Photography Software Tools

Occasionally people ask me what software tools I use to manage my photos. This is another intriguing question as the answer is by definition highly individual and probably only relevant to my specific needs. Nevertheless, I can see how one could derive some benefit from the answer, so here goes. I tend to favor power and flexibility over form and this reflects in my choice of tools. I like tools that are not necessarily the prettiest of the bunch, but they do get the job done and then some. More importantly, I have very low tolerance for slow tools, or tools that are too limiting in their features. This tends to lead me to tools that are highly powerful yet unnecessarily complicated for most typical users. Beware!

Photo Import

I currently use Adobe Lightroom to import new images into my collection that is also managed by Lightroom. It offers the best mix of powerful features and ease of use, and it fits well into my general workflow. I use it perform the four initial steps in my workflow:
  1. Copy the photos from the flash memory card into the appropriate folders on the hard drive
  2. Rename each photo with a unique filename across my entire collection
  3. Tag each photo with IPTC copyright information, plus embed the original filename in IPTC tags as well
  4. Convert photos to DNG file format from any camera vendor specific RAW file formats 

Photo Management

I currently use Adobe Lightroom for all my digital asset management (DAM) needs. I am a software engineer so I appreciate that Lightroom is scriptable: if it does not have a feature you need, you can write it as a script.
I only wish Lightroom was faster in dealing with my large photo collection (~200k), despite having a fairly powerful PC.

Photo Editing

I currently use Adobe Lightroom for most of my photo editing needs. I prefer the non-destructive editing that allows me to go back to the original version if I want to. I can also create virtual copies of a photo to make multiple different renditions of it as needed.
Ever since Lightroom included HDR and panorama merging features, I have rarely needed to pop into the Rolls Royce of photo editing, Adobe Photoshop anymore. I do use it whenever I need to do any heavier editing such as compositing multiple photos together, or otherwise manipulate them in ways that are not supported by Lightroom.

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