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Just like with everything else, when you first start doing something new, mistakes are inevitable. You are probably ashamed of your first photographs and many photographers get a good laugh out of their first attempts at post processing. Photoshop is a fantastic tool and while many are still afraid of it, some dive head-in and give it everything they've got. Unfortunately for that admirable enthusiasm, the mistakes they make tend to lead to ridiculous results or badly slow the process of evolution. Here are some of the most common ones and how to avoid them.
1.Using CMYK color space When you first install Photoshop, CMYK is the default color profile. Many tend to forget about this vital aspect and end up wondering why their photos look totally different when opened with different software or when printed at a conventional lab. CMYK is usually used for industrial printing, so your best bet is to use either standard RGB or sRGB. Just make sure your camera is set to match the same profile.
2.Not using layers
Using layers is one of the best parts about Photoshop. Many first time users ignore this technique or don't even know how to use it. There are a number of considerable advantages to using layers: less damage to the image during editing, they give you more control, you can change the opacity of each new effect, blending modes to vary the way they interact with each other and so on. The number of layers you can use when editing is only limited by your computer’s memory. It doesn't mean that having a lot of pointless ones will make your photo look better, but combining effects creatively will give it the extra visual appeal.
3.Working without shortcuts
This might seem more like a personal choice than a mistake, but I believe that not using shortcuts, at least the essential ones, will slow your progress and evolution. The quicker you will learn to “tell” Photoshop what to do, the less time you will have to spend on one image and thus be able to focus on the others as well.
Dodging and burning, HDR filters, vignetting, vintage tones are all great effects. You just need to learn how to use them properly and with good taste. Throwing in a little bit of everything won’t make a photo look any better. It will make it look like an ugly clown trying to look pretty. By practicing constantly, you should be able to tell what effect best suites a certain photograph, what to combine and what to never mix together.
5.Not saving your results
Picture working on a single image for a few hours without saving your progress and suddenly having to deal with a power outage or an operating system error. I know your mind is telling you that it is so unlikely to happen, but why take that chance when you don't need to? All you have to do is save after every few actions and that’s it.
6.Excessively using preset filters
Nowadays there are a lot of great tools and filter kits you can use with Photoshop. Some of them are really great, others look a lot like Instagram filters, and so on. They can do a good job, depending on the photo, but at the end of the day, it’s a lot like instant coffee. No filter will be as good as the work you do manually on color and toning. Do your best to learn the tools and secrets to give your photos the tones that will draw attention and give them feeling.
Check out these books for developing your Photoshop skills: