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Thread: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    I am just learning Photoshop Elements 9 but it seems that it does not have everything one needs. (CS4 is out of my budget at this time) Therefore, I have just downloaded a trial of Lightroom 3.2 and DX0 Optics.

    In trying out Lightroom and I enjoy the simplicity of adjusting the exposure and lighting, which it seems to fix in small increments so it is easy to see how your edits are affecting your photos.

    The DXO optics has lens corrections which are supposed to offset little glitches in your camera lens, like chromatic aberrations and purple fringing and lens softness

    Does one need all 3 programs to optimize your photos? Any recommendations as to whether lightroom or DXO optics would prove more useful to someone new to editing photos, who prefers to keep their editing quick and easy?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    No, you certainly don't need all three. Not to disparage DXO Optics--for all I know, it is great software--but I have never used it.

    If you shoot raw (yes, you should), then you need a raw conversion program. Lightroom serves that purpose (it's what I use), but your camera probably came with free software for that, e.g., Digital Photo Professional.

    Assuming you shoot raw, then you need two functions: you have to render the raw image, and you need editing. Lightroom does both, but it does not do some types of editing, in particular, selections and masks. For that, you would need another program, such as Elements, Photoshop, or Paint Shop Pro.

    What is it that Elements won't do that you want it to do? Many people find the combination of Lightroom and Elements to be perfectly adequate. I use Lightroom with Photoshop CS5, but CS5 is very expensive and a bear to learn. Also, to be honest, I very rarely need much of its capabilities. I use other software as well, but only for specialized purposes.

    Since you are already using Lightroom and Elements, I would recommend getting more expertise with both. Lightroom has become a very powerful editor, as long as you don't need selections, masks, a good clone tool, and a few other odds and ends. I do most of my editing in Lightroom and only rarely need to go to Photoshop--I'd guess, perhaps 5-10% of my images end up there. Lightroom has reasonably good tonal and contrast controls, a good sharpening tool, pretty good noise reduction, and nice hue/saturation/luminance controls. You should be able to learn a lot by practicing with it. Set Elements to be an external editor in Lightroom, and invoke it when you need it--for example, when you need to make a selection and edit only that.

    One thing to consider is that it is hard to change software packages. There is some value in sticking with one, even if it is not the easiest to learn.

    Just to make this concrete, I will post an image that was edited only in Lightroom 3.6

    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

  3. #3
    rtbaum's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Ditto what Dan recommends. I started on CS4, and found it very intensive. I bought Lightroom and have fallen in love with its intuitive adjustments. I think it is capable of processing pretty much 99% of the shots I have taken; enough, anyway, to impress friends and relatives. It has also served to ease me into the learning curve for CS4. You may wish to follow the same path.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Dear Dan,
    Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed reply, and for posting a stunning photo to make your point.

    Currently, I only have Photoshop Elements 9. However, I recently downloaded the trial versions of Light room and DX0, because I have the opportunity to photograph a lot of beautiful birds including magpie jays, parrotlets and black bellied whistling ducks. They typically fly during low light conditions, and/or if I'm lucky against a bright blue sky. And when I use the smallest aperature ie; 5.6 in order to obtain the most light and fastest shutter speed I am experiencing purple/blue lines around the edges of my birds which it appears that DX0 can fix to some extent. If I shoot the birds at a larger aperture, say 8-10, the birds are blurry and the photos are too dark. I've tried this in manual setting, shutter speed priority, aperture priority, sports mode and program mode... The best results are with Aperture priority but they make my birds purple. See below for an example.

    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    I do shoot my photos in raw and jpeg. I typically use elements to correct my white balance, adjust exposure and lighting, play around with colour curves and levels to see what they do, convert to black and white to see what it looks like, and clone out a lot of dust spots. I am most comfortable with Picasa but I have come to realize that learning to edit my photos will improve them. Hence, I don't know any one editing program well.

    On first impression Lightroom seems complicated but I do like the small adjustments you can make in lighting and exposure, and that is all I really know about it so far. I downloaded the DOX program on a recommendation from another photographer who fixed the purple fringing in one of my duck photos, so I tried to do the same to see if I could fix the purple fringing, quickly, and indeed it seemed to work well even with a novice attempt.

    So my first thought was do I need to buy and learn all these programs... If I could fix the purple fringing in either elements or lightroom without spending hours trying to draw a line around all those bird wings, that would be wonderful.

    Thank you.

  5. #5
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Thank you. Great to know.

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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Did you try correcting the fringing in LR? LR4 just added the ability to correct loCA, which is what you've got.

    http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjour...-controls.html

    Of course, there is a reason I refer to the Lightroom free trial as "Adobe's gateway drug."
    Last edited by inkista; 9th June 2012 at 01:09 AM.

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    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Lightroom can do 99% of what you need to do (or should do) to photos. Elements would round out the rest nicely.

    Personally, I think the worst thing in photography is the tendency to "overprocess" or "shop" pictures. I think most people lose the ability to draw the line between just right and too much after staring at the image on their monitors for very long. Then you just get freaky weird photos. I think getting more familiar with Lightroom (Google online Lightroom 3 videos free) will be an almost miraculous improvement for you.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    I'm not a great fan of Lightroom other than when I have to catalogue and process a significant number of similarly exposed images. It's also a great culling tool that I use to classify my images. I virtually always jump directly into ACR and Photoshop. I guess I developed my workflow with CS, and because this software predates Lightroom I learned things the hard way.

    DxO is a great piece of software, but I only use it to process my best images. It takes care of lens softness, vignetting and distortion, but is simply too much work for anything other than a few images. I will usually run the image through DxO and if if looks better (not always the case), I will use it. Otherwise I stick with ACR.
    Last edited by Manfred M; 9th June 2012 at 02:33 PM. Reason: Corrected typo

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Thank you for the link. No I have not tried because the trial download is for lightroom 3.2 but if purchase it I expect I would receive the later version, so great to know. Thank you.

  10. #10
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Christina,

    Yup, you are experiencing purple fringing. It's often particularly severe when shooting high-contrast scenes with a large aperture, as you are doing. The link that Kathy suggested is the one I was going to suggest as well. It explains how to correct this in the newest version of LR, and it also gives a very brief introduction to the general problem of chromatic aberration (CA). You might also find it useful to read Wikipedia's explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_fringing

    I don't know what you are shooting with, but one alternative is to increase ISO in order to shut down the lens a bit while keeping the shutter speed unchanged. It will increase noise in the image, but if the noise is modest, you can correct it (although with some loss of detail). My own camera starts getting visibly noisy at ISO 400 and annoyingly so at 800, but many newer cameras can go higher without producing a great deal of noise.

    Dan
    Last edited by DanK; 9th June 2012 at 02:19 PM.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Thank you Dan. Very helpful.

    I have a Sony DSLR 200 and also a Nikon 80, and typically when I shoot at or above iso 800 the noise is too, much. At least in the case of the ducks.

    Thank you everyone for your helpful advice.

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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Christina:

    I also use Lightroom (version 4.1), and find it very powerful and useful (not as powerful as CS, but perhaps easier to use).

    Lightroom will also do lens corrections - I don't know if it will correct for lenses that aren't of the same manufacture as the camera body, but LR recognizes all my (Canon) lenses and there is an (optional) correction for all of them. In particular, the 24-105 has some barrel distortion at wider angles, and the change on screen can be seen when the adjustment is applied.

    I use LR to remove small specks of dirt (pollen) from flower closeup shots - very quick and easy. It can also be used to remove freckles (this would be very time consuming) or other blemishes, including red-eye.

    I have Photoshop Elements, but find that I can do more and more with each new release of LR, and very seldom us PSE. I use a focus stacking software far more often.

    Glenn

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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina Stobbs View Post
    Thank you Dan. Very helpful.

    I have a Sony DSLR 200 and also a Nikon 80, and typically when I shoot at or above iso 800 the noise is too, much. At least in the case of the ducks.

    Thank you everyone for your helpful advice.
    Geese are even noisier.

    Glenn

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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    From a purely personal position, Christina, as far as I'm aware Lightroom (even the latest version) can't do layers and masks. Therefore it wouldn't be any use for 90% of my editing.

    But I did recently see, on another CinC post, that there appears to be a third party plug in which can overcome this problem. However, I have no personal knowledge of using it.

    A friend, recently purchased Elements 10 and finds it does everything he needs including the ACR Raw converter.

    Prior to CS5 I used Serif Photo Plus version X3 which also coped reasonably well with most of what I needed; except I preferred to use a third party Raw converter (Raw Therapee). But although I found this version to be reasonably user friendly, I wasn't so happy with the more recent Photo Plus X4, hence my change to CS5.

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    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    If you have purple ducks where you live (or if you were willing to relocate to a place where the ducks are purple) then you could always specialize in purple duck shots, thus negating the purple fringing.

  16. #16

    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    One of the unfortunate issues photographers have today when starting out in the digital world is the availability of a mind-boggling choice of software programs to "fix" all the shortcomings created in the initial image capture process. Learning how to capture images that are stellar was the starting place for photographers when Plus X, Tri X, Kodachrome and Velvia were the prime choices of recording medium. It is still true today. If you do not learn the basic concepts of photography and become intimately familiar with all the capabilities and functions of your camera you may never be able to capture images you or your peers feel are stellar. The idea of getting a picture and being able to fix all the problems with the picture by buying LR, CS6, DxO, etc., etc., will see you spending hours and hours in front of your computer rather than behind your camera. Like todays software programs, todays digital cameras have capabilities not even in our wildest imaginations when Kodachrome was king. The cameras, the lenses, the software are but tools used to create what you envision in you mind. Starting with the basics of photography and building on a solid foundation of the use of the camera the lenses will give you an understanding why you may see undesirable effects like the color aberrations mentioned so you can do things in the field with your camera, lens, etc., etc., to avoid, minimize or even prevent undesirable effects from occurring. It is a struggle all photographers deal with, we would all like to spend our time behind our cameras not in front of our computers. The better you become at image capture, the less time you will have to spend in front of your computer. I do everything I can NOT to use Lightroom 4 and CS6 for image manipulation, but when I want it for a particualr effect, it is there.

  17. #17
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    I am about to give up on getting a good shot of these Black Bellied Whistling Ducks.

    However, I would like to ask if anyone out there would be inclined and have the time to take one of these shots in Lightroom and see if they can be saved or even made to look half decent...

    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    At 1S0 640-800
    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    I tried, with no success...

    Aperture Priority F6 Shutter Speed 100 ISO 250
    Last edited by Brownbear; 9th June 2012 at 08:44 PM.

  18. #18
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Thank you Geoff. I do have photoshop elements 9. What does one need/use masks for?

  19. #19
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Following are my attempts to improve the duck photos using lightroom 3.2 (auto tone, increase exposure and orange filter to tone down the purple fringing), and then elements 9 (to lighten shadows on the first photo)

    Is there someone out there who is experienced using lightroom that would be willing to take the time to edit one of the duck photos that I have posted. I would like to see how much an experienced person can do with lightroom to improve a poor photo. Thank you.

    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

  20. #20
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Editing Programs for Beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina Stobbs View Post
    I do have photoshop elements 9. What does one need/use masks for?
    Hi Christina, Layers and Masks give you the ability to be very precise about making adjustments to a specific part of an image, usually (but not necessarily) identified by a selection tool. The changes made could be to the focus, color, contrast, - virtually any global adjustment you can think of. In addition, you can blend parts of multiple images into a single image or completely replace part of an image, for example, replacing a cloudless grey sky with one from a second image that has more definition to it.

    In the following example I blending three different images taken at different exposure values to get the final result.

    Project 52 by Frank Miller

    In fact, many of the images in this thread would not have been possible without the use of masks. In many of the images, I provided the details of exactly how the masks were used and some of the images show the masks in use to get the final result from the original image.

    Photoshop Elements provides Adjustment Layers that contain Masks and there are third-party add-inís available to apply masks directly to an image layer as it is done in Photoshop. Hope this helps!

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