Live and Learn

There’s a reason this post is late.  I usually try to post twice a month – 1st and 15th.  Fully intended to do that this time.  Then plans changed…

I’m told I should be applauded for trying new things.  I guess that’s a consolation.  But trying new things also means being ready for things to go wrong.  I wasn’t quite ready.

Here’s what happened…

PhotoshopAbout 18 months ago, like many other amateur photographers, I made the decision to move away from Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop products for image management and editing.  That decision was based on a lack of desire to pay a subscription fee, and frustration that Adobe products were becoming more complex with features I neither needed nor wanted.  I was also experiencing performance issues with Lightroom, widely reported and recognized as one of the leading reasons why many photographers were moving away from the product.

I thought I had done my homework.  I test drove several other potential candidates.  I really put them through their paces.

ON1I settled on a combination of ON1 Photo Raw for library management and most day to day edits, along with Serif’s Affinity Photo, for more complex final products.

Affinity PhotoThe layouts, features and advertised functionality of both products were perfect for me.  ON1 is advertised as software for photographers built by photographers.  Affinity Photo is a Photoshop replacement, building on the best features of Adobe’s kingpin product, but not carrying over much of the legacy complexity that made Photoshop so difficult to master.

I thought I had hit the jackpot.  I set up both products and eagerly began to work away.  I developed a meaningful workflow that efficiently moved images into one product and then the next.

I watched every video available, learning more and more features.

CPU UsageThen it happened.  While working away one day on a fairly complicated edit, with many layers and filters, I noticed that my computer’s fan started up.  It got louder and louder until the galeforce winds (ok, a bit of an exaggeration) were more than I could handle.  On my computer screen, the brushes I was painting with stuttered, sputtered and lagged until there was no point continuing.  Surely an anomaly, I didn’t think much of it until the same thing happened, again and again and again.

Support TicketOver the course of the past 18 months, there have been many support tickets filed with ON1, for failure to print, failure to register edits, duplicate files appearing out of nowhere and overall slow performance.  It seems this software is not designed to run optimally on my 2013 vintage MacBook Pro.  I don’t have the “optimum” configuration to run it, but I certainly don’t have the “minimum” configuration either.  Support teams have been good in trying to help, but often the answer is:  you’ll have to delete that and try again.

Affinity Photo WorkbookIn contrast, Affinity Photo has been a gem.  It does what it advertises and does it well.  There’s even a workbook to help you get started with the features and functions.  BUT, like ON1, some of its functionality causes my 2013 vintage computer to slow to a crawl.  And not all of the Photoshop functionality I depended on is replicated.  I knew that going in, but thought I could work around it.  Sadly no.  It may just be a matter of my learning it more completely, and I will do that over time, but that doesn’t help me in the short run.

Photoshop 2019

In the meantime, back at the ranch, Adobe seems to have taken note of the rebellion around it and has released really quite amazing updates to both Lightroom and Photoshop in 2019.  Both run very well on my vintage computer, and there are new buttons, functionality and time-saving tools in both products.  Photoshop in particular is MUCH more user friendly, with pop-out help and thumbnail previews now appearing where only cryptic text had been before.

I’m even starting to like their web-based version of Lightroom, and have tried it to manage my smart phone images.  It works really well.  I hear there will be a web-based version of Photoshop soon.  One of the main advantages of web-based editing, of course, is that you eliminate the hardware issues I’ve been having (or the need to buy the latest hardware).  I’m really starting to warm to the idea…

Until then, did I mention that Adobe products run on my computer?  No fan, except when first importing a large collection of images into Lightroom.  It seems that developers in Adobe have figured out a way to make things work on a wider variety of hardware configurations.  The others may catch up, but maybe they will choose not to.  Serif, for example, has decided that legacy technology isn’t what they want to spend a lot of time on.  They have released only two “dot” versions of Affinity Photo since I purchased it, but have released (with great fanfare) brand new products for mobile platforms.


Even the debate about subscription models has lost a bit of its punch.  It turns out that non-subscrption developers release yearly “major” upgrades that most photographers would naturally purchase.  Who doesn’t want better and better toys?  In doing so, you pay lump-sum amounts that are equal to or more than any monthly fee over 12 months from Adobe.  Yes, you can say no to an upgrade, but who would?  And to really make the point, ON1 even offers “free” upgrades as part of, wait for it, a subscription to their ON1 Plus Pro training and user community service.  Say what?

I guess you know where I’m going.  I’m back with Adobe.  I’ve been spending the last few days rebuilding what I put away 18 months ago.  While there is a tool to migrate from Adobe to ON1, there isn’t one to go the other way.  Sigh.

I’m glad I tried new things.  We all should.  But sometimes you just have to say “Live and Learn”.

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