I’ve been deep in the final production stages of the Printmaker Masterclass, which launches next…
With the demise of Apple’s Aperture, their pro level application for managing and editing images, several people have asked me about options and how to migrate their image libraries. There hasn’t been a huge demand for information however, because I think a majority of photographers have been using Lightroom for some time, and it was plain to see that while Adobe has been agressively updating and improving Lightroom, Apple seems to have forgotten about Aperture and serious photographers in general.
I’m a huge fan of Apple and have used Macs for over 25 years. But I always trusted Adobe more when it came to digital imaging. When Lightroom was released in beta form in 2006, I committed to it and haven’t looked back. And with the current version 5.5, I think it’s safe to say that as an overall platform for image management, developing, sharing, and printing, there is no better option available today.
Of course no software is perfect, and Lightroom has its weaknesses. But nitpicking what it doesn’t do well ignores what it does incredibly well. I want tools that allow me to accomplish my creative goals in the simplest, most effecient manner possible in most if not all scenarios. Yes there are times when there is a better tool for a very specific situation, but that may only be a small part of your overall workflow. Photoshop is always on standby when I need lots of editing power, but for me that is a rarer and rarer occurence. 90% of my workflow is in Lightroom, and that makes managing and editing my images fun – yes fun. It wasn’t always that way, but learning Lightroom so that it gets out of the way and lets me think about creative decisions and making the most of my images is hugely liberating. I regularly come home with hundreds of images and look forward to editing them in Lightroom. That only happens when you commit to the software and learn how it works so that it becomes your assistant, not your enemy.
For example, may users do not know how to use the Auto-Sync function. Lets say I had my tripod setup at the edge of the Hudson River during sunrise, and made a series of images during a 5 or 10 minute span. Maybe I did this a few times during the course of my shoot, so I wind up with 4 to 5 groups of images sharing similar compositons and lighting conditions—all too common for landscape photographers.
When I import these images into Lightroom, I select all of the images in a group, and then develop the one I like the best. With Auto-Sync turned on, any adjustment I make will be instanly applied to every other image I selected in the group. When I’m done editing, I have essentially edited the whole group of images, and only need to adjust an individual image depending on how it’s different from the others. This speeds up processing tremendously, make the time I spend in LR more efficient, and lets me spend more time outside, not behind my computer. This works equally well for portraits, wildlife, sports, or any other situation when you have a similar set of images.
Think about how this speeds up workflow and efficiency. Does it work perfectly 100% of the time? Of course not. But 80–90% of the time is good enough for me, especially when I factor in how much time I spend editing over the course of an entire year.
Here I selected the first image to edit, then held down Shift to add all the other images from the series to the selection, Then I enabled Auto-Sync via the small switch.
Now I edit the main image as usual. Every adjustment is automatically applied to the other images. When I go back to Grid view, all images look identical and I can then make specific adjustments to others if needed.
BTW – I generally average about 45–60 minutes editing an image I really like, sometimes longer if I can’t quite decide when I’m done. But that may be after some reflection and time. But editing times have dropped considerably since I started doing more in Lightroom and less in Photoshop and other plugins.
For those who were using Aperture and want to migrate to Lightroom as pain-free as possible, I recommend John Beardsworth’s guide found here.
I’ll be writing more about Lightroom workflow in the future because I truly believe it can have a profoundly positive effect on the enjoyment of digital photography and your ability to keep creativity alive and well.
This Post Has 11 Comments
You probably got a lot of flack for this but “Ligtroom”? As a retired teacher it’s hard for me to resist not making a point of this. You can avoid this in the future by getting a good proof reader. The article is basic but well-written. Thanks!
Actually you’re the first…I realized the error soon after I pressed the Publish button, but with server caches and other performance tools, the correction took a while to show up on the website – just one of those things… thanks for letting me know anyway.
Thanks for this post, Robert, and I’m glad to see that you intend to publish more posts about Lightroom. I must admit that I’m not convinced about it yet; since my two main cameras (Nikon D7100 and Canon G16) aren’t supported by Photoshop CS5 Raw software, I mainly use LR5 for basic processing of the Raw files, save as .psd and into CS5 they go for the rest of the work. If anyone can persuade me otherwise, you can!
Not sure I understand your workflow because LR 5.5 certainly supports your cameras, so why not just stay in LR until you need the specialized tools in Photoshop? And when exporting to Photoshop for editing, simply choose the dialog option that says “Render Using Lightroom” and LR will render the image and open a PSD file in Photoshop for further editing. Then you can save and it will be added to your LR catalog automatically.
Also remember that any image you export to Photoshop will be exponentially much larger in file size than the RAW file, so staying in LR if possible will use much less hard drive space. Hope that helps…
I have been working with a group of similar images by editing one and creating a preset and useing that for the others , making whatever minor adjustments I need. I can see that your approach has some advantages regarding clutter in the develop module, but is this another way to approach the same problem?
The problem with presets is that you’re adding an extra unnecessary step, and creating one-time presets in the process which is bound to clutter up your presets list after a while. Use presets for often used settings you’re likely to apply to images. Using Auto-Sync is more about speeding up workflow and efficiency, especially when processing lots of images. I do not use presets because every image should be worked on individually, and I think discovering how and why to edit an image in a particular way is more beneficial than using a preset.
Thanks Robert. Do you keep virtual copies of your original shots?
I only use virtual copies when I want to create more than one “interpretation” of an image. So for example a color and b&w version, or perhaps a variation of cropping. Otherwise, I just stick to the original raw file as a final image.
Great article Robert. I never used Aperture but I heard it was a good application.
I am heavy Lightroom user and yes — Auto-Sync is rather awesome. I use it mainly to prep some images before moving them to Photomatix or Macphun.
Hi Robert, thanx for the article. I am one of those unluky guys who might need to switch. I tried lightroom one time but quite using it quite frustrated. I will wait for photos as it might be usable. My workflow uses Aperture as a library and basic adjustment tool and then its of to ps cc. But seeing you use lightroom it looks pretty simple. Maybe i have to give it another try.
Use whatever tool works for you, but not at the cost of extra complexity or inefficiency. Simple is always better, and keeps you focused on shooting where the real work is done.