Monday, August 11, 2008

My personal Photoshop use is decreasing drastically

When I got Photoshop 4 back in the day, I used it daily to do work at home and to do my own personal creations. I also scanned in lots of photos and fixed them up.

Now that I'm a full-time developer (as opposed to part designer/part developer), I find myself using PS less and less. I've since upgraded to CS2, which in retrospect was actually quite a waste of money - PS 6 had everything I needed. My first digital camera was great (Sony DSC F-707), but almost every image really required post-processing to really look good, so I used PS quite a bit back then. I now have a Canon S2 IS, which has excellent color reproduction - good enough that I don't bother with most images anymore. And I've pretty much stopped doing my own image composites for fun (though I occasionally knock a few off for friends/co-workers).

But I still do a fair amount of image manipulation overall, considering I take tons of photos. I've found Google's Picasa software handles most of my modifications quite well (red-eye, cropping, slight color fixes) - its "Fill Light" tool is awesome for fixing underlit subjects btw, and way quicker than any method I've ever used in PS. Picasa also manages the photos better than Adobe's Bridge or Lightroom, IMHO. And I can upload straight to Snapfish. So my workflow all pretty much happens in one place.

For situations like noise reduction, I use Neat Image (free version). You can't beat its simplicity, and the results are fantastic in my experience so far (I've mostly used it to clean up high ISO noise in otherwise unacceptable-quality pictures). For stitched panoramas I use Hugin (also free). And for quick fixes, I use the free (and open source) Paint.NET application, which loads much quicker than PS, and has many of its basic tools.

There's still situations where I still use Photoshop - mostly for true HDR and HDR-like processing (levels adjustment layers, dodge/burn) to bring out detail, and I recently created a family photo for my parents from a number of different pictures that I wouldn't even consider using another application for, but it's probably dropped to about 5% or so of my total image processing time these days.