Comparable alt. to Photoshop as well as other must-have software?

Started Oct 6, 2012 | Discussions thread
JoannaR
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Re: Comparable alt. to Photoshop as well as other must-have software?
In reply to JoannaR, Oct 6, 2012

Thank you all for your replies - I really appreciate it.

I didn't start shooting digital seriously until 2010 and haven't touched Photoshop since my newspaper days nearly a decade ago.  I'm SOOOOO out of the loop with graphic stuff that frankly it's intimidating.  I hear about all kinds of software and terms like plug-in and compression and I'm still trying to sort out how to make my images really pop.  I think I'm at the point where I need a 'Graphic Design for Dummies' book, because it's just not intuitive to me.

I have the 5DII and am so in love with it it's ridiculous.  I never had the results I do now when I was shooting film and I've learned so much more just from having this camera.  I'm really loving having full control from creation to the end product.

I have Windows and forgive me if this is stupid, but is there software that is Mac-only?  As much as I'd love to convert my system, that's not happening anytime soon so Windows-friendly software is what I need.

Here's what I currently do: Contrast, color correction, minor masking.  I don't get much fancier than that for the majority of my work, my style is more documentary than classic.

Here's what I'd like to do:  HDR first and foremost - not the gross stuff you see, but to properly replicate what my eyes are seeing; complete graphics design (assuming I can learn how properly.)  I'd also like a recommendation for really making my black and whites pop.

What I'm also concerned about is GIMP is only 8-bit - I believe? - so then what is even the point shooting RAW I'm going to lose a lot of detail when I open it there?

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