Not Photoshop, Not Adobe

PhotoShop — “Designed To Frighten And Intimidate“(1) — Aughhh !

As an award winning fine art landscape photographer, and an award winning software programmer, expert in several dozen image programs and hundreds (probably thousands) of computer programs, I say with abhorrence – Adobe Photoshop is the most awkward program to use I can recall.

Photoshop almost seems designed to be awful. Just one tiny example – 99% of all Windows programs allow you to quit instantly by using Alt-F4 – but not Photoshop. Its just as awkward to start up. You can easily get a cup of coffee while waiting. And that’s on a fast machine.

Then there’s the obscure output vs input brightness values that no one but Adobe programmers can explain – or use. (Last week the CIA admitted that VP Dick Cheny and Rumsfield forced Guantanamo Bay detainees to use it. ;-)

Ok I’m kidding on that point. However, it tells you a lot about a product when you need an avalanche of tutorial courses and add-on products — just so you can figure out how to use it — normally !

You don’t have to believe me. But you might care what one of the most respected Photoshop instructors says. Deke McClelland asks – Why did Adobe create a program “designed to frighten and intimidate” that includes “a few deliberately misleading commands?”(1)

Oh, there is one feature that no competing products claim — if you enjoy federal police looking over your shoulder, starting with the CS versions, Photoshop automatically alerts the Treasury when you try to scan US Currency. It apparently sends all your personal information plus your IP and your address. (Wonder why they don’t advertise that feature on the box? I also wonder exactly who at Adobe thought of this?)

While I do not advocate counterfeiting money, it takes no imagination to conceive how an innocent person could get caught up in a Homeland Security mess by an Adobe software bug.

So, to answer your question (in case you haven’t guessed yet) No, I do not use Photoshop on my images.

(1) Deke McClelland in his book “Adobe Photoshop CS2, one-on-one” page 3

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Don’t Get Caught in the “Priesthood” Trap.

Ask any surfer if you can learn to surf and the answer almost always resembles “No, only a god (like me) can surf. You have to be born with it; you can’t learn it.” This is so false it is silly (almost anyone who can stand up can learn to surf). The arrogance is intended to intimidate non-surfers, creating a “priesthood” of people pretending they have powers unobtainably beyond those of mere mortals.

Somewhat understandably, such “Priests” had to “pay their dues,” by spending a lot of time learning painful lessons, so why should a novice get an easy quick ride to surfing? Academia is even more famous for its needless Priesthood; making Ph.D. candidates jump through hoops having nothing to do with education is just one example.

I have personally observed more than a few Photoshop users caught by the Priesthood Trap. It is my opinion that anyone who uses Photoshop (or GIMP which is a free and embarrassing clone of it) exclusively for photo editing has likely never used easy and capable image correction software.

You might note —

1. PhotoShop was not written for photographers, it was written for graphic designers. I am not qualified to opine on how it works for graphic design tasks, but in my experienced photo correction software opinion — PhotoShop is painfully, painfully ! awkward for correcting images.

2. Every capability, let me emphasize this – every capability in Photoshop can be done easier by other software — and usually better. You might need more than one program to do the functions you use in Photoshop, but which ever functions you need for correcting photographs – another program can do it easier.

3. Other image correction programs have capabilities dramatically superior to PhotoShop:

* Noise reduction by Noise Ninja or Neat Image;

* Recover shadows and highlights with DXO or LightZone’s brilliant (almost magic) accordion-like light corrections,

* Raw conversion Sharpness, Resolution, Contrast, Dynamic Range and Color accuracy by many, and

* absolutely any other file management program compared to “Bridge,”
and on and on . . .

4. As awful as Adobe’s Photoshop is to use for photography, their new Lightroom program has passable quality (not great) and reasonably easy image correction abilities, maybe because it WAS written for photographers.

Update January 2012: Adobe canceled support for Lightroom on Windows XP and Mac OS versions earlier than 10.5.8, on top of that the program is 400 megabytes. I no longer recommend Lightroom.