DPP Home Software Image Processing Photoshop Lightroom, Part 2

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Photoshop Lightroom, Part 2

Although Photoshop gets all the glory, in Photoshop Lightroom, Adobe has created a tool that will help professionals take control over their image libraries and catalogs of work

Lightroom Photoshop Lightroom was one of the most highly anticipated software packages ever for professional photographers. It's not a stretch to say that in an era when organization and efficient workflow are paramount, Lightroom probably captures more attention than even the new release of Photoshop CS3. Lightroom isn't meant to be a replacement for Photoshop. It's meant to exist side by side with the heavy processing power of Photoshop as a tool to help you efficiently handle workflow and many of the routine image-processing tasks. In the March/April issue of DPP, we covered the Library module and the software's preferences. In Part 2, we'll look at the Develop module. Go online to our Website to learn about the Print and Web modules in Part 3.

The Develop Module

Arguably, Lightroom's real tour de force is the Develop module where the magic happens when adjusting an image's tone and color. Yep, there sure are a lot of controls, huh? But it's these controls that allow for nondestructive image editing by adjusting an image's processing parameters while storing the settings as metadata in the Library database (or exporting it to XMP metadata files). No, you aren't actually editing the “pixels” in an image, only the settings that will be applied to the image upon processing via export or by opening directly into Photoshop.

This is an important distinction when talking about image editing. By definition, everything done to your image in Lightroom is only a metadata edit that can be changed and altered ad nauseam without ever affecting the actual pixels in the image. To be fair, there are several “metadata-based editors” out there—Aperture, to name the big fish, and even Camera Raw in Bridge is a metadata editor. But Lightroom does extend the functionality a bit as well as providing for a terrific working environment.

LightroomThe Right Panel Of Develop

The Histogram And Basic Functions: While the histogram is a display, it's also an adjustment tool, which can be way cool or pretty frustrating, depending on your nature. Drag a portion of the histogram and it will “light up,” showing which of the Basic tone functions will be adjusted as you drag from left to right (or visa versa).

The Basic functions are a mere subset of tone and color adjustments, but they're perhaps the most important. The White Balance is important to adjust to correct for the color of light under which the image was shot. Cooler/Warmer and Green/Magenta are the main color adjustments.

Below the White Balance are a series of four sliders: Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light and Blacks. Exposure and Blacks are the main white-point and black-point settings; Recovery and Fill Light are special new controls. Recovery can bring back textural detail (just like Camera Raw's old negative Exposure control), while Fill Light can go deep into the shadows to bring up detail. Taken all together, these controls have a profound effect on the tone of your images and allow incredible control of tonality. But it doesn't end there. There are simple Brightness and Contrast controls—but I no longer use them because of the power of the curves found below.


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