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    Suede's Avatar
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    Advice sought...

    I'm sure this must have come up here a zillion times in the past but I remain unclear about post processing: as in where to start, and so many of the terms and abbreviations used here so often. So, please bear with me...

    I'm new to digital photography and seek to learn how to post process as a serious amateur hobbyist photographer.

    At the moment, I use iPhoto which came installed with the Macbook Pro to make adjustments.

    Now there's information out there that suggests Photoshop CS5 is the mother of all photo editing programs available at this time. Is this one composite program that will do ALL I need to do in post processing? (Yes, it's expensive!) If so, what, then, do programs like Elements, Bridge, Lightroom, DxO Pro, etc. do? Also Aperture 3? I seem to understand that some processing (perhaps just processing of RAW files..?) is done in one of these programs and then they are exported to Photoshop to do something further... Is this correct? If yes, then what does Photoshop do further?

    What does ACR (often used here) mean?

    Thanks in advance for any light shed on any/all of the above obscurity.

    I've been shooting film till very recently and have been reasonably happy with my results. This digital world is a whole new challenge as my pictures appear to be poorer now!

    All inputs greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Advice sought...

    Hi Pritam and welcome to CiC!

    Yes, it can be a bit overwhelming when you first get into it.

    ACR stands for Adobe Camera RAW, the RAW image editor that's bundled with Adobe Photoshop. For most of the Photography Acronyms you'll run into, here is a list with a brief description of each. http://photography-on-the.net/forum/...d.php?t=261117

    Many folks use Adobe Lightroom to manage large volumes of digital images and to do most, if not all global post processing of their images as it is extremely capeable and has the benefit of being non-destructive. That is, all changes are kept separate from the original image and applied when the image is viewed therefore can be changed or deleted at will. Global changes are adjustments that are made to the entire image like, brightness, contrast, color balance, vibrance, etc. There are many such 'global' post processing applications available.

    To make specific changes to a selected area of an image, the most popular post processing application is Photoshop. Photoshop can make global changes as well, but the changes are made directly to the image so unless you make backup copies as you go along you can't easily undo all of the changes.

    Photoshop seems to be the most widely used but it probably the most expensive of the lot - all the way down in price to free applications such as GIMP. We have folks on the forum using just about every popular post processing application out there so I'm sure you can get lots of feedback if you are looking to evaluate and choose one.

    Elements is Photoshop's kid brother. For photographers, it has 'most' of what is needed for both global and area specific changes. Until you get to Elements 9, some of the most useful features like basic masking, are not included, but there are work-arounds available.

    Bridge comes with Photoshop and is used for viewing and selecting images. It can display RAW images, open ACR for global, non destructive changes, and open multiple images in layers with Photoshop (among other things).

    For photography, the post processing features that seem to be most in demand are (area specific) Selection, Masking, Layers, and (global) Adjustments. Many other features will be there by default to support these.

    I'm not sure I answered all your questions, but it is a start. Advice sought...
    Last edited by FrankMi; 29th September 2011 at 02:29 PM.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Photoshop CS5 is an all inclusive programme which will do everything - including emptying your wallet!

    There are a wide range of alternatives which will suit most photographers and cost around a tenth of the price, or less.

    But if money is no problem and you want the best then CS5 will offer excellent results; eventually, once you learn how to use it. However, you may well find that you don't require many of the options it offers.

    But I suppose if you end up getting 2 or 3 alternative and cheaper bits of software instead, the sum total isn't that much of a saving.

    Unfortunately, trying to advise a digital beginner about which software to use is a bit like telling you which car to drive.

    I started digital editing with some of the simple free programmes but soon wanted more. Then I tried Serif Photo Plus which suited me and I found it more user friendly than Photoshop. But the later versions are virtually copies of the Photoshop CS range, but not so comprehensive, so eventually I went for 'the real thing'.

    But there are users of many different makes of software here so whatever you get there will be someone who is willing to give advice.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Pritam...

    I have used the photoshop elements 9 and it will do masking and it has a brush which can remove unwanted items (such as power lines, rocks, small signage etc.) and refill them with texture to look as though the item was never there. It can do graduated background blurring and items can be selected for various filter applications. I think it covers the basics but is not as robust as the cs5 version ( no plumping and thinning and the like).

    I can recommend lightroom 3 for storage and retrieval, and general post processing. It is fairly intuitive and the processing stream is mostly in order of top to bottom of the work panels. As Frank mentioned it stores the image and then writes a side file with the changes you have made in LR without affecting the original. When viewed in LR and some other applications you see these changes or you can export a jpeg with the changes for viewing or further processing in other applications. I am a relatively new shooter and am using a RAW format and have had pretty good luck with these two applications. They also accept third party plug ins which will add specific features which can be useful to your particular interests.

    Hope that helps

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Photoshop can make global changes as well, but the changes are made directly to the image so unless you make backup copies as you go along you can't easily undo all of the changes.
    Hi Frank,

    I think a lot of people get a bit confused by this - thinking that LR is non-destructive, but Photoshop isn't, but that's really not the case. Assuming that one is starting from a RAW image then ACR in Photoshop can/will make the same local and global changes to the RAW file that LR does (LR actually uses the same RAW engine as ACR) - and once within Photoshop "proper" it's non-destructive too because Photoshop saves the output to a PSD / TIFF / JPEG etc, and thus leaving the original RAW file intact - thus it's also non-destructive to the original.

  6. #6
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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Frank,

    I think a lot of people get a bit confused by this - thinking that LR is non-destructive, but Photoshop isn't, but that's really not the case. Assuming that one is starting from a RAW image then ACR in Photoshop can/will make the same local and global changes to the RAW file that LR does (LR actually uses the same RAW engine as ACR) - and once within Photoshop "proper" it's non-destructive too because Photoshop saves the output to a PSD / TIFF / JPEG etc, and thus leaving the original RAW file intact - thus it's also non-destructive to the original.
    Hi Colin, I agree that the RAW file is unchanged by LR and ACR, save for the sidecar data that is applied when the file is re-opened, and any changes in the sidecar can be reversed and/or deleted.

    I may have been using improper terminology or simplified the message too much, so I’ll try to clarify what I was referring to when I said “changes are made directly to the image”. Any changes I make to the image in Photoshop proper (not ACR) can’t be saved as a RAW or DNG file so they must be saved a file format like PSD, JPEG or TIFF. I CAN’T undo these changes and go back several or more steps. If I want, I CAN reopen the RAW file and start to make changes to the original (plus sidecar changes) from scratch.

    If remember to periodically save the file with changes, I can go back to the changes made in the saved file but I can’t undo those changes. This is what I mean by changes are made ‘directly to the image’ and 'you can't easily undo all of the changes'. I am not referring to changing the original RAW image, but rather the working copy from which we get our final result.

    Additionally, within Photoshop, changes made in Adjustment Layers CAN be saved, re-opened, and modified or undone, but ONLY if the image is saved as the native Photoshop PSD without flattening (merging) the layers in the image. Unfortunately, it takes time to learn about the many features in Photoshop and it may be some time before someone new to the application learns the benefits of using Adjustment Layers.

    I hope that this is clearer and that I haven’t misspoke on any of these points.
    Last edited by FrankMi; 30th September 2011 at 09:36 PM.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Hi Frank,

    Yep - I know what you mean - I just thought it might give folks the wrong idea if they thought that Photoshop - in essence - "over-writes the originals", whereas in reality, how it works is no different to LR.

    By the way - not sure if you know this or not, but you can change the default 50 history state in Photoshop (I have mine set to 1000), although in practice - personally - I usually work on a duplicate copy of the base image if I'm doing anything risky, and "if in doubt" don't flatten when saving.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    you can change the default 50 history state in Photoshop (I have mine set to 1000), although in practice - personally - I usually work on a duplicate copy of the base image if I'm doing anything risky, and "if in doubt" don't flatten when saving.
    Great! Thanks Colin. There have been a number of times when, particularly when retouching with brush strokes, that I wipe out the history and can't go back to where I accidentallly selected the wrong layer to change. Mine was set to 20 undo's, up'ed it to 1000. I try to save my changes just before I flatten the image but that does make for a huge file some times, depending upon the number of layers I've created.
    Last edited by FrankMi; 1st October 2011 at 04:02 PM.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Great! Thanks Colin. There have been a number of times when, particularly when retouching with brush strokes, that I wipe out the history and can't go back to where I accidentallly selected the wrong layer to change. Mine was set to 20 undo's, up'ed it to 1000. I try to save my changes just befor I flatten the image but that does make for a huge file some times, depending upon the number of layers I've created.
    No worries Frank,

    Just keep in mind that it can bog some machines with less RAM down a bit.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Thank you all for the inputs. Much appreciated.

    Can somebody suggest a not-too-expensive post processing program which has the capability to correct wide angle perspective distortion? I mean the typical inward leaning of tall buildings at the top...?

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by Suede View Post
    Thank you all for the inputs. Much appreciated.

    Can somebody suggest a not-too-expensive post processing program which has the capability to correct wide angle perspective distortion? I mean the typical inward leaning of tall buildings at the top...?
    Hi Pritam,

    I'm not sure if this will help or not, but the "trick" with WA lenses (in terms of avoiding perspective distortion) is to ensure that the sensor is absolutely parallel to the surface you're photographing.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by Suede View Post
    Thank you all for the inputs. Much appreciated.

    Can somebody suggest a not-too-expensive post processing program which has the capability to correct wide angle perspective distortion? I mean the typical inward leaning of tall buildings at the top...?
    PS Elements will do it.

    I expect GIMP can (free) but I don't know for sure.

    If doing it in PP, never over do it, always, if anything slightly under correct.

    I do, whenever possible, zoom out a bit more to use a wider angle, aim lower so that the buildings are only in the top half of frame, that effectively does what Colin suggests, which avoids, or minimises, what correction is needed in PP - obviously you also need to crop off most of the bottom half of the shot too. When shooting, do remember to leave extra space around the building for the correction to be applied, or you'll lose bits.

    Some structures defy correction

    Advice sought...

    For this, I shot with the central focus point on the doorstep and cropped off the road between me and the building in lower half of frame. It needed a bit of perspective correction in PP, done with the buildings either side (and most then cropped off afterwards)

    This was done in Elements.

    Here's a slideshow link for a series of shots around Windsor and Eton taken with a 6MP bridge camera in March 2009 - as you will see, there are times when correction is futile:
    Advice sought...

    This one took a lot of careful correction, it is a huge building you cannot get far enough away from to do the previous 'trick' on.
    Advice sought...
    Even now, I don't like the way the turrets look.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 3rd October 2011 at 10:27 AM. Reason: add example pictures

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    I do, whenever possible, zoom out a bit more to use a wider angle, aim lower so that the buildings are only in the top half of frame, that effectively does what Colin suggests, which avoids, or minimises, what correction is needed in PP
    Here's a "case in point" from a commerial shoot I did last week. Shot with a 14mm lens, and with NO perspective correction. I did however invest a minute or two getting things squared up in the viewfinder ...

    Advice sought...

  14. #14
    Suede's Avatar
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    Re: Advice sought...

    Thank you Dave and Colin.

    I do try and employ the "trick" trying to keep the target part of the subject (the phenomenon usually occurs with tall buildings!) in the upper half, sort of, where possible. Sometimes there's just not enough space to back up to get it where one wants, as Dave concurs. Hence the need for editing/correction.

    Thanks, Colin, for the heads up on keeping the sensor plane parallel to the surface being photographed as far as possible. I must learn to do this 'consciously'. @Colin... BTW, how are things in sunny Nelson? I enjoyed a lot of off-road riding going up through the Rai Valley and on to Elaine Bay, Oyster Bay and French Pass a few years ago when I lived in NZ (Christchurch).

    Thanks Dave for the example photographs .... and the capability of Photoshop Elements. I take it that it is possible to purchase Elements without buying the whole Photoshop CS5 package.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by Suede View Post
    I take it that it is possible to purchase Elements without buying the whole Photoshop CS5 package.
    Yes;

    http://www.amazon.fr/Photoshop-Eleme...7642401&sr=8-1

    I am amazed it is 124 euros in France, only 63 pounds in UK and there was me thinking these days there is almost no difference between pounds, dollars and euros.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by Suede View Post
    Thank you all for the inputs. Much appreciated.

    Can somebody suggest a not-too-expensive post processing program which has the capability to correct wide angle perspective distortion? I mean the typical inward leaning of tall buildings at the top...?
    Hi Pritam,

    Here's a free one (and we all like free stuff!). Shift-N. Try http://download.cnet.com/ShiftN/3000...-10575063.html It's dead-simple to use because correcting verticals is all it does. Just open it up, load in your image, hit 'Auto-Correct' and stand back while it does it's stuff. Make sure you Save with corrections and you'll get a new file (the original is still intact) with the same name and 'shiftn' added. Open this in your normal viewer/PP software and crop as necessary.

    I find this works better than Photoshop and is certainly simpler.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by Suede View Post
    @Colin... BTW, how are things in sunny Nelson? I enjoyed a lot of off-road riding going up through the Rai Valley and on to Elaine Bay, Oyster Bay and French Pass a few years ago when I lived in NZ (Christchurch).
    Live is good here, as always

    I remember a bit of off-roading I did in that area myself a lot of years ago ... we made our way through a track after some heavy rain ... got through, but ended up at the top of a steep hill where where the 4x4 met with a powerpole (which was a good thing because the other side of the powerpole was NOT where we wanted to go!) (bullbar and winch took the brunt of it) ... and then just as I was thinking "I really don't want to go down ths steep bit), the vehicle started sliding down it.

    Gosh, that was a fun day

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by krispix View Post
    Hi Pritam,

    Here's a free one (and we all like free stuff!). Shift-N. Try http://download.cnet.com/ShiftN/3000...-10575063.html It's dead-simple to use because correcting verticals is all it does.
    Thanks for this Chris. It doesn't work for me, unfortunately. There doesn't seem to be a version available for Mac.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 6th October 2011 at 09:07 PM.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by Suede View Post
    Thanks for this Chris. It doesn't work for me, unfortunately. There doesn't seem to be a version available for Mac.
    Sorry about that.

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    Re: Advice sought...

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    By the way - not sure if you know this or not, but you can change the default 50 history state in Photoshop (I have mine set to 1000), although in practice - personally - I usually work on a duplicate copy of the base image if I'm doing anything risky, and "if in doubt" don't flatten when saving.
    Colin,

    no such thing as a dopey question here, right so how do you do this??? adjusting the history state I mean?? It certainly would have saved me a few (lots actually) frustrated moments over the last few weeks to be able to go more than 50 steps back (though I'm sure I can only go 20 steps )

    Thanks,
    Lexie

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