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1  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Editor - $39.95 Lifetime Promotion Ending July 1st on: November 27, 2011, 06:18:34 AM
Yow, so much to respond to! Frankly I'd really rather do it in email. Is anyone else really interested in this depth of discussion about SL? lol. If not, I'm going to go back to email for much of this.

I will respond to a few things here though.

Sure.  We already have a conversation through e-mail, and that's fine.   But, if anyone else is interested, I'm happy to make it a thread, either here or wherever appropriate.

I just wanted to make sure I answered everyone and in enough detail to show that, while some mistakes have been made in the last year, that there was nothing cavalier about it, and that the progress overall has been positive; also, that the evolution of where Sagelight is going has been more defined and that has also given me pause about solely going the traditional higher-cost route for reasons described.

My feeling won't be hurt at all if the responses are light or non-existent.

First, I'm not really clear at this point what your goal with developing and publishing (selling) Sagelight is. Is it your sole living, and if so is maximizing profit, or at least maintaining a living wage, then a priority?

Yes, Sagelight right now is my sole living.  But, maximizing profit is not a priority.  Though I am a developer (and photographer) far before I am a salesman, I  really do believe that sticking to the vision will find the right placement for Sagelight, and the finances will take care of itself.  That is, with some care and, perhaps, some measure of calculated risk.  As I mentioned, I've been working on and researching how to work it all out for quite some time, and almost have something ready that fits the vision I started with and still have for Sagelight.

Are you doing it for the originally stated reason, you wanted an image editor that did things you couldn't find any other apps doing? If so that drive remains surprisingly strong!

Well, yes an no.  A lot of it is a personal level of wanting to move into new territory function-wise.  But, the original goal was to combine my two strengths, which is writing extremely fast, low-level code with my hobby as a photographer and image-processing.  I was a long-time Photoshop user (now I use it for graphic-art work), but I really felt that Photoshop was not quite what I wanted to see in an editor, so I modeled Sagelight after my own workflow. I also wanted to make an extremely fast interface so you could get real-time results without having to create N layers independently.  For me, that was the crux of it -- I knew I could write something where you could combine 10,20, 30 different layered controls in realtime if it was written from scratch in low-level code, which was something I spent my career doing.

My main goal was to create a new paradigm for image editing that made it workable at a visceral level, so you didn't need to understand image-processing concepts to use it, but the as you went, you could move into more high-end things, like the histogram Power Curves, Light Blender, and the more professional side of Sagelight.

Yep, still strong! smiley

How much of a priority is it to maintain "accessibility", both in pricing and in functionality?

Very.  Not at the expense of the program itself, but in the sense that I wouldn't make it a priority if I felt it wasn't feasible.  But, the last year has shown me that it is.  I've really worked on keeping the development in the middle, by alternately adding accessible functions and professional-level functions (which the accessible functions inherit, as well).   For example, the RAW functionality is ever-expanding, and the heavy-duty, graphic overflow analysis I added for version 4 has really helped in terms of making RAW both accessible and advanced.  I find it a good mix to work with.  Version 5  will expand even further with the RAW capability and the analysis Sagelight constantly does with your image.

Second, you seem to have some desires that are potentially conflicting, or at least challenging to reconcile (again speaking from experience). The casual user, the amateur, has rather different needs and *abilities*, not to mention time and patience, as compared to the serious hobbyist and professional. ... It's very difficult to satisfy both with one product!

That's true, in general.  I have thought about that, but I am seeing it work out fairly decently, where more professionals are buying Sagelight.  While I put in professional-level functions to do things I couldn't do in Adobe (for example, the Power Curves have a Chroma channel and multplier that makes the curves much more useful, etc.), I never aimed at that market specifically because I knew I couldn't aim at both.  My main focus, in terms of orientation is the 'digital photographer' who wants to enhance their pictures, anywhere from the beginner who wants to do more than crop and remove red-eye, to the advanced hobbyists and enthusiast.  I think more professionals are starting to realize that some software can do things not in Photoshop, whether it's Sagelight or other packages.  To attract high-end professionals, that would require aiming Sagelight only at that group, as Photoshop is king there, regardless as to what it does or doesn't do.

Regarding pricing, I still think you're really selling your product short. If you price to compete with Corel, e.g. Paintshop X4 ($30), you'll be brought down to their level (no offense to Paintshop fans!). Paintshop is an ok product, some people here really like it, but it just doesn't take imaging as seriously as Sagelight. It reminds me of the difference between our product Terragen and our competitor E-On Software's Vue product line. Their software is used professionally as well, but its focus is really on *tons* of features and ease of use. Basically, as long as a feature is implemented and ticks a box on the feature list, it's "good", even if the actual implementation is not great, even if the image quality is not great, etc. Terragen has a lot less features than Vue, but each of them tends to be more solid, higher quality, etc.

I believe that I am currently selling Sagelight very short, and that it is clearly devaluing it, as described in above posts in terms of the price being a factor that people look at.  As I mentioned, the whole price structure needs to change as I get this last version 4 release out.  I'm just currently looking at creative ways to keep Sagelight where it wants to be, hence the delay on raising the price, ending the sale, etc.

With tons of features vs. focused editors.  I agree.  I decided a while back to focus on many "product-level" (i.e. Bokeh, Light Blender, Tone Blender, HDR, upcoming noise-reduction, etc.) features in order to expose people to as much as possible.  For instance, when I added the Bokeh and Lens Blur, I initially started on a few-day long project to replace the "vignette blur", but a little into it, I decided, "you know, really gotta have the full-on Lens Blur & Bokeh..." 2 1/2 months later, I had something really great, not to mention a lot of underlying code that I can use in the upcoming HDR and NL-Means noise reduction.

Sagelight pays a high price for doing this, as the Bokeh really is comparable to a lot of standalone packages out there ranging from $100-$200, but I just have much more interest in exposing things like this to everyone than I do making it a separate package that a lot of people who currently enjoy the Bokeh in version 4.2 wouldn't ever buy or experience.  I do need to find ways for them to stand out, though... The LightBlender is a good example.  It's probably the most powerful tool in Sagelight, but gets a little obscured where its placed.  But, I am working on those issues.

Anyway I don't really see you ever truly making people understand that underlying image quality value that SL has with a low price and a split focus on the average home user market.

I completely agree.  That's why the creative strategies I am thinking about... 'Guerrilla Marketing' as it were -- that is, something out of the norm, because it is unworkable there.  But, as I mentioned, the market has changed so much, and is still changing at such a rapid pace, I think there is a place to be found.

Splitting your product line will help, but the price point may *still* be an issue. It's important that you look at the right apps for comparison. SL is already on par with the likes of Lightzone ($99.95, discontinued), Bibble Lite ($99.95), DxO Optics Pro Standard (149€), and more at a similar price point, and from the sound of it what you're adding for v5 will put it on par with most of DxO Optics Pro Elite (299€), Capture One ($399), Bibble Pro ($199), and the majority of Lightroom's functionality ($299). The main thing you're missing that pros would want and that most of those have is lens correction. Catalog/digital asset management capability is another, but many people already use an external DAM and Sagelight has facility for that. Note also that many of these products have a similar lite/full or home/pro version split, like Bibble, but their lite/"home" versions are generally $99!

There is what Version 5 is all about: bringing Sagelight into line with what it needs to completely well-round it, and getting rid of all of the current omissions, such as Lens correction, as well as other things.  That's always been part of the plan, and why I did so many of the other functions, so when version 5 is complete, it will have all of the traditional things the pros want and a whole lot more. 

Now again I have to say I love that you're not jumping straight to high pricing and I'm not in favor of raising the price just because you can. *Iif* you can make a living pricing your product lower than everyone else and get at the market you want, then I applaud you. I'm just not sure that will work. And the tools SL has seem, to me, to have the potential to capture a different market, and in many ways I think are also above the head of most people who would buy a $39 app. So you may almost be hurting yourself there, by providing features that are not only not needed but even confusing, and at a price point that devalues those same features and the app as a whole. I know you recognize at least some of these issues, but you may not agree with others (i.e. you could argue that providing access to advanced tools but not forcing them on users helps them learn them over time and graduate to more advanced capabilities in their own time).

I agree with the assessments, for sure.  I think my statement about it is that I think they can be overcome with some new strategies.  I at least want to give it a try.  I've been looking at the market, and I think that there are a few things coming together.  One is that more and more people are getting into digital cameras in terms of taking nice pictures and wanting to do more with them -- beginners, hobbyists, but have no exposure to Photoshop (i.e. traditional/old-school methodologies) but still want to do professional-level things, but more easily.  Also, Adobe's new pricing scheme seems to recognize that, because they are clearly making a stand with who they want to see as customers.  Lightroom has been $99 all week (or something like that), and I suspect that there is something coming in terms of this large, burgeoning market.   So, it's not in a vacuum -- there's definitely a passion to it on my part, but it definitely seems to align with how the market is changing.

I know you are also struggling with what to put in your high and low end versions, along with pricing of both. These are issues we continue to struggle with at Planetside as well, so I can't claim to have resolved them either, but I do have relatively long-term experience with it at least, and it's from that experience that I'm speaking.

Yeh, it's a tough issue to crack, isn't it?  One plan looks good here, but dilutes the other, and vice-versa! ha...  There's always some catch with this plan or that, and finding the middle ground is definitely difficult, at best.

In the end you have to make your own choices and I hope they will be successful. If you have the time and ability to stick with it for the long-term and remain flexible, then you can try other strategies if the one you choose now does not work. That is the ideal way to approach it I think, if you have the luxury of doing so. Above all I hope SL will continue and succeed.

Well, I do have a particular plan in mind.  They say "go with your passion", and the plan I am thinking of is definitely that, though perhaps risky.  But, they also say "build it and they will come". Well, we both know there is more to it than that! smiley

Thanks again,

2  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Editor - $39.95 Lifetime Promotion Ending July 1st on: November 26, 2011, 06:12:27 AM
Good points Dormouse. One perhaps counter-intuitive (but nonetheless effective) change you might consider is being less frequent and detailed with releases and release promises and instead settle on a regular schedule you can stick to within the year. People like updates, but reading through this thread and your blog, you can see that the "It took a lot longer than I thought" comment is frequent and regular. So you'll say "4.2 is coming soon" but then it won't because hey, it took longer than you expected. That's fine, the problem isn't necessarily (or at least solely) with it taking longer than expected but that you externalized that expectation by hinting at or even in some cases announcing it. If you had said nothing and instead just had a general policy of bi-annual updates, and making them major updates (i.e. 4.0 at beginning of the year, 4.5 mid-year, 5.0 at the beginning of next year), that would create that sense of stability while taking some pressure off you.

Heck even annual releases are not necessarily to be expected from a lot of (professional) software. Lightroom gets point releases, but they're mostly bug fixes and support for new camera RAW files. With Version Control you can easily do patch releases while working on separate tracks with major features and merge them later for a big release.

One thing I have been looking at is being more frequent with in-progress releases.

The "it took longer than I thought" statement is really more about "ok, I am working on this... I'll release it when it is ready" because I have never really liked specific version releases.  I generally like to release things as I get them done; usually one or two major things, but necessarily a large amount of new & major function sets at once. 

This helps the beta process, as I can have discrete releases that can be tested, and anything going wrong doesn't hit me all at once with bug reports from ten major things at a time.

I'm still deciding how to handle this a bit, in the sense when I start working on Version 5, for example, I will just release things as I go as pre-releases.   This way, I am not sitting on HDR, NL-Means Noise Reduction, Object Removal, Enhanced Layers, etc. etc. for months.  Might as well get it out when it is ready enough.  So, version 5 is going to be built over time.

I think the solution may be in releasing more beta versions as things are in-process.  For example, I didn't release any of the Bokeh/Lens Blur until it was basically done because there were definitely some bugs, and wasn't sure if that would be a good idea.

In general, I'll say what my expectation is, and then sometimes it will take longer due to something that comes up.   Most of the time it's a speed issue, as it was in this last release. Oh, I remember -- another thing with the Lens Blur/Bokeh release that took it a little longer was that I wasn't satisfied with the quality of one of the blur algorithms (a major one), so I moved it from 32-bit per-channel to 64-bit per-channel, which made it much better. I just didn't want to release it that way.

I definitely hear what you're saying.  I will have to find a better way to work out how to deal with what are essentially pre-releases.

I would not suggest reducing communications overall necessarily, I think your engagement with your users through the blogs, videos, and tutorials is part of the appeal of SL, but you could stick to helping people learn existing tools, creating videos for future features behind the scenes if desired and then releasing those when the version with those features eventually comes out.

Just a thought... All I know for sure is not announcing release dates ahead of time has worked a lot better in my experience. cheesy

- Oshyan

That's something I have been doing a lot of lately.  The Youtube Channel, Blog, Discussion board, and help system ( has been much more filled out lately with a number of topics.  A lot of it is about the Bokeh/Lens Blur (as it is just a huge set of functions), but I've also been splicing in a number of other things to keep it from staying specifically on on subject.

The main thing I needed there was to centralize everything, as I would write one thing in the blog, for example, and then it would disappear forever.  Now that I have the centralized help system on the website, I've been able to write much more because I know it's going to stay useful, rather than being a subject for a couple weeks and then living in oblivion.

Back to the pricing issue, for a moment (since this is what started the thread)

I am really only working with one concept at the moment:  How to keep the price low without accidentally devaluing Sagelight.

Outside of that, I'd be happy to keep the price at $39.95.  As I mentioned, that just isn't possible, so some other strategy is really called for.  I've been spending a lot of time over the last few months researching the marketing issues, and how marketing has changed.  For example, the freemium model is a popular model, and I really like Evernote's model.  I use Evernote a lot, and may purchase their service once I hit the maximum. 

The model in the phone/tablet-based app market has been to charge much lower prices to get more customers, since the low-overhead and significantly larger customer base as compared to just a few years ago makes that possible.  I thought this model could translate over to the PC market, but so far it hasn't.  There is a clear and stated marketing rule that if you price your product at $20, people see it as a $20 product; a $10 product is a $10 product, etc.  So, pricing your product that has the same/different/state-of-the-art/etc. functions compared to rivals that cost 5-10 times as much can be a problem!

The freemium model suggests that 'free' can a separate issue, since it doesn't involve a purchase for the free portion of it, and people understand that a free product can be free for other reasons.  It's a slippery slope, and I am not specifically looking at a that model, though it is great for the exposure potential. 

Version 5 of Sagelight, as I mentioned, is going to be such a factor level over Sagelight 4, I am thinking about some ideas of making Sagelight 4 available in some creative fashion while Version 5 is being produced, but that would require some sort of co-op or donation/reward-based system, and I am not sure that's too feasible.

The main issue for me is that Sagelight 5 is really what I am seeing as 'the' definitive Sagelight statement as a product, so Version 4 definitely has some flexibility to stay cheaper if I can get the pricing model right.  Like I said, that's what I'd rather do, even if the traditional marketing sense is telling me differently.  But, one thing I have learned with my research as of late is that the way the market is being approached is changing rapidly! Maybe that's a good thing (if you can crack it anyway!)?

Do you guys at PlanetSide see any of this, too?

3  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Editor - $39.95 Lifetime Promotion Ending July 1st on: November 26, 2011, 05:35:00 AM

The one comment I'd make about price at this point is that people need a sense of stability and long term support if they are being asked to pay a higher price. The extended, unpredicted and unannounced, absences unfortunately don't give this impression. Neither does the loss of the old forum posts or announcing a price change and limited time offer that then apparently goes on forever.

It was a shame about the old forum.  It just destroyed itself one day and was unrecoverable.  In a way, it may have been a favor, because the new discussion board is much nicer, open, and easier to use.  It's also easier to maintain.  I used to have such a spam problem with the other one, and this one has received two spam messages in the last three months.

With the absences.  Sadly, those have been hard to deal with, as well.  There were some company issues going on there, but I agree I should have done a better job explaining what was going on.  I don't see any of that happening again, especially now that Sagelight is starting to get some maturity both in it's level as a product and getting known generally. 

There have definitely been some setbacks that have cost publicly, but the overall growth has been more positive.  At this point, if nothing else, I think everyone realizes how committed I am to Sagelight, even when I do hit some learning curves on how to handle everything at once. smiley

With the sale that seems to never end... Well, that is definitely becoming an issue, which is why I wanted to express some thoughts on it here.

As I see it, it's also been part of the growth process for Sagelight.  But, in a way I hadn't anticipated.  When I first started Sagelight, my goal was to give away a free version and then charge $20 for the pro version, even as it is today (which is about 4 times the size it was back then).  The idea being that a low cost would attract more people, and that would solve the issue of keeping Sagelight cheap while also making it powerful. But, I quickly found out you can't do that.  People look at products differently when the are $20 vs. $40 vs. $80.  I've mentioned this before, but I'll put it here...when I doubled the price, I suddenly saw things never noticed being taken very seriously.  Now that Sagelight is growing more and more, this is still an issue at $39.

So, I decided it was time to raise the price.  But, I wanted to give everyone interested a chance to get it, and to be supportive I also wanted to offer a lifetime license.  Part of this was because I knew that I was going to dramatically increase the power and functionality of Sagelight from version 3 to version 4, and I didn't want to put people in a position to have to pay more and more and more.  A lot of this is how the market has evolved.  For example, I've never appreciated paying $700 or so for Photoshop and then having to pay $179 every year for an update.

Here's the part I didn't see coming (but should have).  One of the things that started happening with Sagelight is that it got noticed by a major part of the demographic for whom I wrote Sagelight: Beginners who want to do and learn more (with a low or flat learning-curve) as well as hobbyists who want to work with their pictures.  Sagelight was already getting known to hobbyists and advanced amateurs and enthusiasts.  These two distinct groups are exactly why I wrote Sagelight.

I take your point very well, and I agree with it.  I feel awkward about it, really, not to mention slightly embarrassed.  But, I really want to make a way for both groups, and, as I mentioned in the first post, the price at $80 becomes prohibitive.  I am looking at alternatives, such as possibly a monthly, or even yearly payment plan, and that sort of thing.   

The reason the sale still exists today (and with the lifetime version) is because I've known for quite some time that I am going to change the pricing structure drastically, and until I do that, it's far better to give a lifetime version away than to accidentally cause people to have to spend more money later on.  I have a few pricing options I am looking at in the sense of 'guerrilla marketing', and I want to make sure anyone who buys it now knows exactly what they have as I change the structure.  I am just deciding on which one now.  A couple of them are fairly dramatic, so that's another reason why I haven't changed anything yet, so no one feels confused as to what to do (i.e. if you have a lifetime version, then you know what you have).

It's definitely coming to a close in the very near future.  I don't personally feel bad about the price, just about the plans (and announcements) that were clearly premature.  Sorry about that, and I definitely apologize and take full responsibility for it. 

4  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Editor - $39.95 Lifetime Promotion Ending July 1st on: November 26, 2011, 05:00:15 AM
As someone whose "other editor" is $300 (Lightroom), I find your pricing considerations and general range to be very, very reasonable! Now granted LR does things that Sagelight does not do, things I wish SL did, and I cannot replace LR with SL right now because of that. Photo organizing, tagging, and uploading are the majority of that, but also things like HDR plugins. At the same time SL can do things that LR doesn't, or at least do things in ways that are easier to control and/or produce better results. The new lens blur/bokeh stuff is a great example.

So while I understand people's comments about "the app world" and whatnot, I also see the other side of things where SL is actually a tremendous deal compared to other *similarly capable* apps. That's the thing though, does SL have a professional reputation and if not, could it develop one? That's what you need to charge more than about $50 I think, or $100 at most. It's little or nothing to do with the actual capabilities which, as I've said, are excellent and already surpass programs that cost much more in some ways.

If I'm being honest, I think the UI design is probably the lest professional-seeming thing about SL. It's hard to put my finger on, but it feels less clean and polished than LR, Bibble, and the like. More colors, gradients, and icons than clear lines and text, perhaps. Beveled edges, that sort of thing. And the general feel and workflow is good, but still somehow just doesn't "feel" as "solid" as LR and others. That may be just my personal, subjective opinion of course.

At any rate I definitely understand the pricing difficulties. I admire your dedication to keeping features accessible, and that's one thing I've dealt with personally at Planetside Software where we make a fully free (with some limitations) version of our software available. I also understand the pro vs. hobbyist vs. amateur debate and the difficulty in establishing the right perceptions of your product, *especially* when you want to keep things accessible to a wide range of users and price points. I suspect that sometimes you do just have to make a sacrifice of one or the other, or take some radical approach like making an entirely different product (at least in name). But I do have some suggestions for a pro vs. "light" split if you're interested. I suspect you might not agree, but I think any decision you make on it is going to involve some compromise in your core desires and values. If that weren't the case I expect you'd have made a decision by now. Wink

By the way, great to hear that HDR functionality (that I recently emailed you about) is planned!

- Oshyan

note to everyone:  I can see that I am doing a lot of writing in answering.  I want to be sure to answer all the questions, comments, and suggestions posted in the last few days.

As someone whose "other editor" is $300 (Lightroom), I find your pricing considerations and general range to be very, very reasonable! Now granted LR does things that Sagelight does not do, things I wish SL did, and I cannot replace LR with SL right now because of that. Photo organizing, tagging, and uploading are the majority of that, but also things like HDR plugins. At the same time SL can do things that LR doesn't, or at least do things in ways that are easier to control and/or produce better results. The new lens blur/bokeh stuff is a great example.

Thanks.  I really don't care to charge $300, or even $200, and just need to figure out the pricing in issue in terms of avoiding the devaluation concept in marketing one's product.  That is to say, I'd rather keep it cheaper, but to do it in a traditional setting just wouldn't work.  More about that in some commentary below (not sure if it was this post or not, but it is here somewhere!)

About the things Sagelight does that LR doesn't and vice-versa.  That's basically why I have been working on more powerful functions, even at the expense of some things that are really starting to show.  For example, I put in the Light Blender, but it has so much to it that the UI is clearly not keeping up with it.  One of the next releases will have that cleaned up in a measurable way.  The Lens/Blur bokeh tabs worked out well, so I am going to start doing more of that sort of design to keep the UI cleaner.   The current level of pop-ups becomes a little overbearing, I think -- as in too much information at the same time.

That's the thing though, does SL have a professional reputation and if not, could it develop one? That's what you need to charge more than about $50 I think, or $100 at most. It's little or nothing to do with the actual capabilities which, as I've said, are excellent and already surpass programs that cost much more in some ways.

Thanks again... Sagelight is just starting to get a professional reputation.  I never pursued the professional market directly, but have written a lot of documents on the engine, and more and more people who are professionals are starting to compare the results with other professional apps.  In the last few months, I've seen more professionals who use Sagelight than I have before.  That's nice, and that's why there is more pressure on Sagelight to do things that didn't matter quite as much as it did before.   I kind of like the pressure, because it's helping me make Sagelight much more well-rounded, and I think that will make it better for everyone, even if they're not consciously using certain elements of it.

With the $50 thing... That does become an issue.  I saw a message board where someone posted an example of an image edited with Sagelight.  Everyone liked it, and that was nice.  The person posted the price, and at $39.95, it really looked misplaced because everyone there was using Lightroom or Photoshop.   It was clearly a devaluing issue, which is why I need to deal with it.  I'd keep it at $39.95 if it wasn't for that (not with the lifetime, though).

If I'm being honest, I think the UI design is probably the lest professional-seeming thing about SL. It's hard to put my finger on, but it feels less clean and polished than LR, Bibble, and the like. More colors, gradients, and icons than clear lines and text, perhaps. Beveled edges, that sort of thing. And the general feel and workflow is good, but still somehow just doesn't "feel" as "solid" as LR and others. That may be just my personal, subjective opinion of course.

I'd be interested in hearing more thoughts about that.  As it turned out, I like the Sagelight UI over LR, and consider LR's UI very utilitarian.  But, sometimes it is just a personal choice.  There has been some evolution in the UI, and that may cause some consistency issues, as I've had to streamline the UI with things like the Power Box, which looks markedly different than the rest of the Quick Edit Mode.

But, I am pretty sure what some people react to is (I'll just throw it out here... let me know what you think): Sagelight controls, for the most part, are laarrrggeee... ha... It's just tends to be a visual thing that smaller, diminutive controls tend to look more utility-like and more like a professional program.  Here is why they are large in Sagelight... The Quick Edit Mode, for example, has sliders that are 201 pixels wide, to support a 1:1 resolution with -100 to 100.  This causes the sliders to be much larger than LR (and most other editors, since most other editors copy LR, at least for the overall look-and-feel).    When I put in the Power Box, I shortened the sliders to 161 pixels wide, but most sliders still have a range of -100 to 100.  This immediately causes resolution problems.     Since I have wide sliders, I put the values and slider name on the top, causing much more space to be used vertically.

To my mind, I think this is part of the issue.  granted, the rounded corners don't help... I was watching the Miami Vice DVDs a lot when I designed the UI. smiley

The UI is being redesigned, but I am only planning that for version 5 (except for the glaring updates, such as the Light Blender and Power Box consistency), as I have a fairly large restructuring plan -- Sagelight has something like 80+ functions right now, and Version 5 is going to add quite a bit to that, so that they are more organized (as well as personally organizable).  A lot of the people on the Sagelight Discussion Board have really been great in letting me know what they'd like to see.

At any rate I definitely understand the pricing difficulties. I admire your dedication to keeping features accessible, and that's one thing I've dealt with personally at Planetside Software where we make a fully free (with some limitations) version of our software available. I also understand the pro vs. hobbyist vs. amateur debate and the difficulty in establishing the right perceptions of your product, *especially* when you want to keep things accessible to a wide range of users and price points. I suspect that sometimes you do just have to make a sacrifice of one or the other, or take some radical approach like making an entirely different product (at least in name). But I do have some suggestions for a pro vs. "light" split if you're interested. I suspect you might not agree, but I think any decision you make on it is going to involve some compromise in your core desires and values. If that weren't the case I expect you'd have made a decision by now. Wink

I didn't know you guys made Terragen until just now... I've always loved Terragen, and looked for it just the other day.  I just downloaded the free version.  I'll definitely be playing with it!

It can definitely be a slippery slope.  The free version you guys have seems pretty powerful, but the 800x600 limitation is good.  From a consumer perspective (and I just went through this about Sagelight), I just don't know if a higher sample would encourage me more (say 1200x800), or would make me feel like it's enough so I don't want to buy the purchase version as much.   I am coming out with a new Sagelight free version to replace the old one (since it's so old by now), and what to put in and leave out is a very complex question.  I want something that shows enough power (and isn't diluted), but I don't want to give away too much, either.

As far as suggestions for a split -- sure, I am very interested in hearing your thoughts.

By the way, great to hear that HDR functionality (that I recently emailed you about) is planned!

I've been looking forward to getting it in for quite some time, and I think it will complement the Light Blender fairly well.  I am hoping to get it in version 4.3 as an extra sizeable function before I start on version 5.

5  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Editor - $39.95 Lifetime Promotion Ending July 1st on: November 26, 2011, 03:59:30 AM

Rob, if I'm at all typical of your customers, then the choice for Sagelight was made over upgrading Corel PaintShop Pro, which I can purchase for ~$90. Since I decided that your app is superior, at least for editing of photos, I think it would be possible to go with a number in that neighborhood. (FWIW, PSP is probably better for some kinds of tasks, but when it comes to optimizing a photograph, you're the hands-down winner)

Thanks... I have chosen $79.95 for the number right now, and that seems to be reasonable with the feedback I've received about it.  As I said, I am currently looking at different options on how to keep Sagelight accessible to everyone while dealing with the price issue at the same time.  I think there is a solution, and I have been doing quite a bit of research over the last few months on pricing models and strategies.   

You didn't actually ask, but I'll weigh in on future functionality -- because that's the kind of guy I am  tongue

No Problem. ha... It's always great to get comments and constructive criticism.

When I'm using Sagelight, I still rely on two plugins: Alien Skin Image Doctor and Topaz DeNoise. So from my perspective, the quickest way to become my full-feature editor is to provide those function -- easy-to-use noise and more effective noise filtering, and object removal. I'd also love to see some kind of object detection coupled with the masking feature.

Pretty much on the top of the development list is more noise reduction, a real-time version (in the Power Box), and also an NL-means implementation.  I really like the NL-means algorithm, and I have developed some algorithms that will hopefully make it useful on a reasonable time.  I have seen some packages take up to 20 minutes on a fairly small file, and I've wanted to avoid that kind of timing.  Either way, I agree and it should appear fairly soon (the Power Box version first, then the more aggressive NL-means independent function).

With the object removal.  That is also something I have planned for version 5.  It turned out that the NL-means algorithm and the "content-aware" object removal have the same base algorithm, so when I get to the NL-means noise reduction, I can start on the object-removal, too. 

Right now, I recommend the Wire Worm plugin which can do a great job.  But, I am finding that the plug-ins don't get much traction in a general sense; that is, if you have a plug-in that you like, then you tend to use it.  After that, I don't see people trying the plug-ins.  So, even though I consider the Wire Worm a very, very nice tool (which is why I didn't write one, as I wanted to support Martin Vicanek's work), a lot of people don't even know it is there.  I wanted to put a menu item for it in the tools list, right under cloning, but Martin was not comfortable with it.  As much as I really want to refer to that plug-in, I may have to end up writing a blemish/object-removal function myself just so I can make it obvious in the function list.

Something else you just said struck a chord with me: "extended layers/stacks". You're currently referring to this as "layers", but that's confusing because it really has nothing to do with the layering feature found in PSP or Photoshop. Changing terminology to "stacks" might prevent such confusion.

For the time-being, I will just use the term 'layer', as that it really what I am talking about.  The term 'layer' can tend to mean different things based upon the context.  Sagelight, for example, uses a lot of layers internally in most control.  Because of that, I don't see any need to do 'adjustment' layers, since each control is essentially just that, and if you want to work with one as a layer, you will just be able to do what you would do with an adjustment layer in Photoshop and edit it the same way; except that you will have multiple controls instead of just the one layer (which can get tedious).  The basic idea is that each thing you do in the history becomes a potential layer, if you want to assign it that way, and then you will be able to click on the Quick-Edit layer and adjust the controls -- such if you realize something became blown out or too saturated in that layer; that sort of thing.

So, it kind of does have to do with the layers in Photoshop, but with just a different (and, I think, more modern) approach in using them.

I'm also talking about more stack-like layers, too, where they can be useful to group together.  I am planning something very comprehensive, so it's still a little TBD, which is why I used the term 'layers/stacks'.  My main goal is to get some real power out of them, while not making them so much of the UI that they're unavoidable.  I finally have a design I like, so it will be nice to start putting them in!

6  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Editor - $39.95 Lifetime Promotion Ending July 1st on: November 21, 2011, 11:05:48 AM
Hi, Everyone.

I thought I'd tell you what I am up to with Sagelight and explain where I am at with current pricing and future plans.

First, thanks a lot for all the support.  I appreciate it very much.  I apologize for the sale issue, but also want to explain why all that happened.

In the last year, I have added a lot to Sagelight, and the last release was definitely a major release with the Lens Blur/Bokeh, which turned out to be much harder than I thought it would! 

As I add more and more functions to Sagelight, the pressure to raise the price has grown also, as $39.95 doesn't really reflect the level of functions inside of Sagelight any longer.

On the other side, though, is that as I do add more functionality to Sagelight, it has been really great to expose those features to people who would never buy an advanced image editor at a greater price.  For example, the Bokeh/Lens Blur that was recently added is typically found in packages that are fairly expensive (Alien Skin, for example is $200, and DOF Pro is $99), and I have received a lot of e-mails and comments from people exploring and having fun with it who would never buy a package with Bokeh/Lens Blur in it due to the price.

With the other functions in Sagelight (such as the Light Blender, Vignetting, Tone Blender, Power Curves, Masking, etc.), it's also been great to give people the exposure to the wonderful world of image editing who normally wouldn't even know that they could do so much with their images.

Many Sagelight customers are on a fixed income or find $39.95 the their upper-limit due to their financial circumstances.

I've been looking for ways to split Sagelight and also to find ways to make the higher-end functions of Sagelight available to as many people as possible.

While I didn't mean to mislead anyone about the sale, finding the right way to keep Sagelight as cheap as possible, while not devaluing it with a price that is too-low, and keeping in the spirit of why I started Sagelight has been a difficult and ongoing task. 

Right now, the current plan is to split it into a standard and "Enthusiast/Pro" version, though I would also like to continue to find other options that lets everyone enjoy Sagelight, as $79.95 gets out of the range of a lot of people.

I originally started Sagelight for two purposes.  One was to create an image editor with powerful functions that I've always wanted to see.  The other was to write an image editor that was (hopefully) also very fast and easy to use so that people who never thought about image editing (other than removing red-eye and cropping, that sort of thing) could see how much of an artistic endeavor it definitely can be.

Sagelight is still a young editor (at 3 years old), and, actually, I never expected Sagelight to have so many features and to get so big as it is now, and I am planning much more in the next year.  The current plan is to build verison 5 over the next year (with pre-releases as things are added), adding HDR (both artistic/single-frame as well as multi-frame), extended layers/stacks, more masking functionality, content-aware object removal, comprehensive paint function (i.e. for image coloring and painting, in various modes such as Soft light, hard light, dodge & burn, etc.), procedural language scripting, automation, NL means noise-reduction, RAW staging area, as well as updating and upgrading many current functions to be even better (like the LightBlender, Power Box, etc. (not to mention a few notable bugs. smiley )).

The great thing is that these are all already designed, and just need to be put in.

I'ts been a great process, and I really appreciate the support here and posts on the discussion board, as well as the positive e-mails -- it definitely makes all the difference.

I'd be interested in any thoughts you might have on the pricing structure.  As I mentioned, the current plan is to split it into two versions around the end of the year (I am just wrapping up the 4.2 release, and starting on the last version 4 release).  But, it would also be great to hear any other ideas about how to keep Sagelight accessible to those whose price range is just not in the $80 area.  I'd love to make Sagelight available to anyone who wants it.  While that's probably not possible, perhaps some creative ideas might make something closer to that possible.

Thanks again,


7  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: January 21, 2011, 06:39:58 PM
I haven't looked at the results from different algorithms and apps for some time, but about a year back I dug pretty deeply into it. Unfortunately I don't recall what my favorites were or I'd make some suggestions. But I'm a big fan of options, so the more (good ones) you can put in there, the better IMO.

I can put int the standard ones pretty easily..   But, I do like the idea of looking at it myself, too, or to do some research on some of the new methods out there.

Have any RAW files you recall having trouble with (or distinct difference between the demosaic algorithms)?

8  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: January 21, 2011, 06:35:43 PM
Here's a good page for comparison of various demosaicing algorithms:

From that page, it seems clear that RawTherapee's EAHD is the best, but of course these things vary from photo to photo. Unfortunately you can't just pick up the algorithm, though. In many cases they're proprietary, or perhaps even patented.

With the Article on Raw Therapee -- I couldn't download the original source, so I can't do an independent assesement.  I not sure what the default settings were left or not.

Anyone have a link to the original RAW source (the one on the site is broken)?

I have tried as many algorithms as I can find, and find the traditional AHD to be the best overall algorithm, because it doesn't really cause this edge issue (which comes have as wierd lines or sparkling of the image is sharpened).   For example, according to the article, the EAHD algorithm seemed to do the best, but I'd like to see how it works overall with a lot of images.

I'm glad Curt posted that above, because it did make me think of a couple things.   I can see why most editors don't offer a selection of algorithms -- you really need to know a lot do that, and it ends up complicating things for people who don't look at it that seriously.  I do, for sure, but a lot of people who use Sagelight don't -- I think I am finally figuring out how to strike a balance with all that, though. I hope. ha.

Also, I wouldn't necessarily agree with one point, though -- I don't think that all editors that don't offer the choice of demosaicing algorithms necessarily use the same one.  Certain cameras identifiably don't work with certain algorithms; it's just that the editor wants to pick for you based on certain criteria.

The nice thing (with the proprietary issue) is that a lot of these algorithms are under GPL license.  So, I can just write a .DLL to use them without having to give away the source to Sagelight. smiley

Rob, I wonder if your work on color spaces could be leveraged here. I wonder if the non-proprietary non-patented algorithms might work better when they're operating in alternate color spaces.

You know, I was thinking the same thing.  I can't say I am familiar with how all of these demosaicing algorithms work, but I was thinking that it would be interesting to look at it as a C*I*E LAB-interpreted image, for example -- this may be the basis for some of these algorithms that "blur" the image, the idea being that you'd construct a grayscale image from the pattern and then average (in some way or another) just the colors.

Well, it makes me excited to try it all out.


9  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: January 21, 2011, 11:21:58 AM
Oh, good -- I'm glad the tooltips are working on XP now... Shame they don't fade in and all, but, oh well. ha.

cyberdiva:  Thanks for the note about the uninstall.

Oh, I also fixed a bug.  If you load a RAW file and see "There was an Unknown Error", this is fixed in the latest release. (it was caused by an error in the EXIF routine).  (The latest version is on the blog at

I think a lot of people here are partial to RAW, right?  I just added an update that does a slight graduated-edge-sharpen on the C*I*E L channel, which really seems to make a difference, especially when used with the Definition Sliders (a very slight sharpen that doesn't hurt the data seems to give the Definition Sliders nice starting point "push").  You can turn it off, but I think, for most people, that's going to more of a plus (since the images just look better throughout the entire editing process).

I'm piecing together the next level of RAW functionality right now, including a staging area where you can select the demosaicing, sharpening, etc. -- and see it all happen in more-or-less realtime.  I'm curious as to what demosaicing algorithms people here prefer.  They tend to be different from camera-to-camera, and it would be nice to get some ideas on that.

Also, someone asked me a while back if there was a way for people to do their own demosaicing -- I can see it being an issue because of the different ways in which cameras put out their data.  It would be easy for me to add a .DLL interface if I thought the demand was high enough.

Your thoughts would be appreciated.


10  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: January 21, 2011, 11:08:21 AM
I am not a user, but I just want to say it is awesome how supportive you are of your users. A few days back I took a bit of a gander over your website and the product, and I think that you and Sagelight are an excellent example of the way software is supposed to work. If I hear of family or friends needing a photo-touchup tool, I'll definitely give a pointer towards your product. smiley

Keep up the good work.  Thmbsup

Thanks so much for that.  It definitely makes the hard work more worth it! 

Thanks again,

11  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: January 20, 2011, 03:23:00 AM
I'll have an update out sometime tonight.

Congrats on getting version 4 out, Rob.  I downloaded it, but since I too am running XP w/classic theme, I think I'll wait for the update before installing.  BTW, should I uninstall version 3 first, or can version 4 go right on top of 3?

Thanks...  It took a little while, and now I am anxious to get to updatin'. ha.

I just updated the software -- I tested it on my XP machine and was able to repeat and fix the issue.  For some reason, XP doesn't want to fade in the bitmap.  So, the tooltips just don't fade in on Windows XP (or anything below vista), but display the same.

Please let me know if there are still any issues.  I was able to test it and get it to work reliably, but it was clearly a timing problem so I want to be sure I got rid of it completely.

It can be found at (or from the original download -- I just changed the name here because browsers sometimes are not 100% reliable when downloading a previously cached file, even when it is new).  Also, if you just want to download the executable without installing it (just place it over Sagelight.exe in the Sagelight 4 directory), it can be found at

With the previous version -- yes, I would uninstall it.  Version 4 installs as Sagelight 4 so as not to overwrite Version 3 for those that don't automatically upgrade to version 4, and it also allows people to try version 4 without overwriting Version 3.

12  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: January 19, 2011, 04:42:07 PM
hmm... I was thinking that you might be running XP.   I changed the way the tooltips work to fade in and out with a nice backdrop and shadow.

I'll work that out tonight.  If I can't fix it, then I will just default to the old-style when XP is running.  For Vista and Windows 7 users it shouldn't be a problem (works fine for me on all of the computers I tested on).  With XP, it might just be the classic theme -- a) I routinely fail to test with the classic theme under Windows XP (the tooltips work just fine with the class theme under Wndows 7), b) the classic theme (you mean the utilitarian metallic look, right?) under XP constantly has GUI compatibility problems with anything you do outside of the standard GUI calls (i.e. oldstyle buttons, etc), and c) A lot of people run that theme, so thanks for finding that.

I'll have an update out sometime tonight.

13  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: January 19, 2011, 04:24:39 PM
Hi, Oshyan.

Thanks... About the tooltips -- can you tell me more about what you mean?  every button, switch, and slider has a tooltip, so if you're not seeing them I would appreciate an example so I can test it out.   I think there may be an issue where they disappear quickly, as the way it works right now, the mouse has to be still for the tip to display, but the disappears on any mousemovement -- I should fix that to have a cushion.

With the installer -- yes, it is very outdated.  It was (and is) on the things to revamp, but I wanted to make sure to get this version out first (i.e. the functional part).   I think just shrinking the fonts in the installer would make it look better.  I've finally figured out the rule-of-thumb that the smaller things (icons, text buttons, etc.) the more professional they seem to look and very much vice-versa.  But, either, way I very much agree that it is outdated.  I'll check into the path issue with it insisting that it be under 19th Parallel.... I don't remember, either way, but if that's what it is doing I'll make sure it doesn't to that on the next release.

14  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: January 19, 2011, 03:50:45 PM
and v4 (Part 1) pre-release beta is now out! 

Hi, Curt (and everyone).

Well, I am pleased to say that I have Version 4.0 out as a general download.  It can be found at

It will install as the full version (if licensed) or as a trial.  There is more information at

This is Part 1 of 3 releases for version 4.  This is the major one, and 2 and 3 are more minor, 2 being the quicker of the two, including more RAW updates and some things that I couldn't get in this release.   I'm doing it this way to keep it all in version 4, to keep the price lower until I raise it once it is all out (as opposed to moving into version 5 and 6 more quickly).

Well, anyway, I hope you like it. 

15  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: January 19, 2011, 03:46:13 PM
By the way I totally feel your pain about longer-than-expected dev time. Not only is that a classic thing with software dev in general, but I have personal experience with it, not as a dev, but as a principle in another software company that has had its share of release deadline creep.

Oops... I didn't realize you answered my last post. 

The weird thing is that I've heard about things like that before, too, even with other image editors.  But, it wasn't until I was really in the middle of it why I understood why these things can happen.  In my case, there were a few factors, one of the biggest being a business partnership issue.  But, beyond that, one of the main factors has been just how complicated everything has gotten.   What I'm seeing is that as a software project gets bigger and bigger -- and, more realistically, the growth of expectations and professional-level quality factors -- the more it adds on to the development time.

It wasn't just things working together in a more complex fashion, but also an increase in the level of performance that was dictated by the product growth itself.  So, instead of taking a few hours on one thing, for example, now it's a day to make sure it's done the way it needs to be (like writing an SSE 4 version of a routine that was only written in SSE2 in the last version).

The biggest issue (and really, an error in judgement on my part) was taking the engine apart so that I couldn't to partial releases until I put it back together.  So, I won't be doing that again. ha.

16  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: December 16, 2010, 03:36:41 PM
Rob, how much of what you're considering documenting is specific to Sagelight? E.g. histogram. Is that not a concept that is fairly widely used, and hence probably already explained somewhere? Or are there unique aspects that need explaining here? If a general "image processing tutorial set" does not already exist, certainly one should be created! But I don't know if I'd nominate you to do it, I'd rather see Sagelight progress faster. Wink Hopefully such a thing exists already and can just be pointed to as an additional/foundational resource.

- Oshyan

Hi, Oshyan.

Oh, no, I'm not considering the Histogram unique to Sagelight at all.  But, I think that if you're trying to make your program accessible to a certain group, then it's a good idea to discuss fundamentals where they can make difference, like the histogram can, in a way that relates to its better and more intuitive use via your software.

So, I would like to, at some point, do some tutorials on that, curves, and other things so that the things that can make a difference become that much easier to use in Sagelight.  It's all about the creative process for me, and I think some of the basics definitely help in that, and some things that seem distance are only one small "aha moment" (stolen from CWuestefeld) away from being useful.  Plus, I think part of it is that image-enhancement hasn't really been explored in a way that makes it easy, at least not that I've seen -- in fact, there really are a lot of people who like to make image enhancement complicated! ha.   If I knew of some great tutorials, I'd have links on the site and in the software to various things -- If anyone has them, please let me know!  That would be great.

But, I agree with you -- my main motivation right now is to get this release out, so I don't have time for much more right now.  But, I do expect to do quite a few blog posts and videos once I get it out. 

I just ended up in a situation where I have done a tremendous amount of development and am now dealing with how to implement it properly -- so, my hope is that once I get the pre-release out, and it puts me in a position to do multiple releases, it will become more apparent that the wait between versions really did amount to quite a bit of new tools and development.  Fortunately, I am very close to getting this next release out , and I expect to be very busy with release after that.

Now you've got me thinking.  I really would like to get some tutorials on things like the histogram and curves.  Know of any good ones?

17  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: December 16, 2010, 02:48:07 PM
Hi, Rob.  It's hard for me to comment on the idea of mini videos.  They might be very useful.  On the other hand, I'm very much a beginner, and it's possible that I'd lack the overall picture that would provide a context for the mini videos.  I suspect, too, that I'm much more of a beginner than many of Sagelight's users.  So what would be helpful for me might not be at all interesting to the majority.  I'd welcome help with understanding/using Curves, as long as the help didn't assume that I understand what you mean when you say you "split the (C) channel into two separate components, a curve and a multiplier."   smiley  I also have no idea how a histogram works, nor even how to use layers.  The list of what I don't know is endless.  Sad

With most tools, I try to make the default settings and controls work intuitively, so hopefully the idea of doing short videos will show how to expand on an aspect that already has some sort of visceral feel to it. 

The (c) channel and multiplier, for example -- first, that's probably me being very involved in the technical side and using technical terms when I don't need to, since I just spent months working all of that.  But, it points out the issue -- in one sense, the two things I'm referring to are just two sliders that have various effects, so knowing the details of what is going on under the hood can be helpful but isn't required at all to use them. One of the though decisions in Sagelight (especially this next version) has been how much of the technical side to expose.  I want to keep it easy and intuitive, but I don't want to sacrifice ability, either. 

On the other side, just a little information about using the one curves (i.e. the (C)/Chroma curve ) and then using the other slider to nudge the result, I think, can make a pretty big difference, and that would be one of the mini-videos where a longer video might be too much.  But, this can be put into a text-based notes-like list, too, I guess. 

With the histogram and curves.  I think that is another great example -- and probably an example where one could demonstrate what is going on with the histogram, and how it works, in just a couple minutes in a video, where I'm not sure it's easily explained with text unless it includes a lot of graphic examples.  I don't think it's necessary at all to use the histogram in Sagelight (or any editor), but it is definitely a tool -- from a general principles of editing point of view --  that can add a dimension to your editing, at least when you're really looking out for the more subtle issues in your image (such as overexposure, etc.).


18  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: December 15, 2010, 02:59:11 PM
Oh, for people who are wondering about the status of the version 4.0 pre-release.

I am ever-so close.  I keep thinking I am closer than I am, and this has primarily due to the SSE2 and SSE4 code because it isn't as easy to functionalize as C++ code.  In fact, it would be great to hear from other programmers on this subject, in terms of semi-functionalizing and making re-usable SSE (i.e. assembly language) code that is written around pipeline cache concerns.

19  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: December 15, 2010, 02:52:16 PM
I think that video tutorials would be excellent. However I personally like to have a manual that I can refer to when needed. I can't always sit at the computer and read or watch tutorials; certain problems prevent me from sitting in any one position for very long, so I often print out sections of manuals so I can read them, make notes on the parts I really need, etc. and then have that with me when I return to the computer to work on that particular application. I even go as far as to convert Help files into PDF documents so I can print all or portions of them and use them as I need them.

Of course I don’t expect a full blown manual for Sagelight to be written any time soon, but...  if you or anyone else catches the writing bug anytime in the future...  sure would be greatly appreciated here!  smiley tongue

Hi, Jim.

I've always felt that Sagelight has a very large volume of written help.  For example, under the help section there are about 70 detailed entries on the various things in Sagelight, which is a congolomteration of all the help scattered around the editor.  Not that it doesn't need updating, that's for sure.  And with this next version, I'll be doing just that, especially with the newer functions.

Having said that, though, I'm wondering what you would like to see?    Do you mean using Sagelight in a general sense, such as color theory and how certain elements work, or a manual on specific things?  As an extension of what is already there, I've always wanted to write a basic book about image enhancement principles (i.e. how the histogram works, black points and white points, overflows, why color balancing is important, etc.) to go along with Sagelight and that would use Sagelight to demonstrate the principles.

20  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: December 15, 2010, 02:45:54 PM
So, I'm thinking about doing quite a few short videos on various feature and putting them up on Youtube.  But, I am wondering what people think on the best way to describe how to use more advanced features in an easy way?

Rob, I found some of the videos you've already created to be quite helpful. Unfortunately it's been long enough that I don't recall the specific attributes that made them work, but I can tell you that the ones on making Thomas Kinkade-like pictures, and about the "undo brush", both stand out in my mind as giving me an "ah-hah!" moment.

I downloaded your videos from YouTube into my media server, then sat down in front of the TV to watch them in comfort. And I think I did get a lot out of it.

But I do know how much work can go into producing one of those videos. I can recall producing one of my own, a demo of a new web site for internal use here at work, and spending an entire day planning out, scripting, and then editing, a single video.

ha... I have to admit, I really enjoyed discovering how to do that with the paintings.   I always had mixed emotions putting in the effects because I thought they might distract from the main emphasis of Sagelight (i.e. it might become confused as an attempt at a general editor as opposed to having a focus on image enhancement).  But, when I saw how you can augment a picture by blending filters, I was glad I put them in.

Also, I think the Undo Brush is one of the elements about Sagelight that gets overlooked even though it is one of the 2-3 central concepts in Sagelight that gives it its power.

yes, in terms of producing videos.  They always take longer than you'd think.  I look at later ones vs. earlier ones and I see higher quality, mostly because I have a much faster computer now and can get more frames-per-second.  ha.  I've usually just decided what I want to talk about and record what I do.  Almost none of it is pre-scripted, which makes it more interesting to do, but probably makes it go along faster.  But, each one probably does take about half a day, just for 10 minutes.  Keeping it as short as possible seems to be the most time-consuming element of it!

What do you think about the idea of small videos that detail specific elements of a function as opposed to the whole thing?  For example, as soon as I get this pre-release out, I have a number of videos I'd like to do.  I want to write the help for it, too, but it will be quicker to do some initial videos.

I have been finding that I tend to put a lot of functions and details into one function, so I have a lot of "program within a program" issues going on.  For example, one of the things in the new version is essentially traditional curves, but on top of that I'm hoping to extend the way curves work by adding a Chroma channel on each color space (i.e. RGBC,XYZC,C*I*E LABC, etc. as well as RGB-LCH, C*I*E LCH, etc.), so that's a video.  But in addition to that would be a video detail just how to use the curves box effectively, as I added a number of details to it specifically to make using curves much easier, such as being able to very rapidly switch between curve channels, etc.  Then there is the way I split the (C) channel into two separate components, a curve and a multiplier, etc.  -- all very useful things, and making the ability with the curves very powerful, but only so if those elements are understood.



21  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: December 15, 2010, 02:28:47 PM
I think I'm the sort of person who would benefit a lot from what you're proposing.  However, I don't think there's a single format that would be best for all kinds of situations.  Sometimes, a video demonstrating what a particular effect is or how someone achieves that effect can be much more effective than written instructions, but at other times written instructions may cover some key points that are passed over too quickly (or just assumed) in a video.  For me, the key element is detail.  I was recently trying to use a piece of software to get a particular effect with graphics.  My attempts were all flawed.  I went to a video that the company had prepared to illustrate how to achieve this effect, but though it showed someone successfully creating what I wanted, it somehow glossed over some of the key steps and was thus of no use to me.  I finally wrote to tech support, and their response spelled out the steps that had not been mentioned anywhere else.  That's what I needed.   So whether it's a video or written instructions, I think the more detailed it is, the better.  (For that reason, I wouldn't think pop-up help would be all that useful.  If it was sufficiently detailed it might turn out to be annoying, popping up every few seconds with another piece of advice.)

I've always learned best by having a general outline and then a specific list of steps that I can then experiment with.  I have tried to write as much help as possible in Sagelight, but I am also the sort of person who doesn't read the instructions in software that I buy!  I am experimenting with the idea of a quick-info sheet where it can be launched for each function with a concise list of features.

Now that Sagelight has been around for a while, I've been able to see what works and what doesn't work, and I am also finding that what works for some people works well, but it isn't necessarily the thing that works for someone else.

So far, I'm finding that the idea of having a little topical '?' button around each function works pretty well, as opposed to having to search for the subject in the help.  I'm also learning that a detailed help discussion isn't as helpful as I'd like.  It becomes a bit of a catch-22 in the sense that the reference needs to be there for as much as possible for when you need it, but to get a general intuitive sense of the function, it's better to keep it short.  But, then, I'm feeling that a lot of the really cool things you can do with this switch or that isn't really explained, either!

So, the video tutorials seem like a good choice, and I'm also finding that, for people who like the video tutorials, this seems to be a great method (as long as I can learn to speak slower, which has been a comment I've received a few times. ha).   But, I'm finding that the video tutorials only works as the best tool for a small percentage of people.  I'm thinking that it might be because they are located on Youtube as opposed to something you can load and view immediately in the software?

One of my main things is what you talked about -- writing tech support about how to do a specific thing in the video.  I get those letters, and I'm always happy to explain how to do something.  But, on the other hand, I want to find a way to get across those basic elements in the video so that it's easier to play with and to mix-and-match components.  As Sagelight grows, that mix-and-match ability grows and grows but can also become more obscure because the dots need to be connects, such as doing one filter and then another, and then mixing them, say, with an overlay blending, and that sort of thing.

What do you think about the idea of video tutorial snippets?  The idea being to do multiple small 1-2 minute detail on a specific aspect of a function, as opposed to a 10-minute video outlining the whole thing?  I agree with you about the issue of detail, but that's when an overall-tutorial starts to become very dry and elongated.


22  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: December 06, 2010, 10:24:37 PM
Hi all.

Thanks for the responses.  

With the price -- yes, it's not going to change tomorrow.  I'm wanting to get this pre-release out and then start work immediately on the next one to supplement it, and then work on the price.  So, it wouldn't be for at at least 2-3 weeks before I'd think about it.

I'm really getting excited to get this release out, so I am working pretty hard on it right now so I can get the new set of developments moving and write about them on the blog and post some videos.  

In fact, that was a topic I was thinking about posting on here:  I am sure this is an issue with a lot of software, especially when you don't have the budget of someone like adobe, Corel, or whoever.  The thing is that a lot of the new features are really powerful, but as that happens (with any software), it becomes a task to keep it as simple as you'd like.  So, I'm thinking about doing quite a few short videos on various feature and putting them up on Youtube.  But, I am wondering what people think on the best way to describe how to use more advanced features in an easy way?  Videos, popup-up help, straight-out instructions?  For example, a lot of people don't really understand what the histogram does, but once that hurdle is crossed, it suddenly becomes a very useful feature!

Curt:  The e-mail server was down.  I took care of it.  Sorry for the delay
dcm:  I've sent the registration code out a number of times.  I just sent it again, and I sent you a personal e-mail the other day.  I think that maybe you aren't getting my e-mails?  I am getting yours, so if you didn't get the message I just sent again with the registration code, please send me an alternative e-mail, or even your phone number, as I do want to make sure it is taken care of.


23  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: December 06, 2010, 04:30:33 PM
Hi, Everyone.

I thought I'd let you know where everything is at with Sagelight.

  • 1. Sagelight Version 4.0 is very much alive.  It has been delayed by some factors, not all of which I can go into, but I can go into one:
  • 2. Because it's been delayed for various reasons, I was able to keep up with development.  I have developed a very large volume of code and technology.  The technology has been along two lines: powerful functions and making them easy to use, but also a lot of core image processing math -- I've developed a lot of new technology designed to keep images more pure but also to make things more intuitive and easy to use.
  • 3. I am just a few short days away from the pre-release I've been mentioning, and will hopefully have a beta of it out in two days.
  • 4. One of the delays has been that the new technology is extensive and fairly complicated.  Writing it in SSE2 code and SSE4 code has been quite a task (actually, I'm surprised at the increase in speed you can get out of SSE4 vs. SSE2).  Since Sagelight supports non-SSE4 computers, it means having two routines for each function that uses SSE.
  • 5. Much of the UI has been revamped, particularly in what used to be called the "Pro Quick Edit Mode" in order to make it the default mode.  I've added a layered system with Local Contrast, Soft Light, Hard Light, Smart Contrast, Saturation, Curves, etc., all with controllable mask layers.
  • 6. Once I get this pre-release out, then I will be updating into Version 4.0 fairly constantly.  The main issue about not having a release for a while is that I revamped the engine and internal UI, so it took awhile to put it all back together.   That clearly wasn't the best plan -- so, now that it is all-but put back together, future releases will be far more discreet so I can keep updates on a much more regular schedule.
  • I am 99.5% done with this pre-release, and I don't think it will be more than 2-3 days before I have it out.

About the lifetime version sale.

I've been doing that for a couple reasons.  One, I have been delayed on getting version 4.0 out, so it's my way of saying thanks for waiting.    But, also, I really don't like the idea of raising the price. I think it's necessary because I think it's been proven to me that to keep it cheaper causes higher-end features to not get looked at.  I saw this first-hand with the original version Lightbox.  So, I am very happy to give out the lifetime licenses for $39.95 for the time-being until I get to a certain point with getting version 4 out. I appreciate the support, and I do believe it will be well-worth it in just a little while when I get out a few planned updates.

I will be ending the lifetime promotion and the current price at some point in the near future, which is a little undefined.  But, here is the basic schedule, and I won't change the pricing until at least pre-release #2, and then will figure out how to work it out incrementally after that.

1. pre-release #1.  Has a revamped UI in the "Pro Quick Edit Mode", Power Curves, Vibrance, Vibrance Curves, user-loaded/saved profiles, 3 new saturation algorithms designed specifically for color reproduction, a number of other technology items like Highlight Preservation.  Direct C*I*E LAB and HSL color space modes, as well as XYZ, Yxy, HSB, HunterLab, YCrCb, and other modes via the Power Curves.  Re-designed masking and resizable mask display windows.  Overflow display (for lost black points & white points), a number of general items like more Photo Filter algorithms designed for perceptual-based color, Separate Channel Display (in RGB, C*I*E LAB, and HSL color space modes).  A number of other things.

2. pre-release #2.  This adds some things I couldn't get in this first pre-release, and should come 2-3 weeks after pre-release #1.  Notably, this adds Edge Sharpening in the L channel, with a user-defined/shaped mask for the edges.  A multi-processor version of CLAHE, a derivative of which also turns out to be quite amazing for local contrast, high-pass blending functions (for CLAHE, but also general masking, which has some very interesting qualities), more blending modes (difference, high-pass, soft-light, etc.), various UI updates (based on requests), downloadable tutorial templates/profiles, and a RAW control-panel with demoasic selections, as well as an algorithm to detect highlight overflows for RAW files (that will suggest you reload it with Highlight reduction on where it will  help)

3. 4.0 Release.  This is the official release of version 4.0.  This major component in this release is the layer system that will replace the UI in the Pro Quick Edit Mode (called the Kayak Mode now) that will become the default, or at least switchable with the Quick Edit Mode.  This will work a little like Lightroom in some sense (as a context), where you have controls like the Local Contrast Slider, Vibrance, Saturation, Soft Light, Smart Contrast, etc., but will be plug-n-play where you can add and remove layers (for example, it is very convenient to have two local contrast layers, one with a higher radius, one with smaller one, etc.) as well as adjust the mask and curve-mask (where it exists) for each layer, and change the order of most layers.

After that, I have a number of items I will steadily add to it since I have the engine back together in its new format.  It's always been layer-based, but this makes it much more powerful!

Anyway, I'll have the pre-release out in just a couple days now, and I will put up a video later with a demo of what I'm working on.  I think I have just one example up right now at (as well as the one pointed to at   I'll put the discussion board back up when I get this pre-release out.

Well, I hope that helps!  I've been working very hard on version 4.0, and your support has been very appreciated.

24  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: October 01, 2010, 10:18:27 AM
Rob, I just wanted to mention perhaps you could use some more  simplified nomenclature - e.g. currently there are the "quick edit mode" and "pro quick edit mode"?  Is there also a "pro slow edit mode"?

ha... What kind of names (besides "pro slow edit mode", which I like) do you have in mind?

The Pro Quick Edit mode was supposed to suggest that the approach used was more advanced, like using more white-balance-based controls rather than curves, and using different formulas for the curves and that sort of thing.

The Pro Quick Edit mode in the new version is the basis for the split in basic vs. advanced areas, and is now called the Kayak mode (since the new product when it is released will be called Kayak).  So that hopefully will separate the two ideas and make the idea of a "Quick Edit Mode" more relevant.

Actually, I am interested in finding another name for the Quick Edit Mode, if you (or anyone else) has any ideas?


25  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Sagelight Image Editor - pay what you want promo (Apil 2010) on: September 30, 2010, 07:41:16 PM
Hi, Dormouse.

Working out the correct pricing strategy for a product is extremely complex with many factors involved. My example above was just to illustrate that, at this stage in Sagelight development, the optimal strategy will be the one which maximises the sales and reputation. Being seen as cheap does not work because people will just think the product has little value; a higher price means that some people may evaluate and choose it. One off sales may or may not work, depending (for your long-term purpose) on whether those sales are to your target demographic.

Yes, I agree.  Pricing has been very difficult, and the real issue is that -- at least for my quest to get some of the higher-end functions recognized -- the price has been too low.  I mentioned in the last note that I showed it to some people in the industry. These were people in the right area of the business with a good knowledge of the market, and I heard the same thing from them: the price is too low.

Well, I think that's shame, but I have spent the last year deciding what to do about it.  I think you hit it on the head when you mentioned splitting it into two versions.

My perception of your real target demographic (from Sagelight's features, the forum and most of the blog) is that it is to technically competent people with a real interest in photography and who spend a reasonable amount of time and money on it (there aren't too many other people that interested in RAW yet)

It turns out that Sagelight appeals to two specific groups, which is really what I wanted to do.  I just didn't realize I was putting two editors into one product which would cause conflict issues.  Sagelight appeals to beginners, but also to hobbyists.  I have found out over the last year or so (since Sagelight has been a real bonafide venture; when it was Lightbox, that was just the initial entry) that I've been straddling a fence.  Anytime I'd do something to make it easier, it wouldn't necessarily be appreciated by a hobbyists, and vice-versa.  It's kind of weird.  If I look at it, I can see that I've been writing the software trying to keep more beginners in mind, but all of the blogs have been about using it from a technological perspective.  For example, masking typically doesn't interest a beginner, but I use it all the time in my examples.

I see a lot more people interested in RAW.  I think it's growing.  Though, the differences between the images with my little canon powershot with CHDK vs. the JPEG were so clear, I thought I'd get more of a response from the article I wrote about using CHDK.  Oh, well!

This group is quite demanding and will tend to ignore products that seem too cheap or too simplistic

Yes, exactly.  And I think I've been writing Sagelight around that group.  I mean, I've been putting the power into it, for sure, but I think I've been making it less elegant for non-beginners in the process.  I've been taking care of that, and version 4.0 is definitely geared for hobbyist-level functionality.

my suggestion would be to plan 2 versions - one for DSLR & the other for P&

Yes, I'm very glad you mentioned that.  That is the current plan.  The current plan is to have a simpler version that stays in the same range (perhaps a little less), and this new version that has a lot of high-end functionality.  I've not really been able to push on the options as much as I want because of the issues discussed above, and this version allows me to just go for it in terms of offering and enabling some more advanced things, like various Color Space modes, etc.

I assume many fewer features than PS (currently there's very little of the creative/drawing/compositional features: SE is very much a photographers' tool) - which reduces price - but is a very specialist tool - which conversely increases price (basically because the potential number of sales will be much smaller).

That's been an issue in terms of how to price it, for sure.  At first, with Lightbox (and perhaps the very first initial version of Sagelight), I felt that there were some elements missing that I needed to fix.  But, Sagelight is getting more mature.   Since it's just programmed by one guy at the moment, of course there are going to be things that aren't in there that would be nice.  For example, had I had the time, I'd have an Exif editor in there, which I currently don't, as it's lower priority than, say, the High Pass functionality I just put in -- though, as I mentioned, once 4.0 is released, those smaller items will be the priority.

There are definitely many things Sagelight doesn't that a product like Lightbox has... But, on the other hand, Sagelight has some quantitatively and qualitiatively higher functionality than Photoshop and Lightroom, too.  Though I don't have the Lasso Tool (on purpose), for the purposes of enhancing pictures, the masking is far more extensive.   The autobalancing, as far as my results show, is much more accurate overall.  And then there is just the general congolomerate.

This new version will feature not only the advanced on the vibrance technology, but also a much more aggressive and extensive layer-based system with the same basic controls as Lightroom (i.e. Local Contrast (i.e. clarity), Vibrance, Blacks, Saturation (which is also an advanced on the technology), High Pass filter, as well as a host of other functional modes.  But, instead of one slider to control it, you can see and control the shape of the mask for each element, as well as be very specific with how the algorithm is doing it's job.  For example, with the Local Contrast feature (aka clarity) you'll be able to control how Sagelight is determining the edges, as well as control the radius and steepeness of the local contrast curve.

I was going for $79.95 because I thought Lightroom was $100+.  But someone recently corrected me and told me it retails for $299.  I would like to keep it low, but I just honestly don't know when those anti-competetive issues we've discussed take over! (I'm not considerig anything close to $299, though.. ha.)

Given that you want to drive numbers, I would suggest that SE's price spends much (not necessarily most) of the time at the low end of that range

That's true.  I've done that on purpose, and so far I think it works against itself.  I mean, I'm happy to do it, but when it turns into a bad sales decision.....

quite a few ways of doing this that don't look like sales such as offering signed-up beta testers a very substantial discount

I'm glad you said that.  I am thinking about that with the initial release of version 4.0.  It will need to be beta-tested, and it might be a good way to get a feel for what the price should be as I get feedback?

The absolute target for now should be increasing reputation and sales to people who will contribute to the buzz around the product rather than the short-term absolute amount of $

I think that's why I'm late on version 4.0 (other issues that happened aside), because I have develop a lot of new technology, and I want to make sure it gets in there in the best way possible.  For example, I really wasn't planning to put in the idea of doing user/mouse-drawn curves (since I have the sliders and they can be much more accurate), but this has now become such a tool for controlling the results of many elements (for example, edge masking, etc.), that it is now an integral part of the software that I can just call up as an object to control whatever can be controlled.  But, the other side is doing in a way where it's available, useful, but not so obtrusive that it just makes things look very complicated from the start.

One of the main things I've learned over the last few months is about compartmentalization -- the idea of making things as easy as possible with just one slider and a bunch of defaults, but then making a way to change and control those parameters: if you want to.

Unfortunately, that will require an active forum & blog & relevant contributions on photog sites (at least until there are enough users doing that).

I'm glad you mentioned that, too.  I will be writing a ton of articles once I release 4.0.  But, I will also be back heavily on Sagelight's discussion board (I will turn it on a day or so) and the blog.  I wanted to wait until I have 4.0 released, but I think it's better to do it now.  Otherwise, I'd be too overwhelmed once I did release it. ha.

Thanks again for all of the thoughts and advice.  I am getting more confident about what's working and what isn't working.

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