|Image from onOne Software|
When it comes to photography, I consider myself a fast processor - that means that I try not to spend more than about five or ten minutes editing anything, not least because just like when I'm drawing or painting, the more I do, the less accurate and/or attractive the image seems to get. That means that I almost never delve into CS Photoshop or GIMP, if you prefer...
I am a Lightroom man through-and-through. I love the fact that it just does pretty much everything I need at a wiggle of a slider and, because I rarely see the need to add wings to subjects or make them appear to fly (not that there's anything wrong with doing that if that's your 'thing'), I'm never tempted to twiddle with stuff in other programs to try and learn them or to go much outside my warm, fluffy, workflow-orientated comfort zone.
The truth is, Photoshop and its clones is just too complex for me. I'm not a graphic designer, there's too much stuff I just don't need hidden away in the menus and let's face it, the whole interface is damned ugly! (Sorry Adobe) I'd like to say I was the kind of guy who didn't mind hanging out with the deliberately internally unattractive, making them feel better about themselves, but the truth is, I'm too busy with other stuff to wrestle with it. I know that Photoshop is essentially a product that has evolved over 20+ years since the days of the command prompt, and it's brilliant at all sorts of stuff, and I know it's considered the 'industry standard' but I just don't need it.
There is though one aspect of Photoshop that is missing from Lightroom and that I would find pretty useful, and that's using Layers. If I could just have a program that did layers and could mesh with my workflow seamlessly without me having to wait an age for it to start up, and which I didn't have to spend 10 minutes remembering how it worked, it would be great. It seems that I might have found one.
Perfect Effects 4 allows you to import from Lightroom quickly via it's plug-in interface, works with Aperture and Photoshop too and comes with some nice, straightforward videos that show you how to get started. It didn't want to install on my machine initially, but I persevered and was rewarded with a nice, clean and pretty user-friendly interface with 70 effects that I could apply to images, before seamlessly importing them back into Lightroom. Brilliant! It even looks a bit like Lightroom, with its nice grey colours and clear, uncluttered labelling.
The free effects offered are pretty good, and the app also has tools rather like the adjustment brush already available Lightroom, crop tools and the like, tasks which are more likely to get used in Lightroom, but that might not be the way everybody wants to work things, not least because the app also works as a stand-alone program, meaning you can edit and add effects without getting involved in Lightroom, aperture or Photoshop at all. You can add frames too.
OnOne Software, who make Perfect Effects, also offer all sorts of other downloads for photographers that might be worth checking out. It might even be worth investing in a few of them if you find that they fit with your own workflow.