Adobe’s recent change of license strategy for most of its Photoshop family software tools has introduced a lot of doubt among the previously happy customers. Because of Photoshop CC, many owners of Lightroom 3 and 4 have started looking for alternatives, fearing that despite Adobe’s claims, there is a possibility that Lightroom will also be moved to a subscription-based license in the future. Such fears are further complimented by the fact that the older versions of Lightroom will never gain support for the newest mirrorless and DSLR cameras, or new lens profiles. For this reason, Adobe had to make sure Lightroom 5 was so good, it would keep its customer base happy and tempted by the new features despite the recent changes in license strategy of its other products. The pressure is made worse by rivals always breathing down Lightroom’s neck.
Since Lightroom version 3, Adobe has been providing a Lens Corrections sub-module within the Develop Module to correct various optical issues commonly seen on all lenses. It is a very powerful and complex tool that can be applied to one or many photographs with a couple of quick steps, potentially saving many hours of post-processing time. In this article, I will explain what the Lens Corrections sub-module is, how it works and how you can effectively use it to correct optical issues in your photographs. I will also show you a method of adding a lens profile manually, if you have unsupported lenses in your arsenal.
1) What is Lens Corrections in Lightroom?
Lens Corrections is a tool within Lightroom’s Develop Module (hence I often refer to it as a “sub-module”) that allows fixing such lens problems as distortion, chromatic aberration, vignetting and perspective correction “non-destructively”, without leaving Lightroom. The beauty of the Lens Corrections feature in Lightroom, is that just like any other setting, lens corrections can be copied from one image to another, applied to hundreds of images at once, or can be set up as an import template, automatically applying corrections to images during the image import process. Keep in mind that lens correction is not a simple fix that applies to any lens – corrections are lens-specific. Since each lens model is designed with a unique optical formula, lens corrections must also be uniquely customized for each model. For example, one could not take a lens correction from the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G and apply it to the Sigma 35mm f/1.4G just because they share the same focal length and maximum aperture. Adobe staff spends time working with a number of different lenses and they continuously add support to new and existing lenses when new versions of Lightroom are released.
How does Lens Corrections affect images? Take a look at the following image sample:
In our previous Mastering Lightroom series articles we covered what Lightroom is and how it works. We also took a quick tour around Lightroom’s working environment. After highlighting the basic function and capability of each Module, it is now time to talk about them individually more in-depth, starting with Library Module. Before we can actually start using all Library tools, however, we need images to work with. That is why our first step is to learn how to import photographs in Lightroom. I will be using the latest (at the time of writing) version, Lightroom 5, to guide you through the process of Importing images. Virtually everything but Smart Previews is equally applicable to earlier releases.
Lightroom is a catalog-based photo manager and post-processing tool. That means in order to start working with photographs, you need to first Import them into your Catalog. Importing is a very simple, straightforward process done using the Import window. To start the process of Importing photographs, launch Lightroom and then click “Import…” at the bottom of the left-side panel in Library Module. Alternatively, you can Import photographs by selecting “Import Photos and Video…” from File menu (Ctrl+Shift+I for Windows users). This will open the Import window for you to choose source directory, image files, destination and other details.
A side note: by default, Lightroom should automatically launch and ready itself for immediate Import as soon as you connect an external storage device to your computer, such as a camera or memory card. If it does not or should you want to change this behavior, go to “Preferences…” in “Edit” menu and check or uncheck the “Show import dialog when a memory card is detected” box in the General tab. I find this a particularly useful option, yet nonetheless disabled it immediately after installing Lightroom on my computer due to a simple irritation. Lightroom would launch its Import dialogue even if I connect a simple USB flash drive which I use for general files and documents, not photographs I need in my Catalog.
Among many photographic terms, metadata comes up very often when talking about image management. But what is metadata in photography? How does it actually help you organize and sort images? In this short article I will explain the term itself. I will also discuss reasons why it may be a good idea for you to input additional metadata information with your photography management software, such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
1) General Definition of the Term
Most definitions will give you a very short and simple explanation of what is metadata. Simply put, it is data that describes other sort of data. For example, keywords used for this article are part of its metadata. Author, date created and file size are also basic examples of a file’s metadata. The goal of metadata is to make working and managing information and data easier and quicker. For example, knowing one or several metadata entries can make searching for files a much swifter process.
Ever since Lightroom 5 has been released by Adobe, I have been actively using it and comparing with Lightroom 4. So far, I have only been happy with the new release and found most new functions to be both useful and well implemented. Our upcoming Lightroom 5 review is almost done and, for a while there, I thought it would be positive from start all the way through. But only recently I found certain troubling performance issues. These issues can either be version specific and thus affect all users, or it can be some sort of a local issue only present on my system.
Happy Sunday everyone! New week is about to start so I thought I’d run this Lightroom Question & Answer session. For the next few days (depending on how active you are) you are welcome to ask any question you like about Lightroom and I will do my best to answer them! Each time a question is posted by you in the comments section below, I will update the article as soon as I come up with the answer. If there are any questions very specific to a certain case, I may answer them in the comments section. Specific, to-the-point questions will be answered in this article, while questions requiring more extensive explanation will be covered in separate articles in the future. I know many of our readers know a lot about Lightroom and you are most welcome to participate. If you are new to Adobe’s Lightroom and find it difficult learning what’s what, this is the time and place to ask for help!
Questions about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Here are some of the questions I have been asked already in no particular order. I will update this list with new questions as soon as I find an answer to them.
- Can you rename photographs within Lightroom?
Yes! Lightroom is not just a post-processing tool, it is also a very powerful photo manager. Even so, this particular function isn’t as apparent as one might hope. To rename source photograph, go to your Library Module and choose “Rename Photo…” from Library menu (or hit the F2 key).
- How to cancel color toning with adjustment brush and gradient tool?
Resetting color effect or virtually any other effect or slider in Lightroom is very easy. All you have to do is double-click on the name of the effect or adjustment slider. Alternatively, you can cancel the color effect by dragging color marker to the very bottom of the color selection box. This has the same effect as setting Saturation of that color effect to 0.
- Can you hide Edit Pins in Adjustment Brush, Spot Removal and other tools?
Hitting the H key with the tool engaged will toggle between visible and hidden Pins. This is especially helpful if you want to see the effect on small areas that would be otherwise covered by Pins. Alternatively, you can hit “T” key to toggle tool panel and choose from there.
In our two previous Lightroom articles, I explained what Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is and how its catalog-based file management and post-processing system works. Now that we are done with the basics, it is time we move to something a bit more practical. In this article, I will introduce you to the Lightroom environment. You will learn to understand the most notable elements of its user interface – Lightroom Modules. I will explain what the seven Modules are used for and how to switch between them. This article will also outline some of the basic tools within each Module. Hopefully, this article will help you see Lightroom’s full potential and understand that it might be more than enough of a post-processing and image management software for most of your digital photography needs.
1) What is a Module?
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has a very extensive list of tools available. It may not be as powerful as Photoshop for certain things, but when it comes to anything photography related, the latest version of Lightroom has some of the best built-in capabilities for image editing. Naturally, Adobe had to figure out a way to ensure all the functionality is conveniently accessible, and yet not overwhelming at the same time. So instead of dumping everything into one place and creating a mess, they came up with the concept of Modules.
You may have heard about Catalogs before as there are two main opinions among photographers. Some think Catalogs are the best way to work with images. Others remain skeptical and prefer to access and manage their image files directly without a catalog-based management tool. But what exactly are Catalogs? What are the strengths of database driven catalog systems and are there any downsides to this approach? In this article I will talk about Catalogs and explain the benefits and downsides of such post-processing and image management systems. I will also show you how to create and efficiently manage new Lightroom Catalogs.
1) What is a Catalog?
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a catalog-based post-processing and image management software. For someone new to such photo managing approach it may sound complicated at first. Simply put, a Catalog is a Lightroom-specific database file. Employing a database system means Lightroom does not work with the original files directly. Instead, it stores information about them – along with rendered previews – in a set of files that make up a Catalog. The list of such information includes metadata, filters, rating and adjustments you may have applied to a specific photograph inside Lightroom. The actual image file is not stored within the Catalog, only information about the adjustments and an image preview. Image files themselves remain wherever you decided to put them in the first place before importing into Lightroom. As a result, whenever Lightroom prompts you to back up your Catalog, it does not back up the actual images. Only the relative information stored in that Catalog is copied.
Post-processing is an unavoidable, inseparable part of professional photography today, be it photojournalism or fashion photography. Because of that, choosing the right software tool for post-processing your work efficiently is as important as having the right camera and lens combination for the job. It is no surprise that demand for such flexible and powerful software is met with some serious contenders. One of such contenders comes courtesy of Adobe, a software development company best known for its powerful graphics tool Photoshop. Nowadays Photoshop is widely used by photographers (hence the term “to photoshop” applied to almost any sort of image editing), but it is not intended strictly for photographers – it has a much broader user appeal. For photographers, Adobe has developed a somewhat different piece of software called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. As the name suggests, Photoshop blood runs in the family, but Lightroom is vastly different from its bigger brother. In this article, I will explain what Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is and why it’s such a great choice for aspiring photographers.
1) The RAW File Format
The first thing I ought to say about Lightroom is that it’s basically a RAW converter. But for someone new to Lightroom, software and digital cameras in general, the statement is hardly informative. That is why before we dive into Lightroom, it’s best to talk about RAW file format and what a RAW converter is. Don’t worry, it may sound a little complicated, but it is all actually rather simple to grasp.
1.1) What is a RAW File?
RAW image file is also known as digital negative and this title can give you a pretty good hint. Simply put, RAW file is information gathered directly from a camera’s image sensor without any sort of digital adjustment. In order to photograph in RAW format, you need to set it in your camera settings (even some point-and-shoot compact cameras have such a feature). Usually you can find it among image quality settings in camera menu.
Almost every function in Lightroom has a specified keyboard shortcut for quicker access. Using keyboard shortcuts is a great way to speed up your post-processing significantly, but memorizing all of them can be quite tough. You can view these Module-specific keyboard shortcuts by selecting “<…> Module Shortcuts…” from the Help menu at any time, or by hitting Ctrl + / on your keyboard. Mind you, as many as there are of the shortcuts listed in this table (shown for the Develop Module below), there’s actually more of them. You can find all the Lightroom 4 shortcuts in Adobe’s Help page for both Mac and Windows, while Lightroom 5 shortcut list should be available shortly.