I have just started my next Introduction to Lightroom class. With each major update, Adobe’s Lightroom keeps getting more powerful, and I love sitting around my dining room table demonstrating all the features of this remarkably capable and intuitive program.
I have been a devoted Photoshop user for years, but for many,
complexity has represented a daunting barrier to the discovery of the broad
potential of the “Digital Darkroom”. Since its initial release in 2007
Lightroom has progressed from image organization, to progressively more
sophisticated editing and outputting capabilities. I initially came
to Lightroom to help organize my 400k (now 500K) images in a more easily
accessible database program, but, as I became familiar with the editing
functions in the Develop Module, I stayed to do much of my global editing
within the program. I found that Lightroom’s workflow was more intuitive,
it had the same functions as Photoshop’s Camera RAW and the sliders were easier
to use. So why move my images to Photoshop.
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I routinely tell my students that, for many of them, and especially as they get started in image editing, Lightroom may be all they need for simple image adjustments. I probably do about 90% of my image editing in Lightroom, and the resulting images could often stand on their own, but I still routinely make the move to Photoshop before feeling that my work is truly done. So why do I make the jump?
Lightroom allows simple localized adjustments with gradient, oval and brush tools, but Photoshop allows much more finely controlled selections which can be applied to layers affecting a full range of adjustments as well as to image layers. The ability to use layers is a key strength of Photoshop and essential difference between it and Lightroom.
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Compositing and Text
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Since I am teaching Lightroom, I enjoy pushing the limits of what can be done with the program’s limited tools. It is remarkable how much can be accomplished, but at some point, for both ease and accuracy, I have to make the jump. For now, when it comes to seriously “punishing the pixels” Photoshop is the only way to go
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Most of the time, I make this jump by moving the image for final touch-ups to Photoshop, but the Lightroom adjustment can also be applied as the file is exported to a specific image format.
Either way, before the jump, I ask myself if I have done all I can within Lightroom. When I make the move I want to know that I am leaving a pristine RAW file in my directory and a safely separate and nondestructive set of adjustments carefully archived in my Lightroom Catalog.
OK, this is an admission of my Lightroom ignorance. I have never been able to get the best results when I try to print from Lightroom. All the controls seem to be there, but I remain more comfortable applying my printer profiles and adjusting the resulting soft proof from within Photoshop.
I’m always embarrassed when I reach the point in my Introduction to Lightroom Class when I have to review the Print Module. The Module is powerful and intuitive. I know I’ll get it eventually, but for me fine art printing is a whole different part of the process of image making and, for now, to get it right, I still make the jump to Photoshop.
These are just a few of the reasons why I make the jump. I am sure that there are many more. Sometimes, when I’m happy with the image in Lightroom, and don’t have any obvious reason to move, I will still finish my work with a final examination in Photoshop. A fresh look in the context of the expanded tools of my old friend can often suggest subtle final adjustments that can make a significant difference.