Of course, we both changed as the years went by, although our working relationship remained strong. I came to depend on him. He was there for me to help me edit my pictures from my first digital camera and my first scanner, and we both developed our skills along the way.
But over the last several months, he’s changed. He’s gotten tempermental and unreliable. He often just quits in the middle of something, and because I’m so used to him and his ways, I’ve put up with it for longer than I should have. I’ve even spent more money than I should have, trying to make things work between us.
Yes, finally, after all these years, I am parting ways with my old favorite photo editing software, Paint Shop Pro. Back in the day, it was the product of a company called JASC Software. I started with PSP at about version 4. It was a nimble little program, not very expensive, and over the years each new version had more features. Then, shortly after version 9 was issued, Corel bought PSP from JASC. Or bought JASC. Whatever. PSP became a product of Corel, and it’s been a downhill ride ever since.
The program’s been renamed “Paint Shop Pro Photo” and Corel’s versions have Roman numerals, which pretty much tells you that a formerly sound piece of software has fallen into the clutches of greedy pretentious twits. So instead of PSP 10, we got Paint Shop Pro Photo X, and then they got really cute: PSP Pro X1 and now X2.
Gag me. PSP Pro X1 was just about tolerable on my old XP machine, but when that PC was near death and I replaced it in March, we entered the Vista (bah, humbug) era, and X1 was not cooperative – even after updates were installed. So this summer and fall it took me hours and hours to edit my pictures on X1 – hanging, freezing, or on its good days just taking damn near forever to do anything. Because I have liked the program so much, and it has so many good features, I hoped that it was just the Vista thing, and also hoped that the latest version – X2 – would be better suited to run on Vista. So, like a fool, I bought the damn upgrade.
Bah. It’s even worse than X1. Hanging, freezing, taking forever to do anything, if it manages to do it without crashing. I have gone to the Corel support website, and tried everything I read about in their knowledge base that might cure the horrible performance. I’ve even downloaded and installed all the latest drivers for this PC available on the HP website, including the BIOS update. Uninstalled X2, ran a PC tuneup program, cleared out all kinds of junk from the hard drive. Might as well not have bothered; X2 when reinstalled was just as cranky and crappy as ever.
I’m going to try, after the holidays, to get my money back from Corel for the X2 upgrade (I bought it straight from corel.com as a download). I’ve already inquired on their website and got a response that I have to call them. Fine.
And I’m trying other programs. A couple of days ago, I tried to download a trial version of Photoshop Elements but it’s a huge file and I had repeated problems, so I ordered the free trial from adobe.com on a DVD. Then tonight I successfully downloaded Elements, have just installed it, and will try it out.
I’ve been searching for photo editing software to try, in addition to Photoshop Elements. I was momentarily excited to find a multi-featured program called PhotoImpact from Ulead. Seems to resemble PSP in features and usability. Went to download a trial copy – and discovered that Corel now owns it. No, thanks.
Over the last few days, I’ve downloaded trial versions of some lesser-known software. So far, my favorite is ACDSee Pro 2. I’m also trying out Bibble Pro, which has some editing features I like better than ACDSee, but is proving a difficult interface for me to learn. Neither of those programs, nor the other two I’ve tried, run slow or hang up like PSP Photo did. (One is Paint.net, which is freeware but doesn’t support RAW files from my Nikon SLR directly, and their help links lead nowhere right now so I’ll wait till they fix their site and see what I can find out about that.)
There was solace today when I learned that I can get a standalone version of my favorite plugin for PSP – Virtual Painter 5. So I splurged and got it. It’s so much fun – lets me turn photos into paintings, or pencil sketches, or several other kinds of art. Certainly it’s more convenient to have it as a plug-in but I’m OK with using it as a standalone too. I’m sprinkling some of my VP masterpieces around this post. Having VP5 to play with has helped soothe some of the hurt of breaking up. And it’s less fattening than eating a whole pint of something rich and chocolatey from Ben & Jerry’s.
I am hoping that Photoshop Elements will work well on my PC, and provide the editing features I want. If only because it’s so popular that there are lots of books and articles and other learning resources about it. And I’ll need all the help I can find, to get over my breakup with PSP and on with my digital graphics life.