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Monday, 26 January 2015

Photographers and their software.

This article is aimed at the amateur photographer who takes and saves a lot of photographs and wants a simple, inexpensive way to catalogue and manipulate their pictures.

There are two specific programs you need. One to catalogue all your photographs, tagging them, manipulation of them, and saving them in soft folders so you can instantly lay your hands on them in the future. The other for more serious work on the ones you want to sell, or give to friends.

There are two routes to go. Commercial Software and the OpenSource route.

On the Commercial side, there is the brilliant Adobe Lightroom. This will catalogue and allow you to tart up your photographs. The software retails for £109.99. To be honest, this is a fair price for an exceptional program. Then there is Adobe Photoshop, which comes in various flavours and various prices. The main program, Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Windows, is £699.00 although you can buy Photoshop Elements for beginners a lot cheaper.

These programs are available on Windows and the Mac but not on Linux.

The following are free OpenSource programs, available on Windows, the Mac and Linux. As they are free, it is very advisable to purchase books on them as there is no manual, other than help files, with the software. More on the books later.

The alternative to Lightroom is the free digiKam program. I've been using it for over two years and it was only after I purchased digiKam Recipes from Amazon that I realised how powerful this program really was. This book is only available on Kindle, but Amazon have a fine Kindle app to read these books on a smartphone or tablet, so you don't need to buy an actual Kindle! The book will cost you £5.98. That's a saving of £104.01.

The alternative to Photoshop is the free The Gimp program. A complex program but although I knew what it could do, it was only after I purchased The Book of Gimp that I learnt to actually use the various commands. The Kindle version will cost you £15.19 for the Kindle edition, a saving of £683.81. If you prefer, you can buy the huge paperback for £30.29.

Now for the small print. It doesn't take a lot of common sense to realise that the commercial programs will be easier to use and will be more user friendly and, in the case of Photoshop, be much more professional. However, I have saved £787.82. For those types of savings I am willing to persevere a little harder.

But, hey! There's nothing to stop you downloading and playing with the software, and then going ahead and spending £808.99. Or, if you find one OK but not the other, then keep the free program you like and just spend on one of the commercial programs.


I have found dozens of training videos on YouTube for both of these programs. Go to YouTube and type in Digikam or Gimp.

I know of another program called LightZone, also available on all three programs, if any reader has used this program, please contact me with your experience or add it as a comment below.

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