Musings on Photography

Adobe Lightroom

Posted in file storage, photoshop, process by Paul Butzi on March 30, 2007

This past Wednesday night, I attended the March Group f/5.6 meeting.  As a general thing, each month a member does a presentation, and this month Wade Henninger gave us an excellent presentation on Adobe Lightroom.  Wade, a software developer who is actually working at Adobe (on Lightroom, no less) has a very fast, breezy presentation style that I love – sort of a stream of consciousness maximum bandwidth brain dump.  I can learn a lot from Wade in a very short time. 

After seeing Wade’s presentation, I came home and ordered a copy.  I don’t think that Lightroom will ever (unless it subsumes a great deal of the functionality of Photoshop) ever become a one stop tool that will satisfy all of my needs.  But I was mightily impressed by the power and flexibility, both with using Lightroom as a DAM tool and using it as a sort of Ultra-Bridge to help me get each photo I’m going to work on in Photoshop over into photoshop.  My big concern was that Lightroom is the obvious place to do things like noise reduction, etc. and many of the tools I use for those tasks really ought to become plugins to Lightroom, in the way they’re now plugins to Photoshop.  Wade assured me that this will eventually be the case.

Lightroom has problems – for example, multiple monitor support sucks.  (This makes me glad I decided to opt for one freakishly huge monitor instead of multiple monitors).  But it is a start, and the only competitive product, really, is Aperture, which I can’t use because it is Mac only.  Now, the current strategic computing plan here at Atelier Butzi includes switching to Macs with the next rollover of machines, but I’m still not comfortable locked into a single platform solution when I can avoid it.  When the Great Mac Switchover happens, I can revisit that decision, I guess.

The USPS tells me the package is now only tens of miles away from my PO Box, so I guess I’ll find out if I’ve made a mistake pretty soon.

7 Responses

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  1. StephaneB said, on March 30, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Don’t expect to be able to switch that easily. you can easily move files from one to the other, but a lot of the data gets lost in the way, like adjustments.

    Don’t worry either. They are both great. I wish one would take all the strengths of the other but it won’t happen.

    Maybe Aperture is more contemplative with its slower adjustments?

  2. Ed Richards said, on March 31, 2007 at 1:33 am

    I am also interesting in Lightroom – I use the Phase I digital conversion program now for converting raw digital files, and use a separate digital image management program – Imatch – to manage both the DSLR images and the JPG archives of my scans. Are you using a management program now?

  3. Dennis Allshouse said, on March 31, 2007 at 6:11 am

    I haven’t really followed the development of Lightroom (or Aperture for that matter), I don’t have the horsepower to run them currently. But if it’s not an alternative to PhotoShop, what’s the point? Why would I get Lightroom rather than upgrade to CS3?

  4. Paul Butzi said, on March 31, 2007 at 7:19 am

    Are you using a management program now?

    Prior to getting the EOS-5d, I just had two parallel file trees, one for ‘index scans’ (low resolution jpg versions every negative), and one for ‘working files’ (high resolution scans and the .psd files that develop from them). Any management was done without tagging or keywording, just by browsing the directories using Windows Explorer in ‘thumbnail’ mode, or by using the browser built in to the older versions of Photoshop (Bridge in CS and CS2).

    When I started working digitally, I was already running CS, so I just used Adobe Bridge.

  5. Paul Butzi said, on March 31, 2007 at 7:27 am

    But if it’s not an alternative to PhotoShop, what’s the point? Why would I get Lightroom rather than upgrade to CS3?

    It is an alternative to Photoshop, IF you happen to not use any of the local editing features of Photoshop. For a lot of photographers, the image adjustment provided in Lightroom covers the vast majority of their needs (as amazing as I find this to be, apparently it’s true).

    The big advantage for me is that Lightroom completely replaces Adobe Bridge in my workflow. The kindest thing that can be said about Adobe Bridge is (borrowing from an old joke about an IBM operating system) it may be slow, but it sure is hard to use.

    For me, Lightroom will (I hope) provide a much nicer image browser/image manager/key word tagger/etc. and have very good integration into my raw workflow with Photoshop.

  6. Mark said, on March 31, 2007 at 7:48 am

    I think you will be pleased with using LR. I used to use Bridge as one of my initial steps in my workflow – and doing keywording there. But LR is much faster at keywords.

    One of the nicest features is the ability to apply dust spot removal across an entire group of images.

    The DAM features have a lot of room to grow, but if your primary need is keywording and multiple category association – it will work just fine.

  7. paul said, on April 1, 2007 at 3:01 am

    I’ve been using the 30 day trial for about 15 days now and I think that I will buy a copy. I just like the one-stop-shopping aspect of it. Even though I don’t shoot raw, it makes what little editing that I need to do a breeze. I also like the ability to do side by side comparisons, export photos, do keyword tagging, etc.

    I probably won’t upgrade to CS3, as CS2 already has too much stuff in it that I don’t use. If Lightroom to continues to grow in the photographer’s ‘only’ direction, I think that it will be a fantastic tool. Right now I would say that it is a very good tool.


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