Instagram’s genesis as a mobile app has meant that basic desktop functionality, like image uploading, is often lacking and falls to third parties to develop. While there are many third party desktop uploaders, a new Lightroom plugin integrates Instagram publishing deeper into many photographic workflows.
Dubbed simply LR/Instagram, the free plugin lets you add Instagram to Lightroom’s publish service. Once you’ve authenticated your Instagram account, publishing Lightroom images is a drag-and-drop away. If you manage multiple Instagram accounts, you can set them up individually as their own publish collection in Lightroom.
The plugin supports your original image’s aspect ratio or the Instagram square crop. It also, naturally, supports hashtags and captioning.
While the plugin is free and compatible with Lightroom CC or v. 3.0 onward, its publisher suggests a $10 donation if you find it useful.
Artificial intelligence has been on a role lately. In March, a computer program defeated a human in the ancient Chinese strategy game Go–a feat that was formerly thought to be a decade or more away given the state of the art. Last week, we learned that a U.S. law firm “hired” an AI algorithm based on IBM’s Jeopardy-winning Watson to do legal research for it.
Picturesqe is a new software program that sifts through your images, groups similar ones together and then ranks them by which ones look best. The idea is to reduce the amount of time it takes photographers to cull through large imports. The software looks for visual similarities (colors, scenes, faces) when grouping and initially is using criteria like under/over exposure to rank how “good” a photo is.
As the software learns about your images and style, it will grow more sophisticated and be able to rank images based on factors such as sharpness, color harmony and composition.
After your images are organized and ranked, you’ll be able to evaluate them yourself and make the final decision about which ones stay and which ones are trashed. An intelligent zoom feature enables you to zoom into the same spot on all similar images simultaneously to check for fine details.
Picturesqe works on RAW images, not just JPEGs, and supports over 600 RAW formats at launch.
It’s a free download for Windows for three months and is available as a standalone program or a plug-in for Adobe Lightroom. After that, you’ll pay $40/year. A Mac version is promised for the future.
Venice Beach-based photographer Pascal Shirley, true to the West Coast, keeps his portrait shoots relaxed. Whether he’s shooting for brands like The North Face and Adidas or magazines like Men’s Journal and TIME, Shirley brings an exuberance and natural esthetic that permeates his portraiture.
“I like to keep things loose,” Shirley says. “I let people open up to me. Everyone has a different vibe and I try to feel that out.”
Don’t be fooled by how easy he makes it seem. In his ten years as a photographer, Shirley has worked tirelessly to develop the photo skills to put people at ease and the post-production chops to bring out the best in every photo. Shirley uses Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan to keep his effortless style—well, effortless.
Shirley has a few suggestions, from directing to shooting to post-production, for achieving the same look and feel:
Develop a relationship
When Shirley arrives at a shoot, he takes time to get to know his subjects and make them feel comfortable. It’s all based on a truism that he learned early on: “People open up when you get to know them,” Shirley says. “That’s why some of my best shots are of my friends. I’ve shot them over and over and over again.”
Recently, Shirley has taken that idea one step further. Instead of cramming a shoot into a single day, he’ll shoot a subject over the course of several months. It lets him and the subject develop a relationship where the photos get better and better with time.
Keep the possibilities open
When Shirley begins shooting, it’s not unusual for his subjects to act stiff. The key to breaking the ice, he’s found, is an open mind and a little creativity. While Shirley develops a general concept before a shoot begins, he listens to his instincts in the moment.
“My shoots are very free-form. I have a general idea of what I want, but I’m not afraid to try something else,” Shirley says.
Shirley responds to his subjects and tries out new backgrounds, poses and angles. Often, he asks subjects to run around, roll on the floor or even kiss. It’s all about making subjects relax, have fun and forget about the camera.
Authentic moments come unpredictably. “When it can be one subtle little thing that makes or breaks a photo, it helps to shoot a lot,” Shirley says. According to him, it gives you more opportunities for those serendipitous “in between” photos where everyone looks comfortable, authentic and perfectly arranged. It’s in post-production, using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, when you can look for and select those moments.
Organize and edit
Retouching every photo from a photo shoot is overwhelming. Instead, Shirley organizes his photos into collections and goes collection by collection to star each of his favorites.
“Half of photography is in the editing,” Shirley says.
Lightroom CC (on desktop) and Lightroom on mobile make editing on any device seamless. Keyword tagging keeps shoots organized, the rating system helps narrow down captures and “smart collections” combine the two to streamline your process.
“The key to editing quick is developing your workflow,” Shirley says. With the powerful editing tools in Lightroom CC, all you have to do is take advantage. While Shirley tweaks settings in all of his photos—everything from exposure to contrast—he avoids tweaking each photo separately.
Instead, Shirley identifies sets of photos with similar coloration and lighting. He processes one photo from the set and then syncs the tweaks across the entire set using Lightroom’s “Sync Settings” feature. Once the “keepers” are tweaked, export directly to Photoshop CC for the final touches.
Be a responsible retoucher
“Some people get heavy-handed with [retouching] and you can tell,” Shirley says.
To keep a “natural” look, only retouch what you have to. Shirley takes a light hand with selective coloring and lightening or darkening areas in Adobe’s mobile Photoshop app, Photoshop Fix. And, instead of trying to airbrush every imperfection away, Shirley combines Photoshop CC and Photoshop Fix’s content-aware Healing and Patch tools with the Opacity slider to eliminate blemishes and wrinkles while retaining the character that makes each person unique.
Shirley paints away blemishes using a soft brush with the opacity set between 5 and 15 percent and works progressively on the target area.
“If you keep the opacity really low, it looks more natural,” Shirley says. “Less is more.”
Shirley often shows off his latest photos on Instagram, but not before giving them an edit on his iPhone. According to Shirley, photos can look very different from computer monitor to iPhone screen. If he’s shooting for print or web, he edits on Photoshop CC. If he’s showing off a photo on a mobile platform like Instagram, he edits on his phone using Photoshop Fix.
“When I bring my photos to the iPhone, I will often notice that the colors look different. That’s when I open up Photoshop Fix to give them a little tweak,” says Shirley “It’s nice editing on your phone and knowing exactly what it’s going to look like in Instagram.”
Given the backlash from the photography community over Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription-only pricing model for Photoshop and its Creative Suite products, we weren’t too surprised when Adobe announced its new Photography Program. Adobe is now pricing subscriptions to Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 at $9.99 a month for owners of commercial versions of Photoshop or Photoshop Extended CS3 or later who sign up no later than December 31, 2013. Suites and volume licenses do not qualify. According to Adobe, this is not an introductory price; it is the “standard price” for this level of membership–until or unless you cancel your membership. If you decide to cancel, you will not be able to re-join at the same price.
If you already have a Creative Cloud Single App membership for Photoshop at the $9.99/month price, your membership will automatically be transitioned to the new pricing model so you will continue to pay the same amount going forward and receive the same benefits as those just signing up, including Lightroom 5. Other CC members who meet the qualifications and want to take advantage of the $9.99/month rate should contact Adobe Customer Service about transitioning their membership to the new pricing structure.
The Photography Program requires an annual commitment with monthly payments and includes Adobe Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5 (soon to be updated to v. 5.2), Bridge, a Behance membership with a ProSite, 20GB of free storage, and access to all updates and Creative Cloud Learn’s training resources.
Sign-up is slated to begin this week, on or after September 17.
Back in March, a rumor made the rounds that Adobe would move away from selling packaged software, making Creative Suite programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator only available as cloud-based subscription software. The rumors claimed May 1 as the date this this change would happen. While not giving much specific information, Adobe at that time did confirm that it would stop selling physical packaged software and that all software would be available via download or online subscription. As often happens with rumors, May 1 came and went with no announcement from Adobe.
However, today during its keynote at the Adobe Max Creativity Conference, Adobe announced sweeping changes to the Creative Suite programs. All Creative Suite programs will now be re-branded as Creative Cloud. Adobe will stop selling perpetual licenses and move completely to a subscription-based pricing system for all former CS apps. Creative Cloud (CC) is currently priced at $50 per month for individuals who purchase an annual subscription. Existing Adobe customers who own CS3 through CS5.5 get the first year of Creative Cloud at a promotional price $30 per month; educational pricing is also $30 per month. CS6 users can sign up for CC for $20 a month for the first year. More importantly for many photographers, single app pricing is $10 a month for the first year. Lightroom is the only CS app that will exist both as part of the CC and as a perpetual license. According to Adobe, this is due to Lightroom’s status as both a consumer and professional product. Adobe also announced significant upgrades to the new CC apps that will launch in June.
What does this mean for professional photographers? For most of us, it will be a big change. CS6 will continue to be available as a perpetual license and will be supported through the next significant upgrade to the Mac and Windows operating systems. However, there will be no further development for that version. Going forward, if you want to use Photoshop, you will have to have a Creative Cloud subscription of some sort.
While some level of internet connectivity is likely required, these are not (despite the name) cloud-based apps that require a constant connection. These are software programs that you download and install to your computer. You can work offline as you would with any version of Photoshop you have used in the past. The big difference now is that if you don’t pay your subscription fee, the software will stop functioning.
More information about the changes coming to Photoshop specifically can be found on Adobe’s website:
The Lightroom team is proud to introduce the fifth major version of the product designed for and by photographers. It was 7 years ago when we introduced the very first public beta of Lightroom at MacWorld on January 9, 2006. Since 2006 we’ve been hard at work improving an application that’s intended to be as easy to use as it is powerful. This release builds on the image quality improvements in Lightroom 4 to provide a truly complete workflow and imaging solution. We keep hearing from customers that they love Lightroom but needed to leave Lightroom to complete X, Y, or Z. Lightroom 5 beta solves those issues.
New/Improved Lightroom 5 features of note include:
Advanced Healing Brush
Upright Perspective Correction
Improved Photo Book Creation
Slideshows with Videos and Still Images
PNG file support
True Full Screen Mode
Configurable grid overlays
Additional search criteria for filters and smart collections
Lock zoom position preference settings
Direction field in EXIF metadata panel
“Set as Target Collection” checkbox in Create Collections dialogue
Integrity verification of DNG files
LAB color readout
Aspect slider added to the Manual tab in the Lens Correction panel
Persistent clipping indicators between Lightroom sessions
Nik’s Silver EFEX plug-in is part of the newly priced bundle.
Perhaps making up for the controversy it created when it discontinued the Snapseed Desktop app, Google today announced a significant price cut for the Nik plug-in suite. The Nik plug-ins have long been popular with photographers looking to expand the power of Photoshop, Aperture or Lightroom. Previously these plug-ins were in the $100-200 range with full six plug-in suites running $300 for Aperture/Lightroom and $500 for Photoshop/Elements.
However, today’s announcement reduces that price to $130 for the “Nik Collection by Google” and includes the Color Efex Pro 4, Dfine 2, HDR Efex Pro 2, Sharpener Pro 3, Silver Efex Pro 2 and Viveza 2 plugins. Perhaps even more exciting is the fact that, according to the announcement, if you have bought any of the Nik plug-ins in the past, Google will be contacting you and offering you the ability to upgrade to the entire suite for free. If you have never tried the Nik plug-ins, you can visit niksoftware.com for a 15-day free trial of the Collection.
Adobe has been teasing photographers with sneak peeks of Photoshop CS6 for the past couple of months and tonight finally unveiled the software as a free public beta that’s available now for download. You can download Photoshop CS6 as a beta by clicking here.
We got an early look at the software, under NDA, at an Adobe-sponsored workshop last month. Click here to read our first impressions of Photoshop CS6.
Once you download the free beta of Adobe Photoshop CS6, tell us what you think of the software in the comments below.