Adobe Creative Cloud For Photographers


As you probably aware, a while ago Adobe went to a subscription model for their popular products so the Creative Suites are no longer and have been replaced with the Creative Cloud subscription model. In the photography world many people complained a lot about this, why pay $49.99/mo for the creative cloud when you only use Photoshop and Lightroom. Sure you can get a single app for $19.99/mo so this would get you Photoshop which is a pretty ok deal but nothing stellar. Yesterday at the Photoshop World Conference during the Morning Keynote speech Adobe announced a new program, Creative Cloud for Photographers. For $9.99/mo if you’re a CS3 or later owner you can now get Lightroom 5, Photoshop CC, 20 GB of cloud storage, and Behance Pro.. The new service will go live in a few weeks and this special introductory pricing of $9.99 will be offered until the end of the year.

To get the $9.99/mo price you need to have at least CS3 or later, existing Creative Cloud members can also take advantage of this new pricing. There is no word as of yet if this will be offered to non CS customer or if they will offer the $9.99/mo for this package to those who do not have CS3 or CC. But if they offer this at $19.99 which is what the single app pricing is, this could be a great offer for Photographers that want Photoshop and Lightroom.

The $9.99/mo deal should be live in a few weeks and is only expected to be offered until the end of the year, but no indication what the price will be after that.

So if your running on an old version of Photoshop and/or Lightroom and looking to upgrade and don’t need all the other applications offered in the full CC package, just hold on and wait a little longer. Once it’s released my personal opinion is jump on it. At $9.99/mo your yearly cost is less than $120, a new version of Lightroom offered at special discounts seen from time to time tends to run about the same, a new version of Photoshop CS6 (while you still can get hold of the boxed version) runs well over $600. If you get lucky and managed to find a boxed version of Photoshop CS6 upgrade it will set you back at least $200 and an upgrade of Lightroom will set you back $79 or all in all close to $300 (figure shipping for the boxed version of PS CS6 and electronic download of LR5) and you can get 2.5 years worth of Creative Cloud for Photographers for the same amount of money and in my experience we’ve seen a new version of Photoshop and Lightroom every 12-18 months and with the Creative Cloud service they are pushing out smaller updates much more rapidly, since I became a CC member Photoshop has gotten 2 minor updates and this in less than 9 months.

Worried that your files will be held hostage if you let your subscription lapse? Well that seems to be a bit of Myth and you are supposed to be able to open your psd files in PS and save them in a different format in expired PS CC, however you will not be able to edit the files.

Expect to see more interesting news both from Adobe and other companies coming out of Photoshop World this week. So stay tuned.

Lightroom 5 – Visualize Spots

Dust spots are the bane of photographers. It seems that no matter how much you clean the sensor in the camera and make sure the lens is clean or how careful you change lenses, or even if you don’t change lenses those pesky dust spots quickly come back.

If you shoot nice clear blue skies those dust spots will show like crazy. You clean them up with the spot removal tool in LightRoom and satisfied you publish the image, views/likes/favourites starts to come in and you look at the published image  again yourself and to your horror you discover another couple of dust spots that you didn’t catch the first time around. A new feature in Lightroom 5 called “Visual Spots” that is almost  hidden under the “spot removal” tool is absolutely amazing and can save you a lot of time. If we take a look at this image of a Helicopter against a fairly clear blue sky that I took during the Austin F1 Grand Prix last year. In this version I pushed the post processing a bit to make some of the dust spots strong and obvious. A quick look and we easily find at least 6 glaring dust spots, I have circled the ones I caught right of the bat and probably be the ones I would have fixed first. Then I would probably looked a little closer and found a few more before deciding it had to be it. However when you export your image and sharpen for screen and the social media websites and image compression has done its  part you will probably discover a few more spots…. In LR v5 they improved the spot removal tool and added the option to not only clone but also heal. Best of all you can now drag the tool brush and create no circular patches to repair. But you also have a option called “Visual Spots”, this feature is designed to help you find those pesky dust spots. 1) First click the “Spot removal” or hit the Q key. Dust spot removal 2)  Activate the checkbox in “Visualize Spots” 3) You can now play with the slider to increase the contrast detection for the spots. I pushed the slider up a bit and spots start to pop up all over the place. A small round white circle with a black center is a good indication that you have a dust spot. Don’t just push the slider all the way over to the right and removed the spots you see, start fairly neutral and remove  the strongest “circles” and most if not all of the medium strong ones, then push the slider over a bit and remove a few more. Dust spots and more dust spots... In this image I slid the slider ALL the way over and if you look between the landing gear there is a strong white blip that here looks like it’s probably a part of the helicopter. But it’s actually a very strong spot, when the slider was further left it was a nice circle but at the slider maximum to the right it’s glaring white like it might be a part of the helicopter. And yikes there were a lot of spots, way more than the 6 that I had initially spotted. Time to get busy and click away with the spot removal tool, in this photo I probably removed a good 60+ spots. A dusty race track is a really bad place to swap lenses at and the fact I hadn’t cleaned the sensor for a couple of months before this race didn’t help me any at all. Once all finished up we have got a cleaned up image that is ready to be published, cleared from pesky dust spots. Final image: Red Helicopter against blue sky Final image: Red Helicopter against blue sky – To bad it wasn’t sharper.

Photographing Black & White Landscapes


Final Image Processed in Lightroom

Landscapes often rely on colour for impact but they don’t have to and in many cases the absence of colour can improve the image. In this post we focus on Black & White landscapes,when they work and how to capture and process them.

Personally, I find black and white landscapes work best when there is texture, shape or tone to work with, colour can distract from the image in these cases but black and white removes the distractions and focuses the eye on the key elements of the image.

Let’s look at the original RAW file

RAW file Straight out of Camera

RAW file Straight out of Camera

I took this in early afternoon in mid summer, this has resulted in harsh light and washed out colours, so why did I take it?
I was attracted to the line that run across the scene and felt it would make a good candidate for black & white.
Once the image was captured, the next stage is processing and conversion of the RAW file. I use the following method:

  • Import image into Lightroom or an image editor of your choice which allows handling of RAW files.
  • Decide on crop – I cropped out roughly a 3rd from the bottom of the image to make a panoramic style image and place the horizon on the lower 3rd
  • I have a selection of Lightroom presets. I chose the one which was closest to the final image I had visualized.
  • Add a graduated filter to gradually darken the sky from the top of the image to the horizon.
  • Add a similar graduated filter from the bottom of the image to darken the foreground and enhance highlights.
  • The combination of these filters leaves a lighter area along the horizon helping to draw the eye to this area.
  • Using the brush tool, selectively darken areas of the image to deepen shadow and give depth.
  • Using the brush tool, selectively lighten areas; the path, cloud and grasses in foreground.
  • Using clone tool remove small cloud to the left of the image

In total the processing took less than 10 minutes and has transformed a bland, featureless image into a strong image highlighting the repeating lines of the path, horizon and grass and contrasting  light and shadow.