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    Ten things I love about Adobe Lightroom
    by Andrew Williams

    1. Unlimited editing

    Using an image editor like Photoshop many of the edits you do make permanent changes to your image. Changing your mind later can involve starting again. Lightroom works in a different way. Each edit you make is reflected in a high quality preview image but the original file remains untouched. As you make Lightroom records a sort of recipe detailing each step. At any point you can go back and change your mind or undo an edit, all the time without changing the original file. When you are happy with the results you create the output you need, could be a print, a website size Jpeg or a full size Tiff file (or all of these) and Lightroom will apply the changes in the recipe and create the output you wanted.

    2. One stop shop

    Adobe Lightroom, unlike Photoshop, was designed for us photographers by photographers. For the majority of images I can get them off my camera, store them safely, edit and adjust, find any image I need, produce web galleries, prints and files all without leaving Lightroom, it's like my virtual darkroom but not so smelly. If I can't do it in Lightroom a single click takes the file into Photoshop (usually when I need to composite two images using layers) and closing the file in Photoshop (or any other editing software) adds it to my Lightroom catalogue.

    3. Easy Importing

    I don't know about you but I get home from a shoot and can't wait to see the results. Lightroom lets you import your images, no big deal, lots of software does this. But if you spend a bit of time setting up (and you only do this once) you can:

    • Copy the image from your memory card to your computer
    • Add your Copyright, name, website address, contact details etc. to each image
    • File names will repeat after a while so you can rename the image so it's unique
    • Add any keywords common to the shoot, location, subject etc.
    • Copy a duplicate to another disk drive as a backup
    • Prevent importing duplicates of images already in Lightroom

    All in a single step. This just saves so much time and makes sure I have at least some basic keywords to search on

    4. Keep it or bin it

    As soon as I get my images off the memory card and into Lightroom, the first thing I want to do is a quick edit, getting rid of the shots that weren't quite right. This is as easy as clicking through the thumbnails along the bottom and using the X key to reject and the P key to pick. As you do this nothing is deleted, just flagged. Filtering the view shows only the ones flagged 'rejected' and I go through them again just to make sure. When I'm satisfied, a couple of clicks deletes the rejects from Lightroom and my compiuter. And that's it, first edit done in a few minutes.

    5. Collecting images

    Suppose you want to create a calendar. You need twelve great shots plus one for the cover. Without Lightroom you might makes a folder and copy the selected images into the Calendar folder. Copies are a pain because they take up disk space and any last minute changes have to be made on both copies; if you remember! In Lightroom you can gather the images into a Collection, the key difference is that no copies are made, the collection just links to the original so no need for double editing. An image can be in as many Collections as you need.

    6. Smarter Collections

    These take collections to the next level. Say you want to pick out all your Monochrome images. A smart collection has rules, setting a rule to match all files with a black and white treatment takes seconds and will automatically add any matching image to the collection. As soon as you make a new black and white image in Lightroom it will appear in the collection. For example, I use two macro lenses. With a single click I can find every shot using those lenses. Magic.

    7. Simple website galleries

    These take collections to the next level. Say you want to pick out all your Monochrome images. A smart collection has rules, setting a rule to match all files with a black and white treatment takes seconds and will automatically add any matching image to the collection. As soon as you make a new black and white image in Lightroom it will appear in the collection. For example, I use two macro lenses. With a single click I can find every shot using those lenses. Magic.

    8. Finding that elusive image

    When I'm writing for Advanced Photographer I'm often trying to find a very specific image to illustrate a point. For example I may be looking for a landscape format image, taken with a telephoto lens, in spring, featuring buildings. With over 63,000 images to look through that's a pretty fair challenge. As my images are keyworded with the season and the subject I can narrow things down by searching on these. Lightroom use data in your image file to work out which ones are landscape format and which lens was used so I can create a custom search to find what I need. The search took just 2 seconds and the answer is 10 by the way!

    9. Visual Printing

    This is so easy. Just select your images and click into the print module. Choose from one of the layouts supplied or create your own using the Custom Package layout add titles, filenames etc. select your printer and that's it. The preview updates as you add images so you always know what it will look like and the whole process is colour managed. Print Collections remember the images, layout and printer used and are great for repeat print jobs.

    10. When is a copy not a copy?

    Ever been working in Photoshop and decided the image would make a good Black and White print? You could tackle this by copying your file (taking twice the disk space) and working on a separate version, but then you may want a different colour balance or crop for a website version, that's three files. Because Lightroom is only storing the recipe, you can have as many versions as you like called Virtual Copies, all conveniently stored in one place and with hardly any disk space used. Depending on which virtual copy you select, the appropriate treatment is applied to any output you create.

    And with version 4 at almost half the list price of version 3 I love it even more now!

    © Andrew Williams

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