Adobe today has basically updated everything it makes and introduced new hardware, too. For photographers, the really important update is better value thanks to the new and improved Creative Cloud Photography plan, which bundles Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 alongside Lightroom for mobile and Creative Cloud file and collaboration syncing underlying it all for $9.99 a month. That’s a much better deal than the $20 per month I used to pay just for the privilege of accessing Photoshop CC on its own.
Speaking of Photoshop CC, it gets a huge number of new updates today that should help both amateurs and pros alike get more out of their pics. There’s a pretty incredible new Focus Mask feature, for instance, that can save you a lot of legwork by automatically selecting the in-focus parts of your images with a single click, so that you can then focus on just refining the mask with the add and subtract tools rather than starting from scratch. This is especially cool if you shoot with wide open aperture a lot to produce intense depth of field.
There are also two new types of motion blur, which are designed to mimic the effect of blur created through use of “dragging the shutter” — keeping the camera shutter open while moving it across a scene to create a sense of motion. There’s Path Blur, which lets you set it along a straight vector, or Spin Blur, which makes it seem like you were rotating the camera while shooting. These are great features for advertising your throwback LSD-filled evening of jam band music, as one example.
Also new is perspective warp, which lets you alter the perspective of just one part of your image without touching the rest, and improvements to the Content-Aware features of Photoshop that can blend gradient-filled areas to make them a lot easier to work into the existing background of a photo. Finally, more stylus support and the new experimental features for Windows 8.1 devices like the Surface 3 that we first saw demoed when Microsoft announced its newest tablet also make their way to this version.
Overall, Adobe has done a great job of justifying the decision they made last year to move to a cloud-based subscription for its Creative Suite. I admit that the $20 per month for access to just Photoshop has been a bitter pill to swallow, and one that I considered giving up for cheaper alternatives multiple times, but today’s update proves that the company is willing to budge on pricing and still very committed to delivering timely, significant updates to its software that should keep it best-in-class for a long time to come.