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Photography Software & Computer Peripherals
TOOLS + PRODUCTS I LOVE
My Favorite Brands
Adobe offers a Creative Cloud Photography Plan for $9.99 per month, which is tremendous! All software updates, including major version updates, are free. This plan includes a subscription to Photoshop, Bridge, Camera Raw, and Lightroom.
I LOVE the Nik Collection software plugins, and in my opinion, these plugins are a must have! If you are looking for a suite of Lightroom and Photoshop tools to help you add that creative “somethin’ somethin'” to your color photographs, the Nik Color Efex plugin can’t be beat. The Nik Silver Efex plugin is considered by many, myself included, to be the industry standard plugin for making black and white images pop.
I also use the Skylum Luminar Neo software plugin occasionally to add finishing touches to my images.
I still use the standalone Topaz AI plugins. However, the “bundled” Photo AI software is very good as well, and a bit simpler to use.
I quite frankly can’t live without my Topaz Labs software. The Topaz Sharpen and Topaz DeNoise programs are the best I have found that combine fantastic results and simple yet customizable settings, without a lot of color shifting.
Lumenzia is a luminosity masking panel for Photoshop, and Web Sharp Pro is a Photoshop panel that cuts the time it takes to sharpen and export high-quality images significantly. The latest version of Web Sharp Pro makes exporting HDR gain maps a breeze. I use both of these panels for the majority of my post-processing work, but even if you already use another luminosity masking panel, I highly recommend adding Web Sharp Pro to your toolkit – it is the best web export plugin there is by far in my opinion. Both panels are created by Greg Benz. Greg is an extremely knowledgeable and talented photographer, educator, and programmer, and he is an all-around great guy too. He provides excellent customer support and he has helped me out many times when I had questions. Greg also updates these panels often in order to include the latest Lightroom and Photoshop features.
The TK9 Panel is another luminosity mask plugin that I own and use occasionally. Some of the functionality of this panel overlaps with the Lumenzia panel, but both panels have a few tools that are unique to unto themselves. TK9 is programmed in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, and Chinese, which is a nice feature.
The Pro Panel is another luminosity mask plugin created by John Weatherby. It is a bit easier to learn and navigate out-of-the-box than Lumenzia and TK9. This plugin has the added bonus of being a good Photoshop learning tool as well, since many of the panel buttons trigger adjustment layer actions. You can see the effect the action applies to your photo and then study the adjustment layers and settings that created the effect. John provides excellent customer support, and he has created several Pro Panel tutorial videos that you can purchase separately to help you get started. John has several online photography courses available for purchase that are also tremendous.
Backup, backup, backup, and always have your data in at least two places! If possible, I recommend keeping one copy of your data off-site as well. I use SSD drives for portability and fast data transfer (great for on-location). But since SSD drives can be expensive, for high-capacity network storage at home or a studio, a NAS system is a good and convenient option. But plain ol’ individual external hard drives (JBOD) will do as well. Here are my picks:
This drive enclosure is expandable (you can add up to 10 drive bays via expansion units), so there is a lot of headroom. This is an enclosure only – you’ll need to purchase SATA drives separately. I prefer Seagate IronWolf Pro drives.
Calibrate your displays regularly ya’ll! 🙂
Did you know you can also calibrate your camera? Calibrite makes software that is compatible with several of their color checker products, including the ColorChecker Passport Photo 2, which allows you to do so.