News has been announced that Mark Hamburg has decided to leave Adobe after having worked at the company for over 17 years. Mark joined Adobe in the Fall of 1990, not long after Photoshop 1.0 was released and was instrumental in devising many of the ‘wow’ features we have all come to love and rely on daily when we work with Photoshop.

Mark left the Photoshop team after Photoshop 7 shipped and went to work developing a new paradigm in image processing which would finally ship as the product named Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Jeff Schewe is fond of saying about Mark, “be careful what you wish for”!

For example, around the time I first joined the Photoshop 5.0 beta a lot of Photoshop customers had requested a multiple undo. What we got was far more than that, and came in the form of the ‘History’ feature, which had the ability to take snapshots and paint from different history states.

Six years ago Mark left his position as chief architect of Photoshop in order to start work on the Shadowland project (which became Lightroom) and right up until this week Mark was fine-tuning the controls for non-destructive localized editing in Lightroom. Ever since Lightroom launched, users have been asking for was a means to dodge and burn raw images, and if you have been testing the Lightroom 2.0 public beta, you will know that you can now also paint with colour, saturation and clarity, plus you have really accurate auto masking with flow and density brush controls. It’s yet another example of Mark’s programming genius and gift for innovation.

Over the last ten years or so I have enjoyed taking part in the various internal discussion lists at Adobe and Mark’s direct involvement with testers like myself has always helped make it an exciting and challenging experience for all involved. What’s made it particularly rewarding for me is that Mark is someone who understands what photographers want from their software and we could often see our thoughts and ideas evolve into finished features.

I don’t think one can downplay the significance of Mark’s departure because the contribution he made to the development of Photoshop and Lightroom has certainly been enormous and it goes without saying that his presence will be missed at Adobe.

On the other hand, with Lightroom 2.0 now at public beta much of the groundwork on Lightroom has already been accomplished (especially on the non-destructive image processing side) and he leaves at a time where the Lightroom team has expanded from a team of one (Mark) to now include over fifty talented individuals who have all successfully guided Lightroom from concept to finished product.

While Mark’s departure does leave a gap, Lightroom’s future looks set to continue when development gears up for work on version 3.0. As for what Mark is going to do next, it is known that he is now going to Microsoft in Seattle, and that his future work there won’t involve digital imaging, but instead be focussed on the “user experience”. So remember Jeff’s advice and be careful what you wish for!