Archive for the ‘Digital Darkroom’ Category

Top Posts of 2013: The Adobe Creative Cloud

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Sunbeams, Mariposa County, CA, USA

Sunbeams, Mariposa County, CA, USA

Throughout 2013, nothing generated more comments and passionate discussion than my posts about Adobe’s Creative Cloud. As most of you know, Adobe announced in May that it would no longer offer Photoshop and its other Creative Suite applications with a perpetual license. They became available by subscription only, and, at the time, with a rather steep monthly fee of $20 per month for an individual application.

In June I wrote My Thoughts on the Adobe Creative Cloud, which covered my initial reaction to this announcement. Since then some things have changed. Notably, Adobe lowered the monthly subscription rate to $9.99 per month for Photoshop and Lightroom together. At first they offered this rate only to people who already owned a license to Photoshop CS3 or later. Then they offered the package to everyone. I finally decided to subscribe, despite some misgivings; I wrote about my reasons here.

This Lightroom-and-Photoshop package is still available for $9.99 per month (with a one-year subscription) until December 31st. After that? Well who knows. I have a feeling Adobe could be offering similar deals in the future, but no guarantees!

2014 should be an interesting year. Will Adobe make Lightroom available by subscription only? Let’s hope not! Will other software companies move to a subscription-only model? Or will someone seize the opportunity created by all the ill-will toward Adobe and offer a true competitor to Photoshop – with a perpetual license? Stay tuned.

— Michael Frye

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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

Top Posts of 2013: Lightroom 5

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Aspen hillside, Tioyable NF, CA, USA

Aspen hillside, Tioyable NF, CA, USA (processed with Lightroom 5)

In April Adobe released the beta version of Lightroom 5, and the full shipping version came out in June. While the jump from Lightroom 4 to 5 wasn’t as big as some previous upgrades, there were some significant improvements, notably the Advanced Healing Brush and the Visualize Spots options for the Spot Removal Tool.

I shared my thoughts about all the changes in the post Lightroom 5 Beta from April. Since then I’ve used the Advanced Healing Brush a lot, and have actually found it to be even more helpful than I initially thought. It does take some practice to get the most out of this tool, but now I do almost all of my retouching in Lightroom, and rarely use Photoshop. This allows me to keep a completely non-destructive workflow, and means that I’ll never have to do the retouching for any of these images again (as I might if I used Photoshop for retouching and ever had to go back and make a change to the Raw file). Very nice.


Adobe Offers its Photoshop and Lightroom Package to Everyone

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Clouds formation over the mountains along the NC/SC border, autumn, USA

A creative cloud over the North Carolina/South Carolina border

Adobe is now offering its Photoshop Photography Program to everyone, not just those who own a license to a previous version of Photoshop. This program includes Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC for $9.99 per month. This new offer is only available until December 2nd. (If you own a license to Photoshop CS3 or later you still have until December 31st.)

For people who would like to try Photoshop, but don’t own a previous Photoshop license, this seems like a good deal. In the past you would have paid nearly $700 to buy a full version of Photoshop for the first time. Now you can get Photoshop, plus Lightroom, for $120 per year.

For those who already own a license to Photoshop CS5 or CS6 things are less clear cut. The pricing for this Lightroom-and-Photoshop package is attractive, but you’re still renting rather than owning, and if you stop your subscription you lose access to the software. Many people are choosing to stick with their older versions of Photoshop, since they own a perpetual license and will never lose access to it. I discussed some of the pros and cons of this deal in a previous post. (Be sure to read the comments, as there are lots of interesting thoughts there.)


Adobe’s New Lightroom and Photoshop Package

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
Sunset clouds, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Sunset clouds, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Back in June I wrote about Adobe’s new subscription-only model for licensing Photoshop, called the Creative Cloud. Let’s just say that I wasn’t happy about it. But recently, as I’m sure many of you know, Adobe announced a new Photoshop Photography Program. For $9.99 per month you can get both Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) and Lightroom, and it’s not an introductory price that will go up after a year. That doesn’t mean that it will never go up, but Adobe says that they don’t have any plans to increase the price at this time. (The offer is only available to people who currently own Photoshop CS3 or later, and it expires on December 31st.)

I have to say that this is a more attractive offer. $9.99 per month comes out to less than I’ve been paying for upgrades to both Lightroom and Photoshop. Of course I already own a license to Lightroom 5, so in the short term I’d really be paying just for Photoshop CC. But at least the price wouldn’t automatically go up after a year, and when Lightroom 6 comes out I’d get it for no extra charge.

Unfortunately this program won’t help you if you don’t already own Photoshop CS3 or later. It’s possible that Adobe might offer a version of this package (probably a more expensive version), to people who don’t already own Photoshop, but there’s no word of that yet. You can still buy Photoshop CS6 from places like Amazon and B&H, and that would then qualify you to get this Photoshop/Lightroom bundle, but that’s an expensive way to go, since CS6 is going for more than $600.


Spot-Removal Tool Feathering in Lightroom 5.2

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Star Trails and junipers east of Sonora Pass, Toiyabe NF, CA, USA

Star Trails and junipers east of Sonora Pass. Lightroom’s retouching tools keep getting more sophisticated; Lightroom 5′s Advanced Healing Brush was very helpful in removing jet trails from this image.

Adobe just released Lightroom 5.2, with a small but significant new feature: the ability to add feathering to the Spot Removal Tool’s brush. This adds further sophistication to Lightroom’s retouching abilities, continuing the theme introduced by the “Advanced Healing Brush” in Lightroom 5.0.

You usually want fairly hard-edged brushes with retouching tools, otherwise you’ll get unwanted blurring along the borders of your retouching areas. But small amounts of feathering can help make transitions smoother and the retouching less obvious. Try setting the Feathering in the Spot Removal Tool to 40 as a starting point, then modify it if necessary. And in keeping with Lightroom’s complete flexibility, you can adjust the feathering after the fact: you can place a spot or add a brush stroke, then adjust the feathering of that area to see the effect of different feathering amounts.

As I said, this is a small improvement, but a helpful one, and something worth paying attention to if you’re a Lightroom user. Naturally 5.2 is a free upgrade if you own Lightroom 5.

And while we’re on the subject, I’ve found the Advanced Healing Brush to be extremely helpful. This is a new capability added to the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom 5.0, allowing you to brush over an area you want to retouch instead of using a series of discrete spots. It’s made my retouching in Lightroom more efficient, and allowed me to use Photoshop less and stay in Lightroom more. I’m curious about whether others have also found this new feature helpful—let me know how you like it.

— Michael Frye


Free Bonus Video: Using the Arrow Keys in Lightroom

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

(If you’re viewing this post as an email, click here to see the video.)

The response to my ebook and video package, Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide, has been wonderful, well beyond my expectations. Thank you all so much for your support! I put a lot of effort into creating something that I hoped would be helpful to a lot of photographers, and it’s gratifying to see that this effort has been well received.

As an expression of my appreciation, I’m extending the discount codes for two extra days. Use the code lr520 and get 20% off the ebook package until midnight on Tuesday, August 6th Pacific time.

Also, I’ve created the free, bonus video tutorial above to go along with the ebook. It’s a tip about using the arrow keys in Lightroom to help speed your workflow and fine-tune your adjustments. I use the arrow keys all the time, and I hope you’ll find this technique helpful too.

Again, thank you all very much! I really appreciate all the positive comments you’ve sent me about the ebook.

— Michael Frye

P.S. If you know someone who might like this video, or who would enjoy the ebook, please share this post!


My New eBook is Now Available!

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013


Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide

PDF ebook with video tutorials
87 double-page spreads

Add to Cart View Cart

Special introductory offer: for a limited time get 20% off by using the code LR520 at checkout. Offer expires at midnight Pacific time on August 4th.


Here it is! My latest ebook, Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide, is now available.

I’m really excited about this new ebook, because I’ve been able to incorporate features that make this more of a hands-on learning experience. First, you can download the original Raw files used as examples in the ebook, and then follow along with each step yourself – just as if you were attending one of my workshops.

Second, when you purchase the ebook you get exclusive access to eight videos demonstrating different aspects of Lightroom’s Develop Module, like using the Adjustment Brush, Spot Removal Tool, and Point Curve, advanced retouching in Lightroom, and much more. It’s great to read about a tool or technique; it’s even better to watch a demonstration, and then try it yourself on the same image.


Thoughts on the Adobe Creative Cloud

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Lone cloud at sunrise, Mono Lake, CA, USA

Lone cloud at sunrise, Mono Lake, CA, USA

There’s been a lot of internet discussion lately about the new Adobe Creative Cloud. If you haven’t heard about this, Adobe decided that it will offer its Creative Suite applications only by subscription. You can get the whole suite (including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, etc.) for $50 a month, or an individual application for $20 a month. They’re offering first-year discounts for people who own a license to any CS3 or later application.

On the positive side, subscribers will get regular updates to the software when new features are ready, rather than having to wait for a new version to come out. On the other hand, $20 per month for an application represents a substantial price increase. The last Photoshop upgrade was $199. Since the original Photoshop CS came out in 2003, Adobe has upgraded Photoshop, on average, every 20.6 months. If that pace of innovation continued, a $199 upgrade price would average out to around $10 per month – or half as much as they’re asking for a Creative Cloud subscription to a single application.

I might be able to live with the price, but here’s the worst part: if you stop your subscription at any time, you can’t use the software anymore.


Back From the Redwoods, and the Lightroom 5 Release

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Sun breaking through fog in a redwood forest

Sun breaking through fog in a redwood forest

We had a wonderful time up in redwood country. It’s such a beautiful area, and we had great conditions – plus two really nice groups of people, and the relaxing ambience of the Requa Inn to come home to after a long day of photography. It was a memorable and enjoyable two weeks.

I’ll post more images from the area soon, but I’ll start with this one showing sun breaking through the fog in a redwood forest. It can be difficult to work with this kind of splotchy light, but I loved the mood of this scene, and luckily the sun hit just the right spots, creating a nicely-balanced pattern of light and dark.


Lightroom 5 Beta

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

As many of you know, Adobe released Lightroom 5 Beta last week. Now that I’ve had a chance to give it a thorough test drive, here are my thoughts about the new features:

Advanced Healing Brush

The Spot Removal tool has received a major upgrade – finally! You can now brush over an area you want to retouch, instead of being confined to using only discrete spots.

I’ve tried this new feature on several images, and it works pretty well. It makes short work of relatively simple jobs, like getting rid of a jet trail in the sky, that used to require tediously placing a series of cloning or healing spots. Now it usually takes just one brush stroke to make a jet trail disappear.

Photoshop still has easier and more efficient options for difficult retouching jobs. But the new Advanced Healing Brush will make it possible to do more retouching in Lightroom, allowing you to keep a completely flexible, non-destructive workflow. I think that’s a big improvement; I’ll say more about that further down.