This is for all of you who use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. It may be time to try Lightroom. It’s also for those of you who have considered buying Adobe Lightroom, but are not convinced it’s worth it. Or, for those of you who are looking for great photo editing software.
Warning: It’s a long post.
To be clear, I am not being paid for this in any capacity. I know it may sound like a commercial, but I feel compelled to share as I’m super excited about Lightroom, officially called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Trust me, this isn’t the case with software often.
I tossed around the idea of buying Lightroom for several months, but I kept thinking that since I have Photoshop (PS), why would I need Lightroom (LR)? Can’t PS do anything that LR can do? After purchasing LR, I will say that it truly makes processing images so much easier. I was shocked by how much.
Let’s start by defining the three software programs that I’m going to mention here. I don’t want to assume that you know what I am talking about. Adobe is the brand or maker while the second name is the name of the actual software.
Adobe Photoshop – PS is the world’s leading pixel (as opposed to vector) editing software available. It costs around $1000. It can do much more than free programs Picasa, Picnik or really, than any software you can dream up. However, to many, it’s difficult to learn and not as intuitive as the lesser versions.
Adobe Photoshop Elements – PS Elements (PSE) is a very watered down version of PS primarily aimed at basic graphic processing required by amateur users. However, still a little more robust than Picasa or Picnik. It costs around $100.
Note: All of these programs are much cheaper with a student discount, though. Like up to 80%. Paying for school has some perks.
And, Adobe Lightroom?
Adobe Lightroom is for processing and managing image files from camera to end usage, such as printing, displaying on the web or sending in an email. Really, there is nothing as far as processing images goes that LR can do that can’t also be accomplished in PS. However, when it comes to photographic usage, LR does it MUCH quicker and with MUCH more ease than Photoshop (PS). In addition, LR is able to allow you to edit your images in a non destructive way. LR costs around $300.
Non destructive? What does that even mean? With most graphic software, each edit causes destruction that you see in the form of graininess and loss of quality to the original. LR always keeps the original so you can revert back.
What can Lightroom NOT do?
Lightroom is NOT an alternative to PS (the full version or PSE). They are not competitors. Why? Because LR has no ability to edit in multiple layers or apply filters. If you are creating an image from scratch, adding text, or doing very fine editing on one image at a time, Photoshop is much better for that task. Basically anything that is from scratch or requires layers, PS is your go-to program. However, if you need to quickly edit or watermark photography, LR is amazing!
What CAN Lightroom do? What makes it so great? The top 12 reasons I love LR.
1. Email straight from LR. Highlight the photos you want to email, click Export to email and it will automatically resize, add watermarks, and prepare an email with the photos attached. Talking about saving time!
2. It is very good at viewing thumbnails and organizing images from your drives and discs without making multiple copies. This means you can organize by adding keywords, ratings, colored tags and even by putting them into collections. It’s all searchable and makes finding your favorite images fast and easy.
3. It is a nondestructive RAW Editor. This means that as you work on editing images it does not cause damage to the original.
4. You can still see the history of what has been done to the image after closing it and reopening it, unlike in PS. This means, you can easily revert back to any stage in the editing process or even back to the original.
5. Add watermarks with ease to batches of photos at a time. This helps to insure that others do not try to get credit for your images. And, it helps them to find their way back to the source.
6. Before Facebook, which I am no longer on (just the business is on FB), I uploaded images to Shutterfly in order to share them with family. Well, with LR, you can create your own similar type of slideshow as on Shutterfly. And, upload it directly to your website. It’s very professional looking and can display your images for clients quite nicely.
It looks something like this.
However, if you still prefer FB, you can use the Web module to upload there.
7. Make quick changes like noise reduction and sharpening, and even touch up only certain areas through the use of a mask easily in LR. It’s all on one panel, whereas in PS it would take a lot more time.
8. Sync images. Make changes to one and have those same changes take to a whole batch that you select.
9. My favorite feature is the before and after. This makes for easy comparisons.
You can choose to see them next to each other (like above) or the image split in half (as seen below). By the way, this is my sister-in-law at last Christmas in Sedona. The bike photo is taken at Del Coronado in California. Both corrections took ten minutes or less in LR.
10. LR integrates with PS in that you can right click and choose to edit images in Photoshop and then return back to LR.
11. Easily edit your Metadata (information embedded into file that you can view when you right click and go to properties) to include your contact information. Should your photo get reposted in cyberspace, they will know how to find you.
12. Histogram that highlights areas of photo that are over or underexposed. Below, in the photo of my dad, everything in red is overexposed, so that helps me know that I should turn the exposure down.
And, if I were to do the opposite and underexpose it, you’d see blue.
These are just features that I’ve discovered in the past week of owning this product. I am sure there are many more impressive features!
Here’s what you can adjust without ever leaving Lightroom:
Below is an image of the “Develop” module. The concept is that you are developing your images.
- Cropping – including rotation and leveling of horizons.
- Local adjustments via the Adjustment Brush.
- Add a gradient filter.
- Red-eye removal.
- Curves and levels via the Tone Curve panel.
- White balance.
- Color – adjust overall saturation and vibrance or saturation, luminance and hue of individual colors.
- Convert to black-and-white with full control over the color mix to alter dark and light areas.
- Split toning – apply one color to shadows and another to highlights for a duotone effect.
- Noise reduction.
- Correct lens distortions.
- Vignettes – correct lens vignettes or add it for creative effect.
- Add film grain.
In the end, I learned it saves a ton of time once you learn how to use it!
Why not try all of these Adobe products?
All are available as free 30-day trials on the Adobe website. PS and LR both have a learning curve so give it the 30 days and do a few tutorials to help get oriented. However, LR is much more intuitive than PS. Most users don’t turn back. Tutorials are key, though!
See what you think. If you only have the money for LR, then that will still rock your world, even without PS or PSE.
Do you use any of these software products? Do you use something else?