What software do I use to process my images, is a question I
get asked on a regular basis. As I use several different
apps it's not such a simple answer as saying "Adobe Lightroom"
(which I've never used in anger). I've been a Windows
user my whole life, and although I believe most of the products
I'm using are also available on other platforms, there is an
obvious bias. Also, I've never been a big fan of Adobe (ie
Photoshop and Lightroom) - I have nothing against them as such,
you can debate the whole monthly subscription model in your own
time, I simply never really got on with them. Photoshop was
notoriously expensive, and Lightroom I just never really
liked. But enough of what I don't use...
I have a six stage process.
1. Downloading images from the SD card [Breeze Downloader
All this simple application does is copy the image files from the
SD card to a folder on my PC. I have it set to create a new
folder based on the date the image was taken, and copy all files
taken on that day into said folder.
2. Sorting, culling, renaming images [Breeze Browser
Stage two is where I cull, sort and rename
images. Culling comes first, and I can be quite
ruthless at this stage, keeping only the very best images. I
often use the magnify feature to be sure my kept images are pin
sharp. Next I'll create more meaningful folder names,
and then I'll rename the images. I'll either use
date_time.xxx or a sequential number depending on content - eg if
its a landscape image then I'll rename it with the date and time
(171024_162141) and if its an event/wedding/model shoot then I'll
use something like MEH_001, 002 etc. I often shoot in
RAW/JPG mode on my camera, which of course creates two files for
each image, but thankfully the software picks up on this and keeps
the same file name for each image.
3. Basic editing of RAW files [Corel Aftershot Pro
or DxO Optics Pro]
For images that need basic editing (ie exposure, white balance,
contrast, lens distortion etc) then I'll use Aftershot Pro.
As RAW editing software goes its fairly simple, but it gets the
job done in a quick efficient way. It's perfect for
working on a large number of images as you can copy/paste
alterations as needed. DxO is another RAW editor that I used
to use, it was particularly useful at noise reduction on high ISO
images. The only reason I no longer use it is because they
don't support Fuji RAW files.
4. Advanced editing of RAW/JPG files [Serif Affinity Photo]
This is where any more advanced work happens. If I need to
clean up the image (let's say an annoying road sign, or a person
wearing a brightly coloured jacket in an otherwise perfect
landscape, or and more commonly, the occasional dirty sensor
mark). The InPainting Brush Tool (Serif's version of
Adobe's ContentWare) normally gets the job done very well.
Mostly I'll be working on JPG images, but it does have a powerful
built in RAW editor, but it's really only good for one image at a
time, and for me it's only the very best images that make it to
this stage. It's also really powerful at stitching together panoramas
(ie a number of overlapping images).
5. Final processing of JPG [Skylum
Skylum Aurora HDR 2018,
As above it's only the very best images that make it to this
stage, and it's where I'll add the "filters" that all
RAW images need to make them "pop". Luminar and
Aurora are both similar in the way they work, but can produce
quite different results, so I'll often dip into both applications
to see which version I prefer. Also, and definitely
not to be overlooked is the currently free Nik Plugin - I say
currently because it's recently been purchased from Google by DXO
who seem to have plans to develop the software further. It
works as a plugin - meaning you need to run it from inside another
application - such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and very handily for
me, Serif Affinity Photo. It's got some excellent filters,
but my favourite is "Silver Efex" which produces some of
my favourite black and white images.
6. Resizing images for web use [ImBatch]
Finally, if I'm using an image on the web, then I'll run it
through ImBatch. It resizes the image (to around 800px on
the longest edge), sharpens the image a little, adds my
"Copyright Michael Palmer 2017" text, and finally adds
my logo, before saving the web sized version in a separate