Saturday, 31 March 2012

Why Photoshop when you can Lightroom?

You've all heard the phrase "I'll just Photoshop that!" right? Funny enough, as you get into photography, you begin to realise that although Photoshop is an amazing (and complicated) piece of software, large numbers of people will happily avoid Photoshop all together and use one of the many readily available photo editing programs… a popular one is Adobe Lightroom, which I want to share with you all.

Lightroom has become very popular since version 1 and has developed into quite an advanced piece of software (now version 4). This program allows you to sort and edit your photos, quickly and easily. An excellent feature is that the editing of photos is “non-destructive” which allows users have their original photos left intact. It is only until you have finished with the processing when you “export” the photos for your peruse.

So where do you start?
Try the trial software from the website (available for both mac and pc):

A few training videos to get you started:

 My setup:
  • I’ve always been a person who likes to manually maintain my files. Music, movies, photos. What I mean by this is I like to have folders setup in a neat logical order and do not rely on programs to sort and organise these files. Why? Because databases become slow over long periods of time, and if it becomes corrupt, you can potentially be left with serious problems. A good example is iTunes which manages the music library. If iTunes fails in any way, you’re going to have a headache sorting that problem out.
  • For the first couple of years, I only had one Lightroom database/catalog for my photos, however, this got too big and impaired performance. I then decided to try creating one catalog per project/album and have stayed with this system ever since.
  • My folders are setup like this:

  • This folder structure allows me to backup all photo related files very easily.
  • I created two new filters called “Flagged Only” and “Flagged and Star”. They have been setup like this:
My workflow:
  • Copy photos from the camera to a folder called “Original” (see above image)
  • Open Lightroom, and click on "New Catalog". Point this to the parent folder, and simply type in “Lightroom” for the catalog name. This automatically creates a folder called “Lightroom” as seen above.
  • Drag and drop the original photos from Windows Explorer to Lightroom.
  • Import the photos: Ensure default options state the photos stay in the original location.
  • Press Shift-TAB to hide all tool bars
  • Press “L” twice to turn the “lights out” – for a pleasant review of the photos.
  • Review all photos and press “P” to pick/flag the good photos. “U” to unflag.
  • Once the selection process is complete, press Shift-TAB, then “L” to return to the original viewing screen.
  • Choose “Flagged Only” filter
  • Go to the Develop tab and edit the photos. (see training video links)
  • Once I finished editing the photo, I then press “1” to give it a star. This will make it disappear due to the filter. I tend to start on my favourite photos and work backwards.
  • When I finished editing the wants I want, I would review them all by changing the filter to “Flagged & Star”
  • Finally, I would go back to the library, select all, and export my edit photos to a folder called “Processed” (see above)

After Lightroom

Original Photo

I’ve found Lightroom a suitable editing software for almost all of my photos; from simply cropping to a completely transforming the photo. However, from time to time, photoshop is required… here’s an amusing video that illustrates times you may want to use photoshop :)

Have fun Lightrooming!