Posted by: David Vernon | September 27, 2008

A Roll? Way to Jinx It. What about Post-Processing Software?

Keep Out AgainI get all cocky with my posts and then… I’m gone for a week. I have to come to terms with the notion that the job I have that really pays the bills will sometimes get in the way of the really fun things in life. Last week is a fine example of that timing-wise. The more serious I get about this blog and its message, the more I will need to find ways to carve out time around that other job so I can do this. A serious approach to publishing this means consistency. One thing I know is going to happen is that I’m going to ask others in Central Illinois to add content here. Wanna spill your guts out about photography? For free? And under my critical editorial eye? Of course you do… Have your people (YOU) call (EMAIL) my people (ME).

Speaking of the ‘ol editorial eye… let’s see if we can sequeway over to post-processing software, a way of adding an editorial touch to your images. Now I have to profess for being an all-out Adobe guy. That means the whole Photoshop family. When I worked commercially, I worked in an Adobe shop and used these products to death so I can best talk about that community. But there are other options out there. Aperture comes to mind for the dedicated Mac community. Nikon has their proprietary NX software and Canon features Digital Photo Pro. There’s Paint Shop Pro, Bibble, and the pretty decent open-source GIMP. There’s plenty of choices – and most of them all do what you need to do – so how do you decide?

The hell if I know…

I never said I had all the answers.

But consider this. Don’t have much money? Get Adobe’s Photoshop Elements or The GIMP. The cost is downright cheap for the product you’re getting. Seriously – both of the products are so completely capable for 95% of the stuff you’ll ever want to do. I used Photoshop 7 for years. They’ve just announced PS 11 (aka CS4) – that’s how far behind I was. I’m sure version 7 cost hundreds of dollars when it came on the market. You can go out today and pre-order the VERY new Photoshop Elements 7 for $99 at Amazon. PS Elements 6 is still for sale out there for about $75. Both of those blow Photoshop 7 out of the water. These low-end, intro programs are so loaded with features now that I almost can’t envision spending more money to get a richer feature set. For most photographers you just don’t need more then that.

Lately I’ve been using Photoshop CS3. It’s a great, great piece of software. It’s a potentially EXPENSIVE piece of software. It can do almost anything you can envision from a photographic post-processing perspective (alliteration!). But in the end, I only use about 30% of the available feature set. Turns out there a lot of pricey stuff in there I use sparingly or just not at all. I actually bought Adobe’s Lightroom product just a couple days ago. If someone asks me to explain the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom, I think I can sum it up in two ways… 1) Lightroom is all about photographers and things photographers do. It’s a PHOTO PROGRAM. Photoshop appeals to a broader set of artists. 2) Lightroom is the 30% of Photoshop that I actually use – plus see #1. So I’ll start making the transition to Lightroom for a lot of my photography. Photoshop will be pressed into use for advanced masking and filtering, and probably a few other things, but Lightroom will start carrying the load. And that’s all I need.

So – if you feel a connection to the software you’re already using – keep using it – it probably works really well for you. If you’re trying to decide – you can’t go wrong with Elements or Lightroom. As a photographer, they will do yeoman’s work for you.

Maybe I do know.

And one final note. If you’re related to anyone going to college or high school, or you are or know a teacher, you can save a ton of $ by using a service like the Academic Superstore to purchase your software for a HEAVY discount. Photoshop CS3 retails for $699. Through the Academic angle, it’s $299. Lightroom goes for $299. Academically – it’s $99. You’ll need academic verification. Never have I been happier that my wife is in grad school. Keep studying honey! I’m just saying.

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