We highly recommend the use of the latest version of Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom, available in free,
one-time, 30-day trial once you establish an account, in
our workshops and work flow, as it is based on Adobe Photoshop,
the standard for the industry.
It also makes it easy for us to
show you, the workshop participant, how easily you can tweak your
photographs on your own computer. Lightroom 3 uses quite a bit of memory, so if you have an older computer with less than 4GB of memory, you may be safer to stick to Lightroom 2 or your own imaging program. That said, and as
you can imagine, we cannot know all imaging programs out there,
and we do demonstrations on different participant images in Lightroom on their own computers, so you can watch and apply those same techniques using your own imaging program. We will, however, look over your shoulder and make suggestions of what you might do to strengthen your photograph.
We find Lightroom to be a really great, intuitive tool for editing,
removing those dust motes that plague digital sensors, and for
finer tweaks that can be made easily in this great program without
actually changing the digital negative file. The new parameters
and adjustments for the histograms and color and tone adjustments
are terrific, and there are numerous other features that make
imaging so much easier. It does not, however, contain layers options (which with the newer Lightroom, I find I rarely need anymore),
etc. Its web gallery feature is outstanding. We highly recommend
Photoshop was conceived and
designed by techie-steroid engineers
who developed the program for graphic artists. While
photographers started using it, it was never particularly intuitive
or easy to use, especially for beginners, in spite of vast improvements
over the years.
Lightroom, on the other hand, was actually designed by photographers
for photographers, and while it still could use some more tweaks
and features, most professionals and amateurs who use it agree
that it is a dream come true.
For an overview on Lightroom, check out our Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures' blog, specifically this series, and start at the bottom for the first (oldest) article in the series.
These are obviously not required, but plug-ins can make your life a lot easier and produce better results than using your straight imaging program. Many are available for a discount if you are a member of ASMP, NANPA, and NAPP, to name several organizations. Some of the plug-ins I have used for years and are for Lightroom (LR) and/or Photoshop (CS), including:
Digimarc, CS (comes with newer versions of CS, digitally imbed your copyright information)
Genuine Fractals by OnOne Software, LR & CS (for upsizing photographs without losing sharpness)
Lens Doc by Andromeda, CS (for making lines parallel, removing barrel distortion, pincushioning, etc. for those without LR3)
If the links don't work, they have probably been changed, so just use the base of the link address and go from there.
Sitching Programs for Panoramas
The first digital pano I did as well as the first HDR
pano I stitched
For those who want to do stitching, however, we recommend
Autopano Pro, even over Photoshop. Stitching, for those who are
not familiar with this term outside the sewing room, is the process
by which you put together several individual photographs to make
a larger one. Panoramas are probably the most common application
for this technique, but remember, panoramas can be verticals,
too. Autopano Pro has a demonstration
Programs for HDR (High Dynamic Range)
Many of our workshop participants are intrigued by all the talk
about HDR (high dynamic range). Today's cameras, sophisticated
as they are, can only record a limited range of values (lights
to darks). Photographers who worked in black-and-white film used
masking along with dodging and burning to bring out the details
in the highlights and shadows. Today, we can easily do it with
HDR, basically doing several exposures of a scene (on a sturdy
tripod for best results) then blending them together to bring out the details. We recommend Photomatix over Photoshop
for this task, and they have a free
trial for those who are interested.
We see many examples of Photomatix and other programs
being used to give images a far-out and/or photo-illustration
look, but in our workshops, we encourage our students to use any
program to enhance rather than overpower their images. We feel
that just because one can do this or that with an image doesn't
mean that one should!
Below, you will
see an example of a stitched, HDR photograph. You'll see
that I have maintained lights and shadows for a more interesting
photograph. The difference is that there is detail in those
lights and shadows, something I could not have as effectively
achieved in one shot.
Before every workshop, we send our participants a list of what they
Digital Asset Management
Digital Asset Management, for those who don't know, is the hopefully-efficient
process that takes your digital images from your camera to your computer,
processes them, and catalogues them. There is a four-part
series on this at the Barefoot
Contessa Photo Adventures' blog. Check out and start at the bottom for
the first (oldest) article in the series.