There has been a lot of photographer hand wringing in the wake of Adobe’s Creative Cloud power play. I know of very few photographers, amateur or pro, who are happy to suddenly be forced to pre-pay for Photoshop upgrades they’ve always been able to evaluate before deciding they’re worth purchase. Now our choices are between biting the bullet and signing up for Adobe’s rental plan (“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”), or hopping off the Photoshop upgrade train.
Applying the most optimistic spin possible, my hope is that Adobe’s new Photoshop rental paradigm forces photographers to evaluate their Photoshop habit and (fingers crossed) realize that having the latest processing tool isn’t as essential as they might think. I can’t help but flash-back to my color transparency days, when I had no idea at capture whether I’d squeezed the scene’s light in the narrow dynamic range (and hadn’t somehow included my thumb), knowing that I’d be pretty much stuck with whatever came back from the lab. Compare that to today’s instant feedback and the processing magic possible with raw capture and Lightroom/Photoshop. Pretty cool. I mean, in my film days if someone had offered me all the capabilities of, say, Photoshop CS2 for the rest of my photography life, I’d have been thrilled. But somehow we became hooked, and no matter what the current processing capabilities are, we can’t live without the next great thing. While progress is wonderful, I’m afraid our upgrade addiction has created many photographers who care more about processing than capture.
So. Let me suggest that do yourself a favor and take a deep breath before committing your photography future to Adobe’s whims. Consider this an opportunity to use the time you would have spent learning the next processing tool or technique to work instead on your photography. What a concept. For example, if you can’t get your exposure to within 1/3 of a stop of where it should be with the first click, you and your camera have work to do. If you can’t determine the aperture and focus point that gives you the desired depth of field (or you can’t determine when the desired depth of field isn’t possible), you and your camera have work to do. And most importantly, no matter how strong you are with exposure and hyperfocal focus now, your vision and composition skills always have room to grow.
Am I opposed to Photoshop? Absolutely not. Nor am I suggesting that you shouldn’t commit to ACC (and I can’t even say that I’ll never do it). I just think that before committing to ACC, you understand that once you do, using anything above Photoshop CS6 means paying Adobe every month for the rest of your life, regardless of features, quality, and service. And the alternative, to stay with CS6, might just free you up to spend more time taking pictures. I can think of worse things.
About this image
One spring afternoon a few years ago, instead of sitting at my computer working on images, I tossed my camera bag in the car and headed for the hills. There was nothing particularly compelling about the conditions, I just wanted to take pictures. I ended up on a narrow country road near Plymouth, south and east of Sacramento. With sunset approaching, I picked these trees to frame the setting sun. This ordinary scene on an ordinary evening became an image that makes me very happy, something that never would have happened had I not just gone out and looked. It’s what photographers do.