Saturday, June 16, 2012

Upgrading to CS6

Keeping up with the changes in the hardware and software around digital photography is always one of the challenges. With my day job being in business software I understand the benefit of adding features and fixing problems. As a user I understand the frustration of a new learning curve and the on-going expenses.

Liberty Memorial

My workflow prior to this latest cycle has been Photoshop-based. When I started with digital photography I adopted Photo Mechanic as my digital organizer and lightbox. Capture NX2 was my RAW converter. I used GIMP as the pixel editor. I had used Photoshop 5 to make some early attempts to composite or merge bracketed images. In time I did a trial down load of CS4 and was sold on the flexibility and the smooth interface. I own DxO, but found using a three package workflow, especially with TWO resource-intensive packages too slow for my tastes. The CS5 upgrade was an easy choice. The opportunity of Content-Aware Fill was the 'Aha' feature.

You might be asking "what about Lightroom"? I have never gotten started with LR, primarily for the cost of purchasing another package and time investment to relearn. But with the discussions on the improvements in the LR Develop module I was intrigued.

My post-processing mentors are split: one is an ACR guy and the other LR. Both recommended waiting until both the new LR4 and CS6 came out to make a decision on which new package to adopt. It was the LR guy who convinced me. He said since I already was comfortable with my Photo Mechanic - Adobe Camera Raw - Photoshop workflow I should invest in the CS6 upgrade to get the "Develop module" upgrade for ACR.

So, I've made the plunge! The new interface is nice. I'm looking forward to trying some of the new Photoshop features, like the improved crop tool. But ACR 7.1 was the reason for the upgrade. So I went looking for instruction.

I've found that the teaching community on the web for LR4 is more 'accessible' than that for ACR. But the underlying software is exactly the same and the interface is 90-95% identical. So I'm including the LR training in my reading. Michael Frye has a couple of very good videos here and here. Uwe Steinmueller has a good eBook on using Develop. Their landscape styles influence mine as well.

Western Auto

So I've begun teaching myself the new steps. I find the new controls clearer and more intuitive. I have to relearn where the starting points for various types of photos lie and rebuild my presets.

The images above are a couple of first efforts. Conversion in ACR 7.1 and post-processing with Silver eFex Pro and Color eFex Pro in CS6.

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