One thing people want to know is what program I use to edit my photographs. I can’t say that I use one program because I use several including Picnik, Lightroom and Photoshop. But when my shooting volume increased and the resolution of my photos became higher, I decided to primarily use Lightroom because of its ability to manage file organization and storage. Faced with many choices and varying levels of difficulty I know deciding on which software editing program is best can be hard. If you are ready to make that jump from the freebies like Picnik, Picasa or iPhoto, I personally think Adobe programs are a smart investment. One thing I like about Adobe is that future software updates are included, this doesn’t mean that newer versions are included but you do get a significant discount to upgrade for Lightroom it was $99 when they went from 2 to version 3 in the beginning of this year.
Your initial investment for the current version Lightroom 3 is going to be 299.00 unless you qualify for the student or educator discount. Here is my tip for you, if you have a child who is currently enrolled as a student (primary through college) you may purchase one software program (up to 80% off) every 12 months. I did this to purchase the latest version of Photoshop CS5 and saved about $300. The discount only applies to full version software not upgrades. The education version of Lightroom 3 is only 99.00.
One thing you will want to make sure you have is enough memory to run the program on your computer. I had to add add some more RAM because the program was painfully slow when I first installed it. The minimum requirements are 2 GB and 1 GB of disk space on the hard drive.
click photo to enlarge
One thing that Lightroom does fantastically well is keep you organized. I definitely recommend reading the DAM Book (Digital Asset Management) book if you are serious maximizing all the organizational tool Lightroom has to offer. I went through the book cover to cover in a week and attending a workshop lecture by the author Dan Krogh earlier this year. He also has a blog you can follow The DAM Show for more Lightroom tips. One thing he highly recommended is buying the LightRoom Lady’s Lightroom 3 The missing FAQ, even he admitted to consulting it daily. She also has a list of keyboard shortcuts for all versions of Lightroom on her site, I printed out a copy that I keep at my desk. You can download the e-book version (PDF) for around $25. I really recommend it.
So now that you have Lightroom what will you use the most? If you are a professional photographer then I know you are going to add your metadata, copyright, keywords and possibly some adjustments, all during the import stage of your workflow but for the weekend photographer I suspect all you want do is upload and edit and be done. There are a few shortcuts in the editing process one of them is called presets. What is a preset? Well a preset is a set of commands or actions that modify your photo. They come all nicely packages as a downloadable file that you can import into Lightroom and save. Once saved you can go into Lightroom – in the DEVELOPING window and to your left you will see a list of presets. Lightroom comes with presets already, but if you are like me and you love a good shortcut then you will want to know where to find more! Here are a few of my favorite hunting grounds for good (and sometimes FREE) Lightroom Presets.
Totally Rad (paid) although there are some freebies
Kubota Image Tools (paid) Highly Recommend (has e-classes too on Lightroom)
The Coffee Shop Blog Free & Paid
Presets Heaven – Free but you need do a little searching within this collaborative collection of presets from users
Lightroomers (Tutorials, tips and training)
Lightroom Queen (home of the Missing Lightroom 3 FAQ book)
10 Quick and Easy Shortcuts for Lightroom – great tips including one of my favs Lights Out!
Jeffrey Friedl (when you are ready to try plugins – my favorite is the export to Flickr plugin)
Knobroom (download a free plug (The Fader) **Mac only** that lets you slide/adjust the amount of a preset)
If you want to read up on Lightroom I recommend 2 books, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book. or
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers. Two great books, pick up a used copy for under $25 bucks on Amazon.
Lightroom is a very intuitive program and don’t let the official name of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom confuse you it is NO WHERE as complicated as Photoshop. Spend some time on some of the websites I listed, many of them offer tutorials. there is also a Lightroom Channel on YouTube as well as a Lightroom facebook page you can like to follow for updates.
For more information you can also read my post For the love of Lightroom Presets on my personal blog.
It’s Q&A time this week on Modclick. Instead of posting photos post your questions in the comment section below and I will do my best to answer. Anything is game so go ahead ASK ME!