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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

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Complete suites plus specialized apps for your digital darkroom

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Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan

The photo software space has seen some big changes in recent years. Google acquired Nik, Adobe went to the cloud and, in June of this year, Apple announced that Aperture will no longer be developed, with users being directed to a new—and at press time, still mysterious—Photos app that will launch sometime after the next update to the Mac operating system, Yosemite, which is due for release in the fall.

After a somewhat controversial transition from perpetual licenses to the subscription-based Creative Cloud (with the exception of Lightroom and Photoshop Elements, which are still available as a perpetual license), Adobe introduced a new Creative Cloud Photography Plan with a lower price for photographers who don't need or want the entire Creative Cloud suite. Welcome news!

While the big players tinker with their business models, the plug-in and specialized effects segment continues to grow as some photographers are moving away from the single-app solution, instead choosing a specific app to do a specific job. Everything from noise reduction to portrait enhancement to black-and-white conversion can be done just as well, and sometimes better, by an app targeted to the purpose.

Whether you prefer to do most of your processing in a single application or use a variety of apps for different tasks, here's an overview of what's new.
—Wes Pitts

ADOBE
Last year, Adobe shifted its Creative Suite, including Photoshop, to the Creative Cloud platform and recently announced a Creative Cloud Photography Plan that includes access to Photoshop CC and Lightroom (as well as some useful new mobile apps) at a lower monthly price. Along with the release of this plan, Adobe also announced new features for Photoshop CC, including Perspective Warp, Blur Gallery motion effects, Focus Masking and improved Content-Aware functionality. List Price: $9.99 monthly ($119.88 annually).

Lightroom has become the standard for many photography pros and enthusiasts, with its focus on a streamlined workflow to handle everything from organizing and processing to exporting, printing and sharing your images. Available as part of the Creative Cloud, Lightroom is also still available with a perpetual license. Lightroom 5 includes tools to make common tasks faster and easier, like the Advanced Healing Brush, which lets you remove everything from dust spots to larger distractions with minimal effort by simply "painting" over the area you wish to remove. Learn more about the latest features in our review online: www.dpmag.com/new-in-lightroom-5. List Price: $79 (perpetual license; requires previous version of Lightroom), or $9.99 monthly for the Creative Cloud Photography Plan.

If you join the Creative Cloud, you'll get access to mobile apps like Adobe Lightroom mobile, which provides tagging and editing functionality that seamlessly integrates with Lightroom 5 via the cloud. As you work, mobile edits are updated to your desktop. List Price: Free with Creative Cloud subscription.

The Photoshop Mix app makes complicated mobile editing doable by providing full nondestructive Photoshop features such as Upright, Content-Aware Fill and Camera Shake Reduction for your tablet. Combine images, remove objects and create masks to your photos, then export the layered images for additional touch-ups in Photoshop CC. List Price: Free (access to some features requires a Creative Cloud subscription).


Alien Skin Exposure 6
ALIEN SKIN
One of several useful photo apps from Alien Skin, Exposure 6 gives you the ability to manipulate focus and depth of field, add vignettes and simulate the look of specific lenses (such as a Canon EF 85mm ƒ/1.2L or a Nikon 300mm ƒ/2.8) and lens types (like a tilt/shift lens). You can also re-create the look of a variety of classic color and black-and-white films. New in version 6 is a basic control panel for fine-tuning elements like exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, and includes new borders, textures and lighting effects like realistic light flares. List Price: $149.

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