I have been using Aperture on my Mac for organizing and editing my images, and have been pretty happy with it too. It always drove me nuts that I had to export an image to get it into Photoshop for heavy lifting, and then import the resulting edited image back into Aperture. Very clunky.
With my recent client signing on for long term promotional support for their recording artists and facilities, I signed up for the Creative Cloud subscription. Like most things that are monthly fee based, the Creative Cloud is a good deal IF YOU USE IT. Signing up for it gave me access to all things Adobe. I decided to give Lightroom a chance to woo me away from Aperture, and it has!
First, it has seamless integration into Photoshop. Just right click and “edit in”. When you save, it’s saved back in Lightroom. The way it should be. Also, Apple chose to store its images in libraries. A library is much like a single database file that has your images and the edits. You can get in there and dig around but it certainly isn’t an intuitive set up. Lightroom just stores the images in a good ol’ folder with no voo-doo attached. Lightroom also supports the Nik software suite which is what I really use for editing, so I didn’t give up any convenience or capability there. On the down side, if the folks at Apple know anything, it’s how to make an intuitive GUI. Lightroom still has me hunting and pecking a bit. It also runs noticeably slower on the same machine. It’s an easy trade to relieve two of my major pet peeves for a little hourglass aggravation.
Photoshop CS6 is nothing short of amazing – yeah I know *News Flash*. While it is still a power user’s power tool, the developers are good about finding the things photographers are doing all the time and making them work better, which equals easier in the long run when you figure out how to do them. I’ll give you a few examples of things I find myself using regularly.
So you have this great concert photo, but it’s a bit flat looking and the subject isn’t jumping off the screen at you. Just auto select the guitar player, then refine the edges – this is where the magic happens! In days gone by, wispy hair and background changes would have had you squinting at the screen to clean up your images, and then they still looked “cut out” and unnatural, at least for me. With the new refining edges algorithms, Adobe has really taken a leap forward in making clean natural looking cuts. In the photo below, I used this process, then added a little blur to the background just to give it a little DOF and made it a more agreeable image.
These photos of the lovely Skylar on the beach are an example of my two other favorite feature in Photoshop, Content-aware fills and Liquefy. Do you have some extra foot prints that need removal? No problem, select the area and CS6 figures out what should be there based on the surrounding image. It’s not perfect. It still may require some touch up, but boy it gets you close most of the time. Liquefy is… well… either the best or worst thing ever depending on your photographic philosophy. I personally find perfect people quite boring and tend to not try to idealize my subjects, however, I do want to show them at their best and often a pose or angle or lighting can produce a bulge or shape that detracts from the overall impact of the image. Skylar is a hard core fitness trainer and competitor, but in my infinite wisdom and creative ability, I managed to pose her so that we created less than optimal lines. And hey – if I can do it to her, I can do it to anybody! So, a little light touch with the new, improved and easy to use liquefy feature and she looks like the fitness queen that she truly is.
Subtle use of these toys is the secret to a natural look. I do struggle from time-to-time on the nature of modifying people for images. Everyone wants to look good in a portrait. If the shot is for them, then they should look their best. Also, as I continue to delve into advertising, the goal is to create an image that your client wants to project – whether its reality or not.
Lastly, God bless Youtube! There are loads of really good tutorials on most things that you want to do in CS6. Most are focused, thorough, and free!
Have some fun with it and do something neat!