Lightroom – the new Darkroom

Right now I feel a tad overwhelmed. Overwhelmed, and psyched.

I finally found ‘the book’. I’ve owned Photoshop since version 3. I can open files, crop, mess around with brightness and contrast and change the image size with the best of them. I’ve bought books on techniques and tried to follow the step by steps. Sometimes it worked – but it never stuck. Photoshop, the monolith -so much that I just didn’t know where to start, where to go. So I’d wander around, move a slider here , click a button there and quit.

I bought Lightroom 1 about a year and a half ago. I loved the Library function. I organized my digital library and added keywords to all of my images.  I bought another book, wandered over to the Develop module, played around a bit, grew frustrated and left.  A month or so ago I upgraded to Lightroom 2 and liked it – it didn’t crash as often.  I bought a new book, ‘Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop Workflow Bible’by Mark Fitzgerld last Saturday. And started reading, and reading and reading more.  And the pieces came together. Technique is secondary – it focuses on the purpose and the process. It defines the of the tools, the purpose of Lightroom and Photoshop and Bridge and ACR and how they fit together. The flow, from import to end image and I finally feel like I know where I’m going.

What great tools! I am a solid B&W darkroom tech. And I knew how to shoot to get the color shots I wanted with minimal manipulation. And I found a great color lab to figure out any manipulation I needed. Then the digital world interfered with my pleasant little world. Not because it was hard, but because it was so much bigger. There is so much more you can do with it – it is just WOW.

Now I’m playing and liking it. I’ve only gone through the Lightroom part so far. The part that more or less mimics what I used to do in the darkroom. I’m starting to get what I want. Now I need to burn it in until it is works as easy as taking a breath – kind of like printing in the darkroom. I don’t have to think about it. I just do and it happens the way I want.

I went back to the first pictures I took with my digital. Pictures that were kind of blah. I looked at them, followed the Lightroom process and did what I used to do in the darkroom, when I could make a picture look the way I wanted.

This is what it looked like right out of the camera:


This is what it looked like after 10 minutes in Lightroom:


It’s not going to win any prizes, but I like the change. A little Histogram adjustment. A little sharpening. A little vignetting and a tiny amount of burning. Never touched Photoshop (until I had to resize it – didn’t work the way I thought it would in Lightroom).

I’ll share more of the how when I’m a little more solid on the technique and have something a little more impressive to show off.