Spend More Time Behind the Shutter, and Less Behind the Screen
Although Lightroom is less well known than Photoshop, it is a must-have app for photographers. It fills a gap in the digital workflow in a way that nothing else does – a one-stop shop for collection, organization and development… which is probably why it can seem so overwhelming. I’ve created these guides to help you understand what Lightroom is (and what it isn’t), and screenshots to: get started, import & organize, develop your photos and streamline your workflow in Lightroom.
Here are 5 step-by-step guides on fitting Lightroom into your photographic life:
1. Lightroom: Getting Started with Your Digital Darkroom
Lightroom’s name contains a subtle hint as to what role it plays in the journey every image takes from shutter click to final image. A modern analog to the darkrooms of old, its place can be a little hard to grasp for a photographer whose images usually go straight out of the camera to Photoshop.
This is a shame, as so much can happen between those points – and if all you’re doing is processing your images, Lightroom is a much faster approach.
2. Your First Steps in Lightroom
The first step to working with your images is to get them in your system. One of the special things about Lightroom is it isn’t just for developing your images, but also for managing & organizing them. It does this in a purpose-built interface, rather than just a bunch of nested folders on your desktop.
This can be a big step, but it’s not as severe as it sounds – the software works by referencing files, so there is still a folder structure, it’s just in the background, out of the way. While that folder contains your photos, Lightroom presents you with a catalog, a nice interface for everything from sorting through and pruning your initial captures to finding the exact picture you had in mind in moments.
3. Digital Development: A Guide to Processing Your Photos in Lightroom
Once your shots are organized, it’s time for the next step – processing. Lightroom will never replace Photoshop, and it isn’t really designed for fully editing images, though it can handle some minor tweaks. Instead, it’s designed to handle those basic little chores like white balance, cropping and curves simply and quickly.
The software isn’t just faster and more convenient at this – Lightroom can directly handle RAW files, which means you can massage exposure and other settings to pull out data that would simply be lost if you opened the image directly.
Without Lightroom, you can still handle RAW files, but it involves using a dedicated RAW editor (like Adobe Bridge) and working with two pieces of software, in sequence, for every image. And if you want to tweak your exposure part way through editing, you have to start all over again.
Lightroom keeps the entire process dynamic and in one place, freeing you up to think about the most important thing – how to make the best of your shots.
4. Making Lightroom Work for You: Processing Pictures in Bulk
Processing an individual image is already faster in Lightroom, but where the time savings really add up is in its workflow features. Imagine coming home from a shoot with a card full of images, processing just one and sitting back while the rest magically transform into perfectly developed memories.
That is the power of bulk processing, and it is something Lightroom excels at, for every photographer at every level. Simply put, it saves you time.
Lightroom is the missing piece of the photographic workflow, and, for some photographers, the only software they need. Handling almost everything from when the shutter clicks, and giving you complete, convenient control, it deserves to be in your toolbox.
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