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Monday, 05 November 2018

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If you're comfortable with Adobe Camera Raw then you're well on your way to understanding Lightroom. I have Photoshop on my computer but I don't really use it. (I actually wrote it "Photo Shop" initially, which gives you a sense for how much I use it...)

One thing I like about Lightroom is that the interface is extremely stable. You can watch a "how to" video for LR 4 and still learn things you can use in LR 8. They do move some things around from time-to-time, but the chances are minor.

Everyone's needs are different. I get that. But for my purposes I can do virtually everything I would want to do to a RAW file in Lightroom. The one thing LR can't do once I bring the file into the catalogue that I've started doing with an external program is focus stacking using Helicon Focus Pro. You can do that in PS, but not well. Helicon integrates nicely with LR, which I quite like.

Also, I make extensive use of the database side of LR ("Digital Asset Management" -- or keeping my pictures organized!) I shudder to imagine doing it any other way.

Ancient proverb: "Nobody uses more than ten percent of Photoshop but everyone uses a different ten percent."

This applies to Microsoft Office, Capture One and Canon (Nikon, Sony et al) cameras as well.

I am switching to Capture One because I hate the whole cloud thing. I use Fuji and Capture One now has a Fuji Specific version. You can get a less sophisticated version for free here:

https://www.phaseone.com/en/Capture-One/Capture-One-Fujifilm.aspx

I went with the Pro Version with a perpetual license. So far I like it much better than Lightroom.

I have felt the same way about PS for some time. It used to be a great program, but now feels more like a patchwork quilt. I looked at Affinity quite closely, but it does not, it seems, handle ProPhoto. Adobe should rewrite PS from the ground up and charge $50 for a permanent license. My current setup is Capture One Express (free, for Fuji) or ACR for other formats (I bought CS6 outright before it went to the cloud). For basic further editing I use Picture Window Pro, which is now (version 7) unsupported but FREE for ever. For a very few things, such as content-aware fill and final final printing, I use CS6.

I also disliked Lightroom when it first came out. However, after the demise of Apple's Aperture I tried it again and I really like it now. There is still a desktop version in addition to the cloud-based one. It does local corrections, multiple versions, etc., all stored separately as processing data without modifying the original.

I guess I'm on the opposite end of whatever spectrum you've identified, Mike. Photoshop feels like it's been mysteriously hard-wired into my brain, and now it seems positively intuitive.

I find the concepts really simple: Adjustment layers for various straightforward adjustments: contrast, curves, saturation, etc. Add a mask, painting black to obscure the effect, white to apply it. Set the adjustment to luminosity blend to apply the adjustment only to light values and not colors

Those few ideas cover probably 90% of what I do to images. I think once you wrap your mind around the concepts of how Photoshop works, it becomes much more strait forward. There's no need to memorize routines and commands because instead you work from an overall idea of how Photoshop alters an image.

And instead of remembering command-key combinations, I've made my post-processing really efficient by creating actions, which I set to appear as buttons on the Actions palette. Thus I simply click the button for Linear Contrast, Lighter, Darker, or whatever else I need. I created four sharpening actions that cover almost all of my sharpening needs. I also created a variety of resizing & jpeg conversion actions to cover all the common sizes I use.

(I don't like to use Adobe Camera Raw adjustments because, unless I create a "Smart Layer" and inside Photoshop, those adjustments are permanently burned onto the image and can't be undone later without starting over. I sometimes have a need to go back to images from years ago, and adjustment layers allow me to tweak an image that I processed when I had different ideas of what makes a good-looking image.)

My wife struggled with Photoshop until one day the concepts snapped into focus, and then she got it. That might be the case with you, too, with the right teacher.

What about Photoshop Elements? I suppose one could argue that instead of having many of the features of the full-blown PS, it has similar frustrations!

I'm always open to an improvement... Affinity looks intriguing.

Adobe insists on making things complicated. There are two versions of Lightroom: CC and Classic CC. See https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-lightroom-classic.html

You probably want Classic CC so your images stay on your local hard drive. I tend to think of it as a more powerful Bridge with edit and print features. Since it also uses ACR your edits can flow freely between Lightroom and PS.

When I went digital I sort of decided to limit my editing to stuff I used to do in the darkroom.
The exception being b&w conversions of color originals. Panalure was never my friend.
I found that I could do most everything I needed in PS Elements (don't hate me).
But when captain cheap broke down and bought a D7100 my ancient software was totally stumped by the NEF files I was getting.
I capitulated and got signed up for Photoshop and Lightroom CC. It works OK but I was fine with what I had. I didn't do airbrushing when I shot film and I don't see the need to do it now that 95% of my photography is digital.
My son on the other hand, lives and breathes PS and LR but he is young and his brain is still supple and he has a need to use all these functions, I don't

I vastly appreciated that Capture One, while recently changing the general layout of the software, allows the user to revert this back to the previous versions.

For many graphics softwares I've long wonder the wish to make the buttons as unclear as possible (eg: have most of them in B&W instead as colourful).

I installed Photoshop on my daughter's MacBook about 5 or 6 years ago and just from the install I knew I would never use it. Haha.

When I got my first DSLR (Nikon D40) I shot JPEGS and used Google Picasa and was happy as a clam, and then things...progressed.

About 4 years ago I did a comparison between Lightroom and DxO Optics Pro. They are both great in my opinion, and I ended up going with DxO because I did not want to use LR's library/catalog system - I was used to setting up my own folders on my computer hard drive from using Picasa. I also liked DxO's lens corrections for Nikon, and by this time I was shooting RAW. I currently use DxO Photo Lab and like it a lot, and it now has the U-Point correction tool, which I rarely use, but lots of people love local corrections.

DxO is a non-starter for Fuji though.

In the meantime I've checked out Luminar and Affinity Photo. Even Affinity is too much for me, but I can see it is a clear Photoshop alternative and would choose Affinity over Photoshop for the basic reason I could figure out how to use it even though in cumbersome and slow fashion. Luminar is a competitor to DxO and Lightroom and I like it a lot. Easy to use, and a ton of pre-sets. But I always end up preferring DxO because I use it in a basic way, similar to how Mike described using ACR. And I'm not into presets, too many decisions. (Although, I did develop my own preset for DxO).

One things I've added to my workflow in the last year is I export the images from DxO to Apple Photos (of all things). I like to use Apple Photos as a DAM, and the way Apple Photos lets you use extensions is pretty cool. From Apple Photos I can edit in Luminar, Affinity, and the Nik Collection. Although to be honest, I rarely do. I use Silver Effex Pro and sometimes spruce things up with the Apple Photos editor.

Too bad the camera companies don't make top notch software to use with their hardware, like...an iPhone. But that's another story altogether.

I was using Photoshop long before Lightroom existed, so I know how to do lots of things with it. Like every PS user I know, I only use a smallish part of it. But over the years I have learned how to do what I need to do. I use ACR on layers within Photoshop but I need other functions as well, like the clone stamp, because I like to remove unwanted clutter and rebuild parts of an image. That is much easier done in PS than Lightroom. I am very accustomed to working an image with levels and curves on layers and being able to easily change my mind. I start in Lightroom with every file (used to call it roll) of images. Very easy to do global changes there, for things like white balance, lens profile corrections, sometimes noise removal, etc. I like the photography centric terminology. I like the ability to create keyworded databases. I like to edit using quick and smart collections. After deciding which images I will pursue, I export them and continue in Photoshop. I've stayed with Lightroom Classic because sometimes I need to work where I cannot connect to the cloud. Both editors are important to me. I am not interested in exploring switching to a new editor. I would rather spend my time on new images.

I use both Adobe ACR/Lightroom and Capture One, recently I have been using Capture One more and more, it does seem to offer better results especially with Fujifilm raws. As a wedding docue style photographer I shoot a lot and over the years my preference for file management goes to Photo Mechanic.

Mike,

While I barely squeaked through two years of Algebra, I was one of the naive enthusiasts who eagerly spent lunch periods trying to trisect an angle. Struggled through chemistry, but loved playing with vectors in physics class. So thanks for the tip....based on your comments, I now must at least take a look at Affinity in my search for an intuitive LR alternative. I look forward to reading comments from users.

Bob

(My favorite martini olives come in the jar with the black & white label with the small red crest.)

I've used it and like the interface. Besides some name changes, it is very similar to PS. However, it is extremely slow loading/saving Fujifilm RAW files (not sure about others), so it makes it an app I go to only when I have to (I use On1). Pretty easy transition from PS though.

I feel your pain ...

I was trying out Capture One, now that they're working with Fuji, but find it too different but not different enough to easily figure out.
It doesn't help that I'm using an external hardware interface with power sliders (Pfixer and a Behringer BCF-2000) with Lightroom, which gives me 'muscle memory' for editing.

Affinity Photo is good, their iPad version is right now the best on the platform(Photoshop looks promising but will not have parity to Affinity Photo for a while on iOS). They also have a Designer app on windows and MacOS that is very good, it's only downside for me is it's output is rasterized before printing, so it's not useful for outputting to a laser cutter for vector cuts - but that's a rather specific gripe:)

I suppose it all depends on whether you are a 'real photographer', ie you only shoot in RAW.

As someone who shoots RAW + JPEG and only works with the RAW files if I've cocked up the exposure so badly that the JPEG is un-rescueable, I find ACR fine and generally just use Photoshop Elements.

I use Lightroom but I'm willing to try other apps. But they have to be more than a good editor. I very much depend of the Library module in Lightroom.

I went to the link for Affinity Photo but they show nothing that would be the equivalent to the Library module in Lightroom. They also show a lot of stuff that I would never use and stuff that I have no idea what it does (Kinda like Photoshop.)

Yes, there are plenty of programs that claim to do a better job editing a photo but really do nothing else.

So why get a Lightroom replacement when you already have Lightroom?

I don’t know Affinity, use Capture One, but as an aside to visual vs. abstract memory:

I once worked with Reuters News Agency as an editor. Whenever we startet our shift, we had to „read in“ to all the news files sent out in the last 16 hours in order to know what happend and which news required a follow-up or summary. It was real old times then. Everything was printed on rolls of thin paper with those six- to nine-needle printers which not only made an infamous noise but produced only barely readable output.

One day, we received a new software. The greenish dottet letters on dark ground disappeared from our computer screens, instead appeared black letters on white ground – not yet Windows, but kind of.

Everybody was excited. Everybody pushed the paper files aside.

Two month later, the paper was back. Of course we were able to read all files on screen. But nobody memorized them in the way he had before. The screen scrolled away in some digital nowhereland and was quickly forgotten. Only the text on this dreaded paper rolls burnt itself in.

Maybe young digital natives are better now.

Greetings, Robert B.

Mike said: It's a fantastically complex program that seemingly offers between ten and 100 ways to do anything.

Because Photo Shop has Photo in it's name photographers think that it was designed for them—but they are wrong. PShop is a tool for graphic designers. Combining Affinity Photo with Affinity Designer = Photo Shop. Affinity Publisher, now in βeta, https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/publisher/ = Adobe InDesign.

I'm and early adapter of Affinity Photo. Photo runs on Mac and Windows, and there is an iPad version. As always, choose the right tool for the job.

Would love to know how you get on with Affinity Photo and Fuji raw files (X-H1, as that is same as my X-T2). I am contemplating my next software move as PhotoNinja seems to be almost dead and Picture Window Pro 8 is still in early beta, and was never a great raw developer.

This shows the challenge of picking the small guys: you never know when they will give up the ghost.

I downloaded (free) Darktable upon your last musings on photo editing software. I open it every 2 months or so, and then quickly close it as my heart starts racing at the very thought of actually trying to learn it. My old analog cappuccino maker died last week, I suffered enough psychic trauma familiarizing myself with the shiny new upgrade this weekend...

I'm still using Photoshop 7. There are about 12 features that I use on a regular basis, so it hasn't been difficult to master those.

I love the layers tool, and using the manual brushes for dodging/burning.

Current versions of Lightroom and other programs have more features, but I've been satisfied with what my program offers.

-Richard

Bridge makes it very easy to associate any editor to any file type. You can have Bridge launch ACR for raw files and Affinity for tiff or jpeg files.

Affinity is great. It arguably has several things that are lacking from Photoshop for photography. Like being able to between the RGB or Lab colour space for curves. In Lab mode you can increase or decrease contrast without affecting colour saturation.

Another thing is to easily have one mask per smart filter.

One thing, there is a setting to save PSDs with layers to make Affinity work better with DAMs like Lightroom, Bridge, Capture One or others that cannot read its propriatary native file format. Ignore that. Just use tiff as your export format from ACR. Affinity stores 100% of its layers and filters in a tiff file but not in PSD.

Now, if you adopt the X-H1, you get a free version of Capture One that edit Fuji raw files, and any tiff and jpeg files albeit with reduced functionality in the editing tools. But it has 100% of the DAM and print parts. And it works great with Affinity.

You can use ACR in Photoshop Elements, which of course is a simple and inexpensive version of Photoshop. It likely has just about everything you would use in full Photoshop. I bought the latest version on sale for a low price and use it occasionally.

Mostly I use Skylum's Luminar. I was trying to pick between that and Affinity and ultimately went with Luminar. I'm happy with it. There are often sales or discounts that make it very affordable. The new version will be free for owners. You can do free trials of both.

Be aware that my editing is minimal. I try to get a good photo right out of the camera.

Couldn't agree more about Photoshop. But that's because it really isn't a photography software, per se, but a graphics arts program. Our Graphics people at the museum are pretty fluid with it, and switch between it and other programs. They often have to work with photographs, but not at all the way we have to work with photographs as photographers.

The lead photographer at the museum does use Photoshop for her images....but uses little of the program for that, and none of all the graphics stuff.

For Photographers, in Adobe, Lightroom is really the way to go. If Adobe would just bite the bullet and give Lightroom several more tools, they could keep Photoshop as is but re-name it "Graphics-shop". Better all around for everybody, and I bet Adobe, too.

I've been using Lightroom for almost two years now. Prior to that I just used the software that came with my cameras and I used Picasa at the end to set up printing. Picasa was a neat little program for the minor things I did to photos but Google abandoned it on the Plains of Non-Support so it's pretty worthless now. The Canon, Olympus and Panasonic proprietary programs that came with various models of their cameras are taking up hard drive space on my computer but haven't been used since I muddled through and decided I could use Lightroom.

Most recently I discovered Iridient X-Transformer for Fuji's RAF files. I'm impressed. But, then again, I'm sometimes easily impressed. Especially when something so simple to use works so well. I'm not adventurous when it comes to new computer things. A few years ago I bought a nice Windows based laptop to use when traveling. It didn't work out. I guess I'm a Mac guy because the laptop just didn't synch with me. It's in a closet in the bedroom...hasn't been used in 2-3 years.

Algebra vs geometry. Funny. I struggled with Algebra and basic mathematics throughout my school years but geometry was one of my top subjects. Friends and schoolmates who were good at math were puzzled when I whizzed through geometry problems. And, yeah, I wasn't much good at chemistry either. I never thought about it before but now I can see why.

I can appreciate Mike's comments about Photoshop. I periodically get back into intensive photo editing and have to re-learn some things. My go-to resource remains the excellent workbook Charles Cramer provided with his Photoshop-based digital printing course. I do sometimes struggle to remember how to do something; I leave my 'master files' with all their adjustment layers intact so I can see how I got from the raw file to the eventual print.

About 98% of what I do with Photoshop can be achieved using nothing more than ACR, the photomerge dialogue, and various curves layers and layer masks. And these functions have tended to remain pretty stable across Photoshop version updates. I've got a pile of Photoshop books including specific titles about using blend modes and layers, but I'm embarrassed to admit I've scarcely opened them.

I've been updating Photoshop Elements approximately every OTHER year ever since they were free. I don't really need the Real Photoshop, and haven't updated since 7.
But the fact is, there is almost nothing that I can't do by the third iteration of Elements that I can't do in the 14th. Only real improvement is the selection of images is more precise.

I share nearly identically your MO on producing pictures. While I do use Lightroom, I prefer ACR and use Bridge as my browser - organizer. After opening an image in Photoshop, my work is made easier by dozens upon dozens of "actions" I've created over the years, many of which activate plugins I began using long ago. I have discovered the things I feel help me the most over the years and have integrated them into these actions. While I do experiment on occasion and try a new thing or two - I mostly fall back upon my well honed routines that take the hell out of Photoshop :-)

I don't know Photoshop in it's entirety but find it easy to do what I need to do. I use Capture One for raw conversion but invariable need to bring the image into Photoshop for finishing.

I gave up on Photoshop. The program suffers from the same problem as Windows, in which they try to remodel a program, keeping everything that has gone before while adding new stuff and new procedures. They would be much better off with a set of nested apps (like ACR) that each do one clearly defined and specified task. Instead, you wander around like Alice, wondering which mushroom is which, and what exactly is gong to happen when you ingest one. ("Remember what the dormouse said/Feed your head, feed your head.")

Lightroom, on the other hand, remains fairly simple, especially if you are mostly interested in the kind of photography in which perfection is not expected or strived for (street.) If you can reconcile yourself to using a small, less than FF sensor, you're halfway there.

Lightroom still has a desktop-based version, Lightroom Classic, for those of us who don't have our heads in the "cloud."

I struggled for years with software apps, Photoshop being the very worst offender for making basically zero sense, I'm dyslexic!

The only one that makes complete sense from a workflow standpoint is CaptureOne --BUT-- it took some serious effort on my part, but once it clicked....... WOW, it clicked. I thoroughly enjoy processing files in CaptureOne now, its an absolute joy, the levels of subtlety are almost infinite, this thing is a laser scalpel.

Just about everything in the interface is customizable, don't like a tool, remove it, you can build your own custom tool pallet if you wish.

I was an avid NIK SEP2 user too, loved that app, BUT, once I learned the intricacies of CaptureOne, the power of its B&W conversions and superbly realistic film grain I dropped NIK's SEP2 app. I honestly marvel at CaptureOne's B&W conversions, they've nailed the analogue grain look we film lovers want, so much so to say that when I scan my film archive, I actually prefer the CaptureOne fake grain look!

CaptureOne gets a bad press from hobbyists, as it offers little over a traditional analogue darkroom users set of tools, but if you want that type of functionality, just round trip to Affinity Photo.

One important point you brought up, with CaptureOne, once you get your desktop tool pallet set-up the way you like it *you can save it, even when upgrading to future versions.* That's fantastic for us dyslexic types!

I feel the same about Ps, now I use Lr, I find it very intuitive and is just for photos not for illustrations, as Ps. I can wait the H1 report, no hurry, just watching the rain here in the mountains of Colombia. Regards.

Yes, I have been dabbling with Affinity for a year. My attraction to Affinity (sorry) was due largely to its cross-platform coverage; I can use it on my iPad Pro and also on my Macs. Same interface. Same process model. I very much like the product and the enthusiastic spirit of its developer. It reminds me of Photoshop’s earliest days! The series of basic starter tutorials on their YouTube channel are essential. Theirs is a rather different process and tool model than Adobe’s. Some seem brilliant while others seem as though they haven’t anticipated what users will scream for next.

Looking forward, however, I doubt I’ll ever adopt Affinity as my primary tool for two reasons. First, I’ve been steeped in the Lightroom/Photoshop models since their creation. PS has, of course, grown into a behemoth that serves many interests. I shrug. It’s still the sharpest knife in the drawer for my increasingly rare needs for major image surgeries. Lightroom serves 90% of my needs and I remain very happy with it. (Plus it’s DAM facility is absolutely essential to me!). Additionally it looks like the LR/PS process is moving into the iPad Pro world aggressively, eliminating the main advantage that drew me to Affinity.

Second, I find the less I fool with images the happier I am with them. Conversely, when I find myself spending too much time manipulating an image I almost invariably eventually realize that the image was either fundamentally weak of that I’m trying to synthesize an image I didn’t actually capture.

- Mahalo, from Hawai’i -

Affinity Photo is a remarkably powerful yet very fun to use app on an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. I would really like to transfer my entire photo workflow to one of the new incredibly powerful iPad Pros, but were not there yet with the apps.

I have Affinity on my Mac too, where it looks more like a clunky Windows application, but could never really get into this kind of single-photo photoshop-type applications. I rarely do the extreme manipulations that these apps offer and I am horrified of the file management it would take to run my entire photo library through one of those apps. Sending files from app to app gets old really quick. Seems like a really primitive way to handle photos from raw to print.

Since I don't want to manage files Capture One is currently my all-in-one solution. Apple Aperture was the best ever, I am still nostalgic about it though it didn't offer the best image quality. Capture One is quite similar, but seems a bit less polished than the old Apple product and it is also too expensive. The image quality is second to none though. I never liked Lightroom or any Adobe program.

Several other photo editors exist for the Mac, like Pixelmator Pro (that uses all the latest Apple APIs) and Luminar but without asset management they don't interest me at all. I think Luminar has promised this functionality in the future, so maybe I'll consider it then. It is a sleek and modern app.

All of these asset managers should have cloud integration between devices, like Apple Photos. It is really great and fun when you can do an edit on the iPad and have it turn up on the Mac seconds later.

Tech website Mashable says: Apple’s not trying to make the iPad Pro a laptop replacement ... It’s trying to do something bigger: invent a new way of creating for a new generation that is not bound to the old computing laws of clicking a mouse. https://bit.ly/2Pdji7u

I've never seen the need for a laptop. I look at the iPad Pro as a replacement for a Wacom tablet https://amzn.to/2qxniRn hooked-up to a desktop computer. With an iPad Pro you can do creative things like Art (drawing + painting), Music Making, Photo Editing, Sound Editing, Video Editing and Writing.

Adobe, Affinity, Akai, Apple, iA, Korg, Pinnacle, Steinberg, WaveMachine Labs, etc, etc make ready-for-primetime iPad apps. I don't know about you, but among the first things I learned at school was finger-painting—not drawing with a bar-of-soap aka mouse 8-) I'm so ready for an iPad Pro, YMMV.

For me, Affinty tops Photochop any day. There is more than enough capability in Affinty, more than I intend to master anyway. And if your image doesn't come out well enough in Affinity, then perhaps you should take another picture.
And remember what Robert Capa advised other photographers, if your pictures are not good enough, then you are not close enough.

Mike,

You DO realize that there is Lightroom CC Classic which is essentially ACR with sorting, cataloging, and other goodies? No need to use the cloud-based CC.
Maybe you already have used, and disliked Classic, too. I don't know.

Affinity Photo has a Major Drawback - to work anything in Affinity Photo it needs to convert your tiff, jpg or whatever into an Affinity Photo file ( don't remember the file name), your file must be on a hard drive, to be able to save the affinity file to, you can't read from a CD. Did some simple stuff in affinity photo but wasn't happy with the printed output (didn't put anymore effort into the program to find out if I was the problem). You can output your finished work in affinity photo as a tiff or jpg.
Brian

The thing with Photoshop is that you must develop your own way to do something, and once you know how, don't look at the alternatives.

I have never been one to update anything (except cars) unless because of a shortcoming with the thing I already have. I am happy enough with my antique version of the programme, and as long as I can use Layers, employ a couple of effects such as Noise, nothing is missing. I am a simple soul, share your problem with names, and algebra was, reasonably enough, Arabic to me. I was once able to name the members of Armstrong's various bands, from the Hot Five through the All Stars, but today I can only apply my ears and enjoy the sound, which was really what it was all about. I suppose you could stretch the metaphor and claim photography can slip sideways into similar states of confusion between marque married to geekism, and result.

If you are comfortable with ACR, I'd think Lightroom would be simple enough, LR seems to have been slapped on top of ACR and had some stuff added. Photoshop, on the other hand, is so alien to me that whenever I watch a video on how to do something, it seems that it must have required a person of genius to have figured out how to do pretty much anything. It seems as far from intuitive as it's possible to be.

Mike, Capture One is immensely powerful and most agree it does very fine conversions.
As I am sure you know, the didn't support most Fujifilm Cameras and had a policy of not supporting other MF manufacturers.
On the other hand Fujifilm's software has been less than state of the art. Well, that was then, and this is now. They have struck a deal and prob ably got great support from Fujifilm and I suspect will offer very fine conversions.
Couple that with the fact that there is a free Fuji version, you should really take a look.

I'm certainly not qualified to give advice on Photoshop but I can recommend Elements, at least V8, which is what I've been using ever since it came out. Does everything I need and lets me ignore all the zillions of other things I don't care about. Since I learned photography on film I strive to expose properly to begin with and just shoot jpegs. I know that "limits" what the sensor records but there were limitations to film. As I only shoot jpegs I don't need to convert Raw files just turn them into Tiffs before processing. It's a combination that works for me.

The Zen of Photoshop for photography is to realize that masked adjustment layers encapsulate the entire darkroom in one relatively straightforward (if a bit clunky) UI and ignore the rest of the program completely. The adjustments manipulate the image, the mask (which you can draw with all the tools) localizes it.

Lightroom has a selective adjustments feature that is similar, but not quite as rich and not quite as flexible (esp. w.r.t. mask construction).

FWIW here is a short tutorial on adjustment layers. It makes sense to me. But YMMV.

http://tleaves.com/wordpress-archive/post0456/

I have the same issues with Photoshop that you do, Mike. One of the main reasons I cling to Lightroom is that I can have ACR without even having to touch (or pay for) Photoshop.

Another reason is that I'm extremely disorganized, and Lightroom, being essentially a database for photographs, imposes an organizational structure. No matter how alien it is to my way of doing things, without it my collection of images would be chaos rather than just a mess.

The only database-like software I ever really got along with was a DOS program called Tornado Notes. (I'm pretty sure it's been mentioned before in TOP comments.) Its paradigm was stacks of papers--the stereotypical messy desk--except that because the stacks were virtual, nothing ever got lost, creased or ruined by spilled coffee. You could format a note any way you wanted, or no way at all, but thanks to excellent, lightning-fast tools for on-the-fly searching, grouping, ordering, tagging, splitting and joining of stacks and notes, the fact that there was no pre-imposed format or hierarchy didn't really matter, and in fact was an asset. (Though you could, if you wanted, standardize on your own custom formats.)

Would love to find something like that again. And I'd love something like it for photos. I keep finding myself searching for kinds of photographs that I never anticipated having to look for, like pictures with three people in them, or with complementary colors, or both...

Mike, you should check out Lightroom Classic. It is not cloud based and is the latest version of Lightroom that most of us have been using for years. Adobe has succeeded in confusing everyone--->by now calling the cloud based version, Lightroom CC. The version I'm using is now called Lightroom Classic. It integrates perfectly with Photoshop. Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC bundled together are available by subscription from Adobe for $10 per month. The good thing about the subscription model is you get the latest updates for these applications as they become available. You also get the Lightroom CC mobile camera app for your smart phone. It is the overall best camera app I have for my iPhone--->shoots raw, hdr and manual. If you want it to, you can have it automatically upload the photos you take with the app to your home computer's version of Lightroom Classic as well. The cloud based version of Lightroom (Lightroom CC) comes with your monthly subscription as well. I'm also running the entire Nik Collection suite right in Lightroom Classic (I downloaded from Google a while back for free). Camera Raw has the same interface in Lightroom as it does in Photoshop.

I have an Adobe license for work, which may cloud my judgment on the matter but I like Lightroom. I use the non-cloud "classic" CC version. It is a good organizational/batch tool, and over time has become a robust editor. I even print from there now, using Adobe's Print Studio Pro tool.

Since I have access to it anyway, I also use Photoshop now & then because the free Nik plugins still work with it and I love Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro quite a bit.

But I know my allegiance to Adobe is based upon muscle memory and getting it for free, so I have played around with some of the others. Probably you're aware of these, but Darktable and Digikam look interesting.

Working with Photoshop is like being a chef, knowing how to translate a recipe into a delicious meal; Other tools tend to drift from ready-made meals to specialist "BBQ-only tools".

I mostly work with an ancient Lightroom 4, which has a laughable spotting tool, many limited controls (single curve, awkward white balance, ...). I really only use it because Adobe Bridge gives me more grievances, but there are many times when I open a file in Photoshop to just get things done.

Affinity: Sorry, don't know. At the price, I'd say just buy it and see if it does work for you. Most recent photo editing software try to help with workflow, as opposed to Photoshop's "here I am, tell me what to do"-user interface.

I feel the same way about Photoshop as you, Mike. I've used parts of it for many years, but never have really mastered it. Really, I think it is overkill for most of us photographers who are basically trying to do what we used to do most of the time in the traditional darkroom, which is to come up with a print that conveys what we want to convey.

After years of wrestling with this I believe you can break it down like this. You need the following functionalities to get you from clicking the shutter to a reasonable print (or web version, or....):
1. A digital asset management system of some kind (DAM). Lightroom Classic is probably as good as any, but there are others (Capture one, etc.)
2. A RAW file converter. One can argue about subtle differences in the output, but, all RAW converters do essentially the same thing with essentially the same controls. In the process of conversion you end up doing global adjustments to color, tonality, contrast, cropping, etc.. So pick one. If you like ACR, use that.
3. A way to do local image adjustments to color, tonality, contrast, noise and sharpness. For me, I have to say the NIK plug-ins have been an absolute savior. Mike, I know that you like Silver Efex Pro 2, but, you should watch a tutorial or two about Viveza, Dfine, and Sharpener Pro as well. The beauty of the Nik plug-ins is the control point technology which allows you to do very focused image manipulation by dropping and adjusting control points wherever you need to either for a positive or negative effect on image parameters. The magic is that "under the hood" it does all the complicated masking related tasks for you, all those things you can't remember how to do in Photoshop, and it does it in a very intuitive way that works the same in all of the plug-ins. You can launch from within LR, Photoshop, Elements, or as independent programs. Perhaps you can launch them from Affinity as well, I don't know. So you do all the contrast, tone, and color adjustments in Nik (I use Viveza for much of that. Dodging and burning has never been easier), remove noise, sharpen, and you're done! No screwing around with a million adjustment layers and creating dozens of masks. It just works.

For the kind of photography that I have observed you do, you don't need any of the other functionality of Photoshop. Just my 2 cents.

I use Lightroom Classic (not Lightroom CC) for 90% of my work with Photoshop used for the additional 10%. I love Lightroom Classic especially for the Print module. I used to print from Photoshop but Lightroom is so, so much easier and nicer. It's a snap to set up print jobs and save them and use them forever. Also, I like the rental aspect of Lightroom Classic. The automatic updates are great. I would have no interest at all in returning to the old license model. I think it's a bargain at $10.00 (USD) per month and has eliminated the need to pay for periodic upgrades.

Speaking about memory... I too have a very visual-oriented memory. More than memory, it’s how my mind works for planning, I often create models in software before I start building them, so I can make sure my vision works in reality and to give myself numbers for the materials I need (the numbers are what my brain won’t hold onto). For me this and other visualising skills are likely associated, like Temple Grandin has talked about in herself, with my (late-diagnosed) autism. I get similarly confused at label colour and design changes. My sense of visual direction (i.e. landmarks) is great. I can recall explicitly where things we once bought years ago are on shelves, directions to places I’ve visited once 30 years ago. I am not autistic-stereotype-rainman-genius at this stuff, but I am better than most at that kind of thing.

But specifically faces... I have what I call, ironically, a “photographic memory”. Although I have difficulty recalling names (and improper nouns, and verbs, and...) I also have trouble with faces EXCEPT when I’ve taken a photograph. Even my own mother’s face I only recall as a photo (she’s alive, and I do see her regularly). I also can recall extremely well all aspects of a photo (where, when, why, how), to a degree startling to others*. But I don’t know what my neighbour looks like until I see him again. And some people my brain won’t hold their likeness even while looking at them (even people I like, and whose face is prominent, like Lady Gaga). And yet I don’t have face-blindness as it’s commonly understood. It’s the recall - show me a picture and I’ve got them, the same way I’ve got the words inside. Somewhere. You know the experience as “tip of the tongue” and it’s like that turned up to 11.

There’re variations of a quote by Gary Winogrand along the lines of “I wanted to see what the world looked like photographed”. For me photography is and always has been, “I want to see what the world looks like”. Photography is more than interpretation for me. It helps me see. I guess this might be why I take what I call my “boring photos” - I think they’re magic slices of actual reality, real things themselves, others think they’re a cigarette butt, or a downpipe, etc., quotidian details, mundane, dull, “Why did you take a photo of that?”. But I have decided to mostly keep doing what I do because anything else is just applying learnt technique to produce technically correct photos that people like but which others with more skill can do better. Though I can do a portrait shot slightly better than “snapshot” if you want.

(*I have experienced and appreciate the motivation when people respond to me describing my autistic characteristics that this is “normal”. I know it is meant well. All I’d ask is that you believe the autistic person when they say what they are describing is not normal, if only to degree - autistic folk know normal, and they know in many painful ways that they’re not it. Inadvertent reverse-gaslighting like that kept me in anxiety and chronic depression and suicidal ideation for decades before my late diagnosis, and still on a long road to relief from it but now with some clear air in front.)

PS. I’ve got Affinity Photo. I quite like it. I’ve also Affinity Designer which shares the interface and process in many ways.

I used Microsoft Digital Image Suite after using the garbage JPEG software that came with my old JPEG only shooting crap. I used the Pentax supplied software until I found a program called Raw Shooter (it was free). Adobe bought out Raw Shooter and it was folded into Lightroom so I got into Lightroom v1 as a Beta Tester. My last version of Lightroom was v6 as I really don't like subscriptions especially when the company cripples the software when you stop the subscription.
I needed a DAM (Digital Asset Manager) so I bought the Microsoft Expression suite which included Expression Media. Expression Media was bought out by Phase One and I got a free version of Capture One. I have never gone back to anything else, although I did have a version of Photoshop Elements that lasted a whole five (5) days on my machine as it frustrated me to the max.
I bought Affinity Photo because I was playing around with shooting panoramas. I really wish that the folks at Affinity Photo would export to DNG as their TIFF export will strip 99% of the usable EXIF information from panoramas. However, Capture One has one of the planets most poor support for Pentax Metadata.

Lightroom is my cup of tea; now LR Classic, the desktop focused, non-cloud version. But if and when Adobe mandates cloud storage, I’ll seek an alternative. I’ve heard good things about Luminar:
https://skylum.com/luminar

I use Photoshop and Lightroom. I started with version 1 of Photoshop and have always just had to learn the changes with each version. I actually routinely use a lot of the features, although it is true that no one uses all of them. A lot of features are useful if you know they exist. I think using the program over almost 30 years, and teaching Photoshop for a while, I have been able to be really at home with it. I would hate to have to learn it from scratch. At my age, it would probably be impossible.

I also use LR, but mainly for cataloging. My LR file structure matched the file structure on my hard drive. After putting in keywords for over 150,000 photos, one day my file folders were scrambled and no longer in the same place in LR that they were on my hard drive, and when I clicked on images in LR the file was no longer linked.Interestingly, and to my surprise, there is no fix for this. Adobe isn't sure what happened, but it can only be fixed by manually relinking each individual file or folder. There are 10,000 or so. I couldn't use my backup either as substituting me back up did not help. So, I am not too happy with LR classic.

Better to know 10% of what Photoshop can do than 100% of a program that can't do 10% of what you need it to do!

For me, the pendulum swings decidedly in favor of Photoshop when preparing digital images for the highest quality print output!

cheers,
Mark
http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com

I have been using Photoshop since version 4 and was very lucky to attend weekly, free, online training courses by Scott Kelby.
I later joined LR in its various versions but I mainly liked it for its database photo filing system.
A few months ago, after many years of being an Adobe customer I decided there was no point to continue paying the 12,19 Euro monthly subscription for the little use I made and started looking around for a substitute of their products.
I still have to find a good, stable app, with an affordable cost for the one who needs to edit an average of only 100 photo a month and catalogue about 3000 of them a year.

Having used Affinity Photo now for several weeks, I find it does pretty well all that I ask of it, with a little bit of help from the reassuring voice in the tutorial (& an occasional relapse to PS CS6).
The worst bit is the cost of the accompanying book, which, when shipping is counted in, almost doubles the price!
And no apparent alternatives to the official book yet seen on Amazon.

Note that the world's biggest software university, lynda.com, offers 6 hours of Affinity Photo training that can be accessed along with thousands of other tutorials for $30/month (no multi-month commitment, and lynda.com is actually free for the first month).

Lynda.com also has a five-minute video that anyone can watch for free that compares Affinity Photo to Photoshop.

Been with Corel's Aftershot Pro and Paintshop Pro for quite a few years now and quite frankly, I don't miss Adobe's image software one bit - pun intended! ;)
Not only is Corel's much, much cheaper than Adobe's and others, it also gets updated frequently and is incredibly powerful without needing a super computer to run.

Long timer reader of TOP but rarely comment. I too never took to Photoshop or. Lightroom. I used to use Apple;s Aperture and liked it a lot. Photos is not quite Aperture, but it does have basic editing. I have Affinity Photo and used it pretty intensively, but not to the point where I really mastered it. I do think it’s pretty good. My current favorite program is Luminar from Skylum Software. It’s quick and easy to learn, contains numerous presets and good online support. It’s currently on sale for $49 and soon will also include DAM. I’m not a photo editing expert by any means, but Luminar works well for the type of edits I make, and certainly has much greater capabilities.

One of the antagonistic observations of Photoshop is that it inhibits the realization of full artistic vision by putting forth obstacles of complexity, counter intuitiveness, and frustration. I've found that I simply don't have the time or desire to learn and fully understand the sometimes voodoo type magic required to achieve even intermediate, much less advanced processing techniques that are required to create complex images. I've therefore chosen to create images which can mostly be accomplished in Lightroom, with only occasional trips to Photoshop for a few specific tasks such as removing unwanted items, stretching an image to fit a given aspect ratio, etc. Doing so means that I accept the limitations placed upon myself due to my relationship with Photoshop. I'm somewhat okay with this, as there are still many unrealized images for which I have ideas but have not yet completed. Not sure this is an ideal mindset to have as an artist, but maybe it's sufficient to being a photographer. Besides, AI may possibly override the need to have such extensive Photoshop knowledge in a few years. Why spend time learning to repair steam engines when the internal combustion......uh, electric car is right around the corner.

About remembering faces and forgetting names.

A few years back I ran into a woman in the street. Her face looked extremely familiar but I couldn’t place it, and I could tell the same happened to her about me.
We talk about every-day trivialities (you know, trying to get some information, who are you??).
She told me she had recently moved to a new apartment, gave me the new telephone number and kindly invited me over to have dinner with some other friends.
We all spend a lovely evening and, as I went home that night, I tried as hard as I could to remember where we first met and I failed miserably.

A few weeks later, as I was reaching for the elevator at work, We saw each other again: she worked for another company in the same building.
We’ve been spending time together in the elevator without even noticing each other, but evidently there was a small jpeg file embedded on the back of our brains.

We’ve been friends since that day.

I think Speed is on the right track, but overestimates how much of programs most of us use by 5 to 10 times - 1-2% is probably about right. And I think Adobe is even more evil than MS. I refused the subscription extortion, keep an old version of PS Elements to convert jpgs for the web since it does the best job of compresing files for the web. For photos, I use Apple's Photos which, after the demise of their editing program does enough for me.
Disclosure: I'm an outlier on this group, shoot jpgs for the web or my books mostly and send printing out to services ( greatly reducing frustration).

I'm surprised you don't get on with the LIghtroom interface. For me it feels most like traditional darkroom techniques - intuitive dodging and burning with the local adjustment brush for example or the graduated filter.

Mike, Charlie Cramer's workshops here in the South Bay (Santa Clara) would be perfect for you. http://www.charlescramer.com/classes.html
I've taken one, there's tons of exercises, and he basically teaches you what to really focus on when using Photoshop (curves are very important). In these dark Mojave times, I can hear Charlie's admonition to set the entire area around your image white when you are editing. Not black, not gray. Plus if you are really lucky he can play for you.
I learned how to love Photoshop again. BTW, didn't like Affinity Designer's UI at all. Yes, smart app still.

/mike

Why do we need videos to learn how to work on still images?

When I needed to do something quickly I used to open Photoshop Elements. Simple easy interface. Now I mostly use Lighroom though I have subscribed to the whole package via annual subscriotion

I'm very happy with Acorn for the little image manipulation I do, but what I really want is a better image catalogue. I used to use iView Media Pro and have found nothing to replace it.

Mike,

You raise a great topic. Being a Mac user I was also an Aperture user and happy enough with that program. Then Apple killed off Aperture so I moved to Lightroom, then Adobe made Lightroom a a monthly subscription which just added to my general dislike of Lightroom (any software that you need to read several books on using is a failure to me regardless of how powerful it may be). Plus being an amateur/hobbyist photographer I refuse to pay Adobe's monthly fee.

So I tried DXO's program, then bought Affinity Pro, and just recently bought Skylum while attending the PhotoPlus exhibition.

While traveling I use Snapseed and love its features and simplicity (their perspective correction tool is an excellent example of how simple complex things should be); as an editing tool it is really all I need, (sadly years ago they killed off Snapseed desktop version). And although Google monkeys with the interface for Snapseed I have never had to read a manual on how to use it, which is how it should be.

Unfortunately Lightroom has it covered database wise with all other competitors I have tried severely lacking in this area. I am seriously hoping that Skylum with their soon to be released database will be the one, and that desktop software happiness will be restored.

I will second the recommendation of getting a bit of formal education on today's complex software. What a good instructor usually does is provide an overview of the architecture--- the how the application is set up, and how it works, and what it is doing.
I have found that if I understand, in at least broad strokes, how software works and what it is doing, it is then much easier to proceed on my own.
Kelby One, & Lynda.com both have some fine instructors that you can watch at your own pace on your iPad set up right next to your editing machine.
Complexity unfortunately goes along with versatility and power in software. Knowing this, the newest crop of 'editors' are heavily preset based because most people want that.
But if you like to control each step -especially if you tend not to make large changes, I at least am more comfortable working with an application that works that way.
That also means you buy a more powerful application than you need in order to use the "10%" that you want.

"Frank McLaughlin, who was in charge of the Dye Transfer department at Kodak for many years, once famously said that one lifetime wasn't long enough to master both photography and dye transfer."

Is Ctein the exception that proves this rule?

The benefit of AP is that it is designed from the ground up for photography rather than a graphic arts program as PS.

Eg. Want to do frequency separation, built in, no need to download actions or make all the layers yourself. Same with Fourier Transform filter to remove scanning artifacts.

Live filters show you what they are doing on the whole image in real time.

The inpainting brush (content aware fill) is worth the asking price as a standalone app.

Worth taking a look at and use Serifs YouTube channel to get you up to speed.

When you look at AP you will understand why Adobe went to the rental model. AP is app priced, there is no way you can sell a pixel editor for $800.

Personally, if you like easy, download the trial of DXO-PL 2 and give that a look. It is only a raw converter with local adjustments but it does have NIK Upoint technology. The basic raw conversion is highly automated and gives extremely good results with minimum user interaction. You get a technically correct image which you can then tweak with Upoint technology.

Pair it with AP fir pixel edits. Doesn't work for Fuji files unfortunately.

Ian

My experience with Photoshop started with version 2.5 back in 1993 when I joined the photography staff of my college newspaper. I was given what amounts to no instruction other than “Click here, drop this menu down, click here … move this slider around till it looks good and save the file in this folder”. Everything else was figured out by just poking about.

Even then the program would do more than we needed and with new version it just got bigger, more powerful and needlessly complicated. It quickly became more of a program for illustration than simply editing and manipulating photos. Once we hit the original CS, (version 8) and there was now a solid raw converter built in, I figured that as photographers we were set. However, it continued to bloat and add in features that seemed fantastical but were in the category of “Hmm ... interesting, but who really needs that?”.

I thought that Lightroom would be a great option as it was designed as a do all tool for photographers but the cataloging, image browsing and lack of other functions that I rely on were either clunky or nonexistent. So I kept using Photoshop for image processing and PhotoMechanic for image ingest, selection and IPTC captioning. The only reason that I’ve kept updating Photoshop at all is the raw converter. Otherwise I would be still happy with what they gave me ten years ago.

Give me a raw converter (ACR) that I can pay to upgrade, along with adjustment layers, blending options, batch processing, actions, healing/clone tool and that text creation options of any recent version and I’m in. If I even touch 1% of what that program can do I’d be shocked, but it does what I need and I can quickly make things happen.

I have used Affinity and like it. But two things bother me: it is only color-managed on the primary display, and my system is set up with the high-end monitor as the second display. And it somehow loses resolution when it prints. I made comparison prints with my old version of Photoshop (CS5.1) and the difference was subtle but noticeable. These were 50mp Pentax 645z files printed at 8x10–they had enough detail to please even Ctein. But what really bugged me was that they could not explain it, and acted like they didn’t believe it, even though I provided high-resolution scans of the prints. They did try, but I sensed that I was talking to someone whose connection with the actual programmers was tenuous—there were controls they could not explain to me.

I have also tried On1 and DxO Photolab, each of which have strengths and weaknesses. Printing with real color precision seems to be difficult, though, and I still use Photoshop for that. I probably use Photolab the most. Like you, I don’t use Lightroom—but I did just buy an old version of LR 6 (standalone) that I have not yet installed.

I'm another Affinity Photo user, but only occasionally, so I too have to go back to videos and tutorials quite a lot. I do have Elements, but for some strange reason I have a strong aversion to Adobe, and to subscriptions, so I haven't wanted to use it.

I also have some sort of mental block when it comes to layers. All the tutorials seem to assume you know what they're for and why, but I just don't get it. That's definitely a problem for PS and its lookalikes!

I've been using Aperture for about 5 years. I was massively annoyed with Apple when they discontinued development, but I decided that there was no real rush to abandon it, and I still use it today. I'm holding off from Mojave for a while, and suspect that Aperture's days are numbered with current Mac OS versions. I've been wondering whether to start using a new editor from the New Year, while Aperture still works. Lightroom looks horrible in comparison. I've heard good things and Capture One Pro, but it's quite expensive, and it's introduced layers, which worries me. Been looking at reviews of Luminar, but it seems that's a rather different beast.

Photoshop is a behemoth but learning its intricacies is only half the battle. Being able to see what needs to be adjusted and then being able to make that adjustment to match your visualization is the real challenge.

Usually what happens is you pull sliders and things look "better" but more often than not you lose your focus and something else in the picture looks worse. Or sometimes "better" was just more contrasty or more saturated and it fooled you. In audio, by way of comparison, louder always sounds better and so it is very easy for your ears to be fooled. Same with images and certain controls.

This is made worse by the many Photoshop "tricks." They often don't take into account the specifics of your image and, for others, unless you do them everyday you forget the sequence. And who wants to spend hours everyday in Photoshop?

Of course answering that question seriously depends on your goals. Deeper post-processing, when mastered, can lead to greater originality. Accepting the look out of camera gives you more headspace to focus on making pictures at the cost of losing some originality or "style."

Attempting to accomplish both? Had we but world enough and time.

I've been trying out Luminar from Skylum for a year or so. Pretty useful and intuitive, once you learn some basics.

These days, though, I like Lightroom CC (not Lightroom CC Classic) more and more. I find the use of sliders pretty intuitive now. The very first iteration was terrible. I bought Luminar at the time thinking of abandoning Lightroom CC/Photoshop.

The big thing I don't like about LR CC is that YOU CAN'T PRINT FROM IT! You have to open Photoshop to print. You can "share" any number of ways, but alas, a making physical print is not "sharing". But taking an image from LR to PS and back is easy now. Luminar, btw, can be set up as a LR plug in.

Affinity is too complex as well.

I like Lightroom because "automatic" corrections based on Artificial Intelligence (Adobe calls it "sensei" algorithms) save me a lot of time.

The best replication of LR functionality, an better in many ways, is Luminar. The "tools" and "workspaces" philosophy and AI based tools are wonderful.

It is not expensive either.

When learning new stuff that I tell myself is too difficult, I find that if I stick with it, there eventually comes an "aha" moment. For me it was in a class with John Paul Caponigro. I watched his manipulations on a projector screen and a few things slid into place that made an enormous difference. And the stuff that cut through the veil of ignorance had little to do with enhancing photos per se. The things that clicked were; Selection, Layers, and Masking.

When the snow is piling up outside I often spend time looking at the extremes that people go to when manipulating a photo with PS. It inspires me to think beyond my own constraints. While I don't suggest it's a style either one of us would embrace, it does showcase the power of PS and has real applications in a more subdued way when I edit my own stuff. One example (there are 1,000s): https://www.psdbox.com/tutorials/create-fantasy-manipulation-light-effects-photoshop

You need a few good Lightroom video tutorials to get up to speed but it's an excellent program once you do. Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe did some good Lightroom videos on Luminous Landscape which are probably still relevant. It's how I learned the basics.

I wouldn't expect anyone with photoshop experience to have trouble with the Affinity interface -- it's not quite a clone, but near enough to figure out.

The nice think about Affinity is that it is still at a stage where the dev team is somewhat responsive to user feedback and feature requests; if you look at their forums you will come across quite a few features requested and actually implemented!

I can't imagine how much clout you would need to make something like this happen at Adobe.

I’m happy enough with Photoshop. By the time one of my photos makes it there, most of the magic has already been done, in Lightroom or Capture One, so my needs are usually minimal (Mr. 28mm sometimes needs to remove his own shadow, or couldn’t fine an angle that left the overhead cable out, and always wants to add a frame and watermark), but anything more complex is infinitely Googlable. The only real bane of my life, in Photoshop, is selections....

Mike,
do yourself a favour and persist with Lightroom for a while. It's simpler and more efficient for the task of turning your raw photos into output.
I was like you, used PS since the early 90s and did everything in it. Lightroom was a big puzzle at first, but I persisted with it from 2010 and now I struggle to take a raw file and complete it in PS.
I do all the global adjustments in Lightroom, straighten and crop, white balance, exposure, contast, shadows lighlights, etc. It is easier and more intuitive to do this in Lightroom compared to PS.
Then I export a tif from Lightroom.
I open that tif in PS and do local editing, dodge and burn, mid-tone curve lift, clone out dust/dirt/etc, and any other local adjustment I find required for a particular file.
That is saved as a master tif.
Then I down size, convert to 8 bit, convert to sRGB, and sharpen for web output, and save as a jpg.

I do my printing from PS too, open master file, resize to fit intended print size, sharpen and print.

I have the Adobe Photography CC subscription bundle (which started at $10 per month). It's good value for me and gives me the PS and LR I need.

Really give LR CC Classic a try, it might change your photography life, and it certainly strips away the excess complexity of PS (so much of it isn't for photographers). Lots of people complete their editing solely in LR, but I continue with PS for final editing and output.

I manage a studio of PS artists and have used both for decades. I even taught PS at ICP & FIT for a while. ACR and LR are EXACTLY the same thing, but LR has a bit more intuitive interface, and has built in lot of organizational tools useful to the solo operator. If you're only working on your own photos and only intend to make each photo pretty, it's terrific. I use it when I take my heavy camera on vacation. (I generally just chase my kids around with an iPhone most days). PS has the edge for non-destructive layers and iterative surgical intervention. I know a lot of digital techs who prefer Capture1 or PhotoMechanic at the point of capture, but nothing compares to PS in the hands of a professional artist. It has a very steep learning curve, and honestly, some of my best artists don't think of it as photo-retouching anymore, they just see a big pixel calculator; they see the Matrix, not the photo.

Echoing the comment by Speed, I doubt that there's anyone alive who understands everything in Photoshop (PS), even Adobe employees. Most of us only understand and use a tiny proportion. But what's so unusual about that? Isn't it also true for Word and Excel and many other programs?

What is a little unusual about PS is that there are many ways to do the same thing. As I read somewhere, as Adobe introduced newer and better ways of doing things, they left in the older legacy ways to keep everyone happy. It's this multiple options nature of PS that can seem confusing.

The problem is compounded by many of the books on PS, which are nothing more than expanded manuals. What you need to get the most out of PS is a book that tells you as a photographer what it is that you want PS to do for you and how to get it to do that. How to use PS as a tool to do what you need. There was such a book - Real World Photoshop by the late, great Bruce Fraser, and David Blatner. That's how I learnt what I needed to know. But the last version that I'm aware of was for the first CS edition of PS. I'm not sure that there's been an update since Bruce's passing and I don't know if there is an up-to-date alternative that does the same thing.

I suppose it's because I used to be an engineer but I really don't see what all this moaning about Photoshop is about. It is as complicated as you want to make it. Just start with the basics. There are tutorials on the web for anything you want to do and because it is so comprehensive you will never be stuck with a tool that cannot do what you want. Lightroom has an easy to understand development module but the DAM aspect of it takes some getting used to. However, once you master it you won't want anything else.

I switched from PS to affinity when affinity was launched and since then upgraded to the latest version. Absolutely delighted and the change over is easy. Affinity customer service is top class. Send a mail with yr question and u get a reply next day. I have no use for cloud storage or cloud based software where I pay monthly fee. Affinity on the Mac does everything I want and easily. More recently I tried Hasselblad Phocus, a free software wth Raw converter that works on the Mac for several cameras. Also the recently launched capture express for Fuji another free software. With these options the user has choice and all three work well. The interesting thing with capture for Fuji is that you don’t need to use catalogue (a concept I never understood) and can instead use sessions where u just select the file u want to work on.. Btw all 3 software’s work well on a MacBook Air with 8 gb ram. I am a Fuji mirrorless user.

I have re-read your post and thought some more about your requirements. On reflection a program that would fit with your needs / way of working would be ON1Photo Raw.

ON1 is absolutely photo focused. For example if you apply a filter it puts a mask on automatically and offers the option to paint in or out the effect. Its way of working is intuitive. Want to enhance fall colours just add the fall colours filter and back off the opacity to taste.

I appreciate that you are very busy managing your many staffers in the TOP empire, but take a look at this video and you might like the approach. Unlike AP it is very much NOT PS :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=238&v=nM-xNdl5a98

Happy processing.

Ian

I was using RSE(?) years ago and then Lightroom came out. Tried it and hated the layout too, especially the need to import. I then moved to Capture One which I really liked, but when I switched to a Mac, I had used the last of my free changes, so instead of buying Mac Capture One, I bought LR 2, then 3, then 4. I had used Photoshop ion the past but never enough to justify or truly learn it.

I tried Affinity last year, but did not buy it as I didn't think I would use it enough, especially since I had been playing with the new version of Capture one as a trial. Still can't beat Capture One for me. I began to save my pennies to buy C1 Pro.

So imagine my surprise when Stanleyk shared the link to the Fuji specific simplified version. Thought I was in heaven, at least for my Fuji Raws. But then---I am an evil man---on the very first Fuji XE1 file I tried on it, I very clearly saw the "squigglies" for only the second time. Plus I saw some bad moire. Does this mean that Capture One is not any better for Fuji files than Lightroom 4? Or does the existence of moire, which X-trans supposedly eliminates, mean X-trans has no magic? Like Fish on Ally McBeal, I am all befuddled about this.

One little point that I probably need not add: Lightroom is non-destructive. You adjust as much as you want without commitment. You can revert the raw to back to original at any time. You can also turn off any adjustments that you have made to check the image. No, it does not have layers, or the preciseness of adjusting with layers, but you still have the limited ability to paint or select areas for adjustment.

Yes, Photoshop can do much more, but do you really need what it can do? Some may, but most probably don't.

(If you want to remove that telephone pole from your aunt's head before she sees it and slaps you around a bit, you'd be better off with Photoshop. Attempting something like that is enough to ruin your mental health.)

I bought Photoshop in 1993, when version 2.5 for Windows was finally available.

Since then I've retouched thousands of images, created hundreds of logos and graphics, and would humbly consider myself an Intermediate User of Photoshop.

Some diligence is required; and as many say, there are always six ways to do something in Photoshop, and they sometimes change them. And I still complain loudly about Adobe removing the Palette Well several years ago.

That said, Photoshop (particularly Camera Raw -- and the little known Camera Raw Filter) and Bridge serve all my needs. I have Lightroom. I think I even opened it once or twice. But I never use it.

For all the messing about with the interface and tool shortcuts ... they continue to add wondrous things, like the new Select Subject capability. Or Context Aware ... Everything.

Photoshop is what I use to design websites, and I'm sure some new tech will be invented in a few years. And Photoshop will be perfect for it. But your mileage may vary. And that's ok.

I use Rawtherapee ( opensource and free ) for RAW file processing and Digikam (also opensource and free) for minor adjustment. Digikam is similar to LR - act as my photo library. But I guess if you earn your living as photographer PS knowledge may be necessary. Unfortunately these 2 software work better in Linux environment.

I used Photoshop (or, rather, about ten percent of Photoshop) and Adobe Bridge for a long time, but never Lightroom until a few years ago when I finally bought a copy. I despised it. The interface wasn't at all intuitive, and I felt like it kept telling me how to work, rather than me telling it.

At about the same time as Lightroom, I tried Phase One CaptureOne, and the contrast was marked. The interface seemed pretty intuitive, and adaptable to my way of working, and I liked the results.

Then, thanks to seeing it on here, I tried Affinity. I was pretty doubtful about it at first -- many are the flaky also-rans of Photoshop, PS on a budget -- but I very soon saw that this is a solid program. It works as it should, it's totally intuitive, it does everything thing I want, nothing I don't want, and when they change it they only improve what I thought couldn't be improved. Best of all, the price is reasonable. In fact, I'd call Affinity a true bargain. Probably the best piece of photo software I've ever used.

I know I am late to the the party. I think Capture One gives you sharper jpegs, I guess the sharpening algorithm is better than lightrooms. I use Capture One for all my personal images, but when I have to batch process many images I use LR.

I too used Aperture but got burned twice; once when I had externally reference photos (organized in folders on my hard drive) and and once by having my photos stored "inside" the app; each time Aperture eventually lost the links connecting the catalog to my photos.

Since then, I will only consider a photo app that allows me to organize my photos in folders on my hard drive and does NOT depend on a catalog (database) to function.

My program of choice is now AlienSkin Exposure. It is a non-destructive editor that stores all the edits in small xml files in a subfolder within the photo files folder. This allows you to go back to a photo and continue editing or to revert to the original (always) untouched original file. It is fast to search by keywords, color labels, star ratings, camera make & model and lens. Its metadata doesn't have all the fields in Photo Mechanic, so I use Photo Mechanic as a front end to add my metadata and then use AlienSkin Exposure as my culling, post-processing program.

There are lots of short video tutorials available for AlienSkin Exposure with more being added.

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