you want to go with a higher number that if you have big files with fewer layers. So again this is really going to be contingent upon on your own workflow. Let's say what you're doing is working with these huge raw files and you know you're only going to be making a couple of layer adjustments. We'll crank that Cache Level up.
On the other hand, let's say like myself, you're going to be working with relatively big files but you're going to be having a lot of layers on those files. I tend to have a workflow that favors layers. So I'm going to have a pretty small Cache Level. So right about 4 for me works pretty well. All right, jumping down the Scratch Disks. Now here you can see I have a couple of internal hard drives. Here we have the Macintosh hard drive. This is the boot hard drive, that's where the softwares are installed, and then second, I have another hard drive with quite a bit of free space. Now I want these Scratch Disks to be drives that are really fast, and ideally, I want my number one Scratch Disk to be a drive other than the drive of Photoshop is installed. And in this case I have the luxury of having two drives on this computer. So I'm going to click on this Data Drive and I'm going to click the arrow icon to move that up to the number one position. That'll help me out a little bit in the sense it'll help Photoshop perform even better.
Now GPU Settings, this is new to Photoshop CS4. Photoshop CS4 now has taken advantage of your video card. What this does is it helps in a number of different ways. You want to Enable OpenGL Drawing in, if you have a video card that supports OpenGL. Because I do have a video card that supports OpenGL. And I want to take advantage of all those new features like the Bird's Eye Zoom, the Rotate View and the flicking and panning, and all of those new features that you can find inside of Photoshop CS4.
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