Adobe Lightroom is a complete resource for tackling each phase of the photographic workflow. It provides photographers with an enormous set of tools for every task, from importing images, organizing, editing, and exporting for a variety of mediums.
Lightroom’s main advantage is its ease of use combined with its powerful features and non-destructive editing capabilities. It’s my preferred choice of post-processing software and for many other photographers around the world as well. (Check out how Peter uses Lightroom for achieving that moody look .)
After a shoot, when you have organized and selected your best shots, it’s time to edit them and Lightroom gives you a plethora of tools and controls to edit and tweak your photos without the need for Photoshop. You have a number of options to adjust the appearance of your images, to compare them in different states of the editing process, and to copy and paste adjustments between photos.
I’ve had a chance to spend some time with Adobe Lightroom 4 and I’m impressed with the new functionality. Right away I could see how Adobe had really improved and redefined the way the Develop Module tools work. The new adjustments are subtle, yet powerful, and there’s a lot room for getting your images to look just the way you want them.
There are some great improvements to the adjustment brush module as well; it now gives you the ability to make white balance adjustments and noise reduction adjustments to specific portions of the image.
Overall Lightroom 4 is a very robust program and powerful and full of hidden gems. Your images just look better in Lightroom.
Library is the first module. For each shoot, I select the best images in the Library Module before moving over to the Develop Module to refine them. I do an initial pass through and select picks and rejects with flags. Once I’ve selected the best of the bunch I move over to editing in the Develop Module.
This is where you’ll be spending most of your time in Lightroom for fixing your images, as Raw images tend to be flat and need tweaking.
I start with White Balance and Exposure in the Basic Panel which can be found in the Develop Module right bellow the Histogram display at the top-right side of the screen. Expanding the panel will reveal some basic controls.
The very first setting you can change in the Basic Panel is the color of the image. You have two settings, Color and Black & White.
Temperature adjustments are one of the most noticeable advantages of shooting in RAW over JPEG. Moving the slider left and right sets the color in your image, just move the slider until the color looks correct. Move the temperature slider to the right to warm it up and to the left to cool it down. Adjust the tint slider to the left if your image seems to have a purple tint, and to the right if it seems to have a green tint.
Moving the exposure slider darkens or lightens the image, however kind in mind that extremely dark shadows or blown-out highlights can’t always be saved. Lightroom 4 lets you adjust the exposure by either +5 or -5 stops, but large adjustments to the exposure of the image will also increase the noise somewhat so be aware of that when making adjustments.
Move the slider to the left to make brights less bright and darks less dark, move it to the right to increase the shadows and highlights. This slider doesn’t offer much control and I prefer to work with the highlights, shadows, whites and blacks.
Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks
The biggest differences between Lightroom 3 and Lightroom 4 are found in the Basic Panel. The older version has Recovery/Fill Light/Blacks/Brightness sliders instead of the newer separate Highlights/Shadows/Whites/Blacks sliders.
These tools are among the most powerful in Lightroom 4 and some of my favorites. These allow you to individually adjust the dark and light parts of the image. If you find that even after using the Exposure slider that parts of your image still need tweaking, use these sliders to bring back some blown out areas, and bring out more detail in the shadow areas. You can also move the sliders to make the light parts of the image even lighter, or the dark parts darker to increase drama in an image.
This tool seems to mainly affect the transition between the light and dark portions of the midtones of an image and makes shapes crisper and more defined as you move it to the right. Moving the slider to the left will make the image softer and less defined.
If I want the colors in my images to be more saturated, this is the setting I change not the saturation slider. The Vibrance slider makes the colors more intense, but only where needed, it gives a much more natural look than the saturation slider.
After you are done with all these settings your image should have a correct white balance as well as a correct exposure for both shadows and highlights and you can move on to more advanced editing if you choose or go ahead and export.
Did you know? (Additional Tips and Tricks)
Every setting applied to a photo in Lightroom is tracked in the History panel on the left? Whenever you make an adjustment to a photo, Lightroom saves it and lists it chronologically with all the other changes in the History panel. To see each change you’ve made to the photo, hover over the states in the list and you will see the effect in the Navigator panel. Clicking on a state will reapply it to the photo.
You can save any history of a photo as a snapshot. To create new snapshot, select the state you want in the History panel and click the Plus sign on the right side of Snapshots panel header. Type a name and click Create. Each snapshot you create will be listed alphabetically in the Snapshots panel. To preview each one in the Navigator just hover over it. All the image settings for the given state are stored in the snapshot.
The most common control found in the Develop Module is the slider. To adjust a setting drag the slider or click in the box at the right and type a value. To reset the slider, double-click it. In many of the slider controls, pressing Alt key while you drag the slider gives you preview of the effect.
You can copy and paste individual settings from the selected photo to other photos in the Filmstrip by using the Copy and Paste buttons in the left panel. You can also use the Synchronize command to apply settings from a current photo to other selected photos in the Filmstrip.
The adjustment brush in Lightroom is one of the most powerful tools that allows you to make changes to selective parts of an image. One of the nicest aspects is that the changes you make are nondestructive and always editable after the fact. This means you can combine multiple different adjustment brushes or repeat the same one to intensify the resulting effect.
For more tips and tricks on using Lightroom 4 check out Adobe’s Lightroom Workflow tutorials.
I have a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 to giveaway to one lucky Gourmande in the Kitchen reader! This giveaway is open worldwide.
HOW TO ENTER:
Required Entry: For a chance to win leave a comment here, whatever you’d like. For example tell me how you’d use Lightroom 4?
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Giveaway starts on 8/8/2012 and will run until 8/15/2012 at 11:59 pm PST.
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Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of Lightroom 4 for the purpose of doing a review and giveaway. All opinions are my own.