Replacing Adobe products with Photos + add-ons

gwerhart0800

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Mar 15, 2008
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Loveland, CO
I have been on a quest to divorce myself from Adobe. My primary motivation has been the accessibility of my photo library from all my (and my wife's) Apple devices. My attempts to use Adobe's creative cloud did not go well. It was very slow to upload and it wanted to download everything to my laptop which sucked down all the disk space.

Please note, I am an avid amateur photographer who shoots mainly landscape, wildlife, vacations, etc.

I analyzed my usage of Lightroom (I don't use Photoshop) and the features I really used a lot beyond basic cropping and global developing were:

Lens correction
panorama creation
and very occasional HDR

I have purchased Affinity, Luminar 4 and Pixelmator Pro so far.

For lens correction, both Affinity and Luminar 4 have the feature, but Affinity uses open source lens definitions that is missing all of the Canon RF line. Luminar 4 has way better lens coverage and has the RF lenses that I own, so I am good there.

For Panorama and HDR, it is a but more of a struggle. The problem starts with the fact that Photos is an "edit one at a time" program. So any operation that requires more than one photo looks like it would need to be done outside of Photos and the result could be imported.

Photos is also deficient in batch processing. With LR, my first processing step on import was to apply the lens correction first before doing any image triage or editing. I timed the process of using Luminar 4 to apply lens correction and it takes (on my 21" 2017 iMac with a 1T fusion drive) about 18 seconds to get into Luminar 4 when invoked as an add-on and about 13 seconds when I save the image back. I can live with this, but I am hopeful that Apple will make this more seamless in the future.

I am open to alternative applications and insights on how others have migrated away from Adobe.
 

Ray2

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Jul 8, 2014
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You are one of many who would like to avoid Adobe. Yet, with all this potential demand, there’s no guide(s) to how people are doing it with Apple's Photos app. Hopefully your criteria can be met using Photos. And after your currently known criteria have been met, no show stoppers reveal themselves when you start using Photos beyond editing.

Please keep us abreast of your progress.
 

robgendreau

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Jul 13, 2008
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Photos just doesn't, and won't have, the capabilities of Lr. It may suit a bunch of your needs, but you'll have to compromise.

If it was just sharing you wanted, Mylio might be a better choice. But you'll have to use something else for lens correction since I don't think it does it either.

I'm not entirely sure why you've switched, since you can share images with Photos without using it as your main editing and organizing application. I use it pretty much only as a frontend for sharing, and so I just export from Lr into Photos and it just shares them around. Not much need to ever edit in there. But I do it rather one way; I'm not taking in others' images from Photos to edit.
 

AlaskaMoose

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DXO Photo Lab with the Nik software package is quite a good app. Give the free trial a try and se how it works for you. I too don't want to use photo editing apps that require monthly fees. Still using a standalone CS6 app, Plus DXO Photo Lab.
 
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gwerhart0800

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I'm not entirely sure why you've switched, since you can share images with Photos without using it as your main editing and organizing application. I use it pretty much only as a frontend for sharing, and so I just export from Lr into Photos and it just shares them around. Not much need to ever edit in there. But I do it rather one way; I'm not taking in others' images from Photos to edit.
I really did not want multiple versions (iCloud + Creative Cloud) for my photos. My primary issue with the Creative Cloud storage was that it wanted to download masters to my MacBook Air that I use when I am traveling. (Uploading to Creative Cloud was super slow also.) I could not find a way to make Creative Cloud operate like iCloud does where it would keep previews, then download the master if I wanted to edit. If you know how to make that work please let me know. I also ended up where the Creative Cloud library has 400GB+ of photos that were in the cloud, but not on my disk (plenty of space for them). I actually saved my library locally, then deleted all my photos and still had 400GB+ of photos in the Creative Cloud. I really could not figure out how to make it work reasonable.

In terms of how I use Photos ... I will add to my description in the original post that I do either casual or creative photography. For the casual stuff, I generally just use Photos editing capabilities and and generally post them on social media to share with friends. For creative, I will take the photo into something like Luminar 4 to edit. I was an avid user of Aperture, then switched to LR when Apple dropped support. I am hopeful that Apple will continue to evolve the Photos plug-in capabilities because I find their iCloud photo storage to be the best choice for me.

One thing I did not try was putting the Adobe library on my iCloud Drive, this skipping the Creative Cloud drive. The iCloud Drive does implement a download on use capability. I don't know if LR would work with they kind of arrangement. This also would likely end up with needing to use Photos/iCloud to share with my wife.

I am still wandering around in the weeds on this and I do invite comments and suggestions ... just as you have provided.

Thanks!
- - Post merged: - -

DXO Photo Lab with the Nik software package is quite a good app. Give the free trial a try and se how it works for you. I too don't want to use photo editing apps that require monthly fees. Still using a standalone CS6 app, Plus DXO Photo Lab.
I stupidly bought the DXO OpticsPro for Photos from the App Store only to find out that it has not been updated for years and would not work with Canon CR3 files. I am continuously receiving offers from DXO for their Raw editor and Photo Lab. Unfortunately, they don't work as extensions to Photos, so I have not considered them.
 
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Darmok N Jalad

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I use On1 2020, on a Windows PC. I import to On1, do my post processing, and have an export preset to copy the file to the iCloud folder that automatically uploads it to my Photos library. From there, I can do all my albums and sharing from my iPhone or iPad. It works fairly well, other than when iCloud for Windows doesn’t want to cooperate. I’ve pretty much always operated this way, even when I used LR—my library is more managed in Photos. It makes going from one program to another not as hard. I’m not a pro, and typically once I’ve done my post processing on an image, I don’t go back to it after so many months. There are exceptions, of course, but those aren’t that hard to manage case by case.
 
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stillcrazyman

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I do a similar method to @Darmok N Jalad with ON1 and Photos. I was using Photos just to manage all the iPhone pics, now I use it to manage and share about 14000 images.

I’ve used other programs to manage and process photos - most work well enough.
Most will have free trials.
 

gwerhart0800

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Mar 15, 2008
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Loveland, CO
I use On1 2020, on a Windows PC. I import to On1, do my post processing, and have an export preset to copy the file to the iCloud folder that automatically uploads it to my Photos library. From there, I can do all my albums and sharing from my iPhone or iPad. It works fairly well, other than when iCloud for Windows doesn’t want to cooperate. I’ve pretty much always operated this way, even when I used LR—my library is more managed in Photos. It makes going from one program to another not as hard. I’m not a pro, and typically once I’ve done my post processing on an image, I don’t go back to it after so many months. There are exceptions, of course, but those aren’t that hard to manage case by case.
Can you provide more details on how to get a photo into the iCloud photos library without using the Photos app?

In terms of re-edits, I have taken some lengthy vacations and shot 2000-3000 photos. I usually don't do any detailed processing on most of them, but just cherry pick the ones I like at first glance and process those. I have started looking back at some I shot in 2017 and "playing" with them as test cases. I shot a bunch of HDR bracket sequences, but never got around to actually processing them as HDR. If I end up getting laid off, then I will probably get some quality time to process photos.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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On a Windows machine, uploading to your Photos library is rather simple. You install the iCloud app (now found in the MS Store) and login with your AppleID. Once that is done, configure it to sync your photo library—I uncheck the option to download my entire library to the Windows machine, but leave the option to enable uploading photos. On that screen, it shows you the directory where you need to copy photos to get them added to your iCloud Photo Library. In your editor of choice, make an export preset to your liking, and make sure it places the exported files in the iCloud upload folder. After that, it should all be automated. Once your exports are complete, iCloud uploads them to your Photos library.

As to how far back you go on edits, that’s entirely up to you. Many PP software still supports albums. I know On1 does, but I just haven’t bothered with them. On1 also supposedly has a sync feature they are working on, but I haven’t looked into that very closely to see what it does. I do like that it uses sidecar files, as that makes it easier to move your library around (or migrate PCs) without breaking edits.
 

gwerhart0800

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Loveland, CO
On a Windows machine, uploading to your Photos library is rather simple. You install the iCloud app (now found in the MS Store) and login with your AppleID. Once that is done, configure it to sync your photo library—I uncheck the option to download my entire library to the Windows machine, but leave the option to enable uploading photos. On that screen, it shows you the directory where you need to copy photos to get them added to your iCloud Photo Library. In your editor of choice, make an export preset to your liking, and make sure it places the exported files in the iCloud upload folder. After that, it should all be automated. Once your exports are complete, iCloud uploads them to your Photos library.
Since I am a Mac user, I think the equivalent would be to copy the photo into the /Users/<login_name>/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/originals. However that has a set of subdirectories (0-9,A-F) that appear to hold the original files. So, it appears that Photos on the Mac is indexing across the subdirectories, presumably to avoid having an excessive # of files in a single directory. I am going to experiment to see if I can copy a raw file into one of the directories and have it show up. The dialogbox (attached image) shows an ability to perhaps move or declare the "library" to a different location. I really need to do something like that because I am running out of disk space on my main drive with 23k of photos.

Thanks for the details!
 

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cSalmon

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Dec 18, 2016
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"I am open to alternative applications and insights on how others have migrated away from Adobe."

Darktable, Affinity, and my own folder naming strategy to keep organized
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Sep 26, 2017
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Since I am a Mac user, I think the equivalent would be to copy the photo into the /Users/<login_name>/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/originals. However that has a set of subdirectories (0-9,A-F) that appear to hold the original files. So, it appears that Photos on the Mac is indexing across the subdirectories, presumably to avoid having an excessive # of files in a single directory. I am going to experiment to see if I can copy a raw file into one of the directories and have it show up. The dialogbox (attached image) shows an ability to perhaps move or declare the "library" to a different location. I really need to do something like that because I am running out of disk space on my main drive with 23k of photos.

Thanks for the details!
I wouldn't go automatically dropping content into Photos package, as I'd hate to see you corrupt it somehow. What would probably be easier/safer is to export to a known folder, and then just do a batch import (drag and drop into Photos) after an editing session and then clean out your export folder. It's actually what I used to do on iPad + Affinity Photo. Not as elegant, but like I said, take care when diving directly into your Photo library on a Mac.
 
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AlaskaMoose

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I really did not want multiple versions (iCloud + Creative Cloud) for my photos. My primary issue with the Creative Cloud storage was that it wanted to download masters to my MacBook Air that I use when I am traveling. (Uploading to Creative Cloud was super slow also.) I could not find a way to make Creative Cloud operate like iCloud does where it would keep previews, then download the master if I wanted to edit. If you know how to make that work please let me know. I also ended up where the Creative Cloud library has 400GB+ of photos that were in the cloud, but not on my disk (plenty of space for them). I actually saved my library locally, then deleted all my photos and still had 400GB+ of photos in the Creative Cloud. I really could not figure out how to make it work reasonable.

In terms of how I use Photos ... I will add to my description in the original post that I do either casual or creative photography. For the casual stuff, I generally just use Photos editing capabilities and and generally post them on social media to share with friends. For creative, I will take the photo into something like Luminar 4 to edit. I was an avid user of Aperture, then switched to LR when Apple dropped support. I am hopeful that Apple will continue to evolve the Photos plug-in capabilities because I find their iCloud photo storage to be the best choice for me.

One thing I did not try was putting the Adobe library on my iCloud Drive, this skipping the Creative Cloud drive. The iCloud Drive does implement a download on use capability. I don't know if LR would work with they kind of arrangement. This also would likely end up with needing to use Photos/iCloud to share with my wife.

I am still wandering around in the weeds on this and I do invite comments and suggestions ... just as you have provided.

Thanks!
- - Post merged: - -


I stupidly bought the DXO OpticsPro for Photos from the App Store only to find out that it has not been updated for years and would not work with Canon CR3 files. I am continuously receiving offers from DXO for their Raw editor and Photo Lab. Unfortunately, they don't work as extensions to Photos, so I have not considered them.

True. DXO PhotoLab works with Lightroom and other Adobe applications, but not with photos.
 

AlaskaMoose

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I have seen people requesting Photos integration on the DXO forums. I am hopeful that they will add that at some point. Ditto for Topaz Labs.
Yes, The DXO programers do listen to feedback from customers, so I imagine that they will make their apps compatible to Apple's Photos. However, in the "preferences" of older versions of Photos (don't remember the name Photos was called back then), one could set it so photo editing could be done with another app. In this case all I had to do was to select the photo, then choose "edit," and that would take me to the editing app outside of Photos.
- - Post merged: - -
 

gwerhart0800

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Original poster
Mar 15, 2008
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Loveland, CO
I have now purchased 5 different photo editing apps that all work as plug-ins to Apple Photos: Affinity, Pixelmator Pro, Luminar 4, Aurora HDR and the latest being ON1 Photo Raw 2020.1.

I am working on a head to head comparison using one original to get a feel for which is the best option. One thing that I wish Photos would do is track and display the plug-in that was used to edit the photo. The need for this is explained in the "Fly in the Ointment" section of this article: https://tidbits.com/2019/06/14/the-...estructive-editing-in-photos-for-mac-and-ios/ Basically, if you switch plug-in editors, Apple Photos discards the edits of the prior editor.

I will say, some of the AI based editing tools in these applications really manage to pull the best from a photo. As soon as I have time to complete my analysis, I will post the original and the after edited version from each of the editors.
 
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gwerhart0800

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The attached files were edited with the various photo developing applications that I have purchased in my pursuit of a replacement work flow that centers around Apple Photos. Please note, I attempted to upload my Affinity Photo version, but it gets rejected as too large. The file size was actually smaller that some of the others and I tried again with a reduced quality setting (dropped from 4.4MB to 2.6MB, but got the same error. I also tried importing a PNG version into Photos and exporting it as a jpeg, but got the same message ... even though the file size on disk was down to 1.7MB.

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 1.59.37 PM.png


In terms of editing method, I am not one to spend a lot of time tweaking. I rarely use masks and typically just hit the standard sliders after using whatever automatic methods offered by the applications. In this case, I duplicated the original photo for each editor, then clicked edit in Photos. Then I used the circle icon with the 3 dots to select the external editor that I wanted to use. Once in the 3rd party editor, I used any AI methods first, then did a little bit of final tweaking with the various adjustment sliders and in some cases, tweaked the curves. After that, I saved the image in the plug-in and when it returned to Photos, hit the Done button.

The original photo was taken with a Canon 6D using a EF 16-35 IS F4L lens. The location is Strasbourg and was taken on the move during a Viking river cruise tour of Strasbourg.

In terms of ease of use, Pixelmator Pro was lowest on the list and ON1, Luminar 4 and Aurora HDR were the easiest. I find Pixelmator Pro's user interface a bit challenging to use. All of the others default to a more traditional editing palette when you enter the application, but Pixelmator seems to like to make you click through a palette of icons to find things. I am assuming if I spend more time with it I would be more proficient, but I was also assessing ease of use while doing this. I picked this image because it had a challenging dynamic range between the overly bright sky and the dark buildings and shadows. Apple Photos did a reasonable job, but took longer to edit because there was no AI assistance. I also think the Luminar 4 image is a bit "over cooked" and I would probably tone it down a bit if I really cared about this photo.

In general, I am really liking the AI mode additions to ON1 Photo Raw, Luminar 4 and Aurora HDR. (Pixalmator Pro does have some "AI", it is labeled as "ML Enhance" or something to that effect. I just did not find it as useful as the AI in the other applications.) It just makes things much easier. I still have a lot to learn to get the best results, but I am generally pleased at how these newer AI based applications perform. I am looking forward to the next generation of machine learning AI applied to photo processing. The cell phone photo apps are really leading the way on this and I anticipate that we may see more of this built into DLSRs and Mirrorless cameras beyond eye and face tracking. Post processing applications are really making some serious strides.

One note, I have found the Aurora HDR seems to have issues opening some of my photos as a plug-in from Photos. I don't know why it likes some but not others.

After I previewed this post, it appears that all of the file names which contain the name of the editor used get obfuscated. So, the order is:

Row 1: Original, Apple Photos
Row 2: Aurora HDR, Luminar 4
Row 3: Pixelmator Pro, ON1 Photo Raw 2020.1

(Note, it appears that the images display in different arrangements based on window size, so just follow the logical order.)

IMG_5205_Original.jpeg IMG_5205_Apple_Photos.jpeg IMG_5205_Aurora_HDR.jpeg IMG_5205_Luminar_4.jpeg IMG_5205_Pixelmator_Pro.jpeg IMG_5205_ON1_Photo_Raw_2020.jpeg Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 1.59.37 PM.png
 
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Darmok N Jalad

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You’re certainly taking a more dedicated approach by buying all of these programs to evaluate them. I gave On1 the duration of the trial, and while not perfect, the secret sale they had on it a month or so back was enough for me to purchase it and make the switch. I also used Darktable with fairly good success, until a recent AMD driver started causing issues with the denoise filter. It’s a very good program for free.
 

gwerhart0800

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You’re certainly taking a more dedicated approach by buying all of these programs to evaluate them.
I think I paid ~$600 for the first copy of Photoshop that I bought and generally did not use much. Most of these apps are <$70, so it does not seem like a big investment. I am still paying the $20 a month to Adobe. Once I cut that off, it will likely be a net positive in ~18 months. I am not counting the iCloud drive expense because I use that for other data that I share between my systems. (Deep learning data sets for other projects.)

I will take a look at Darktable.
 

AlaskaMoose

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I have been using both OneOne, and PhotoLab/with Nik, and liking Photo Lab 3 the most. I find the Nik software package within Photo Lab easy to master, with great results. In fact, I find the Nik plugins more interesting and easier to use than Photo Lab 3. But there are some features in CS6 (a standalone app I have in my iMac) that are very easy to learn and use. For example, I can edit a photo and just "Save" or "Save As," something that is not possible with Photo Lab. Another feature that I really like is sizing and then saving "web ready" photos. In this case I change either the horizontal (or the vertical) image size by pixel, and CS6 automatically and proportionally changes the other side of the image. The next step is to "Save For Web... As" (change the name of the image first). Once the sized image has been saved, close the image on the screen NOT saving it when prompted by CS6 (you don't want to overwrite the original image with this resized one).
 
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