Thursday, March 11, 2010

Free or cheap photo editing: And why you don't need Photoshop.

First, if this photo doesn't make you happy, where is your soul?

Second, I have a secret to tell you: you can take great photos without an SLR and make them pop (like this one) without Photoshop [gasp]!  It's true.  I'll explain.

You can take pro-looking photos with a point and shoot.  I no you think I'm lying, but hear me out.  A camera is, essentially, just a light-tight box.  The body of a camera has nothing to do with the quality of the picture.  What matters is your lens and your sensor.  Professional photographers buy the expensive SLRs because they enable them to work more easily, efficiently, and to produce consistent results in less than perfect photographic conditions. Also, people who aren't good at photography buy them thinking the camera will do what their skills aren't up to yet. 

That being said, here's the scoop on point and shoots: if you can conjure up good conditions for the photography, it will take a pro-looking photo.  Unlike the Nikon D3 (drool), however, a point and shoot is only going to produce good photos if you have all the right conditions.  That's because the sensor on a D3 can produce professional results in a variety of lighting situations.

Basically, a $20 pair of shoes and a $200 pair of shoes will both get you a short distance comfortably and without falling apart.  However, the $200 pair will win out every time once distance and conditions change. 

Now, on to Photoshop (and why you don't need it).  That picture of my nephew up there: it was done on Adobe Lightroom. Which costs $100.  Rather than the $700 of Photoshop.  Additionally, there are FREE programs on the internet you can use (GIMP, Pixler, SumoPaint) that do everything Photoshop Elements does.  I used GIMP for years doing engagements, portraits, and still life photography.  It's harder to get the results you want sometimes, but not $700 difficult.  I'll post some examples.  I guarantee you that, as a non-professional photographer, you will never use anything in Photoshop that you can't get out of Lightroom or a free Elements substitute.  If you get into wedding photography, commercial photography, or graphic design, then Photoshop may be a better fit.  The executive board at Adobe laughs maniacally everytime an amateur photographer buys $700 worth of software they don't need.

GIMP edited photos:


  1. Nice work! What are you shooting with these days? Have you done much with studio lighting?

  2. your nephew is a dream. and you are a good photographer. that is all.