Digital photo editing software suggestions?

Last year I took my first step into semi-serious photography by getting a Canon T2i DSLR, along with several books on photography discussing exposure settings, aperture, shutter speed, framing techniques, use of fill flash, etc., etc. I’ve had a lot of fun and feel I take much better pictures now that think about the right things, or know how to control what I’m thinking of doing.

The irony is, even as I’ve learned my way around using an SLR, I find I take a lot of pictures with my iPhone 4S, because I always have it on me. I’ve found the Camera+ app to be really fun in terms of editing pictures on the phone: not just cropping, but changing color intensity, adding digital filter effects like “1970s” which somehow really do evoke the 1970s film processing style to me (i.e., my childhood photos), and framing effects. I do this sort of thing before uploading to Facebook (I have just started to look at Instagram).

Here are few examples of iPhone shots and edits I did this past week or so:

A shot I took at the circus of acrobats leaping over a jump rope while in pyramid formation, with an “Old Timey” border framing with label, and “Magic Hour” filter applied at 25%

  • A shot I took of my Dim Sum brunch, which I considered my ethnic “soul food”, with slightly enhanced color vibrancy and a “Vignette” framing (uses black fade on the edges to make a circle around the image)

  • A shot I took of a construction wall in NYC with some religious flyers juxtaposed with a stencil of Al Pacino as “Scarface”, bordered and labeled and with a 30% “1970s” filter applied

  • A shot I took of baseball mitts and caps left on the field by major league players during pre-game warm-ups I framed with enhanced coloration (maybe a bit too much) and an “offset” border, Men Playing A Boy’s Game

It occurred to me that I don’t have this kind of easy modification for my DSLR digital processing. I use the Canon DPP (Digital Photo Professional) tool to manipulate my RAW images. I gave Adobe Lightbox a try last year, but felt the DPP software was more intuitive and pretty much did everything I wanted to at the time in terms of color management, exposure lightening/darkening (I often cheat by , image cropping and rotation, plus I already had it for free with my camera.

Does Lightbox do any of that? Photoshop Pro? Anything cheap or free that can do bordering, “effect filtering”, etc., while rendering to JPG? I mean, Camera+ cost me $0.99 when I got it on sale at some point (which it is again right now). I guess I could save as JPG and transfer to my iPhone and then add borders and whatnot but c’mon.

Hmm, 242 views and no replies… I guess the senior Doper photogs have no suggestions? Back to the wilds of Algoria for me then, eh?

I’m guessing you mean lightroom, not box. I have that and like it a lot. I also have photoshop elements 10, about a hundred bucks and tons of stuff you can do with jpegs, not so great for raw though. If I could have only 1 software and did a lot of work with jpegs, that’s what I’d have. You should be able to download a free trial.

My photo-tog husband seconds going with Lightroom. It’s cheaper than Photoshop for a reason, but for purely camera stuff, it’s great and worth the price.

I started using Lightyear about a year ago and it has worked just fine. There’s a lot to learn. My suggestion is to pick up a video tutorial to get started. BTW, OP, I like your photos, especially your choice of subjects. You do need some software to punch them up though.
Edit: Forgot to suggest that you try to pick up an academic version to save money. Maybe you’re taking classes or have an academic connection.

My personal workflow is to shoot in RAW; adjust as much as possible in Lightroom; it has all the tools I would commonly need in its Develop module. If I’ve done the shot right, that’s hopefully where it can stop.

However, I also regularly use Nik Software Color Efex Pro / Silver Efex Pro / HDR Efex Pro depending on the final look I’m after.

Occassionally I’ll use Photoshop, although with the above software that’s mainly only for panorama shots recently.

Here’s an example that uses Lightroom + Photoshop + Color Efex Pro:

I can’t recommend Lightroom strongly enough. But it should be mentioned Lightroom is as much a photo manager as a photo editor. It is a companion to Photoshop not a replacement for it. But I would give up Photoshop before I gave up Lightroom. Need to remove the same speck of dust from 500 images? Just a few clicks in Lightroom. Want to add basic metadata tags to 2000 images? 30 seconds. Need to pull every image you’ve ever taken of a particular individual? If you’ve set things up properly, just a few clicks.

Every image I have goes through Lightroom. Maybe 1% needs the specialized tools of Photoshop. But every photo needs Lightroom.

Bartman stole my post. Every word. Even the 1% go to Photoshop remark.

While I consider Lightroom to be fairly intuitive, I highly recommend you invest a significant amount of quality time learning all its wonders.

Lightroom is great for image management and basic edits. I try to do as much as I can in Lightroom. For the average user, I think Lightroom will be enough for managing and editing their photos.

However, if you really want to get into serious digital manipulation of the image, you’re eventually going to need something like Photoshop. At least Photoshop Elements.

But why don’t you just head over to Adobe’s website and download their fully functional trials of these programs, and see what works for your needs?

Corel Paint Shop Pro is an alternative to Photoshop and I found the interface much easier.

I think you mean Lite Beer. Or Lighthouse. Or Lightstand. Or Lightweight.

As soon as I saw that I thought “That looks like New Zealand.” And then I read the caption. Bam!

Though, I’d straighten it so the horizon was flat.

***SERIOUS ***digital manipulation, maybe, but not merely serious. It’s worth noting, too, that Photoshop is not a collection manager (although Elements has that capability). Get Lightroom.

I thought so too, at first glance, but look more closely; the horizon is, indeed, level.

No, you don’t need to be doing SERIOUS digital manipulation to benefit from Photoshop. Photoshop is a lot better for fine-tuning your color (although the new version of Lightroom finally has RGB curves that can be controlled carefully.) It has much better sharpening tools (Lightroom’s sharpening controls are a bit ham-fisted to me, and I’m not talking about sharpening soft images. Everything I print goes through Photoshop for final sharpening, and I almost always fine town my skin tones in Photoshop using individual color channel curves in Photoshop.) And then when it comes to cloning to get rid of blemishes or dust marks, Photoshop generally performs better. 90% of the time you can accomplish it in Lightroom with Heal or Clone, but I find it much easier to clone in Photoshop.

There’s several dozen other reasons I like going into Photoshop when I’m finalizing an image, but I’m not going to bore you with details. Suffice to say, you don’t have to be doing crazy compositing work to want to work within Photoshop.

I agree, though, that if I had to choose one or the other, I probably would go with Lightroom for efficiency’s sake, as I take something on the order of 150,000+ images per year, and using Photoshop with Bridge to edit them would be a pain in the ass. Although that is how my workflow was (though with Photo Mechanic) before the Aperture/Lightroom days. Lightroom has most of the basic tools your average photographer will want.

I don’t think it is. It is hard to tell, as the horizon is obscured, plus it’s confused by the cloud layer (which theoretically would be flat, but may not be) and the slope of the hill, but every fence post and the power pole is on the same tilt so I am pretty sure that’s the best guide.

Sorry for the hijack, I now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

I agree that the horizon is tilted. The edges of the frame can slope in or out based on the lens used and whether the camera is pointed slightly down or up, but the opposite edge would then slope in the other direction. Here, everything looks like it’s skewed slightly counterclockwise. Opening the photo in Photoshop and rotating it slightly makes it look more natural.

Agreed, I’m strickly an enthusiast, I have LR4 and elements 10. I’ll run a ‘roll’ of shots through LR, cull the rejects, do general color correction, cropping, leveling, and take a few into PS to for fine tuning.

Photoshop is a fantastic program. Last significant image I played with ended up with several dozen layers and a 1.8 GB file size. I couldn’t do what I did there in Lightroom. For photo editing there is no application I have ever seen that comes close.

But… still it is a lot more expensive. And it doesn’t have any of the library management tools. So I would really recommend the OP retry Lightroom… or its competitor Aperture. They are the first software tools I would recommend any photographer pick up.

But back to the OP. How easy would it be to do your edits?

The vignetting? The filtering? That kind of thing is dead simple to do. Both Lightroom and Photoshop have plenty of preset effects. And there are thousands more available online for free.

The borders? That is a bit harder… especially in Lightroom. But again you can find them online and once you have set them up, it is pretty easy to do.

The text? Easy in Photoshop… doable but not easily in Lightroom.

But in each case neither is going to be as easy as a pre-packaged tool like Camera+. However they are each vastly more powerful than Camera+. And when you want to you can create your own presets… which will create the effects you want, rather than just limited to the few that come with Camera+.

Picasa now has various presets like you’re talking about. Try that if you’re just wanting to add some effects - its free, and can handle most image formats including raw.

Lightroom is good too, and now much cheaper than it used to be, with lots of automatic options available as presets. Photoshop is overkill for most people unless money isnt a concern.


Thanks for the replies, folks, I guess I’ll give Lightroom another look-see. (Though I’ve used up my free trial, I think)