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Digital photo editing software


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Imperial Beach, CaliforniaDisclaimer: All of the photos in this blog post have been significantly “photoshopped.”

I got my start with Photoshop with version 1.0 way back in February 1990. I was already entrenched into the PC world by then but my business had customers using the Macintosh, so I had a Macintosh in the office just in case a Client needed me to do some work in that computer environment.Silver Strand Training Complex

The Big Four software programs in my office were Word, Excel, Photoshop, and CorelDraw. With those four programs, I could do anything. In September 1994 (finally), Photoshop hit the PC environment and that was the end of any association for me with Apple computers. Word, Excel, Photoshop, and CorelDraw still are the Big Four on my computers, and CorelDraw isn’t even available for Apple computers.

Public art in Palm Springs, CaliforniaI know that Photoshop can do anything that CorelDraw can do, and it’s been my goal since April 2007 (Photoshop CS3) to force myself to use Photoshop for all the things that I’ve been doing in CorelDraw, which I have been using since version 1.0 hit the market in January 1989.

Adobe, however, made that difficult to do in one sense because Photoshop CS3 was a whopping $649.  The price for CS4 went to $699 where it stayed for CS5 and CS6. Unreasonable for anyone other than the extraordinarily rich, the über wealthy, and people like me who were willing to alter the family budget and do without 175 happy hour margaritas at On The Border.

African lioin at the San Diego ZooRecently Adobe has made Photoshop and its sister program, Lightroom, available on a subscription basis, which seems to be where the software market is moving. If you own Photoshop CS3 or later, you can get both Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 (the latest versions) for just $9.99 a month. How great is that? Well, let me put it into numbers.

For people who bought Photoshop and then upgraded when a new version was released, which was every 15-18 months, here’s the cost for CS3, CS4, CS5, and CS6:

CS3, April 2007 – $649
CS4 upgrade, October 2008 – $199
CS5 upgrade, April 2010 – $199
CS6 upgrade, May 2012 – $199
Total over 61 months: $946

Happy ThanksgivingThe subscription cost for Photoshop and Lightroom for 61 months at $9.99 a month is $609.39. Quite a savings. There are arguments for upgrading every other time, which would save $398, and you could always buy the software at Amazon or Fry’s Electronics and sometimes get a discount. So there have been ways to save money over the Adobe retail price.

HibiscusA cool advantage of the subscription method of having software is that you get updates instantaneously. No more waiting 18 months for the latest and the greatest because you always have the latest and the greatest, providing that you let your software upgrade itself. You can turn that feature off, and there might be an argument for doing so. We all know that software has bugs in it, even upgrades and updates. Sometimes the upgrade/update fixes a bug but introduces a new bug.

Zoey the Cool Cat soccer ballA real life example that happened to me:

A couple of months ago I had lot of Actions and keyboard shortcuts set up in Photoshop CC (the latest version, available only by subscription, but you can still buy CS6 from Adobe). I had Photoshop set to automatically install updates. One update totally deleted every Action and keyboard shortcut, basically resetting it to the factory defaults. That was not cool, and I let Adobe know on their Facebook page. Within a couple of days they had another update that fixed that problem. Too late, of course, since all my Actions and customization had already been deleted, causing me to spend several hours re-recording the Actions and setting my keyboard shortcuts again.

Lonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust HDR collection dynamic brightness filterAfter that experience I set Photoshop NOT to do automatic updates. I would decide when to do updates, usually on weekends or holidays when the world’s not busy demanding my time. In writing this post, I went looking for all the ways that I could set Photoshop to update, and the ways that I used to use are completely gone, including Adobe Updater and the preferences from within Photoshop. Maybe they learned….

Many people seem to be upset at the subscription method but I think it’s brilliant. My Microsoft Office software is also via subscription; it’s called Office 365. With two very large companies going the subscription route, I think you’ll see more and more of it within the next five years.

Lonely day on the seawallIf you don’t like the idea of a subscription, buy Photoshop CS6 before it’s no longer offered for sale; currently $699 at the Adobe web site. There are other options, too:

      • Corel PaintShop Pro X6—This program can do 95% of everything that Photoshop can do and is its main competitor. The 5% difference is stuff that is unique to Photoshop, like some of its filters. Don’t worry, though, because PaintShop Pro has things that are unique to it that Photoshop doesn’t have, like a set of different filters. PsintShop Pro X6 is selling for $59.99 right now direct from Corel’s web site. This was my go-to program from May 1993 to April 2007. I still have it because I like many of its filters and frames, and I’m much more skilled at it than I am Photoshop.
      • St Andrew Catholic Church in PasadenaGIMP—GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is an open-source, freely distributed program. I have heard good things about it but have not tried it, mainly because all my time right now is dedicated to Photoshop, the de facto standard. However, GIMP doesn’t cost anything, so that’s a big advantage. I use two open-source programs: Audacity for recording and audio manipulation, and, of course, WordPress. Both Audacity and WordPress remind me of a comedian whose name I do not remember. He was talking about Wikipedia: “The great thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute. The worst thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute.” That pretty much sums up open source programs, including, in my opinion, Audacity and WordPress.
      • Ocean Beach, CaliforniaPicasa—This is a Google program. I tried to use it once and it literally took over my computer for several hours looking for digital images; there was no way to stop it. Imagine what happened when it finally found my six external hard drives with 175,000 digital images on them. Yep, hours and hours and hours of cataloging. As soon as it finished, I uninstalled it. That was a couple of years ago. Maybe newer versions are better.
      • The Gear CatsAdobe Lightroom—If you’re looking for a great program at a reasonable cost, Lightroom is for you. This program is for photographers and doesn’t do the advanced graphics and image manipulation (such as compositing) that Photoshop does. It sells for $119 through January 11 at the Adobe web site. I also have this program but I’m not using it currently because of my time bias in favor of Photoshop.
      • U.S. Route 80Adobe Photoshop Elements—This program has “elements” of Photoshop. I call it “Photoshop Lite” because it can do all of the stuff that Lightroom does and some of the stuff that Photoshop does. I consider this a more powerful program than Lightroom but, interestingly, it costs less than Lightroom; $69.99 through December 28 from the Adobe web site.
      • For some other options, check out Photo Editing Software Review 2014.

Hibiscus cube

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ferris Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


11 thoughts on “Digital photo editing software

  1. babsje

    Great post, very useful info. Tell me please Obi Won, how to disable the PS auto updates? I had it set for 2am, and forgot about that setting. Two nights ago I was rendering video in Camtasia Studio at, you guessed it, 2 am and PS update kicked in and the PS popup ruined the capture being rendered. Cost me at least 2 hours of time…


      1. babsje

        Just Elements. I used CS 6 at the office, but have other software at home. Elements came with my Epson slide scanner. Digitizing old 35mm film negatives. Thx for getting back to me!


        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          It might depend on which version of Elements you are using, but I believe you open Organizer, then click on
          Edit ► Preferences ► Adobe Partner Services
          and uncheck everything. Also make sure that your backup synchronization is off.

          If that doesn’t work (you’ll have to stay up until 2:00 a.m. to determine that!), let me know and I’ll see what I can find.

          Reply to this comment, though, and let me know which version of Elements you are using.


          1. babsje

            Thanks so much for this! I think the snag is that I do not use the Organizer feature,I just use the Edit function, so maybe I can’t get there. I’m on Elements 9. I’ll be having another 2am rendering session next week and will look into it then. I try to not be up that late, beauty-sleep and all, 🙂


            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              Even though you don’t use the Organizer feature, it’s part of Photoshop Elements and there are defaults in there that prepare Organizer and Elements for the time that you might use Organizer. It seems to be the Organizer that checks for updates and such. Go to
              Organizer ► Edit ► Preferences ► Adobe Partner Services ► Check for Services
              and remove the check mark for “Automatically check for services.”


              1. babsje

                Thanks, good to know. I had planned to never use Organizer for a few reasons, but now will have. To rethink that. Many, many thanks for your sharing of your technical expertise!


          2. babsje

            Mystery solved! I checked those settings in my main profile, and the updates were already deactivated. Later, I checked in my secondary profile, and they were also deactivated there, but it was still trying to update anyway. Finally, I logged in as my admin user’s profile, and voila! That version had the auto updates enabled. Who knew it would drive from the parent install account? Thanks again for all of your time and help.


  2. TextileRanger

    Russel, I want to thank you for this post – it was information I really needed. I had PhotoShop Elements 3 on a computer from 2004 – I was given a 2013 laptop but didn’t want to switch over until I got a new version of PhotoShop to put on it. I had an inkling that nowadays one downloads programs rather than purchases CDs, and I had gone to the Adobe website, and then got overwhelmed with all the choices. I read this whole post and then went back to Adobe and got Elements 12! I don’t think they’ve added a single filter since 3, but at least I have some up-to-date software now, and have switched to the new computer. So thanks!
    Also thanks for the warning about Picasa!



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