Hard Decisions for Photo Editing Apps

        John Carter sends this report that will interest the photographers:  "Photoshop Elements 11 is out. The upgrade price is $79.99. Adobe has added a whole lot of new features. There is no student price. For some, there probably isn't enough to warrant upgrading from Elements 9 or 10. But if you're still at Elements 7 or below, it's time to upgrade!

        "Photoshop CS6 is out. Student price for the extended version is $249. For the serious photographer, there's nothing really to compare.
        "Adobe Lightroom 4 is another photo editing contender. Only $149. Student price is $79. Personally, I'm not that impressed with Lightroom.
        "Apple Aperture is $79. Aperture interfaces perfectly with iPhoto, but you can't have both open at the same time. The advantages over iPhoto are few, but some are quite useful. Aperture is definitely easier to use than Lightroom. If you already have Elements 9 or above, don't bother with either Lightroom or Aperture.
        "GIMP is free, of course, and it has almost all the features of Photoshop CS. The latest version (2.8.2) does away with needing X11 (XQuartz) and has a very nice interface — more like Elements and Photoshop.
        "Pixelmator is $14.99, designed to work with the Mac, has all the Mountain Lion features, and has many of the same tools as Photoshop CS." 
        John's conclusion:  "You might find yourself wanting more in a hurry, so moving up to GIMP might be the way to go. Some of the Pixelmator reviews aren't too encouraging, but then the professionals wouldn't bother with this app.
        "If you need to work with Layers and Masks, the only viable choices are Elements, Pixelmator, GIMP, and Photoshop CS, in that order of usefulness."

Fix Those Photos

         Got telephone poles, fire hydrants, dogs, trash, etc. in your photos?  John Carter describes a slight miracle -- how to remove them.  Read on:  "Photoshop 9 came out with a very nice feature called Content-Aware Fill."
        "Well, GIMP had that feature a long time ago. It is a plug-in called Resynthesizer. It takes a little more fiddling with than the Photoshop equivalent, but the results are exactly the same. The tutorial on how to use Resynthesizer is here.   Installing the plug-in in the Mac may not seem straightforward, so I’ll go through the steps.
    1. Download the plug-in . . .  found in your Downloads folder with the name resynthesizer.tar or resynthesizer.tar.gz. If the latter, double-click on it to convert it to the former.
    2. Double-click on the file resynthesizer.tar. It will create a new folder in the same location with the name resynthesizer.
    3. Copy the contents of that folder to ~/Library/Application Support/Gimp/plug-ins/ (the ~/Library folder is hidden in Lion, so you will have to make it visible by using Go->Go to folder (Finder hotkey: Shift-Command-G) and selecting ~/Library).
    4. Start up GIMP.
    5. Follow the instructions in the tutorial to use Resynthesizer.
          Is that all, you ask?  No, John Carter wants to add this info: "Just when you think Photoshop has it all, GIMP shows up with yet another feature buried in the works that puts it right up there with Photoshop. Starting with CS4, you get this really neat feature in the Content-Aware Scale tool where you can squeeze two people together in a scene or pull them apart.
        "When you install GIMP for Mac, that feature is also there, but renamed as Liquid Rescale and buried at the bottom of the Layer menu. Get the details on how to use Liquid Rescale at the Digital Photography School here. You will also find a link there to the author’s tip on how to do the same thing in CS4/5."