Photography Software

Photo Software Reviews

I’m constantly trying new things, but I only review stuff that I actually use. That should help keep the clutter down and keep you focused on the best stuff out there. I hope these reviews are of benefit to you in your lifelong adventure of photographic fortune and glory.

Software you should have

  • Aurora HDR 2018 – I developed this software along with Skylum for HDR and general processing. The latest release runs on both Mac and Windows. I also have a free tutorial and a special video tutorial just for Aurora!
  • Luminar Review – Luminar is an extremely powerful and fast photo editor that can do not only the most basic adjustments, but literally millions of “looks” for your photo. It’s extremely easy and fun to use and designed for all skill levels.
  • SmugMug Review – this how I share my photos online… I think SmugMug is the absolute best image portfolio and website tool
  • Plotagraph Review – A Plotagraph is a “looping” photograph. You begin with a SINGLE image (not a movie file), like a JPG, and then you use Plotagraph to “animate” it. The resulting image is a repeating movie file that loops so smoothly, you can’t see the seam. There’s also some crazy new tech on there, like morphing and more.
  • Screenflow Review – the easiest and best video editing and screen recording software for Mac. I also use Telestream’s other product called Wirecast for live streaming on Facebook and Youtube.

Additional Software you may find helpful

Photo Software Coupon Codes

I also have a complete list of the best coupon codes for photo editing software.

Photo Editing Tutorials

For more information about my post-processing “process”, please check out one of my tutorials.

  • FREE HDR Tutorial – a completely FREE step-by-step guide to HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography.
  • Aurora HDR 2018 Video Tutorial (Mac ad Windows) – I show how I use Aurora HDR in practically every situation! From outdoors to indoors to mixes to architecture to moving objects to single photos to people photos and everything in between.
  • Complete HDR Tutorial – Countless Techniques Explored – There are over 10 hours of detailed video instruction in the course! In the first hour, you’ll know all the basics, and beyond that, you’ll learn an amazing collection of new tricks, workflow, and post-processing techniques that will give your photos a great and unique look. Excellent for any skill level, from beginner to advanced.
  • Discover the Art of Photography – an introduction to photography for beginning and intermediate photographers. You will learn how about setting up your camera, properly composing a photo, finding your artistic style, and improving the quality and beauty of your photos.
  • Becoming an Artist – The 15 episodes touch upon topics such as composition, color, light and inspiration. This series will not only show you lots of photography tips & tricks but will inspire you to take your art in bold, new, and interesting directions.
  • Trey Ratcliff’s Lightroom Tutorial for Beginners and Beyond – Lightroom is awesome and fun! It’s hard for me to think of a program that I enjoy using more than Lightroom! Not only is it great for organizing your photos, but you can do incredible things to make your photos look amaze-maze! You’ll see how I organize and edit photos in Lightroom, from Alpha to Omega. Everything is in HD and it’s ideal for any skill level.
  • Organize Your Photos: The Three Level System – Looking to organize your photos? Then this video and eBook will help you get your digital life organized! This is a problem for me too. I have tens of thousands of photos. Since digital photos are a major issue, I’ve worked hard to come up with a system that works for me. I’m happy to share this system with you.
  • Midnight in Paris – Fine Art Photography – Combines Miss Aniela’s dramatic fine art photography and Trey Ratcliff’s beautiful landscapes into an hands-on photoshoot and post-processing tutorial
  • Landscape & Travel Photography Tutorial: New Zealand – this online photography course includes over four hours of step-by-step instruction. You will see how Trey sets up his camera to take photos, how he composes the shot, and how he performs HDR processing plus hundreds of other little tricks to make your photos look prettier.
  • Textures Tutorial v2.0 – learn Trey’s tricks to using textures to give your photos a unique look.

More Reviews and recommendations

I have many other reviews and recommendations you may find helpful!

  • Camera Reviews – recommendations for digital cameras for any budget to skill level
  • Camera Lens Reviews – detailed reviews of all the lens I use for my photography
  • Other Reviews – various other software and hardware reviews

Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Please visit my Ethics Statement. It’s all quite simple!

Here’s a few of my favorite photos I’ve taken with all the stuff I listed above!

The Space Between Here And There

The Mist From The Tree Tops Fell On Me From Above And Behind

the wet red came from beyond the trees

Colossus by the Sand-Ocean

A Morning with a Strange Method of Fishing

  • I really enjoy your reviews. So many different software packages. Your reviews make it easy for me to find usefull photo software in a short time. I’ve purchaced a few of your recommendions and have been very satisified.

  • Rueben

    Trey, do you have a Photomatix Pro preset bundle???

  • Currently the only presets that Trey has are the Lightroom ones:

  • Bruce

    Trey has more Photomatix experience than I do, but I’d say it’s probably easier to do Photomatix edits manually, rather than use presets. (Not to say you can’t use presets, though; it depends on what you’re wanting to do with your photo.)

    I have some presets of my own from editing previous photos in Photomatix (I save them just in case I need to use them for some reason; this is useful for when I’ve already used Photomatix to edit a photo and exported it, but later want to go back and re-do it in Photomatix with similar settings).

    I sometimes use them as a starting point, but after that I customise the settings for the photo I’m editing.

  • Any plans for a Lightroom review, Trey? Are Lightroom and Photomatrix comparable tools or do they do completely different things? Really enjoy the amazing photos! Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • Richard Wonka

    You may want to take a look at darktable, a very well documented free raw developing software with a stunning feature set, some of which I have not seen anywhere in commercial software. You can find it at
    For the record, I do not gain anything from posting this link, but I believe you may be interested.

  • What software do you use for stitching photos?

  • Thomas Heinlein

    I found a nice Android App (RCCDroidPro released for Sony Alpha, including A7), which supports the creation of HDR pictures. There is a mode to make up to 13 pics +-4 EV automatically. There are some other nice features like HDR Timelapse and Bulb-HDR. Would you please provide a test for us ?

  • Hi Trey,

    I’m going public with a new software called Budo if by miracle you want to check it one day, here is a link where you can find more info :

    Or reach me through G+ or facebook, it goes of course also for anyone that want to now more about this new software ! 🙂

    And a few pictures processed with Budo join.

    Please feel free to remove my post if you find it inappropriate.

  • Aex

    Trey, what software do you recommend for simple video editing like the one you capture with the drone. I struggle with deciding if I should go the Premiere route as it seems to complicated. I just want to clip together video and add background music.

  • treyratcliff

    I recommend iMovie! It is free and cheap, but I am hardly an expert in video editing. I also use Final Cut X.

  • treyratcliff

    thanks – will check it out!

  • treyratcliff

    I use PTGui or Photoshop @facebook-1808014875:disqus 🙂

  • Alex

    Trey, I have not found a recommendation for video editing software. For your videos on the drone, what software do you find easy to use.

  • Renee

    Trey, being fairly new in the digital world, I currently use PS3, LR3, Photomatix Pro 5 and Panorama Maker 6 for all my editing. I have purchased some of your presets for HDR work, however I don’t find any presets for LR3, do you have any that would work in LR3? I currently don’t have the money to upgrade so working with what I have. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks for making photography look easy….your fan, Renee

  • I don’t know if they work with LR3 or not — I can have Luke check on that.

  • Karl Schroeder

    Trey, amazing work!!!
    Now, I’ll make this quick

    I’m jumping ship from nikon gear. The back and shoulder are beyond DSLR carry around capable now. I tried the sony A7 with a few OLD leica glasses and a voightlander 21 1.8.
    Loved it all. But… Sent it all back and am going to try the a6000 and a few modern glasses.

    My question is: I’m a Mac guy and the one I have is older and of course it wouldn’t recognize the camera or the card. I followed the sony info guidelines but I’m guessing a 7 year old computer isn’t going to cut it. CAN I BUY A NEW MAC and have no problems with import?? Is it really that simple or do I have to jump through hoops?

    Signed, Feeling really stupid


  • Alessandro Lima

    Hi Trey, I saw you use PTGui for panoramas. What do you think about Autopano Giga? I’m trying to learn the features of it! Thanks

  • I really like autopano giga!

  • I understand that Photomatix has a plugin now that works with Lightroom.

    Photoshop CC 2015 for you.

  • Garrett

    Trey, or anyone who knows Trey’s preferences.
    I don’t have time to explore all the different photo editing software out there and learn each one to know if its the right path to take. Ive used Lightroom2 a fair amount and Elements 7.
    Its time I update. I want to placed on the right path and KNOW that I am not wasting my time with an inferior software product. What photo editing software and workflow do you recommend?

  • Personally I’d say upgrading your Lightroom to the latest version is where you’ll get the most significant upgrades. For later Photoshop I do recommend the CC route as it lets you try the program on a monthly basis rather than shelling out the big bucks – but lots of people use Elements with great success. Even Trey’s current workflow is more focused on Photomatix and Lightroom than Photoshop these days – there’s just some stuff that LR can’t do that PS comes in handy for.

  • Here is a good way how U can get paid 95 dollars each hour… After being unemployed for half a year , I started freelancing over this internet site and now I could not be happier . 3 months have passed since being on my new job and my income is around 5000 dollars/per month If this interests you: 1)navigate to the site link in description

  • Excellent Mark

    it was also a difficulty for me

  • Henry Schulte

    I recently purchased Aurora HDR and find it really nice but my computer keeps crashing. I’m using the full 42MP from the A7rII and it takes forever to load as well. Once I’m done editing I hit apply and then it vanishes. I did try to send to Photoshop but my computer crashed again. Any ideas or help would be greatly appreciated since I think this is fantastic program.

  • Hi Henry,

    We had some issues with the a7Rii uncompressed RAW files that were fixed with the latest release. Can you please make sure you’re updated? Use Trey’s samples on the ‘Load HDR Brackets’ screen and then top menu Aurora HDR Pro > Check for updates

  • Fred Golod

    Hi Trey,
    Been following you for some time…many thanks for sharing your knowledge. I’m interested in efficiently organizing files and processing workflow and HDR. What combination of software do you recommend…Lightroom plus Aurora? ( Lightroom is not listed in your software recommendations.) Thanks!! Fred

  • Hi Fred,

    If you’re on Mac, Aurora all the way – Unless you need the organizational stuff that Lightroom does. For PC, Photomatix + Lightroom.

  • Steven Mercurio


    Your work is amazing and being a Linux architect for over a
    decade now I am wondering if you use Linux at all and how much of this
    software I see in your reviews can run on Linux. I’ve developed and
    have been using Linux desktops since 2002. The only think my Linux
    desktop is missing (no thanks to NVidia!) is 3D. I take photos in 3D
    using a Fuji 3D camera (Finepix with 2 lenses). I have been doing all
    3D (TV, camera, etc.) since about 2012 or 2013 and LOVE it!

  • Stu – SIC

    Hey Steven, Trey uses Macs for most of his work mixed with Android/iOS when using mobile. No Linux as far as I am aware. His main tool for HDR is Aurora HDR which he developed with MacPhun. As their name suggests, thats aimed at Mac users… Windows is up next for that software.

    (As a side note, the Fuji 3D cameras are cool. Have fun with that!)

  • Steven Mercurio

    If it is on MAC I would think that it is written in C or somilar. No
    chance of a Linux compile? How long do you think it will be before
    photos like the ones Trey does come to 3D?

  • Stu – SIC

    No plans at the moment. Windows is the next priority. As for 3D, i guess it could be done now… maybe. Just a case of working out how to process the left/right image in an identical way. Maybe you could be person to do it!

  • Jolana Rumanová

    Hi Trey, thanks for all the tips. I have one more to add: Zoner Photo Studio is great for organizing as well as for advanced retouching of photos: We are running on yearly subscription fee which we are trying to keep low so photo enthusiast can allow it. (Regular price $49/yr.) We also have a photo blog created by great photographers: If you by any chance would have time to take a look, we would really appreciate it! Cheers, Jolana

  • Brian

    I know Trey loves Plotagraph as well and for all those with an iOS device, apple is offering it free until Jan 2018. You have to open the Apple Store (not app store) App on your iOS device. Then scroll to the bottom and you will see they are giving it away for free.

  • Alan Monie

    Hi Trey and Stu …
    So – what are the chances of working with MacPhun on an all inclusive software package that combines Aurora, Luminar and Lightroom into one whopping software beast 🙂 I also like to occasionally use FX Photo Studio by MacPhun but am disappointed they do not have a Windows version now that they are aiming the rest of the line for both Mac and Windows …

  • I haven’t seen such nice photos ever, really. Incredible.

  • Neil Scott

    Pt Gui is the Holy Bible of Panorama work, you really need to get in there and explore all the possibilities it can do such as droplets, editing out the tripod etc etc, There is nothing that can beat it apart from the pro version.

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