Tag: News

Adobe Photography Program closes 8 December 2013

As we’ve become busier, the site has become much quieter and I can see that it has been more than a year since I last wrote an update. In that time, we have continued to work with photographers at all levels on workflow, colour management and print making; we’ve made ‘digital’ prints for exhibitions (the last being Sir John Ramsden’s excellent exhibitions of photographs from 1980s Vietnam in London and Hanoi in 2013) and helped many others to make their own prints, organise their collections, process photographs and get their images online. Business as usual, in other words.

Photoshop Photography Program

Today, I’d like to remind readers and subscribers that the deadline for joining what Adobe calls its Photoshop Photography Program has been extended to Sunday, 8 December 2013. This offer gets you Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC plus any updates released during the year for £8.78 a month, including VAT; this offer was once open only to those who owned Photoshop CS 3 or later but is temporarily (I assume) open to those who own neither Lightroom nor Photoshop. At this price, if you are currently making do with an old version of Lightroom and perhaps Adobe Photoshop Elements or something similar, this is an excellent offer. As an owner of both Lr 5 and Photoshop CS 6, I upgraded to Photoshop CC on its release but was automatically switched to this plan when it became available; the cloud activation and licensing have worked faultlessly so far.

Not entirely cloudy

The Creative Cloud versions of the Adobe apps don’t run ‘from the cloud’ in some mysterious way — they’re installed locally on your machine, just like their predecessors, and run in exactly the same way. They work online and offline. (Almost every photographer I’ve spoken to has been confused by the name ‘Creative Cloud’.) The idea of a CC app like Photoshop CC is just that all updates released during your subscription term are included and that there will be no major version releases going forward (like Photoshop CS 4, CS 5, etc.). Instead, new features will be added via installable updates when they’re ready. In addition, you get some cloud storage options for your documents.

The downside of this scheme is that when you stop paying, you lose all Adobe Photoshop functionality and not just the right to future upgrades. At this price, though, I don’t see that being a problem for any serious users of the software — it makes sense even if, like me, you owned a copy of Lr 5 already.

Capture One Training

All the hullabaloo earlier this year about the initial Creative Cloud pricing (which saw Adobe’s marketing and sales departments at their worst) has been good for the competition. Phase One’s Capture One Pro is newly revitalised in its current release (version 7) and I like it much better than previous releases. As part of the work I do at Ravensbourne as a sessional lecturer, I qualified as a Phase One Certified Professional this summer and now offer training and support on Capture One, in addition to Photoshop and Lightroom. If you’re trying to decide between all these options, write or call and we can offer some independent advice. (We don’t sell any of this software or hardware and are not associated with either of the publishers.)

That’s it for now. As always, one-to-one training and phone support is available on all the above.

Next post: January 2015, by my calculations.

Shoot Raw update, March 2011

I can see from our subscriber page that many new readers have subscribed to receive automatic updates — welcome to you all. We’re not usually as quiet as we have been over the last few months. Read on…


The topics we cover during our workflow training can be divided broadly into two areas: file organisation and quality of output. For most of the photographers we train, pro and advanced amateur, the two areas are equally important but online, there’s relatively little information about keeping your stuff organised so we’ll be attempting to help remedy that this year, beginning with the topic of keywording. A few tips can help you organise your photographs and find them when you need them so we’ll be providing short blog posts on that topic and others relating to organisation of your image library. Although they’ll be based on Lightroom 3, some of the tips will be apply to other digital asset management applications as well.

Lightroom training courses for groups

Most of what we do is one-to-one training but we’ve been collecting names from photographers who’ve written or called to ask about attending a class. If you’re waiting for our next Lightroom training course in London, please e-mail or use the contact form and we’ll measure interest and write to all the people on our list well in advance of our next course. We might even end up putting out a quick questionnaire to ask if the photographers who’ve subscribed to our blog would prefer week-end or week day courses. As usual, follow the blog by e-mail or RSS and you’ll know when we get something ready.

Site reboot

A rewrite. We’ve had a copywriter look over the site and rewrite the copy and we’ve also sketched out a plan to make the whole place a little more streamlined and easier to navigate, with more information about us and a little less clutter but the changes aren’t live yet. You’ll see them roll in gradually over the next few weeks. There may be the odd broken link while that happens—if you spot anything, please let us know.

Shoot Raw moves to Dreamhost. We moved our web hosting to Dreamhost recently, since we host several sites and have recently been helping photographers with their own online presence; Dreamhost makes that a bit easier for us, without the need to worry about bandwidth or hosting fees. We made the move during what we thought would be a very quiet time but some of you noticed the disruption while looking for contact details for us online. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Dreamhost offer. If you’re interested in signing up with them, you can visit Dreamhost and enter the promo code shootraw to get a $10 discount on a year’s hosting and a $20 discount on two years’ hosting. (As of March 2011, that reduces your hosting costs to $109.40 and $204.80 respectively but check the latest prices when you sign up.) What makes Dreamhost different, among other things, is that once you’ve paid to host a domain, you can add further domains that you already own without paying any extra for hosting. (Note: you also get full SSH and SFTP access, which we didn’t have with our previous host — that also makes life easier for us.)

Other Shoot Raw news — Ravensbourne

Earlier this year, I taught a unit at Ravensbourne, previously known as Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication. The college was based in Chislehurst but now occupies a fantastic new building overlooking the O2 Arena on the Greenwich Peninsula. The unit was part of the new Digital Photography BA (Hons) course that Ravensbourne began this year. They’ve attracted a really good first-year cohort and the teaching was fun. It was also a good chance to see the way that a bunch of young photographers took to Lightroom 3 and to digital workflow in general. The blog updates that you’ll be reading over the next few weeks and months will have been inspired partly by seeing the result of a group of photographers work on things over a period of ten weeks — it highlighted things that I hadn’t seen when teaching individuals or shorter group courses.

Photography degree courses are now beginning to really value the importance of digital asset management and workflow — that’s really good to know. As recently as 2010, we privately taught recent recent BA and MA graduates of photography who hadn’t touched Lightroom, Aperture or anything equivalent during their entire degree courses and who were processing their shoots very slowly. It’s good to know that the situation is changing — kudos to the folks at Ravensbourne for taking a fresh look at it and coming up with the a strong offering. It’s good to be a part of that change.

Alternatives to personal Lightroom tuition

Pound Sterling

We often get enquiries about a less costly alternative to our one-on-one Lightroom training courses. Here are some ideas.

1) George Jardine’s Lightroom 3 workflow video tutorial for $29.95

Back when Lightroom was new, George Jardine produced an excellent podcast of related interviews and discussions that offered great insight into the product and some very useful video tutorials from George himself. The podcast also involved the Lightroom team, world class photographers and master printers who used the product and who were involved with its development.

George’s new video tutorial for Lightroom 3 doesn’t cover the Develop module—this one is all about workflow. The reviews are really good and, having listened to and enjoyed every single episode of that early Lightroom podcast back at the time of the first public betas and Lightroom 1, we can highly recommend George’s knowledge and his approach. Take a look at the free sample video and see what you think of his style. Some important notes: you can only watch these videos online (you don’t download them), there are separate links for the iOS versions (iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) and you’ll need to make sure you’re up-to-date with your Flash browser plugin for Windows or the Mac.

(We are not associated with George Jardine.)

2) The Luminous Landscape Lightroom 3 tutorial videos at $49.99

Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe are back with a completely new course covering Lightroom 3. In total, there will be more than nine hours of material for download; at the time of writing (Aug 2010), the footage has been shot but is still being edited so that when you buy, you get access to as many episodes as are online, with the rest available for download as they appear (with nothing further to pay, obviously).

A 10% discount is available while material is still being edited and uploaded.

For more about Jeff and Michael, see our original post about their Lightroom 2 videos. These guys really do know both photography and Lightroom and even at full price ($49.99—currently about £32), the course is great value. The 10% discount takes the cost below £30.

If you own their Lightroom 2 tutorial, you get a further 10% discount on this new release. You need to obtain your discount code—full details are on the product page.

Again, there’s an online sample and a table of contents in the form of a PDF here.

(We are not associated with the Luminous Landscape.)

3) Lightroom 3 books

We always leave photographers with a book to accompany our own one-to-one Lightroom tutorials. After experimenting with a few very good titles, we’ve pretty much settled on two: Scott Kelby’s and Martin Evening’s. We’d recommend them to anyone interested in mastering Lightroom 3. The general standard of Lightroom books is pleasingly high now so there are good alternatives but we’d be comfortable describing these two as the best Lightroom 3 books on offer right now.


Of the two, the Kelby (full title: The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers) initially seems lighter in tone but its jollity disguises Scott’s knack for delivering a lot of information in a very effective way. As with photography, making your writing seem effortless and breezy is very hard work but he does it. Martin Evening’s alternative (The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers) is perhaps suited to the more technically minded. Both books, however, are excellent.

Where to buy—Amazon UK links

In the UK, you generally get the best prices at Amazon (click here for Scott Kelby’s book and here for Martin Evening’s) but you can also find them books at larger bookshops. For Londoners, Foyles in Charing Cross Road generally keeps stock of both.

Kindle owner?

Both are available for Kindle (Evening, Kelby) but we haven’t tried them in that format so can’t comment on readability.

(We’re not associated with the authors but we are Amazon UK affiliates so we earn a small commission if you buy either of the books using the links above within 24 hours of clicking. Every two book sales nets roughly enough Amazon commission for a cheeseburger. Good times!)

4) Lightroom workshops from Jerry Courvoisier

We have no personal experience of Jerry Courvoisier’s training but he’s delivering two Lightroom workshops in the UK in November 2010 and we mention them here because George Jardine (ex-Adobe, see above) is giving the same workshops for the same company in different parts of the world. No guarantee but perhaps that’s a benchmark and says something good about the company’s standards.

As you can see from the linked page, there’s a two-day workshop provisionally scheduled for London on the week-end of 6th/7th November 2010 and and another for Manchester a week later, on 13th/14th November 2010. You can’t book yet but keep an eye on the page and the links should appear shortly.

(We’re not associated with Jerry Courvoisier or lightroomworkshops.com.)

Mix and match

If you’ve tried one or more of the above and are interested in shorter tuition sessions to tie up any loose ends, we’d be happy to hear from you.

Remote training

We’re considering a new idea that might also fit in here: short, one-to-one remote training sessions, using the secure screen-control software that we’ve been using for years to provide support to our customers.

The idea is that, for 30 minutes or an hour, we help with specific aspects of your workflow that you would like us to address. We can see your screen and your mouse pointer and can even take control of the computer to demonstrate things, then watch as you work. It’s not a substitute for a day of face-to-face training but is intended to quickly address specific questions, at a low cost. It’s a technique we’ve used for over three years to provide support and has worked very well.

Thoughts? Let us know. We’ll say more about it in a separate post so revisit the bog or subscribe via e-mail or RSS. If you’d like to get in touch, just call (0333 577 5703) or mail us. (Note: we don’t spam you or pass your information on to any third parties.)

Haven’t turned pro yet?

We offer discounts to amateur photographers, whether or not they intend to go professional. You might remember our March deal. Interest from amateurs wasn’t enough for us to maintain those prices (the idea was to go for volume without an ongoing sales and marketing effort) but we do have a one-day offer for those of you not making money from photography yet—just drop us a line for details. When we hear from you, it would be useful for us to know which aspects of your workflow are currently holding you back, what camera and computer systems you use, what type or types of photography you do and roughly where you live.

News: Lightroom 3.2 RC

Unrelated to saving money on Lightroom training is the news that the Lightroom 3.2 release candidate is out, with bug fixes, support for recent cameras (including the Panasonic Lumix LX-5 and the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5) and automatic correction for more lenses. A release candidate (RC) is a build that is feature complete, has gone through the beta-testing process and is now being made available for a final, public test intended to reveal any show-stopping bugs. Because this is an RC release, it won’t replace your existing copy of Lightroom 3 (or Lightroom 2)—it sits by its side. Read more and download it here.

And finally… welcome to new readers from the BJP and Photo Pro

You might have seen us over the last few months in the business directory of the British Journal of Photography (BJP) after its successful, industry-defying transformation into a heavy, top-tier monthly.

Below: the advert we’re running in another favourite, Photo Pro magazine.

Lightroom 3 released

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is out and, as you’d expect, it has almost all the features we’ve discussed previously—the much-improved image rendering and sharpening, the excellent noise-reduction routines, the lens distortion correction—and some that we haven’t, like tethered shooting, improved printing layouts and a much better slideshow module.

Lightroom 3 box

Keen Amazon UK pricing for Lightroom 3

Amazon UK is taking pre-orders for the full version of Lightroom 3, the upgrade from version 2 and the full academic version and right now (9th June 2010), Amazon’s prices are excellent. If they fall further before the product ships, you’ll end up paying the lower price. Remember: when you buy Lightroom, you get the Mac and Windows applications on the same disc. (However, Lightroom 3 won’t run on G4 or G5 Macs—it’s Intel only.) Adobe’s standard licence allows you to install and use the application on one desktop and one laptop, provided they’re not used simultaneously.

Lightroom 3 beta 2 will expire

Until your copy of Lightroom 3 arrives, you can use the beta version (good till 30th June) or download a 30-day trial of Lightroom 3 from Adobe’s site.

Lightroom 3 at Amazon.com

For US readers, here are the links on Amazon’s US store for the full version and the upgrade from version 2.

Training video

We notice as we deliver one-on-one tuition that photographers aren’t particularly interested in the regular Lightroom books that we always provide. One solution if you’re not keen on learning from books is video, so keep an eye on this page for the forthcoming Luminous Landscape Lightroom 3 training video by Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe. Michael’s an alpha tester for Adobe and Jeff works very closely with Adobe on product development and testing and their Lightroom 2 training (which we mentioned previously) is very good. Expect the forthcoming Lightroom 3 edition to be insightful and informative.

(Update: for those of you new to Lightroom, take a look at these intro videos by Julieanne Kost at Adobe TV, new for Lightroom 3 but pitched at beginner level.)

Jeffrey’s plugins

Lightroom 3 comes with a new Flickr plugin and a new export plugin framework that allows plugin programmers to create a richer user experience. Keep an eye on Jeffrey’s Friedl’s pages for details of what he offers and when he’s likely to update his excellent plugins for Lightroom 3 compatibility. He offers plugins for Facebook, Smugmug, Zenfolio and others (including a much more advanced Flickr plugin for Lightroom 3) and I believe he has been working with Adobe on the plugin architecture for Lightroom 3 itself. Read this post on Jeffrey’s site for more.

Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS4 compatibility

Lightroom 3 will work just fine with Photoshop CS5 (obviously) but to get it to talk happily to the previous version, CS4, you’ll need to make sure your copy of the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plugin is at version 5.7 or later. Camera Raw is a free release—you just need to make sure your copy is current. The “Edit in Photoshop” function in Lightroom 3 will generally work as expected when you’re editing raw files in Lightroom 3 and sending to CS4 only if you install ACR 5.7. See an earlier post of ours for more information and for links to download ACR 5.7 for Windows and Mac OS X.

Expect some training materials from us, too

We’re planning our own training guide—something a little different from most of what’s out there. It will be based on the the questions we get asked from working photographers when we deliver follow-up training. After delivering training to enough working pros, you get to understand which things people struggle with and which come easily. You also get to learn which aspects of the raw workflow are most important to most commercial photographers—the results aren’t predictable. For our offering, we’ll be focusing on the key functions in a very simple, easy way. More on that later.

One-on-one training

Speaking of our own training, we’re getting quite busy (which is why you’re hearing less from us on this blog and e-mail list) but we’d still love to hear from you if you’d like to discuss one-on-one training, at your pace, on your own equipment. Professional, amateur, technical or non-technical—all are equally welcome. It’s better than learning from a book and it’s even better than learning from video. We’re now offer an afternoon-only option that allows you to spread the training over a week or two, in a few, short, sessions with plenty of time in between to practice. Although most of our customers are in and around London, we’ve trained photographers from Birmingham to Brighton; we’re getting quite good at minimising costs and expenses to deliver the best value. Wherever you are in the UK, call us on 0333 577 5703 to discuss training or, even better, complete our contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. To get to the contact form, click here.

More Lightroom 3 features revealed: correction for lens distortion

The final version of Lightroom 3 (and ACR 6.1) will allow us access to lens-correction features that have long been lurking.

Distortion correction has been around for a while in Lightroom

For some compact cameras that shoot raw and for some Micro Four-Thirds camera-and-lens combinations, both Lightroom and ACR have been providing behind-the-scenes corrections of lens distortion. Users of the Canon S90, the Panasonic Lumix LX-3 and some wide-angle Micro Four-Thirds lenses (such as the excellent 20mm Panasonic f/1.7) have seen automatic correction of very significant barrel distortion but Lightroom 3 (and ACR 6.1) will extend that benefit, in some form, to the rest of us.

Control over the degree of correction

Many users of the cameras and lenses mentioned above probably didn’t even know that their images were being corrected, sometimes for an eye-popping level of geometric distortion. The feature just worked, unbidden, behind the scenes. Adobe’s engineers generally seem to have matched the correction that the camera manufacturers applied to JPEGs generated by the camera and/or the results produced by the raw converters shipped with the cameras, meaning that by design, images from cameras like the S90 and LX-3 show some residual level of barrel distortion after automatic correction within Lightroom—correction over which the user has had no control, till now. With Lightroom 3, we’ll be able to fade the degree of correction for things like vignetting and distortion.

The best bit: we’ll be able to profile our own lenses

Out of the box, the lens-correction feature will support some lenses from Canon, Nikon and Sigma (who even issued a press release about it) but potentially the strongest aspect of Adobe’s implementation is that we will get a mechanism to allow us to profile our own lenses for optical defects. There are other solutions to the lens-correction problem (DXO Optics Pro, for example, or PTLens) but Adobe’s looks like it might be the strongest so far for a couple of reasons: firstly, the existence of an easy way to profile your own lenses (the proof of the pudding will be in the tasting, of course) and secondly, the apparent concern of the Adobe Lightroom/ACR team to get local corrections working well with this new feature. This is harder than it sounds: say you’ve removed a spot of sensor dust from an image or you’ve added saturation and sharpness to a an area of a photograph: quite how should Lightroom react when you later switch on the automatic correction for lens for distortion? Should it even let you switch it on if you’ve applied local corrections?

Head over to Tom Hogarty’s blog post, where he shows how it’s all going to work. Congratulations to the Lightroom team on what looks to be an excellent implementation.

Lightroom 3 public beta 2 has been released

[Update: that was quick! Lightroom 3 public beta 2 is out and it looks good. Luminance noise reduction that—at first glance—seems to work extremely well and an easier way to switch between the old raw conversion engine and the new. I’ll leave the rest of this post intact but it’s now outdated, less than an hour after it was posted as a pointer to a rumour.]

The free Lightroom 3 public beta was released in 2009 and was a big hit, particularly among low-light shooters, but the beta is due to expire at the end of April. Could it be that there’s a new version on the way before the final release? Take a look at this thread at the (usually very useful) Lightroom forum over at the Luminous Landscape. Apparently, there was an announcement that even made it to DP Review before being pulled. Perhaps by the time you read this, it’ll actually be out. This is the Adobe page to check.

If there is another public beta on its way and if it offers a peek at the new luminance noise reduction that Adobe has been working on, it will be very welcome. We’re keen to see how the luminance NR compares with third-part solutions like Noiseware, Noise Ninja, Topaz Denoise and Neat Image.

Photoshop Elements 8 offer at Amazon UK


Update 12th April 2010: the price of Elements is now back to normal. The offer lasted till 11th April 2010 so over three weeks in total. Still very good value but the prices mentioned below are no longer available from Amazon directly . The article will stay up since it provides some detail on using Elements with Lightroom.

First, our apologies to the regular Photoshop users among you and to those of you outside Europe. You can skip the rest of this note.

We don’t plan to do this sort of thing often but we received e-mail today from Amazon UK mentioning that it is now listing Photoshop Elements 8 at less than £50 as of 16 March 2010. That price includes VAT and shipping. This is the boxed, retail DVD and by UK standards, that price is an absolute bargain. (US readers who are still reading will raise their eyebrows at that description but sadly, it’s true.) The list price is £75 and it routinely sells on Amazon for £65.

It comes as a Mac version (Intel processor only) or a Windows version and both are currently at the same price.

Compared with most of the newer image editors intended for casual and occasional use, Elements wins hands down. It now offers layers, full Adobe Camera Raw compatibility, adjustment layers, and layer masks (for adjustment layers). It even offers smart sharpening and a version of the context-aware scaling function that you find in the full Photoshop (attempting to keep people and buildings in proportion while you stretch the image).

Who’s it suitable for?

Photoshop Elements will suit you if you don’t need to do much retouching outside Lightroom or Aperture but do need to clone out a stray object or element or if you need to run third-party noise-reduction plugins or something else requiring Photoshop. It will also suit you if you previously outsourced most of your own post-processing (or provided your clients and editors with images that weren’t retouched) and are only now beginning to do more of it yourself. It’s an excellent, low-cost way of beginning your Photoshop journey.

Elements 8 compared to Photoshop CS4

For occasional use, Elements 8 has only three significant weaknesses compared with Photoshop 11 (CS4).

  1. It doesn’t allow you to do as much work on 16-bit files as the full version of Photoshop does
  2. It doesn’t offer any access to the LAB colour mode
  3. It doesn’t allow you to convert to CMYK.

(It’s also not a 64-bit application but neither is the full Mac version of Photoshop CS4.) Both LAB mode and the ability to work at 16-bit depth are useful but for many people who do most of their work (including local adjustments) in a raw converter like Lightroom or Aperture, these things might matter less than they once did.

LAB mode in Photoshop is very powerful but relatively few people use it today, particularly after recent additions to Photoshop’s functionality, offering the “fade to luminosity” function. (That’s not to say LAB isn’t useful, powerful or under-rated—it’s all those things and fans of LAB mode will be horrified, of course, to read all this. It’s just relatively unusual to see people actually use it today, now that editing in RGB is as powerful and capable as it now is.)

You’d convert to CMYK if you’re preparing press-ready work (for magazine or book adverts, say). Again, you’ll already know if you need it. If you ask nicely, many publications’ prepress folks will do the conversion from RGB to CMYK themselves if you provide them with tagged files that you produced in a colour managed workflow.

Working in 16-bit mode, particularly in a larger colour space like Adobe RGB (all things we will discuss in future articles) is a way to help preserve smoothness of tone and colour, among other things. It will help avoid banding and other colour artefacts. The banding and other issues are mostly likely to appear when you do lots of work to the contrast, saturation and exposure of part or all of an image, particularly in areas of the image the show smooth surfaces

If you have used Lightroom, Aperture or another raw converter to do most of the grunt-work, like exposure compensation, highlight recovery, tone, white balance, contrast, dodging and burning) on a raw file, you’ve done most the things that would cause problems with 8-bit files. Performing some further minor work (some cloning or healing in small areas) on an 8-bit file is not usually something to worry about.

In addition, if you’d like to use Photoshop to run a noise-reduction plug-in like Neat Image or Topaz Denoise, the plugin will usually work in 16-bit mode in Elements 8. If you intend to use layers to blend the post-NR image with the regular image, you need to convert down to 8 bits so the conversion after you’ve run the noise-reduction routine to minimise the effect. (Elements 8 opens and saves 16-bit TIFFs—it’s just that layers and some of its own built-in filters and functions don’t work in that mode. Luckily, the third-party NR plugins work fine.)

Lightroom integration with Elements 8

Above: setting up Lightroom to work with Elements 8 for work that will remain in 16-bit throughout.

Lightroom integration with Photoshop CS4 is deeper than with other image editors like Elements. However, Elements offers most of what you need: in Lightroom’s preferences, perform a one-time setup. You specify that Elements 8 is your image editor, you tell Lightroom which colour space to use when creating an export file and which format to and bit depth to work at. Once you’ve set it up once, you’ll have a keyboard shortcut (for example, command-option-E or ctrl-alt-E) to invoke Elements but you can also right-click an image inside Lightroom and edit in Elements that way. Because it’s set up, the bit depth, file type and colour space will be taken care of automatically after that.

Lightroom also allows you to set up Elements 8 in different ways (16-bit TIFF, ProPhoto, 8-bit TIFF sRGB) so that you get a choice of options for each image that you send to Elements: you would choose the most appropriate for the task at hand.

Above: examples of what you might see when you right-click an image in Lightroom having set up different ways of sending an image to Elements 8.

If you do work that requires you to shift to 8-bit mode, first switch to a smaller colour space. (ProPhoto RGB is not a sensible choice for 8-bit work. More on colour spaces another time.)

What you don’t get with Elements 8, compared with CS4, is the smart objects integration, the HDR-from-raw-files integration and the ability to create panoramas from your raw shots.

To run noise-reduction plugins

If you were using Photoshop Elements to run a noise-reduction filter like Neat Image or Topaz Denoise, you’d choose to work with 16-bit TIFFs in something like Adobe RGB space. Lightroom will create a TIFF that contains all your existing Lightroom edits and will send it to Elements. When you finish and save your work in Elements, you’ll see the edited file in Lightroom, next to the original. Lightroom will handle the 16-bit TIFF as it would any other file, allowing you to export JPEGs, print, etc.

We own and use both CS4 and Elements 8 (for which we paid a good deal more than £49!) here at Shoot Raw, just to make sure we keep up-to-date with both. We can recommend Elements 8 for photographers who don’t spend a huge amount of time doing advanced Photoshop work or for people beginning with Photoshop, who’d like to get familiar with the application.

One more thing: if you were to buy Elements at £49 and then upgrade to Photoshop CS4 today at the Adobe UK site, you’d end up saving £30 over the cost of just buying CS4 outright from Adobe. Though it’s impossible to say this with absolute certainty, that saving is likely to continue when CS5 is released.

Amazon UK is marking this is “for a limited time only”. No idea how long it’ll last. We’ll try to update or delete this note when the offer has gone.

Disclosures and disclaimers

We earn commission from Amazon UK if you click one of the links and check out and pay for a product within that shopping session. That’s nice but the commission (about £2.50 per copy of Elements that you pay for during your visit to Amazon from our links) clearly isn’t reason enough to plug the product. We’re recommending it because it’s good (as long as you understand its limitations—see above), because the sub-£50 price is an absolute bargain and because Amazon UK is a reputable seller. (On which subject, we’d recommend that you buy directly from Amazon rather than one of its resellers—look for “Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk “.)

The Mac version:

Below: the Windows version

Coming up

We’re going to start a series of articles looking at exactly which camera settings affect the data in your raw files when you work with Lightroom and how. We’ll be looking at the primary exposure controls—shutter speed, aperture, ISO—and secondary camera settings like saturation, sharpness, contrast and colour mode (meaning options like Adobe RGB and sRGB). Over the series, we’ll be giving you definitive answers and explaining the technical language.

If you were sent a link to this post, you can subscribe by e-mail or RSS to receive all future articles in full. It’s free.

Week-end reading

A clutch of stuff from around the web: what photo buyers want from your web site, what technical tests don’t tell you, retouching before the age of Photoshop, some photography business resources and a piece about putting all the technical stuff into context. But first…

An example of why you should back up your stuff

Unlike many stories about the importance of backup, this one has a happy ending. Matt Kloskowski, of Lightroom Killer Tips, is teaching at Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai and found that a cloned copy of his MacBook drive, Fedex’d from the US, reached him just in time for him to be able to teach his first class after his internal drive failed. Read Matt’s story here and if you need to, you can remind yourself of our recommended Lightroom backup strategy.

Retouching didn’t start with Photoshop

This is one for younger photographers. Joerg Colberg over at Conscientious has a typically interesting article about retouching and improving negatives and prints—and we’re certainly not talking about scans here. Take a look. (If, like us, you’d rather stick with your Wacom tablet, we mentioned an excellent Photoshop book for photographers in this post a couple of days back.)

Photo business info from Photoshelter

Though it’s usually John Harrington or Dan Heller making the running in this area, it’s worth keeping up with Photoshelter’s information on running a photography business. They talk about SEO, workflow, licensing, selling and more. Obviously, they’re trying to sell you Photoshelter accounts (not a bad thing—we’ve used Photoshelter and might cover their services in a future article) but the information is good in its own right.

What photo buyers say they want to see on your web site

What people say they want isn’t always reliable—we know that.

There’s a Nikon story that says when the company surveyed its professional customers about an emerging technology called autofocus a couple of decades back, it learned that pros couldn’t care less about it. Hindsight reminds us that autofocus happened to be a bit slow and rubbish at the time. Perhaps it’s not surprising today, then, to learn that when other companies took the idea seriously and released decent autofocus systems, Nikon quickly lost a bushel or two of market share. The company had believed its survey results and hadn’t taken the idea of autofocus seriously enough. I don’t think the pros who answered the survey were lying: they really believed that they didn’t want autofocus and they just happened to be wrong.

Henry Ford is famously quoted as saying that if he’d asked his potential customers what they wanted, they’d have asked for a faster horse. You get the idea.

Now, with all that said, take a look at this result from a survey of photo buyers:

Photoshelter Buyers Survey 2009.png
Above: an excerpt from the Photoshelter 2009 Buyers’ Survey.

That’s fairly representative of the surprises in store in the survey. If you’re reading this, you almost definitely have a web site for your work or are at least thinking of building one so look at this Photoshelter page about what photo buyers say they want from photographers’ web sites. The big surprise for me when I watched this last year was the general lack of love for big photos and the overwhelming demand from buyers for thumbnails of small photographs. That seems to run counter to the trend but then, new trends often don’t survey well, as the stories above suggest. (I share photo buyers’ loathing for auto-playing Flash sites, as it happens, particularly if they begin to play music without being asked.)

If the survey page whets your appetite, there’s also a presentation of the buyers’ survey results in an hour-long movie. Its glacial pace makes it a little frustrating at times but there is actually some very useful information in there. If you’re just about to build a site or overhaul one and you make sales online (or hope to), it’s definitely worth the hour spent.

What tests don’t tell you

There’s a very good article from the inestimable Ctein about what tests don’t tell you, published on Mike Johnston’s outstanding site The Online Photographer. Ctein provides an example of how banding (which you see often see in high-ISO work, especially when you push a low-light exposure) is rarely reflected in the noise measurements of digital cameras that you see online, even though it’s a form of noise. He uses it as just one example of how tests can be incomplete. The comments that follow the article are just as relevant, too.

Ctein is a wizard, famous for his dye transfer prints, among other things. Even his regular small inkjet prints (we have a couple in the form of some Christmas cards that he mailed to his supporters last year) are something special. Kodak once called him the world’s best printer and I can believe it.

And finally… putting all the technical stuff into context

Photographer David duChemin is the writer and photographer of a very warm, uplifting book called Within the Frame (Amazon US, Amazon UK), a book of travel photography and the author’s approach to it.

Last week, David published on his blog a piece called Confessions of a So-Called Pro to help put all the technical stuff into context and remind us what’s really important about photography.

It’s well worth reading. Here’s an excerpt:

I often leave my ISO dangerously high. I get more email about why I shot something at ISO 800 than anything else and that tells me (a) I should get my act together and (b) y’all need to lighten up on the whole ISO issue.

Well said. David duChemin also publishes electronic books for $5 each and if you like his work, you’ll enjoy this audio interview (free) that he did with Ibarionex R Perello for The Candid Frame podcast. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to hear that Mr duChemin was once a standup comedian…

The usual blurb

You can get all our articles for free by e-mail or RSS. We run one-on-one Lightroom courses in London for professional photographers and serious amateurs, although in the light of David duChemin’s article, above, perhaps “serious” isn’t the right word…

Thanks to our friend Danny De Vylder, who sent us our copy of Within the Frame last year and introduced us to David’s work.