I get a lot of questions from clients, other photographers and clickn’ moms on what software I use to edit my pictures. For this week’s Consider This I will be addressing the different levels of editing software that I am familiar with and you can judge for yourself which is best for your skill level.
SOFTWARE I USE:
Right now I use Adobe Lightroom 2 and Adobe Photoshop CS3. Both of these pieces of software would be considered professional level software. Photoshop especially is a tool to be used by those who need a variety of tools and functions to manipulate their photographs. It can also be used in graphic design although there are more specific products for that area. Lightroom on the other hand is something a lot of professionals use but I would recommend it to non professionals as well. Apple has a product similar to Lightroom called Aperture.
My workflow (the series of tasks to completely edit a session) consists of the following:
- Upload images to Lightroom
- Cull images (remove photos from list because of quality, posing problems, focus issues etc)
- Correct exposure, sharpness, color on culled images.
- Open Photoshop and perform touch ups on images for the following: blemishes on skin, eye sores in the back ground, and other items in the photo that might need spruced up
- Upload all images to smugmug for preview
- Blog select group of images
- Provide final product to client.
Based on the workflow I would say that I use Lightroom for 75% of my editing process. Photoshop is really only used to “fix” items in the photo or apply actions that will give the photo unique feel. For the most part I like my images to have a clean edit which means colors are true and not muted or changed too drastically. Every once in a while if I feel an image would be fun in a different style I will apply some of those “fun” edits.
CLICKN’ MOMS AND DADS
I would consider you a “clickn’ mom or dad” if your soul purpose behind having a DSLR ( camera with detachable lens) is so you can take better quality photos of family and events. You do not intend on selling your services but would like to have nice pictures to hang on the wall and make albums. In your case there are options that range from free to around the $200 range.
pixlr.com - This is a website based editing software where you do not need to download anything to your computer. You can create images from scratch or upload an image to edit. The tools feature include several popular tools from Photoshop type products like crop, spot healing, dodge, burn, clone stamp, marquee, lasso, layers and brush. If you are not familiar with these tools they are basic tools in Photoshop editing. With any software there is a learning curve but pixlr is a powerful free tool.
Photoshop Elements (PSE) – This is a smaller version of Photoshop and one I would say A LOT of households who wish to edit pictures have. Retail is about $120. This software not only allows you to edit with some of the most popular tools but it comes with a way to organize your photos. That to me is a very important tool when trying to find and edit pictures in batches. With any popular software product, there are ample video examples and forums answering questions on how to achieve the look you want for your pictures. Take the time to learn your tool if you are going to spend the money on it.
Another bonus for PSE products are the ability to use actions. Actions are sold and sometimes offered for free by many photographers on the internet. An action, when installed in your PSE software, will perform a series of tasks to create a certain effect on your photo. For example, I run an action called Select-O-Sharp from Totally Rad Actions. This action, when run, will create a layer over my photograph that will then allow me to use my brush tool to sharpen the portions of my image I want sharpened. That particular set of actions is only for a Photoshop product (not PSE) but there are plenty of great options for PSE. One option that is wonderful and free is from The Pioneer Woman, Pioneer Woman Actions.
Lightroom – Retails around $150. If you are wanting to learn more about photography and maybe in the future begin to sell your services I would consider you an amateur. Don’t go with the free products here. For you I would recommend the PSE products mentioned above and/or Lightroom. Lightroom is a very powerful tool to sort through images and very quickly edit images. I love Lightroom for the fact that I can select a group of similar pictures and by moving a couple of sliders around those images then look and feel all the same. I can achieve almost a final product just by using Lightroom. This software I would say has a pretty big learning curve. It was difficult at first to find a rhythm on how to edit my pictures but after watching videos and learning from others I was able to develop a routine.
With Photoshop products I mentioned the use of Actions. Lightroom does not have the ability to perform actions but they instead have something called a preset. It is a set of predetermined settings that you can apply to your pictures to achieve the effect you want. You can create your own presets or buy ones made by others. I find when editing beach images that I tend to have similar settings for all of those pictures, so I created a preset that applies those settings and it just saves those steps for me later.
Photoshop (PS) – Retails around $700. This is probably the most powerful editing software on the market. You are going to pay for it too. Everything mentioned in PSE of course would apply to PS plus many more options that would be for the advanced user. I purchased this product for the ability to run the actions I loved the most. At the time I was able to use an Education discount. If you can find an older version or use some type of discount and you want to eventually become a professional this is the product for you.
Here is an example from a recent session. The SOOC means Straight Out Of Camera. You can see it is a little dull in color. The scenery itself was beautiful. So I used mostly Lightroom to pop the colors and then PS to sharpen the little girl.
If you have any topics you would like me to cover