Expert Review: Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is an extremely powerful tool when it comes to making visuals. The wide array of possible adjustments and tools to use makes Photoshop one of the more complex visualization applications, and it will take time to master.

What can it do?

The better question would be what can’t Photoshop do? You can alter how a picture looks through contrast, saturation and hue. You can also create gradient maps, and 3D visualizations in addition to more simple tasks such as adjusting the size of an image while keeping its clarity, or even draw your own image. You can also create bizarre visualizations using the cloning tool to essentially copy and paste  bits and pieces from the same or other images.

 What kind of stories would it work with?

Because of the seemingly endless possibilities of Photoshop, it can be used in a great deal of stories. For example you could create your own chart to display data or statistics and customize it for optimal view ability. You could also use it further illustrate past and future locations, good for profile stories on businesses or neighborhoods. No matter what type of story, as long as there is a visual aspect, Photoshop can be used to some degree.

 How to get started:

As I had previously mentioned, Photoshop is a pretty complex tool to use to its full potential. A great tutorial video is available from to help make sense of the numerous tools and effects available. Since there are many different versions of Photoshop, the content can be somewhat customized for a variety of needs. My suggestion when first using Photoshop is to go into it with a specific project or idea in mind, as well as having watched some type of tutorial, unless you are familiar with similar software. Going in blind so to speak can be pretty overwhelming for a first time user, with such a mass of options and controls at your disposal.

 Difficulty level:

As I have previously mentioned, Photoshop is not the easiest tools to use for someone unfamiliar with editing software. There are a huge number of different settings and tools to use, which equals a lot of things to click on. Many of these tools are marked with small designs that don’t immediately indicate what  you’re clicking on. While the same goes for a handful of other every day software such as Microsoft Word or Excel, the interface is not as easy to understand for someone using this type of software for the first time. There are also a great deal of sub menus and sub settings that can be very intimidating and confusing for a first time user. Best save those for the pros.

Some of the basics that you need to use Photoshop include understanding how to use multiples layers in your work, which allows you to make changes to an image without altering the original background image. If you make a change you don’t like, you can just delete that layer. It is also important to know how to re-size the image properly if you plan on posting it to the web. There are also a handful of automatic adjustments that Photoshop can make to your image, such as curves, contrast and brightness.  You can read more into some of the basics in Photoshop here.


I would highly recommend Photoshop to anyone who deals with photography and edits or enhances photos regularly. It can do amazing things with its myriad of tools and is an extremely powerful software overall.  For my final story specifically, I don’t really think I have a use for Photoshop. I will be using CartoDB and other map related tools to visualize my information.


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