Digital Darkroom

Adobe’s New Lightroom and Photoshop Package

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

Spot Removal Lightroom: 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


My New eBook is Now Available!


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

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87 double-page spreads

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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

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

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

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.