Photoshop Versus Lightroom: Which is Best for Beginners?

Photoshop Versus Lightroom: Which is Best for Beginners?

If you’re new to photography, you’re likely wondering how to post-process or edit your photos. There is a wide selection of photo editing software to choose from, but the two that you probably hear debated the most are Adobe Photoshop versus Lightroom. So what are the main differences and which program is best for beginners and for you? Read on for a basic overview!

I get this question all the time. My go-to answer is to tell students that Photoshop is a “pixel editor” while Lightroom is an “image editor”. I also tell them that, if you’re comfortable working in Photoshop, go ahead and edit in Photoshop. But, if you’re not, Lightroom has less of a learning curve and is an app dedicated to and for photographers.

But keep in mind, these are not the only two apps you can use to edit your images. Photos for Mac is free as is Snapheel for iOS and Android devices. I’m also testing for review the recently demoed at WWDC Serif Jabs’ Affinity Photo for the iPad.

The Nik Collection is now free!

From Google:

Photo enthusiasts all over the world use the Nik Collection to get the best out of their images every day. As we continue to focus our long-term investments in building incredible photo editing tools for mobile, including Google Photos and Snapseed, we’ve decided to make the Nik Collection desktop suite available for free, so that now anyone can use it.

The Nik Collection is comprised of seven desktop plug-ins that provide a powerful range of photo editing capabilities — from filter applications that improve color correction, to retouching and creative effects, to image sharpening that brings out all the hidden details, to the ability to make adjustments to the color and tonality of images.

If you run either the Mac or Windows version of Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or Photoshop Lightroom, grab these plug-ins!

infltr: Filter Photos with over 5 Million Color Hues

I’m a complete iPhone Photo App Junkie (IPAJ) and have over four hundred (and counting!) of them. Here is the latest cool one I’ve found:

infltr is a camera app that lets you add filter before you capture a picture. Move your finger and see the filter change in real-time. Pan across in any direction to discover infinite filters.
Affiliate link:
infltr: Filter Photos with over 5 Million Color Hues

The only downside is the filters only occur on live shots – that is, before you take the photo. You can’t (yet) import photos from your camera roll and use the infltr engine to transform the image.

Edit Any Photo on the Internet with Polarr’s Plugin


Popular browser-based editor Polarr has released a new plugin for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that enables users to instantly edit any photo.

This will be useful for my classes to show live editing but it might be scary for photographers and undoubtedly has copyright issues associated with grabbing just any image off the web and “making it your own”. If you use this, please be respectful of the artist’s copyright.

Sunrise, Sunset with Rizon

Every photographer will tell you that the Golden Hour – the half hour before and after sunrise and sunset – is the “best” time to shoot outdoors. The light is “different” – less harsh with a different color temperature and quality. But the times of sunrise and sunset keep changing from week to week and season to season.
I use Rizon (affiliate link) to send a message on my phone each evening reminding me of when sunset is (I’m less likely to want a message when sunrise happens!). From the developer:

The idea behind Rizon was that it’s usually a pain for the casual photographer to find out when the best time of day to shoot photographs outdoors is. Sure, there are other apps that tell you the same sort of information, but sometimes it can be an information overload. I just wanted a simple way to see when Golden Hour was happening, along with Twilight and the time of day to avoid harsh shadows.

Rizon uses your current location and date to work out the times for you. You can also use a custom location (which is available offline) and custom dates to help you plan photo-shoots in advance.

I’m also really forgetful so we have 2 different types of reminders. Quick Reminders let you just set one-off reminders for the upcoming two Golden Hours or a custom date. Repeat Reminders are sent every day (depending on the settings you choose) so you don’t have to do anything. Rizon will just ping you when to get outside.

It’s a well done, simple, inexpensive app (affiliate link) that can serve as a great reminder to get out there and take pictures!

LiveBlend by Eric Kunz

Everyone knows I’m a complete iOS photography app junkie. Like all junkies, I can’t help myself. But apps have been around so long it’s getting harder to find ones that are truly different or interesting enough for me to recommend.

The 99 cent LiveBlend by Eric Kunz (affiliate link) definitely qualifies.

I love double exposure shots but they have been beyond my (non-existent) Photoshop skills. And the other iOS apps I’ve tried haven’t given me results I’m happy with. Liveblend is the easiest to use double exposure app I’ve found if only because of the live preview ability.

Now, not every photo works as a double exposure so it’s best to experiment with LiveBlend’s free downloadable silhouettes to get a feel for the app. It also has issues with photos that don’t fit into what the app wants – some photos will be flipped to landscape mode even when you don’t want them to be. And there’s no way in v1 to play around with the image translucency.

All that being said, it’s still an interesting app that, for only 99 cents, can create some memorable images.

Pixelmator for the iPad Now Available. Just Buy It.

While Photoshop is the 800lb gorilla of digital image editors, Pixelmator certainly gives it a run for its money, doing 75% of what Photoshop can do at a fraction of the price.

If you watched the Apple iPad Launch Event in September, you would have seen a demonstration of Pixelmator for the iPad. Those of us who are fans of the desktop software (and the developers behind it) were very excited by the idea of Pixelmator on our iPads. For me, it was a matter of, “OK…take my money! How much of it do you want!?”

Luckily, Pixelmator for the iPad is only $5. Just shut up and go buy it now.

Manual for iPhone

One of the huge advantages DSLRs and many point and shoots have over the iPhone or other smartphones is the ability to adjust, manipulate and control Shutter, ISO, White Balance, Focus and Exposure Bracketing.

In the latest iOS update, Apple has allowed developers access to those abilities of the iPhone and we are starting to see apps take advantage of them.

Manual from Little Pixels (affiliate link) is just such an app. It has the advantage of having a funny video to go along with it:

Pixlr’s free photo editor goes native on Windows and OS X


Users can crop, resize and rotate images, adjust color and contrast, apply red-eye reduction, or just use the “auto-fix” button. The app includes dozens of filters, overlays, borders, effects and stickers as well.

Pixlr also added some new features and effects to the desktop version, such as a “double exposure” tool for laying photos on top of phone another. And as a desktop program, Pixlr can handle high-resolution, uncompressed images while preserving EXIF data. The text overlay tool can also use all your system’s existing fonts.

I haven’t used this app but free is good and it looks like it might have one or two fun, useful tools to play around with.

Free – Perfect Effects 8 from onOne Software

Free – Perfect Effects 8 from onOne Software:

Perfect Effects 8 Free Edition gives you the best way to add subtle to striking effects to your photos instantly or take complete creative control and transform your images into uniquely stylized images. It’s also the easiest and most versatile way to add effects when you’re using Adobe® Photoshop®, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom®, Apple® Aperture®, or Perfect Effects 8 Free by itself as a standalone application.

OnOne makes some great software and you can’t beat free!

Sunrise, Sunset, Moonrise, Moonset – easily found with PhotoPills

I’ve been using this insanely cool app for a couple of months now. It’s called “PhotoPills” (app store affiliate link) and, if you’ve ever wondered not only when sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset happen but where in the sky they happen, this is the app for you.

Every pro photographer will tell you that the “best” light is the “Golden Hour” – that time approx 30 minutes before and after a sunrise or a sunset. This app does what a lot of other apps do – it tells you what time the sun rises or sets. But PhotoPills (odd name) goes even further by showing you visually where the sun or moon is right now relative to you and in which direction those events and others are going to happen. It also does it into the future.

Here’s an example. I went to my home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia in June. I knew I’d be in a particularly scenic spot on the Friday. I was wondering where the sunset was going to be and at what time. I told the app where the location was on the map, forwarded to the date and time I was expecting to be at there and the app told me exactly what direction and angle the sun would be at. It also told me (sadly) there would be no moon that night so I didn’t have to plan that shoot.

The app does so much more. From an augmented reality view of the sky (so you can plan shots even better) to determining the best long exposure times or figuring out the field of view for any camera/lens combination. You can even save points of interest, share them and see what other shooters have bookmarked.

The only downside is…no – not the price. At $10 for a full featured app, it’s imminently reasonable (although, my eyes would like to have a native version for the iPad. It works fine on the iPad but…). The biggest downside is the learning curve.

We are so used to having our iOS apps be dead simple to use that, when we come across one that needs more effort, we tend to give it short shrift. But if you stick with the app, watch the videos on the PhotoPills web site and take in what they are trying to teach you, I promise it’s worth the effort.

For those of you who either don’t want all the power or are too cheap to spend the money, Rick Sammons has a 99 cent app called Rick Sammon’s Photo Sundial (app store affiliate link) that is a universal app similar to but not nearly as powerful as PhotoPills.

I’d recommend starting off with Photo Sundial and then, if you find it useful, moving up to join the Big Boys by using PhotPills. Neither app will dissapoint though.

Pixelmator is 50% off!

PixelmatorPixelmator, one of the best image editing apps for the Mac, is on sale for 50% off the regular price of $29.99!

From their web site:

Pixelmator takes full advantage of the latest Mac technologies, giving you speedy, powerful tools that let you touch up and enhance images, draw or paint, apply dazzling effects, or create advanced compositions amazingly simple. Once your images are ready, access them anywhere with iCloud, send them to iPhoto or Aperture, email, print, share, or save them to popular image formats–all right from Pixelmator.

And, the new Pixelmator 3.2 comes with full OS X Mavericks support, non-destructive Layer Styles, a complete set of Liquify Tools, 16-bits per channel support, and the new state-of-the-art image editing engine.


Intensify Pro Photo App Offers Dazzling Quick Fix

The Next Web:

Intensify Pro is one of my favorite photo editing apps because of its versatility and ease of use, while its range of artistic presets give you a new way to conceptualize your photos. 

Intensify comes in two versions: Standard ($14.99) and Pro ($59.99).

The only difference is the plug-in capability of the pro version. Software sold on the Mac App Store is available only in the standalone version. If you want to use Intensify Pro as a plug-in for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom or Aperture, download the app directly from Macphun‘s website.

If you listen to Your Mac Life, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Macphun and their powerful but easy to use software. Intensify Pro is no exception and is quickly becoming my favourite desktop photo editing software.

OKDoThis Fights Fear of Missing Out with Photo Sharing Challenges

Think of OKDoThis as a photo assignment manager, and you are a freelancer on the prowl.

I almost like the idea of this app. I don’t know about the “fear of mssing out” (that seems kind of childish) but it might be fun for me (or you!) to “send out assignments” to a group of fellow iPhone photographers to see what they/you come up with.

But the app wants to force/direct you to only use Twitter of Facebook. When you open the app, the only “Sign Up” options that are obvious are through Twitter and Facebook. If you hit the “Skip” button, you can then go to the next screen where you can set up an email account.

Another example: I’ve set up a “Do” assignment of my own (go ahead and download the free app and join in if you’d like!) but I wasn’t able/allowed to send it out via email – only via Twitter or Facebook. Granted, that’s most likely the way I would do it anyway but I like having options.

Regardless, check out the app and tell me what you think.

OKDoThis Fights Fear of Missing Out with Photo Sharing Challenges.

SKRWT – Lens distortion corrector

One of the biggest annoyances of wide angle lens like those of the iPhone is the distorted (non-straight) lines of buildings and the like.

SKRWT claims to be the “missing link in high-end Smartphone Photography”. It’s a little bit convoluted without much in the way of instruction but watching this video:

Will help you figure it out. If you often take photos of buildings, you definitely need to buy this app.

Get the Best Out of Photo Apps on Your iPhone

Dan Rubin for The Guardian:

Dan Rubin, editor-at-large of the Photographic Journal and an early Instagram adopter, takes a tour of London to test some of the best smartphone photography apps. By shooting a variety of people and places, Dan shows how using some specially selected apps throughout your photography workflow can dramatically improve the shots you capture – and offers some cool tips and tricks of what you can do with those shots afterwards.

Fair warning – THIS VIDEO WILL COST YOU MONEY! Watching it “forced” me to buy $5 worth of apps. 🙂

Here are links to some of the apps he talks about in the video and ones I bought (they are all referral links so if you buy them, I get a teeny tiny kickback):

AntiCrop from Adva-Soft

TouchRetouch from Adva-Soft

Average Camera Pro from Dominik Seibold

Cortex Camera from Whimsical Productions

VSCO Cam from Visual Supply Company

Rubin’s article has a number of other apps he doesn’t mention in the video. allows Users to Watermark Photos

Fast Company:

Watermarking can still be cropped out by someone who aims to actively steal the photographer’s work–but that’s another problem for another day. In the meantime, a solution for the accidental erasure of credit and attribution for a photographer’s work is a good start.

This is an easy app to use but don’t expect it to prevent someone from stealing your work. A dedicated thief will get it regardless.

I’d only use this app for “branding” or promotional purposes. In that light, it works nicely as seen here.