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    • I'm not all that familiar with some of the alternative chemistry out there, although I am aware that in the 19th century lots of people worked with a variety of household items to make photographs.  As for software, I somewhat grudgingly pay Adobe $10/month for Photoshop, largely because I have used it for 20 years and don't really want to go through the learning curve for a different program.  Affinity Photo is a one time purchase, and often goes on sale for under $100 for a lifetime license.  It will do most of the important things that Photoshop does, and works with Mac/Windows operating systems so you don't have to get into running Linux if you're not already doing that which I think you need to do with GIMP.  If Adobe gets too greedy, Affinity Photo will probably be where I will go.   One of the things about both alternative chemistry and software is the tug of war between time and money.  Frequently, the choice is spending more money and gaining convenience and predictability or spending more time and losing those things.  This is a choice that we all have to make frequently about many things and only you can decide what is most important to you in your situation.  I have usually felt with film and processing that predictability and consistency were definitely worth some money, especially when I was shooting film professionally where being able to come up with a useable picture on the first try was crucial to having a viable business.  And even now when my film shooting is for personal enjoyment I still spend a bit more money so that the images that I  make will come out the way that I want them to.  And if there are too many variables in a process it can be impossible to isolate and solve problems when they occur.  Photography has always been this weird amalgam of art and science--they are both important to a worthwhile result.  The science part is actually much easier since most of the issues you may encounter have already been dealt with by other people.  The art part is harder.
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