Software help for editing newbie!

Steve Blacow

New Member
Apr 15, 2011
1
Nottingham, UK
OK....

I've been taking photos for over 20 years and when digital came, I slowly embraced it and realized its potential.

The thing is, I have never gotten into shooting in RAW or editing of any kind (I just stuck with JPEG and got some good results so never got round to the more complex stuff).

I would like to start playing with RAW format and learn to dev/edit my own shots but where do I start?

I know that Photoshop is way too complicated for me. I discovered this recently after the IT dept at work very kindly installed it on my laptop for free (I've moved jobs now so that laptop had to go back).

A friend mentioned that Photoshop elements or even Lightroom (as he uses) may be more suitable for me but I'm not sure which way to go.

All I want to do is have a little more control over the pictures that I take and perhaps catalogue them automatically (rather than manually dropping them into folders). I use both Fuji and Samsung cameras so need something that can work with these formats.

Any thoughts on the above packages or other suggestions would be very gratefully received.

Thanks in advance.

Steve
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
Hi Steve,
I've used Photoshop Elements for as long as I can remember and it does everything I could ever want. If cataloging your photos is important to you, though..... you'd be better served by Lightroom. I've tried it a few times, and while I'm OK with the processing part of the application, the file management aspect of it completely throws me for a loop. But there are many others that are far less blessed in the brains department than I am and they seem to use it without a hiccup.

So obviously, we all have different hang-ups...and what works for one, may not work for another. Maybe you could take your friend for a nice lunch in exchange for a one-hour tutorial.
 
Jan 31, 2011
164
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
Photoshop may be complicated but if you want to commit to it, its worth the time (I'd have it myself if I could justify the expense of the subscription model for myself). I own a standalone copy of Lightroom and find that it does really do all one needs in terms of general photography as well as being able to be a receptacle for various plugins you might want to use. Having said that, I'll now say this: Affinity Photo from Serif is a brilliant bit of kit, and if you havent already locked into Photoshop, it might be worth a look. Its cheaper, too, overall.

Mac or Windows?
 

lenshacker

Veteran
Nov 21, 2014
103
What type of processing do you normally apply to your photos?

Knowing what features you want to use will help with selecting software.

Be sure to check out the Nik Collection for photo processing- free now,

Google Nik Collection

Although the Nik Collection states they are plug-ins for Lightroom and others, they also work as stand-alone programs when used with Jpeg and Tiff.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Gunston Hall by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Basket_Manip by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

Which- I just verified, Analog Efex by itself.
 
Last edited:
Jan 31, 2011
164
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
BUT with Nik, you still have to have an Adobe product (or Aperture on Mac) for them to plug into. They can't be installed as standalones, even though they work like that. I've been known to install elements, then Nik, then uninstall elements... still working Nik stuff.

However... seems to me that Google has not updated the software in quite some time and its only a matter of time before it goes to end of life. They killed off the desktop version of Snapseed, really quickly (I still have it) and I suspect that Nik software will go the same way. Google is all about the mobile experience it seems to me
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
124
Switzerland
Matt
I don't disagree with anything that has been proposed, but if you're new to it all, why not stick with some of the very good free offerings and learn one of them? What system (OS) are you on?

For all platforms, there are lots of interesting solutions. If you're somewhat intimidated by Photoshop, there's Polarr (nag screen invites you to pay for PRO - just ignore if you don't need the features) - very simple to use, even from within a browser, yet quite useful, though not for cataloguing - I'd use XnView for that if it's of greater importance. If you want to develop your knowledge and capabilities further, Photivo is simple enough, yet quite versatile; if you need even more features and adjustment power, go for RawTherapee - a complete solution with loads of tools, but it's also at least as intimidating as PS at the beginning. If you want even more graphics power from a somewhat less photo-centric piece of software, go for The GIMP. Finally, other's swear by LightZone - they require you to register with them, but the software is free; it's comparable to RawTherapee, though not quite as fully equipped, but offers some unique features for B&W editing (the registration requirement makes it easy to stay up-to-date, but it also makes auto-update quirky).

My personal favourite, darktable, is only available for OSX (Mac) and GNU/Linux. It allows you to streamline your workflow by organising your palettes and has everything I need, neatly presented and easy to use.

M.
 

Lightmancer

Super Moderator
Aug 13, 2011
164
Sunny Frimley
Bill Palmer
Basics first.

a) what camera/system do you use?
b) what editing do you want to do?
c) on what operating system?
d) where? At home or out and about?
e ) for what end purpose?
 

lenshacker

Veteran
Nov 21, 2014
103
Photoshop CS2 is available as a free download as well. Not as many bells and whistles, works with DNG files. I'll check if the NIK can install with it.

If a piece of software works for me, does what I want, and I know how to easily use it- I tend to stick with it unless I need an upgrade. The latest releases of many software packages make them bloated, more difficult to get to the features that I actually use.
 

theoldsmithy

Hall of Famer
Jan 7, 2013
124
Cheshire, England
Martin Connolly
You can also install the Nik tools with IrfanView if you're on Windows. That only costs $10 I believe. Or on the Mac you could use Photos as your cataloguing tool, spend about $3 on the External Editors plugin and use Nik and Macphun tools from there. I'm tempted to do that myself and ditch LR/PS, thus saving myself a tenner a month.
 

RichardB

Regular
Aug 28, 2013
28
I would like to start playing with RAW format and learn to dev/edit my own shots but where do I start?
Start with the free RAW-editing software that your camera manufacturer provides, either on a CD that came with camera or as a download from the camera's support website. That software will let you crop images and adjust exposure and white balance, which is 80% of what I do with RAW files. After you explore the other capabilities of the manufacturer's software, you can download trials of other image processors and you'll have a better appreciation of what they do.

RAW processing can be fun. It's like decorating a cake.
 

donlaw

Hall of Famer
Sep 14, 2012
124
Texas
Don
You can also install the Nik tools with IrfanView if you're on Windows. That only costs $10 I believe. Or on the Mac you could use Photos as your cataloguing tool, spend about $3 on the External Editors plugin and use Nik and Macphun tools from there. I'm tempted to do that myself and ditch LR/PS, thus saving myself a tenner a month.
Wow, Thank you for that bit on External Editors. I did not know about that one. I have been exporting out of Photos, editing in Nik, and then adding the edited image back into Photos. This make is so much easier!
 
Jan 31, 2011
164
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
Wow, Thank you for that bit on External Editors. I did not know about that one. I have been exporting out of Photos, editing in Nik, and then adding the edited image back into Photos. This make is so much easier!
If you get Luminar, that also functions as a plugin with photos. Any of the MacPhun tools are wonderful though, even though they arent free. I even prefer Tonality to Silver Efex pro
 
Jan 31, 2011
164
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
... I'm tempted to do that myself and ditch LR/PS, thus saving myself a tenner a month.
Do it. I dropped my Adobe sub ages ago and have been making do with other alternatives and seriously, I just dont miss the Adobe stuff anymore.

There are a bunch of seriously good apps for Mac (and iOS) which are cheaper and easier to learn. I'm a Macphun fan and have Luminar, Intensify, Tonality, Noiseless. If you have Luminar you dont really need the others, but I bought those first. I also landed a freebie of Aurora, but dont use it much, its the 2016 version.
 

Steve Blacow

New Member
Apr 15, 2011
1
Nottingham, UK
Hi Steve,
I've used Photoshop Elements for as long as I can remember and it does everything I could ever want. If cataloging your photos is important to you, though..... you'd be better served by Lightroom. I've tried it a few times, and while I'm OK with the processing part of the application, the file management aspect of it completely throws me for a loop. But there are many others that are far less blessed in the brains department than I am and they seem to use it without a hiccup.

So obviously, we all have different hang-ups...and what works for one, may not work for another. Maybe you could take your friend for a nice lunch in exchange for a one-hour tutorial.
Photoshop may be complicated but if you want to commit to it, its worth the time (I'd have it myself if I could justify the expense of the subscription model for myself). I own a standalone copy of Lightroom and find that it does really do all one needs in terms of general photography as well as being able to be a receptacle for various plugins you might want to use. Having said that, I'll now say this: Affinity Photo from Serif is a brilliant bit of kit, and if you havent already locked into Photoshop, it might be worth a look. Its cheaper, too, overall.

Mac or Windows?
So is the new Serif App likely to be able to do everything I need without the use of extra plug-ins (forgive my ignorance). I just want one piece of software that will take the RAW files from my cameras and allow me to produce a finished product.

I am drawn to this because we used the old Serif "+" apps regularly in my old job.

Thanks again!
 

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