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This weekend I've been learning how to better use Photoshop by watching the 22 hour training video on DVD, Total Training for Adobe Photoshop CS2, hosted by Deke McClelland. I've been a Photoshop user for about 7 years now since version 4 (where CS2 is like version 9 I think).

So far, my only training with Photoshop in the past has been through hands-on experimentation and countless hours upon hours of image correction and manipulation for the many photos I have on the web. I've been carrying around the Total Training set of DVDs for a while, waiting for the time and impetus to sit down and start the training. I've decided that with the Adobe merger with Macromedia, now is the perfect time to begin improving my existing skills and learning the many, many new features introduced with CS and CS2.

Today I've finished the first 5 modules in Part 1, where the whole DVD training has 3 parts with a total of 34 modules plus an additional 2 modules provided you plugin a key that you get when registering your own copy of Photoshop. The first 5 modules include:

What Photoshop Can Do
An overview of the product via a demo where Deke takes a rather bad landscape image of a hotel in Colorado and turns in into a dramatic image capable of being movie poster quality.
The Bridge
Part of Photoshop, the Bridge is a separate program that runs in its own window and acts as a image organizer and preview tool with many advanced features including batch renaming among others.
Setting Up Shop
Deke shows how to 'tune' Photoshop for the range of settings he thinks are best.
Navigation and Resolution
Learn how to use many shortcuts and tools for different views of an image as well as how to upsample, downsample, and generate print quality images.
Cropping and Rotating
Many new ways to crop images are introduced here, ways that I never new existed.

To be candid, as I was following along with cropping and rotating lesson using the project files supplied with the training, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face as I starting blurting out a few exclamations ranging from "Wow!" to "I can't believe that!". The advanced cropping features completely blew me away and I realized how to 'intelligently' crop images that might be scanned poorly or be skewed.

The first example was how to take photo that was scanned at an angle so its not perpendicular and use the crop tool angularly, and Photoshop automatically rotates the image correctly when you're done.

Secondly, imagine throwing a handful of photos on a scanner. The resulting scan will be a single image with the photos scattered across it. A single Photoshop tool can automatically select each image, rotate them to be perpendicular, crop them, and open them as separate image files ready to be saved... all in one step. I can't tell you how much time this would have saved me over the years when I was doing all that by hand.

Finally, you're shown how to start with an image that you might have taken in a museum of a framed painting where the frame is tilted and skewed in the photo. Well, using the perspective crop tool you can now easily turn that image into a rectangular, correctly proportioned image as though you had taken it straight-on in the first place.

My description here is a generalization, so I recommend buying the training video for yourself if you want to know all the details in minutia. It cost me about $300 and already seems better than any computer technology training class I've had with a live instructor. The time saving tools and automation tasks are really incredible in CS2, and I can't wait to continue the training.