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Tutorial 14 re-released

I've been steadily moving my old shows over to YouTube. It makes sense to put the content where the viewers are. But in the process I realised that there's a lot of stuff in those shows that was timely when it was released but much less interesting now. So the new versions of the old shows will, from now on, be stripped down to just the important bit - the tutorial. I'm also increasing the video quality everywhere I can and uploading 1080p versions where possible. As always these videos will remain free and you'll be able to download them if you wish.

So in that vein I've re-released Tutorial 14 in improved quality and stripped down to just the meat of the shows. It was a long one - 8 chapters but there's a TON of good photoshop tips in there and darn near all of it is still relevant to CS6 today.  So go and check it out. Here's links to the YouTube pages or you can find Tutorial 14 in the Video Tutorials section of the site here.





Tutorial 25 - Marillion Concert Panorama

I this single chapter tutorial I'll show you how to manually stitch a panorama using Photoshop CS6 and select which parts of each image you want to appear in the final result. This is also a pretty impressive demo of what Photoshop can do. We stitch 4 hand-held photographs taken with the camera held above my head at a concert. Nearly everything moved between each shot but Photoshop still manages to stitch them. 

Tutorial 25 - Marillion Concert Panorama



Adobe killing Photoshop boxed copies

So the other shoe has dropped. Adobe have just announced that they won't be selling boxed copies of their creative suite products any more. That includes Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, InDesign and so on. This is because they want you to use their new purchasing model, the Creative Cloud, which was launched less than a year ago. With Creative Cloud you can buy either the entire Creative Suite for £47/month or a single application for £17.49/month. Some reports are saying that Adobe have reduced the price for a single app from $20/month to $10/month but I'm not seeing any UK prices yet. Presumably they'll also drop UK prices by 50% as well making it somewhere around £9/month.

Based on the currently advertised £17.49 price you'd pay £630 over the next 3 years, which is about how often most people seem to upgrade. Under the old model you'd pay about £200 for an upgrade if you already owned a full copy of Photoshop. If Adobe do halve the single app price that'll be £315 over 3 years - still way more than the old upgrade price. And if you want more than one application from the creative suite there's no option for you besides buying everything.

[Update: the 50% off thing looks like being a limited time for existing owners that lasts just for the first year]

So what are the pros and cons of this change? Well first of all, once you get on board with the new scheme you'll have to keep paying every month forever because when you stop paying the software stops working. Not so good for those people who only use Photoshop occasionally. But on the upside you get all upgrades as soon as they're released. And as we know every version of Photoshop has included *must have* improvements that we could never live without. Right? In fact, doesn't a subscription model like this remove any incentive for Adobe to develop Photoshop at all? Right now they have to come up with new headline features to tempt people to upgrade every 3 years. But once they're collecting your cash every month - why bother?

I'm a Photoshop trainer so I talk to a lot of Photoshop users. I'd guess that about 50% of the people I talk to are using a pirated copy. Why is that? Because they feel that have to have it but they can't afford it. I answer endless questions from people about ways to get a discount like using the student version. It's clear to me that Photoshop is already way over priced. Quite out of reach of most amateur photographers. And it's also clear that with the rise of Lightroom and other, quicker processing tools Photoshop is being used less and less. So when does the price and the usefulness equation stop people wanting Photoshop at all? I'm guessing right about now - the same moment that Adobe forces everyone onto a software rental model. Adobe is killing its own sacred cow.

The most damaging thing for Adobe, I think, is discussions like this one that remind people they don't actually need Photoshop. There are lots of other, cheaper tools on the market these days that can replace Photoshop for the few remaining things we do with it. Corel's Paintshop Pro is a pretty good facsimile of Photoshop and it's got 16-bit colour support, which is the feature Photoshop Elements lacks that prevents me using it. OnOne Software's Perfect Photo Suite offers a lot of creative options including layers and it integrates with Lightroom beautifully. And there are a ton of other very affordable products coming onto the market that do one or two things really well, like SnapHeal which replicates Photoshop's spot healing and content aware features plus more. 

If you're looking at this situation and wondering what to do now I would recommend waiting. It's not clear what the future holds for Lightroom. Lightroom 5 beta just became available but I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to buy it without a Creative Cloud subscription. I'll try and find out. As for Photoshop - I'm really not sure I'll bother teaching it any more. I don't want to rent it. Not at these prices. And I'm not at all convinced there'll be much demand for Photoshop courses in the future.

[Update: Although Lightroom 5 has been included in the creative suite in the past it will continue to be available separately as a one-time purchase outside the creative cloud]



Why the internet is devaluing art and how it's YOUR fault

I just read an article from the LA Times website where Robert Levine talks about how the internet devalues creative work and it got me thinking about how this applies to photography. I have to conclude that I agree with Robert on that hypothesis but not on much else of what he says.

It's simple supply and demand really. There's much more great work being produced for much less money now. In short, you people are getting too good at taking petter pictures and processing them to a professional shine. This is as a result of the rapid educational possibilities of the internet and technology advances that have put in the hands of the masses the same creative tools that were formerly available only to a few. And, shock horror, it turns out that there were loads more talented people out there who previously wouldn't have had the education and tools needed to produce competitive quality work.

Ironically Photoshop is a great example of one such tool. Look at the amazing wealth of superb quality photography on Google+. Even 5 years ago the typical standard of photography I saw online was markedly lower than it is today. And tools like Photoshop are partly responsible. People have always had talent but, today, more than ever in the past they also have the knowledge and tools they need to produce the images they envisioned.

My worry, though, is that Photoshop is returning to being a tool only for the 'elite'. I got a lot of feedback for my article Wave bye bye to Photoshop. Most of that feedback was agreement but of the few that disagreed the majority were basically saying,

"Photoshop *should* be expensive because it's a professional tool and there are lesser tools for the plebs who can't afford the good version".

In essence they were saying that because they could afford it they quite liked the idea of locking everyone else out - everyone else can use the less good tools that produce less good results. This is plain and simple elitism of the most unattractive kind.

The joke is on Adobe and the big media content producers, though, because this problem is going to solve itself. If Adobe don't sell a product that people can afford then smaller, hungrier companies like MacPhun, Coppertino, Realmac Software, Pixelmator and many others will just steal their lunch. The same is already true for the creative work producers. Big stock agencies are already feeling the pinch from micro stock sites like iStockPhoto. And in the music world too with millions of independent producers making and selling music direct to their fans without ever signing a record deal. Google Music is all set to capitalise on that gold rush.

The message for Adobe, Hollywood and the big content producers is simple. Make your product available to people where they want to buy it (online) and make it affordable. Cause one thing is for sure - we masses aren't going to go back to making crappy quality work. The competition is here to stay.



Wave bye bye to Photoshop

I've been arguing for years that Photoshop is insanely overpriced and as the cost of software has steadily dropped the problem has become more and more pronounced. The app model that the world is clearly moving to has us paying far less for software as cheap simple apps like Pixelmator, Acorn, Fx Photo Studio, Flare, Analog and many others sell for pocket money prices. Even Adobe's own Lightroom makes spending £600+ on Photoshop hard to justify.

Despite this Photoshop has been seen as the defacto photo editing standard for years and for good reason - nothing else can do what Photoshop does. But I teach a lot of photoshop and photography courses and the dirty little secret is that a great many people using Photoshop do so illegally. Why? Because it's way too expensive. Among those that do have legal copies it's very normal for people to be one or two versions out of date.

Cue the recent announcement from Adobe's David Wadhwani that to qualify for Photoshop upgrade pricing you'll need to be on the previous version. So you'll need to own CS5 to qualify for an upgrade price to CS6. As far as I'm concerned that's putting a gun to Photoshop's head and pulling the trigger.

Until now you've been able to upgrade Photoshop from any of the 3 previous versions. Many of the people I teach who own Photoshop rely on this and upgrade every second or third version - particularly because each product version tends to add comparatively little that's compelling to the feature set.

Adobe's answer is that you can subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud which gives you access to all their creative suite apps plus some other products and services that you didn't know you needed, all for the low low price of $49.99 per month. Yes month. And here in the UK that'll probably £55 per month if Adobe's previous over seas pricing is anything to go by. Well it's the wrong side of the line for me. It's just too much and I won't pay it. I don't like software subscription services at the best of times but this is extortionate. And I'm pretty sure most of the people I teach would just laugh at the price.

Adobe seems to be moving in completely the wrong direction here. They should be giving those huge number of pirate users out there a way to go legal and stay legal. Everyone else seems to have figured out that if you make your software cheaper then you make more money. But Adobe is so caught up in corporate sales that consumers are being priced out of the market.

Time for some video reviews of affordable Photoshop alternatives.