Buying photo editing software

The number of photo editing applications available are staggering. Do you even know any of them well? Did you know there are actually free ones available too?
The number of photo editing applications available are staggering. Do you even know any of them well? Did you know there are actually free ones available too?

Who bought more photo junk? Film photographers or digital photographers?

I may be among the minority here, but I think the introduction of digital photography introduced more junk for folks to buy.

In the software end alone, you probably don’t need to look hard to see for example, the number of plug-ins and Photoshop Actions and Lightroom presets that are being sold today.

But before you buy, Mac users please check to see if your software is compatible with your operating system.

Basically anything to make it a one-click sells.

The popular ones are plug-ins or standalone applications for creating fancy borders, frames, sepia tones and super quick portrait retouching software.

There’s nothing wrong with using those especially when it will make things faster.

For the beginner though, it’s best to learn some rudimentary photoshop skills, it’s cheaper to invest some of your time.

In the old days of film, your temptation might take the form of a nice glossy ad in a prominent magazine.

These days so many photographers, both pro and hobbyists, are sharing behind-the-scene videos of their photo shoots.

It’s daunting for the beginner to sift through the pretty faces, the bikini clad girls and distill it down to the technique used to take the picture if there’s even an identifiable one.

Regardless, all these feed the fantasies of many hobbyists that if they get the same kind of gear, they will be able to get the same results.

Never mind if they have never heard the terms lighting ratios and shadow and highlights.

This incessant pitching is streaming on youtube and other video portals 24/7, so that’s where a lot of photographers turned entrepreneurs pitch their wares.

Try to approach these videos with this in mind: can I do this shot with the gear I have?

Most of the time, you can.

You just need to break it down and figure out the technique.

What software do you have that’s taking up space on your hard drive that hasn’t been launched in 6 months?

In my mind, most photographers really only need Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Elements if they are hobbyists.

If they do a lot of landscapes, then they might consider Photomatix.

Those who dislike noisy images produced by their older camera bodies and have no budget to upgrade might want to consider Noise Ninja if the built-in noise reduction in Lightroom is insufficient.

As usual, if you have suggestions of essential software, please let me know under comments.

Peter Phun Photography

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One thought on “Buying photo editing software”

  1. Hi Sabe,
    Thanks for stopping by. I’ve been looking around for ‘free’ alternatives to paid photo-editing software and actually found some very capable ones. By capable, I mean ones which have the ability to do ‘layers’ like in Photoshop.

    These online tools are useful for when I have no access to my computers but need to do some quick simple edits. One that comes to mind is Photo Editor Online. Adobe has an online version which you pay an annual subscription, but I think that’s totally unnecessary.

    The only downside to online tools is that you can’t be working on lots of pictures but for the occasional pictures, they are fine.

    Everyone taking digital images will need help to organize and manage their pictures. Currently Lightroom seems to be the best for the price and ease of use.

    I have heard and seen the results of Topaz filters but the trouble with filters is this: some folks just use it everything they post online. Let me stress I’m not saying they are wrong. (No such thing as wrong in art…) Through overuse, a special picture that can stand on its own merit is marginalized because of the Instagram look.

    On a personal note, I’m seldom excited about creating 20 versions of picture. I have to be excited about it when I see it in my viewfinder.

    If I wasn’t excited about it then, no amount of manipulation on the computer afterwards will help me afterwards, but that’s just me.

  2. Peter….

    I completely agree with you. I have Lightroom and pse 9 and can do almost everything I want in those two programs. I have purchased the simplify plugin from Topaz and have developed several cartoon like settings and use both the color and black pencil line presets that I have developed. Some of my most poorly exposed shots can look very acceptable in this program when used for the purpose that Simplify intended. It is used as a plugin in PSE and Lightroom and be further altered before or after importation…..and I think it was less than $30.

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