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Using Adobe Lightroom as a catalogue and picture editor.

28th March 2015
Lightroom is both a superb cataloguing program and photo development tool.

When I import my RAW files (I almost always shoot in RAW as I gives so much better quality files than jpegs) I import them into a folder defined by date, this folder being a sub-directory of my computers “Image files” folder. For example today’s shoot would be 2015-03-21 and when the files are imported I will add a description to the title such as Leicestershire or Westminster. This way files are easy to find by date. I will also add a few basic key words to the files, London Eye, Houses of Parliament, statue etc. so that individual files can easily be found. Lightroom can quickly search for these identifying words across all the files in its catalogue. Next up is to delete any files that are not up to scratch; there is no point in cluttering up the hard drive with pictures that will never be used.

Raw file as shot without the use of graduated neutral density filters which, if used, would have created a more balanced image similar to the developed version below.




Finally comes development; RAW files are not like jpegs, they have undergone development by the software built into the camera whereas RAW files have not. They need editing for contrast, vibrance, saturation and sharpening etc.

These days all my photos are edited solely in Lightroom and apart from a bit of split toning now and then and use of Lightroom's grads and brushes I don't think I do any special editing but I am careful to photograph in good light whenever I can (early morning or late evening for preference). Key to my work is the use of Lee ND grads to get the balance between sky and land. Most landscape togs seem to recommend one, two and occasionally three stop grads but I use 1.5 and 2.5 soft grads (I occasionally use the 2.5 from the top and the 1.5 inverted from the bottom to provide a bright "window" through the centre of the picture) and a 2 stop hard grad.

Getting it as right as possible in camera is key to restricting the amount of editing needed (thus preserving image quality and saving time). One thing I have started to do recently, that I find a most useful hidden feature of Lightroom, is to hold shift and double click on white or black (the word itself) and Lightroom automatically sets the whites and blacks to values that prevent clipping. You will still need first to edit the highlights and shadows to values that maximise your picture dynamics.

File after development in Adobe Lightroom.



Next up is to review all the files again and grade them, for which Lightroom uses star ratings, or reject them if better files exist or for any other reason. Finally keyword fully and send off to your chose photo library or upload to your website or Flickr account etc.

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