Monday, September 1, 2008
Photoshop Lightroom 2
With more sophisticated image-processing tools and a host of robust organizational features, the new version of Lightroom packs a punch for professionals
All processing in Lightroom is nondestructive; that is, you can adjust a file without damaging its original data. The look of the image changes, but no pixels are harmed.
Here are the controls of the new tools:
• Exposure. I find that Exposure works very well for lightening parts of a photo and sometimes for darkening.
• Brightness. My preference is to use Brightness for darkening. I like its effect because, for me, it better mimics the traditional darkroom technique of burning in.
• Contrast. This control allows you to increase or decrease contrast in specific areas.
• Saturation. This control allows you to selectively change saturation within a photo.
• Clarity. This control is like a refined contrast adjustment and allows you to both enhance and reduce contrasts around midtone detail in restricted areas. This is a tremendous tool for affecting the “presence” of elements within a photograph.
• Sharpness. This control allows you to increase or decrease sharpness in specific areas.
• Color. You can add color to an area or intensify a weak color with a gradient based on a specific Color Overlay, for example, building up the blue in a sky that recorded weakly.
One thing to look for in working on local adjustments is the balance within a picture. Since a scene often isn’t captured by the camera in a balanced way (especially when doing location work), this has long been a challenge for color work, yet visually balancing tonalities in a photo was a standard way of working with black-and-white. Now when tones are out of balance, brush in minus Brightness to darken an area or plus Exposure to lighten an area. Brush in plus or minus Saturation to balance colors.
Emphasis is something that has always been important to photographers, but was difficult to do with color photos. You can try making a subject darker or lighter, plus change its surroundings in the opposite manner, to make a subject stand out. You also can do this with saturation, clarity and sharpness.
All processing in Lightroom is nondestructive; that is, 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 and saves those instructions, but doesn’t permanently apply those instructions until a new file is created when the image is exported out of Lightroom.
Another advantage to nondestructive processing is that it reduces the number of image files you have to keep. For example, 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.
|5. The compare screen in Library lets you look at multiple selected images at once. |
6. Library has a new search function at the top of the center work area— the Filter bar. It gives you many options for “filtering” your images to find a particular shot or group of shots.
7. Smart Collections allow you to smartly collect images into a group that can be reused for particular purposes.
Lightroom allows you to work with your images right from the start when you import 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 right away.
Simply having the ability to do those things in one program makes your work 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.
An especially useful feature of Lightroom for pros is that it 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 choose a particular image. You can apply multiple adjustments to a photograph, then copy and immediately apply those same adjustments to a whole group of similar photographs.
Changes To Library
There are some significant changes to the Library module or organizing part of Lightroom, too. First, searches are a lot easier. A Library Filter bar at the top of the center work area lets you quickly refine a search for everything from keywords to metadata.
Second, the Collections area is beefed up with the addition of Smart Collections. With a Smart Collection, you can create “rules” that tell Lightroom to look for certain data in a photo; if Lightroom finds it, the program automatically references the photo into a Smart Collection. This way you can tell Lightroom to always connect a type of shot that you frequently need to a group by giving those photos a keyword that would put it into a special Smart Collection. Every time you add that keyword to a photo, it automatically appears in this collection.
Lightroom makes this easy to do, by the way, with the Painter (a paint can) tool. You can put a keyword “into” that tool, set your photos to the Grid layout and just click away on photos, and the keyword is added. So if you set up your special keyword for the Painter, you’d click on a photo, add that keyword and have that photo immediately appear in the special Smart Collection.
There’s much more to Lightroom 2, but it would take a book to cover it all. I’ve been working on that book this past winter and spring; and it will be out early this fall.
Lightroom doesn’t replace Photoshop, but with version 2, many will find they need Photoshop a lot less. In fact, many photographers will find that by using Lightroom with Photoshop playing a supporting role, they can work faster, easier and with more intuitive control than can most photographers who work in Photoshop alone.
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