Lightroom Since Its’ First Release
As mentioned in my article titled “My Photography Method“, I shoot everything in Camera RAW (Canon), and process using Adobe Lightroom.
I started using Lightroom with my fine art landscape primts when it was first introduced and have continued, keeping current with all upgrades.
Prior, I had used other software. Nothing came close to what was available in Lightroom – at least for me.
Lightroom Modules I Use:
Lightroom offers many features, some of which I always use, others I never use.
The library module provides the mechanism to keep track of all images, along with keywords, captions, EXIF and other data.
Being integrated into one total package, I never have to leave the software application to use the images that I select in Library within the other modules. Multiple screen views are available - a real workflow benefit.
I’ve had people stop in my booth and ask how I keep track of all of my images. I mention Lightroom, and for some, there is hesitation. I ask how they do so, and generally they’ll admit not very well. If you have a lot of images and finding it difficult to keep track of where these are, or can’t find them quickly, you will find the cataloging and library feature alone would be worth the investment in the Lightroom software.
The Library module exports many different file formats from the DNG image. I do not need to keep the images in these different formats on my hard drive, just export a new one when needed. A space saver!
This is where the “heavy lifting” occurs on my images. During importing of the images, (which actually occurs in the Library module), the RAW images are converted into DNG – essentially a digital negative.
Shooting in Camera RAW provides all the data of the scene that my camera can capture. I then have this full information available in which to process the image. Shooting in JPG, the camera makes all the decisions and adjustments. It also tosses out an incredible amount of data that is forever lost.
Think of the Development module as the digital darkroom. Using the computer (with a large screen color calibrated monitor), I am able to process and develop each image, applying my artistic vision to each. As the photographer and artist, I am in complete control, and make all development decisions. The final image is a result of my decisions, not the camera’s or software.
Initially the image is flat, lacking depth and contrast – a characteristic of RAW images. Sliders exist in the Development module that offer control over contrast, exposure, highlights and shadows, setting black and white points, curves, color, etc.
The controls that are available to adjust each image are numerous. Admittedly, I do not use them all. Like the software in general, I use only what is required to process the image to the my vision.
Since I belief the print is the final product of the artist’s vision, I do all of my printing directly from Lightroom, using the Print module. Once again, there are many controls, and again, I don’t use them all.
A feature I use extensively is the ability to have presets for each type of print and paper I use in my photography. This saves time from having to set the configurations for each print job.
Key settings include – in addition to paper specific settings and print size – include color management, print resolution, and print sharpening.
Modules I Do Not Use:
Map Module – I have spent limited time with this modules. Since I know where most of my images are captured, I do not concern myself with GPS coordinates or exact locations on the map.
However, it is a fun feature and someday I may use it. It’s not where I wish to currently spend my time.
Book Module – I’ve given some (i.e. once again, limited) thought to creating a photography book, and have experimented briefly with this module. I do like how it integrates so easily with the Library module. Makes it quite easy to select the desired images.
Creating a book is a winter project for me. At that time, I’ll learn this module’s nuances.
Slideshow – Years ago I created a slideshow with Lightroom’s Slideshow module. It worked great. Currently I do not employ slideshows on my web site, thus have not used the Slideshow module for quite some time.
Web – When I first started using Lightroom, I also had just started my web site. At that time, I wasn’t using PhotoShelter or any other service, so I wrote my own web site (learning HTML and Microsoft Front Page).
To create the galleries, I used the Web module. Once again, being integrated with Library, selecting images was very easy. The galleries themselves were most impressive.
Now that I use PhotoShelter for my web site, I no longer use the Web module of Lightroom.
Everything In Lightroom
Lightroom is the only software I use to process, catalog and print my images. I use the desktop version, in part because I want to see the full image when I’m working on it.
This is really photographer’s software, and (in my opinion), well worth the investment.