April 21, 2011

Bonus – Lightroom vs. Photoshop. Fight!

Taking a great picture these days is really only half the battle.

You set up. You frame it right. You get everything just so. And when you press the shutter – Click – you’ve only just begun. Now you have to get the shot onto your computer to tweak the colours, sharpen up the balance and get rid of that weird guy in the background.

The thing is, you don’t have all day to manually adjust all your photos. You just want to import ‘em, tweak ‘em and send them to Nana for oohing and ahhhing. Of course, there are a few shots you want to tweak for specific reasons (Hello Markham Fair prizing committee!).

So what do you use when? And how do you make the best use of things?

Lightroom – Everyday fixes.
Lightroom (actually it’s “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom”) is designed to give you end-to-end control over your entire photo library. Importing. Tweaking. Sending to websites, slideshows and printers. All my photos get imported, catalogued and corrected in Lightroom – even the ones I take on my cameraphone.

How it works.
Lightroom uses a series of modules to guide you along the path to editing pictures. You can correct just about anything major – exposure, white balance, cropping, even editing out little distractions. Everything works with simple slider bars. You can get as simple or as technical with the software as you want.

What you need.
I won’t lie. Lightroom loves to eat your resources. If you want the latest version, you’d better be running a reasonably new system. I upgraded to the Macbook Air this January and the SSD hard drive has made a major difference to my work. Because the Air has an SSD hard drive, it imports faster and processes faster. That said, I’m ready to immediately jump to the next Air if it has Intel’s Thunderbolt and Second Generation Core processors – those two elements will save me hours of work a week. Don’t skimp on RAM either!

Resources to make it better
I get Lightroom humming in a few different ways:

·      Book: Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby. Simply the best resource out there. Breaks out the program in simple to use tasks that make it easy for even a new photographer.
·      Website: Lightroom Killer Tips. A simple tip a day. Great site with loads of simple insights to make my favourite photography program even better.

Photoshop – For the special stuff.
Trying to lose a few wrinkles in the portrait? Want to get super moody on the sky? Want better sharpening? For specific tasks I do basic editing in Lightroom then export to Photoshop for the heavy lifting. There’s a good reason this program’s the industry leader – it does everything and a little bit more.

How it works.
If Lightroom is a linear three-course meal, Photoshop is a buffet of choices. You invent your own workflow and do things in your own way. If you can imagine it visually, Photoshop is your software (even better – Photoshop tools are available on tablets as of next month so you can “touch” edit your photos).

What you need.
RAM. Photoshop is actually reasonably forgiving on resources depending on the version you use and the size of your photos. Extra RAM always helps, but it’s not as awful as it was in the old days when the program slowed to a crawl if you didn’t treat it juuuuuust right.

Resources to make it better
I don’t play with Photoshop enough to get heavy duty into resources, but I will say this – Scott Kelby is some sort of Photoshop machine. He publishes and blogs and does seminars that can teach you just about everything you need to know. I like his Photoshop Book for digital photographers because I don’t actually have to read it – I only reach for it when I need to learn how to work on a specific problem.

Lightroom for every day. Photoshop for fancy occasions. Who wins? You do.

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