Lightroom: Getting Started with Your Digital Darkroom

In the distant past, photographs were captured on light-sensitive film. Photographers would spend hours in tiny rooms lit only by special red lights, turning exposed film into the images they had worked so hard to capture.

Today, we don’t (generally!) use film, and much of the heavy lifting can be taken care of inside the camera for us. But for most modern photographers, the work doesn’t stop with the click of the shutter button.

Adobe Lightroom

We’ve come a long way since the days of film, and as you might have guessed, we’ve come a long way since the days of the darkroom, too. The modern answer is the ironically named Lightroom.  

A lot of people jump straight from the camera into Photoshop (which is developed by the same company), but that’s not really what Photoshop is designed for. Photoshop is image editing software, and it is really good at what it does. But trucks are great at hauling cargo and you don’t drive one to the grocery store, do you?

Nearly all photographers will end up using Photoshop from time to time, but when all you want to do is process your images, not only is it overkill, it’s slow overkill. Lightroom was designed from the ground up to develop RAW files – taking raw camera data and deciding on things such as white balance and contrast after the fact. The thing is, it also works great for the similar processing that JPEGs used to undergo in Photoshop. Plus, it organizes your photos for you!

Adobe Lightroom Classic – Full Desktop Version (using on my 2015 iMac)

Lightroom is more than a workflow replacement for Photoshop, and more than the darkrooms of old. It is the missing link between your camera and your finished images.

Lightroom is not:

  • Photoshop. Lightroom is a streamlined platform designed to help you manage and develop your shots. Transforming reality is a little outside of its skillset.
  • A worker of miracles – especially with JPEGs. Think of the software as an extension of your camera settings, with some extra tricks and a whole lot of organization built in.

Lightroom has a lot to offer – especially in terms of saving you time.

It is the standard in processing, organizing and managing digital photographs, and if you don’t already use it, it could be saving you hours of frustration.

There is a cloud-based “lite” version of Lightroom, which was called LR Mobile and now it is called Photoshop Lightroom. (To be honest I cannot keep up with all the names Adobe has used – they have changed it several times since 2017. I still refer to them as “Mobile” or “Desktop/Classic.” If you want a more specific version history, I’m happy to send you a link on this).

lightroom mobile app
Lightroom Mobile app on my iPhone 11 Pro

The mobile app should be free and I primarily use that on my iPhone (Although there is a desktop version). If you want to use the Cloud and/or Lightroom Classic, you’ll need to visit adobe.com and pay for a subscription. What’s nice about the Adobe Cloud is that the photos sync between my iPhone and mobile/desktop aka “photoshop lightroom” app.

Please note: the Mobile app does not sync to Lightroom Classic.

The Creative Cloud Photography subscription includes:
creative cloud photography plan by Adobe

Now, not everyone is going to rush out and purchase the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Subscription, even if it does sound helpful. Fortunately, there is a 7-day free trial available to help you see just how much frustration the software can take out of your photographic life.

Once you have it installed, why not check out the next post in this series, Your First Steps in Lightroom.

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