A Few Nice Things About Lightroom

David Salahi Lightroom, Photoshop 0 Comments

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OK, for the last two posts (Lightroom and Photoshop Compatibility Problems) and (Lightroom vs. Photoshop, Part 2) I’ve been griping quite a bit about obstacles to a smooth workflow between Lightroom and Photoshop. So, although I have also pointed out some advantages of Lightroom already I figure it’s time to do more to accentuate the positive.

Like a Rock

First, I’d like to point out that I’ve been using the Lightroom 5 beta for all this work and haven’t had a single crash. The software has been very reliable. The only problem I’ve had is that when zooming into 1:1 a couple of times the display went blank. After refreshing the view things were back to normal. As a software developer myself, I can tell you this record is very good for beta software. I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in several other betas of Adobe software and I have to say they do an outstanding job of producing reliable software.

Still, don’t throw caution to the wind. All the usual caveats apply. Don’t use beta software in production. Have good backups. Proceed at your own risk.

Great Color Adjustment Tools

LightroomHSLPanel

Second, I really like using Lightroom’s color adjustment tools. They’re great for quickly removing color casts and generally fine-tuning the color balance of your image. Using them in Lightroom has made me realize that I’ve been overlooking them in Photoshop. Now, these same controls are not actually in Photoshop proper but they’re available in Camera RAW. But because you only see them when opening a file I’ve tended to overlook them in the past in favor of using adjustment layers. The problem with that is that none of the Photoshop adjustments do exactly what these Lightroom/Camera RAW controls do. Here’s one example.

To quickly darken a blue sky in LR/RAW all you have to do is click on the Luminance heading and drag the blue slider down. That’s as easy as it gets and doing it this way works great. But if you try the same thing with the Lightness slider in Photoshop’s Hue/Saturation adjustment what you end up with is a gray sky. At least, that’s what you get with photographs in the standard RGB color mode. If you convert your photo to Lab Color mode before applying the Hue/Saturation adjustment you get a similar result to what you get in Lightroom. But in Photoshop you have to be aware of the difference and manually make the change. Since Luminance is what a photographer typically wants it’s nice that Lightroom gives it to us without our having to ask.

Fortunately, for us Photoshoppers the next version of Photoshop, expected out in June 2013, is going to allow us to apply Camera RAW as a filter. This will integrate ACR right into Photoshop and you’ll be able to make these kinds of adjustments without closing your image and reopening it as you have to do right now. (Or switching color modes.) And, presumably, if you apply the Camera Raw filter as a Smart Filter the settings will continue to be editable just as they are Lightroom.

Fine-Tuning Adjustments by Nudging with the Keyboard

Here’s another thing I like about Lightroom 5. Back when I evaluated LR3 I complained that you can’t nudge the sliders with the arrow keys like you can do in Photoshop. Adobe has fixed that in Lightroom 5 (or maybe in V4?). Just hover the mouse over a slider and you can then use the up/down arrow keys to tweak the values. Using the up-/down-arrow keys adjusts a setting in increments of +/- 5. If you hold down the Ctrl key you get increments of +/-1 and with the Shift key the adjustments come in increments of +/- 20. Nice. This feature may sound like a minor detail but, for me, it provides a big increase in usability. I often like to fine-tune adjustments in this way as I find it more precise and quicker than using the mouse or stylus.

Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

For the record, that was three nice things in a row about Lightroom. I’ve just got one more thing for this post and it’s neutral with respect to both Lightroom and Photoshop. In my previous post, I said I’d mention a technique for getting a smooth sky mask that works in both programs. The “technique” is actually Nik Software’s products and their Control Points (also known as Selective Adjustments).  I wrote about these in my review of HDR Efex Pro so I’ll refer you to that post if you want details. Here, I’ll just say that control points are easy to use and the Nik filters can be applied from either Lightroom or Photoshop. Or Aperture for that matter. I tried using Viveza to adjust the sky in the image I was using in my previous post and it worked great.

In my next post, I’ll be back with more gripes and maybe even something nice to say again.

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