Photoshop vs Photoshop Elements

Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements?

Digital photography has become extremely popular thanks to its accessibility and speed, but to get the best out of those photographs some time needs to be spent editing and tweaking them. Thankfully, plenty of applications are available for you to complete such tasks with, starting with moderate and user-friendly functionality of Google Picasa all the way up to most complex pieces of software, such as Adobe Photoshop (or simply PS). In fact, Photoshop is probably one of the most popular photo processing programs currently available. Most people that use it know but a few percent of its capabilities and are likely never to use all of it, myself included! Fewer people still understand that it has never been targeted squarely for photographic use (the way Adobe Lightroom is, for example), but rather all sorts of graphical editing. How much sense does it make to use such a complex and professional piece of software to edit simple family photographs? Not that much if you’re a simple enthusiast who just wants high quality photographs with minimal fuss. Thankfully, Adobe has something for you as well. Photoshop Elements (PSE in short) is a lighter, simpler, quicker version of its sibling. In essence, it offers all the functionality you’ll ever need to edit your JPG and even RAW images, but through user friendly tools and interface. In this Photoshop vs Photoshop Elements article, I will give you a quick tour of 11 capabilities of Photoshop Elements. Hopefully, this brief comparison will help you decide which one is better for your needs.

Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements?

What is Photoshop Elements?

As the name would suggest, Photoshop Elements is a close relative to the Photoshop CS, but unlike its bigger brother, it’s not targeted at professionals. Don’t get me wrong – Photoshop Elements 11 has a lot tricks up its sleeve, such as RAW support through Adobe Camera RAW plug-in. On one hand, anyone familiar with the regular, full-fledged Photoshop will find themselves right at home. But Elements doesn’t encourage you to use any serious tools manually – in fact, it aims to do most of the work for you with just a few clicks. So if you want your family images to pop and stand out with minimal fuss regardless what sort of gear you use, be it a DSLR, a mirrorless camera or a compact point-and-shoot, this may well be your answer. Luckily, being targeted at a very different audience means the price is also significantly lower. Adobe Photoshop CS6 retails for around $590, while the Extended edition costs a whopping $900. You should really consider whether you need all that functionality, because Photoshop Elements 11 will set you back a mere $60 (current price with instant savings).

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Mastering Lightroom: Post-Processing Portraits

Before-After Comparison

Many of our previous Mastering Lightroom series articles focused on specific Lightroom 4 features and tools, as well as ways of using them in your everyday workflow. I’ve explained how to use the Basic Panel and talked about the Tone Curve in great detail. We’ve also learned how to use External Editors, Spot Removal Tool and Virtual Copies. However, simply learning what each feature does is not our goal with these articles. After all, theory makes sense only when put to practice. In the end, we want to teach you how to actually edit your images, start to finish, no matter the subject or scene or desired result. We want you to be able to use what Lightroom has to offer without thinking about it, just as we should use our cameras and lenses. Learning what each tool does individually is essential, but what matters in the end is how we make them work in conjunction with one another. Perhaps then it is time to shift away from features and theory for a while and move towards editing images to achieve desired look in practice? There are many aspects of Lightroom we haven’t covered so far. Many tools, options, modules and tabs yet await our attention. But this time, instead of explaining specific settings, we will do some simple portrait post-processing focusing most of all on color and tones.

Mastering Lightroom Basic Portrait Post-Processing

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Mastering Lightroom: How to Use External Editors

How to Use External Editors

In every Mastering Lightroom series article, I mention certain strengths of this, in my opinion, superb piece of software. Only every now and then do I find something small to complain about, as I have in my “How to Manage Presets” article. I strongly believe Lightroom offers more or less everything needed to process a well captured image and offers plenty of powerful yet simple photographic tools. However, as our readers have wisely noticed in the comments section of my “How to Use the Spot Removal Tool” article, on rare occasions these tools may not be powerful enough. Here comes another strength of my favorite photo processing application – flexibility. You can use other programs to do what Lightroom can’t, and then go back with the processed image to its familiar and simple environment. In this Mastering Lightroom series article, I will show you how to use external editors with examples provided using the most popular and capable you can buy – Adobe’s own Photoshop.

How to Use External Editors

1) What Software can be Used with Lightroom 4?

A good question, this. As of late, I’ve found my photography changed in such a way I rarely, if ever, need to use something other than Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, but if such an occasion does present itself, I know I have enough choice. First and foremost, Lightroom supports the all-powerful Photoshop, which itself is likely enough to satisfy your every need when editing images. If Photoshop alone is not enough, remember the huge library of amazing specialized plug-ins you can find for it, including Google’s very capable Nik Software and the (rightly) popular Topaz Labs products (which we have plans to review). In other words, you may use Photoshop and, through it, all the plug-ins you can find and purchase or download as freeware.

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Mastering Lightroom: How to Add Film Grain

How to Add Film Grain

With mainstream days of film long gone, one would expect all the disadvantages it had on offer to be rid of for all times, as well. Digital is all about clean, high quality images now. Contrary to such an assumption, however, film has not left our everyday lives without a trace. A trace that is even more noticeable now that photographers got used to the differences between the two “religions”. Now, I say “got used to”, but the truth is plenty of photographers got bored of the sterile digital look and thus would seek ways of livening it up (instagramed anything lately?). One notable featured of photographic film has always been grain. Although, like high ISO noise in digital world, it was a result of increased light sensitivity and as such, an undesirable degradation of image quality, film grain was loved even during the past era of photography. Reasons behind it would make a fine discussion – in short I would say that grain was simply organic and beautiful – but one to be had with a pint of beer in hand and complimented by laughter and warm fire light. Instead, we will concentrate on actually applying film grain, or what is closest to it, with digital photographs. In this Mastering Lightroom series article, I will explain how to add film grain to your images. You will learn how to increase the size of grain, make it rougher or smoother and also hide high ISO noise (or make it more appealing) with it without the need of applying noise reduction.

How to Add Film Grain

1) What is Film Grain?

In essence, it is the chemical equivalent of digital high ISO noise, or, rather, the other way around. As film sensitivity went up, the amount and character of grain increased, just as ISO noise levels increase as you push sensor sensitivity to light up. Noticeably, film grain became visible at much lower sensitivities than current digital noise. Certain film of 400 ASA/ISO would already show visible graininess, and producing fine-grain film of 400 value was no small feat. Understandably, there weren’t any ISO 12800 equivalent films. One of the most sensitive films, the wonderful B&W Ilford Delta 3200, rendered so much grain, it would be thought quite unusable by some all-modern, technical quality junkies of digital era who have never been familiar with film aesthetics. Some prefer to see Delta 3200 as 1600 film pushed one stop during development. Think underexposing an image and correcting exposure by one stop in Lightroom with Exposure slider.

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Mastering Lightroom: How to Use Virtual Copies

Mastering Lightroom: How to Use Virtual Copies

As all previous versions of Adobe’s popular photography management and post-processing software, Lightroom 4 offers catalog system. Such a choice has both positives and negatives. One of the positives is non-destructive editing, which basically means the original image file remains intact no matter what you do to it within Lightroom environment (you can, however, delete the file entirely if you wish so). A side result is a very useful feature called Virtual Copies. In this Mastering Lightroom series article, I will explain how to use Virtual Copies. By the end of the tutorial you will learn how to copy, delete and compare them, as well as see different situations when creating a Virtual Copy can be very useful.

Mastering Lightroom: How to Use Virtual Copies

1) What are Virtual Copies and Why Should I Use Them?

As the name suggests, Virtual Copies are copies of an image file created virtually. In other words, they are copies created within Lightroom environment only. Creating a Virtual Copy does not copy the source file physically. Lightroom only stores editing information within its catalog. Among other things, such an approach also saves disk space (you only need to store information about the adjustments, not both that and a copy of the RAW file itself).

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Lightroom 4.3 and Camera RAW 7.3 Update

Lightroom 4

If you happened to launch Lightroom today, you might have been notified that a new version of Lightroom 4 is available. Today, Adobe released the final production version of Lightroom 4.3. As usual, plenty of bugs have been fixed and a lot more cameras and lenses have been added to the release. Full RAW support for Nikon D600 has now been finalized and new cameras like Canon EOS 6D, Nikon 1 V2 and Sony RX-1 have been added to the database. Lots of expensive Leica lenses, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II and other third party lenses have also been added to the Lightroom Lens Correction module.

Lightroom 4

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Mastering Lightroom: How to Enhance Landscape Photos

Mastering Lightroom: How to Quickly Enhance Landscape Photographs

So, you’ve taken a photograph of a beautiful sunset or a peaceful, fog-covered valley. But something is missing in the picture – it just doesn’t look as good straight out of camera as the scene you were seeing at the time. By using simple Lightroom tools, such as Clarity, Graduated Filter and Curves, enhancing a landscape can be a very simple and fast process. While there are many advanced ways of processing landscapes, not all images require that much post-processing. In this Mastering Lightroom series article, I will show you how to quickly enhance landscape photographs using just Lightroom 4.

Mastering Lightroom: How to Quickly Enhance Landscape Photographs

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Lightroom 4.3 and Camera RAW 7.3 RC Update

Lightroom 4

I typically cover Lightroom and Camera RAW updates pretty quickly, but this time I am a little late in the game. For those who have not yet updated, last week Adobe released the release candidate versions of Lightroom 4.3 and Camera RAW 7.3. If you own one of those new Macbook Pro laptops with a retina display, you will be happy with this Lightroom update, because it makes the interface more compatible and easier to read in the Develop module. Aside from the usual bugfixes, Lightroom got additional support for new cameras. If you are a Nikon D600 owner, you should update as soon as possible, since the release now has full support for the camera (Lightroom 4.2 only had partial or “beta” support for the D600). A long list of newly supported lenses (mostly Leica) is provided below.

Lightroom 4

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Efficient Aperture Workflow for High Resolution Images

Aperture Workflow

After I posted an article on Efficient Lightroom Workflow for High Resolution Images, Jason Schultz posted a video tutorial over on his blog on efficient aperture workflow. While I personally do not use Aperture (I don’t own a Mac), I liked Aperture’s ability to first import JPEG images, then only import matching RAW images after all the sorting and deleting is done.

To do this though, you have to set your camera to shoot RAW + JPEG, which will use more space on your memory card. Jason recommends to use JPEG Basic to have smaller images, but he does not mention the image size. You need to make sure that the image size is set to “Large”, or the images will be down-sampled to lower resolution by the camera, which means that you will not be able to view them at 100% zoom. So if the idea is to delete images that have even slight blur or softness at 100%, for example, then you need to make sure that you are looking at the largest image.

This method wastes about 6-8 MB per image for JPEG Basic (on the D800) and your camera will slow down a little when shooting bursts. But given how cheap memory cards are today, it is really not that bad of an argument anymore. And cameras like D800 are not fast anyway in terms of fps. So if you use Apple’s Aperture, check the below video out – this might be a great solution for you!

Mastering Lightroom: How to Geotag Photographs in Lightroom 4

Mastering Lightroom: How To Geotag Photographs in Lightroom 4

Lightroom has always had a lot of interesting features on offer. With the introduction of the latest version, Lightroom 4, Adobe has added two more modules to the already existing five – Map and Book. In this short and simple Mastering Lightroom series tutorial I will show you how to geotag your photographs in Lightroom using the map module.

Mastering Lightroom: How To Geotag Photographs in Lightroom 4

1) What is Geotagging?

Simply put, geotagging images allows you to input location information within your image EXIF data so that you can know precisely where that particular image was taken. Ever felt like you were at an amazingly beautiful place for landscape photography but missed peak colors by a couple of weeks? Geotagging will let you remember your physical location, so that you can come back to the same spots next year. Many modern smartphones and cameras with GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity make geotagging a very simple and automated process. If you own a camera without such a feature, geotagging can be made possible with an external GPS unit, such as GP-1 unit for Nikon DSLR cameras (see our Nikon GP-1 Review).

2) So Why Bother with Lightroom?

No need if you have a camera with built-in geotagging feature. However, if you don’t find yourself needing the feature more often than occasionally, Lightroom 4 is about to save you a couple of hundred dollars. It is also a very quick and simple process, so why not? In a year or two you may be glad you geotagged your photographs to know where to look for those locations.

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