For many years now Adobe Photoshop has been regarded as the bee’s knees of digital imaging. It offers everything you might ever need in terms of image editing, but each successive version has become more bloated and loaded down with features and functions I will never use.
Recently I have switched to another Adobe product: Lightroom.
This is a much more focused piece of software in that it is aimed at photographers who don’t require all those fancy features (filter galleries, multiple layers, montage functions) but do need to be able to carry out basic photo-editing in a fast and efficient manner. I shoot in RAW format which means that all my photos require some form of editing before I can send them to the client: things like sharpening, exposure corrections, colour balance and retouching of minor blemishes. Of course Photoshop can do all of these things, but I find the necessary tools are scattered across several different menus, whereas in Lightroom all the photo correction tools are in one place. It is a photographer’s tool, designed to help you organise, edit and output your photos in a simple workflow (and it’s quite a lot cheaper than Photoshop, too).
The beauty of shooting in RAW is that you can make changes to your photos once you have shot them, and those changes can be revised or undone at any time, giving you greater control (and the opportunity for endless fiddling about!). The photos in this post were shot for a client who needed images of a showroom display to email to customers. I took a pair of Bowens flash heads with me plus a soft-box and umbrella to soften the light. The biggest problem I encountered was that the displays were set up with very little space between them for me and my lighting stands. I needed to get accurate shots of the tiled units but was frequently unable to set up my camera exactly parallel to the wall, so any straight lines appeared distorted. I also encountered problems with reflections – most of the tiles had a glossy finish so several shots included me and my camera, or the flash unit peeking into the frame! When I got home I loaded all the shots into Lightroom and quickly went through them in Library mode, weeding out the ones with obvious faults and giving the others star ratings for future reference. One useful feature of RAW editing is the ability to apply a setting to all the shots in a folder, and in this case I selected the lens profile for my Nikon with the first image open, then was able to Sync the setting to all the other photos.
The profile corrects lens distortion and vignetting inherent in the lens, and is really useful for getting rid of barrel distortion at the edges of the frame. Once I had made my selection of shots they all required editing before burning to disc for the client. There were a couple of other adjustments that needed to be applied: the White Balance and Sharpening tools were set and synced to all the photos.
The most time-consuming job was making perspective corrections to the photos that showed obvious distortion (where I was unable to line the camera up accurately). Some of the tiles appeared to be curving off to one side, so I was able to use the Transform Controls to straighten everything up.
If that all seems a bit technical the best thing I find about Lightroom is that most of it is quite intuitive – OK, I did have to read the manual to get my head round some of the more advanced stuff, but you can get started with it straight away and achieve decent results.
And finally, here are some of the photos that prompted this ramble…
You can see more of my work on my website.