Destructive Adjustments

Learn Photoshop Adjustment Layers. Welcome to my “Photoshop for Photographers series on Adobe Photoshop CC. There are two ways to edit in Adobe Photoshop. Destructively, and non-destructively. Destructively, really is not a bad as it sounds, it just means that each adjustment is applied instantly. The issue with destructive editing is after you save it does not allow you to make changes.

Non-Destructive Photoshop Layer Adjustments

With non-destructive you work with a series of Photoshop adjustment layers and nothing is applied to the image. You can turn layers on and off, and adjust layers at any point. Photoshop Adjustment Layers are even editable after you save, as long it is a .psd Photoshop or .tif file. Note: you need to make sure layers is checked when you save. We will take a look at how to use Photoshop adjustment layers and masks. I think most individuals will find making the adjustment layers is easy but understand the concept of t a mask difficult. Most advanced Photoshop techniques will require you to use Photoshop adjustment layers. There are three different ways to apply Photoshop adjustment layers, I will show you each and point out my favorites. It might take you a few weeks to understand the concept, but you will need to understand the process to proceed in more complicated toning.

Photoshop for Photographers

“Photoshop for Photographers” was designed as a supplemental resource for my class, “Photoshop for Photographers.” The goal is to teach you how to use Adobe Photoshop step by step. I understand this path is not for everyone and there is no reason you have to follow this process. However, if you want to really learn the program, I would suggest learning everything on the video and then move on. If you are interested in learning Advanced Photoshop techniques, I am constantly adding new and updating videos. My last word of advice is to come up with a workflow and keep organized. If you blow this off in the beginning you will regret it in the long run.


I will show you how to work non-destructively with Photoshop adjustment layers inside of Adobe Photoshop. The white area to the right of the adjustment is the mask. If a mask is white the adjustment is applied everywhere. If there is black in the mask the adjustment will not be applied in that area making it a selective adjustment. If you are using the new Adobe Lightroom Classic that uses masking it is the exact same process. No, masks will not transfer from Adobe Lightroom Classic or Adobe Camera Raw to Photoshop. Hopefully, in the future.

Photoshop adjustment layers are key to non-destructive toning and complicated composites.


Items Covered in this Video

PHotoshop for Photographers Adjustment Layers.

This “Photoshop for Photographers” will focus one the ways to make Photoshop Adjustment Layers, their benefit and how to use them. Adjustment layers use masks to apply adjustments to specific areas. I will show you how to apply a mask manually with a brush and automatically with a selection. The great thing about a mask is that it can be altered, disabled or completely changed at any time during the editing process. This is invaluable to the toning process.

Photoshop Requirements and Hard Drives

Working in Adobe Photoshop and with photography is more than just installing software and saving images to your computer. Computers these days are using solid State Drives SSD, which are fast, but do not have a large storage capacity. If you start downloading a bunch of photographs to your computer, it will not take long until you get a “Scratch Disk Full” error. This means your internal hard drive is full. Just to run a computer and Adobe Photoshop you need a sufficient amount of free space. Image previews are usually stored in a computer’s cache. This a temporary storage so it can quickly retrieve previews without recreating them every time you look at them. I cover this in the my Photoshop Preferences Tutorial. Personally, I store all caches on an external hard drive. At this moment I have 4 different hard drives hooked up to my computer. Two SSD’s and two enterprise optical drives, each performing a different task. All these drives are backed up via BackBlaze.

Another important aspect of running any of Adobe’s products are them requirements. Adobe lists the minimum requirements to run each of their programs, but you never want to be using the minimums, or the speed will drive you nuts. You need to realize that that your computer and every other application you run have requirements. So if you have Photoshop’s min of RAM 4GB, that will not allow any for your computer to run or a browser like Chrome. Below I will have two lists. One is some reasonable minimum requirements to run Adobe Software and what I am running. The second is a list of issues you will run into with insufficient hard drive space, and low minimum requirements. Just about every online student that I teach run into these issues. I hope this helps.

Minimum Requirements

  • RAM 8-16 GB (I use 64GB)
  • Internal SSD Hard Drive Space, 512 GB I have 1TB
  • External Hard Drive 1TB, but more is better
  • Processor Intel or equivalent i5 quad core processor or apple M1 or M2 (I use Intel i7 8core)
  • A non integrated Graphics Card (AMD Radeon Pro 5700 8 GB)

Insufficient Requirements

  • Scratch Disk Full
  • Slow Computer
  • Artificial Intelligence takes forever
  • You can only open one program at at time
  • Photoshop constantly crashes
  • Learning Photoshop is frustrating because of the above issues

I have a Facebook Group called, “Learn Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and Bridge.” I created this group because I get a lot of questions on YouTube that are hard to answer unless I can see the issue. This will allow a place you can ask questions, and more importantly post images and videos.

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