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First Look: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.0

Exploring Lightroom's Library and Develop Modules By John Virata

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is an image management system for photographers who need more management capabilities than what comes with Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. It is not a replacement for those editing tools, but rather, it is a workflow application that enables you to import, sort, tweak, display, and otherwise organize your digital images.

The application is designed to be the go to application after a shoot, where photographers can download, sort, organize, keyword, and manage their images. It features five main Modules that you work in. These are Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print, and Web. In Part One of this two part series, we'll take a look at the Library and Develop Modules to this version 1.0 software. 

Library acts just like an image repository. It is where you access, import, export, and inspect your images, and make changes to image properties. An image's white balance, tint, exposure, and vibrance can be adjusted by pushing on their respective arrows. While these adjustments can be made in Photoshop, photographers oftentimes just need to make quick tweaks of their images and won't have a need to open Photoshop. The idea is to browse through your images quickly and then give them fast tweaks.

Lightroom's main window

As you make adjustments to the image, you can view the changes in the preview window as well as via the histogram preview window located to the top right of the main window. The Histogram only appears when in Library or Develop mode. To the left of the preview window is the Navigator. The tools in the navigator pane changes based on what tool area you are in. While in the Library, you have access to Lightroom's Find tool, Folders, Collections, keyword tags, and Metadata Browsers.

Find works by searching out keywords that you have given to your images as you import them into your Library. You can also search based on capture date range. Images captured between the date ranges will show in the photo strip window at the bottom of Lightroom's main window.

Folders details all the folders that you have imported into Lightroom. When you click a specific folder in the Folders panel, the images in the folder will appear in the main window in numbered order. You also import folders here as well as export image files. When you export image files out from Lightroom, you can change the format of the image (JPEG, TIFF, PSD, DNG file formats are supported), the color resolution, image size, and image quality.

Find and Folders

Collections enables you to choose images in your folders and make collections of them. For example, if you shot several dozen pairs of white shoes and only a few pairs of pink shoes, you can place them in collections according to color. It is fairly easy to just drag images from the Folders panel into the Collections panel, and give them keywords along as they go into the Collections.

In addition, keywords saved to images in Photoshop Elements will carry over to Lightroom. Giving an image keywords is as easy as dragging the keyword from the Keyword Tags and dropping them onto the images.

And finally, there is the Metadata Browser. The Metadata browser conveniently enables you to garner any metadata information from your images simply by clicking an image in Grid view or in the smaller filmstrip view and selecting what metadata for that image you wish to view.

The Metadata browser

From here you can get information about the camera used, the lens, the creator, if noted, the date image was shot, file type (JPEG, RAW), and location, if specified in the keywords. When you click on a specific camera model that the browser has located, it will showcase the images captured with that camera. The same goes with the creator, date, file type, etc.

Grid view shows images in thumbnail view.

Lightroom provides for several ways to view your images. The first is Grid View, which details all the images in a Folder or Collection.  Following Grid view is Loupe view, which enables you to view one image at a time, and magnify it to its largest physical image size.

Loupe view enables you to zoom in on specific sections of an image, all the way to pixel view.

This is ideal for viewing specific details within an image. Following Loupe view is Compare, first introduced in Photoshop Elements 3 several years ago. Compare sets two images side by side so you can make comparisons between the two. In addition, while in these views, the image histogram is always displayed.

Compare view enables you to compare two images side by side.

Likewise, when in Compare mode, a simple click on one image will display the Histogram, and clicking on the comparison image will switch to that image's Histogram preview, as well as detail the ISO rating, aperture and shutter speed, and focal length of the lens at the time the image was taken. When you Compare the two images, they are also highlighted below the main window, so you know what images are being compared. Switching between images to compare is as easy as clicking on the XY boxes or the left right arrows.

The Develop Module provides tools that enable you to make tweaks to your images without having to go into Photoshop. The included tools are for cropping, editing, making adjustments, and color correction. Below the navigator pane, you'll find the Presets.

The Develop module. Basic color correction can be tweaked here.

These Presets are essentially filters that you can apply to your image for a different look, and they include Antique grayscale, Cyanotype, Direct Positive, Grayscale Conversion, Sepia tone, Tone Curve (Lightroom default, Linear Contrast, Medium Contrast, Strong Contrast), and Zero'd. There is also a Snapshots tool that enables you to take low res snapshots of the image you are working on as well as History, which details all the changes that you've made to an image.

Lightroom's Tone curve

Also included in the Develop Module are basic editing tools, including tools to adjust temperature and tint, exposure, fill light, recovery, blacks, brightness and contrast, and vibrance and saturation. You can also adjust image curves (highlights, lights, darks, shadows), Hue, saturation, and Luminance adjusters, color and grayscale adjusters, Split toning, Detail (sharpening and noise reduction), and Lens Correction and camera calibration. Lightroom's Lens Correction tool enables you to adjust for Chromatic Aberration (red/cyan and Blue/yellow can be tweaked) and Lens Vignetting (amount and midpoint sliders). With the Camera Calibration tool, you can adjust shadows, as well as the Hue and Saturation in the Red, Green, and Blue primary colors.

Lens Correction and Camera Calibration tools can be viewed at right. History is to the left.

First Impressions
Lightroom 1.0 is a fairly robust digital image management application that is probably long overdue on Adobe's part. Most photographers probably only use the basic color correction tools in Photoshop and don't have a need for 90 percent of the power that Photoshop provides. These tools are available now in Lightroom. There are several other image management tools on the market, including ACDSee Pro Photo Manager as well as Aperture on the Macintosh, so it is no surprise that the makers of Photoshop would ship a product to protect its turf. And with this version 1.0 release, it has done fairly well. While this First Look only covers the Library and Develop modules (Slideshow, Print, and Web will follow in part two), there is a deep toolset to help photographers manage their photographic workflow.

To run Lightroom on Windows, Adobe recommends 1GB RAM, Pentium 4 CPU, 1GB hard disk space, and 1024x768 screen resolution. Mac users are required to have a PowerPC G4 or G5 or Intel Core Duo CPU, 1GB RAM, 1GB hard disk space, and a 1024x768 capable display. I tested Lightroom on a Dell Precision 360 workstation running a 3GHz Pentium 4 CPU and 1.5GB RAM. I highly recommend a dual core processor and 2GB RAM. Even with 1.5GB RAM on a Dell Precision 3GHz workstation, the image refreshes were a little pokey, when compared to another application such as ACDSee Pro Photo Manager. But this can be fixed by running the application on a dual core system rather than a three year old machine such as the Dell. Lightroom is not a replacement to Photoshop and is not intended to be, but rather, it gives photographers the tools they need to make corrections to their images, organize those images in an efficient style via keywords, tagging and ratings, among others, and send them out to clients either via the Web, print or slideshow, which we'll cover in part two, which you can find here .

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at [email protected]
Related Keywords:Photoshop Lightroom, image management, digital photography, digital imaging,

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