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Jun 6, 2005

Photoshop First Time-Martin Evening

My first digital imaging experience probably happened around 1987 when I was invited to see a demo of the Quantel Paintbox.

The system we were shown belonged to the late Robert Maxwell, who I am told had initially purchased it in order to help fix the ‘spot the ball’ competitions.

This was a Mirror newspaper game in which the reader had to guess where the missing ball was in a photograph of a soccer match. Mirror newspaper employees would later become rather more worried about the missing millions from their pension funds (but that’s another story). Anyway, the first demo I saw of the Quantel system certainly fired my imagination. At that point in time all I could do was dream of owning such an image editing system. Back in the mid eighties there were only a few high-end digital retouching systems available in London and the only way you could get to play with them was if you had a big advertising budget.

It must have been around 1991 when I first heard about the new Adobe Photoshop program. I was immediately impressed at this amazing breakthrough in technology which meant that one could potentially use a Macintosh computer to edit photographs just as you could using a high end digital imaging system. Well, that wasn’t quite the case yet, because there were severe limitations as to what the hardware would allow you to do. Even if I had been able to purchase a top of the range Mac with a 24 bit graphics card, added more hard drive space and maxed out the RAM, this was still a big financial purchase and the Mac hardware in those days was not considered anywhere near fast enough to carry out serious pixel editing. Apart from anything else, my personal finances were not in great shape.

At first, I couldn’t afford a Macintosh, so I borrowed a photocopied Photoshop 2.0 manual, studied it thoroughly and basically taught myself the theory of Photoshop without the benefit of a computer. My girlfriend at the time was also a photographer and she too was interested to learn Photoshop. After a while we were able to acquire our first Mac, which was a IIVi Mac with a whopping 8 MB RAM and 40 MB hard drive. The first version of Photoshop I could get my hands on was Photoshop 2.5, but it was a demo version that was save disabled. That was OK since I just wanted something to learn the ropes and I was happy to use this to work through the folder of tutorial images. If I wanted to save an image, I took a photograph of the screen!


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The first image I have here looks like my first proper job – it was a promotional poster I did for a mate who was putting on a soul revue, which featured himself in two different guises: the cool dude singing into the mike and his alter-ego a nerdy guy in an ill-fitting suit (don’t ask). I do remember he forgot to bring his microphone to the studio so in the original shot he was actually singing into a lightbulb stuck inside a toilet roll! Photoshop did the rest!

In those days I was able to spend nearly every day at the computer studying Photoshop and within a few years I had trained myself to become quite an accomplished Photoshop artist. My first proper full working version was in fact Photoshop 3.0 which had just launched. Soon I was able to earn more money from the commissioned retouching work and combine these newly acquired Photoshop skills with my photography. This in turn generated more photography commissions and also allowed me to invest in more hardware.


An early Evening Photoshop 3.0 composite. Martin proudly said he made the globe out of papier mache (what we Americans call paper mache) and only used Photoshop for making the layered tints and composite.

The UK Digital Imaging Group (DIG) played a big part in my digital career. DIG was formed by a small group of professional photographers who were all digital imaging pioneers of one sort or another. The very first meeting was held in 1996 and after that we used to meet about once a month in each other’s studios for beers and a chat about the latest equipment and software. These meetings soon gained in popularity. So much so that on one occasion Rod Wynne-Powell ended up having to present a demo of Photoshop 4.0 to an audience of 100 people staring at a 21 inch screen mounted high up on a pile of boxes! Sadly, the DIG meetings eventually came to a halt, but DIG still lives on today in the form of the Prodig mailing list: www.prodig.org which is a free membership list for the discussion of all things to do with digital imaging.

My own career also began to take off in different directions; I started writing for a few magazines, and edited a digital imaging supplement for the Association of Photographers. Then I got to meet Andrea Bruno who, at the time, was the head of Adobe Europe. It was Andrea who first suggested to me that I consider writing a book about Photoshop for photographers.

This turned out to be the best career advice ever and within a month or so, I had got myself a contract from Focal Press and was starting work on my first chapter.

Mind you, there was the question of the title Adobe Photoshop for Photographers. I had recently met up with Marc Pawliger, who was one of the senior Photoshop engineers, in London. Marc mentioned that he had heard that someone else was writing a similar book with the same title. That ‘someone else’ turned out to be Jeff Schewe. So Jeff and I got chatting and since Jeff had not managed to make as much progress with writing his Photoshop book (and still hasn’t I might add), he agreed to let me proceed with the use of the title. It also marked the beginning of a long-standing friendship.


Another early composite. Martin shot the model in the back of a hair dresser’s salon against a white paper background and the field was shot later. The lighting was made to look like a ring light.

However, as I look back through the archives they do contain some embarrassing early explorations in the use of Photoshop. Although, I will say in my defense, that a lot of my clients got so excited about the prospect of using Photoshop to create way-out looking complex composite images, this did have a big influence on my early Photoshop work. Here though are some examples of what can best be described as the ‘everything plus the kitchen sink’ approach to Photoshop image retouching!


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Early use of Photoshop 3.0 and Kai’s Power Tools to manipulate straight model shots.


Martin’s portrait by Camilla Pascucci ©2004.

Martin, if you don’t know, is a London based advertising photographer and noted expert in both photography and digital imaging. As a successful photographer, Martin is well known in London for his fashion and beauty work. Check out Martin’s web site.

Martin also works with the Adobe Photoshop engineering team consulting on new feature development and alpha and beta testing. He worked alpha & beta for Photoshop CS2 and was influential with the new Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw 3.0.

In addition, Martin is a principal of PixelGenius where he designed and was product manger for the recently released PhotoKit Color. PhotoKit Color applies precise color corrections, automatic color balancing and creative coloring effects. PhotoKit Color offers a comprehensive set of coloring tools for Photoshop 7.0 and Photoshop CS & CS2 for both Macintosh and Windows.

Martin is planning on speaking at Photo Plus Expo this year, October 20 – 22, 2005 in New York City.

3 Responses to “Photoshop First Time-Martin Evening”

  1. pxlfxr Says:

    Just finished reading Martin’s new book. I just shear physical weight it is amazing and the content is even more impressive. Thanks Martin!!

  2. nunatak Says:

    Martin’s photos has a very refreshing perspective. It’s almost like … Barbie Dolls gone wild!

    Thanks for sharing Martin! :-)

  3. Stephen Scharf Says:

    Martin, great article on how you got started in digital imaging; you’re clearly one of the pioneers. The path for the development of the Photoshop for Photographers series of books in interesting, as well. It’s been fun chatting with you from time to time on the PixelGenius forums, and your book has spent many an evening on my knee as I use it as a reference while I work on mastering Photoshop on the Mac. It’s a great reference as well as enjoyable to read; and the photography is terrific as well. Thanks for putting up this article, Martin! :)

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