I have given it some thought as to where to take you beyond Picasa2, and decided on a software program called Adobe Lightroom.
I’m specifically avoiding programs such as Adobe Elements or PhotoShop, which are better suited to retouching, effects and enhancements. These programs, especially the latter one, have a significant learning curve and are complicated to demonstrate. More important, they are not that useful to the casual fun loving photographer.
I also find these programs are often abused, that is put to use to create something from nothing, or as I have termed them “photos on steroids.” I emphasize this point, because these programs do literally have masks, but there is no way to mask a bad photograph. In other words, these programs with their miracle tools, can actually hinder your growth to being a better serious photographer or otherwise dampen the joy of taking the snapshot.
Lightroom brings us back to the essence of photography in the digital realm. It does much to help us organize the photographs we take and it gives us the basic tools for making adjustments, similar to, but more powerful then those performed in a traditional darkroom.
I mentioned that other photography software programs have a learning curve. This is not to say Lightroom does not. As a matter of fact I’m still learning and so we can do so together. I have included with this article a photograph of the program on my computer screen to look at as I give you an overview.
Let me mention at the outset that this program, unlike Picasa, is not free. I’m not sure of the exact cost, but believe it to be somewhere around $250. You can go the Abobe website and likely they will have a trial version. Oh…and I do not work for Adobe and have nothing to personally gain promoting this product, it’s simply the best product for digital photographers.
After you install Lightroom on your computer it unfolds as follows: Take your memory card out of your camera and put it in you card reader, or otherwise directly attached your camera to your computer. The hour glass will be activated and soon a box window will appear about backing up your files.
I have been using this program for about six months and still haven’t utilized this feature. I guess until I learn about it, it will be a nuisance to which I click “skip”.
This brings up the screen like sample photograph in this article. (image missing)
If you look at the upper right side you will notice the categories titled Library, Develop, Slide Show, Print, and Web. In my photograph I have selected the Develop mode, but the program opens in the Library mode to the left of it, and a window will open right away asking you were you would like to save the new images.
The neat thing…a time saver is that it allows you to safe to two locations. I have always expressed how important it is to put your files in two locations for safety and protection of your photographs. So this program automatically clears this concern. Of course, there are other options and details, but this is an overview of the program.
After making your selections you will click on the button at the lower left “import”. The photos you’ve taken will now go to those saving locations and they will also be displayed at the bottom of the program as a filmstrip.
At this location in the filmstrip you can click on any image to have it appear in the main center window. You can select on multiple images to perform tasks uniformly on all the images selected. This individual or multiple selection process can be done in any mode.
On the left in Library mode are main categories, such as “collections” that you might expect in the library section. On the right there are basic adjustments and below these all the metadata options. And above the filmstrip, running horizontally with it, are flagging and color coding options.
Clicking on the Develop tab gets us to very powerful, yet simple to use, sliders and controls by which to process the image as if you were using a photo lab. It begins at the top with the histogram and sliders to adjust color temperature and tint. From there go down to exposure, fill light, contrast and much more controls.
I haven’t explored the slide show or print mode at all. One of the benefits of writing these articles is that it makes me look into things I think I have little use for. But I could be wrong and exploration has wonderful surprises. So I’ll check those out in preparation for future articles.
The Web Mode I have used and if you go to my website www.jamesschotgallerystudio.com and click on galleries and then previous show and go the to the last one – Nuda Veritas – you will see presentations created in this mode. I will tell you more, but for now I’ll ask permission to come ashore.