This is a pretty long article so get yourself a hot drink, sit back and relax. For those of you who don’t have the time to read the full article I’ve included a table of contents here:
Many photographers use Adobe Lightroom and in recent years it has become the industry standard go-to software for image cataloging and editing your images. It’s a one stop shop that allows you to import images from a memory card, computer or hard drive, carry out image adjustments and finally print and share your images.
As an Adobe Creative Cloud customer I prefer to use Lightroom Classic CC over the purely cloud based option as I like to back all my images up to my own hard drive and not have a dependency on an internet connection.
my 3 top lightroom tips
3 simple Lightroom tips can save you hours of time cataloging and editing your images.
Many of us download images from our camera straight to our computer and then import into one huge Lightroom catalogue. Not only is this pretty performance draining on your machine, it’s also really difficult to find a particular image without having to scroll through hundreds (or if you are like me, thousands) of images. There are a couple of best practices I recommend for cataloging your images in Lightroom.
now try this
- Organise your Hard Drive – firstly never import into Lightroom direct from a memory card, you’lll have problems later when shipping/unshipping the card and trying to access images in Lightroom at a later date.
- Instead, every time you want to download images, create a folder path grouped into years and then create a folder named after the date you are downloading e.g. /mypictures/2018/2018-09-21/.
- Then copy and paste image files from your memory card to this new folder.
- Now import into Lightroom from this path instead – it’s much easier to find an image if you know the approximate date you took that picture!
- Keywords and Meta Data – in your Lightroom Catalogue you have the option of tagging images with keywords as well as the files automatically being tagged with meta data from your camera such as the focal length of lens, camera equipment, aperture, ISO and shutter speed and many other settings used by you when you took the picture.
- Keywords and Meta data offer valuable tools to help you search through your haystack of images and find the proverbial needle embedded within!
- Try it yourself, when you import photos of a particular subject, tag it with a particular set of keywords.
- For example if I was shooting a studio set with a model, I might tag with ‘portrait’, ‘studio’, ‘speedlight’, ‘beauty’ or for landscapes ‘sunset’, ‘rolling-hills’,’insert location name here’.It’s then just a case of filtering using Lightroom’s built in filtering tool within the ‘Library’ module.
Have you ever taken a load of pictures with similar exposure settings, spent half an hour in the develop module editing the first one to perfection and then proceeding to repeat for all of the images in your set? If so, you will know this is quite time consuming and labour intensive. Syncing edits will be the perfect tip to tidy up your editing workflow.
now try this
- Edit the first photograph to your desired result.
- Hold down the control key (windows) or command key (mac) and click all other images in your stack that you wish to sync edit (ensure that the image you edited manually is selected first – it will appear with a slightly lighter colour background in the filmstrip below your develop window).
- Now click sync – a prompt will appear showing checkboxes for every option you can choose to sync from the develop module
- simply check the boxes for the features that you want to sync and click ‘ok’
- Watch as the settings are magically transferred to every image you have selected.
For many amateur photographers, shooting in RAW format is a bit of a dark art. JPEG format is as far as it goes in terms of taking and importing pictures to a computer for printing and sharing. Unfortunately you are missing out on much better quality images by ignoring shooting in RAW.
Basically a RAW file is a digital negative that allows you to develop the perfect picture from the data held within. When imported RAW files are pretty flat looking boring images that you would not want to share and looks very close to the jpeg format version of the same image.
The fact that it is a digital negative is important, massive amounts of data are held within the RAW file, much more than can be held in a JPEG which means there is much greater opportunity for exploiting this in the Develop module of Lightroom.
So how do processing profiles come into this?
Have you ever took a photo and viewed on the camera LCD and thought ‘wow i’ve got a great shot here’ and then imported into Lightroom and been disappointed with how little it looks like the image on the LCD?
There is a reason for this – by default, every camera manufacturer has it’s own version of the RAW image format (for example with Nikon its .NEF, for Canon there are a couple including .CRW and CR2). Each format has optimum basic processing that is applied when rendering the image on the camera LCD.
Adobe Lightroom applies a default processing profile on import as it does not know which profile to apply automatically. Unfortunately because it’s a generic profile it doesn’t always do a great job but there are alternatives that can immediately put the ‘pop’ back into your image.
now try this
- Open a set of photos in Lightroom’s ‘Develop’ module
- Click on the Camera Calibration menu
- Expand the ‘Profile’ menu – you’ll see the default ACR and Adobe Standard profiles as well as all the programmed modes for your camera (see the pic below for a Nikon)
- UPDATE: A recent update of Lightroom Classic CC has moved the Profile setting up to the top of the develop menu near to the White Balance setting. It’s more or less the same but with previews of what each setting looks like on the selected image before you commit to choosing one – updated screenshots to follow soon.
Well there you have it!
3 quick tips that will save you loads of processing time and also hopefully improve you final edits too.
Give it a go now!
what is lightroom?
Lightroom is digital photo editing software published by Adobe. It also has features to help you catalogue and organise your images by tags/keywords.
The software allows you to develop your photos using powerful one-click tools and advanced controls to make your photos look amazing.
Imagine how film-media photographers used a darkroom to develop and enhance their photos from analogue negatives. Lightroom is the digital equivalent to that process giving you the power to make your photos POP!
Taking photos of a scene the way you remember it can be difficult. Lightroom gives you a suite of desktop editing tools you need to bring out the best in your photographs. You can boost colours to make dull-looking shots vibrant, sharpen images, remove distracting objects and straighten skewed horizons.
You can even merge shots together to create High Dynamic Range (HDR) images or panoramas.
why do i use lightroom?
Firstly, I team Lightroom with another piece of software from Adobe called Photoshop. This graphic design programme offers me additional powers to develop my photos and create stylised images and posters.
Having these two tools at my disposal is vital to my success (and my enjoyment!) as a photographer.
After using free tools (such as GIMP and Inkscape) over the years I got fed up with their bloated workflow. They really spoiled my enjoyment of what was then just a hobby and limited my creativity.
I gravitated towards using Lightroom and Photoshop in 2013 after seeing other members of the local photography club use them and discovering how easy they were to use.
I continue to use both Lightroom and Photoshop in my work today.
The reason for this is the much improved workflow and user interface in the Adobe range of software over open source or free photo editing software.
what lightroom isn't:
how do i get lightroom?
As I mentioned above, Adobe offer Lightroom as part of a monthly subscription – their Photography Plan. There are a range of options for cloud storage depending on the capacity you want but plans start at £9.98/month for both Lightroom and Photoshop desktop apps and 20GB of cloud storage.
The link below takes you straight through to the Adobe website where you can sign up for a subscription to the Photography Plan and get Lightroom and Photoshop*.
*the link above is an affiliate link, this means that if you purchase a plan after clicking the link, I receive a small commission. You do not pay any more for this.