Gerry van derWalt - Lightroom - Photoshop

Lightroom, Photoshop, Whatever

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 5 Comments

I truly believe that a lot of people completely overthink their wildlife photography and this is something that is not only counterproductive to creating great images but it also creates a viscous cycle that’s very difficult to get out of.

Let me explain.

I host a lot of photo safaris and workshops and my Wildlife Photography Q&A video series resulted not only in some amazing content but also confirmed, just like on the safaris and workshops, that there are a number of questions that many people struggle with.

Many of the questions revolve around gear and what camera and lenses is best for wildlife photography but I want to fast forward past this and discuss another question which comes up once people have settled on whatever camera works best for them.  The same kind of confusion, overthinking and professional opinions that are so plentiful when it comes to gear and the technical side of photography makes it very difficult for people to answer this question for themselves.

What editing software should I use?

This then spins off into a number of other, related questions.

Is Lightroom better than Photoshop?  What about Luminar or On1 Photo Raw? Do I have to use filters like Nik or Alien Skin?

Let’s get real.

When you look at an image, an amazing image, do you really worry about what program the photographer used?  Do you really think it makes a difference?  Does it matter whether you use Lightroom or Photoshop?  Whether you use Nik or some other plugin?

Is it not very much like the Nikon – Canon debate?  Pointless?

Now if you are one of those photographers who get stuck up on things like demosaicing, spherical aberration and algorithms and you zoom in to pixel level to assess perceived sharpness you can stop reading now as this is not written for you.

With the advancements in technology is it not fair to argue that whatever software you are using – when you adjust the Exposure slider you’ll get a very similar result?  I believe so.  With so many options out there I really think that what software you decide to use should be the one that you are most comfortable with and that fills your specific needs and requirements.

Is Lightroom easier to use than Photoshop?  Most would say yes.  Is Photoshop more powerful with more advanced features?  Yeah, I guess so.  Is there anything wrong with using lesser known but very powerful software like Luminar as your go to program for processing your software?  Not at all.

The vast majority of people I work with on safaris and workshops practice photography as a hobby and they are by no means professionals.  They do it as a way to experience nature and enjoy the experience of photography rather than hinge everything on the images they get on a safari.  Surely we can agree then that it is quite silly to say that any one editing program is better than any other one?

I am almost 100% sure that very few, if any, of you reading this will be able to look at an image and say which program was used to process it.  Same goes for me – I wouldn’t be able to call it and you know what?  It doesn’t matter.

There is no right answer here just as there is no right answer with regards to which brand is better.  You have to figure out what works for you!

The way better question to ask, and one I believe will take both your processing and photograph to a next level is “What do I want to achieve with this image?”   It has to do with vision and yes, I think it’s something I believe can be taught but that’s a discussion for another time.  It’s knowing what you want to achieve with a RAW file and then choosing the best software which makes it possible for you to have a solid workflow that gets you to the end result.

I personally use Lightroom for my cataloging and RAW processing.  I then bounce to Photoshop when I need to do some more specific pixel level editing and once in a while I will use Nik filters for styling or polishing an image.  Problem is, and this is why we have to be open to the fact that things change, Google has stopped supporting the Nik product so unfortunately it looks like it’s going to die a slow death and I will now look around for another plugin option.

That works for me and even though I would recommend this because I reckon it makes for a solid workflow, it might not work for you and that’s fine.  Each to his own as long as we all have fun with our photography and processing then all is good in the world.

I will continue to assist people with the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of their processing regardless of what software they use as I believe this is where the magic is.  The basics will always be the same and it’s just a matter of knowing what you want to achieve, learning what works best for you, knowing how to use whatever software you decide to use and not second-guessing your choice of software all the time.

Right, that’s a whole lot of writing without any images so I’m going to leave you with an image of a baboon on the bank of the Chobe river processed with… nah, it doesn’t matter.

Gerry van der Walt - Baboon

Until next time.


About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at or follow my journey on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter a look forward to changing the way you see the world.  I also host a Wildlife Photography Podcast and I Vlog!

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Comments 5

  1. Neil Roux

    GREAT article.Unfortunately I blame the Internet for the stereotype that “professionals” use Lightroom or Photoshop so u got to use it too in order to get good results. When u speak to people about photography everyone knows what Photoshop is. Yet there is great editing software out there that’s cheaper, as good.Canons Digital Photo Professional is even free and very very good with Raws.I use Lightroom as it is the quickest and I find it easier to Learn.

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  3. Richard Wentzel


    I agree it does matter which software you use.

    It is far more important that you learn to you use your chosen package to its fullest.

    As an amteur it is highly unlikely that you will be able to master more than one. Why would you need to.?

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      Gerry van der Walt

      Thanks for the message Richard and yes, I agree 100% that it’s very important to learn and understand how to use whatever program you are using. I don’t think that it’s important to master all of them but I believe there is great value in reconciling your photography and how you process you images with whatever features a given program can offer. Technology changes all the time and in order to give yourself the best opportunity of getting the most out of your RAW files I would always suggest looking at options. I use 3 different programs when I process and even though I don’t always use each one. Think of it as going to the gym. Doing one exercise in the gym will definitely benefit you. If you start combining certain exercises the benefits will be so much greater as long as you know how to do it effectively. Good luck with your processing and let me know if I can ever assist with anything. 🙂

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