A quote from Jeff Schewe

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

I’ll be the first to admit that some of the image adjustments might be viewed as, uh, aggressive, but I’m not known for subtlety. I’m 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 I’m not, so I go for impact instead.

That’s exactly the way I think.

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.

Showing my photography at art festivals

I’m going to be showing my photographs at art festivals starting this Spring. You know, the ones with those 10×10 white tents? Here’s a photo of my booth (set up in my garage–no shows yet):

My show booth

You can see the 24 photographs I’ll be showing at MarcRochkind.com.

All of my 2017 shows will be in Colorado, in Boulder, Loveland, Erie, Denver, and maybe a few other places. If you’d like to be on my show mailing list to hear about upcoming shows, you can subscribe by clicking here. (Subscribers to my existing mailing lists won’t automatically be added to my show list.)

Windows just got the only MacOS feature I missed

When I switched to Windows as my main machine last January, I found that, except for one thing, it worked more-or-less the same as MacOS. Many details were different, of course, but both systems had the same functionality (almost). Some apps, such as Lightroom, Photoshop, and a few others, were identical.

The feature I missed was being able to open up a UNIX shell. I used that a lot, especially when running scripts.

Well, I just discovered that Windows now has a Subsystem for Linux, which runs a genuine Ubuntu shell. It’s the real thing, a joint project between Microsoft and Canonical. Linux itself isn’t there, but the kernel API is. (As I understand it–I only spent 2 minutes looking into the technicalities.)

This is somewhat more convenient than what MacOS has, because its shell has BSD commands, whereas the Linux (GNU, really) commands are more widely known.

Now, as far as I’m concerned, there is no non-superficial difference between Windows and MacOS as OSes. There is still a difference between what apps are available. For example, there’s no Coda for Windows. In fact, there’s no ProofSheet or ExifChanger, two of my own apps. There are also, of course, lots of Windows apps that aren’t on MacOS. But all of my important apps (notably Lightroom and Photoshop) are on both.

And Windows hardware is substantially cheaper, no matter what Apple and Mac fanboys say.

Your situation is, of course, different.