Banakas | Photography

A few weeks ago I gave you some tips on how to compose a better photograph.  This week I want to give you the rundown on some of the software that’s available for you to use to process your images.

Just because you have a digital camera doesn’t mean your photos will always come out exactly the way you want them to look directly out of the camera.  Just like years ago, when you had to take your film to the processor to have them developed, the technicians would have to adjust your images in order for them to look the best that they can.  Even though your digital camera has the technology to do most of what the technician was able to do years ago, it’s not always correct in the way it comes out.  For that reason, I want to share some of the options that are available to you for editing your photos.

The programs below represent a non-inclusive list of products that are available to process your images.  The way in which you work with your images may probably be different than the processes that I discuss.  Your way may be better than mine and I would love to hear about them, you can share your thoughts and comments below.

Lightroom 4
Cost: 149.00 (list price) — 99.99 Amazon (price as of this writing)
The price is constantly changing on Amazon, so keep checking back.  5 days ago the price was 114.99

Lightroom is an Adobe photo editing product and is a program that requires you to install the software onto your computer in order to use.  This software gives you the ability to make common adjustment to your photos including exposure, white balance, cropping, and other common adjustments.

One of the best features is its “non-destructive” edits.  This means that all of your physical images remain in their unedited form on your hard drive.  When you make adjustments within the software, you will see the changes, but you are required to export your changes if you want a physical copy of your new image.  This gives you both an edited and unedited version of your images.  The “non-destructive” edit feature is good for photographers that need to go back to an image and make specific adjustments for certain clients, without losing the original image or the previous edits.

Lightroom is great for asset management.  You have the ability to create “collections” without having to move images around from folder to folder on your hard drive.  In my workflow, I import my images into Lightroom and store them in a folder based on the date of the photo shoot.  Then as I go through my images, I can assign images to different collections (one for waterfalls, another for National Parks, one for Portraits, and even a collection for images that are in different stages of edit).  You can even add the same image to multiple collections.  One nice thing about collections is the ability to make a change to an image in one of the collections and if that image is in multiple collections, the image will be updated across the board.

After images have been imported into Lightroom, you have the ability to apply different types of ratings such as flags, stars, or even assign colors for easy retrieval days, months, and even years after you originally imported them.  In addition to these ratings, you have the ability to add keywords to individual images, or even to a batch.

You can even create “smart collections” that are just like collections, except for the fact that the images that appear in these collections are based on “rules” that correspond to the ratings or keywords that are associated with those images.  For example, let’s say I have a smart collection named “Smoky Mountain National Park” that has rules that images with the keywords with the word ‘smoky” in them, the images would magically appear in that collection.

There are many more features, but they are too numerous for me to mention here.  To find out more about Lightroom 4 click the link below:

Cost: 699.00 (list) — 536.99 Amazon (price as of this writing)

Photoshop is the most widely known and used photo editing software.  In addition to providing tools for editing and modifying images, the software has tools available for graphics creation and thousands of other uses for digital media.

While Lightroom, as I talked about above, provides tools for photo editing, Photoshop is great for fine tuning images.  There are more advanced tools that allow you to edit strands of hair (as an example) or completely remove (or add) items to an image.  The internet is full of tutorials related to the use of Photoshop ranging from beginner to advanced topics.

I tend to use Photoshop to fine tune HDR images, reduce noise, and add other subtle effects to some images.  I don’t use Photoshop on every image, but it’s a nice toolbox to have when things just need a little something fixed.

To find out more information about Photoshop, click the link below:

Photoshop Elements
Cost: 99.00 (list) — 69.99 Amazon (price as of this writing)

Photoshop Elements is a slimmed down version of Photoshop that focuses more on photography than graphic design.  While Photoshop is a very full, diverse tool for photographers and designers, there is a bunch of stuff that’s just not needed when dealing with images.

While I have to say that as of now, I have never used Photoshop Elements, I know there are many photographers that do use it and they have great success with it.  Most of the tools that you would find in Photoshop are available in Elements.  That and the fact that it can be purchased for under $100 make it a no brainer for photo editing software.

To find out more information about Photoshop Elements 11, click the link below:

PicMonkey (
Cost: FREE

While working on this post, I knew that in order to help everyone, I needed to find something that anyone (at least with an internet connection) can use.  You do not need to register to use the website.

PicMonkey is a website that provides you with the ability to make simple changes to your images.  The site is simple to use (just drag an image to the top of the web page) and provides you with the ability to make changes to exposure, color, temperature, and the ability to remove blemishes.  There are tools for cropping, adding frames, and even adding text to your photos.

There are some things that are available for a fee, but that’s the world that we are living in today.  But all the important tools are free and that’s why I think PicMonkey is a good site to use for simple photo editing.

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