Since I started taking part in the One Four Challenge and recently the AB Challenge I have been exposed to many different variations on how people edit and process their images.
It surprised me the sheer range of stuff I had never heard of so I thought I would share the main software programs I use with some examples of what they do. Note I only work on a traditional PC with dual monitor setup.
First up is LIGHTROOM by Adobe. Been using this for years as my main photo processing program, until recently it was my only software.
Lightroom has vastly improved in its capability and V5 has some really powerful tools like the Radial tool which I use a lot, and the ND Grad gets used in my skies frequently. In fact its used on the image above to bring back the blue and give the clouds some more texture.
Its also useful because as you import your images you can save metadata and catalog them so they can be found again, sometimes a challenge when you have years of files to sort thru like I do now.
Lightroom does 95% of what I need done to process my images – for some annoying things like removing items or fixing some fiddly bits I now use Photoshop. LR is vastly more affordable than PS and I recommend it as a good place to start if you are serious about managing your files and editing them.
It has been around for a while now and there are tons of free resources, forums, websites and videos to help you learn. It does have a fairly steep learning curve but much less than PS.
Next up is NIK Suite now owned by Google – this is not standalone software but extra plugin functionality – you need LR or PS or similar to use these.
Several programs come in the suite but the two I use most are
Nik Silver Efex for doing my black and white conversions
Nik Color Efex for fancy colour variations
The Nik programs are really easy to use, there are lots of presets already there to choose from, and they are all completely adjustable or you could start from scratch if you wanted to. I find it fun just to twiddle and experiment and see what comes out.
Finally the last program I have started to use seriously in the last month is Photoshop. Everyone knows the name and it has a reputation as being incredibly flexible and powerful. Also expensive and hard to learn. All these things are true!
Got a student copy, the only way I could afford it LOL
Since I started my PS Grunge course it has taught me absolutely HEAPS about how to best use PS and has blown my mind at its capabilities. I recommend a good training course otherwise you flail around trying to understand things with no context and really dislike the experience. Understanding how to use tools means I have been having so much fun 🙂
PS for me is the final stage, when I want to work with layers, blend modes and masks. All the things you can’t do in LR. PS does have Camera Raw built into it, which is the same post processing steps and technology thats in LR, just not as pretty or as easy to use, so you could do everything in PS if you wanted to, I know many people do.
So my basic process is this:
1. Import all images into LR, delete unwanted images, and select the best ones for editing
2. Edit chosen image for upload to Flickr page and blog usually – usually thats as far as I go
3. For a BW conversion, process image in Nik Silver Efex
4. If Im working on something creative then I might use Colour Efex for a variation
5. If Im going all out and doing layers and textures then I will work on the final image in Photoshop.
What software do you use? What do you like about it?
Anything fun you would recommend I try?