Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tops for 2009

Here on the last day of the last month of 2009, I thought I'd write a few words about my favorite photo applications. These are the programs that I've either discovered this past year, or older programs that I've gotten to know better.

The program I came to appreciate the most in 2009 was Adobe's Lightroom 2. I found this to be a tremendously powerful, efficient and flexible program. The presets in the Develop module are my favorite thing. I often have difficulty visualizing how an image would look with certain changes, but the presets give me a thumbnail preview of these effects. This not only takes me in exciting and unexpected directions with some images, but also increases my efficiency when working through a large number of images. Everything about the program feels streamlined and efficient. I look forward to discovering more about it in the coming year.

2009 was also the year where I really started to find my stride with HDR, or High Dynamic Range images. This is the process of shooting multiple exposures of the same image and combining them in post processing to show a wider range of light than you could get from one image. You can use this technique to either more accurately represent what the human eye sees, or take a more surreal approach and create something almost otherworldly. The one program that's essential for creating this type of image is Photomatix Pro. This program takes a while to master, and I'm certainly not there, but I am starting to find what works best for me. For best results you really need an editor that supports layers, like Photoshop to finish the images. An inexpensive program on the Mac that supports layers is Pixelmator. There's a lot of Photoshop level power in there without the crazy price.

I can't talk about this past year without talking about the iPhone. I got mine in January, and it has since become my most used camera and post processing machine. I have it with me at all times, and not only is it good at just capturing moments that you would otherwise miss, but is a legitimate image making tool in it's own right. Some of my favorite images from 2009 were taken with my iPhone. The apps that I've found to be essential are Best CameraBest Camera, PhotogenePhotogene, CameraBagCameraBag and AutoStitchAutoStitch Panorama. Apps I use less frequently, but are still cool are Photo fxPhoto fx, ShakeItPhotoShakeItPhoto, TiltShiftGenTiltShift Generator - Fake DSLR and TimeLapseTimeLapse.

If I were to pick a favorite post from this past year, I think it would have to be "Water droppin'" I think I had the most fun shooting those images, and I certainly got the most views and feedback on that post.

I want to thank of you regular readers for your feedback and continued visits. I would still be taking pictures even if no one else ever saw them, but I truly enjoy sharing them and hearing/seeing what others are doing. In 2010 I look forward to growing in both my "seeing" what's around me, and in my finishing skills on the computer to deliver my vision. Can't wait to see what's to come!