That thing about old dogs and new tricks

Photography is both an art and a craft that just builds and builds the longer you stay with it. Recently I went on my first workshop and it was a learning experience in terms of capture, but especially with processing. After a decade of using Lightroom pretty much exclusively, I put a toe in the Photoshop pool. It’s a deep one and I floundered a little bit and then basically clung to the side.

Then I found you folks. Many of you have such extensive Ps experience that the terms and techniques you blithely talk about got me curious again. There is so much in that app that I have no idea exists and I feel badly about that. What could I be doing with my photos that I just have no concept is possible?

Enter an online course.

Having watched many tutorials from this instructor and learned a lot without ponying up any money, I plunked down for the Photoshop System course (Matt K - you probably know who he is, I don’t need to advertise him here). So far it’s been great and the mysteries of layers and masking are being revealed. Baby steps.

What’s the point of this? To say thanks for unknowingly nudging me into expanding my skills and knowledge. Photoshop has always daunted me, but I’m getting over it. Who knows, I might even come to like the beast.


Photoshop is like climbing into a jet when you’ve only been driving a car. It’s a steep learning curve, but oh the places you can go…

I’m on that same journey, Kris. I’m not sure I’m in favor of massive manipulation of images, but there are so many helpful tools in PS. With just the little I know, I have already saved images that would probably have been deleted in the past.

Processing will only rarely rescue bad images with major technical problems, and it should not be viewed as a substitute for creativity and imagination, which reside in the photographers head. But particularly in landscape photography, processing is a critical skill to possess. It allows you to emphasize key elements of the image, and direct the viewers attention. It can’t take an image that is a 3 to 10, but it can take a 7 to a 9, and for many of us that matters a lot. It empowers you to think more creatively about tonality, contrast, and colors.

No knock on Matt K. but if landscapes are your thing then I highly recommend the TK Actions Luminosity Mask Panel create by Tony Kuyper (an NPN member), and the related video tutorial series by Sean Bagshaw. TK Actions is an extension panel for Photoshop that creates luminosity, color, and saturation masks, and it also automates many Photoshop multi-step functions with the click of a button. Sean also sells videos on Photoshop techniques for landscape photographers. TK actions completely changed the way I process landscape images. The learning curve is steep, and you have another mountain to climb beyond Photoshop, but as @John_Williams said “Oh the Places You Will Go”. Seans videos are excellent, a good combination of theory and practical application. He also talks a lot about the “why” as well as the “how to”.

And if Luminosity masks sound too overwhelming to learn, then I’d recommend learning some ways to get more out of Lightroom itself. " Understanding Tones and Colors" by our own @David_Kingham will inspire you to think about using Lightroom in new ways that you may not have thought of before. It’s sort of the easier to learn Lightroom alternative to TK Luminosity Masks. TK actions are more powerful, and can do more, but the Lightroom range masks that David discusses do not have as steep a learning curve as TK does.


I’m an old enough dog to know that a bad photo can’t be saved by editing, but a good or mediocre one can often be dragged a bit higher as you point out. I’ve heard of that mask plug in and will probably eventually look into it, but first I need a grounding in the basics. That’s what the course I am using does. Real beginner stuff, but with the assumption that I am proficient with a RAW editor. That’s the key for me - I only want to learn the things that set Ps apart from Lightroom - the things I can’t do in the RAW editor. Thanks for pointing me to additional learning materials. I’m sure it will be helpful once I’ve found my feet.

Watch a few of Sean Bagshaws free LM video tutorials on his Youtube channel, and you will be amazed what you can do with TK Actions that goes beyond Lightroom (at the price of investing time and money in the learning curve).

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Enjoyed reading your journey to look at Photoshop. So many think it is only for massive manipulation and while it is capable of doing just about anything imaginable, it is also capable of doing minor adjustments in ways that LR just doesn’t do well. I’m a huge LR fan, even wrote and e-book and video series on it, but as good as LR is, for me 99% of my images also make a trip to PS and back to LR.

Another nod for looking into the Tony Kuyper Luminosity masking panels for PS. Once you are comfortable with layers and layer masking, the TK tools will definitely take it to the next level. When I teach it I describe the basics of layers and layer masking like a middle school class. Gotta have the basics, then you begin to recognize the limitations of trying to create the masks on your own. The TK tools then take you immediately to graduate school capabilities without having to have a post graduate degree. They are “easy” to use. I put that in quotes as with any tool, you need to learn how to use it, but once you see it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

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Thanks @Keith_Bauer - I’ve seen the TK mask plug in working and agree that it bypasses a lot of the fiddly bits. Definitely helpful.

Another thing that works for me is learning by doing. For example, I’m also ‘teaching myself’ video editing with the help of a big tutorial course by DaVinci Resolve, the makers of the software. It’s a MASSIVE application, but the class has its own media that you work with and through the lessons you learn the concepts, tools and techniques in all the facets of video editing. From finding and organizing your media into bins, to cutting and trimming clips, creating transitions, titles, color grading, sound management and effects. By biting things off in small chunks, it lowers your anxiety at having to tackle a big program. By using their provided media, you can see precisely what they’re doing in the exact relation to how you’re doing it.

The projects in the course I’m working through take the same approach. Right now I’m viewing videos that take me through the basics of how features, tools and concepts work in Ps and then I’ll do some of the homework with the photos provided. I’m sure after that I’ll feel a lot more comfortable with using my own pics (which I pretty much do already) and applying the concepts and techniques to my own work.

I know that exact feeling. Davinci Resolve is amazing!! The user manual is 1500+ pages! I still feel like a noob every time I work through my video editing, but it is getting better each time. Love it, just daunting!! What is the source of the tutorial course you are using?

It’s their beginner’s course. At the time I downloaded the PDF and the lesson files, it was free. Not sure if it still is, but even if it’s not, it’s useful. Check out this page -

I’m using v. 16 and it’s more than enough for me.

The best way to learn some of the key features of Photoshop is to learn how to edit photos without killing the original image. That’s where layers come into play. By adjusting a layer’s opacity, the strength of a tweak can be made subtle if so desired. Curves, Levels, and Hue & Saturation are essential tools and coupled with layers can be used with total control. I use Lightroom for initial edits to get the image within range and leave the delicate adjustments for Photoshop. TK’s plugins are wonderful. A nice discussion and glad that you posted it…Jim

Kris, I think @Keith_Bauer put this very well. One of the advantages of the TK panel is that it “simplifies” Photoshop for landscape photographers. It brings the most commonly used PS tools to one compact panel (instead of hunting through myriad PS menus and submenus to find a tool). And you don’t have to wade through all kinds of PS features and tools that landscape photographers rarely use to find the ones you will use. It also takes many multi-step PS functions and procedures, and boils them down to one click buttons. I like to think of them being like macros in Excel, they automate repetitive steps.

Yes it helps to have the basics understanding of what PS layers, adjustment layers, masks, etc. do. But once you achieve that understanding, the Kuyper/Bagshaw “approach” demonstrated in the videos really creates a nice structure of how to apply Photoshop in the context of landscape processing. Trust me, just dive into TK now, you only need to know a limited amount of Photoshop basics ahead of time, because Bagshaw covers a lot of that PS stuff anyways in his TK videos. I wasted years trying to figure out how to use Photoshop before TK existed, and never got too far. The TK/SB videos really shortcut and accelerated that whole learning process significantly.

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Amen to that! The creative part of seeing is 90% of the quality of an image. I would concentrate on that and let the processing come on it’s own accord.

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Question for you Ps experts - if I post questions here would you be willing to answer? I can do it on this thread or start a separate one.


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I would recommend starting a new thread. I’m willing to help answer whatever I can. But I would suggest you try watching some videos and reading tutorials first. If nothing else you would at least be familiar with some of the terms for tools, and basic concepts for things.

Remember “White Reveals and Black Conceals” that’s all you really need to know. :grin:

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Got it and yes, I’ve been watching hours of tutorial videos. To paraphrase Warren Zevon - “the stuff that used to work, well it don’t work now.”

I figured it out. Clicked a whole bunch of options and discovered a view error. Doh.

I have purchased a number of tutorials from @Sean_Bagshaw I believe he has a free or very cheap option to get started then has another beginner course that shows how to use the most important parts of PS for Landscape Photographers. It put my development on a much more solid ground extremely quickly. I went from never touching PS due to the overwhelming nature of it to using it for most of my images within about 2 weeks.


Ok, so I downloaded the TK6 panel and have hit a roadblock. The Panels folder doesn’t exist inside the Plugins folder. Installation documentation alleges that I have a faulty install of Ps and to remove and reinstall. Really? I am quite leery of doing that since I live in the sticks with a very slow and limited internet connection. Is this in fact my only option or is there updated documentation or products from TK that will work with Photoshop 2021?

Kris, the TK Panel is a Photoshop extension not a plugin. When you download the panel, you should have received a PDF with installation instructions called “Installing the Panel for Photoshop”. And when you extract the file “Install TK6.exe” it runs an installer for you. The instructions walk you thru the installation step by step.

I would recommend purchasing the TK 7 Panel instead of TK 6. In V7, Tony has simplified the interface to emphasize the most frequently used functions. This would be especially valuable to people new to TK. V7 also has some new functions, and since you are just starting out, I’d recommend going with the latest release. If you already purchased TK6, you may want to contact Tony and ask if he would be willing to exchange TK 7 for TK 6 for the price difference (Tony is an NPN member).

Yes, I read the installation instructions and that’s where it says to put it - NOTE #1: Do NOT open the “TK_Basic_V6” folder and copy what’s inside the
folder. Instead, copy the entire “TK_Basic_V6” folder to the “Panels” folder.

The diagram indicates the Panels folder is inside the Plugins folder.

Problem is - no panels folder.