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Photoshop for jewelers

Ok - I use Photoshop Elements, and I can make it do some things. But
it is obvious that I haven’t a clue on how to get the best out of the

Could you please provide suggestions for the best way to learn the
software? I’m open to books, distance learning, computer aided
lessons. Please name the book or lessons so I can go find them. There
are good classes locally, but they don’t fit with my current
obligations. Is the tutorial that comes with the software
comprehensive enough?

And maybe the obvious question - do I really need to pony up the
bucks for Photoshop as opposed to Photoshop Elements? Why?

Thanks bunches,

Judy Hoch in Denver Colorado - where it felt like Seattle this
morning with fog and humidity.


And maybe the obvious question - do I really need to pony up the
bucks for Photoshop as opposed to Photoshop Elements? Why? 

To the above question I would say, based on your request for info on
learning the software, that you stay with Elements. It does 90% of
what the full PhotoShop software does and there are a number of third
party plug-ins which can bring that up significantly. Out of the box,
though, elements is a fine program.

Down the road if you begin feeling cramped you can move up to the
full show.

As for books I know that Borders or Barnes & Noble have a whole
shelf full. Rather than accepting a recommendation it would be far
better for you take an hour or two and look through all to see which
suits your needs and learning style.

Les Brown

Hi Judy, I do not like photoshop. Instead I use Gimp 2 and it is
free. Also there is a tutorial website (

Good Luck,
Vince LaRochelle

Could you please provide suggestions for the best way to learn the

I bought one of those “Dummies” books, and it is good, but daunting.
I took a class, which helped some. I’ve ended up being given a few
suggestions by photographers and kinda getting to know them one at a
time so I could really understand them. I only use a relatively
small part of the program, though I actually love using Photoshop.


I like Photoshop for Teens.

Here’s my review:


Hi All,

I’ve been following this thread and a few of you have asked for good
instruction manuals. Firstly, I took a course at the local Jr.
College to learn it and then bought the following book to help. I
have Adobe Photoshop 2. The class I took used this book.

Also, there is a website called and they have
wonderful tutorials. My instructor in the college used it also.
there is a yearly charge to access this site. But you might find it
quite useful to accomplish some of the problems some of you are

You can buy these books from at a better discount than
Amazon if they still have it.

It is a wonderful tutorial that takes you step by step, you can only
do what is the cd, but it helps to understand the program.

Adobe Photoshop CS2, Classroom in a Book. the cd included is for
both the pc and the mac.

I now have a Mac as well and purchased the Aperature program that
isn’t the same as Adobe, but I hope is somewhat better in some ways.
I do not know how to do this program yet.

I have been taking all my own photos for my work and even my web
designer thought they were quite good.

You can contact me off group if you have questions that I can try to
help you with.

jennifer friedman


This won’t be of much help to you, but here in San Diego, the
continuing education department offers free classes. Many are
computer related and Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash are just three
of the many subjects taught. For Orchid members in the area, their
website is: I don’t know what Denver has to offer,
but check with your local community colleges.

Steve Brixner

Moved from: Photographing Jewelry 101

Hi Lisa:

I haven’t kept up with this subthread about how to get the high-pass
filter trick to work, so this may (or may not) help, but here
goes… In any Photoshop version more recent than…about 6? Look
up at the top, under the ‘window’ tab. From there, activate the
layers palette. (Function key 7 on a Mac is the shortcut to flip it
on and off. I think it’s the same on a PC.)

Once the layers palette shows up, find the file-folder looking tab
that says ‘layers’. Directly under that will be a little pulldown box
that starts out saying ‘normal’. That’s the control for layer
compositing mode. Click on the layer that you want to mess with. You
can’t mess with a bottom layer that says ‘background’. If you want to
mess with the background layer, double click on it, and a popup will
appear asking if you want to turn it into “Layer 0” Click OK, and you
can mess with that layer now. Photoshop has some odd notions about
the sacredness of the one-true-background layer, but it forgets them
if you turn the background into just another Joe Schmoe layer. Once
you’ve clicked on your target layer, such that the listing for it in
the layers palette has turned dark, go to the little pulldown box in
the top left of the layers palette, directly under the tab that says
’layers’, and pull that down. Select ‘overlay’. That will cause the
targeted layer to act sort of like it was painted with transparent
ink on cellophane. The image will ‘overlay’ itself on whatever layers
are below it in the layers palette list.

There are a variety of other settings available in that compositing
mode control. Mess with them. You may find some interesting toys
hidden in there.

I’ve been using Photoshop since 1991. By way of encouragement, I
sometimes joke that it has a learning curve that most resembles a
brick wall. If you go to the imaging lab on a quiet night, you can
sometimes actually hear the splat… Keep with it, you’ll get
there. The good news is that most of the really complex things that
it can do are not the sorts of things you’ll ever need to do. Basic
photo repair is a game of subtlety, not spectacular, death- defying
photoshop trickery. The goal is to make it look like you were never
there at all. (Become like the wind, o photo ninja…)

Brian Meek.

Moved from: Photographing Jewelry 101

Photoshop comes with a "sharpening" filter, but it does a poor
job... so several pple here have given valuable advice on better
ways to sharpen your photos. 

There was a tutorial this week on just this on the blog Photojojo.
Here is the link:



I’ve had the full version of Photoshop for a number of years and
have had no idea how to learn more about its capabilities.

I’ve learned recently:

1 - Photoshop Elements is reputed to contain about 80% of the
capabilities of the full Photoshop program, so don’t give up on it
immediately. it’s a good program and has some helpful quick-fix
features. I just bought Elements bacause they are selling their video
editing program for only a few dollars more, and I wanted the video
editing capabilities.

I’ve used Elements’ layers and curves commands for fixing color, and
these commands work just like the full magilla Photoshop program.

2 - there are a number of discussion groups devoted to photoshop
where one can post questions. one that was recommended to me - I
haven’t explored it ’

3 - there are tons and tons of books on how to use photoshop. When
I’m at a bookstore looking for a book on how to use software, I tend
to sit down in the store w/ a stack of possible purchases. I go thru
the sections I’m interested in learning about. if the author’s
language isn’t clear and effective FOR ME, I put the book aside.

I was at a college bookstore recently and found a used textbook that
the instructors use for their Intro to Photoshop class. This is
undoubtedly not the best book ever written about photoshop but I’ve
learned some very useful things about layers, overlays, spot masks,
gradients, fixing colors, etc. (I couldn’t SPELL most of this stuff
before I started reading the book!!!) The book is called: Photoshop
CS3, by Eline Weinmann and Peter Lourekas. (your version of Elements
isn’t CS3? well, some new features have been added in CS3, but the
majority of the basic layer and color editing commands haven’t

Another way to find good books on any given subject is to search for
these books on purchasers provide ratings on products
they’ve purchased thru Amazon. I’ve found Amazon’s customer ratings
to be very useful. I always start by looking at the low ratings
first. sometimes these provide good insights - example - “[the
customer] has studied in this field for 20 years and has kept up
with all useful books. this book is nothing more than a rehash of the
author’s previous books. skip it.” [my reaction to this comment might
be - “hmmm, maybe I LIKE this author and maybe I don’t WANT to buy
all his previous books, so this book might be just the one I need.”]
sometimes a negative rating by a knowledgeable person may point out
factors which would make me decide to buy a book, not avoid it!

other tips already discussed in this thread -

calibrate your monitor.

turn off all the lights in the room if you can while you are using
photoshop. the lights behind my computer make my screen colors
dramatically different.

use an 18% gray card either in a corner of your pic that you can
crop out, OR if a different amount of light falls in the corners of
your photo area, put the card right next to your item in one pic;
then remove it for the remainder of the pics you take during this
session. you can use the eyedroppers to create a custom color fix for
this photo “shoot” and apply it to all the pics you take at once.
this way you only have to deal w/ the gray card and the eyedroppers

hope this helps,
Mary Alexander

Judy - Have you checked out You can subscribe on a
monthly basis to use their online lessons, and they do have PE
listed. They are really a great resource. You can navigate around
the site a bit to get a sense of what they offer before signing on,
and I think you can sign on for 2 free weeks to try it out.

Failing that, get Deke McClelland’s Photoshop Elements One-on-One
through Amazon (he’s part of the group, and you can
supplement the book with his online lessons there), if there is an
edition that matches your software version. His books are terrific.
Forget the Adobe Classroom in a Book Series. I’m in the process of
learning CS3 myself and could only get the McClelland for Photoshop
and InDesign, and had to get Classroom in a Book for Illustrator and
it’s not anywhere near as good in my opinion.


I love Photoshop too. It almost makes up for my lack of photography
skills. I learned how to use it by just trying each tool out to see
what it would do. Then I went through the menus and experimented so I
learned what each selection did. When I run into trouble, I just go
to Google and put in a few key words and someone has most likely
written something about it that will give me a clue. I wish I could
afford all the nice lighting and expensive camera/light box setups
but it’s just not practical for me. I even use my scanner sometimes
(for chains and flat items) to ‘photograph’ my jewelry -

I’ve learned how to make it work pretty well.

As for misrepresenting Jewelry, I wish my photographs did the
Jewelry justice. Even retouched, I am unable to make the photograph
look better than the piece actually looks. I have never once had a
client say otherwise.

JeffreyDesign Jewelry

Elaine and all,

I am having trouble posting a simple PDF to my website at describing in detail, with screen captures,
how to accomplish sharpening with the high pass filter. Some folks
seem to be a little confused, but this makes it clear, I think.

While I do not agree that it is a BETTER way to sharpen images, it
IS simpler to use for the un-initiated. Anyway, anyone who would
like the PDF can get it by sending me an e-mail request and I’ll get
it off as quickly as possible.

Best regards,

I wish I could afford all the nice lighting and expensive
camera/light box setups but it's just not practical for me. 

You can build a light box for very, very little money. People use PVC
pipe and white rip stop nylon; cardboard boxes; IKEA hampers; etc.

You can see a ton of real examples that jewelers use (including two
of mine) in a presentation by Charles Lewton-Brain at the Metal Clay
World Conference last year.

Here’s the link to that:

Here are links to two of my lightbox set ups, my old one, with
homemade lightbox:

and my new one, purchased light box:

Related articles on the blog have links to great tutorial sites and
where to buy a gradient gray background for only $10.00.

You can improve the quality of your photography, and you can do it


Moved from: Photographing Jewelry 101

Hi Lisa,

I am not using a Mac, so I do not know what the difference might be,
but I speculate hardly any. OVERLAY on my machine is located in the
flip-out box, just above the background image (in the layers
palette). The flip-out box displays: NORMAL and when scrolling down
you will find OVERLAY somewhere half way. What this option box does
is mixing the layers in particular fashion.

Tip: you should see a pretty gray image (when you apply HIGH PASS),
with outlines showing up your work; no colour. When you overlay that
image with your background image you will see a sharp dynamic
picture. After that you flatten the image again.

Enjoy. (also
described/mention the high pass option)

Peter Deckers
New Zealand

do I really need to pony up the bucks for Photoshop as opposed to
Photoshop Elements? 

I don’t think I would. Rather than spend money, spend time learning
the software… Photoshop is awesome software. To get the full
potential you almost have to be a professional with it. There are
tutorial websites out there if you do a Google search. Do a few of
those tutorials. They helped me realize that my time was better spent
setting stones and sizing rings… lol

Stanley Bright

You might try checking in with your local community college for some
online courses. I tried working with tutorials and the Photoshop
manuel, step by step, with much frustration and little to show for
it. I finally took an online course since even the vocabulary, for
photographers and graphic artists, was confusing to me. it was
called Photoshop Basics, and started with defining things like
layers, and levels and filters, and how to use them. It explained
image size, and how rescaling the image in various ways affects how
info is retained. The lessons were available for downloading twice a
week, for 5 or 6 weeks ( total 10 or 12 lessons) and you had two
weeks to email your course work back to get credit for it. You could
email the instructor at any time, and she was very good as responding
in a timely manner. Although it is a commitment of time, and was
based on taking the course during specific intervals, I was able to
work on it when it suited me. The cost was very reasonable, somewhere
less than $100, I think., and I have compiled a notebook for

While I don’t use Photoshop often enough to be really proficient,
and my newer photoshop c2 has lots of new features my older version
didn’t have, I have some sense of what I am doing, and the online
tutorials are helpful. I did have Photoshop 5 installed when I got my
Dad’s old imac, so I have just purchased a couple of updates for full
Photoshop. It’s a seriously large and complicated bit of software,
and you could get creatively addicted to it’s possibilities, so I
can’t say if you need to move up from photoshop elements.

Melissa Veres, engraver

Somebody else posted it, too -I was going to have to wait till Monday
to get to my desktop computer with newer bookmarks -
has more than 9000 free photoshop tutorials. Also I’ve watched
tutorials of all sorts from and also -
but is the most complete, IMO. The
last two are big on 3d graphics, but they have 2d also.

Another less expensive alternative to Photoshop is Paint Shop Pro -
a long-time player in the computer graphics industry. As many have
said - the real key to using Photoshop is in the skillful use of

Hi Judy. I’m using Elements 6, which has numerous improvements. I’ve
gotten a lot out of “Photoshop Elements 6: The Missing Manual” by
Barbara Brundage. It’s the best of the various Elements books I’ve
read over the years.

Allan Mason

Moved from: Photographing Jewelry 101

Hi Lois.

Reducing the photo to 40K - I started, but did not have time to
complete, a tutorial on on how to prepare photos for
the web and the person said that any file over 45K was too large.
In my opinion (obviously I am prejudiced) the photos on my site
show good detail of the object. At the same time it is clear to me
it is practically impossible for a viewer to enlarge the photo and
see a good image. 

Keep at it, you’ll get there. As far as the tutorial on,
those are targeted towards a mass market of ‘anybody who wants to
make a website’.

For most people, for most generic ‘look at my cute cat’ pictures,
40K is fine. For a jeweler attempting to let people get a good look
at a ring, perhaps not so much. Don’t worry, eventually your
knowledge will reach a level of saturation where you’ll hear a
’click’ and it’ll suddenly start to make sense. In the meantime, keep