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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Lightroom is a program designed for photographers and the way they work

Besides the panels, the overall interface includes a central work area and a filmstrip at the bottom. There’s a set of traditional menus at the top, but you’ll find that you rarely use them.

Adobe Photoshop LightroomThe Library module is where you can organize and catalog your photos. This is the place to edit your images, rename them and group them so that you can easily find images to work on. Lightroom isn’t a browser like Adobe Bridge. It’s faster and far more versatile than Bridge.

You must tell Lightroom to import images into Library; you can’t scroll through the folders on your hard drive and have it recognize photos. You need to point the program at your folders and tell it how to bring them into the program.

I use the Folders and Collections sections of Lightroom extensively. When I import images into Lightroom, I leave the images in their original folders and tell Lightroom to recognize those folders, using those names in the Folders category. Then I create specific groupings for my photos in the Collections area, such as Flowers—East, Flowers—West, Landscapes—SW, Landscapes—Midwest, Birds—East and so forth.

Images are dragged from the central work area to a collection area to create the connection. The actual file isn’t moved; a reference to that file is created. This way, you can have many collections, each with "virtual" copies of the images, so that you can find a certain type of image quickly, but you don’t have to duplicate photos on your hard drives. (I hope, by the way, you use multiple hard drives to back up and protect your photos.)

Lightroom also has strong keywording capabilities, though not all photographers will use them. I admit to not being very good at keywording; I get bored too easily. On the other hand, photographers who put in the effort to keyword will be able to find specific images faster than I can.

If you used to work with a light table for editing slides, you’ll love Library. You can hide the left, right and filmstrip panels. Then, when set to the Grid mode, the whole screen looks like a light table. You can rank photos by clicking special icons on the "mounts" so you can have your selects and rejects, plus you can instantly compare two photos for things like sharpness or select a small group to compare for an animal’s posture and gesture.

Library’s right panel has a Quick Develop section that I’m not crazy about. The Develop module is so strong that this seems like a useless appendage. However, the right panel includes extensive keywording and metadata functions that can help you label your images with important information in the file itself (such as captions, locations, copyright and so on).


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