Why you should consider Lightroom
Could I ask for a show of hands........Have you thought about buying Lightroom
Don't bother with notes as I can give you this as a handout afterwards or email you a copy, if you would like one.
I assume after being nagged so many times, most of you are now shooting in RAW. This probably gives you flexibility of about 3 stops either way if you got something wrong. After so many shots with blown highlights I deliberately shoot on the left ( underexposed )now and correct afterwards in Lightroom.
I think most of you use Adobe Photoshop Elements which is simply a cut down version of the full Adobe Photoshop package. It probably handles just about everything you need so why change.
Well I happen to believe that in Lightroom, you can achieve most of the things you do now but faster. There has to be a good reason why many professionals use it.
For example if we want to lighten or darken a sky for example, we would normally employ layers. We may do yet another layer to brighten and bring out some details in the shadows.This process can be repeated many times and can be time consuming. There are times when Layers cannot be dispensed with but I would argue in many cases they can.
In short I am not saying Lightroom replaces Photoshop or Elements but in many cases it can be used and it will be much much faster.
Lets imagine you did a studio shoot where white balance and exposure is pretty much the same across 50 photographs. Now imagine we decide we need to correct white balance and exposure on all the shots and perhaps also draw some details out of the shadows. How long will that take you ? two hours, six hours, you tell me..... a long time for sure. After that we have to flatten the image and convert to a JPEG again one by one.
In Lightroom I will adjust the Light Balance , Exposure and bring out the Shadows in less that one minute. I will then highlight my other 49 shots, hit SYNC and all 49 will have the same changes applied to them. You could argue you would only process your best images....well what if you had a wedding to do? Alternatively, how do you know that picture that does not look right, may have hidden qualities if you had the time to draw them out. In fact at the end of this session I will show you how to pull the best from a picture in under 10 seconds with Lightroom.
Now of course a specific spot say on one photograph you will leave for later processing as you would not want that applied to 49 blemish free pictures. That is unless it happens to be a spot of dust on your sensor.....AHHH....that will always be in the same place unless you have cropped or Zoomed ,right ? I have not tried this one by the way.
We can do all of this without using Layers and the original file remains intact. It's called non- destructive processing. In essence all the changes you make are stored in the Lightroom catalog or a separate file called a sidecar, attached to but not part of the original RAW file. When you view the image the changes you made are applied seamlessly by the software. By that I mean you only see the image in the way that you have altered it.
Likewise if you export the files to a PSD or any other format, the changes you made are applied prior to the export so the resultant image looks exactly the way that you left it.
In a short time we will demonstrate what we have discussed thus far and cover a few more points. Lets assume we have now made the basic corrections.
Where we go next depends on your pictures and whether you are happy with them yet but either way you have options.
1) You can do a batch export converting the files to JPEGs ready to go.
2) You can do a batch export to PSD format ready to further edit in Elements or Photoshop.
3) You can open the files one by one in your Editor OR directly from the Lightroom menu for additional processing.
4) You can mix and match from 1 - 3 above
If you already process RAW files in Photoshop or Elements the format in Lightroom will not look unfamiliar to you. It is just more powerful and there is much I still have to explore. There are other benefits.
You can tether your camera to Lightroom for the cost of an eBay cable and see your studio shots real time on your PC.
This is all very well but what will it cost?
Well it can cost as little as £100 or, as little as a cup of coffee ! Go to somewhere like Amazon on the web for your boxed copy if that's your preference but listen up first.
The full Photoshop used to cost hundreds of pounds up to £2000 . An amount way beyond most of our budgets I assume thats why many, including myself, use Elements.
Now Adobe have moved to renting you can get the full Photoshop and Lightroom for £8.57 a month. If you go here https://creative.adobe.com/plans don't buy the all packages plan, you just need the Photography plan. This gives you three products.
Before you say I cannot afford this consider this. If you use Elements and Lightroom, each year there will probably be an update. Even if you skip some years in the end you will need to catch up.
Currents costs are:
Elements 14 upgrade £64
So if we upgrade every two years it's £87 against a cup of coffee once a week with free upgrades but for the full product. By this I mean the Adobe Photoshop, not Elements together with Lightroom version 6. This is a no brainer unless you are daunted by the full Photoshop.
Both Lightroom and Photoshop rentals install from the Creative Cloud Desktop App downloadable from http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/photoshop-lightroom.html?promoid=V2XYKZY6&mv=other . There is a free trial available. ( SHOW THIS APP ON THE PC )
Beware make sure your PC is running 64 bit. If it isn't, you will get Lightroom 5 and not the CC Lightroom which is equal to Lightroom 6. Not sure ? simply right click on My Computer, SELECT properties then look down for SYSTEM then SYSTEM TYPE
If you install Lightroom you may get an error saying some C++ files failed to install. This is usually a ¬false error and what has actually happened is that your PC requires a re-boot to finalise the C++ install. For some reason Adobe does not have the wit to re-boot your PC automatically or to tell you to do it.
So ignore the error, reboot and when you look again, Lightroom will say it has installed correctly - this is in the CC Desktop APP.
I plan a short demonstration now of what we have covered but if there are any questions first, please ask.
For this demonstration I have neither picked a set of images that show off Lightroom particularly well nor will I strive here to produce perfectly developed images. This is not so much a talk about how best to use Lightroom. It is a talk to encourage you to use Lightroom.
If enough of you are persuaded to make this move, then I will commit to do many more talks on how to use Lightroom.
I have already IMPORTED pictures into Lightroom. This does not move the images, they remain exactly where they were on your Disk. Lightroom knows now where these images are and they remain listed in the left panel. We can open a set we imported and they will immediately show in the filmstrip, in a grid or both. As in Photoshop Elements we can grade the images with STARS and lots of other indexing goodies which are beyond the scope of this talk.
This Model is called Exhale
Here we have 10 pictures shot in daylight in the woods. I used a white card in the first shot to aid white balance correction. It could be 10, 50 or 100 shots, as long as the location and lighting are constant, what we cover next applies.
Simple grab the white balance dropper and click on the card in the photo. WB is corrected instantly and we can see the effect on the sliders. ( Point to )
I recall some years back when I first had my DSLR, I was in gardens taking images and when I went to view the results, the SKY was flashing. I had no idea what I had done as my camera never did this before. Seeing someone with a very large expensive NIKON nearby, I went to ask if he knew what was wrong. He did of course. I often leave my camera now on the clipping screen.
I now usually shoot at -0.7 or -1 exposure compensation during daylight to avoid any highlight clipping and my display instantly tells me if this is not enough.
So now I have the underexposed image in LR and need brighten it up.
I can simply adjust the overall exposure level here with the slider or by entering a number.
Next we can lessen the highlights and draw out the shadows.
I would now leave BASIC and go to the tone curve, adjusting CONTRAST here as opposed to using the CONTRAST slider in basic.
Now back to BASIC and I will increase CLARITY a little.
Last in this section we will adjust WHITES AND BLACKS. Here we are aiming to ensure there is no clipping.
What is important here is that we are looking at the type of adjustments that apply to the whole shoot. Image specific adjustments we would attend to later. . If some shots look to be exposed differently simply de-select those.
So lets run through some adjustments so we can see whats available. I am not striving to make this right, just to demonstrate what you can do.
First we open the BASIC section. There is a quick and dirty adjustment and sometimes it's not at all bad.
I will undo this and go manual with the sliders
First I will use the WB dropper on the grey card. This will set the WB correctly.
I did under expose so a slight correction may be in order. We can simply sight the expose as we move the slider. If we double click on the slider and indeed any other slider, it will re set to zero.
However if we shift double click on the word EXPOSURE, it will correct it for us automatically.
Now clearly we have a blown area here in the foliage. I will reduce the highlights to reduce this and I am looking at -45. If we double click HIGHLIGHTS while holding down the shift key, LR will give us it's recommendation.
Shadows . In the same way we can adjust shadows with a double click on the word shadows while holding down shift. This gives us a value of +44
Highlights . If you click the triangles in the HISTOGRAM, clipping for the selected slider is shown.
Also using the shortcut J both black and white highlights are shown.
I will skip over contrast as I will use the TONE CURVE for that. We will however boost Clarity to 45 and I am watching the colour in the models face as I do this. Clarity affects the mid tones and is often worth pumping up. This will not affect the highlights and shadows.
Vibrance will increase the intensity of any dull colours while leaving well saturated colours alone. I am going to about 36 on this. (BACKSLASH )
I am looking at the before and after images now. We can look at these side by side with the YY
Go to TONE CURVE and select LINEAR and chose what looks best. This is a more refined method of adjusting contrast. I am using medium contrast.
Now skip back to BASIC tab
Blacks I will set to +18.
Whites I will set to +5
Now go to LENS CORRECTIONS In the basic tab of this section we can see Lens correction but we will tick it in the next section so you can see what it does. Whilst here however in the lower area you will see level/vertical and full. If this had been a building shot up close and it was leaning backwards, this makes a good job of fixing it. We will look into that at the end if there is time.
If we click the next TAB and now hit Profile corrections you will see it identifies the the LENS used for the shot and makes corrections for known distortions. Back in the BASIC tab we can correct chromatic aberration. This won't do much in this shot but its a box worth ticking as a routine.
Now lets look at a BEFORE and AFTER of this image.
Should I save this now. NO ! In Lightroom there is never any need to save.
I could probably have done these adjustment in about 2 minutes - if you are good, one minute will suffice.
Now for the magic. This was a sequence of shots and I like the look, so I want to apply this to the whole shoot. ( Remember the wedding we mentioned at the beginning )
Select the image you adjusted then shift click the last one. If you have any odd ones ( out of sequence ), click them while holding the CONTROL key. Now hit SYNC. LASER LIGHT
Remember I said earlier about image specific edits. Well if we had greened up that area of blown grass I could have stopped it being applied to the SYNC in this panel. Indeed it is unticked by default. Scan over this panel and sensibly CROP is also excluded. I do need to tick my Lens profile since the same lens was used during the shoot.
NOTE BIEN, spot removal is unticked and rightly so. However ! imagine you had a spot on your sensor. If you removed that, that spot should be in the same spot in all images. Maybe not the case if you are zooming in and out: not sure about that one. You can see where I am going though.
When I am happy I click the synchronise button and if you look at the filmstrip now, watch and see how fast it is.
That is the end but before we finish I will just skim over a few other features of Lightroom. In this short talk we have skimmed the surface.