Here is my first post from 2011. Things have come a long way since then. We are now in Lightroom Classic version 6 which is now packed with ever more features–only some of which I use. There is less trial and error on my part. Since I now do a lot of black and white, I make basic adjustments in Lightroom, then import the image into Silver Efex Pro 3 for conversion to black and white and final editing.
I don’t know about those of you who are new to digital photography, but I find that just learning to use photo software isn’t enough to get the best possible images. Although I know how to manipulate most of the software menus, I end up making a lot of adjustments through trial and error, which takes more time than I want to spend with less than ideal results.
So, last night I began a Lightroom class. As the late W. Edward Deming (a continuous quality expert) would put it, I’m addressing the weakest point in my image production process. For those who don’t know, Lightroom is an Adobe product that integrates with their Photoshop line. However, Lightroom is designed more for organizing and developing photos according to a more intuitive workflow process, whereas Photoshop focuses more on special effects. Lightroom also has the advantage of not making any destructive changes to your raw or compressed files.
Here’s to better images!
After being back-ordered for several weeks through my university, I was one of the first to install, or attempt to install, Lightroom 4 in May. Before ordering I naturally checked to see that my computer met all the usual requirements of memory and so forth, or so I thought. When I got the disk home and started the install I was shocked to read the message, “Not compatible with this operating system.” What? I thought. I grabbed the box, “Requires Windows 7.” Up until then, everything I bought was compatible with XP, service pack 2. Since I had opened the package I was stuck. Besides, the reason I bought this was not because it could do more with video, but because it automates the insertion of latitude and longitude coordinates from Google Earth into my photos’ metadata. This is of real interest in bird photography, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology encourages the inclusion of these data for photos sent to its site http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=all+about+birds&f=hp –part of its Citizen Science Project. Oh, more thing. Lightroom 4 can produce personally designed photo-books in .PDF format, or printed copies through one of several print services. Pretty nice features over earlier versions of Lightroom.
So, after running diagnostics on my machine to confirm that Windows 7 would run, I bought a copy, followed Microsoft’s on-line instructions, but could not get the computer to work properly. I took the machine in to my local provider who reinstalled the system, but I still had problems at home. They eventually sent a tech to my home, only to find that I had a second computer monitor cable attached, which upset the system. I have no idea when or why I did this. Thus, the entire reinstall, not to mention loading all my other software, took about two weeks.
However, when all was said and done, and installed, I must say the computer runs better on 7, and Lightroom 4 has worked fine, though I’m just now preparing to use some of the new features.
If you have any comments about using Lightroom 4, I would love to hear them.
I haven’t quite understood why Lightroom will let you use FTP to send images directly to other sites, but not their own Photoshop on-line gallery. At long last, Photoshop.com recently announced that it has a plug-in available that will do just that–all in one step. Now, instead of having to export from Lightroom, then go Photoshop.com to perform the upload, then relabel the photos as I did in Lightroom, these can all be done automatically with the Lightroom Publish Plug-in.
I had the same problem getting my images from Lightroom to this blog at WordPress.com. Voila! Now there’s LR/Blog (http://www.photographers-toolbox.com/products/lrblog.php). Now I can just export from my images from the Lightroom Library to WordPress.com. In fact, I have the option to include a post at the same time. These two Plug-ins increase my production workflow significantly.
At this point I’ve established my two photography web sites–at WordPress and Photoshop (and more or less understand them)–and I now have the basic equipment I need for my photography.
I’ll begin posting to my blog on a weekly basis on Fridays by 5PM. Most of the topics from this point forward will focus on my field trips, and background about my subjects.
I now have just one more class to complete in terms of learning everything there is to know about using Lightroom (well, at least enough to establish a consistent workflow). Much of what I’ve learned is based on Nat Coalson’s, “Streaming your digital photography process.” This process starts by switching your raw or dng files to black & white to make your histogram and tonal adjustments before returning to color. Thereafter, you make color adjustments before proceeding to any touch-ups. These completed, final adjustments to sharpening and preparation for printing conclude the development process. Obviously, I’ve compressed a lot into a couple of sentences.
Before I started this course I felt as though I was awash in a sea of software alternatives. Now I have a workflow (which I can adjust, as necessary) and I have a technical understanding of all the Lightroom tools at my disposal. I heartily recommend anyone venturing into digital photo software to take a class, or at least get a text-book that provides clear explanations for novices. Do avoid overly technical texts–there’s not much value added, in my opinion.
Next up, I ordered the Canon f4.5-5.5 100-400mm L USM IS super telephoto lens. I’ll let you know how this learning process goes in upcoming posts.