What’s So Great About Lightroom?

Since I teach photography to lots and lots of students and camera clubs I never know which photo editing package to use.images

So,  over the years I seemed to have managed to have bought just about all of the most popular ones. For example, I had Photoshop Elements and Picassa on one of my PCs. I got a copy of Nikon’s excellent (but unfortunately discontinued) NX Capture 2 on my MacBook Pro. Because I bought Photoshop Elements way way back when, Adobe offered me a low-cost promotion to buy PhotoShop which I jumped at saving hundreds of dollars. Of course for MAC there’s IPhoto and based on my positive experience with IPhoto’s bookmaking abilities I bought Aperture as well.

There are tons of other smaller photo editors out there and most do the same things.

For example all of them will edit JPG images. Most will work on raw images, TIFFS, DNGs and can handle propriety formats used by the various camera manufacturers. They all will crop, lighten or dark your images. Some come (like LR) come with built in noise reduction software and many will create books, slideshows, albums and output images to web programs like Facebook or web galleries on Flickr or Smugmug.

So all that’s good but what’s so great about Lightroom?italy-5020233

I’ve been using Lightroom since the first days and for years I’ve been using it badly. Not that my images didn’t look great but I wasn’t using half the features of Lightroom (which is now up to version 5.4) and is available from Adobe on a 30-day trial and can be had as a subscription package with PhotoShop for $9.99 per month (which I have). I was sort of like buying a Corvette but never getting out of first gear.

So how did I get better at Lightroom?

Easy. I started to teach classes at photo clubs in how to use Lightroom.  :)

When you teach two things happen: First I read a couple of Lightroom manuals from front to back and so far I’ve watched over 100 hours of video training on Lightroom (Thanks to Laura Shoe and Creativelive.com) and then, second, I incorporated what I learned into my own workflow.

So here’s a tiny part of what I’ve learned:

  • Lightroom is nondestructive. (This is huge! LR never touches my original images.)
  • Lightroom is a database. (LR always knows where your images are kept and can find them using word searches.)
  • Lightroom uses presets. (I wasn’t using presets. Dumb! Presets make LR sing and can be bought or created.)
  • Lightroom is fast. (Because LR only makes changes to small data files you don’t need tons of computer power to use it.)
  • Lightroom is cheap. (Compared to PhotoShop LR is a steal and it can do just about everything PS does thanks to plug-in external editing programs.)

If your southern Ontario camera club would like a one-night introduction to Lightroom just let me know. There’s lots to learn and lots to enjoy using LR.

Why Drones Will Change Photography

We’re going to see a whole lot more drone photography as the little suckers get more powerful and cheaper by the month.hi-drones-gallery-852

Here’s a great link to a video by Dji Phantom on YouTube as his camera equipped drone flies into a volcano. This is not something we’d want to do with our own expensive video camera but apparently the camera and the drone survived.

Remember to run this on HD and enjoy.

HDR Video

Trey Ratcliff is Mr. HDR and has been shooting and promoting HDR photography for years now.

HDR or high dynamic range allows the digital photographer to create amazing full-range images. dsc0039_hdr1

That’s one of my HDR shots taken a few years ago at a weekend workshop on HDR.)

HDR compensates for the fact that the best digital cameras can only capture a limited number (You’ll hear instructors say anything from 3 to 13 or 14.) stops of light. But that’s a fraction of what the human eye can see. When I teach dynamic range I hold my arms straight out from my body when I describe the range of light the human eye can see  and then as I talk about the limited number the camera sees I move my arms so that my hands are straight out in front of me and about a foot apart. This visual indication gives students the idea that their camera doesn’t see as much as their eyes.

So when it comes to photography often the dynamic range in the photo exceeds by a wide margin the ability of the camera to record the image.HDR photography allows the photographer to capture three or more images and merge them into a final photo that has a greatly enhanced dynamic range.

Of course most of what we see online when it comes to HDR photography is way over the top and becomes pretty boring after the first few images. But HDR in the hands of a photographic artist can be very subtle and very very pretty.

So getting back to Trey, he’s got a 40-minute introduction to his HDR how-to video. The intro video is complete enough to give advanced amateurs some great ideas in how to use HDR. But if you’re new to digital photography his full-length video might be the way to go but at $99 it’s not cheap but it is complete.

BTW Trey is an expert in HDR and uses all the tools including Photoshop. There are much simpler HDR stand-alone editors out there. I use Lightroom and NIK’s amazing HDR Pro with with its presets make HDR easy.

You can learn HDR on your own or find lots of how-to videos online. But if you want instruction from the master (who BTW lives in New Zealand and his images are amazing) then Trey’s video might be just the ticket to amazing images.

Is Lightroom For You?

I’m teaching several groups the ins and outs of Lightroom and it got me thinking about whether or not Lightroom (LR) is for everyone.

At $150 or so it’s a bargain when you learn what it can do and especially when you compare the cost to Photoshop. But do you need a program that’s this complex?

Like everything else in photography the answer is it depends.adobe-lightroom-5-720x360

LR 5 (the current version) is not just a RAW photo editor. It can edit JPGs (the format where the camera does all the work) but it can also handle PSD (Adobe) or TIFF formats. But that’s not all. LR5 is also a very very robust and helpful database manager as well.

So if you’re a wedding photographer or you shoot editorial or stock photography and you need to keep track of tens of thousands of images you’ll love LR.

If you’re an advanced amateur photographer and you’re regularly shooting thousands of images per year you’ll love LR.

If you want to take your RAW vacation images and make them sing, then you’ll want to consider LR especially if you want to create books, slideshows or web galleries.

Having said all that, all RAW photo editors can produce excellent results. Simple editors including IPhoto (or Aperture) and Photoshop Elements are easy to use and produce outstanding images.

It’s your call but remember the best photo editor is the one you find the easiest to use. I’ve used them all including Capture NX2 (for Nikon users which I love as it uses NIK’s U-technology) and I keep coming back to LR5 for all it does.

Count Your Blessings – The Healing Power of Photography

Don’t watch this video by the amazing Hailey Bartholomew.

If you don’t cry your eyes out, consider that there might be something serious wrong with you.haileybartholomew

I fell in love with Hailey after she did a Creativelive.com photography course. She’s the anti-me when it comes to photography. Where I, as an ageing former news photographer, tend to be overly aggressive and driven in my work, Hailey is everything I’m not including a true video and still photography artist. She’s gentle, intelligent and a philosopher. Me? Not so much!

One of Hailey’s new endeavours is called 365 Grateful and it’s the secret to how to be happy. It’s true. It works.

This is the true power of photography and with Hailey we are in the presence of a living master.

Now go out and shoot something! Feed your creative spirit.

Why Switch To Canon?

No not me (not yet) but Scott Kelby, world-famous football shooter and principal at Kelby Training has switched from Nikon to Canon.

This is big news in the Canon-Nikon never-ending debate.d800_mbd12_front34l

I’ve shot with Canons and I always liked the results especially when it came to how warm the image looked right out of the camera.

I’ve shot Nikons since the mid-70s and I’ve never had reason to change but if you’re shooting pro-level sports and you don’t have a big investment in Nikon you might want to consider a Canon.

Now having said that I do know that even recently some pro shooters who shoot with fast lenses opened wide say the Canon has problems finding a precise focus and I’ve never had this issue with Nikon so beware and be happy. Either of theses manufacturer’s top end cameras are state of the art.

Photo Cheat Sheets

This was sent to me by a friend of mine. It explains everything in photography on one cheat sheet.

Guess I can stop teaching now :)


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