Learning level: - Basic
Learning: time: - 30 minutes
Lightroom is a software application that allows Photographers to edit & manage their pictures & videos. Lightroom is especially useful for editing RAW image files, the editing does not damage or modify original picture file, it provides a way to create beautiful images without worrying about making permanent changes to original files.
Lightroom has very simple user interface for the beginners, yet provides very powerful tools for the advanced professional Photographer. As mentioned above, Lightroom supports nondestructive and nonlinear imaging workflow (for RAW files, as well as other file formats like jpg, png, tiff, psd etc), which means Lightroom won’t make any change to the original file and all changes are stored separately in a small format called Metadata, this provides you the creative freedom to try different versions on the same picture without having to save anything. Lightroom’s catalogs are the location where all metadata of original photos are saved automatically.
About RAW files
RAW file is extremely flexible as the image has not been created yet, it’s more like a series of numbers that represent the final image. For this reason, a RAW file requires a program to convert it to image file, Lightroom understands the RAW file from supported camera models and will create you a preview of the final image. All of the tools that are provided inside Lightroom are designed to work with RAW files and provide you the potential to create best image quality possible.
The JPG format on the other hand is actually a final image format that is created in camera, this means that many components of a photograph like color, sharpness, contrast, clarity etc. are fixed in the picture file by the camera, only minor changes can be made to a JPG image using Lightroom, since JPG is not as flexible when it comes to editing, certain elements can start to be destroyed in a JPG file, RAW file is a preferred format for editing by many professional photographers.
Lightroom has several Modules for different purpose, I shall discuss the following most useful ones here;
1. Library module
4. Slide Shows
1. Library module
This is the place to begin working in Lightroom, form here one can manage photographs or add already managed folders that contain photographs, basically the Library module manages your entire photographs. Various filters can be applied to find photographs easily (by date, by camera model, by file types etc.) or create albums according to events, the goal is to allow users to catalog all photographs and make it very easy to find them at a later date. Library module has the capability of copying new photos from memory cards, external drives and saving them into user defined locations or just adding photographs that are already saved on the computer.
The Development module is for image enhancement (I refer to enhancement rather than manipulation because Lightroom never actually changes anything to the actual content of a photograph, Photoshop is clearly a manipulation tool). Image manipulation on an image is usually done with Photoshop and it is hugely flexible when it comes to changing elements within an image or including new images into an existing scene, i.e. removing things from a picture and replacing with other elements from different pictures. The structure of the final image is never really compromised when using Lightroom. The Development module has some very powerful tools and will work with many camera formats (from RAW to JPG, TIFF and other standards). From a Development point of view, Lightroom is able to work on an image in two modes. 1. To alter the standard elements of the image like exposure, recover highlights and shadows, convert to Black and White, sharpening plus many other options. 2. Lightroom introduces powerful local adjustments panel, which allows users to paint enhancements into the picture in defined user selected areas.
3. Map (an internet connection is required for this feature)
A different way to look and work with your pictures is by the location where they were taken. If you have a camera with a GPS receiver or an GPS adapter, then the picture will be placed onto the map automatically (when you enter the Map module). The Map module requires an internet connection to work. You can also manually enter the GPS data or by collecting GPS data from another GPS enabled device (like a smart phone, or GPS receiver).
4. Slide Shows
Sometimes you want to show your work to an audience and want to create it based up on the images and videos in your Lightroom Library, as well as including some music.
The Lightroom catalog is used to store A LINK to the Master Photos or Videos but not to store the original image/video itself, any adjustments that you make in the Development Module as well as thumbnails, keywords and other technical data of the photograph are stored in the catalog. In order for the catalog to save these data you will need to import photographs into Lightroom first. When you launch Lightroom for the first time, by default an empty Lightroom Catalog is created inside Pictures folder on a MAC or My Photos folder on a Windows.
Importing your pictures in Lightroom
You may import different types of photographs into Lightroom but this program has been specifically designed to work with RAW files.
Steps for importing photos into Lightroom;
1) Click the Import Button in the Library Module.
2) If you want to just add photos that are already saved in your computer, choose ADD (add photos to catalog without moving them) this will add a link in the Lightroom catalog and won’t copy or move original file.
3) If you want to import from a memory card or external drive, you have the following options;
i) Copy as DNG (use this if you prefer the DNG format versus your camera’s original format).
ii) Copy (copy photos in their original format).
iii) Move (if you want to change locations of original photos).
4) After choosing an option from 'I' to 'III' you will have to specify a location on the right panel of import dialog box for the photographs to be converted & saved, copied or moved.
5) After making your choice about adding, converting, copying or moving a file, click on Import icon.
6) The name of folder that contains imported photos will be displayed once the import process is completed, you can then select the imported folder to view photographs on your preview screen.