Setting Up - Basic Requirements

Setting Up - Basic Requirements


Your startup costs for getting into a really productive digital photo retouching work environment are not going to be considerable. You'll need to assemble a relatively inexpensive collection of hardware and software items, nothing much above the normal Windows PC microcomputer installation for home or small office.



Here's an idea of the basic setup you'll be needing:

  1. Relatively recent generation of Windows PC. You should do fine with basic systems 3 or 4 years of age. Of course, the newer, the better. (Windows software only)
  2. Generous amount of free hard disk work space. For the scanning of hard copy or color slide images, and for the multiple working copies of image retouching or renovation digital files. Most recent PCs have sufficient disk space. External hard disk space is VERY inexpensive: I bought a 1 Terabyte hard disk in 2013, for $79, which I use for regular PC backup purposes as well as for photo image archiving. At Christmas shopping time of 2015, I saw a 5 Terrabyte hard disk for sale at Fry's Electronics, Inc., for $99.
  3. Decent quality color scanner and color printer. A multipurpose printer-scanner unit will be perfectly satisfactory, and may readily be found on sale for $40 - $75. Make sure you do some advance research, and limit your choice to hardware that's gotten decently good quality ratings in popular computing and photography magazines. Be sure to also consider the cost of color ink refills; there can be quite a price difference found for these consumable supplies. Ditto for good pricing on quality photographic printing paper.
  4. Free or Cheap Software - I've been careful to limit my recommendations to digital photography editing software and utilities that are inexpensive commercial software or shareware (usually far less than $100) or which are available as freeware. You should be able to assemble a good collection of digital image editing tools for $50 or so. (My own favorite five photo processing software applications cost $30, $19, free, free, and free.)

Learning the software - I've also recommended only software which is easy to learn and to use, and which have very clear and intuitive user interfaces (command and working screens). You can master the real power features of most of these programs within an hour or a very few hours. Then it's simply a matter of practicing on example photos for a short time, to get the hang of the individual operations.

"Combining" the software - I strongly advise "mixing & matching" the best processing features of a number of the programs. That's the basic DPM idea. You'll quickly learn which of the software packages is best and easiest and fastest at doing the particular things you need to do to a particular image. You'll soon have favorite tools to use for removing spots from images, adding colorization to black & white images, removing (or adding) objects from an image, lightening the image, improving contrast, etc. You'll also know when to use the slightly more complex software to handle the more serious image problems, and do them much better than you can do with the really "quick & easy" tools.

Time requirement per image - Of course, this depends on the "amount of fixing" you have to do to a particular photo image. I would guess that my photos generally run from the 2 or 3 minutes range up to about the 20 minute range. I'd say my overall average retouching time is about 10 minutes. The longest I've ever spent on a single image is about an hour and 15 minutes.