Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Photographic necessities

Coming back to serious photography entails some additional expenses. Foremost being the latest version of Photoshop Lightroom, at the moment version 4. I spent quite some time testing raw-conversion and image database software some years ago. GIMP was fun but useless, not because it is impossible to do the stuff you want to do but because it is so complicated. Capture One was sleek and very nice, but head and shoulders above the rest was Lightroom, version 2 at that time. Subsequently I have also tested the combination of Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. Lightroom is based on Camera Raw so the difference shouldn't be that big, but it is. Lightroom is much more focused a on photographic workflow, while ACR and PS are supposed to be able to do everything from science to design.
Previously there were some things you had to go to Photoshop to do well, or at all. Keystone-correction was one of them. Now it is available under "Lens Correction" if you change from "Profile" to "Manual." I find it makes almost any picture look better, the background becomes less intrusive if it is rectilinear, and you just get the feeling of technical quality. For pictures such as the first one, it is absolutely necessary. Either you shoot it with perfect alignment, or you correct it. With sloping verticals it doesn't work at all. In the second it is not as important, but I think it improves the feeling that the image was made with precision.
For the last one it is maybe the most important. Either it is a snap-shot with some toys and a dog, or it is a well-aligned architectural photograph that uses the toys to lead into the image where the dog is. I find it makes all the difference. These are images that you would otherwise need a tripod and a tilt/shift capable camera for, and really quick too, if you wanted the boxer where she is.

So, how did I find this out? This is the second photographic necessity, I would argue, for all serious photographers. At least if you don't have an imp employee who does post-capture for you. You go to the Luminous-Landscape, click on "store" and buy their Lightroom 4 tutorial. With intro if you haven't used it before, without if you just haven't used version 4. It is the best instruction to be had for money. Well person-to-person teaching might reach the same level, but arguably not in the evening after the family has gone to bed, which is when I have time. Buying Lightroom without the tutorial is like buying a car without a key.

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