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Thread: Question re: Lightroom

  1. #1

    Question re: Lightroom

    Please, I might be opening a can of worms but, I have been thinking about my next move in post processing (now that I have that lens I wanted.) I'm thinking that I'll step, next, into Lightroom. Please, I only know generally what I'm talking about. Can one dodge and burn in lightroom, add textures, use masks and layers? What about actions? Go easy on me, I'm not very computer literate!

    P.S. I have spent some time googling it but am not getting very far. I thought that it might be simpler to just ask you all. Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    The quick answer is no.
    A better answer is what Lightroom is for. It is mostly about RAW photos; it is a RAW file converter. If you are ready for RAW shooting and processing, consider Lightroom, otherwise don't.
    Lightroom has various functions but mostly it works at the whole image level. If you want to work at a pixel level (layers, masks, cloning etc.) you need a photo editor. I do most of my editing in Lightroom and only link to CS2 for the occasional further editing.

  3. #3

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Quote Originally Posted by brabason View Post
    The quick answer is no.
    A better answer is what Lightroom is for. It is mostly about RAW photos; it is a RAW file converter. If you are ready for RAW shooting and processing, consider Lightroom, otherwise don't.
    Lightroom has various functions but mostly it works at the whole image level. If you want to work at a pixel level (layers, masks, cloning etc.) you need a photo editor. I do most of my editing in Lightroom and only link to CS2 for the occasional further editing.
    Thanks, this, somewhat helps! I've been shooting and editing from RAW since I started. (iphoto automatically gives a copy to work on - as many as I want - while keeping the original safe. I think that I said that right.) Right now, I'm stuck and limited with iphoto (although, I really have to say that it's been great to start on - very simple). I need to be able to edit more than the whole photo at one time and I really would love to start working with textures (I've been wanting to since last spring!)

    So, since photoshop is a little more complex, do most people work in another program and only go to photoshop when needed?

    I am so sorry because, I know that this kind of question comes up over and over again. I've been reading but it's a bit "Greek" to me, as they say.

  4. #4
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Hi Katy,

    As said elsewhere; Elements will do it all for starters/intermediate (if it and ACR works on a Mac).

    Some have LR for the enhanced RAW editing capability plus Elements for the cloning, layers bits, although that will only be 8 bit (as is GIMP), I believe. Beyond that, for best all round support, it has to be Photoshop CS5.

    Now I don't know what deals are available in US, but in UK; if you buy Elements and register it with Adobe, Adobe may e-mail you after a few days/weeks and offer CS5 at half price, which is a good deal for most. That gets you the better ACR than Elements (although it is probably still a match for iPhoto) and of course, proper 16 bit editing, cloning, layers and fully functional masks.

    Cheapest starter, if it works on a Mac (someone to confirm this would be nice), is Elements.

    Cheers,

  5. #5

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    CS5 is an all around software package; you can start RAW processing and editing in ACR and move on to the more detailed editing, great. However it is expensive and beyond the budget for many people (me included). CS5 is also complex and includes features not needed for photograph editing. However many people use CS5 (or a lower number) and do a great job with it. Often all you need is ACR and further editing is not necessary.

    There are lower cost alternatives. Mostly they need two software packages, one for RAW conversion and editing, and one for pixel based editing. My combination is (Adobe Photoshop) Lightroom 3 and (Adobe Photoshop) CS2. Lightroom 3 has the same ACR engine and functions as CS5. I bought CS2 very cheap, the ACR and Bridge are very old but I do not need them. The link between these packages is very good. There are other combinations.

    The only problem with Lightroom is that it is memory and processor hungry: I now have a quad processor PC with 8GB RAM and Lightroom is OK. So the real cost of Lightroom may include a PC upgrade; a good deal on CS5 may be more attractive.

    When choosing the RAW file conversion software you need to to be careful about how it does this. Some 'optimise' the converted photo (they decide what is best for you) and do not tell you what the optimisation editing is. The (Adobe Photoshop) Elements ACR does this plus it is only 8 bit colour.

    This link is a review of some RAW conversion / editor packages. It does not include SilkyPix or Aperture and a few others, the Lightroom 3 review is for the beta version and is out of date. Other than ease of use and editing capabilities, notice how different the 'interpretation' of the same photo is between these packages www.twin-pixels.com/lightroom-dxo-capture-one-bibble-5/

  6. #6

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    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Hi Katy,

    I think the great "Photoshop or Lightroom decision" comes down to shooting style;

    If you're shooting many images of the one scene - picking the best - and then further processing it ("loving it to death") as one may do with typical landscapes then Photoshop (or to a lesser degree Photoshop Elements) wins hands down.

    On the other hand, if you're processing, say, wedding photos, you're not so concerned about the finer details of the photo, but you are dealing with a LOT of images and having to make basic (RAW level) corrections to lots of images, then Lightroom wins hands down.

    There is a missing puzzle piece here though ... with Photoshop comes Adobe Bridge, which gives you the ability to sort / rank large numbers of files and then OPEN SEVERAL HUNDRED AT ONCE IN ACR, where you can further make batch changes to any or all of the images. So in many ways it does a lot of what you can do in lightroom.

    Personally, this is what I do with my studio shoot images (I could never figure out lightroom!). For a given set from a studio shoot (say 50 images per set, 8 sets per shoot on average). I can open up 50 images at once - select all - adjust colour temp - exposure - brightness - clipping points - anything I want basically, and then apply those changes to all the other images with a couple of clicks. I can even batch convert them to JPEG right from ACR with the Bridge/ACR combination.

    So basically, if you're happy making only global-level adjustments to your images then lightroom is probably your best choice, but if you want to be doing masking and selects etc then Photoshop is the weapon of choice. By the way, many people comment that "Photoshop is complicated" but the truth is it's just a big toolbox full of some very powerful tools; nothing says you need to use every tool on every image (nor even know what every tool does) (however my suggestion would be to invest in some online training at www.kelbytraining.com to learn how to do many "really cool things" with it (that's what I use)).

    Hope this helps

  7. #7

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    I started reading further comments and got to the acronym ACR and had to go look it up. (Did you know that ACR stands for "acronym"? It's ironic because there are about a hundred that go with ACR.) That's where I'm at. I've heard lots of discussions about all of this but, because I've never seen it, I only have a very vague understanding. I've been searching through the web and have been having a very hard time figuring out what each program actually does. Happily, though, when I searched for the meaning of ACR, (I did have a "clue" that it had something to do with "Adobe", "Camera" and "Raw". ) I found this site which, actually, shows a page from ACR and one from Lightroom and breaks down what each can do (and a little more). I should just mention, though, that it seems to review older versions than are out there, now, but it's a very helpful introduction! Here's the link:

    http://www.photozone.de/adobe-camera-raw-v41

    Now, my understanding has jumped considerably. It's not as enigmatic as it sounds. I am suspecting that iphoto has been a very good diving board to be introduced to pp with (even though half of the functions don't quite work.)

    Very helpful! Now, I am going to go back and read your comments.

    I should, also, mention that I still don't know what cs5 or Elements looks like. I've only heard that they're more "advanced" (sometimes said with a sense of they're very hard to learn.)
    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 7th January 2011 at 01:50 PM.

  8. #8

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    I'm having a hard time organizing my questions; so, I'm going to spew them out and see what gets answered.

    - Just to clarify, Lightroom is 16 bit and Elements and GIMP are 8 bit?

    - Do I need a RAW converter with LR or does it do it for itself? Edit: Brabason answered that in the first response and the answer is "yes".

    - Lightroom has the library but ACR does not? In other words, Lightroom stands on it's own, whereas, ACR is a "plugin" for Photoshop?

    - Can I work in LR and, then, further process in PS?

    - Lightroom can be slow? (assumably because of the library, etc.) What if I'm already constantly hooked up to the, new, LaCie 1 TB hard drive for iphoto because my Mac is very basic with small memory capacity? Can I do the same with LR (have it on the hard drive because that's what works for the moment) and not have to buy a new computer? (Please, continue to think "poor as church mice" - my husband being a pastor and no one lives in Vermont for the high paying jobs, anyway. We're here for the lifestyle! )

    - Important question! My husband has an older "full" (sorry, I don't know what the means) version of Photoshop on his computer. He cannot find the disc, however, which doesn't matter because the disc player on my laptop is broken. Can PS be shared between computers? Can LR be downloaded in some way other than the disc player?

    - Oh, blank! I just realized that my Mac is Os X 10.4.11 (meaning that I need older versions of everything) - weep! Can I update this and not mess up my old computer? Will my husband let me? Can I, now, because of the hard drive? I'll have to go ask Tom, too.

    - Okay, I'm going to go and "cry" a little because I don't want to be a computer expert. I want to be a photographer. I'll do what I need to, though. Stressed!

    Okay, Dave, Brabason (welcome to CiC, btw!!! ) and Colin, this has been very, very helpful! Thank you! It must be hard to figure out which puzzle pieces to share because each person has different blank spots and some have more filled in than others.

    I have more questions but, that's all, for the moment, please! Thank you in advance to anyone who can help!
    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 7th January 2011 at 02:33 PM.

  9. #9
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    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Katy, Elements is not hard to learn, and you can do layers and curves, almost everything basic that you can do in Photoshop. I have PS and Lightroom at this point, but I started with Elements and learned a lot from it.

    Lightroom is great for cataloging photos (better than PSE in my opinion), and in Lightroom 3 you can do most of the adjustments that you would do in PS -- I go to PS to sharpen, do textures, etc. You can adjust exposures, do spot removal, noise reduction, sharpening, etc. in Lightroom, though I'm not totally skilled with all those things. I should say, though, that because I have Lightroom I don't use ACR, and it may be able to do most of the things you can do in ACR.

    PSE is much more user-friendly than PS, and it's very easy to get frustrated in PS at first. You can download a 30-day trial of PSE (and Lightroom as well, and PS5) -- why don't you give yourself a 30-day trial and see if you like it?

  10. #10
    rob marshall

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    Just to clarify, Lightroom is 16 bit and Elements and GIMP are 8 bit?
    Not really. It's all to do with the image file type. A JPEG file is compressed so it can only be 8 bit format. With RAW files you can create either an 8bit file and save as JPEG/TIFF/PSD, or as 16 bit and save as TIFF or PSD (but not JPEG unless you make it 8 bit before saving). Is that what you meant?

  11. #11

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Thanks for responding, Elise! I've thought about you, a bit, as I've been considering this because I want to work with textures.

    I think that there is a balance, here, between what is the "best" choice overall for what I want to do and where I'm at, now. What is good enough, at the moment, and will I outgrow it too fast (meaning, within a year)? I've been at an "Elementary" stage for a while, now, and I'm really tired of it and want to move on. I always feel "held back" and, at this point, have a pile of photos that I really like to be "processed later when I have...." Now, I should just add that some of this probably has to do with the fact that, half the sliders don't really "work" on iphoto. Meaning that, if I say, use the sharpening tool, I immediately get halos and demosaicing. Irritating! Actually, I think that, although I want to be able to isolate parts of the photo to work on, this may not be such a desperate issue in a program that works better.

    I'll be talking to Tom, any moment, now, to find out if we can update our computer without headache and what version of PS he has. I am assuming that they don't offer older versions of LR for a free trial....

  12. #12

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Quote Originally Posted by rob marshall View Post
    Not really. It's all to do with the image file type. A JPEG file is compressed so it can only be 8 bit format. With RAW files you can create either an 8bit file and save as JPEG/TIFF/PSD, or as 16 bit and save as TIFF or PSD (but not JPEG unless you make it 8 bit before saving). Is that what you meant?
    No, that's not what I meant but it is definitely what I needed to know, even though I didn't know it!

    I just looked up PSD. I've never heard that term before. Here's another question: I was told that, in photoshop, I should always make a copy of the RAW and work from that so that I could preserve the original, undamaged and unaltered. (iphoto keeps the original and only gives me copies of the RAW to work on - this is the way that I've been functioning.) Is that the function of a PSD? I'm sorry, this is something that I've really been wondering about - I'm afraid that I'm confused.

    Rob, it took me a moment.... I didn't recognize you.

  13. #13
    rob marshall

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    Here's another question: I was told that, in photoshop, I should always make a copy of the RAW and work from that so that I could preserve the original, undamaged and unaltered. (iphoto keeps the original and only gives me copies of the RAW to work on - this is the way that I've been functioning.) Is that the function of a PSD? I'm sorry, this is something that I've really been wondering about - I'm afraid that I'm confused.

    Rob, it took me a moment.... I didn't recognize you.
    You don't need to make any copy of any RAW because it never, ever gets altered. Your RAW file is straight out of the camera. When you alter it in a RAW editor the changes are applied to a small file called a side-car file which keeps a note of all the changes you made, but it never changes the actual RAW file. You don't normally see the side-car files as they are system files. If you convert your RAW to DNG format, which is the Adobe format, the side-car file is embedded in the RAW, but it still doesn't change the RAW itself.

    So, you can make as many changes as you like to the RAW and the side-car gets updated. You can cancel all the changes and go back to native state. But the RAW data file stays the same. So you do not need to copy the RAW. From the RAW you create a JPEG, TIFF, or PSD (which is similar to TIFF, but is probably better for Photoshop as it handles layers better).

    I'm really saddened that you didn't recognize me. I deliberately chose that big glowing brain for an avatar

  14. #14

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Quote Originally Posted by rob marshall View Post
    I'm really saddened that you didn't recognize me. I deliberately chose that big glowing brain for an avatar
    Cerebra Grown! Please, forgive me for, indeed, I did not recognize you!

    ...and it is a good thing that your cerebra is growing because that was the perfect answer that I was needing. The issue was a "worry of confusion" in the back or my mind that I've had for some time. It's so nice to have that cleared up! Thanks!

  15. #15
    rob marshall

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    ...and it is a good thing that your cerebra is growing because that was the perfect answer that I was needing. The issue was a "worry of confusion" in the back or my mind that I've had for some time. It's so nice to have that cleared up! Thanks!
    Just to clarify something - I'd hate to mislead you. You don't need to copy a RAW to work on it for processing, but you should always back up all of your photography files, including RAWs. So you might have a RAW sitting on your hard disk, and a copy (backup) of it on an external hard disk.

  16. #16

    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Quote Originally Posted by rob marshall View Post
    Just to clarify something - I'd hate to mislead you. You don't need to copy a RAW to work on it for processing, but you should always back up all of your photography files, including RAWs. So you might have a RAW sitting on your hard disk, and a copy (backup) of it on an external hard disk.
    Don't worry! I understand that part! (she said with relief - finally knowing, rather well, what she's talking about. )

  17. #17
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    - Just to clarify, Lightroom is 16 bit and Elements and GIMP are 8 bit?
    Hi Katy,

    As someone has said, you can export from ACR to Elements as 16 bit, in Elements you can continue to work on the whole image in 16 bit; so sharpening, Levels, WB, Neat Image, etc. are all OK and you save as psd or Tif.

    However, as soon as you want to make a layer, clone, dodge, burn, etc. anything with a brush, mask or layer, that's when you have to Convert to 8 bit first.

    This is unlikely to be a huge problem quality wise, at least I didn't find it so. Almost without exception ALL my images to date have been processed this way and can you see them lacking?

    Elements has three modes, Guided, Quick (a bit like LR) and Full, I progressed through them when I first started - so it definitely isn't hard to use.

    More later ...

  18. #18
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    - Do I need a RAW converter with LR or does it do it for itself? Edit: Brabason answered that in the first response and the answer is "yes"
    ACR is the RAW converter inside LR, it just looks a little different. The answer is yes; "it does it for itself".

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    - Lightroom has the library but ACR does not? In other words, Lightroom stands on it's own, whereas, ACR is a "plugin" for Photoshop?
    No ACR doesn't have a library, it is, in effect a plug-in and comes with LR, CS3/4/5 and Elements.
    The version with Elements has les controls, but the ones it doesn't have are largely available in Elements anyway.

    LR, CS and Elements all have a kind of library system (which actually I don't use), Colin has spoken on this adequately enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    - Can I work in LR and, then, further process in PS?
    Yes, but if you're going to be limited by computer issues, not wanting to be confused by 'too much', I'd start with Elements and add LR later if you need to.

    Wendy is a LR + Elements gal.
    (and just look at what she produces)

    Cheers,

  19. #19
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    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    When you use Lightroom with either Elements or PS, you are never working on the original image -- When you save from PS or PSE, you're saving as a PSD (which preserves the layers so you can work on them again) or as a JPG (after you flatten the layers) (or a TIFF or any number of other things). You're not saving over the CR2 file as it comes from the camera, and Lightroom preserves thumbnails of them both, so you can always look at them side by side.

    (I think this is right. I'm not the swiftest person around with all the technical stuff.)

    Also, check this out to see if I'm right, but I think you can upgrade from PSE to PS at a discount. When I had PSE, it didn't have curves and other things, but now I think there's pretty much everything you need in PSE. (Actually, Lightroom 3 has curves now -- about the only thing it doesn't have is layers.)

  20. #20

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    Re: Question re: Lightroom

    Katy,

    In simple terms ...

    1. You need a new computer, and

    2. You need Photoshop CS5

    Hope this helps

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