Or, How You Should Spend Your Money!
Get a group of 10 photographers together in a group and ask “What editing software do you use?” Chances are that you will get 3 answers, Photoshop CS#, Photoshop Elements # and Adobe Lightroom. While all 3 have a useful place in the photographic community there are several fact that you must know when it comes to Infrared photography.
I will admit that I know literally nothing about Adobe Lightroom. I had an evaluation copy of it when it first arrived on the scene and can tell you that I hated it with a passion. It made no sense to me in its structure, GUI and inner working (OK, I guess that it means that I know 1 thing about it: I don’t like it!) With that being said let’s list some of the editing tools and structures that we need for Infrared work:
- Advanced Editing features for spot cleanup and image repairs. CS, Elements and likely Lightroom will fall into this one.
- Ability to work in 16 bit color space. CS for sure, Elements is very limited, couldn’t say about lightroom.
- Ability to run ACTIONS. CS only!
- Ability to run ALL of the NIK Software plugins. CS, Elements and Lightroom.
- Totally Closed Loop Color System (Full ICC profile controls). CS only!
- Channel Mixer functionality. CS only!
OK, are you starting to see a pattern here? Lets take a look at the most important functionality of your post processing software, creation of the Faux Color Infrared image!
- For this you MUST have a channel mixer in order to swap the Red and Blue channels. An added benefit would be to run a photoshop action in order to do this in an intelligent and automated fashion. So, if you plan on doing any Faux Color work you MUST have some version of the full blown Photoshop CS family!
- NIK filters are very important! They allow us to take our Infrared Photography to their absolute best! luckily, all of the Adobe products can act as a wrapper for NIK!
- 16 Bit files and filters are very important for quality matters of colors and contrasts. Doesn’t an image with 4.3 billion colors sound better than one with 16 million? If so then you really need 16 bit functionality at least in the editing stages!
- If you plan on doing your own printing then you need the ability of controlling your color space through specific targeted ICC profiles! This is only fully implemented in the CS family!
You should consider your software just as important as your camera equipment. Why spend thousands of dollars on cameras and lenses only to spend $79.00 on editing software? It has always been a hard learned lesson for me thinking that I could buy cheap and upgrade to something better later on after I improved! The truth of the matter is that money spent in this fashion was foolishly thrown away. If you are actively pursuing a growing interest within the field of digital photography then you NEED the advanced post processing software tools from the very onset. You will learn the tools the first time, have the necessary functionality as you grow in ability and never have to purchase them again in the future except in the form of upgrades! You can be shooting a dedicated Point & Shoot IR system and still need the advanced functionality that only CS and NIK can give you!
You have all read my lists on how to Post Process your images using Photoshop CS5, the Photoshop Channel Swap Action and NIK’s Define 2.0, Viveza 2.0, and Silver EFX. You know how I create my images in frighting detail. I am NOT saying that my was is the only way, but I believe that it is the BEST and Fastest way!
Other things that you can do to assist you in improving your photography are to join clubs and groups with active outings and meetings! Find like minded photographers in places like FaceBook. Attach yourself to other photographers. Send ME emails and comments here. If you have questions I will address them via a post here so that we can share with other like minded photographers! Take courses and workshops! Pretty soon you will see that you have become an advanced photographer!
But no matter which direction you go keep at it. Carry a camera with you and keep taking images! As long as you have the right Post Processing tools on hand they you will continue to advance your abilities!