Image Editing Strategy

November 28, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I've been thinking about my image editing requirements and future strategies for a while now, what with the Adobe Creative Cloud debacle and the general maturing of digital photography.  Upon reflection my editing can be divided into DAM, raw edits, compositing and merging.

Digital Asset Management

At present I use Lightroom for my asset management and this is a potential long term weakness in my strategy if Lightroom quality/performance starts to flag or Adobe decides to move it to the subscription model only.  Subscription software is simply not an option I am prepared to support, especially for something as pervasive as asset management.  It would be possible, albeit messy, to move to another DAM.  I doubt Adobe will move Lightroom to subscription for the next few years in any case.

Raw edits

At present I do my raw editing in Lightoom.  The basic requirements are to be able to edit in a large gamut color space in 16 bits to insure image data is not lost.  Current raw editors are quite robust.  Adobe has stated that Lightroom will continue to be sold on the perpetual model, so if I stay up-to-date then I will be able to work with future cameras.  However, not many are trusting Adobe these days, so I should plan for an alternative, and at this time, Capture One is the obvious choice.  

Compositing

By compositing I generally mean distraction removal and filling in cropping fragments.  I own a copy of Photoshop CS6.  Basic compositing has not changed much in photoshop for a number of years other than the addition of content aware fill in CS5 and slightly improved in CS6.  Since I am opposed to the Photoshop CC subscription model I will be missing any improvements in this area, but I can always reconsider this if some new killer feature comes out.  At present I cannot find a good alternative to Photoshop that supports 16 bit editing and the Prophoto color space.  The mac program Pixelmator looks promising but is 8 bit at present.  I expect the Adobe rental model will provide the opportunity for a third party to fill this niche so I am not worried about meeting my needs in this area in the future

Merging

Merging is the combining of multiple images of the same scene to improve the dynamic range, focus stack or reduce noise in the merged stack.  While these functions can be done in Photoshop specialty programs do a better job.  No ongoing risk here.

Conclusion

When I first starting thinking about this I thought the biggest risk would be sticking with CS6 and not jumping on the CC bandwagon.  After considering what I really use Photoshop for I am not so worried about this now.  The biggest risk appears to be using Lightroom as my DAM.  However, no matter what DAM I choose I will be faced with the issue of what happens if the product dies or I decide to part ways with the provider.


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