Software for Photographers

Feb 23, 2024 | Marketing

“Show Notes”

Marcus has been using three pieces of software for a long time in his career. Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture one. But initially Marcus goes back to the history of retouching, which started only a couple of years after photography was invited. So “photoshopping” has been around from well before photoshop. Adobe photoshop was early photography software that started in the 1990s. Marcus remembers using this for the first time while he was at university. But back in those days it was slow to use due to the speed of the computers.  Marcus even had to do a photoshop exam at one stage and became an accredited expert!

Lightroom came out after Photoshop. It is a very easy to use intuitive piece of software. Lightroom and Photoshop are complimentary pieces of software both made by Adobe. The difference between Photoshop and Lightroom is that Photoshop is designed to work at one image at a time, while Lightroom can do bulk editing. You can chose to edit a photo in one way, then apply that editing to lots of other photos. The terminology used in light room was the terminology of the dark room so photographers easily understood it.

Photoshop also has many more uses than photography. Marcus uses it for all sorts of areas of his business such as making reels for Instagram or making posts for Linkedin. Photoshop has so much functionality that it can be overwhelming initially. Also it means it’s very easy to spend a long time on photoshop editing images. This can be a challenge for professional photographers, making sure they don’t spend too long using Photoshop.

Capture one is the third piece of software Marcus uses. Marcus uses it’s ability to tether. That means Marcus works with his camera plugged into his laptop and the people he photographs can see the photos as they are taken. Lightroom can also tether but Marcus thinks this works better on Capture one. But Capture one is not easy to pick up and use.

“Show Transcription”

Sam: Hi, Marcus. How are you doing today?

Marcus: I am very well, thank you. It’s a busy time of the year for me, so lots of photo shoots going on, so that keeps me happy. Yeah, I’m good, thank you. How are you?

Sam: Yeah, very good. Thank you, Marcus. And hello to listeners. It’s good to have you all with us. Now, today, we are delving into the depths of Marcus’s expertise and unusual today because we don’t often go very kind of into the techie side of photography at all. But it’s nice to, from time to time, dip into that. So Marcus is going to be talking to us about some of those pieces of software you use, photography. Which ones are good to use, little tips, hints, why to use them, and so on. And so, Marcus, over to you.

Marcus: Yeah, thank you. Thanks, Sam. Hopefully it’s not going to be too techie. Well, I say hopefully it won’t be, because I’m not a techie person, but I have been using three softwares. I’m going to be talking about quite a lot in my career. I’m going to be talking about Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and capture one each of those platforms I’ve probably used for about ten years. So, yeah, I’ve got a fair bit of experience in using them. But first of all, I’d like to just quickly delve into the history of retouching in photography, which is a fascinating subject. Did you know, Sam, photography was sort of invented roughly in the middle 1850s? In the middle of the 1850s of 1855, and after a couple of years, after a first sort of recognized photograph came out, people were retouching and altering their photographs. They were doing things like adding different skies into their landscapes. Photographers were, they were taking photographs of buildings and layering them up with photographs to give you a massive depth of fields. All these things that we sort of recognize today were being done right at the beginning of photography. Isn’t that amazing?

Sam:  We all think it’s called photoshopping, don’t we? And that this is all new and exciting, but actually it’s been around almost since the start. It’s got easier and it’s got better. But the whole idea has been around virtue from day one, hasn’t it?

Marcus: Indeed, indeed. And it’s not just those things. Other things that I’ve read about and researched into. People were scratch, were scratching away and painting on negatives to make skin look smoother and reducing people’s waistlines. This was all being done in the early 1900. So, yeah, quite a rich history there. Retouching a photograph with color. Before color photography was invented, people would paint onto photographs with colored paint to give a color image.

Sam:  How fantastic is that?

Marcus: Anyhow, out of this melee, the first thing to arrive on the digital platform really was Adobe Photoshop. This came out in the early. Let me see. It was about in the 1990s. It was invented and then gotten public in the public domain in 1995.

Sam: And I remember the only piece of software ever to become a verb because you can to Photoshop it. There’s not many other pieces of software that are like, so turned in some like that, is there?

Marcus: Yeah, thanks for that. Yes. Photoshopped a verb indeed. Yeah, it’s true. I was at university at that time, and I remember I was getting a version of Photoshop on the university computers, and we were all blown away. We thought, wow, what is this? It was an amazing piece of software, Sam, an amazing piece of software, and still my favorite piece of photography software. Within the Photoshop package, there were basically, you’ve got other elements as well. You had camera raw, which was like a sort of a way you could do an initial retouch in your images with color correction, sharpening or weather exposure. And then you had also another element was bridge, which was basically like a library version where you basically do your initial editing, your initial cull, and then you’d be making selections from there, et cetera, et Cetera. So obviously you can see where lightroom got its ideas from, but anyhow, to keep it on the Photoshop. So basically three elements to it, and it was very effective. The only thing about Photoshop in its early days, it was incredibly slow to use, and I think that was more to do with the computer power at the time. But literally. Yeah, basically it was a great time for drinking tea. You’d be drinking, finalize an image and get it rendered properly. It would literally take sometimes half an hour.

Sam:  It was ahead of its time, almost what it wanted to do. The computing power wasn’t available to do it in a quick time. Yeah, but it quickly came on. The computer power, didn’t it? Quickly ramped up. But of course, I think there’s always that catch, isn’t there, in that. As the computer speed was ramping up, Photoshop was also adding more and more functionality and complexity, and images were getting bigger. So it’s always a bit of a cat and mouse chase, although it’s now.

Marcus:  Exactly, but it was a great piece of software. And I remember sitting, as part of my teaching practice, an exam in Photoshop that was set up, done by adobe. It was a very weird exam. It was all done online. They checked your keystrokes, and it was all done in a darkened room. They made sure you had nothing when you went into the room. They checked you to make sure you had no cheating wallets or phone on you or anything. But, yeah, I became an adobe credited expert in Photoshop. And what was tough about sitting that exam was I obviously knew the photography side of it, but Photoshop had so many other elements to it as well. The way you could use it for video, the way you could use it for animation, the way you could use for graphics. That was the richness of Photoshop, all the different things you could do with it, really. It was very standalone, quite revolutionary. As I say, it’s still really my main platform of choice. Okay, so then Adobe bought out Lightroom, which was, I don’t know, maybe about 15 years ago. And it was the camera raw side and the bridge side of Photoshop that was the sort of the main part of lightroom. Lightroom is a really easy to use program. It’s very intuitive, lots of sliders, and you can just see what happens when you move them around. Very easy to use. And over the years, it’s been developed and developed and developed, and it’s very rich and can do lots of different things. Highly recommended and used by lots and lots of photographers.

Sam: So, Marcus, I not used many of these. I’ve used Photoshop a bit, but I tend to use the much simpler editing things. I’m not doing it professionally. I look at Photoshop and look at the menus and go, oh, my God, where do I start? But kind of a Photoshop and lightroom, are they competitors, or do they more do different things and use them together, one after the other, or in combination?

Marcus: That’s a great question, Sam, excellent question. They’re not compared. They’re both done by the same company. And when you subscribe to the software, the Adobe software, you get in the bundle, you get Photoshop, and you get Lightroom as well. Now, most people, I think, really just use the lightroom and forget about the Photoshop, which is a shame, and I think a mistake, because I say Photoshop is very rich. But yeah, it’s basically, they’re the same program. And the difference is basically, Photoshop is for editing one image at a time. And you work in that, maybe with layers, but it’s one image at a time. Lightroom. The beauty of it is it’s batch processing, which basically means cut and paste. So you can work on one image and you can apply those settings to multiple images. That alone was revolutionary when it came out.

Sam: Yeah. So the lightroom is kind of your initial stage. Bung it in lightroom, get what you want, do everything, and then the really good photos, take them to Photoshop and, and look at them a bit more. But I guess that’s what they call it lightroom is. It’s like your dark room, but for your computer, it’s kind of that initial batch dealing with most of it. So everything’s pretty well where you want it. And then you can use Photoshop to kind of get exactly where you want it. Would that be a kind of good?

Marcus: Yeah, that sums it up well. You use the term dark room. In fact, that’s what they called it, a digital dark room. And I think that’s one of the reasons why Lightroom became so successful, was because it used the terminology that we knew as photographers in the dark room, i.e. dodging, burning, all these types of things were, we all felt very familiar.

Sam: Okay, so how are we doing for time? Does Photoshop not also kind of use a lot of its term originally from the darkroom, or has that more developed its own terms? Know, as digital technology is developed.

Marcus:  T here are terms that are common. Yes, Sam, but really, the beauty of Photoshop, and basically, when you go in there, it is totally overwhelming and it does take a long time to learn, I’ll be basically honest about that. But the beauty of it is that you can do so many different things in there, not just working on photographs. I still use it every day for creating banners, creating posts, for LinkedIn, creating reels, whatever it might be, Photoshop is really, really good at it. It’s just so rich. I keep using that word, but it’s rich as a good word.

Sam: Maybe those people are using it for just photography. Photographers should look at it more because I know a lot of photographers say they’ve got Photoshop as photography, but then a lot of them talk about using canva for their marketing. And canva is great as a quick, get things done really quick. But if you’ve got Photoshop, presumably you’ve got that functionality and a huge amount more built in there from the sound of it.

Marcus: Oh, indeed, Sam. Yeah, I mean, the weakness for me of lightroom is exactly that. Deep editing, the retouching, the cloning, the healing, all that kind of thing I always found was a little bit clunky in lightroom. So I would always do that in Photoshop, and I found the tools there were much easier to use, much more accurate, et cetera, et cetera. So definitely, yeah, that’s the way you would use it. But the problem with Photoshop is you sit down to Photoshop and you can spend literally all day on one image, retouching it and just going in deep. So that’s a lot of time.

Sam: You’ve got to be really careful with that, don’t you? I mean, if it’s one shot and there’s a reason for that, maybe the photo shoot you’re doing, it’s all about one shot. Or maybe it’s something that you’re entering for a competition, but you’ve got to really look at your time and go, is this a good use of my time? You cannot, for every shot, for every photo shoot, sit there in Photoshop for an hour for a day, can you? I mean, it’s just not tenable. So you’ve got to kind of work out and know your stuff in there and work out. So what am I doing on this photo shoot? How much time have I got? How much time can I allow myself on here? And what am I trying to achieve? You’ve got to think about all these things carefully, don’t you? It’s just easy to get lost in there.

Marcus:  It is, Sam. But back in the day when I was shooting the fashion and you do a front cover magazine, you literally would spend all day in there on the Photoshop. And that was part of the creativity, that was part of the design of the image. So there is that side to it as well. It’s not just, okay, I’ve got to get this done. This is part of how you want the image to look. Anyhow, let me move on to capture one as the last one. Now, capture one is the one I use a lot in my daily practice. And the main reason I use capture one is because of the facility it’s got for tethering, which basically means plugging your camera in to the computer and seeing your images on the screen, which seems like quite a simple process.

Sam: You’re using that piece of software live on the shoot. You can’t do that with Photoshop or Lightroom in the same way.

Marcus: Yes, you can do it with Lightroom. Not with Photoshop, you can do it with Lightroom. But in the early days of Lightroom, ten years ago, it was very unstable and the connection was always breaking. It was a real absolute headache. Capture one came along and they basically got it right. It worked straight out of the box, worked perfectly, and still does work very perfectly. And that, for me, is a very useful feature. Also with capture one, I have to say, I think the rendition of the files is slightly better than lightroom. The color rendition is better. Slightly better. I mean, I think lightroom is catching up now, and it is a very similar engine, but yes, indeed.

Sam: Capture one and lightroom are competitors.

Marcus: Lightroom is so ubiquitous, Sam, I would say lightroom, as a rough guess, has got 90% of the market, but with commercial photographers, I think not the majority, but a lot of them really do use capture one. And if you’re a studio photographer, yes, definitely capture one. Capture one is the one for me of the two, but it is difficult to learn to use. I’ll give it that. It’s not very intuitive.

Sam: Yeah, that’s really interesting then, Marcus. So, yeah, insight into the software, really. You know, if you are a professional photographer, you pretty much have to get that Photoshop Lightroom combination. It’s going to be very hard not to from the sound of it. And it is every photographer is always talking about Lightroom and Photoshop. Yeah. And then there’s that capture on as an extra. It is amazing, actually, isn’t how Adobe has completely cornered the market in this quite interesting? I don’t think there is really much competition for it for those products that we talked a little bit about, capture one. But in terms of Photoshop, I mean, there’s the OD thing, isn’t it? There’s Gimp, which is open source, but I don’t think it really touches Photoshop at all.

Marcus: No, there are some alternatives. I did hear a rumor the other week that there might be a free version of Lightroom coming out, but at the moment there isn’t. And it’s a shame really, because with video, I know they got like Davinci Resolve, which is a free online software you can use, which is amazing. Really amazing. I wish they had a version for photography.

Sam: Yeah. Cool, right. Thank you so much, Marcus. That has been really interesting. There will be for Marcus an extra bonus bit of content in the newsletter extra that is posted to everybody who is on the newsletter list. If you are not on the newsletter list, you need to be go to shootstoftetop.com and you can there sign up to the newsletter list. You can look through all of the podcasts we’ve done. There’s a whole back catalog, and you can search through all the topics. If you click on a topic, it’ll show you relevant podcasts. Have a look. And we’ve also got a Facebook group, haven’t we, Marcus?

Marcus:  Indeed we do. A growing Facebook group, I am pleased to report. Yes. Shoot the top Facebook group. Join now.

Sam: Yes. Excellent. So join us on the Facebook group, sign up to the newsletter, join the shoot to the top competition. And we are also always looking for guests. So if you think you have something that would be valuable for our listeners, then do get in touch. And Marcus, really interesting to speak to you, and I will see you next week.

Marcus: See you next week Sam.