Choosing the right Photoshop from Adobe’s range is confusing because of they all process and edit digital photos
This is a closer look at where the different applications fit into the digital workflow of a journalist and photographer.
I have versions of the three Adobe Photoshops available on the computer I use for managing and processing my own photos as well as press photos from around the world.
Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite
This is the heavyweight application with a vast array of powerful tools for doing magical things to photographs. The Creative Suite name is the clue to the purpose of this software mammoth. Creative Suite is for graphic artists and designers. It is so comprehensive that you will find tons of graphic design courses on this software.
Photographs are just one part, and often just the starting point, of the process. Imagination is the only real limit to possibilities with Creative Suite.
For photojournalists and general professional photographers, it is overkill in the image manipulation area and has poor image management capabilities.
The size of the application means that for smaller everyday jobs it is just not worth opening the Creative Suite. I do not have the latest version because it gets so little use upgrading never seemed worthwhile.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
This is the one I turn to first. Lightroom has powerful image management and cataloging capabilities. These are essential for finding digital photos as the photo library quickly grew beyond the thousands. The process starts when the memory card is plugged into the computer. Lightroom copies the RAW images from the card onto the computer into a basic chronological folder structure.
Lightroom can do more during this import process such as adding keywords for the RAW image and applying basic adjustments.
The keywords are a powerful part of Lightroom’s photo management capabilities. Even though all the photos are stored in folders according to year and month, using keywords to search enables the selection of photos from the entire collection based on the keywords. For example, by adding the keyword river to all photo involving a river allows Lightroom to find all the river photos in the entire collection.
For busy photographers, Adobe Lightroom offers more facilities during the import operation. Photographers often have a number of routine adjustments and settings they apply to all the images. These will vary depending on the camera, lenses, and personal style. Lightroom can apply these adjustments as part of the import process and store more than one set of adjustments. Photographers choose which set off their basic adjustments as they import each new batch of photos. I have settings for my digital cameras and a separate one for scanned medium format film images.
Lightroom has a range of tools for adjusting exposure, color, noise reduction, and more as well as basic editings such as cropping and rotating photos.
Finally, there are a number of export options from Lightroom where size, type, and quality of the new image are specified. Saving standard export settings means photographers can apply them by choosing one option from a menu. I have a standard size, jpeg configuration, and folder destination for a small copy to use for email.
Adobe Photoshop Elements
My second favorite Adobe tool is Photoshop Elements. This is a cut down version of Creative Suite that lacks the ultimate power of its stablemate. It does offer image manipulation tools that are not in Lightroom, such as layers and selective editing.
It loads quickly and is simpler to use than the full Creative Suite, mainly because it offers fewer options. Mostly the options are not needed, so I tend to use Elements instead of the full Creative Suite. It was a bargain too, as it came bundled with the Wacom graphics tablet
The major shortcoming for serious professional work is the restricted support for digital photos with 16-bit color depth. Often while using Adobe Photoshop Elements photos need to be converted to 8-bit color depth.
This reduction in fine detail might be a problem for high-level image use, but most of my customers want their photos in 8-bit jpeg files and the professional lab that prints my wedding photos use jpegs. So Adobe Photoshop Elements is more than adequate.