November COBA Meeting

I reviewed the new Adobe Creative Suite software collection at the November 12, 2003 meeting of the Camera Owners of the Bay Area. I centered my talk on the new version of Photoshop, which 24 people out of the 26 in the meeting use as their image processing application. I covered features such as integrated Camera RAW support, 16-bit support, the histogram palette, match color, Shadow/Highlight correction, lens blur effects, photo filters effects, auto crop and straighten, and Photomerge panorama tools.

I have been shooting RAW more and more, but I have not made the switch to shooting RAW exclusively. One benefit of having RAW images is that the images keep getting better with each new iteration of RAW image processing software (i.e. Adobe Camera RAW or CaptureOne). With JPEG images, what you see is pretty much what you get.

Many Photoshop filters, especially those written specifically for digital camera images, haven’t been updated to support Photoshop’s increased support for editing 16-bit images, but I forsee that to be a short delay. It’s really about time that they added 16-bit support for layers, adjustments, text, and shapes. I wonder what the stumbling block was on that from a development standpoint.

One feature that I think is really cool is the Shadow/Highlight correction. In the past, to achieve a high degree of dynamic range in an image, people resorted to techniques such as exposure bracketing, image merging, and lots of curves/levels adjustment layers. The Shadow/Highlight correction is a new tool that increases the perceived dynamic range of an image without having to do too much. Sure, you can probably get better results using the other techniques, but it’s going to take a lot longer. There’s been a spat in the photographic community about excessive retouching of journalistic images, and I forsee Shadow/Highlight recovery as a potentially exacerbating the situation. As with Photoshop, this is something you could do in the darkroom, but not without a lot of work.

Here are some photos from the evening. Thanks to Hoon for taking some of them!

Adobe Creative Suite comes in two versions, Standard and Premium. Both editions come with Photoshop, ImageReady, Illustrator, InDesign, and VersionCue. The Premium edition also comes with GoLive and Acrobat Professional. The price is not cheap, $999 and $1229 respectively. Upgrades from existing versions of Photoshop start are $549 for the Standard edition and $749 for the Premium edition. Adobe is also selling Photoshop separately for $649 retail and $169 upgrade. If you work in the education market, you can get the Adobe Creative Suite Premium Edition for $399! This is a fantastic price, iff you have access to educational pricing! You should also look around the Internet, as there are some decent deals to be found.

We concluded the meeting with a short talk on workflow. I described my personal workflow for downloading and processing my digital images. Some people in the meeting were interested in the Photoshop actions that I use to create the images on my web site. Perhaps one day I’ll get around to packaging them up in a nice way for others to use.

Next month will be the last COBA meeting for 2003. Unlike this month, where I gave members one week notice on the meeting topic, I’m going to give everyone four weeks notice! We’re going to be showing War Photographer, the documentary on celebrated photojournalist, James Nachtwey. See you on December 10, 2003!

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