Thursday, February 03, 2011

Lightroom For Editing?

Frank Field commented on my use of Lightroom, saying he's gone the opposite way - using Photoshop for his editing.

Let me make it clear - I was referring to the use of Lightroom for organizing my images, not editing them. More specifically, after watching the Luminous Landscape tutorial, I am even more convinced that the point of Lightroom is to make editing easier, not better, and as I've said many times, fine art photography is always about better. Easier is a distant second.

I do pay attention to easier - the whole digital workflow is what has made me sufficiently productive to get published and write books and for someone who has to edit a lot of images, Lightroom may be exactly what they need.

For example, they show editing of an image of a nearby hillside and distant hills. They want to balance the brightness of the two and use two different gradients, and it gets close, but you can still see that the blend is not perfect. Then they use local adjustments and fancy masking, and still don't fix all of the problems that the gradients caused. I could have fixed the whole thing in seconds with a curves adjustment layer and skip the gradients. OK, I have some skill in using gradients, but I argue in my second book, From Camera To Computer, that it is better to use a few tools really well, than dozens with less skill - especially when working on one image as opposed to dozens or even hundreds. It's the difference between getting a single image fantastic and getting a whole wedding shoot really good.

4 comments:

Match said...

Lightroom is an integral part of my workflow for two reasons:

1) Cataloging images.
2) Replacement for ACR.

Prior to Lightroom, I used ACR before bringing the image into Photoshop. Now this is done with Lightroom.

Lightroom also also allows virtual copies to be created. This is great for creating multiple treatments of a single image. For example, monochrome, various color, etc.

soboyle said...

George, If your like me you will find that Lightroom will fulfill about 90% of your image editing needs. When the local editing tools get better, it will be even closer to replacing photoshop. It is an excellent tool with a lot of depth, but the local editing tools and lack of masking are the weak points currently IMHO. It's an excellent image organization tool, and I use it extensively for selecting and arranging photographs in preparation for my self-published books and other projects. But the final step is to output to Photoshop for final editing, soft proofing, color space conversion and sharpening.

Tim said...

Match raises a good point, in that workflow has always involved multiple processings of an image - either variants for artistic reasons (eg colour versus b&w) or export-sizes (tiny thumbnail, larger thumbnail, web-sized 800x600, flickr-sized 1600x1200, archive as-large-as-possible). What we get with these raw-convertor-cum-organizer tools is a way of working with all these things in mind, instead of having to juggle File/Save-As, various sizes, actions and filenames in Photoshop. I'll use photoshop when I have a need for a crude-but-quick panorama stitch or a simple HDR conversion, but the remaining 99% of my processing can be done easily with Bridge, ACR+DxO for me.

Joe Lipka said...

What Match said.

Lightroom does some things really well. So does photoshop.

I use photoshop to push pixels around (destructive edits), stretching, cloning, rectifying images and I use Lightroom for everything else.