Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Photoshop Q&A - Do I Need My Computer Anymore?

I was out the other evening with some friends when one of them asked me if they needed their computer anymore.  My first response was "of course you do".  After a minute I asked what my friend was using the computer for.  ???  He said I do email, surf the web and doctor my photos.  There it was, the reason for having a computer.  Ah-ha,  you need a powerful computer to manipulate your images.  A no brainer, until I thought about it a little more.  Like almost all aspects of modern life, photography is moving toward the tablets.  I bought an iPAD 2 about six months ago.  It was for the typical reasons (although I still don't have a single song on it) and I thought it would be handy for checking email, online shopping, a couple of games and generally freeing me from running to the computer every time I needed access.  Thinking about how my usage has changed I had to qualify my snap response to my friend.  My initial retort came back to haunt me as we discussed his uses in more depth.  He does some very serious photography, but 99.9% of it is straight.  He's not familiar enough with his chosen image editing software to be any sort of heavy duty pixel pusher.  He makes great images, but they're all very straight.  He's been using Adobe Photoshop Elements through several iterations and is currently on PSE 9.  Having the ability to create a Layer Mask confuses him and Adjustment Layers are over his head.  Any tweaks he needs he does on the Base Layer and it makes me cringe when I see him work.  I had to rethink my initial reply.  To find out what switched my thinking, hit the "Read More".

As an experiment, I took a walk down to a swampy area down the road a little bit.  (The town likes to refer to it as a "conservation area", but it's a swamp.)  It was early morning and the light had a soft warm glow to it.  It was going to rain and it showed in the pink shades of the image.  I shot in RAW.  I always do except for weddings and sports.  Rather than downloading to the computer when I returned home (which I also did), I dumped the files into the iPAD while I was out. 
I've been making a collection of image processing apps on the iPAD.  Mostly I've just been doodling around, adjusting an image and returning it to "as shot" before leaving the app.  To test my "rethink" of my friends question I wanted to take the image as far as I was able on the iPAD.  Going through several different apps I came up with today's image.  It's straight, but it's also pretty juiced.  After finishing I went home, down loaded the files onto the computer, cranked up Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS5 and replicated the same image on the computer.  The two images wound up 99% the same.  I don't want to say 100% because there "might be" a hair difference between the two.
I was able to finish a shot to the exact (99%) same image on an iPAD.  Even if it required using several different apps, the iPAD's intuitive interface made it simple to think of the apps almost as modules.  The finger flicks were the same across the apps.  Finding the modifiers I wanted to use was similar (Left to right, up to down might have been different, but that was minor.)
So, if I did straight photography (I don't) and had no real heavy programs that I couldn't live without (I don't) I think I might think twice before buying another computer.  Within the next couple of years I might be off a computer altogether.  That is a very strange thought compared to the norm of just a year ago.  The soothsayers often talk about a paradigm shift.  I think one's all teed up and ready to be smacked down the fairway.  Yikes!  Gotta call my friend before he runs out to buy a new computer.