I think one of the best ways to go about it is looking at a photo and deciding what it needs in terms of work done to it. That will point you in the direction of the right tool. You could of course try to learn ALL the tools, but eventually you'll find you won't use most of them. PS has tools for tons of image-related stuff, not just photos. I've used it to resize images, add white/black frames (Canvas Size) around them, hunt for dust when cleaning my camera's sensor (Curves or Levels layer and set to maximum contrast), and a plethora of other things.
To illustrate my first point: I shot this item on black acrylic, but no matter how much I blew the dust off during shooting, tons of tiny specks of dust ended up in the final image, along with scratches that the sheet has accumulated over several shooting sessions. Furthermore, because of the size of the sheet and the pipe, I had to place the sheet at a 45° angle, which resulted in triangular empty spaces in the corners (even though I used a black cloth behind the shooting table, it still doesn't look like acrylic).
This is the shot fresh out of the RAW processor (CaptureOne Pro 10). This is not the final shot, but a preliminary image that was shot 1 stop overexposed, and that shews the problems better than the final one:
Photoshop work done:
- Extend background/shooting surface (Clone Stamp, Content Aware Scale).
- Remove dust spots (Healing Tool, Patch Tool, Clone Stamp).
- Remove teeth marks on mouthpiece (Clone Stamp).
- Select background/shooting suface (combination of Magic Wand, Magnetic Lasso, and Lasso) and then blur the background/shooting surface to mask all dust or imperfections that were too small to be eliminated with the previous tools (Surface Blur filter).
- Center and crop (Crop Tool).
- Sharpen (High Pass filter).
The end result:IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/26n1x2u Dublin Churchwarden
by Henry Godnitz
, on Flickr