Recently on Facebook I conducted an informal survey about photo editing.
- Out of 32 respondents, 30 said “yes” and 2 said “no”;
- Of the folks that commented on which program they use, the top vote getter was Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) (5 votes);
- Second place went to Adobe Lightroom;
- Third place went to another Adobe product – Photoshop CS
I guess I have to say way to go Adobe!
(If you’re interested in seeing all the responses click on the question above.)
WHY EDIT YOUR PHOTOS?
I’ve written about how I prep to make my photo books as well as my post-processing workflow, and it all boils down to this:
***Photo-editing software is your friend.***
- Use photo-editing software to enhance your photos. I used to not do any post-processing on my photos, but after seeing the difference and how much better my photos (and photo books) came out, it’s become part of my photo book workflow to do some enhancing to the majority of my photos to either brighten, bring out details, boost contrast, or increase color saturation.
- Beginner photographers should note that pros do some type of post-processing or enhancing of their photos. They don’t always come out perfect out of the camera (though that would be a worthy goal to work towards). When I used to make prints in the darkroom, I remember using filters to enhance contrast and changing the exposure of certain areas of a photo (dodging and burning) by blocking the light source on the enlarger. Photographers still do that, but now with a computer instead (thank goodness cause photo paper wasn’t cheap!) That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pay attention to important factors such as lighting and aperture settings when taking photos, as there’s only so much you can do with photo editing software, but many a photo that I thought was a goner, was brought back from the brink of the trash bin;
- It doesn’t really take that long to edit your photos – check out my step-by-step tutorials on how to edit with iPhoto and Photoshop below;
- Some limited tweaking can be done within some photo book making software, but for maximum control, it’s better to use an external program.
WHAT I USE
Personally since I’m a Mac user, I primarily use iPhoto for post processing my shots. It’s a photo management tool that comes already installed on the Mac that organizes my photos. Since I’ve already uploaded them into the program, it’s pretty easy to use the sliders to make quick adjustments to my photos. A plus is that it’s nondestructive (it keeps an unedited original in the database). Mac users can also get a souped up version called Aperture. Want to know more about iPhoto? My prior post on editing your photos using iPhoto is here.
For PC users, I would say the most likely equivalent to iPhoto would be Google’s Picasa 3. What’s great is that Picasa is free. I wrote about some features of the software in a recent post on Picasa’s collage tools, but the program also has a number of basic editing tools that are easy to use as well.
When I need to bring out the big guns however, I go for Adobe Photoshop. Some of you may be wondering what the big deal is about Photoshop in comparison to other editing tools? Photoshop can do a lot more than photo editing. It can completely alter your photograph, not just edit it. The best example I can think of is when a tabloid takes one celebrity’s head and pastes it onto someone else’s body. You know what I mean. Some of those manipulated photos look so ridiculous, but in the right artistic hands, you would be hard pressed to tell the photo had ever been changed. Photoshop also allows you to focus your edits to a specific area in your photo, whereas typical photo editing software will change the entire photo, not just a part of it like Photoshop can.
Mostly I use Photoshop to make finer adjustments to a photo that needs more than the typical tweaks of brightening and adjusting contrast. The key to Photoshop is understanding “layers”. By creating a new layer for each type of adjustment, you can easily turn on or off each adjustment in case you change your mind. Tutorials on using Photoshop abound and I don’t pretend to be an expert on it, but I’ve come to appreciate it more over the years after taking time to learn how to use it. I’ve found this great article via Pinterest on 12 beginner tutorials on Photoshop. Also check out my earlier post on editing your photos with Photoshop.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PHOTOSHOP AND PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS?
You may have noted that the most mentioned program in the survey is Photoshop Elements not Photoshop. What’s the biggest difference? Price. The newest version of Adobe Photoshop (the yet to be released CS6) is available for pre-order for $699.00. Compare that to Photoshop Elements 10 at $69.00. Yes, that’s a BIG difference. If you want the short answer, PSE for most folks is going to do the job very well and they’ll never miss its more expensive cousin Photoshop. Take that extra $600.00 and spend it on photo books instead! I don’t have PSE so my opinion comes from my personal experience with the pricier Photoshop program. For purposes of making photo books, I hardly tap into its full potential so for that reason I believe PSE will have the key editing features that most folks will be looking for. The more economical Photoshop Elements also has some tools that Photoshop doesn’t have including an “Organizer” which acts as a database for your photos. Conversely Photoshop has no photo management tools – you open a photo singly within the program to do editing on it. My best advice is to compare the programs for yourself – you can download free trials of each on Adobe’s official website. The programs are available to both PC and Mac users.
So to add to more confusion, what is Lightroom? Lightroom would be more comparable to iPhoto (and Aperture) in terms of its intended function. It is a photo management and photo editing tool. Lightroom “finds” all the images you have on your drives no matter where they are located so it doesn’t require you to upload the photos to it, you can leave them where they are. Some folks would get Lightroom to help catalog their photos and use either Photoshop or PSE to do more specific edits (as opposed to global edits). Guess what, you can get a free trial of Lightroom as well.
It may be hard to believe, but this post was not intended to be an essay on Adobe products – that’s just how the survey results turned out! My main point is to encourage you to do some post-processing on your photos. My original post was going to highlight free online photo editing tools, but because of the Facebook survey I wanted to share and discuss the results. I’ll talk about the free online editing tools in an upcoming post. Meanwhile, if you’re new to photo books, check out my series of “how to” posts – especially the ones regarding photo editing with iPhoto and Photoshop – you’ll definitely see the difference that a few simple edits can make!
If you didn’t get a chance to respond to the survey, feel free to comment below!