When it comes to digital photography, there are two key components that are essential to producing photographic art: The hardware and the software. The hardware is your gear…the camera, lenses, filters, flashes, etc. You can do quite a bit in-camera while out in the field, but sometimes you can’t fully express your creativity with the camera alone. When it comes to digital cameras, you need a computer and special software to convert the “digital negatives” from your camera into their final artistic form. The software I use on a regular basis is Abobe’s dynamic duo, Lightroom and Photoshop. These two programs are the tools I used to convert a photo into something I can be proud to print and show off to my friends and family…and hopefully sell to interested viewers.
I recently upgraded my software for the first time in many years. I have to say, Lightroom 4.1 and Photoshop CS 6 are quite an improvement. Particularly Photoshop, as the previous version I had was CS 3, from around five or six years ago. The tools for photographers have improved quite considerably, and the new dark UI theme is much easier on the eyes for long editing sessions. Lightroom 4.x has brought several very useful new features to the table as well, such as print soft proofing (preview what a print might look like on screen, so it can be fine tuned before actually spending the ink and paper), RGB curves for creative effects (a feature previously relegated to Photoshop), geotagging (link your photos to locations on a world map, for geospatial searching and the like), as well as the ability to print photo books from various online services. Without these two tools, my work would never see the light of day. I highly recommend both for any serious photographer!