This is definitely not a one size-fits-all kind of thing. Everyone has their own preference and I have mine, of course. Taking photography classes at the Craft College here in Fredericton, I have been introduced to, and become extremely familiar with, a program called Lightroom. It’s like a ‘lighter’ and more user friendly version of the classic Photoshop which can take a much longer time and a lot more effort to learn.
PS- get it? A Darkroom is for developing film and Lightroom is for ‘developing’ digital photos:).
If you want to start editing your photos, my first piece of advice is to stop shooting jpegs. Start shooting RAW instead. On most cameras (Digital SLRs) there is an option of which type of file you want your pictures to be, and RAW contains so much more information per photo, it’s ridiculous. You’ll notice once you switch to RAW the space available on your camera (how many pictures you can take before the memory card is full), is greatly reduced. Don’t freak out. That just means now when you edit your photos, you can manipulate a lot more because of the wealth of information contained in each photo.
What can Lightroom (LR) do?
One of the most helpful things about any editing software is that it gives you a way to organize your photos. In LR, the Library function gives you a way to organize your photos by catalogues, and then you can sub-organize them to your heart’s content. I would recommend purchasing an external hard drive like a Passport (usually under $100 for 1 Terabyte of storage) from somewhere like Futureshop so your photo files don’t take up all the storage space on your computer.
LR has some really cool tools:
First, the basics are all covered- decreasing and increasing the brightness, contrast, vibrancy, shadows and highlights, clarity, blacks, whites and the saturation. You can easily change the white balance (how warm or cool your picture looks), crop, straighten or rotate and reduce red-eye. Just a few of these adjustments and
your picture is already looking WAY better.
Second, there are more specific changes you can make to your pictures by using the ‘adjustment tool’. This lets you make changes to certain parts of the picture- instead of the whole thing- so you can enhance eye color, smooth out lines on skin, darken or lighten a certain area, enhance the color on one part of the photo, etc. It is cool, fun and easy to use. There’s also a cloning/healing tool with which you can easily “heal” any blemishes, spots, etc. I’ve even used it to “remove” a pesky mosquito flying across someone’s forehead, or food on a child’s face!
Super easy and useful.
Lastly, at the click of the mouse you can choose a “preset” which is a fancy word for “all the changes someone else has made to a photo to make it look cooler”. LR comes with a basic set of these and there are an infinite number to download for free or available for purchase on the web. Some presets are as simple as a nice black vignette around your photo, and some are more like Instagram-looking effects.
You can also create your own presets, which can be extremely helpful and save a lot of time, especially if you often shoot in similar lighting conditions (i.e., outdoors).
The most important thing to remember is that getting a picture the way you want it “in camera” is much better than taking a picture and thinking “I can fix that later in Photoshop”. Use an editing program to enhance your photos, not make a good picture out of a bad one. This
is part of what makes a good photographer. Some things are out of your control,
however. Maybe you caught a picture of a GREAT expression on your son’s face today, but he has a nasty cut on his lip from a wipeout he took yesterday. If you know that you have the freedom to shoot knowing you can fix up that little cut later in Lightroom, you won’t stress about it.
Price point: If you are a student or a teacher- good news for you! LR is only $85 to purchase- and worth every penny in my opinion:). If not the price is still good compared to Photoshop which can run close to $1000.
A lot more can be said about all of this, but I'll leave it at that for now.
Thanks for reading, and if you found this helpful please let me know and/or leave any questions or comments below. You can also contact me on fb on my Dee Kohler Photography page.
I’ll continue to do these types of posts if there is enough interest. I am open to topics you’d like to learn about, too- that would be very helpful for me and you!
Here are 3 pics to give you an idea of what Lightroom is like.
1. The Lightroom logo.
2. The set up of the LR Develop page- on the left are my catalogues and presets, and on the right are sliders to adjust your picture. As well as all the tools you'd want to use- cropping, healing, etc.
3. A before and after example from my photos.