Software For Digital Photography Once   you   start   accumulating   digital   images   you   will   be   faced   with a   number   of   challenges   and   the   first   question   you   will   probably ask    yourself    is    " How    do    I    easily    view    my    images? "    Other questions   that   follow   are   " How   can   I   easily   organise   and   find   the images   I   want? "   and   " How   can   I   change   the   brightness,   colour, contrast    and    a    number    of    other    aspects    of    my    images? " Answering    these    questions    is    a    matter    of    finding    software    to perform these tasks.   In   the   following   sections   you   will   find   descriptions   of   programs   for viewing,    organising    and    editing.    We    also    indicate    in    these sections   which   are   our   favourite   programs   and   which   we   use regularly.      Let's   explore   each   question   in   a   little   more   detail   and get   a   feel   for   what   we   will   need   and   why   we   chose   a   particular package. Viewing Images A   good   viewer   program   is   obviously   a   requirement   for   viewing your   images. The   program   you   choose   should   be   easy   to   use   and support   all   types   of   file   formats   easily   and   quickly.   Here   is   a   list   of features   and   functions   we   believe   are   the   most   important   when choosing a viewer program: Support all major image formats Display   images   quickly   and   allow   you   to   flip   forwards   and backwards through images on disk Display   images   full   screen   (reduced   to   fit   the   screen)   or   full size Scroll around images that are too large to fit on screen Batch processing including rename function We   have   been   using   IrfanView    for   viewing   our   images   for   many years   and   have   not   come   across   a   better   program   for   doing   this. IrfanView   is   small,   fast   and   performs   a   huge   number   of   functions and   best   of   all   it   is   free   for   personal   use,   but   please   do   support the   author   by   giving   a   donation   because   it   is   a   truly   fantastic program.   The   program   you   use   is   a   personal   choice   and   as   long   as   you   are comfortable   with   it   and   it   satisfies   your   needs   then   there   is   no need to change. Managing Images Once   you   start   collecting   digital   images   you   will   soon   find   that you   are   struggling   to   find   a   particular   image.   This   is   where   image management   software   steps   in   to   assist. As   with   viewer   software, the   image   management   software   should   support   all   major   image formats   and   make   it   easy   for   you   to   manage   and   locate   images. Here    is    a    list    of    features    and    functions    we    believe    are    most important when choosing an image management program: Support all major image formats Catalog images quickly and efficiently Provide a method to categorise your images Enable you to locate images easily and quickly Support removable media such as CDs and DVDs We   chose   IMatch    because   it   met   all   our   requirements   and   is extremely   flexible   and   allows   you   to   manage   your   images   no matter   where   they   are   stored.   What   makes   IMatch   so   good   is   you can   manage   you   images   on   disk   (move,   rename,   delete   etc.)   and it    will    automatically    update    its    database    with    these    changes. IMatch    also    has    a    scripting    language    which    allows    you    to program   new   functionality   that   is   not   built   in.   IMatch   comes   with excellent   documentation   and   best   of   all   it   is   NOT   expensive   and is very well supported by the author. We   have   now   started   using   Adobe   Lightroom    to   manage   all   our photos    as    we    have    found    it    very    convenient    to    manage    and develop in a single application that does everything we need. Editing Images A   good   editing   program   is   essential   to   get   the   most   out   of   your images.   Most   digital   cameras   come   with   some   simple   software   to adjust     images     for     colour,     brightness     and     contrast.     These programs   are   usually   very   simple   but   easy   to   use   and   adequate   if all    you    want    to    do    is    make    simple    adjustments.    For    more advanced editing you will need more advanced software.   There   are   plenty   of   programs   available   and   many   of   them   are free    and    others    are    hugely    expensive    and    designed    for    the professional   graphic   artist.   Most   people   have   heard   of   PhotoShop and   think   this   is   the   ultimate   program   for   image   editing   but   there are   alternatives   which   are   as   good   and   sometimes   better   for   the digital   photographer.   Let's   take   a   brief   look   at   some   of   the   options available. Free Software Probably    the    best    known    free    software    is    GIMP     (Gnu    Image Manipulation     Program).     This     program     is     very     similar     to PhotoShop   and   runs   on   most   platforms   with   Linux   and   Windows being   the   most   popular.   This   is   a   full-featured   program   but   we have found it to be rather slow.   Another   free   program   is   Paint.NET .   This   program   is   very   good and   is   relatively   small   and   runs   only   on   Windows.   If   you   have   no other program then this is a good program to start with.   Then   of   course   there   is   Picasa    from   Google   which   is   more   an image   management   program   than   an   editor   but   has   many   simple editing features including an option to load albums onto the web.  
There   are   other   programs   so   search   the   web   and   you   will   uncover many more. Picture   Window   Pro    is   another   excellent   photo   editor   and   was   our editor   of   choice   before   we   started   using   Lightroom.   This   program was      originally      commercial      software      but      has      now      been discontinued.      Fortunately,   the   developers   have   made   version   7 (the   latest   version)   freely   available   without   any   conditions   for   use.     This   program   is   designed   specifically   for   the   digital   photographer and   fully   handles   48-bit   images.   Picture   Window   Pro   is   incredibly small    and    provides    functionality    I    have    not    seen    in    any    other program.    Picture    Windows    had    a    standard    version    and    a    Pro version   but   now   only   the   Pro   version   is   available.   The   home   page for   Picture   Windows    has   lots   of   tutorials   and   white   papers   and   an incredibly useful Support Message Board. Commercial Software PhotoShop    is   the   most   well   known   software   but   it   is   big   and   very expensive   although   cut-down   versions   are   available   with   a   smaller price   tag.   PhotoShop   is   the   benchmark   program   and   is   now   only available on a subscription basis. A   very   good   alternative   to   PhotoShop   is   ACDSee   Photo   Studio 2018.          There     are     3     versions     to     choose     from:     Standard, Professional   and   Ultimate.      The   Ultimate   version   provides   layered editing and has most of the tools a photographer would need.   We   also   use   Xara   Photo   and   Graphic   Designer    and   Xara   Designer Pro    for   graphics   and   layouts   as   well   as   some   simple   photo   editing.     Xara    Photo    and    Graphic    Designer    and    Xara    Designer    Pro    are great   vector   graphics   editors   with   a   full   suite   of   bitmap   functionality which   allows   you   to   do   some   amasing   things   including   building   full websites like this one! Developing Images We   predominantly   take   photos   in   the   RAW   format   which   allows   far greater   scope   for   post-processing.   Think   of   RAW   images   as   your negative   which   can   be   developed   in   many   different   ways   for   easy viewing   or   printing.      RAW   images   contain   all   the   raw   data   from   the sensor   without   processing   in   the   camera.      What   this   means   is   you can    adjust    white    balance,    exposure,    contrast    and    sharpening among    many    other    options.        If    you    are    serious    about    your photography then always use RAW.   The   software   we   use   to   develop   our   RAW   images   is   Lightroom   from   Adobe.      This   program   is   extremely   powerful   and   relatively inexpensive   given   its   functionality.      As   a   bonus   you   can   Geocode your   photos   and   version   6   now      has   HDR   and   simple   Panorama Stitching built-in, both producing DNG raw files. As   the   newest   version   of   Lightroom   is   now   only   available   as   a subscription,   we   have   decided   to   use   an   alternative   as   we   feel   a subscription   is   not   appropriate   for   our   needs   as   enthusiasts.      After many   weeks   of   evaluating   alternative   software   we   have   decided   to purchase   ACDSee   Photo   Studio   2018 .      There   is   a   pack   available for   US$189   which   gives   you   all   versions   of   Photo   Studio   2018, Video   Studio   2,   Photo   Editor   10,   Photo   Studio   for   Mac   (when   it becomes   available   in   2018),   and   Video   Converter   Pro   5   and   you can use every individual item on two PCs as a 2-user licence. ACDSee    Ultimate    2018    provides    photo    management    with    or without   a   database,   RAW   conversion   and   Layered   Editing   all   in one   package.     Apart   from   Panorama   Stitching   (planned   for   a   future release)   and   HDR   Merging,   there   is   nothing   that   we   really   miss.     You    can    easily    import    Lightroom    database    items    to    ACDSee including   Ratings,   Labels,   Collections   and   Keywords.     As   an   added bonus ACDSee is faster than Lightroom 6. If   you   are   after   an   open   source   RAW   converter   then   you   can   use RawTherapee  or Darktable  which are both very good programs. High Dynamic Range (HDR) High   Dynamic   Range   (HDR)   describes   images   with   very   dark   and very   light   areas.      Modern   cameras   cannot   easily   capture   true   HDR images   with   a   single   exposure.      Many   cameras   provide   an   HDR function    where    the    camera    takes    multiple    photos    at    different exposures   and   then   combines   them   to   generate   an   HDR   image.     These   HDR   images   more   accurately   portray   what   the   human   eye can perceive. Many   programs   are   available   to   generate   HDR   images   but   our favourite   is   Oloneo   Photo   Engine .      Although   this   software   is   not cheap,   it   does   produce   some   of   the   best   and   most   natural   looking HDR images. Lightroom    6     now    provides    HDR    processing    right    within    the program   and   with   the   advantage   of   creating   a   resulting   HDR   image as   a   DNG   raw   image   which   can   be   further   edited   withing   Lightroom itself.  Lightroom 6 has now become our favourite HDR program. Panorama Stitching There   are   many   free   panorama   stitching   programs   available   but they   tend   to   be   tricky   to   use.      I   have   started   to   use   Panorama Studio    which   is   easy   to   use   with   an   automatic   function,   but   if   you need   greater   control   over   your   stitching   then   you   can   still   do   that with this program. Lightroom    6     now    has    a    panorama    stitching    function    which generates   very   good   panoramas   but   has   very   limited   functionality besides   the   automatic   mode.      One   advantage   that   Lightroom   6   has over   other   programs   is   it   generates   panoramas   in   DNG   raw   format which   can   be   further   edited   within   Lightroom   itself.      We   now   use Lightroom   6   as   our   main   panorama   stitching   program   but   still   use Panorama Studio for more difficult projects.
Keith & Vlasta Ross-Jones
© Keith Ross-Jones
Software For Digital Photography Once   you   start   accumulating   digital   images   you   will   be   faced   with   a number    of    challenges    and    the    first    question    you    will    probably    ask yourself   is   " How   do   I   easily   view   my   images? "   Other   questions   that follow   are   " How   can   I   easily   organise   and   find   the   images   I   want? "   and " How   can   I   change   the   brightness,   colour,   contrast   and   a   number   of other   aspects   of   my   images? " Answering   these   questions   is   a   matter   of finding software to perform these tasks.   In    the    following    sections    you    will    find    descriptions    of    programs    for viewing,   organising   and   editing.   We   also   indicate   in   these   sections which   are   our   favourite   programs   and   which   we   use   regularly.      Let's explore   each   question   in   a   little   more   detail   and   get   a   feel   for   what   we will need and why we chose a particular package. Viewing Images A   good   viewer   program   is   obviously   a   requirement   for   viewing   your images.   The   program   you   choose   should   be   easy   to   use   and   support all   types   of   file   formats   easily   and   quickly.   Here   is   a   list   of   features   and functions   we   believe   are   the   most   important   when   choosing   a   viewer program: Support all major image formats Display    images    quickly    and    allow    you    to    flip    forwards    and backwards through images on disk Display images full screen (reduced to fit the screen) or full size Scroll around images that are too large to fit on screen Batch processing including rename function We   have   been   using   IrfanView    for   viewing   our   images   for   many   years and   have   not   come   across   a   better   program   for   doing   this.   IrfanView   is small,   fast   and   performs   a   huge   number   of   functions   and   best   of   all   it   is free   for   personal   use,   but   please   do   support   the   author   by   giving   a donation because it is a truly fantastic program.   The   program   you   use   is   a   personal   choice   and   as   long   as   you   are comfortable   with   it   and   it   satisfies   your   needs   then   there   is   no   need   to change. Managing Images Once   you   start   collecting   digital   images   you   will   soon   find   that   you   are struggling   to   find   a   particular   image.   This   is   where   image   management software    steps    in    to    assist.    As    with    viewer    software,    the    image management    software    should    support    all    major    image    formats    and make   it   easy   for   you   to   manage   and   locate   images.   Here   is   a   list   of features   and   functions   we   believe   are   most   important   when   choosing an image management program: Support all major image formats Catalog images quickly and efficiently Provide a method to categorise your images Enable you to locate images easily and quickly Support removable media such as CDs and DVDs We   chose   IMatch    because   it   met   all   our   requirements   and   is   extremely flexible   and   allows   you   to   manage   your   images   no   matter   where   they are    stored.    What    makes    IMatch    so    good    is    you    can    manage    you images   on   disk   (move,   rename,   delete   etc.)   and   it   will   automatically update   its   database   with   these   changes.   IMatch   also   has   a   scripting language   which   allows   you   to   program   new   functionality   that   is   not   built in.   IMatch   comes   with   excellent   documentation   and   best   of   all   it   is   NOT expensive and is very well supported by the author. We   have   now   started   using Adobe   Lightroom    to   manage   all   our   photos as   we   have   found   it   very   convenient   to   manage   and   develop   in   a   single application that does everything we need. Editing Images A   good   editing   program   is   essential   to   get   the   most   out   of   your   images. Most   digital   cameras   come   with   some   simple   software   to   adjust   images for   colour,   brightness   and   contrast.   These   programs   are   usually   very simple   but   easy   to   use   and   adequate   if   all   you   want   to   do   is   make simple   adjustments.   For   more   advanced   editing   you   will   need   more advanced software.   There   are   plenty   of   programs   available   and   many   of   them   are   free   and others   are   hugely   expensive   and   designed   for   the   professional   graphic artist.   Most   people   have   heard   of   PhotoShop   and   think   this   is   the ultimate   program   for   image   editing   but   there   are   alternatives   which   are as   good   and   sometimes   better   for   the   digital   photographer.   Let's   take   a brief look at some of the options available. Free Software Probably     the     best     known     free     software     is     GIMP      (Gnu     Image Manipulation   Program).   This   program   is   very   similar   to   PhotoShop   and runs    on    most    platforms    with    Linux    and    Windows    being    the    most popular.   This   is   a   full-featured   program   but   we   have   found   it   to   be rather slow.   Another   free   program   is   Paint.NET .   This   program   is   very   good   and   is relatively    small    and    runs    only    on    Windows.    If    you    have    no    other program then this is a good program to start with.   Then   of   course   there   is   Picasa    from   Google   which   is   more   an   image management    program    than    an    editor    but    has    many    simple    editing features including an option to load albums onto the web.   There   are   other   programs   so   search   the   web   and   you   will   uncover many more. Picture   Window   Pro    is   another   excellent   photo   editor   and   was   our editor   of   choice   before   we   started   using   Lightroom.   This   program   was originally     commercial     software     but     has     now     been     discontinued.       Fortunately,   the   developers   have   made   version   7   (the   latest   version) freely    available    without    any    conditions    for    use.        This    program    is designed   specifically   for   the   digital   photographer   and   fully   handles   48- bit    images.    Picture    Window    Pro    is    incredibly    small    and    provides functionality   I   have   not   seen   in   any   other   program.   Picture   Windows had   a   standard   version   and   a   Pro   version   but   now   only   the   Pro   version is   available.   The   home   page   for   Picture   Windows    has   lots   of   tutorials and white papers and an incredibly useful Support Message Board. Commercial Software PhotoShop    is   the   most   well   known   software   but   it   is   big   and   very expensive    although    cut-down    versions    are    available    with    a    smaller price    tag.    PhotoShop    is    the    benchmark    program    and    is    now    only available on a subscription basis. A   very   good   alternative   to   PhotoShop   is   ACDSee   Photo   Studio   2018.     There    are    3    versions    to    choose    from:    Standard,    Professional    and Ultimate.      The   Ultimate   version   provides   layered   editing   and   has   most of the tools a photographer would need.   We   also   use   Xara   Photo   and   Graphic   Designer    and   Xara   Designer   Pro   for   graphics   and   layouts   as   well   as   some   simple   photo   editing.      Xara Photo   and   Graphic   Designer   and   Xara   Designer   Pro   are   great   vector graphics   editors   with   a   full   suite   of   bitmap   functionality   which   allows   you to do some amasing things including building full websites like this one! Developing Images We   predominantly   take   photos   in   the   RAW   format   which   allows   far greater    scope    for    post-processing.    Think    of    RAW    images    as    your negative    which    can    be    developed    in    many    different    ways    for    easy viewing   or   printing.      RAW   images   contain   all   the   raw   data   from   the sensor   without   processing   in   the   camera.      What   this   means   is   you   can adjust   white   balance,   exposure,   contrast   and   sharpening   among   many other   options.      If   you   are   serious   about   your   photography   then   always use RAW.   The   software   we   use   to   develop   our   RAW   images   is   Lightroom    from Adobe.      This   program   is   extremely   powerful   and   relatively   inexpensive given   its   functionality.      As   a   bonus   you   can   Geocode   your   photos   and version   6   now      has   HDR   and   simple   Panorama   Stitching   built-in,   both producing DNG raw files. As    the    newest    version    of    Lightroom    is    now    only    available    as    a subscription,    we    have    decided    to    use    an    alternative    as    we    feel    a subscription   is   not   appropriate   for   our   needs   as   enthusiasts.      After many   weeks   of   evaluating   alternative   software   we   have   decided   to purchase   ACDSee   Photo   Studio   2018 .      There   is   a   pack   available   for US$189   which   gives   you   all   versions   of   Photo   Studio   2018,   Video Studio   2,   Photo   Editor   10,   Photo   Studio   for   Mac   (when   it   becomes available   in   2018),   and   Video   Converter   Pro   5   and   you   can   use   every individual item on two PCs as a 2-user licence. ACDSee   Ultimate   2018   provides   photo   management   with   or   without   a database,   RAW   conversion   and   Layered   Editing   all   in   one   package.     Apart   from   Panorama   Stitching   (planned   for   a   future   release)   and   HDR Merging,   there   is   nothing   that   we   really   miss.      You   can   easily   import Lightroom    database    items    to    ACDSee    including    Ratings,    Labels, Collections   and   Keywords.      As   an   added   bonus   ACDSee   is   faster   than Lightroom 6. If   you   are   after   an   open   source   RAW   converter   then   you   can   use RawTherapee  or Darktable  which are both very good programs. High Dynamic Range (HDR) High   Dynamic   Range   (HDR)   describes   images   with   very   dark   and   very light   areas.      Modern   cameras   cannot   easily   capture   true   HDR   images with   a   single   exposure.      Many   cameras   provide   an   HDR   function   where the    camera    takes    multiple    photos    at    different    exposures    and    then combines   them   to   generate   an   HDR   image.      These   HDR   images   more accurately portray what the human eye can perceive. Many    programs    are    available    to    generate    HDR    images    but    our favourite   is   Oloneo   Photo   Engine .     Although   this   software   is   not   cheap, it    does    produce    some    of    the    best    and    most    natural    looking    HDR images. Lightroom   6    now   provides   HDR   processing   right   within   the   program and   with   the   advantage   of   creating   a   resulting   HDR   image   as   a   DNG raw    image    which    can    be    further    edited    withing    Lightroom    itself.      Lightroom 6 has now become our favourite HDR program. Panorama Stitching There   are   many   free   panorama   stitching   programs   available   but   they tend   to   be   tricky   to   use.      I   have   started   to   use   Panorama   Studio    which is   easy   to   use   with   an   automatic   function,   but   if   you   need   greater control over your stitching then you can still do that with this program. Lightroom   6    now   has   a   panorama   stitching   function   which   generates very   good   panoramas   but   has   very   limited   functionality   besides   the automatic   mode.      One   advantage   that   Lightroom   6   has   over   other programs   is   it   generates   panoramas   in   DNG   raw   format   which   can   be further   edited   within   Lightroom   itself.      We   now   use   Lightroom   6   as   our main   panorama   stitching   program   but   still   use   Panorama   Studio   for more difficult projects.
© Keith Ross-Jones
Keith & Vlasta Ross-Jones