How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing

The post How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing

Buying a new computer can be a minefield. There are so many models to choose from with wildly varying budgets. How do you get the best performance for your budget? Where should you invest your cash (and where can you save)?

This article is straight forward, jargon-free advice on what to think about when buying a computer for photo editing. If you are looking for an in-depth analysis, you are in the wrong place. If you are looking to upgrade your current computer, but are unsure of how to spend your cash wisely, then this article will be a great starting point.

Mac vs. PC

I didn’t want to open this up with something that can descend into arguments. Instead, I thought I’d start with the one topic that everyone can agree on (or not) – Mac vs. PC. Seriously though, I thought it best to get this out of the way first. I’m a Mac guy. I have been for years. I am heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem, and it works best for me.

However, I will put it on record (and be held to it from this day forward), there is very little difference between Mac and PC. Software in the modern world is platform agnostic and very few programs are Mac-only or PC-only. The price difference is not always as large as people make out, and you will generally be invested in one platform or the other already.

I know there is the old argument that most creatives use Macs over PC, but this is outdated and not strictly true. My personal theory is that Mac products tend to look better (thanks to Johnny Ive) and creative people tend to like to surround themselves with beautiful objects. If you go into a high-end design office, Macs tend to fit with the aesthetic better, hence why we see more Macs in these situations.

Both platforms have their quirks. Both are capable of great results. With a similar spec and finish, there will be a similar price involved.

I am sure there will be some discussion in the comments about this, but I really want to leave this argument here. It is boring, and nobody will ever win. We are on the Internet, after all.

how-to-choose-the-right-computerfor-photo-editing

Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, the monitor stand costs more than most monitors. But if these are things you are worried about, this machine (the Mac Pro) is not for you.

Monitor first

Before you begin to look for a computer, invest in a monitor – and for goodness sake, calibrate it. As photographers, we concern ourselves with the best image quality we can achieve. If you are editing the image on a screen with a limited color range and that is way too bright, you will tend to be disappointed when you print your images. They simply will not match what you see on the screen. When looking for a new computer, it is easy get carried away in what processor to go for, or whether we should invest in a larger hard drive. But, surprisingly, a monitor can be, in many cases, an afterthought. It shouldn’t be.

When looking to buy a monitor, you should really aim for one with a wide color gamut and if you can afford it, go for an IPS panel.

Lastly, in terms of resolution, a 4K screen is great but comes with a higher price tag. My advice is color over resolution. 4k is nice, but it is not anywhere near as important as color consistency. I edit on a 2560 x 1440 monitor as when I was looking I could not get the consistency of color I wanted within budget in a 4K screen. I have never wished for more resolution yet.

Image: A high-quality monitor, correctly calibrated, will have the biggest impact on your images.

A high-quality monitor, correctly calibrated, will have the biggest impact on your images.

Laptop or Desktop

This is something that depends on your situation. Modern laptops are hugely powerful. The main thing that holds them back is the graphics card. However, with the rise of the external graphics card, this is starting to be negated.

Obviously, the benefit of a laptop is portability. Traveling with your laptop is great as you can edit whilst out and about. You can also get the images off your memory cards (always back them up before you format the card though). For me, as a wedding photographer, being able to import images into the computer whilst I get a break saves me time when I get home. I can also create a preview for the couple on the day of the wedding. This is something that is not possible with a standard PC or iMac. Also, when shooting multi-day music festivals, most outlets require a same-day turnaround of images. In this situation, a laptop is essential.

With modern laptops, the ability to have it transform into your desktop machine has never been easier. I have a 2018 13” MacBook Pro which, with the use of a dock, simply requires me to plug in one cable to connect it to my monitor and external hard drives and charge it. I have a fully-functioning desktop in seconds.

However, this portability comes at a financial cost. You will always pay more for a laptop than a similar specification desktop PC. If you have no need for the mobility advantages of a laptop, you can get a desktop with similar specs for less money.

What you should buy depends on your requirements and your budget. If your budget is small, I would always recommend a desktop PC, as you will get more bang for your buck.

how-to-choose-the-right-computerfor-photo-editing

Desktop or laptop? It depends on your needs.

Processor

The processor is the brain of your system. When looking at a computer for photo editing, the processor is where you need to be looking to max out as much as your budget can afford. The key thing to look for in processors is the cores. In simple terms, a processor is split into cores. Each core can work on a separate task, so therefore, the more cores you have, the more multi-tasking the computer can do (or the better its ability to split tasks down into smaller parts to complete it quicker).

Ideally, you want to be looking at a quad-core to a six-core processor. A quad-core processor hits this sweet spot of performance to price ratio, but if you can afford to upgrade to a six-core processor, you will see increased performance. After this, unless you are a particularly heavy user, you will see little benefit in more cores.

how-to-choose-the-right-computerfor-photo-editing

A processor is where you really need to max out when choosing a new computer.

RAM

This is where you may be surprised. If you are using your computer solely for editing photographs and you are not applying several layers and effects in Photoshop, you can easily get away with 8GB of RAM. If you want to push the boat out a little, or are planning on getting a camera with a huge megapixel count, such as the new 64MP Sony, you really need to push this to 16GB.

RAM tends to be one of the cheaper upgrades when configuring a computer. Whilst you may not be needing 16 or 32GB right now, as with all things computer-related, buy the best spec you can afford. This allows you to be happy with your computer for longer. RAM is one of the simple upgrade tasks to do yourself. However, note that in some computers, laptops especially, (yes, I’m looking at you Apple) it is not something that can be done after you have purchased the computer.

Graphics Card

Your graphics card (or GPU) is the thing that fools some people. For photography, you really do not need a hugely powerful graphics card. It is something that has one main purpose, which is running your monitor. Now if you are planning on running a dual monitor 4K setup, then it is worth investing a little in your graphics card, but unless you are planning on doing some hardcore gaming, you will not really notice the benefit of the high-end graphics cards in almost all photo editing situations.

When using certain photo editing tools, the graphics card will speed things up a little, but the price to performance ratio of a higher-end graphics card is not as beneficial as spending the money elsewhere, such as an upgrade to your processor.

Now, if you do video editing as well as photo editing, this is where you will see the benefit from a good quality graphics card. If you are doing any type of motion graphics on your videos, you will see an even bigger boost. This is where graphics cards will make a difference. If you are doing video work (or plan to) then you do need to allow some budget for a dedicated graphics card, or GPU if you are going down the laptop route.

Hard Drive

There are two types of hard drives: Solid State (also known as SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (known as HDD). They work in different ways, both of which have advantages and disadvantages.

Hard Disk Drives have been around for years. Data is stored on a rotating platter, which is then accessed by a read/write head to access or write the data. Most hard drives spin at 5400 or 7200 rpm. Simply put, the faster the rpm, the faster the drive can read/write data. Because they have been around for so long, the cost is much lower than a Solid State Drive. This makes this type of drive ideal if you are looking for a large amount of storage. It also means computers with HDD drives tend to be cheaper.

Solid State Drives are much newer technology. You will be most used to them as the storage in your phone and tablet. They work via an inbuilt processor called a Controller that performs the tasks of reading and writing data. The better the quality of the Controller, the faster the drive. They are much faster than Hard Disk Drives, but have one major disadvantage – the price.

The cost per gigabyte of storage Is much greater on SSD drives. On average, it is up to five times more expensive. However, that is really the only downside. SSD drives are much faster, less noisy (an SSD drive has no moving parts, unlike an HDD) and generally a little tougher (the head on an HDD does not like being banged about).

How much faster? Well, on an average computer, the start-up time will generally be over four times faster with an SSD. Programs will load much quicker, and the whole experience just feels snappier.

This is one of those speed boosts that you will not necessarily miss until you have used an SSD-based system. Once you have experienced it, I guarantee, you will not want to go back from it. Upgrading to an SSD on your current computer will give you a great upgrade for relatively little money.

I would always recommend an SSD as your main hard drive and then using larger HDD drives for your storage, either internally or externally. This way, you will have the best of both worlds. If you can afford it, I would suggest a 1TB SSD drive, as this means you can keep current work on the SSD drive to feel the benefits. Then your archive can be kept on HDD to access when you need it.

You also need a backup strategy in place. If you haven’t, please do yourself a favor and read up on how to backup your photos. I would hate the thought of any of you crying over lost photos.

Image: Possibly the most boring photo ever put on DPS. Whilst they are not much to look at, an SSD d...

Possibly the most boring photo ever put on DPS. Whilst they are not much to look at, an SSD drive will give you a big speed boost.

Summary

I could now list some machines that are currently considered the best for photo editing. If you Google the phrase “best computer for photo editing 2019” you will find several lists. However, I don’t want to do that. Not least because if you are reading this 6 months after I wrote it, it will already be out of date. Instead, I thought I would leave you with the top 6 things to think about when choosing the right computer.

  1. Buy the best processor you can afford. The majority of the work for photo editing relies heavily on the processor. Depending on what machine you buy, RAM is something you can upgrade yourself cheaply in the future. If you can afford 16GB then go for it. Just make sure before you stick at 8GB to save some budget, you can upgrade it later.
  2. Go for an SSD, but don’t go crazy for size. Try to go for a 1TB drive, or if on a tighter budget, a 512GB drive. Then invest in a larger 7200RPM external drive for more space. This way you can get the speed benefits of an SSD for your current editing and keep your work stored on a still fast, but cheaper external drive. And pretty please, with a cherry on top, invest in a backup!
  3. Don’t buy a laptop if you’re not going to use your computer out and about. You can get much better value from a desktop. So, if you only edit at home, get the most power for your money.
  4. Invest in a decent monitor. Then invest in a calibration device. Then invest in your computer. A good, calibrated monitor will not only last you longer, but it will also make your photos look better. Not just to you, but to everyone else as well.
  5. Keep your eyes open for deals. These are usually highest when new models are coming out. If you are happy to invest some time searching, you can find some great bargains.
  6. Lastly, don’t be afraid of secondhand or refurb, especially if you are on a budget. I have purchased most of my equipment refurbished by Apple (and saved a lot of money). You can also save huge amounts of money buying secondhand. You can buy some slightly older equipment that will be perfectly adequate for a fraction of the price. For example, lots of gamers often update their graphics cards. You can then pick it up to boost your computer for a fraction of the retail price. Obviously, this method is not without some risks. However, it is a way to get great value for money if you’re on a tight budget.

Lastly to go back to the start, Mac or PC? It really doesn’t matter! Unless you can afford to buy a Mac. In which case, you should always buy a Mac! (Sorry PC fanboys and girls, I couldn’t resist. I await my roasting in the comments 🙂

 

how-to-choose-the-right-computerfor-photo-editing

The post How to Choose the Right Computer for Photo Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging

The post How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Silky water effects, streaked clouds, motion-smoothed with an ethereal look; long exposure photography seems to be in vogue as photographers discover the looks that can be created. There are multiple ways to achieve this. The most basic is to buy a standard neutral-density photography filter which cuts the light, allowing you to use long shutter speeds without overexposing your shot. You can achieve exposures minutes long, especially when using 10-stop ND filters like the Lee Big Stopper or even the 15-stop Super Stopper.

I recently did an article on an alternative way to make long exposure photos, “Try this DIY Neutral Density Filter for Long Exposure Photos.” I encourage you to read the piece and learn how a piece of welding glass can be a budget substitute for more expensive photographic ND filters.

simulate-long-exposure-stacked-image-averaging

This is the same location I used for some of the other shots in this article but taken when the river was much higher and faster. The biggest difference is that I used DIY welding glass ND filter to achieve this shot. See my other article for this technique.

This article teaches you a third method of making long-exposure images with no filter at all. Unlike the welding glass trick which pretty much requires your final image to be monochrome so as not to have to fight the heavy color cast, this works great in full color, with no filter at all, and no color cast present. It’s a great method to simulate long exposure.

The technique uses a stack of multiple images of the same scene then processed with a Photoshop process called Image Averaging. It’s really quite simple and has some advantages over traditional methods with ND filters.

Advantages over the traditional ND filter method

When doing traditional long exposure photography with an ND filter you will be making long exposures.  (Duh!)  There are a few challenges with this:

  • If during the long exposure you bump the camera or things move in the shot you don’t want to be blurred, you will need to re-do the shot.
  • Long exposures can often be several minutes in length. Double the time if you also enable in-camera noise reduction. If it takes 2-minutes to expose and another 2-minutes for the noise reduction to work, you will only be making a shot every 4-minutes. This can really slow down your work, and if the light changes during that time, you could miss it.
  • With very dark ND filters, you won’t be able to see anything through the lens once the filter is in place. You will have to compose your shot, pre-focus, then mount the ND filter and make the image.
  • Determining exposure will take some calculation. You’ll check exposure without the filter then use a calculation tool to determine the new shutter speed the ND filter requires. Often this will need some tweaking after you see your shot and…yup, another re-do will be needed.
  • If back in editing you see the shots and wish you’d gone for longer or shorter shutter speeds to change the look, too bad. You’d have to go back and reshoot – if that is even possible.
Image: In fairly bright sunlight, even with the ISO at 50 and aperture at f/22, 1/5th of a second wa...

In fairly bright sunlight, even with the ISO at 50 and aperture at f/22, 1/5th of a second was as slow a shutter speed attainable while maintaining proper exposure. This was with no filter.

 The advantages of the Image Averaging method

The advantages of using the image stacking method are essentially the opposite of those things just stated above:

  • You’ll be making multiple images rather than one long one. If one of the images in the group has a problem, you may be able to eliminate it and use the rest to still successfully create the effect.
  • You can see what you’re doing! Not shooting with a dark filter means you’ll still be able to see, compose, use auto-focus, auto-exposure, and even image stabilization if you shoot handheld.
  • No calculation! Without the addition of a dark filter, you eliminate this step.
  • Adjust the length of your “simulated slow shutter” later in post-production. Want more or less blur? You can change your mind later.
  • Are conditions too bright for a standard long exposure shot? Maybe you only own a 6-stop ND filter, and daytime conditions are too bright to let you get the length of exposure you’d like. You can combine both methods to simulate a longer exposure than possible with the ND filter alone.
  • Are people in the shot you’d like to remove? Because they are likely to move during the multiple shots, when the averaging process takes place, they will vanish!
simulate-long-exposure-stacked-image-averaging

Make people disappear! Notice on the inset the people walking in the river, but on the completed shot, 15 images, each 1/5th of a second = 4 seconds simulated. They are gone.

Making the shots

Setting up and shooting the images you need for your image-averaged creation is much the same as any photography. Here are the factors and steps to keep in mind:

Composition still counts!

Because you introduce a long exposure blurred effect does not mean that you will have automatically created a good photo. Still consider how to carefully compose your image. Take into consideration that moving objects in the shot will blur and look simplified with less detail. Good long exposure shots often emphasize the contrast between static, non-moving objects (buildings, rocks, trees, etc.), and moving objects like clouds and water. Include both in your shot.

Shoot on a tripod

I mentioned you could do this handheld and, well…maybe you could. However, even with this technique, you will still want to shoot at the slowest shutter speed possible. That way, you won’t have to make too many shots for combining. Once you get much slower than 1/30th of a second (and faster than that if if you’ve just had coffee), handholding your camera is probably going to ruin your shots.

simulate-long-exposure-stacked-image-averaging

All Images ISO 50, f/22 . Top left – No filter – 20 images each 1/5 second = simulated total = 4 seconds. Top right – No filter – 35 images each 1/5 second = simulated total = 7 seconds. Bottom – 6-Stop ND filter – 15 images each 20 seconds = simulated total = 5 minutes.

How many shots?

This technique simulates long exposure by combining multiple shots.  The simple formula is:

(# Shots) x (Shutter Speed of each shot) = Total simulated shutter speed effect (in seconds)

Let’s plug some numbers into that and see the result.  Set your camera for the lowest ISO possible.  I can get my Canon 6D down to ISO 50.  Some cameras will have ISO 100 as the lowest.  Use whatever you can.  Set your aperture to the smallest aperture possible.  Meter with those settings and see how long you can make each individual shot and have it properly exposed.  Say we were able to do this in the shade: 1/4 second, f/22, ISO 50.  To get a simulated shutter speed of one minute (60 seconds), we’d need to make 240 shots.

240 shots x 1/4 second (.25) = 60 seconds

That’s a little unwieldy, and stacking 240 shots in Photoshop may cause your computer to choke. So what to do? Perhaps you don’t have an ND filter in your bag, but you do have a circular polarizer. It will help reduce the light. You mount it and now find you’ve lost 2-stops. So your exposure can be 1 second, f/22, ISO 50. Plug that into the formula, and you get:

60 shots  x 1 second = 60 seconds

If you’re shooting in lower light conditions, you may be able to get a slower shutter speed to start with. That will mean you can take fewer shots.

To make your job easier (and the computers as well), always try to get the slowest shutter speed you can for your shots. That will mean you can create the simulated long exposure with fewer shots.

Say you did have a 6-stop ND filter in your kit. You mount that, and now your settings are 16 seconds, f/22, ISO 50. Now, to get that simulated 1-minute exposure, you’d just need about four shots. Why not make 10 while you’re at it and you can simulate a 2.6 minute (160 seconds) exposure?

Had you done this traditionally, and had a 10-stop ND filter, you could take the unfiltered exposure down from 1/4 second, f/22, ISO 50 to 256 seconds (4.2 minutes), f/22, ISO 50. So, to get the same effect with a 6-stop ND filter as you could with a 10-stop by using image averaging, take 16 shots.

16 shots x 16 seconds each = 256 seconds (4.2 minutes)

simulate-long-exposure-stacked-image-averaging

35 images each 1/6 second combine to simulate a 6-second exposure. Shooting into the sun, it would probably be impossible to make a 6-second exposure without a filter.

Forget the math, make the shots!

If all that math made your head hurt (it did mine), here’s the simple way to get what you need so Photoshop can do its magic:

  • Use a tripod.  You don’t want to do all this and get shaky shots.  That will waste all your work.
  • Do what’s necessary to shoot with the slowest shutter speed you can get with the equipment you have.  In the camera, that will usually mean setting the lowest ISO and smallest aperture.
  • If you have a polarizer or ND filter, use those to get the shutter speed even slower if you can.
  • Make lots of shots for each stacked image you will create.  Depending on how slow you were able to get your shutter speed, a few dozen isn’t too many.  You don’t have to use them all when you get into editing, but having more will allow a longer simulated effect.

Putting it all together

This recipe assumes you will be using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop in combination. You don’t have to use Lightroom. You can get your individual images into a stack in Photoshop another way if you need to (though using LR is much easier). Using Photoshop, however, is mandatory. Also, to use the Smart Objects function described, you will need a version of Photoshop that is Version 14.2 or higher. Older versions of Photoshop won’t have this.

There are ways to do this with older versions in a more manual process. If you have an older version, you will need to do a little online research to learn that technique. I used the latest version of Photoshop at this writing (Photoshop CC 20.0.4).

Let’s look at this step-by-step process visually…

simulate-long-exposure-stacked-image-averaging

1. From Lightroom, select the sequence of images you will use.  Edit the first one in the sequence to your liking.  Then select all of them and use the Sync function so all have the same settings as the first.

How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging

2. With all selected, send the images from Lightroom to Photoshop by going to Photo->Edit In->Open as Layers in Photoshop. (Photoshop will open, and the images will appear as layers in a stack). If you have a lot of images to be opened and stacked, this can take a while. Let it work.

How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging

3. With all the layers selected, in the menu select Layer->Smart Object->Convert to Smart Object. This can take a while to do its work. Be patient.

How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging

4. With the Smart Object layer selected, from the menu select Layer->Smart Objects->Stack Mode->Mean. This can also take a bit to work.

How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging

Wait for it…wait for it…and…

simulate-long-exposure-stacked-image-averaging

Presto!  You will have a simulated long-exposure image made from your stack of shorter exposures.  20 images each at 3.2 seconds, f/22, ISO 50.  No filter used.  Simulated long exposure of 64 seconds.

simulate-long-exposure-stacked-image-averaging

The water in this section of the river was pretty calm anyway, but look at the before and after areas pointed out by the arrow where the original shots were 3.2 seconds vs the combined 20 shots x 3.2 seconds = a simulated 64 seconds.

How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging

5. To finish up, go to Layer->Flatten Image.  Then File->Save As and save the finished image where you like.  If you want to give the completed image some additional tweaking, you can do that with Photoshop or Lightroom as you would with any other image.

Remember…

That’s the magic!  Here are a few things to remember for best results:

  • Consider your composition.  Look for a scene where you will have a combination of static objects that won’t move during the sequence and those that will.  An image with both will be more compelling.
  • Use a tripod.  You can do this handheld if you must, but know that any camera movement will be translated as a blur in the final result.
  • Do what you can to get as long a shutter speed with each image in the sequence as possible.  Drop your ISO to the lowest setting, use a small aperture, and use polarizing filters or whatever ND filters you have.  Longer exposures for each shot mean fewer images are needed to create a simulated long exposure.
  • Overshoot.  You don’t need to use all the images in a sequence if you decide you don’t want as much blur. However, if you don’t shoot enough, you might later wish you had them.
  • As you work through the steps, some things can take a long time.  Be patient and let your computer work.  If the process crashes, it could be you don’t have enough computer resources and will have to settle for a smaller stack.
simulate-long-exposure-stacked-image-averaging

5 images, each 6 seconds = a simulated exposure of 30 seconds. No filter used.

simulate-long-exposure-stacked-image-averaging

10 images, each 1/4 second combine to give a 2.5-second simulated exposure. This can be a great technique to use for getting silky water effects when you don’t have an ND filter and only need a longer exposure of a few seconds.

Final thoughts

Is this a better method than using an actual ND filter? Like so many photographic things, the answer is probably…it depends. Maybe you don’t have a filter or have one with you. Perhaps you don’t need a really long exposure, but just one a little longer than you can get with a low ISO/small aperture combination such as when seeking blur on a waterfall. Maybe you need to vanish people and don’t want to make a single multi-minute shot for various reasons. Alternatively, perhaps you have an ND filter but need an even longer exposure than it can give you.

There are lots of reasons to add this How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging Technique to your bag of tricks. Give it a try, and I’m sure you’ll have fun. Share your images with us in the comments!

 

simulate-long-exposure-stacked-image-averaging

The post How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow

The post How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

One of the common complaints about Lightroom Classic is that it’s just not as fast as some photographers expect. When I get back from a session with hundreds of RAW files to process, the thought of going through each of them one-by-one is enough to give me a headache. The few seconds it takes Lightroom to load each photo for flagging or cropping can be enough to make you want to quit photography altogether! Fortunately, if you subscribe to Creative Cloud you have options. In this article, you’ll learn how to use Lightroom Mobile to dramatically increase the speed of your workflow.

How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow

One of my favorite aspects of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription is how you can take advantage of many of the features of Lightroom Mobile even if you don’t store your primary images in the cloud. You can store bite-size previews of your images from Lightroom Classic in your Creative Cloud account, which you can then load on a mobile device for editing.

After you finish editing on your mobile device, all the changes will be automatically synced back to Lightroom Classic on your computer. I use this technique all the time now, especially for culling and cropping after a long photoshoot. I think you might find it incredibly useful as well.

Sync with Lightroom

The first thing you need to do is enable syncing between Lightroom Classic and your Creative Cloud account. Click on your name in the top-left of the Lightroom Library module and choose “Start” under “Sync with Lightroom.”

How-to-Use-Lightroom-Mobile-to-speed-up-your-workflow

This will then enable you to start syncing your edits. One thing to note is that if you have a basic 20GB Photography plan, the photos you sync will not count against your storage quota. That is only for images you upload directly to Lightroom Mobile or Lightroom CC, as well as any documents you have stored in your Creative Cloud Files.

After Sync is enabled, you can selectively sync any individual collection by clicking the arrow icon just to the left of its name.

How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow

This will start uploading previews of each image to your Creative Cloud account. While this is happening you can see the upload status by looking above your name in the top-left corner.

How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow

Completing the initial synchronization will take a few minutes or more depending on the speed of your internet connection. The individual preview files being uploaded are quite small, but if you sync an album with a few thousand images it might take longer than you expect.

One thing to note is that you can only sync collections that have been created manually by you. Smart albums, which are created dynamically according to rules you specify, are not possible to sync with Lightroom Mobile.

Edit on Lightroom Mobile

When the sync operation is complete, load Lightroom Mobile on a phone or tablet and the collections you synced will show up in your Albums list.

How-to-Use-Lightroom-Mobile-to-speed-up-your-workflow

If you have never used Lightroom Mobile before you’re going to be amazed at how quickly you can perform operations like moving from one photo to the next, flagging/rejecting, cropping, or pretty much anything else you might do in Lightroom Classic.

How-to-Use-Lightroom-Mobile-to-speed-up-your-workflow

Upon loading your images into Lightroom Mobile, you can quickly swipe between them to check for focus and composition. Simple gestures like swipe up on the left to assign a star rating and swipe up/down on the right to mark a picture as Pick or Rejected make the editing process much faster than Lightroom Classic. A few taps will let you quickly crop, rotate, and make basic exposure adjustments.

As far as individual features go, the two programs are almost the same. However, the mobile version has an interface designed around touch instead of a mouse/keyboard combo. This means some things don’t behave quite how you might expect, but once you get the hang of things, it’s not bad at all.

Image: Lightroom on an iPad, even a basic version and not an iPad Pro, is extremely fast, fluid, and...

Lightroom on an iPad, even a basic version and not an iPad Pro, is extremely fast, fluid, and easy.

Since the images synced between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom Mobile are small previews and not full-resolution originals I would recommend against using the latter to check for accurate focus or do highly detailed adjustments. I find Lightroom Mobile most useful for just the basics like flagging and cropping, but your own usage might vary.

How-to-Use-Lightroom-Mobile-to-speed-up-your-workflow

Lightroom on a mobile device lets you access almost all of the editing options on the desktop version, but I prefer to use it for just a few basics.

Sync back to Lightroom Classic

The beauty of this entire process is that as soon as your edits are applied to a photo, you don’t have to manually re-sync anything. Any edits you make automatically copy back to your original Lightroom files on your desktop. All you have to do is load up that program, wait for automatic sync to finish, and your pictures are ready for further edits.

Ever since I started using this Desktop->Mobile->Desktop workflow for my initial culling and cropping, I have found myself enjoying the whole process. I’ll sit back on my sofa or relax with a drink at the kitchen table while rapidly flipping through pictures on my iPad for the first round of edits. I’ll then return to my desktop, and the rest of the editing is much less stressful.

Image: Finding the best photos out of a batch of 600 is much, much faster when using Lightroom Mobil...

Finding the best photos out of a batch of 600 is much, much faster when using Lightroom Mobile.

This may seem a bit overwhelming at first. However, once you try this process, you will be surprised at how easy it is.

What about you? Do you have any other tips for speeding up your Lightroom workflow? Share them in the comments below!

 

How-to-Use-Lightroom-Mobile-to-speed-up-your-workflow

The post How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

The post 5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you ever feel like your nature photos are just a bit…bleh? Like they could use something more?

nature-photography-editing-tips

It’s a common problem. Because while you can be a master of light, composition, and camera settings, there’s still one thing you need for amazing nature photography:

Editing.

You see, editing is how you make your nature photos shine. It’s how you add a final touch to your images. It’s how you take a slightly bland image, and make it into something truly stunning.

In this article, I’m going to share with you nature photography editing tips so you know exactly how you can create amazing nature photography edits.

And you’ll come away with the ability to enhance every single one of your nature photos.

Sound good?

Let’s get started.

nature-photography-editing-tips

1. Straighten and crop to emphasize your main subject

First things first:

If your nature photo is crooked…

…then it just won’t work. No matter how amazing the content.

(This is especially a problem for landscape photos, where crooked horizons are extremely obvious.)

You see, a crooked photo is just disorienting. It causes the viewer to get caught up in being imbalanced and makes them forget all about the subject.

So the first thing you should do to enhance your nature photos:

Check to make sure your photo is straight. And if it isn’t, straighten it! Pretty much every photo editing program offers straightening tools, so make use of them.

I handheld this swan photo, and so it required a bit of straightening:

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

Once you’ve straightened your photo, it’s time to think about cropping.

Now, if you’ve composed carefully in-camera, you won’t necessarily need to crop. But it’s easy to miss something small while looking through the viewfinder. Maybe there are some leaves dangling in the corner of the frame!

In which case:

Crop!

By removing distractions, you’ll make your photo stronger overall. You should also crop to improve your composition. For instance, you might crop slightly to place your main subject on a rule of thirds gridline.

Or you might crop to place a symmetrical subject smack-dab in the middle of the frame, like this:

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

Basically, just think of cropping as a second, more measured chance at composing.

Use it to nail the perfect final composition. But don’t think that you need to crop each time a photo comes up. And try to get the composition right in-camera.

After all, crops automatically reduce resolution!

2. Drop the blacks and up the whites to add interest

If you think that your nature photos are looking a little flat, then you might be suffering from a common problem:

Low contrast.

Low-contrast photos generally lack interest. There’s not a clear difference between the subject and the background, so the whole shot just seems to blend together.

Fortunately, this can be fixed pretty easily with a bit of post-processing!

First, basically, every photo editing program offers a contrast slider. For a quick-and-dirty edit, go ahead and boost up this slider.

However, I’d go for something a bit more controlled.

In Lightroom, for instance, I like to use the adjustment sliders to drop the blacks and increase the whites, like I did for this photo:

nature-photography-editing-tips

You can also use the tone curve function to create a nice s-shape, which will give you the same effect.

If my image is fairly low contrast to start with, I’ll add a touch of contrast and then leave things be.

But if my image already has a lot of light and dark tones, I like to push the contrast further. This is especially the case if I’m taking photos in black and white.

Therefore, I’ll add to the blacks until the deepest shadows are close to losing detail. And I’ll increase the whites until the brightest parts of the photo are almost clipped.

3. Clean up your subject with a bit of Healing or Cloning

Now it’s time for some careful adjustments.

You see, many subjects in nature photography could use a bit of cleaning up. Because they tend to have dirt or blemishes that interfere with the overall look of the photo.

For instance, I often clean up my flower photos. Insects chew holes in the petals, or the tips of the flowers start to wither. And if I were to leave these elements in, they would simply distract from the overall shot.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

If you’re a bird photographer, think about cleaning up the bird’s surroundings. There are often stray branches in photos of woodland birds. There is often dirty sand and distracting shells in photos of shorebirds.

On the other hand, I would not advocate making extensive modifications to your subject. I like to portray nature as close to reality as possible. And that means holding myself back from altering my subject in any deep way.

I generally use Lightroom’s excellent healing tool to remove these blemishes. But any clone tool will do the job. It’ll just require a bit more work.

4. Simplify the palette with Color Adjustments

In nature photography, I advocate simplicity:

Simpler shots are generally best.

But that doesn’t just go for composition. It’s also true for color.

In other words, for a stunning photo, you should try to limit the number of colors you include. One color works just fine. Two is nice. Three is good. Four is reaching the upper edge.

After that, the colors contribute a sense of chaos to the scene, which is exactly what you don’t want.

Fortunately, you can work on simplifying your color palette after you’ve taken your shots.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

All you have to do is use the color adjustment sliders. In Lightroom, these are the hue, saturation, and luminance (HSL) adjustments.

Here’s a couple of ways you can simplify your colors:

First, you can desaturate any colors that you want to deemphasize, and saturate any colors you’d like to bring out.

Second, you can change the hues of several colors to look more similar. For instance, you might make greens slightly bluer and blues slightly greener, so that everything leans toward a balanced middle color.

Third, you can darken any problematic spots of color. If you have a splash of orange in the background that you just don’t like, you can dial it back by simply darkening the oranges.

Unfortunately, there’s no set formula for working with color adjustments. But I always recommend you keep a final goal for the photo in mind: simplicity.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

And I should note: It’s easy to overdo color adjustments so that you end up with a garish, oversaturated scene. I suggest that you always check your color edits the day after you’ve finished, and make sure that the edits still seem to make sense.

That way, you can be sure that you haven’t taken things overboard.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

5. Use a subtle Split Tone to give a polished look

Here’s your final piece of advice for nature photography post-processing:

Use (subtle) split toning!

Now, split toning is a bit complex:

It allows you to choose a color to add to the shadows of the image, and a color to add to the highlights of your image.

For instance, you can add a yellow to the highlights, and make the whites of the image look very warm:

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

Then you can add a blue to the shadows, and make the dark parts of the image look very cold:

nature-photography-editing-tips

In fact, yellow/blue split toning is extremely common in cinema, because the warm/cold contrast makes the visuals more compelling.

Now, in nature photography, you don’t want to split tone to the extent they do in cinema. The point of a nature photography split-tone is to subtly enhance the colors.

So here’s what you should do:

Once you’ve finished your main editing, head over to the split-toning options in your editing software. This isn’t an edit offered by every post-processing package, so check to see if it’s something you can do.

Then simply play around with the split toning options. Be careful to keep things pretty minimal. You don’t want to grossly alter the colors of the photo. You want something subtle.

The yellow-highlights, blue-shadows split-tone is one that works pretty consistently, so it’s something that I suggest you try.

But feel free to experiment with many split-tone options.

And pick the one you like best for a wonderful finishing touch!

5 nature photography editing tips to create stunning images in seconds: next steps

Nature photography editing is just the thing you need to add a bit of punch to your photos.

So I suggest you have a consistent post-processing workflow, one which allows you to take your pictures to their full potential.

nature-photography-editing-tips

That’s how you’ll really create a polished nature photography portfolio.

Which nature photography editing step do you think is most useful? Let me know in the comments right now!

 

5-nature-photography-editing-tips

The post 5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

The Easiest Way to Achieve Rich Skin Tones in Photoshop!

The post The Easiest Way to Achieve Rich Skin Tones in Photoshop! appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video by PiXimperfect, you’ll learn the easiest way to achieve rich and beautiful skin tones in Photoshop.

In this tutorial, advanced Photoshop masking tools are used to target only the skin tones in the image. After selecting the skin tones, adjustment layers are used to add color to it.

The easiest way to achieve rich skin tones in Photoshop:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. To begin your selection of the skin, go to Menu->Select->Color Range.
  3. To select the skin correctly, be sure to select “Sample Colors” (not “Skin Tones” because this feature doesn’t capture the skin tones with accuracy).
  4. Firstly, decrease the Fuzziness value to around 15, and then select the first Eyedropper tool. Using the eyedropper tool, click on one part of the skin in your image. To see what your selection is, ensure that you mark Selection in the Color Range window.
  5. Now select the second Eyedropper with the + symbol to extend the selection of the skin range. To do this, click and drag your Eyedropper tool across all skin tones until you have selected them all. Make sure no area is left out.
  6. You don’t want to keep the selection harsh, so go to the Fuzziness Slider and change it to around 55, and then click OK.
  7. Now that you have a selection of your skin tones, or colors similar to your skin tones, click on the Adjustment Layer icon in the Layers Palette. Choose “Solid Color.” This opens up the color palette window. In the RGB section, put in the following numbers – R: 255, G: 46, B: 1, and click OK.
  8. Change the Blend Mode in your Layers Palette from “Normal” to “Linear Light.” Rather than lower the Layer opacity, you are going to lower the “Fill” to around 5-10%.
  9. Take a look at your image and see if any areas have turned out too harsh with the blend. If so, choose your mask, then select the Paintbrush tool and paint those areas (with your brush color set to White) to soften the transition. You can decrease your brush flow if you want to.

That’s it!

Do you have any other tips you’d like to share with us? Do so in the comments section!

You may also find the following helpful:

Basic Skin Smoothing in Photoshop

Understanding Masking in Photoshop

How to Blend in Adjustments Using Layer Masking in Photoshop

How to Use the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop to Make Clear Skin

How to Correct Skin Blemishes Using the Patch Tool in Photoshop

How to Replace Colors in Your Images Using Photoshop

How to Enhance Colors Using Photoshop’s Color Range Tool

 

The post The Easiest Way to Achieve Rich Skin Tones in Photoshop! appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Texture and Clarity Sliders in Lightroom Classic CC: What’s the difference?

The post Texture and Clarity Sliders in Lightroom Classic CC: What’s the difference? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Throughout the last couple of years, Adobe has released an absolute tsunami of updates for their photo editing platforms. Adobe Lightroom Classic went through a plethora of upgrades and changes, with new (and sometimes major) add-on’s seemingly incorporated with each new build. One of these sizable fresh additions to the Lightroom Classic toolkit came in May of 2019 with the release of v8.3. It’s called the Texture slider.

Texture and Clarity Sliders in Lightroom Classic CC: What's the difference?

Yep, that little guy right there.

You’ll find the texture slider nestled comfortably in the Presence section of the basic panel alongside the now veteran Clarity and Dehaze adjustments. These Presence sliders are extremely interesting in their effects and how they each accomplish their separate actions. Clarity, Dehaze, and now Texture, all perform similar adjustments. They each tweak contrast within our photos to varying degrees with wholly different results.

Texture and Clarity are particularly interesting. Both perform quite similarly, while at the same, remaining their own animals…if that makes any sense? In this article, we’re going to have a closer look at the Clarity and Texture sliders.

I’ll explain how they work and show the different effects each of these powerful sliders can have on your photos.

Texture vs Clarity

All right, so what’s the difference between Clarity and Texture?

We’ve already surmised they are similar in that they function to bring out detail within a photo. However, you’ll notice some very obvious differences as soon as you view the effects of each slider side by side. Have a look at this. Here’s the original photo:

Texture and Clarity Sliders in Lightroom Classic CC: What's the difference?

And now a side-by-side comparison of some Clarity and Texture Slider adjustments.

Texture and Clarity Sliders in Lightroom Classic CC: What's the difference?

In the photo on the left, I’ve increased the Clarity slider to +100. I’ve applied +100 Texture to the photo on the right. The difference is apparent, but what exactly is happening here? First, let me remind you what our beloved Clarity slider actually does.

A refresher on Clarity

In short, Clarity interacts with our photos by increasing or decreasing the contrast between midtone luminance values. This essentially gives the illusion of our image becoming clearer. However, in reality, all that is happening is the application of more or less contrast to the light and dark areas which fall as midtones (between highlights and shadow).

You’ll also notice that the photo is perceptively brighter and that the color saturation diminishes slightly when increasing Clarity. On the other end of the spectrum, decreasing clarity adds in a soft-focus effect. This can sometimes work extremely well, depending on your subject. For a little more of a breakdown on Clarity check out my other article, How to Make Your Photos Shine Using Clarity, Sharpening, and Dehaze in Lightroom. You’ll also learn some great tips on using Clarity along with the Sharpening and Dehaze sliders.

What is Texture?

Now let’s talk about the new kid on the block, the Texture slider.

Ironically enough, the idea for the Texture slider was born not from the goal of increasing the textures (positive) within an image but rather decreasing them (negative) thereby essentially smoothing out a photo. The Texture slider was initially named the “Smoothing slider” in the early stages of its development.

The team at Adobe were aiming to migrate into Lightroom (at least to some extent) the skin retouching capabilities of Photoshop. Their goal was to offer a feature that packed a less drastic punch than the Clarity slider. All while still being able to increase (or decrease) the apparent contrasts in the photo to give the illusion of enhanced textures within the images.*

Image: +69 texture added globally

+69 texture added globally

The Texture slider lands somewhere between Clarity and Sharpening in Lightroom. A good way to think about Texture is that it is much less harsh than Clarity and offers more subtle results without affecting absolute brightness or color saturation.

Texture focuses it’s smoothing or clearing effects on areas of a photo which possess “mid-frequency” features. You can think of these as medium detail areas. For reference, a cloudless sky would be considered a low-frequency feature while a cluster of trees would be considered a high-frequency feature.

It is also worth mentioning that like many of the tools found in Lightroom Classic, you can apply the texture effect both globally (the entire photo) and locally to specific areas. Local negative texture adjustments work wonders for smoothing out skin wrinkles and blemishes in your portraits.

Image: Before localized skin smoothing

Before localized skin smoothing

Image: After some retouching using a negative texture with Lightroom’s adjustment brush. Now I...

After some retouching using a negative texture with Lightroom’s adjustment brush. Now I only look nominally haggard…

*Note: This is an extremely basic explanation of the Texture slider. If you’re feeling truly adventurous and want to learn more about the technical makeup of the Texture slider, I highly recommend this post over on the Adobe Blog.

Should I use Clarity or Texture Slider?

The looming question is, “When should I use Texture, and when should I use Clarity?” Unlike most commentary I offer on the absolutes of post-processing, which often borders on a Zen-like existentialist approach of “it all depends on the image,” there are some relatively straightforward things to look for when deciding which adjustment will work best for your particular photo.

Try the Clarity slider if:

  • Your image consists of high-frequency features
  • The effect is needed on a more global scale
  • Your image is a landscape
  • The image is black and white

Try the Texture slider if:

  • Your image has large areas of mid to low-frequency features
  • A more subtle enhancement is needed
  • The image is a portrait
  • Your image has extreme color contrasts/saturation

Of course, these are just guidelines, and I hope you experiment with both the Clarity and Texture sliders.

Also, nothing is stopping you from using a combination of the two – especially when you are applying them using local adjustment tools.

Closing thoughts on Texture and Clarity Sliders

You’ve heard me say time and time again that less is generally more when it comes to applying adjustments in post-processing. Just because a tool is available doesn’t always mean you have to use it to its full strength.

Perhaps this is no truer than when it comes to using the tools found in the Presence section of Lightroom, in this case, the Texture and Clarity sliders. These nifty little adjustments can yield amazing results for your photos.

In fact, I use both local and global Clarity and Texture slider adjustments in virtually all of my photos to one extent or another.

With that said, it’s a good practice not to over-process your images. Some judicious use of negative Texture can shave years off your clients face. However, go too far, and they might end up looking like a wax doll.

Adding positive Texture can bring out the subtle beauty of tree bark, however, use too much, and you’ll end up with…well, you get the idea.

What are your thoughts on the new Texture slider in Lightroom Classic CC? Is it a feature you will use regularly? Sound off in the comments below!

 

texture-and-clarity-sliders-in-lightroom-classic-cc

The post Texture and Clarity Sliders in Lightroom Classic CC: What’s the difference? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

How to Change a Background in Photoshop for Still Life or Food Photography

The post How to Change a Background in Photoshop for Still Life or Food Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Food photography is all about communicating an ambiance or mood. Plating, styling, and props will help, and using the right backdrop can go a long way to tie everything together. Learn how to use Photoshop to change the background without having to buy new ones.

change-background-in-photoshop

To have the right background for every shot means having a lot of tabletops, pieces of wood, linen, etc. These things cost and take a lot of space. If you don’t have the budget or storage capacity for it, this article can help you out. By doing a good selection and using layers, I’ll show you how to change your background in Photoshop.

A precise selection is key to change your background

First, you need to be able to work separately on your background, for this, you have to select it. There are many selection tools in Photoshop, feel free to choose the one you want. However, I recommend the pen tool for more advanced selections. If you need some help with it check out: Why Learning the Pen Tool in Photoshop is Worth the Effort.

Image: Use Photoshop selection tools to change your backdrop without affecting your subject

Use Photoshop selection tools to change your backdrop without affecting your subject

Once you’re satisfied you can duplicate the layer by going to Menu-> Layer->Duplicate layer.

Now add a mask by clicking on the Create Mask button from the bottom of the panel. Because you had your subject already selected, it will create the mask with that shape.

From now on, your changes will only be seen on the background that you had selected.

If you would like to understand masks better, check out Photoshop Masks 101.

change-background-in-photoshop

Photoshop layers mask help you change the appearance of your background for food photography

Modify the colors to simulate a different background

Now you can freely modify the backdrop using any adjustment layers that control color, brightness, hue, saturation etc.

Just click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer button from the bottom of the Layers panel to see all the choices.

Since you are working on separate layers, your original remains untouched and you can always go back to it if you do something you are not happy with.

Image: Photoshop have many adjustment layers to choose how you want to change your backdrop in food...

Photoshop have many adjustment layers to choose how you want to change your backdrop in food photography

You can add as many layers as you want. For example, I modified the hue and saturation, then added a warming photo filter. Just be sure to always apply the mask to the layer (not the background) or the adjustments will show in the entire image.

A white background is easier to change

For this option, you need to have a texture ready before you start. You can buy them on stock photography websites, or you can make your own. I find it useful to photograph fabrics, wood, stones or anything I can use later so that I have many options available. For inspiration and details, you can read How to Create Your Own Unique Textures and Apply Them To Your Photography.

Image: A white background allows you to incorporate textures and change the background of your food...

A white background allows you to incorporate textures and change the background of your food photography

Select the background like in the other example, only this time it might be easier because of the contrast created by the white background.

Easy to use selection tools like Quick Selection or Color Range can save you a lot of time, just pay attention to the edges and details.

Always zoom in to fine-tune your selection. Then save it by going to the menu Selection->Save Selection.

change-background-in-photoshop

A good selection helps you change only the backdrop with Photoshop tools

Apply your texture as the new backdrop

Now add the texture you chose for your new background. You can do this by going to Edit->Place if you want it as a Smart Object. However, if you don’t plan to modify it then just paste it on top. Either way, it will create a new layer on top that will cover your original image.

Place or paste a texture in Photoshop to use as a new background in your food photography

To give visibility to your subject, load the selection you saved by going to the menu Selection->Load Selection. Then click the Add Mask button like in the first example.

Load a selection and add a mask to see the food on top of the background

Integrate your new background

Now you can see the cherries but they look a bit fake. To improve this, change the layer blending mode. I find Multiply does a very good job for this.

If you want to know more about blending layers watch this Comprehensive Guide to Photoshop Blend Modes.

Once you have done that, you can also adjust the opacity. The shadows now make the photo feel natural.

Use blending modes to incorporate the background and make it more realistic

And you’re done.

It’s that easy to change your background in Photoshop!

If you want you can keep on working on it to make it more dramatic or moody. Make use of adjustment layers, filters, and even more textures until you get the effect that you want.

change-background-in-photoshop

Photoshop allows you to use layers, filters and textures to create special moods in food photography

I hope you liked these ideas and found inspiration to keep on trying different things.

Go out and give it a try, and share your images with us in the comments section!

And to further improve your food photography, I’ll leave you here a list with some great articles.

Recommended readings

 

change-background-in-photoshop

The post How to Change a Background in Photoshop for Still Life or Food Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Four Lightroom Tips to Enhance Your Landscape Photos

The post Four Lightroom Tips to Enhance Your Landscape Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Lightroom has a vast array of buttons, sliders, and selection boxes that can improve just about any photo, but sometimes the options are so overwhelming you don’t even know where to start! It’s impossible to say what specific adjustments will work for any given photo, partly because there are infinite possibilities and every photographer is unique. However, there are a few Lightroom tips you can use with certain types of images, such as landscapes, that improve them with just a few clicks. If you have ever wanted to punch up your landscapes quickly and easily, there are four options that you can use right away to make any landscape look amazing.

Four Lightroom Tips to Enhance Your Landscape Photos

If you import a landscape picture into Lightroom but find yourself staring dazed and confused at the array of editing options, try focusing on the four items below. I use these on most of my landscapes, and you might be surprised at how well they work for you too.

Of course, you can always continue tweaking and adjusting with as many options as you want, but these are great to start with.

  • Basic tone
  • Texture
  • Sharpening
  • Graduated Filter

Learning to use these four adjustments goes a long way towards improving not just your landscapes, but many other types of pictures too.

As you gain more editing experience, you will start to figure out what your editing preferences are and learn to adjust the options accordingly. Maybe you like a little more tonal contrast or a little less saturation? Perhaps you prefer your images to have a little less sharpness? Experimenting with these options helps you understand what you prefer. It helps you develop your skills as an editor to get the results you like.

Basic tone

Four Lightroom Tips to Enhance Your Landscape Photos

There’s a reason that the Develop module in Lightroom has a panel called Basic. This contains the most popular adjustments that most photographers use right away. They are especially useful for landscapes too. The following are what I recommend as a starting point for these types of images.

Highlights: Drag this slider to the left to make the brightest portions of your landscape a little darker.

Shadows: Drag this slider to the right to make the darkest portions of your landscape a little brighter.

Whites: Drag this slider to the right to make the white portions whiter

Blacks: Drag this to the left to make the black portions blacker.

To show you how much of an effect these simple adjustments can have on a landscape, here’s an image without any adjustments straight from my camera.

Image: Shot at the National Tallgrass Prairie Reserve in Kansas. An unedited picture straight from t...

Shot at the National Tallgrass Prairie Reserve in Kansas. An unedited picture straight from the camera.

The picture is dull, lifeless, and not all that interesting. 15 seconds of adjusting those four sliders in the Basic panel does wonders and transforms it into a whole new picture.

lightroom-tips-for-landscape-photos

Highlights -43, Shadows +26, Whites +70, Blacks -51. No other adjustments were made.

The resulting image is vibrant, lively, and exciting to look at, especially when compared to the original. It doesn’t take much work at all to use those four simple sliders when editing a landscape photo, and the results can be breathtaking.

Texture

The effect of the Texture tool isn’t quite as pronounced and may not take your breath away in the same way. However, Adobe’s latest addition to Lightroom can produce impressive results. While Texture is particularly useful when editing portraits, it can also bring out detail in grass and rocks, and other areas of a landscape image that has a great deal of natural texture.

Many landscape photographers are already familiar with the Clarity tool, which can have a similar effect as Texture. But, the former can often lead to images that appear over-processed and artificial. Texture is really designed to enhance the look and feel of textured surfaces. If you have not tried it, you may be surprised by the results.

I took the picture below in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, and while I did some basic Highlight/Shadow/White/Black editing, I really want to bring out the details in the evergreen trees.

Image: I shot this while hiking near Seattle, Washington.

I shot this while hiking near Seattle, Washington.

Increasing the value of the Texture slider helps the trees to stand out. They come to life while leaving the clouds and sky virtually untouched. Adobe designed the Texture option to look specifically for textured surfaces. It applies the effect only where it’s really useful instead of across the entire image as a whole.

lightroom-tips-for-landscape-photos

Same image, with a value of Texture +90.

When viewed at full resolution, the result is remarkable, but even on a small screen, you can see that the trees have become more pronounced. The background trees are clearer and more discernible as well.

This new option in Lightroom is not yet as popular and well-known as Clarity, but it’s a boon for landscape photographers who want to spice up their images without going overboard.

Sharpening

The Sharpening tool has been an integral part of Lightroom for years, but might be overlooked by new landscape photographers who feel overwhelmed with all the features in front of them when editing their images. In contrast to Clarity and Texture, the Sharpening tool helps you emphasize the edges of everything in your pictures while also giving you the power to specify precisely how you want to apply the sharpening.

As with the Texture tool, your results aren’t going to be as immediately impactful as other edits, such as the Basic panel. However, careful adjustments to Sharpening can add a level of resonance to your landscapes and bring to life the small details.

Image: Shot at just outside a small town in north-central Kansas. Some basic edits applied, but no s...

Shot at just outside a small town in north-central Kansas. Some basic edits applied, but no sharpening.

The Sharpening adjustment, which sits in the Detail panel, has four parameters: Amount, Radius, Detail, and Masking. While these are all important, the ones I recommend you focus on are Amount and Masking. Move the Amount slider to the right to make your picture appear sharper and add a sense of crispness. After that, use the Masking slider to tell Lightroom where to apply the actual sharpening.

You can hold down the Alt or Option key (on a Mac) to see how this works and adjust as necessary. The black-and-white preview updates in realtime. As you hold down the modifier key and drag the slider, it shows you just where the sharpening will be applied.

Image: Adjusting the Masking parameter while holding down the Alt or Option key (on a Mac) shows a l...

Adjusting the Masking parameter while holding down the Alt or Option key (on a Mac) shows a live preview of where the sharpening will be added.

Use of the Sharpening tool is a great way to enhance your landscapes, especially when combined with some of the other editing options.

Image: Sharpening added with the following values: Amount 114, Radius 1.0, Detail 25, and Masking 85...

Sharpening added with the following values: Amount 114, Radius 1.0, Detail 25, and Masking 85.

Graduated filter

If you have never used the Graduated Filter on your landscape photos, you’re in for a real treat.

This tool allows you to apply graduated adjustments to part of the image, and even edit the adjustments using selective masking and brushing. It’s a great way to bring out the rich blue of a sky, the subtle greens of grass and foliage, or implement other edits to part of your picture without affecting the whole thing.

To demonstrate how the Graduated Filter works, I have a picture shot in southeastern Nebraska without any edits except for removing some spots of dust on the lens. The foreground is dark, and I’d like to change the color of the sky to reflect what I actually saw. However, global edits like the Basic panel just don’t work.

Image: Shot in rural Nebraska on a chilly February evening.

Shot in rural Nebraska on a chilly February evening.

As a point of comparison, here’s the same picture with some simple adjustments, like in my very first example. The Basic adjustments help but don’t produce the results I’m after.

lightroom-tips-for-landscape-photos

Highlights -18, Shadows +100, Whites +34, Blacks -7.

It’s an improvement but still a long way from what I want. Fortunately, the Graduated Filter is here to help! By applying this type of edit, I can alter the lower portion without affecting the upper portion. Also, the edit is applied gradually, so it appears more natural as the foreground recedes to the horizon.

Image: No edits from the original except for a single graduated filter applied to the foreground. Te...

No edits from the original except for a single graduated filter applied to the foreground. Temp 76, Exposure 2.16, Shadows 21, Blacks -13, Texture 50, Sharpness 20.

You can go one step further and add additional graduated filters, which is especially useful when working with landscapes. In this image, I’d like to bring out the rich deep colors in the sky without affecting the field in the foreground.

A graduated filter is the perfect tool for the job.

Image: Second graduated filter applied to the sky. Temp -73, Exposure -.50, Highlights -45, Dehaze 1...

Second graduated filter applied to the sky. Temp -73, Exposure -.50, Highlights -45, Dehaze 10, Saturation 16.

I listed the Graduated Filter last because it’s the most complicated of these four adjustments you can apply to your landscape, but it’s also, in my opinion, the most powerful. There are lots of options for customizing your graduated filters, and it’s going to be worth your time to explore more. However, the example above should be enough to get you started.

There’s so much more you can do with landscape photos in Lightroom beyond what I demonstrated here. These basics should be enough to get you started and help you bring out a lot of the color, detail, and vibrancy that your landscape photos may be missing.

After learning these, I hope you start exploring the other options Lightroom has to offer.

I’d love to see examples of your landscape photos in the comments below!

 

lightroom-tips-for-landscape-photos

The post Four Lightroom Tips to Enhance Your Landscape Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

The post How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Whether you’re working with clients or shoot as a lone ranger, you need to back up your work. As the saying goes, when it comes to hard drives, it’s not a matter of if they will fail, but when they will fail.

Working with image files requires a lot of power and is very taxing for your computer. This increases the chance of hard drive failure. You need to have a system of backing up your images that works for you. This is also important to backup your photos while shooting tethered.

how-to-backup-your-photos-while-shooting-tethered-3

Backup your photos while shooting tethered

There are various programs that allow you to connect your camera to a laptop or desktop computer via a USB cable. This allows you to view a larger and more accurate version of your image on the computer screen. Tethering is crucial in genres like food and still life photography, but also very useful in other niches, like studio portrait photography.

When shooting tethered while on location, an efficient workflow around the backup process will make your life a lot easier and ensure that you have several copies of your image files should an unforeseen incident occur.

If you’re like me and shoot tethered to a laptop but edit on a desktop, you already have the bonus of an extra copy of your images, since you’re using two computers.

If you transfer the images from the laptop to desktop via a detachable external hard drive, there is your third copy. However, if you use a card reader or transfer your images from your camera via a USB cable, you should have at least one more hard copy of your images. Also, what if something happens to your laptop while you’re on a shoot? Remember, it’s a question of when.

Do you use Lightroom as your tethering program of choice? You then have the option of saving your images to your SD cards as you take them. However, Capture One Pro doesn’t offer this option. This makes image capture instant, but it doesn’t give you an extra sense of security by providing additional copies of the images you’ve shot.

You cannot just set up Lightroom or COP to save to two places. You need file synchronization software to make sure that your work is being backed up while you’re shooting tethered. 

Types of backups

There are two types of backup: specific project backup and overall data backup. You need to concern yourself with both.

While you’re shooting, you need to back up every single file. You also need to do a backup of your whole computer. You should create backups on external hard drives and also in a cloud-based system. Don’t simply rely on cloud solutions for your backups.

Storing photos in the cloud basically outsources the storage of your photos. The data in the cloud is not necessarily safe or under your control. Risks with cloud storage are having your data hacked and deleted, being locked out of your account, or having it be closed if you make late payments. Also, these types of online services can suddenly shut down or otherwise cease to exist. 

A word about digital data

The problem with digital data is that storage formats change over time. You might keep your photos “safe,” but they’ll be useless to you if you can’t read or open them. 

Operating systems, software and file formats keep changing, so just because you can see a file on your computer doesn’t mean you can actually load it.

One example is the attempts to replace the standard .jpg file format with JPEG 2000, PNG (Portable Network Graphics) and several others. JPG is fine for now, but you can never say never because this sort of thing actually happens all the time as technology changes.

A word about disk drives

Hard drives are great for storing images because they are relatively inexpensive, they provide fast access to data, and it’s very easy to copy one hard drive to another. 

However, backup drives are not an all-in-one perfect solution. Your data is at risk of being stolen or destroyed by fire, flood or some other disaster.

Also, the data is vulnerable to malicious software and human error.

You can accidentally delete a folder, or make mistakes when copying files. If your PC is infected by malware, it will usually encrypt files on external hard drives as well.

I personally have had several hard drives fail. One time I had a hard drive and a laptop fail at the same time! Some hard drives fail after several years of use, while others fail after only a few months. There is no way of knowing when the case may be.

Therefore, you can’t store your photos on a single drive. A minimum of two is recommended. I have backups on a couple of 1TB external, portable hard drives, as well as on two 4TB hard drives that are plugged into my desktop computer. 

You should keep one of your backups off-site, like at a relative’s home or even in a bank safety deposit box. 

how-to-backup-your-photos-while-shooting-tethered-2

How to back up while shooting tethered

Chronosync is one backup software that I recommend you use while shooting tethered if you use a Mac. If you’re a PC user, check out Bvckup.

Goodsync can be used with either system.

This type of software allows you to look at a given folder and copy everything to another folder on a separate hard drive. For example, you might want to shoot images on your laptop and have them sync to an external portable hard drive. Or you may want to use two separate portable hard drives. Basically what you’re doing is telling it what folder to look at and make an exact duplicate of it to another drive.

You can set it on a schedule or have it running in the background. Setting it on a schedule is great if you always have a hard drive plugged into your laptop.

Here is an example of how to do it with Chronosync.

1. Open up the application and choose, Create a New Synchronizer Document

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

2. Decide what drives you want to synchronize by selecting >Choose from the Source Target and Destination Target menus accordingly. It will give you several choices of how you might want to back up from the dropdown menu under >Operation.
My recommendation is that you choose >Backup Synchronize Bidirectional. This will ensure that everything that is on one drive will also appear on the other.

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

3. Click on >Synchronize in the top left-hand corner. It may take a few minutes for the synchronization to take place. Once it’s complete you’ll see the message below.

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

It’s as simple as that. With synchronization software like Chronosync, you’ll ensure that all your files and folders are backed up for a very low price.

Other backup software

Many large companies offer photo storage services including Amazon, Google, Microsoft (OneDrive), and Apple (iCloud). However, this can be expensive if you need a lot of storage. With some, downloading large files is cumbersome and data such as file names and EXIF Data may not be preserved. Some services don’t preserve your photos as you uploaded them, and others just don’t work very well (Time Machine, I’m looking at you).

Here are some other paid-for options that are worth a look:

FoldersSynchronizer – a popular program for Mac OS which synchronizes backup files, folders, and disks.

Super Duper – great for disk backups on a Mac. It allows you to create a bootable clone of your disk which you can easily copy from one hard disk to another. This makes moving from one computer to another during an upgrade virtually painless.

Smug Mug – an all-in-one solution that allows photographers to display and sell their images, with unlimited uploads.

Backblaze – a cloud-based backup system that will continually back up your data while your computer is on. Use to restore data after a drive failure.

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

To sum up

To ensure that you have all your bases covered when backing up your files, you should backup specific shoots as well as regularly do backups of your whole computer(s).

Have a couple of backups on hard drives, as well as a cloud-based backup.

When shooting tethered, I recommend backing up your images manually as you’re shooting, one at a time, to ensure that each image exists in at least two places at that time. Once you’re finished shooting, back up your portable hard drive to another one, preferably a larger, more robust hard drive where you store a copy of all your image folders.

 

how-to-backup-your-photos-while-shooting-tethered

The post How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

3 Alternative Post-Processing Applications that Challenge the Adobe Throne

The post 3 Alternative Post-Processing Applications that Challenge the Adobe Throne appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

Image: Adjusting color, recovering highlights, and salvaging shadow detail are just some of the capa...

Adjusting color, recovering highlights, and salvaging shadow detail are just some of the capabilities that make these three software packages powerful challenger to the Adobe dynasty.

 

alternative-post-processing-applications

ON1 Photo RAW 2019, Alien Skin Exposure X4.5, and Capture One 12

 

Apples, oranges, and bananas

Yes, they are all fruits, all are natural, and they all taste sweet, but there are differences between each that appeal to different pallets. When comparing these three alternative post-processing applications to the revered Adobe offerings of Photoshop, Lightroom, and Camera RAW, the differences are as noticeable as the similarities.

A little background

When it all began, Photoshop offered digital photographers a simple collection of imaging tools that allowed them to adjust the colors, tones, and sharpness of their pictures. It was all nice and simple.

However, that simplicity got more complicated.

The ’90s was an era that awakened a new generation of photographers. The taste of blood was in the public waters, and it attracted all forms of predators. As users became more sophisticated, demanding more power and software magic, Silicon Valley awoke to the smell of profits. Computer technology companies sprung up everywhere, developing new and faster processors, higher resolution monitors and larger storage devices.

The door to the digital darkroom swung wide open, and the Adobe marketing machine began rolling out yearly updates for their breakthrough photo editing software. Cha-Ching.

Adobe not only started a new industry – they owned it. For the first ten years or so, Adobe wisely kept any imaging software challengers at bay by enlisting them to develop supporting software (called plugins) that added functionality to Photoshop without challenging its command directly. Dozens of very cleaver plug-in technology companies were welcomed to demonstrate their products (and their allegiance) to Adobe within their mammoth booth at all the trade shows.

Adobe Systems became a very extended family and quickly established themselves as the Goliath that nobody dared to provoke.

Image: Adobe booth at MacWorld show in San Francisco.

Adobe booth at MacWorld show in San Francisco.

The Adobe scientists invested in the digital camera manufacturers and Silicon Valley chip wizards. Every year these developers delivered smaller and more powerful image sensors and processors able to capture and deliver incredible levels of detail from digital camera images. Adobe introduced a powerful plug-in package of their own called Camera Raw, able to mine and manipulate the vast amounts of RAW data captured by the sensors.

Image: Early Panasonic PV-SD4090 PalmCam digital camera and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 4K Mirrorless, 20...

Early Panasonic PV-SD4090 PalmCam digital camera and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 4K Mirrorless, 2018.

When first introduced, digital cameras were only able to capture 256 levels (8-bits) of color. However, the sensors and processors for the new generation of cameras upped the ante by delivering up to 4 trillion (14-bits) color.

The Photoshop dreadnaught continued to grow and dominate the market. For that first decade, Photoshop was not only the digital imaging Sheriff – it was the law!

However, as it happens with many other products, Photoshop eventually became so gorged with various tools and appliances intended to address every need of photographers and artists, that it began to resemble a cramped and crowded commercial kitchen; pots, pans, and ladles hanging from every conceivable hook. The once swift, svelte and powerful software buckled under its own excesses, eventually being tagged by one industry pundit as bloatware.

But nobody has ever accused Goliath of being either daft or deaf. Adobe listened and learned from its more sophisticated photographer base who demanded a software package streamlined and focused specifically on the professional user. This new software would include filing and database features allowing professional photographers to catalog, label, sort, and shape their images in one arena, and free of most of the fluffy and artsy features of Photoshop. Adobe crowned this new pro-focused software Lightroom. Pretty cleaver… Photo Shop and Light Room. Hmm-m.

3 Alternative Post-Processing Applications that Challenge the Adobe Throne

(David-Goliath logo.jpg)

Goliath and the David class

All this time, quietly in the background, several talented Photoshop plug-in developers were busy developing their own image-altering software. Software consisting of mostly specialty filters and visual effects tools that worked within both Photoshop and Lightroom as plug-ins. In addition, they operated as standalone software editing applications.

Behind the scenes, a silent revolution existed that would someday rise up and directly challenge Goliath. These same “deep-bit” RAW processing tools once only available in Camera Raw and Lightroom were now available from these independent developers who had quietly amassed millions of faithful followers. The “David” class of software emerged, with the battle lines now drawn. Goliath had some worthy opponents to contend with and some new battles to fight.

Many of the software developers in this “David class” were long-term seasoned veterans in the image editing field with their own stable of brilliant young engineers. They had initially opened their doors for business in the early nineties, just a couple of years after the introduction of Photoshop.

These companies included Extensis, Alien Skin, and Phase One Camera Systems. My own software company, ImageXpress, introduced our Scanprep plug-in product in 1993, so I have known and respected these companies for over twenty-five years. They each offer unique products and have earned long and distinguished records in the industry.

3 Alternative Post-Processing Applications that Challenge the Adobe Throne

Extensis, Alienskin and Eye Candy

Extensis, founded in Portland, Oregon in 1993, offered several products, including Intellihance. At that time, Craig Keudell was the company’s VP of Sales and Operations and would later become President. Originally developed as a plug-in for Photoshop, Intellihance offered simple image corrections.

Craig went on to found ON1, Inc in 2005. ON1 is the developer of Photo RAW 2019, a dead-serious Lightroom contender sporting a powerful Raw processor, image editor, and DAM (digital asset management) system.

Alien Skin Software was also founded in 1993 by Jeff Butterworth (joined soon thereafter by Finley Lee), on the other side of the country in Raleigh, North Carolina. This company’s first software product was called Eye Candy, an image interpreter that gave users the ability to produce attractive (and sometimes bazaar) special effects from digital images. Alien Skin’s current flagship software, Exposure X4.5, provides RAW processing, image editing, and a nearly exhaustive collection of pre-set filters. These filters simulate the look of just about every film-age photo paper, film emulsion, and toning process.

alternative-post-processing-applications-2

 

Phase One – Capture One 12

Phase One Camera A/S is a Danish company founded that very same year (1993). It produced a unique medium format digital camera system for the professional market. The Copenhagen-based camera manufacturer’s latest hardware offering is the XF IQ4 Camera System, now in its fourth generation. Phase One’s precision camera systems require a very sophisticated software product to exploit the massive amounts of spectral data delivered by their cameras.

In 2003, Capture One software first began to support 35mm DSLR cameras from third-party manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, and Fuji. The software now supports 500+ cameras. Capture One 12 is the current version of this advanced editing software.

Products and uses

Most users of Lightroom operate the software for similar reasons – cataloging, organizing, and the basic editing of digital images. In that respect, all of the challengers offer similar services and features.

But not all users have the same needs with their software.

Digital photographers come in all sizes with diverse desires. Many users don’t get beyond the simple primping stages of brightening, straitening, and cleaning up their images – the basic processes that all began thirty years ago with Photoshop. Others are either professional photographers or dead-serious enthusiasts who utilize very advanced features of the software.

With the variety of software available in this field, there is something for everyone.

The Adobe alternatives

Just as these original three “David class” developers focused on different areas of the imaging industry with their initial products back in the ‘90s, each of their current products has established turf in today’s market. While offering the same basic editing and non-destructive RAW adjustment tools as Camera Raw and Lightroom, each product maintains its own personality.

There are similarities with these post-processing applications in the initial “sliders” appearance and the operation of each application, but beyond the basic tonal and color adjustments, the individual strengths become more evident.

Depending on your needs and personal preference, you may find that one of these products appeal to you and draw you away from your Adobe subscription addiction.

Let’s take a look at the strengths and personalities of the software products.

alternative-post-processing-applications-3

ON1 Photo RAW 2019.5

Purchase price $100 (upgrade from the previous version: $80)

ON1 Photo RAW 2019.5 will give you the features photographers use the most from the Lightroom and Photoshop worlds in a single application. With Photo RAW, you can quickly browse, organize, manage, and catalog photos in your photo editing workflow. The ultra-fast photo browser and organizer are perfect for rapidly viewing and culling through photos without waiting on previews to generate or an import process.

Importing images is not necessary with Photo RAW. You don’t create libraries or catalogs with this software. Instead, you view the images where they reside on your computer. If you want easy access to specific images within specific folders, use the indexing feature. Indexing these folders in Photo RAW keeps track of all thumbnails in each folder. Photo RAW actually moves the image files to a folder that you specify.

Photo RAW key features: HDR, Noise Reduction, Versions (Virtual Copies), Photo Stitching (Merge to Panorama), Keywords, Tethered Shooting, Portrait Retouching, and Layers.

With the addition of layers, ON1 ups the ante by allowing you to blend, mask, replace backgrounds, and more. ON1 Photo RAW also provides 27 unique filters, LUTs, and textures, delivering ample interpretations of each image.

ON1 also includes a Lightroom Migration assistant that utilizes AI-powered algorithms to transfer Lightroom edited photos, keep the non-destructive settings, and move them into ON1 Photo RAW.

alternative-post-processing-applications-4

Alien Skin Exposure X4.5

Purchase price: $119, (upgrade from previous versions $79-$89), and bundled with Blow up and Snap Art for $149.

Exposure X4.5 offers powerful organizing tools, fast performance, an intuitive design, and a subscription-free approach. With this one piece of software, you can handle all your photo editing work. Exposure X4.5 is best known for its selection of beautiful customizable presets, which span the entire history of film and beyond.

With Exposure X4.5, you choose the image folders you want to organize by adding them as “bookmarks.” Once a folder is ‘bookmarked,’ you can browse the subfolders as indexed and cataloged folders, searching for photos using keywords or image metadata.

Exposure X4.5 key features: Extensive browsing, search, and cataloguing tools (Smart Collections and Bookmarks), Light Effects and Textures, analog film effects, ample LUTs (lookup tables for instant tone and color shifts), Virtual Copies, sophisticated Bokeh effects, transform tools to straighten and correct perspective shots and watched folders.

alternative-post-processing-applications-5

 

Phase One Camera Systems Capture One 12.03

Perpetual license: $299, subscription $15/mo.

Capture One offers a lot of everything for just about every level of interest. Delving into its inner workings allows one to tinker with color on a near-molecular level. While it is not a particularly intuitive tool for the beginner, it is a pure delight for those who want infinite control over their adjustments. New users can go to learn.captureone.com to get started. Capture One offers a very logical and exhaustive array of tools and controls, leaving little need for a wishlist. The learning curve is steep, but the control provided is nearly exhaustive.

Capture One offers two ways to access and file images:

  • Catalog – a full DAM (digital asset management) system which works very similar to Lightroom, and
  • Session – a per project-based image access process.

The Session choice works by clicking on the small folder icon in the upper left-hand part of the original open window and accessing a very simple Mac/finder-type search dialogue. You indicate your image folder and then view the images inside that folder stacked vertically on the right-hand side of the Capture One window. Double-click an image and start working.

Capture One key features: Near-infinite masking tools for Basic, Advanced, and Skin Tone colors, including Hue, Saturation, Lightness, and Smoothness (feathered edges), Color Balance for Highlight, Midtone, Shadow, 3-Way (overall), color channel controlled B/W conversions, Layers (up to 16, each with individual chroma/luma range assignments), and dynamic Histogram readouts that track every adjustment.

Capture One’s extensive masking tools provide unparalleled control over both color and tonal shape with each mask creating its own layer. The variety of masks include Luminosity, Linear Gradient, and Radial Gradients. Each mask is infinitely adjustable and can be tweaked and finessed at any time. You can also purchase additional Styles Packs (essentially, presets that don’t alter the exposure or white balance).

Image: The goal of any image editing software is a successful result. Each of the software packages...

The goal of any image editing software is a successful result. Each of the software packages mentioned herein is capable of delivering just that. I’ll leave it to you to predict which software I chose to rescue and produce this example.

Conclusion

I’ve made no attempt to declare a winner in this article, but most assuredly these alternative post-processing applications are very valid and capable challengers to the Adobe dynasty.

You certainly owe it to yourself to download a trial to each one of these packages and experiment with the possibilities. The alternatives are both diverse and similar in their offerings.

Each of these three packages requires a bit of habit remapping, and you should afford the time needed to draw your conclusions. Your personal requirements and tastes will ultimately deliver your answer.

I should note that no one piece of software; neither the Adobe family nor the challengers, provides a single comprehensive solution for all needs. Whichever addresses your particular needs best will become the backbone of your post-production work.

Fortunately for me, I own (and use) all of these alternative post-processing applications.

Have you used these any of these alternative post-processing applications? What are your thoughts?

 

alternative-post-processing-applications

The post 3 Alternative Post-Processing Applications that Challenge the Adobe Throne appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

1 2 3 111