In the last post I declared that Photoshop is essential to effective photo editing. Let's now explore why this is true. While parametric editing with applications like Lightroom and Aperture are efficient, convenient, and non-destructive, we often need access to the tools and capabilities of Photoshop. In fact, I'd argue that we always need them—as long as we have the time and resources to do so.
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Raw processing of digital images has become a standard and essential part of the serious, digital workflow. Applications like Adobe's Lightroom and Apple's Aperture have revolutionized imaging workflow. They provide us photographers with efficient and lightweight editing capabilities for our images. One might surmise that this will render Photoshop obsolete. Why invest in a complex and expensive application that takes years to master when very good images can be made quickly and intuitively elsewhere? The argument for the elimination of Photoshop might be compelling but it is also wrong.
Please Note: This will be the last post on highlights for now. We'll be offering some advanced highlight-recovery tricks at a later date.
Every RAW processor will handle highlights differently. For example, being a Mac user, I have the opportunity to test image processing with both Apple's Aperture and Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom. I find that Aperture can recover blown highlights just a little bit more elegantly than can Lightroom. Yet Lightroom's interface is more straightforward and easier to master. RAW processors have nuances and characteristics to their resulting images that remind me of the personalities of various types of film. We can fine-tune these processors to achieve various effects but that's beyond the scope of this discussion.
So far, our discussion of highlights has been limited to our work in the field. This makes sense. It's best to control just about any process in its early stages—this is true for most things in life, be it health care, home maintenance, manufacturing, or photography. If we manage exposure we pretty much set the stage for a good photograph. But, the real world moves fast and we sometimes don't have the time or energy to get a perfect exposure. Sometimes lighting is just tricky. Sometimes we forget the basics.