Marc Rochkind's Apps, Books, and Opinions

A quote from Jeff Schewe

From his terrific book, The Digital Negative, which I've just started reading:

Iíll be the first to admit that some of the image adjustments might be viewed as, uh, aggressive, but Iím not known for subtlety. Iím not really interested in an accurate reproduction of a scene. I tend to go for an enhanced rendering. If I were a photojournalist or documentary photographer, I would need to tone down my approach, but Iím not, so I go for impact instead.

That's exactly the way I think.

Fall Photos in Rocky Mountain National Park

Really bad weather half the time, too much traffic to park the truck most of the rest of the time, but some success on a few hikes. Five keepers. Best viewed on the SmugMug gallery.

Parameterized Raw Photo Editing with Photoshop Elements 15

Whenever anyone asks me what they should use for raw editing, I always say Lightroom (LR), but the price is too high for many people. Then I don't know what to say. I've tried a few free alternatives, but none that I can recommend. (I wrote about two I don't recommend a while ago.)

I've known about Photoshop Elements (PSE), but had never tried it on raw files until now. (Rainy day in a vacation condo with terrific internet.) I planned to run a trial version, but, since I had a Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, Adobe went ahead an licensed me for PSE.

The only form of raw editing I'd recommend is what's called parameterized editing, which means that your edits are recorded in a list that's saved. They're applied to the preview you're viewing, but no pixel format is saved (e.g., PSD, TIFF, JPEG)--just the original raw and the parameters. You get a pixel format only if you want to export one, such as when you need a TIFF to send to a lab or a JPEG to upload to a web site.

For example, if you crop the image, what's saved looks something like this:


Now, if you want to go back and change the crop, the editor shows you the crop outline and handles, and you make the change and resave. If the editor weren't parametrized, you could still recrop the pixel format (e.g., the TIFF), but only to make it smaller. Anything cropped off before the TIFF was saved is gone.

LR's Develop module is completely parameterized, with the parameters saved in the LR database. All of the same edits that LR has are available in Photoshop's Adobe Camera Raw (PS-ACR). When you save your work, the edit parameters are saved in a DNG file or in an XMP sidecar file, to be available if you open the raw again. If you go into PS proper to do more editing, you're now in the pixel-based world, and your work has to be saved in a pixel format, typically PSD.

LR has no pixel-based world, but you can transfer your work to an external editor such as Topaz Adjust or PS. Then those results are saved in a pixel format, and you see the resulting PSD or TIFF or whatever in LR.

To summarize: Editing of raws in LR and PS starts out parameterized and, if you continue into pixel-based editing, you get the unchanged original raw, the parameters (in a database or a file), and the pixel-based results from the pixel-based editing.

As far as this workflow is concerned, PSE is the same as PS: original raw, DNG or XMP sidecar to hold the parameters, and, if there was any pixel-based editing, a pixel-based file such as a PSD.

However, the version of Adobe Camera Raw that PSE runs (call it PSE-ACR) is a small subset of what PS has (PS-ACR) and LR has. All you get are the Basic, Detail, and limited Camera Calibration controls, cropping, and a few other things:

If that's enough, and it will be for many purposes, you never have to do any pixel-based editing in PSE, and you can think of it as a parameterized editor, just as LR is.

I like to run Topaz Adjust from LR and save the result as a TIFF, and PSE can do exactly that same thing. In this case, the TIFF comes from Topaz Adjust, not from pixel-based editing in PSE.

I haven't used it a lot, but PSE also as a catalog stored in a database (SQLite), just as LR does, although the catalog organizations are completely different and LR does much more with its catalog. (PS doesn't have a database catalog; Bridge just works off of the file system.)

In conclusion: PSE-ACR is a reasonable raw editor for a beginner. It doesn't do nearly as much as PS-ACR or LR, but it does have a good pixel-based editor (way short of PS, of course), which can probably do whatever you need to do that PSE-ACR can't do by itself.

PSE is only about $73 from Amazon, so it's a good first step until you know that you're serious enough to move to LR. Then for $10 a month you get LR, full-blown PS, and†all updates.

(Adobe products are available only for MacOS and Windows, not Linux. I'm pretty sure they will never be available for Linux.)

UPDATE: I just tried Affinity Photo, which is only $50, and looks really good. It can edit raws, but won't save the parameters. Once you click the Develop button, the raw edits are baked into a pixel rendering, and you use a PS-like interface to go the rest of the way, if there's more you want to do. If you re-open the raw, none of your raw edits are preserved--you start from scratch. Affinity Photo might still be a good choice for someone on a budget.

Click here for the whole blog.

Mac/Windows Apps

Apps for serious photographers: Exif­Changer, Proof­Sheet, and Exif­Extreme.

Gunbarrel Review

My new Gunbarrel blog, of interest only to locals.

Verifying and Uploading Large Archives of Photos

ZipVerifier and S3BigUpload are for preparing large image archives and uploading them to Amazon S3 and Glacier. Designed for the backup of last resort, to be retrieved only if all other backups have been destroyed. The emphasis is on verifying that the archive is absolutely correct and that the upload, which could take days, completes and is correct.


The first Chrome App for SmugMug. You can browse galleries, organized by category and subcategory, view thumbnails for a gallery, and view larger images, annotated with EXIF data. As it runs under Chrome, it works on Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, and Chromebooks.

Classic Cameras

The web version of the iOS Classic Cameras app, now free. Features high-resolution photos of over 100 classic cameras, along with reviews, ads, and lots more. A treat for anyone who's ever shot with a classic film camera.

Wright Brothers Photographs

Photographs taken by the Wright Brothers themselves, digitized by the Library of Congress from the original glass plates. Contains 183 photographs with captions. Includes many taken at Kitty Hawk, including early gliding experiments and the first flight.

Programming Chrome Apps

Also available from Amazon.

Expert PHP and MySQL

My latest book, capturing what I've learned building apps, both the few successes and the many failures. Advanced material, too, such as two-factor authentication and data conversion.

Published by Apress in 2013 and available from Amazon.

Generating PDFs with PHP and FPDF

How to use the free FPDF library to generate PDFs directly from your PHP app.

Published in 2013 and available as an eBook from Amazon.

Advanced UNIX Programming

The first book on UNIX programming, updated in 2004.

Published by Addison-Wesley and available from Amazon.

More Books

All of my books (16 or so), available from Amazon.

Bernie's Bar & Girll

My first (and only) novel, which would be a romance, except that the main character is a man. It's got everything: humor, sex, a car chase, a bar fight, a trial, an exposé of Big Oil, and some endearing Creationists.

Published in 2012 and available from Amazon as a $1 eBook.


Various articles I've written over the years, ranging from mind-numbingly serious to ridiculously silly. Most are in-between.

Contact Me

Click this box for support on any of my apps or to contact me generally.

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