Let’s Just Call It Progress For Now…

Having mentioned in previous posts that I have felt a certain amount of intimidation… and perhaps even trepidation… regarding Adobe Lightroom (and it’s little brother, Photoshop Elements), it has come as good news to yours truly that I have been busy embracing Lightroom (“Lr” from here forward) over the past week.

It is such an incredibly huge programme with so many features, options, settings, etc. such that I don’t even know where to begin most days. Clearly the user’s guide would probably be a nice starting point, but that would be way to easy. We can’t have that, now can we?

Regardless, I have thrown myself into it with full effect and, like the younger version of your humble narrator, remain hopeful that all will be just fine regardless. And thus far…. well… it’s been a bit of mixed bag.

No doubt Lr is a very powerful application for viewing, editing and cataloguing image files and thus far I have only scratched the surface of all it can do to images and for for me. I spent the better part of a week adding keywords to approximately 1/3 of all my pictures (not having yet imported the other 2/3’s) and began working on a project which I have neglected for far too long: processing the pics from my trip to Wisconsin for my grandmother’s funeral and my cousin’s wedding.

It has been during this first major undertaking using Lr that I have started to use some of the more everyday features (or I assume they are ‘everyday’) including a smattering of keyboard shortcuts (I love keyboard shortcuts) and the collections feature. I have also embraced the Auto button in the Development mode, at least for this particular project.

First, collections is a way to group together photos that share some sort of user-defined common theme. Perhaps it is a birthday party. Or a certain person. Or whatever it is you might want to group together for some purpose. For me it was the opportunity to group together the pictures from my trip to Wisconsin. See… that trip includes pictures of different events and settings and as I knew that some images would likely demand more of my attention in post-processing and that some would only be shared with family I elected to divide the entire group of imported pictures into collections. One collection for funeral-related stuff. Another for visiting some friends in Two Rivers. And yet another for the wedding… and so on. Dividing all the pictures into these collections allowed me to work on them in smaller batches and with certain ideas regarding their processing/editing being specific to the collection.

It also made it easier when it came to exporting them as JPEGs because I could select only those collections which I was going to share with family members via burned DVDs. For instance, the pictures I took of my friends in Two Rivers as well as mine and my dad’s photography excursion to the WW II submarine exhibit will not go out to the family members. As such I need only select the other collections for exportation to JPEG, thus leaving the unrelated pictures off the DVD.

Sweet!

However, not all is sunshine and bunnies with this collection business. First, it seems that I cannot always remove a photograph from a collection as the option to do such is greyed out. In some collections this isn’t a problem, but in others… well…. it’s a problem. And as yet I haven’t seen any recognizable relationship between those pictures I can remove from a collection and those that I cannot.

In an unrelated, but equally confusing matter, I have noticed that some functions/settings can be applied to images when they are selected in the filmstrip, which runs along the bottom of the Lr window. However, other functions/settings cannot be applied from the filmstrip, but must be handled either from grid view or as a single image in the viewer. To me that’s just plain weird. A selected image is a selected image and I don’t know why it should matter whether it was selected in the filmstrip or in the grid. Perhaps there is a reason…. a very good reason, but it shall remain a mystery for the moment.

As I mentioned earlier I learned of the miracle of the Auto button in the development module. Auto is just like it sounds: auto-adjustment. Press it and Lr does whatever it does to determine what would make your image better. Nicer. Whatever. And I must say that for the most part it was a rewarding experience to use it. The end result was often very close to the adjustments I made myself, which, after some experimentation, left me feeling confident in its use for moving rapidly through many images.

However, and I think further experimentation is needed before I’m completely certain of this accusation, I’m not certain one can use the Auto option along with the Sync option. It occurred to me after having already gone through maybe one half of the 600+ images I had from Wisconsin, that if I’m generally satisfied with the Auto feature I should use it and then Sync it across all the images! What a time saver! I could then review each photo and if I felt Auto had gotten it wrong I could Reset that image and manipulate by hand to my heart’s delight. Except I don’t think it really worked that way….

As I said, further experimentation is needed, but I think what happened is that when I Auto’d the first image and then synced that to all subsequent images it was the specific individual settings from that Auto-treatment that wound up being applied across the rest of the images, which is NOT what I wanted. No. Instead I wanted Lr to apply the Auto feature to each individual image and not merely copy the Auto-settings from that first image.

Something of a disaster, you know?

But where would humanity be without the adage “Live and learn”?

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6 thoughts on “Let’s Just Call It Progress For Now…

  1. Lightroom is a good program. I know I don’t use it to it’s full potential and probably never will…of course, I don’t do a lot of post processing. Oddly, I’ve been thinking about that lately. I have been thinking about shooting jpeg more.

  2. Shooting JPEG more? That sounds familiar. I waxed about RAW vs. JPEG a while back and I confess it still pops into my mind on occasion. But something happened just today that had me swaying back towards the world of RAW.

    While shooting my pics for the group theme I was using mixed lighting comprised of my soft boxes (with approx 3,300K bulbs), my strobe and some ambient sunlight. End result: rubbish white balance.

    But I didn’t sweat it because I knew that once I had the image files in Lr I could adjust the white balance right across the entire photo shoot with just a few keystrokes. To help with such I had the daughter hold up a white piece of paper and I shot the picture and auto balanced to it in Lr.

    I guess the bottom line in this situation was why fight the situation and struggle to get the right white balance when I know I can fix it so much more quickly and readily via Lr?

    But I think I can see why you might want to push back towards JPEG. I mean…. some of the things you write about and the way you prefer to shoot seem, at least to me, indicative of someone who knows or feels like they get the shot right the first time and don’t need to worry about corrections and the like. I think you have that gift….. that talent….. or you are pushing yourself to be that good such that you don’t feel you will have to rely on software to make things better/right.

  3. @ Kym: Really? Over-exposes? That’s interesting. I have noticed that the Auto feature seems to bump up either exposure or brightness (and sometimes both), but I keep on the highlight alert and it never goes off when I use the Auto feature.

    Maybe we have a different version of Lr? I’m using 2.5.

  4. Seriously get the Scott Kelby book on LR2 – it will save you LOTS of time getting to grips with the key features. Best $31 I have spent on a book in a while.

    And FYI I figured out in Develop mode, say you have a whole lot of shots taken with the same lighting etc – you can edit one til its how you like it then you press the big COPY button on the left at the bottom, and then ok, then then PASTE it on to all the subsequent pix, and then tweak each one that little bit extra if it needs it

    Too easy. but seriously, get the book. Well worth it.

  5. @ lensaddiction: I hadn’t noticed a copy/paste option, but I thought that was what Sync is used for? And how funny you mention Scott Kelby. I just picked up a few books of his on photography. I didn’t know he had one on Lr as well! I’ll have to look around for that as I sure wouldn’t mind a guiding hand. It really is awesome software, but there’s just so much to take in.

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