Lightroom

All smiles. I actually had to add some Smart Blur here- Elements really does use aggressive sharpening.

All smiles. I actually had to add some Smart Blur here- Lightroom really does use quite aggressive sharpening.

Adobe photo editing software can be, in all its various forms, a mixed blessing of joy and frustration. Lightroom 5 is no exception. I’ve been playing around with it for the past few weeks. I should correct that, Lightroom 5.2. Yes, they have updated it already. I did get to beta test it a while ago. While the beta version ran on Microsoft Vista or above, the final version forces you to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8. While 7 is no longer available, 8 is. See why I love digital photography? Advice- laugh at anyone who says “oh, shoot away, it’s digital, it’s free!” free? Really? Get out your debit card.

The program attempts to mimic a logical darkroom workflow. “Lightroom”, get it? While it really does not do that, it does contain a pretty powerful toolbox of tools to help the photographer. The best, so far, seem to be:

  • Fantastic presets, both in the box, and free and downloadable. Endless creative options.
  • Powerful sharpening tools- almost too powerful. Even with the loupe tool, set at 100% magnification, it is very easy to potentially oversharpen.
  • Lens Profiling that recognizes the lens you use, and provides the option to correct barrel distortion, etc.
  • Noise reduction that, while not that intuitive, is as powerful, or more so, than available third-party options.
  • Seamless integration with Photoshop/Photoshop Elements.
  • Gorgeous B&W conversions, much more versatile than what is available in PS Elements. Many filters are also available for that finishing touch.

What it does not have:

  • A single thing resembling a real, easy to understand instruction “book”, nor, a logical, recommended workflow template. You’re pretty much on your own trying to figure this thing out.
  • Simplicity. Adobe states that this is a “consumer-level” product, and like Elements, they sell it as installable software, unlike their Creative Cloud. It is hard to fathom software being even more difficult to use. but, apparently, professionals have the time and the money to learn these programs. If you really want to master Lightroom, you should take some courses in it.
  • Intuitiveness. Like the noise reduction tools in the Develop Module, you really do need to do a lot of tinkering to get it right.
  • A true non-destructive workflow. Oh, Adobe will say it has it, but the catalog really is duplicating the files you pull into the program. Get ready to add multiple external drives.

Here are some more examples, from StART on the Street. I shot them with the Nikon D300, and 70-200 f/2.8 VR. All first time attempts in Lightroom 5.2:

The sharpening with shots taken in bright sunlight can resolve down to individual strands of hair.

The sharpening with shots taken in bright sunlight can resolve down to individual strands of hair.

A professional photographer, who had a really cool idea to do portraits, and have people talk about what they are not (I'm not evil, etc.), and reflect that in their shots.

A professional photographer, who had a really cool idea to do portraits, and have people talk about what they are not (I’m not evil, etc.), and reflect that in their shots.

More smiles! Selling, and having fun.

More smiles! Selling, and having fun.

This musician was fantastic. Lightroom lets you easily adjust individual color channels. I punched up the reds slightly to bring out the brick background.

This musician was fantastic. Lightroom lets you easily adjust individual color channels. I punched up the reds slightly to bring out the brick background.

I did do some experimentation with presets, and B&W conversions, which I will post soon. These represent some favorite shots.

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