It’s the holiday season, and for most people around the world, we find ourselves with a little spare time. Add to that the holiday spirit which naturally breeds creativity for decorating houses, Christmas trees, re-decorating rooms or giving a fancy flare to wrapping gifts, you may find yourself with the creative motivation to get stuck into some post processing that you have put off during the year.
Following two of my own big bush trips, I find myself with the sizeable task of sifting through thousands of photos (that motor drive can be a blessing and a curse!), in order to get down to my top 100 photographs. Enter Adobe Photoshop Lightroom- the software that I use personally, and the software that we use in the Londolozi Photography Studio. Why Lightroom and not some of the other well known software packages? I wanted to take the time to tell you my top 10 reasons to use Lightroom this holiday.
- An intuitive user interface
There are so many barriers to using editing software- expense, only being able to navigate it on a large screen or the lack of technical know-how. The latter being the reason why most people stop before they even begin. One of the most common reasons is that they can be really difficult to use- sometimes requiring extensive training in order to merely make small adjustments. My number one reason for using Lightroom is that it is quick to learn, so easy to use, and extremely intuitive when it comes to it’s user interface. Once you have discovered, and understood, what each of the sections does, and how they affect the image, it’s a case of moving the sliders left and right in whatever increments you feel is necessary to get the effect you want. Just like a handyman knows exactly which tool does what, you have only to get to grips with the tools in your lightroom toolbox in order to make great progress with your editing.
- Non-destructive on images, and no need to save them
Another big plus for me is that Lightroom is non-destructive on your images. In short- it will make a carbon copy of each original image, and make the adjustments on the copy, leaving your original file in tact, and untouched. A big plus! On top of that, once you have imported your photos (and hopefully ticked the ‘build smart previews’ box), Lightroom saves the full-sized version so that whenever you have half an hour to edit a few photos, they are right where you left them. The only thing that Lightroom does not like is if you move the original location of the images on your hard drive. Never fear, though, as there is a ‘find location’ option, and if you already know where you have moved your originals to, you can quickly and easily solve the problem.
- Easy to sort and catalog with meta data
If you are a motor-drive junkie like me (where one click simply isn’t enough in case you miss the shot of a lifetime), you will have a pretty sizeable batch of images to sort through each time you take your camera out. The Library function on Lightroom is powerful and impressive. It lets you easily and quickly sort through your photos with multiple types of rating systems (be it stars, colours or flags) and makes it easy to create quick collections, collection sets and folders to organize the best from the rest. On top of that, creating meta data (keywords that Lightroom uses to categorize and catalogue each image) makes it easy to go back and search for that one photo that you desperately want to find. In this instance, I used specific keywords based on what I thought I might use to search for this image of a dramatic, thunderstorm filled landscape in future. Here’s the key for meta data creation: Find a way to keyword that makes sense to you- that way when you sit down and start typing some keywords into the search bar, your brain should work in the same way to search for images as it did to keyword them in the first place. Even if it’s something obscure like “purply sky on the day we saw the wild dogs with the family”, you’ll have a higher chance of finding that image again!
- Quickly access RAW photos
This one’s simple, and a huge plus: You don’t need a RAW file converter to start editing photos in Lightroom. You can upload straight from your memory card and get going straight away.
- Geo Tagging with built in google maps
This is something the information-nerd in me adores. As long as you have your GPS settings turned on in-camera, all of the Geographical information will be stored within the meta data of the image. By selecting a batch of photos and clicking on the ‘Maps’ module, a built in google map of all of the locations your photos were taken in will appear. This is especially interesting (and useful) if you have done a multi-country trip where you can see, from a bird’s eye view, all the places you visited and where each shot was captured.
- Track your progress- before and after
I believe that post-processing is fast becoming an art form, where each editor or photographer is generating his or her own style, just like any other artists. Lightroom makes it so easy for you to continuously check your progress as you edit, helping you to make sure that you stay true to the essence of the shot that you want to portray. The multiple review options (splitting your screen to see the before and after versions, using the back-slash key to quickly flick between the original and the edited versions, or using the Lights-out function to remove all toggles and panels to review your image without distractions) makes it that much easier to remain on track with your style of editing- allowing you to see when you have done the shot justice, or when you have over-edited and lost the truth of the shot
- Powerful and quick adjustment settings
The seemingly simple and clean interface really doesn’t do the software justice when it comes to the power that it provides in image editing. From quick global tweaks to set the basics like white balance, contrast and brightness, to major artistic local adjustments to create sparkling eyes, remove blemishes or dust spots, apply dramatic filters and re-craft the light and dark tones to draw the eye to a specific spot of the image, Lightroom is powerful and extremely quick. I made a quick adjustment to this image (courtesy of Rob Crankshaw- Varty Camp Manager, and undercover bird photographer) in under a minute, and the end result was great! Check out more of my Lightroom Tutorials for an in-depth look at the power of the platform itself. I keeping most of my images from my two recent bush trips for a future Photographic journal, but below are some images I have worked on from various trips out onto the Londolozi Property to show you how well this software works.
- Pre-sets and adjustment syncing for batch editing
The ability to batch-edit using Lightroom’s pre-sets and adjustment syncing capabilities allows you to fly through hundreds of photos at a time- once again making it so easy to sit down and make a significant different to your post-processing to-do list.
- Customised sharing capabilities
Once you have set up an Adobe ID, and put in the small amount of effort it takes to link Lightroom to all of your social platforms, you can shoot, sort, edit and upload photos seamlessly to social media platforms straight from Lightroom. You can quickly and easily create Facebook photo albums, add descriptions and titles to your album and queue multiple uploads – all while Lightroom re-sizes your images perfectly for the web without you having to think about it. Lightroom lets you add your own custom watermark (both in text and PNG version), and has a powerful photo-book module where you can custom-make your own photo book using images you have just edited. Add to that Lightroom’s capabilities for setting up images for print, it really is a one-stop-shop when it comes to photo editing.
- Use it anywhere with mobile apps
Finally, this one really gets me going… Lightroom Mobile. By linking and downloading Lightroom mobile to your phone or tablet (or both!), you can now edit and review photos, literally, anywhere. If you have 20 minutes in the waiting room at the Doctor, or you’re sitting by the pool feeling inspired, you can now make quick adjustments to your images on your mobile device which will sync back with all of your collections on your laptop or PC when you get home.
I hope that somewhere within my top 10 reasons to use Lightroom this holiday, you’ll find one or two to get you going with your own post-processing while the festive, and creative spirit is flowing freely.
Wishing you all a wonderful festive season, wherever you are in the world!
Written, photographed and produced by Amanda Ritchie, Photography Studio Manager