I seriously get asked this question twice a month. I don’t mind though because its usually from new readers of my blog, and I love new readers! I’m one of the purist type of photographers, I do not like editing and adding effects and changing original intentions. Nothing wrong with that style but I prefer real tones not washed out or cross process all the time. Its nice sometimes though. I use photo editing products for two very specific reasons: Color correction and resizing/sharpen for sharing online.
The two programs I use are Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Lightroom 2. I use Lightroom because it has an easy way to batch edit pictures fast and handles RAW files amazingly. Its is more true on the Histogram (the mountain range that tells you if you blew out or are underexposed). I used this program exclusively in my Digital Photography class last year. I love it for color correction. It also has some great filters that you can download for it. I’ve not been exposed to any kind of graphic design classes to go with my photography but I know there are a lot of great painting type of programs that transform photos into a dream like masterpiece. I love that!
I also use Photoshop elements. I use this one mostly to re-size photos, add some great color pop actions, and I sharpen and use brushes. I watermark my photographs and its easy to do in Elements. One reason I chose this one over Paint Shop Pro is because I can easily add a simple vignette to photos in one step using the correct camera distortion menu. I have used the full Photoshop CS program before. I don’t own a business so I don’t really need the kind of power that the full version provides. I do casual editing, because as I posted above, don’t like sitting for hours editing, and really I could probably use just one program, but since I do re-size a lot I kind of need something easy to do that with and that is Elements. I’ve been using it for years and I am a big fan. I think I need to upgrade that soon.
I think a lot of people might think that I used the full Photoshop CS suite or something like it because they are usually surprised and say “oh that’s all?” And I say yes, I don’t like to edit so I try to get it right in camera. I think every photographer strives to do that though. Life isn’t easy when you have to edit every single photo but at least there are photo editor options for different price points and skill levels, right? I like that I get good results from a cheaper program. Maybe if I try some advanced graphic design in the future I will be getting another Adobe product!