Digital Imaging

New to Photoshop? Need a “Lesson Plan”? Read this Post!




•  Are you brand new to Photoshop?  A total beginner?  Or, are you just digging into the program, and not sure what to do next?  Or, are you having challenges with the “basics”?


•  Do you need guidance – a “Lesson Plan”, if you will – on how to learn Photoshop for Photographers?

If so, read on …

•  Photoshop is indeed a complex program – but as a photographer, you’re only going to need to use 10-15% of the programs’ functionality to achieve your best results, and the rest can pretty much be ignored.


•  Why listen to me?  Here’s a brief bio: –   Bottom line:  if you want the ABSOLUTE BEST output from your files, especially for high-quality digital photographic printing, then I’m your guy.


•  This post is the result of a powerfully simple question from Helen C., shown below.  In my answer, I’ll show you the 3 points integral to the suggested “Lesson Plan”.  If you follow these in the order shown, it’ll greatly assist you in developing a strong foundation in (and working knowledge of) Photoshop.



So, here is the original question:


Hi John,


I’m almost a total beginner at Photoshop, with almost no experience at all.  Where do I start?  Do you have any classes for that ailment ?




Helen C.





And my answer (the 3-point “Lesson Plan”):

Howdy Helen,


Well, hey – – you’ve come to the right place – this is right up my alley – consider this a Photoshop “Lesson Plan” for beginners  🙂



1)  The first thing I’d suggest is to attend my FREE live & online “Photoshop 101” Meetup webinars there are 5 of them total, 1.5 hours each, and we have them every 2 to 3 weeks copious notes are always included. We have photographers attending from all over the nation!


You’ll find even more information about them here: – they’re a systematic plan to help you learn PS properly. Think of these as the “I-just-got-Photoshop-now-what?” seminars – even if you don’t attend them sequentially.


2)  If attending “live” is an issue (OR if you want to watch recordings of past Meetups that you’ve attended), I’ve archived a boatload of free recordings of recent “Photoshop 101” Meetups here (all 5 classes, with links to downloadable notes):


3)  In addition, I also have my blog (which is where you’re reading this).  This is the “educational” website for my business – here, you’ll find answers on specific subjects to “fine-tune” the learning process, learn some of my “philosophies”, and more:




Note that the 3 items mentioned above are ALL “free” …


•  As far as the learning process is concerned, they require effort on YOUR part (hey, nothing worth doing properly is easy, right?)  …


•  BUT, I can still steer you in the right direction (via the Meetups / recordings / blog / email) with suggested “homework”, and so on.  I can keep you focused on the goals of learning this crazy program – think of me as a “Photoshop  Coach” …




Once you’ve explored the “free” side of the educational tools …


•  I’ll show you other ways you can learn Photoshop that involve “greenbacks” (hey, a guy’s gotta eat, lol!), such as my Photoshop Book (available on Amazon), online Small Group Workshops, online One-on-one Instruction, and so much more – – all are more than reasonably priced.




In closing:  If you follow these 3 points in the “Lesson Plan” to assist you in learning Photoshop, I strongly believe that you’re setting yourself up for success!




•  Was this information helpful?

Sign up for my free monthly newsletter here …


•  By the way, this is all based on my Photoshop book designed for photographers, “Not just another Photoshop Book”available exclusively on Amazon:


Questions? Please contact me – also, feel free to comment and tell your photography friends!


Thx again, and cheers,


John Watts 🙂


How (& why) I use Adobe Bridge …


Click to Zoom in & Pan


PLEASE NOTE: Due to an abundance of requests (especially since I’m not a big proponent of Lightroom), I submit the following post for your consideration …




Amongst the vast majority of photographers, the 2 most popular programs used in selecting, culling & identifying those awesome images deserving of a Master File (created in Photoshop) are Bridge & Lightroom.


When it comes to digital post-processing, I’m a YUGE advocate of the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple) method – – life is complicated enough, don’t ya think?


So, I use Bridge exclusively (rather than Lightroom), mainly for its sheer simplicity.  Even as a graphics professional, I don’t need (or want) the organizational power of Lightroom, nor the complexity & learning curve that comes with it.


•  For more info on the “why”, I’ve written a series of 3 blogposts discussing in-depth the ongoing “Photoshop vs Lightroom” saga – at your convenience (and rather than repeat myself!), start by checking out Part 1, called “Photoshop vs Lightroom?  Wrong Question!” (with links to Part 2 & 3):


So, continuing on– if you’re looking for SIMPLICITY in organizing & choosing those dynamite images destined for further work in Photoshop, read on …


What is “Bridge”?


Adobe Bridge is a stand-alone program that’s available with Photoshop CC and other Adobe Creative Cloud programs.  It allows you to organize, browse, locate, label, identify and cull / edit your image files.


In keeping with the spirit of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple), I’m going to cover the most useful features to a photographer.  Because Bridge is such a relatively simple program, It’s quite possible that you’ll be proficient with Bridge in no time after studying this post!


Where to Find:


As Bridge is a separate standalone program, you can open it without opening Photoshop, just like any “normal” program – I have an icon for it in my Mac OS  “Dock”.  But if you want to – –


•  From within Photoshop:  Go to “File” -> “Browse in Bridge…”

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Bridge Preferences:


To access Preferences (Bridge must be open):


 Menu: “Adobe Bridge 2020” -> “Preferences…” on a Mac, and Edit” -> “Preferences…” on a PC.

•  Or Speed Keys: “Command + K” on a Mac, Control + K on a PC.


Most items are best left at the default value at first, but here are some suggested changes:


Click to “Interface”:

•  Under “Appearance”, you can customize how your interface looks by choosing the background and accent colors., as well as the text size.


Click to “Thumbnails”:

•  Choose up to 4 lines of information to appear under the image Thumbnails, such as Image Size, Color Profile, Dimensions, Bit Depth, Date Created, and more.


Click to “Labels”:

•  You can customize your Label names as they appear in the “Filter” Panel.



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An Explanation of Some of the Features:
(see diagram above, mostly starting clockwise from upper-left)


•  Panels: Each Panel gives you different information (just like the Panels in Photoshop).  You can choose which Panels you want showing by going to the “Window” menu in Bridge.  Those that are showing will have a checkmark beside them.  Or, try the preset Workspaces (discussed below).  In addition, you can save your Workspace the same way you do for Photoshop, discussed in my Photoshop Book, available on Amazon.


The view shown above is the “Essentials” Workspace.  There are 10 Panels available, but I generally just use Favorites, Folders, Content, Preview, & Filter.


•  Content Panel: Here you can view the content of your computer/folders.  Right-click anywhere in this Panel to access the Sort sub-menu.  Here you can change the way Bridge sorts your images.  I have mine sorted in “Ascending Order” by “Filename”.


•  Rotate Image:  This gives you the ability to rotate the “Active” image (discussed below) 90 degrees either way.


•  File Path:  This shows the full “string” of the file path of the “Active” image (discussed below).


•  Preview:  This shows a preview of the “active” image (discussed below).  By the way, if you choose more than one image to be active (“Shift or Ctrl/Command” + mouse click), more than one preview will show up (see diagram below).


•  Trash Image:  This gives you the ability to permanently trash the active image(s) as you’re editing, but I rarely use it.


•  Filter Parameters / Labels:  As you’re editing, this gives you a way to separate your good images from your great images.  There are two parameters / labels that you can use to identify and separate your images:


1)  Rate with Stars – You’ll notice 5 dots underneath the active image(s) – – by clicking on these, you can add or subtract “stars” to rate the active image.  This is my favorite!



2)  Rate with Colored Labels – By right-mouse clicking on the active image, you’ll see lots of options: to change the color of the label, choose “Label”.


By the way, by going to the “Label” menu in Bridge, you’ll see various speed keys to organize your editing quickly – I use these all the time, and they’re really easy to learn, which speeds up the editing process.


•  Filter Panel:  This is handy if you want to show ONLY those files that are labeled, filtered, etc.


•  Thumbnail Size:  Move this slider to change the Thumbnail Size in the “Content” Panel.

•  Resize Workspace:  By dragging these vertical dividers, you can change the size / view of the overall Workspace.  Simply click on the area shown, hold the mouse button down, and drag.


•  “Active” Image:  The Active Image (or images) will be outlined in a different shade of gray than the other images – usually darker.


•  “View Menu” options:  Press the Space Bar on your keyboard to fill the image on your screen – click on your image, and it zooms in – press Space Bar again to exit.  To see more options, go to the ”View” menu in Bridge.


•  Workspace Options / Display Options:  This is one of the most useful features of Bridge.


 – By clicking on the Workspace Options buttons, and using the Display Options buttons at the bottom right, you can choose how you view, edit and preview your images.  The example of Bridge above is the “Essentials” view – the examples below are the “Filmstrip” and “Metadata” views.

– By the way, if you use the “Filmstrip” view, it’s quite handy to use the “Arrow” keys on your keyboard to move from one image to another, and use the Label speed keys for editing (see the “Labels” menu in Bridge).


Click to Zoom in & Pan

Click to Zoom in & Pan





•  Was this information helpful?

Sign up for my free monthly newsletter here …


•  By the way, this is just one chapter from my Photoshop book designed for photographers, “Not just another Photoshop Book”available exclusively on Amazon:


Questions? Please contact me – also, feel free to comment and tell your photography friends!


Thx again, and cheers,


John Watts 🙂



January 2021
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