Freeing Myself from Adobe’s shackles

I can’t remember when I decided to buy adobe software. But it goes back over 5 years ago. Everyone and their grandma has a dodgy version of photoshop that is blocked in the operating system’s firewall for “privacy” reasons. Clearly for the sole purpose of avoiding telemetry and not for piracy. Aherm!

I’m one of the plonkers who actually bought the subscription, fed up of dodgy software and telling myself that I worked now, I could pay for the software that I use.

Fast forward in 2021. Finance is a serious topic. I spend a lot of time thinking about my choices. Spending 120 US dollars every year for a software suite that I now barely use 2-3h per month, in a sea of opensource software that doesn’t cost a dime and is better maintained.

Sure Lightroom and Photoshop are great but, the truth is, I use GIMP more than photoshop, out of habit, and it is free. I’m a Lightroom power-user but the only reason I keep paying for it is that it keeps my photo library hostage. 600+ gigabytes worth of memories held hostage because without my Lightroom catalog, I lose the selections, the edits, the tags, the people, the exports – everything basically.

Adobe keeping it conveniently proprietary. Sure you can enable sidecar files and take your “edits” with you. But no other software will read half of the information on there. You also double the amount of files floating around your hard disk.

That’s funny because it is using Lightroom more for it’s Digital Asset Management capabilities than its actual photo editing options.

After many years of just paying for peace of mind (literally buying peace), I decided to sit down and, at a file level, edit every single raw file I have to fit a certain naming convention and folder organization. After which, I needed to keep my existing edits made into LR.

I jumped into my catalog and filtered photos by edits made and “flagged” photos.

Some 3,000 photos out of tens of thousands came up.
Export. Same Folder. Sub-folder “Edited”. Quality 100%. One JPEG and one TIFF.
2 hours later, my trusty 6 core 12 thread AMD processor had happily spitted out all of my edited pictures. Thank god for GPU accelerated processing. Fist-bump, Nvidia.

Time to go into LR and have all of the data loaded into sidecar files (.XMP) instead of stuck in their proprietary catalog.

Another hour of photo-data-crunching later, I was free. Free to simply uninstall Lightroom and move to whatever else I wanted. I long considered Darktable with Rawtherapee. Two software suites I am already comfortable with. But, ultimately, Darktable doesn’t really read the Lightroom sidecar files well enough for me to deal with its UI that I hate, and Rawtherapee just always was a mess. I would move to managing my files myself, using Explorer or Total Commander (Shareware, here).

For the edits, Skylum’s Luminar AI would serve as my editor, with GIMP as a support and DigiKam as my digital asset manager on top of good old Explorer. For the occasional manual HDR that wouldn’t render well with Luminar’s AI tech, I would just use Photomatix. It is free and works well, get it here.

Cost of the operation: a weekend of classifying and exporting. And the 65 euros I spent on a perpetual Luminar AI license. Oh, and the loss of my online portfolio. Guess I can just make one myself again at the cost of another lost weekend.

Check out Skylum’s Luminar here.

A picture of my best friend Guillaume, looking over the black sea in Odessa, Ukraine in 2019.

The photo above edited in about 3 minutes using Luminar’s AI editing tools.

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