Adobe Lightroom’s library module displaying images in grid view (enlarge)
Once again, I have returned from the dead to post a new blog entry! I’ve finally had a chance to play with beta 3 of Adobe Lightroom, and thus far I’m impressed, even though Lightroom is hideously, ridiculously slow. (I’m running it on Windows Vista beta 2, by the way.)
I think I’ll love Lightroom. But I just don’t know how it will fit in my workflow.
For those who haven’t heard of Lightroom, it offers a consolidation of some tools that currently exist in Photoshop (in Adobe Camera Raw in particular) along with some new tools, all with the focus on an efficient workflow application for processing digital images (as opposed to fine manipulation, which you still do in Photoshop). It’s a bit like Apple’s Aperture, really. A key feature is that all the manipulations you do in Lightroom are non-destructive. In other words, it just records a list of what you’ve done to images along with the option to change that list again in the future, instead of permanently modifying the original image or constantly saving versions of edits out to new files.
I really like Lightroom because it’s got a very nicely designed, intuitive UX. It’s also a very simple, focused application. I don’t mean it’s simple in that it’s not powerful, but that what you use Lightroom for is very well defined and you’re not distracted by the application when you’re trying to concentrate on your work, unlike say Photoshop with it’s oodles and oodles of functionality that you only use once every period between ice ages.
How I Will Use Lightroom — Or Not
I currently use the Organiser in Photoshop Elements (how professional! ) to collect, organise and tag my photos and then edit them in Photoshop proper. It may seem strange to some that I don’t separate my happy snaps with friends and more serious photography, but it’s always seemed a no-brainer to me because I essentially do the same thing with both kinds of images — organise them, manipulate them until they look good and output them (print or online). And you can laugh, but I my favourite tool to do the organise part of that workflow is still Photoshop Elements because it’s tagging and searching tools are so easy to use.
How will Lightroom fit into this? I’d love to have Lightroom replace the organise phase in my workflow and let me do the bulk of my manipulate and output bits too, relegating Photoshop to just advanced editing… but I actually don’t know, because Lightroom doesn’t handle videos at all, I won’t be able to hold my happy snaps in my Lightroom library. I don’t know how to solve this dilemma yet and I’m worried there will be no elegant solution to it. If you have ideas please let me know — otherwise, I have no doubt there are some sleepless nights around the corner waiting for me!
Anyway, some specific changes I’d like to see in Lightroom:
- When cropping images in the developer module, there is an option to constrain proportions to either the same as the original image or an earlier crop. What I’d really like is to be able to select 16:9, 3:2 or 4:3 (occasionally, just for portrait shots) so I can reframe images that I have shot in the wrong aspect ratio.
- I’d like to save multiple versions of adjustments to images. What if I’m working on an image tonight and I can’t decide between two different adjustments I’ve made and want to think about it again tomorrow? As it stands I’d need to save each adjustment as a global preset.
- Multiple level undo/redo is good and all, but how about a history palette just like Photoshop?
- An easy way to compare adjustments to the very original image as well as the last saved adjusted version would also be very handy.
If you haven’t used Lightroom yet, give it a whirl. The beta is now available for both Windows and MacOS. It could easily change your life — you just need to work out how.