Why Lightroom?

A lot of photographers are using Adobe’s Lightroom and many pros like myself or advanced amateurs have bought Adobe’s LR and Photoshop subscription package ($9.95/month for both. This means you’re always using the most up-to-date version. I’m 65 now – when did that happen! – so if I keep shoot for another 10 years my cost will be roughly $10/month X 120 months = $1200 which is way below the cost of the two programs plus occasional upgrades.) Gay Pride-1-312

I’m on a lot of photography chat groups (remember I’m retired now!) and today I answered a post where someone said they had bought both programs but were too scared to actually open them. I know the feeling 🙂

Photoshop is hugely intimidating and not overly intuitive to use but immensely powerful. There are things you can only do in Photoshop.

Lightroom is much easier to use but…and there’s always a but….it must be setup properly to work. Now this setup isn’t difficult. What I do (and this by no means the only way) is I import my images from camera directly to my hard drive (I’ve got two in my computer: a solid state drive where LR lives and a standard drive where I store my images plus I make an immediate manual backup of the photo file folder on an external hard drive for safety.) and when I fire up LR I have it import the images from the hard drive file and from then on I use LR only (not the computer) to move files.

This is critical as LR is not just a RAW and JPG image editor (and one of the very best) but a robust data base program as well. Most people who have issues with LR haven’t setup their database properly.

So if LR is so great (and it is especially perfect if you’re handling hundred of images say from a wedding. If you load the develop module with some privately made presets – LR is all about presets which you can make or buy – and I use Seim Filters presets which are fabulous and you’ll fly through your editing. I also have presets from OnOne and the entire external editor package (B&W, HDR, filters, sharpener, noise reduction) from NIK which I highly recommend) why would anyone want to buy Photoshop?Peter West Photo-1-220

Photoshop is really useful when you want to work on one image (yes it will do batch edits). It’s great for swapping heads! Wedding photographers do this all the time. When they take the family shot they don’t take one shot they take a bunch then if someone has their eyes closed in one shot and not in another the photo editing program allows you to swap heads from one frame into another and the day is saved. Photoshop also does a whole lot more but the head swapping trick is worth the price of admission for some of us. 

BTW LR and PS both use Adobe Camera Raw as their basic photo editor so one program is not better than the other but each has it’s own capabilities and uses and having both is a great advantage but the learning curve is a bit steep. Here’s where online tutorials from guys like Scott Kelby or Creativelive.com come in so handy. I’ve attended Kelby training sessions when they came to Toronto and I’ve watched (and bought) a whole wack of CL how-to videos on LR and PS.

There are other editing programs and Apple is rumoured to be killing off IPhoto and Aperture (both of which I like) and replacing them with something else this fall. Nikon sold Capture NX 2 which NIK made for them and it’s a fabulous RAW editor designed only for Nikon NEF RAW files. It’s very very good. 

If you’re uneasy about getting started go outside and shoot 12 shots in your own backyard and then bring them into your computer and play with them in your photo editor. Once you’ve got the hang of it, just delete these test images and start editing your important shots.