Software Options

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Today’s Question: Do you think using Adobe Bridge along with software like Luminar or Photoshop Elements to do post-processing of RAW images would be feasible and worthwhile? I use the Adobe Photography Plan subscription now.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Adobe Bridge provides a perfectly reasonable solution for managing photos. And software such as Luminar or Photoshop Elements provide tools for processing raw captures. However, I feel that Lightroom Classic CC is a better choice for image management and even initial raw processing, with the use of other software tools potentially providing supplemental benefits.

More Detail: In my mind image management is the most daunting challenge facing photographers. Therefore, which image management software to use is perhaps the most important decision to make in terms of your overall workflow. While I realize many photographers have struggled with Lightroom, I still feel that Lightroom provides a superior image-management solution compared to Adobe Bridge.

Put simply, Adobe Bridge is a browser while Lightroom provides a catalog-based workflow solution. While the catalog in Lightroom is a source of many challenges for photographers, it also provides a variety of advantages. For example, with a catalog it is much faster and easier to search among an entire library of photos, which is a task that can be extremely slow with Adobe Bridge.

Beyond image management, of course you want to consider which software tools will provide the best solution for optimizing your photos. Lightroom provides powerful raw processing that is on par with many other software applications that are available (and that is superior to the raw processing in Photoshop Elements). With the Photography Plan subscription (https://timgrey.me/photoplan) you also have access to Photoshop, which is obviously an incredibly powerful solution.

Other software applications certainly offer a variety of benefits for photo optimization and applying creative effects. However, I don’t feel there is a better solution for managing photos that Lightroom Classic CC. If you’re going to subscribe to the Photography Plan to get access to Lightroom, then I would tend to make use of Photoshop as a primary tool for advanced photo optimization. And then, of course, other software could be looked to for supplemental purposes. For example, I highly recommend Aurora HDR (https://timgrey.me/aurora2019) as a great tool for creating HDR images.

So, I think Lightroom Classic CC represents a good foundation for a photographers workflow. I therefore feel it makes sense for most photographers to consider Lightroom as the central tool in their workflow, adding additional plug-ins and other software to fill gaps that aren’t covered by Lightroom.