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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Photoshop Lightroom 2: For Nature Photographers

The new version of the popular Adobe software melds traditional darkroom controls with the digital world

This Article Features Photo Zoom


In the Library module, you can edit and organize images quickly.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 is an amazing program. I’ve been working with it throughout its development process, and I feel like I’m back in the world of the traditional darkroom, now for color images. Lightroom was designed to help the photographer gain more control over his or her images while maintaining an efficient and effective workflow. It’s about organizing digital images to make them more accessible, processing them quickly and then getting them to an audience through slideshows, prints or web galleries (and, of course, image files).

Designed For Speed And Efficient Processing
Lightroom takes a different approach to handling digital image files compared to an image-processing program like Photoshop. It allows you to work with your images right from the start of importing them into the computer from your memory card. You can edit the good and the bad, group them into categories and process or develop as many photos as you want.

Simply having the ability to do those things in one program makes your workflow faster and more efficient, but Lightroom goes further. The tools that you need for a specific type of work are all in one place, such as having everything you need to adjust an image sitting right by the image—you don’t have to search through multiple menus or palettes. If you’ve spent any time doing those things in other programs, you know how much time that can take, even if you know the program very well.

Lightroom 2 Lightroom 2
In the Develop module, you can get into image processing. These capabilities have been improved and expanded in Lightroom 2.0.
Batch processing is efficient and powerful.
Lightroom even gives you the ability to work with multiple images. You can look carefully at a group of images and compare details in them so you can better pick a particular image. You can apply multiple adjustments to a photograph and then copy and immediately apply those same adjustments to a whole group of similar photographs.

Speed and efficiency show up in how Lightroom works with specific formats. For example, Lightroom was designed to make RAW processing an easy, integrated part of image work in the computer. Even if Lightroom only did RAW files quickly and efficiently, the program would be a success, but it goes further. Lightroom also does its magic with well-crafted JPEG files, which makes organizing, processing and using them more efficient and more effective than ever.

Nondestructive Processing
All processing in Lightroom is nondestructive, meaning you can adjust a file without damaging its original data. The look of the image changes, but no pixels are harmed. The program creates a set of instructions on how to process an image, saves those instructions, but doesn’t permanently apply those instructions until a new file is created when the image is exported out of Lightroom.

There’s another advantage to nondestructive processing in Lightroom that’s often missed—it reduces the number of image files you have to keep. For example, you don’t need multiple files at different resolutions for printing; simply print directly from the Lightroom file. You don’t need a whole new set of image files for a slideshow; just work on the slideshow in Lightroom. And you don’t need to make up a whole series of file sizes for clients; you always can get exactly what you need from the Lightroom file.

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