Ok let me explain what I mean by the title to this post…
From the moment I was introduced to Photoshop and very soon after discovered the N.A.P.P. [Link] I was hooked! It seemed like (and still does) that every spare moment I had I was playing around trying out all kinds of techniques trying to learn as much as I could, as fast as I could, and within a relatively short space of time I’d built up enough knowledge to take and pass the ACE (Adobe Certified Expert) Exam.
However once I started up my business and work was coming in, time became an issue so I started using Plugins to reduce my editing time. If I remember correctly I was using Photo Tools by ‘OnOne’ which was a great bit of kit with all manner of presets and sure it reduced the amount of time I spent editing considerably BUT as I experienced this carried with it a negative effect…
You see because I became so reliant on using a Plugin to help with my editing by default I wasn’t really using Photoshop and because I wasn’t using Photoshop my knowledge and skill level naturally began to deteriorate. I actually started to feel a bit of a fake when people would complement my work which may sound a little odd because yeah I know it’s the actual image out of the camera that’s most important but it still needs to be ‘finished off’ and to do that I was just turning to a Plugin.
I eventually made the decision, and this is a personal one you understand because it was how I was feeling, to remove all my plugins and get back to basics. I started reading Photoshop books again and watching video tutorials with a passion, hungry to build my skill level back up and this is what I continue to do each and every day.
There’s no excuse not to keep educated and working on your skill level these days thanks to all the excellent quality online training that’s out there; resources like the N.A.P.P. [Link] and Kelby Training [Link] carry a wealth of knowledge from some of the best instructors in the world that we can access anytime and anywhere.
So where do I stand now when it comes to plugins?
Well what I’m not saying here is that Plugins are a bad thing…far from it! In fact I wouldn’t be without Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro [Link] for Black & White conversions…it totally ROCKS and there’s nothing out there that beats it!!!
If you find yourself with large numbers of images to edit, from a wedding for example, then plugins are invaluable because you can’t be spending large amounts of time editing when you have other weddings to work on too…that I totally understand. In fact lately some of my jobs have resulted in large amounts of images and I’m considering using Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 [Link] for working on such shoots when clients need the images fast.
Being able to use and create all kinds of looks and add finishing touches to images by having a working knowledge and understanding of Photoshop is very important to me. I know from my own experience that if I personally rely too heavily on plugins then my knowledge and skill level will decrease but this may well not be the case for you as we’re all different; I just know what happens to me.
One more thing…
I know that famous Digital Artist Calvin Hollywood [Link] will make use of plugins like Nik Color Efex Pro but again only when he has a client that needs a volume of images fast! But one thing I also know is that he can recreate any of the presets in the plugin himself using techniques in Photoshop.
So what are your feelings on plugins? Do you use them and if so which ones? Have you found that your skill level in Photoshop has kept the same or decreased?
I’d really love to ‘hear’ your thoughts and feelings on this whole topic of ‘plugins’ so please as always feel free to make use of the comments section below.
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