Adobe Lightroom In My Room

This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series Lightroom

You probably saw the announcements this morning about Adobe’s Lightroom Beta 3 for Windows.  So, what is Lightroom?  Lightroom is a workflow and editing package which is one part Photoshop, one part photo organizer, and one part import tool.  Adobe calls it a ‘project’ at this point because as they describe, the software is being “built from the ground up by photographers, for photographers”.  According to Adobe the goal is to provide a flexible streamlined work flow adaptable for any photographer or photographic style.

As a Windows user, this is my first opportunity to get my hands on this and see what it can do for me.  I’m excited about this because from what I’ve heard from my Mac friend this software is spectacular and really improves the import functions.  My current photo editing tool is Photoshop Elements 3.0.  This software is certainly adequate for the amateur photographer and has served me well.  I’ve long been thinking about jumping to CS2, but on the average foamer budget that isn’t necessarily possible.  According to what I’ve read, Lightroom is supposed to be priced somewhere between Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  So, if the price is right and the features are focused to photographers this could be the right thing for advancing the state of the art in my room.

If you are serious about your digital railfan photography and digital processing, go check out the 20 minute overview video on the Lightroom site and see what you think.

[tags]camera, software, workflow, lightroom[/tags]

Adobe Lightroom In My Room II

This entry is part 2 of 12 in the series Lightroom

Last summer I made a post about Adobe’s new photographer’s photo processing tool, Lightroom.  Since then Adobe has worked with photographers and the Lightroom user community to improve the tool and release subsequent versions for evaluation.  As expected, Adobe made the announcement of the release of Lightroom 1.0 last week.

Why should anyone spend $199 ($299 after 4/30/2007) on this software?  What I’ve found it Lightroom blurs the lines between RAW conversion and editing by building solid tools into a single streamlined work flow.  The photographer is removed from thinking about the two things as distinct processes and instead is given the image as the primary focus and the methods of processing are made secondary.  The bottom line for me is image post processing is faster and easier.

According to several things I’ve read, this product is designed to enable the photographer to spend more time behind the camera and less time in front of the computer.  I’d certainly agree with that statement and that is one of the major factors in my decision to purchase this software.

I don’t need any more convincing on its value, but in case you want to hear it from someone other than me, here’s some excerpts from an interview with Scott Kelby President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.

“…I think the controls for processing RAW photos are far superior in Lightroom than in Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop. (Lightroom has all the controls from Camera Raw plus a number of incredibly helpful features that even Photoshop CS3 still doesn’t have.)”

“Then there’s Camera Raw. It’s really great, but Lightroom has all the features of Adobe Camera Raw, and some features Camera Raw still doesn’t have, including some amazing interactive features that take Lightroom over the top.”

“So, it comes down to this: if Adobe designed a product from the ground up exclusively for Photographers, and it was created, moulded, and tweaked by pro photographers to address the work flow issues they face every day, and it’s faster, more customizable, and has more power (not to mention features that Photoshop CS3 still doesn’t have), why wouldn’t you use it instead? Now, Adobe probably isn’t thrilled to hear me saying this, but it’s their own fault. Surely, they realize Lightroom is better at managing, sorting, and displaying thousands of images? In fact, they are the one’s who let Lightroom’s Develop module have many more features than Adobe Camera Raw in CS3, so surely this didn’t catch them by surprise.”

“In my opinion, every part of Lightroom is better than it’s corresponding part in Photoshop. For example, Lightroom’s Print module blows away the printing features of Photoshop CS3. Blows them away—no contest. The Color Management is nearly invisible (which it should be), and you can’t compare the silent, highly limited features of the Bridge’s slideshow to Lightroom’s full featured Slideshow module. Plus, Lightroom’s Web module, with it’s slick built-in Flash and HTML templates and are a breeze to customize is leaps and bounds ahead of Photoshop’s Web Photo Gallery. I can’t explain what Adobe’s thinking, but I know what I’m thinking: I’ve pretty much stopped using the Bridge and Camera Raw for most of my photo management and Raw editing, and I recommend the same thing to my friends.”

Q: So what does Photoshop do better?
“For one thing, retouching: Lightroom doesn’t really have retouching tools so if you need to remove a wrinkle, make someone thinner, clone something, or any of a thousand other retouching tasks, you need Photoshop. Also, Lightroom doesn’t have layers (yikes!), so compositing (and many other tasks) still needs to be done in Photoshop. And you can’t make selections of any kind in Lightroom (double-yikes!). Lightroom doesn’t have filters—not a one (no Unsharp Mask, no Gaussian Blur, no nothin’). Plus there’s no Brush tool or brushes in Lightroom, or professional control over type, or Layer Styles, or guides, or a Pen tool, or blend modes, or Layer Masks, or Actions, or Extract, or Feathering, or a Gradient Tool, or Shapes, or Channels, or Lab Color Mode, or CMYK conversions, or …well…I could go on and on, but as you can see, these two programs really need each other big time.”

[tags]adobe, lightroom, photoshop, post processing, technique [/tags]

My Lightroom Workflow

This entry is part 3 of 12 in the series Lightroom

As with everything I do, I always seem to keep refining my work flow as I learn new things or become dissatisfied with existing processes. My Lightroom work flow is no different. For now though I’ve settled on the following process that takes me from import to final product.

I. Import – I use Adobe Photoshop Elements Organizer as my primary media browser so when I import I import my images into it.

  1. On initial import assign an Event (synonym for a shoot)
  2. Assign location, engine numbers, people’s names, and captions to my images as time permits


II. Editing (Lightroom 1.1 Library)

  1. Import selected images into LR
  2. Assign image to a Collection of the same name as the Organizer Event
  3. Use Library features (ratings, quick collections, slide shows) to find best images


III. Editing (Lightroom 1.1 Develop) – (every photo is different, so steps below are for the most part used every time)

  1. Capture Sharpen
  2. Set White Balance (either through dropper or Temp/Tint sliders)
  3. Set Blacks
  4. Set Clarity
  5. Crop/Straigten(varies)
  6. Clone/Heal(varies)
  7. Set Tone Curve (varies)
  8. Set HSL (varies)
  9. Set Vibrance (varies)
  10. Set Noise Reduction (varies)


IV. Export (Lightroom 1.1 Library) – (I’ve created presets for all my normal output formats)

  1. Export will convert from ProPhoto RGB color space to RGB
  2. In the export dialog chose the output size
  3. In the export dialog chose to open in Elements


V. Edit in Elements

  1. Apply edits as necessary. Generally this is limited to adding a standard copyright notice.
  2. Final sharpen
  3. Save


[tags] Adobe, Lightroom, workflow, photography, railfan [/tags]

Lightroom Works for Railfans

This entry is part 4 of 12 in the series Lightroom

Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom has been on sale for 9 months now and with the release of version 1.2 more folks are starting to ask about it and if it is the right tool. I’ve known for a while why Adobe Photoshop Lightroom works for me, but I haven’t taken the time to put my thoughts to words. My motivation for this post comes from a blog post by another photographer that I think does a good job of clarifying the purposes of CS and Lightroom.

George Barr is a fine art photographer and user of Photoshop (presumably a CS version). In a recent blog post George helped me with placing Lightroom into the spectrum of photo editing tools. George says:

When I went to inkjet printing of my black and white images, it seemed perfectly natural to take advantage of the powerful editing tools available via computer, in my case with Photoshop. I could now manipulate both further and more accurately and in smaller areas and more areas than ever before.

It was a natural extension to continue these techniques when I started working in colour and it didn’t even occur to me that I should have any loyalty to the original colour as recorded.

Gasp! No loyalty to the original color? For a railfan photographer that (for the most part) is a no no. He continues…

This is radically different from colour slide photographers (whatever the format) who have very strong ideas of maintaining colour fidelity and go to great lengths to do so. When these people switch to the digital darkroom, they tend to make global changes (as if they were filtering in the camera) and that’s about all. For people like this applications like Lightroom are all they need…

Those of us who have no loyalty to the original scene, thinking of it only in terms of fodder for our art work tend to prefer to use Photoshop and it’s powerful ways of manipulating an image.

Now we’re talking! Most railfans have a strong loyalty to the original color of the image and to the original scene, especially when their favorite paint scheme or location is depicted. Based on that thought the reality is we don’t all need Photoshop CS* for what we do, we need something that can globally edit the image to get the look just right quickly…and that Lightroom does well and that’s why I use it.

*While CS may not be required, Lightroom does not have output sharpening, so another tool is required to perform that work.

[tags] railfan, photography, adobe, photoshop, lightroom, trains [/tags]

Organizer to Lightroom…almost

This entry is part 5 of 12 in the series Lightroom

Over the holidays I considered converting my photo catalog from Photoshop Elements Organizer to Photoshop Lightroom’s Library.   There are lots of reasons to convert but the overriding item for me is how the Library and Develop pieces are more integrated than in my current work flow.   On top of that Lightroom allows me more access to meta data which as time goes on will be more and more important.   After I set up a test catalog in Lightroom to see how things would look I found the steps I used to catalog images in Organizer would be about the same in Lightroom.  At that point the decision was made.

Now to convert.  I thought it couldn’t be all that hard to convert because Lightroom has an “Import from Elements” option built right in.  Software developers you can stop reading here, you know what happens next…

As with any conversion there are some things which must be done to the ‘source’ data to make it more usable in the ‘target’ system.  I carefully read several posts on the preparation needed and once done I fired it off.  Happily I could sit and watch as Lightroom imported my photos and tags and went about the process of organizing every thing in the Library.  In a geeky way it was fun!

When the conversion finished the first thing I noticed is that some of my Organizer Tags did not land in the Lightroom keywords in the same hierarchy.  As I snooped around some and I found the keywords outside the hierarchy were simply duplicated so deleting them would solve that issue.  Various discussions around the Adobe Lightroom forum confirmed my conclusion.  At that point I estimated 30 minutes or less to correct.  So far so good.

The next thing I noticed was the captions were missing.  Oh oh, that’s not good, that’s my record of train symbols and other miscellaneous facts at the time the photo was captured.  Back to the forums I went looking for how to convert the captions.  After hours of digging it became apparent the captions on RAW files just weren’t converting from the Organizer database to Lightroom.  Lightroom’s conversion was always taking the caption from the image meta data instead of pulling it out of Organizer’s database.   Some quick math told me I had just over 5,000 images with captions.  To quote Aaron “That’s a lot of copy and paste”.

Lightroom is a fabulous product and it is where I want my catalog to end up.  With each version it becomes more and more bug free so my hope is in one of the upcoming releases this conversion item is addressed.  If its not, I will likely make the decision to convert anyway and do the copy and paste.   Hey, my daughter is always wanting to earn money maybe she’d do it?

For now I’m back to Organizer.

Sigh, No Captions

Where’s my caption?

[tags] adobe, convert, elements, lightroom, organzier, photos, photoshop, railroad, trains [/tags]