No Adobe product was used to process this photo

Adobe House, Institue of Texan Cultures - San Antonio, Texas

Adobe House, Institue of Texan Cultures – San Antonio, Texas

I had to chuckle at the recent furor over Adobe’s new Photoshop pricing model. You see, I use no Adobe products at all to process my photos. Yes, and I do shoot in RAW and post-process every single photograph I post. I just have a completely non-Adobe workflow. I have nothing against Adobe, other than Photoshop and their Creative Suite is damned expensive. But I’m not angry with them. These are pro level tools and they should be priced accordingly. I just choose not to use them. Perhaps because I’m cheap.

My friend and photographer, Mike, was astonished at how little I spend on processing software. That’s good because, I own an embarrassing number of cameras, that I need to pay for. Actually, I do have a couple of Adobe products but I just don’t use them. I bought an heavily discounted copy of Lightroom 3 once. I tested it and my verdict, meh. My wife bought Photoshop Elements 8 for $50 and I used it on rare occasions to run Topaz plugins. Since I got Topaz photoFXlab, I don’t even need Elements anymore.

I use just one package for 99% of my non-HDR photographs, Aperture 3 from Apple. It costs $79.99 from the App Store. Unfortunately for PC people, this package is not available under Windows. I use Aperture to do RAW conversions which are done transparently. There is no goofy “Develop” module or “Library” module. Just one seamless non-modal environment. My 45,000+ photographs are also managed by Aperture and I also upload my photos to Smugmug and watermark them automatically too.

For the other 1%, I use Topaz plugins, Topaz DeNoise 5 and Topaz BW Effects. I now use Topaz photoFXlab to run Topaz plugins without using Photoshop Elements. The photoFXlab also allows me to work in layers if I want to edit and make changes with the plugins. The program is inexpensive and starts up a lot faster than Elements. Also, Topaz usually has some holiday specials where they’ve offered 50% off.

For my HDRs, I use a cocktail of up to 3 applications. I use Photomatix Pro, the granddaddy and some say it’s still the best for HDR creation. With discount coupons out there, you can get if for about $85. I sometimes use Pixelmator for layer blending after I do my initial HDR merging with Photomatix. This is where the real artistry of HDR comes in. This program has a beautiful interface and is another Mac only program, available on the App Store for an amazing $14.99. You can use Photoshop to do layer blending too but I prefer to spend only $15. The downside of Pixelmator, it doesn’t run Photoshop plugins. Finally, I use Aperture 3 to sharpen, tweak colors, increase saturation and of course, store and catalog my HDR photos.

So that’s it. The full extent of my post-processing software. So if you don’t do HDRs and don’t need the Topaz plugins, your total software outlay, $79.99. By the way, the RAW software updates on the Mac are free via Software update built right into the Operating System. That means that I don’t have to keep on re-buying Aperture when I buy a new camera with a new RAW format.

Click on the photograph to see a larger image and hover over the photo to see the exposure detail.

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11 thoughts on “No Adobe product was used to process this photo

  1. Not smug, realistic. There is life beyond Adobe.

    I wrote extensively about the Cloud subject because I got a lot of questions about it. But I have no real skin in the game as I still use Photoshop and Illustrator CS2 and will remain there. The new versions have nothing I need and I stopped the upgrade mania long ago.

    Now would be the right time for Corel to get their ducks in a row with Paint Shop Pro and make it work like a real program. I do use it for a few small things and to host Topaz plugins, but t use it for “real” postwork such as when I do beauty retouch, well that’s not going to happen any time soon.

    The people who are going to really feel the impact of the subscription are the hobbyists who must have the latest greatest thing and the small design shops who feel the absolute need to keep current.

    1. Me, too. Also, I don’t think I ever congratulated Andy on his photo of Plaza de Cesar Chavez making the cover of the Pacific Bell Yellow Pages a couple of years ago. I recognized the style the moment I pulled the book out of its protective plastic bag.

      1. Wow, I’m honored. Yeah, I haven’t really talked on this blog about any commercial licensing deals that I’ve done.

  2. Seems like I’m the real cheapskate here. Olympus Viewer 2 (now 3) is a free (as in beer) download for Windows and/or Mac, and besides of that, my real post-processing needs are don e with RawTherapee on Linux. Both of which are free (as in speech) and open source solutions. No cost, and if you really want to become involved, you can even get the source code.

    1. Wolfgang, I’m curious about your workflow. Are you using OV3 natively for initial development, then going to Linux for final post-processing in RawTherapee? Have you got OV3 working under Linux? Or are you talking about two different workflows?

      I’m on a PC, since I never could afford a Mac. I’ve used Linux, and have it installed in a virtual machine as I write this, but photo editing keeps me in Windows. I’m new to digital darkroom but so far, for my EM-5 files, I vastly prefer Capture One Pro (nearing the end of my 60-day trial, $300 to buy) followed by OV2 (and now OV3). Lightroom doesn’t really understand .ORF files from what I see but, by Olympus’s own admission, a lot of reverse engineering has to be done by third-party RAW software developers since Olympus don’t release full specs of their sensors and processing engines. I tried installing OV2 with WINE and in a Windows VM, but neither worked; I haven’t tried it with OV3 yet.

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