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March of Tools: Adobe Lightroom 3

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Lightroom

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For the longest time I was spending oodles of my precious free time editing my photos in Photoshop. Once I discovered the Pioneer Woman's Action Set, I was completely  hooked on improving my digital images. The problem with Photoshop is that it does so very much. Almost too much for a novice like me. Even with the free actions I found here and there online, I still spent far too much time on any one image. 

For Christmas, I asked for a copy of Adobe's Lightroom 3. After tons of research, it sounded like the perfect solution to what was bogging me down. Sure enough in just the 2 months I've been using it, my editing time has significantly sped up.

There is a lot of information out there on Lightroom (and Apple's version "Aperture") but here are the main points I love about it:

1. You can batch edit photos. I can apply similar effects to multiple photos at once vs. Photoshop's one by one method. This is especially useful for batch saving multiple images I want to post here on the blog in a certain size format. My blogging time has really been sped up thanks to this single feature.

2. Lightroom was built for photographers. I can easily see what my camera settings were for any given photo, which lens I used, the date, etc. As I'm learning to shoot in manual, this has been priceless information to me. It also showcases my histogram front and center so I can immediately check my exposure.

3. The adjustment sliders aren't buried. Any common tweak you'd ever make to a photo is right there in the sidebar. I just scroll up and down to find the right slider and I'm done. In Photoshop I had to go digging through the menu and weed through tons of functions that aren't necessary to just pure photo editing.

4. Lightroom presets are the equivalent of Photoshop actions. I love that I can still use these handy creative shortcuts. I'm still seeking out my personal photo style. It is so fun to experiment with different looks I'm currently unable to achieve myself. It cuts the learning time in half when I can use a preset and see how it adjusted the sliders and what the does to the photo. A perfect tool for someone self-taught. Right now I'm completely addicted to the Clickin'Mom's Paparazzi Preset package. (I got them for a great deal in an after Christmas sale. Reason enough you should subscribe to their newsletter!)

5. Before/After comparisons. I love clicking the before/after comparison button. (That's the view you see in the image above.) It has helped me more than once to decide I've edited a little too much.

6. Comparing clusters of images is super easy. I've gotten much better about importing far fewer photos than I ever did before. I try to delete in camera as much as possible and then I restrain myself a little more when doing the actual importing. Even still, I usually have too many from any given session to post here on the blog or use for my projects. With Lightroom, I can select multiple photos and look at them all at once and then close down the ones that don't make the final cut. It sounds like such a simple feature, but I swear this alone has contributed to my entire Project 2011 and is singlehandedly saving my hard drive from being overrun with images. The interface for this feature is just really well done. 

Since using Lightroom, I can honestly say I've only opened Photoshop a handful of times. I only use it for laying out printed projects or major editing like cloning out power cords. It is still useful to have around, but Lightroom has become my true workhorse.

Lori - I LOVE LR3 also! I’ve been using it since January and it has revolutionized my workflow! So glad you’ve found something that works for you too!

Tricia - You have Paparazzi Presets!! I’m so envious! That is next up on my wishlist! I fell in love with them after I saw Lynne (Rigby) post some photos of her daughter using them! I need to revisit and learn lightroom more. This blog post is inspiring me! So glad you are loving it!

Tiffany - Yes, I saved my pennies and went straight for the Paparazzi set. They’re the only presets I have. Lynne’s post as well as others are what really inspired me. If you’re shooting in RAW, they really do work as well as they say. Most images it is one click of a preset and maybe a tweak to my exposure or white balance and I’m done.

Lacey - Oh, no! I’ve been trying NOT to want Lightroom but this may be just enough to do me in… :) I use ACR for almost all of my editing, but I’m so curious to see what Lightroom can do!

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