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How does this software work: I don't understand the hype

Apr 2, 2013 4:35 PM

Tags: #lightroom #photoshop #problem #help #bridge #newbie #beginner #basics #basic_knowledge #gui_design

Hi there

Time and again I read how photographers love Ligtroom. How it is the in between Photoshop and Lightroom and a must have if you are serious about photography. Another thing I know is that, even those who have limited computer knowledge can begin to explore any given software knowing that some things seem to be constant. For example one can go to their software and click on 'FIle,' or 'Edit' and they will be given some options as to what they can do from there ("File --> Save As" or "Edit --> Undo". No rocket science involved. Another thing they can do is go their their side bar, for example Explorer and choose a folder and then a subfolder and take over from there (look at what is there). And lastly, most software makes their writing, be it the word 'File' or the name of your folder visible enough to read. So to all you Lightroom lovers please explain why you love this software so much whereby none of this seems possible from the word go?

I opened LR after having installed it  and realized that just about everything is very hard to read--Grey on black really??? Isn't this just about against everything we learned in graphics classes or photography? Also, I have on my left panel chosen my folder (and subfolders) where all my pix are and yet I can't click on any of my folders or their subs--nothing but absolutely nothing happens: What are they doing there then? As I look/go up I see File and Edit and Library etc (again black on dark grey, really?) and none of them either can be clicked on--What the f----???? And then there is the word "Import". What is this all about? My files are already in folders and subfolders what or why do I need to import anything?

Which brings me to the beginning of this discussion: Is there a viable reason why I need to learn stuff from scratch whereby every other software in the world doesn't require you to do so?

Please excuse the anger (if shown). I've been an Adobe (and Photoshop) fan from day one but from a few years ago when I first tried Lightroom I gave up on it quite quickly for these reason given above. If anybody can shed light on it I would truly appreciate it. Though admitedly quite impatient, I consider myself quite smart and this software makes me feel stupid (something I really don't like).

 

Thank you

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 2, 2013 4:47 PM   in reply to pintree3

    I use Lightroom every day and agree it is great for working on my photos.  It’s not hype, it is my experience.  I hate reading manuals or watching tutorials and figured out how to do most things in LR a long time ago, but it is different than how Photoshop works.   LR is non-destructive so you don’t open / adjust and save over the top like you would in Photoshop.  Lightroom uses the unchanged pixels from the original master photo as imported, combined with any adjustments you defined, and then you decide what to do with this image.  You can print it, or Export a new image with the adjustments applied, or create a slideshow or book or web-gallery. 

     

    There are several background color options available in Preferences -> Interface, but things are designed to be unobtrusive visually so as to keep the eye focused on the details of your photos.  If LR’s interface was brighter than your photos it would be distracting so that your judgments about how your photos look could be partially influenced by how LR’s interface looked next to your photos. 

     

    If you are seeing very low contrast text then perhaps it is a disabled function because you have no photos imported.  Things will change to higher contrast for options that are applicable, or at least they are for me.

     

    Lightroom stores locations to photos which are established during the import process:  File / Import or just drag-and-drop a folder or a selected group of photos from Finder or Explorer onto the central area in the Library module and you’ll see the Import panel with various options.  If you already have your photos where you want them prior to importing use the Add option.  If you are getting them from a camera memory card or other such device, then you’ll need to copy them to your hard-drive(s) via a Copy import.  If they photos are already on your hard-drive but in a different location than you want them, then you can use the Move import variation.  You can also define a location to make a second-copy backup for the memory-card import options.

     

    Once the locations of the photos you want to work on in LR are stored in LR, then you can make adjustments—which is the other thing that LR contains—metadata about the photos.

     

    LR never actually contains your photos, themselves, just references to their location and metadata you’ve added or changed for each photo.

     

    Check out some tutorials on Adobe TV to see the basics of using LR:  http://tv.adobe.com/product/lightroom/

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 2, 2013 4:54 PM   in reply to pintree3
     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 2, 2013 5:26 PM   in reply to pintree3

    Your frustration and anger are understandable. Their reason is that you are a guy who doesn't read manuals - yeah, I don't like manuals either.

    But you can't do Lr without the manual because it's different. You have found that out already. So, it's time for you to do something different, too and "read the manual".

    There's lots of manuals - in the form of video tutorials, and their links are on the main page of this forum, to the right where it says "Getting Started with Lightroom 4".

    OK. You're good to go.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 2, 2013 5:33 PM   in reply to pintree3

    pintree3 wrote:

     

    Which brings me to the beginning of this discussion: Is there a viable reason why I need to learn stuff from scratch whereby every other software in the world doesn't require you to do so?

     

    Yeah, ya know...this software prolly isn't for you. Lightroom does work differently than most other editing apps–which is why you can't just load it and expect to start using it without spending a bit of time learning how to do so.

     
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  • John Blaustein
    524 posts
    Aug 11, 2002
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 2, 2013 5:58 PM   in reply to pintree3

    pintree3,

     

    I feel your pain.  I was there once myself.  In fact, when I first looked at LR, I threw my hands up because I couldn't browse my files the way I could in Bridge.  I was annoyed at the idea that I'd have to import files in order to see them in LR.  Old habits are hard to give up.  In a word, I got over it!  I've been earning my living doing photography for over thirty years and I consider LR to be the best thing that ever happened to me, photographically at least.

     

    One of the reasons so many of us here use and adore LR is that it is different from the other image editing software we use.  Sure, there is a learning curve, but I gotta tell you it's a lot quicker to learn LR than it was to learn PS (at least for me).  Perhaps that's because I knew PS and ACR before starting to learn LR, but it's also because LR is designed to work from left to right, top to bottom (you will understand that once you get into it).  Once you get the hang ot it, you will find that it is very intuitive and straightforward.

     

    Like the others above, I would urge you to look at the excellent Adobe video tutorials:

     

    http://tv.adobe.com/product/lightroom/

     

    Hope this helps.  By the way, as you learn LR, this is a great place to come for help if you get stuck.  But please don't rant and rave because those posts don't get much attention.

     

    John

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 10:50 AM   in reply to pintree3

    No offense, but claiming that you are "pretty smart", so you should not have any problem with learning the software. I took me about 30 mintues to grasp the basic concept of database and basic workflow. Even my old mother who has limited knowledge about computer can grasp LR concepts (even though a little struggle at first). She's organizing her photos using keyword, collection, etc. really well now. If you don't have the time to do that, then just use whatever software you are using right now. No need to switch to LR just because of the hype. Tons of photographers out there don't use LR at all. Just my 2 cents.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 11:40 AM   in reply to hsbn

    Lightroom seems to be a different breed of animal than any other software you may have used before.

     

    We have seen people, like hsbn, who pick things up easily.

     

    We have also seen people, like pintree3, who are totally befuddled by Lightroom (and yes, I do believe they are pretty smart, but that doesn't mean you can figure out everything). Which is probably why Adobe (and many others) make tutorial videos ... not just to show the fine points which might be difficult for most people to figure out on their own, but also videos to show the basics of using Lightroom. The fact that so many people "love Lightroom" ought to give you some idea that this is something you might want to spend time learning; and if you sepnd the time and learn Lightroom, then you can decide if Lightroom is something that you want to use or not — as hsbn said, not everyone (not even close to everyone) uses Lightroom.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 1:42 PM   in reply to pintree3

    pintree3 wrote:

     

    Hi there

    Time and again I read how photographers love Ligtroom. How it is the in between Photoshop and Lightroom and a must have if you are serious about photography. Another thing I know is that, even those who have limited computer knowledge can begin to explore any given software knowing that some things seem to be constant. For example one can go to their software and click on 'FIle,' or 'Edit' and they will be given some options as to what they can do from there ("File --> Save As" or "Edit --> Undo". No rocket science involved.

    Yikes! When you first opened Photoshop 1.0 in 1990 (or whatever version and year) you didn't feel the least bit intimidated?

     

    I started using Photoshop (3.0) in 1994 and found it very complicated – despite having 20-years of prior work experience as a computer system design engineer. I also found Lightroom 1.0 a bit intimidating, but fell in love with it almost immediately. That was definitely NOT my experience with Photoshop 3.0. Working with LR over the past six-years has actually improved my understanding and "comfort" working in Photoshop, despite the fact PS (CS6) is now even more complicated.

     

    Working with LR is full of pitfalls if you try to use it as a "conventional" pixel editor and file manager. Here's an example:

     

    http://forums.adobe.com/message/5192183#5192183

     

    You're still going to need PS for things such as merge to HDR or merge to Panorama (at least currently). I also use Adobe Bridge in addition to LR's cataloging tools. Bridge let's me see all of my project assets in one place, including those that can't be imported into LR (.ai, .pdf, .mp3, .indd, etc.). I rarely use Adobe Camera Raw, which I find cumbersome compared to LR's GUI. You could use Bridge, ACR & PS for some or all your photo imaging and cataloging tasks. This is in fact what one LR forum member had to do for his geophysical satellite mapping images. LR's non-destructive image processing workflow was simply to slow for the tens of thousands of images that had to be sorted and adjusted. So (currently) there's a place for both.

     

    To simplify the LR learning process I suggest focusing on just two modules – Library & Develop. Once you feel comfortable working in these two primary modules the rest should be fairly simple to "explore" and learn.

     

    Lightroom Rule #5: Enjoy!

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 1:47 PM   in reply to ssprengel

    Plan a shoot, plan a shoot of several hundred images, whether a dawn til dusk shoot at your favourite area for landscapes or a studio shoot with models, or even a trip to the zoo or something, but what ever you do, have over 100 images that you want to process in one form or another.

     

    • follow instructions on how to import - whether you understand the principals of import presets or not, it does not matter
    • Use the library mode to look at all the photographs - whether you look at them at 100% or just screen size is up to you
      • use the 1,2,3,4,5 keys to assign 1 = mostly rubbish, 2 = mediocre, 3 = ok, 4 = good, 5 = keeper.
      • use the 6,7,8,9 keys to assign colours
        • I use 6 - red for needs processing
        • 9 - blue for brilliant
        • and purple for edited / completed
    • Once you've been through all the photographs you've shot go through the 0's and 1's and any that are out ofo focus / rubbish frames, no good etc, mark with an X - for delete
    • looking at each photograph at 100% ( full size),  go through the 3,4,5's to move good 3's to 4 or 5 and rubbish 5's to 4 or 1, 0 or X
    • once you've got you best shots, its time to process /edit  etc.
      • You can either select all the images and set a white balance - if all daytime exterior landscape / similar shots, set your white balance to "daylight"
      • hit Auto tone - it usually does a good job
    • Once you've been through all the images again, you'll need to start the image specific editing - D - Develop mode
    • RTFM, WTFT, LABOW
    • keywords, placing the images on a map are all of no less importance, but there is only so much to you can learn in one go.


    I've been using LR since it was a beta, and i've never used the print module, I've never used the book module either - its useless in any part of the world that does not have postal access to whatever company they are tied into.

     

    It is a hard program to master, okes mother is a genius, but she is an exception.

    You have to read the manual, did you drive a car on the road on day 1? Did you master word or excel or photoshop by lunchtime?

     

    Trust me that the best way to learn LR is to run a whole shoot through the program, that way you appreciate editing in library mode, the value of presets or macros or batch processing - all the same thing but different names.

     

    Men can read manuals, its not the 1980's. I have the manual for my 5D3 in my camera bag and the last 2 weeks I've shot 45,000 images, and processed  E V E R Y  flipping image through lightroom.

    However, if its not your thing, try aperture ( WHHHHAAAAAAAA good luck) Capture 4,5,6,7 what ever iteration it is, BREEZE if it still exists,  RAW Converter - nope, Adobe bought that out and renamed it lightroom, bubble or bibble, or SMS if you can cope with adequately translated from Polish software.


    At the end of the day, Lightroom is ( unfortunately about) the best pro RAW processing software. Its keywording module is lousy and that is being polite, the Geocoding / mapping is ok, the web module works brilliantly if you buy a couple of plugins from TheTurningGate .net or .com, the slideshow module is ok.

     

    But don't process 10 photos over 2 days and say I don't understand as you won't.

    On monday the tone tab will make sence, by Wednesday the black and white / hue / saturation / brightness will make sence. By Thursday, you'll have become totally confused with presets as there are some for import, export, colour, tonal, keywording, meta tagging, DEVELOP presets, export presets and probably other I've not yet met and as I said I've been using the program for some 400,000 images.

     

    Up to you, beligerance and assumptions will not help you, perserverence and patience will give you the skills to make 100's of images quickly and powerfully, but as everyone has said, its not a normal piece of software that can be picked up without tutorials, manuals, and patience.

     

     

    Good luck

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 2:31 PM   in reply to pintree3

    pintree3 wrote:

     

    Another thing I know is that, even those who have limited computer knowledge can begin to explore any given software knowing that some things seem to be constant. For example one can go to their software and click on 'FIle,' or 'Edit' and they will be given some options as to what they can do from there ("File --> Save As" or "Edit --> Undo".

    I understand your point, but I think there are limitations. 

     

    Lots of programs work on the paradigm of opening files, working on them, and closing them.  So the familiar "File", "Edit" and similar menus make sense, and you will see similar operations in these menus: "Open", "Save", "Undo" and so on.

     

    But Lightroom doesn't follow the same paradigm, and so those menu operations don't apply.  It would be rather limiting to force all applications into the same paradigm just so you have the same menu structure, and can use the application without a manual! 

     

    Before Lightroom is going to make much sense, one needs to understand:

    • Lightroom doesn't directly use the file system folder structure, it uses its own database, which is its view of image files (that may seem nuts, but it has lots of advantages).  Hence the need to "import" files. 
    • Lightroom is entirely non-destructive in its editing.  Hence the idea of "Open", "Close", "Save" etc don't make sense, because there's no need for them. 

    Once one understands that, the rest begins to make sense. 

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 3:16 PM   in reply to CSS Simon

    The problem here is the name "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom" hence the expectation from new users that it works like Photoshop or other pixel editing  software.

     

    Surprise, it has no similarity to Photoshop. The only things that are similar is the Develop Module in Lightroom and ACR in Photoshop.

     
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  • John Blaustein
    524 posts
    Aug 11, 2002
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 3:17 PM   in reply to CSS Simon

    It must say something good about Lightroom that so many of us spent so much time writing such impassioned and lengthy replies to pintree3's original post.

     

    John

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 3:24 PM   in reply to CSS Simon

    I think that back in, what was it? 2002 or 2003, when the Shadowlands project team first sat down and discussed interface terminology, they made some pretty brave decisions. No doubt that the sight of the familiar old Save radio button on the UI would have smoothed the transition for many people, but it would have been misleading and false to the essence of LR.. It was essential to invent new jargon. I don't agree with all their choices; I hate "Import", a term that has mislead thousands into thinking their images would now somehow be "inside" LR. I would have chosen "Register", which I think more accurately would describe what the process of importation is. I'm not thrilled about "Export" either; I would have suggested "Generate" because that is what LR does - it combines data gained from the source file (usually Raw), processes it in numerous hard-wired ways and then modifies the processing according to user-input and finally generates a new creation, an RGB image, perhaps not as fantastic as some Hollywood creations, but a CGI nevertheless. And now, after four editions, a Lightroom "tradition" has been established and even ossified and rants against it are spitting into the wind..

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 3:30 PM   in reply to elie-d

    Most of you respondents act like you are trying to sell Lightroom.  Why?  If someone doesn't like the program and won't take the time to learn it, that is their problem.  I'm wondering if maybe the OP is a troll.  Waste your time if you like.  Isn't it more enjoyable to work on your own stuff?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 3:40 PM   in reply to JimHess

    Give the OP a break please. No need for a bombardment.

    Thanks

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 3:45 PM   in reply to pintree3

    pintree3 wrote:

     

    For example one can go to their software and click on 'FIle,' or 'Edit' and they will be given some options as to what they can do from there ("File --> Save As"

    I have used several raw converters prior to Lightroom, and none of them have used Save As. It simply doesn't make sense in a program of that type.

     

    I have a feeling that a raw converter is not the type of software you want. You want a photo editor. So perhaps you should go and find that instead.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 4:36 PM   in reply to Allan_Olesen

    Allan_Olesen wrote:

     

    I have used several raw converters prior to Lightroom, and none of them have used Save As. It simply doesn't make sense in a program of that type.

     

    _save_as.gif

     

    Sorry Allan - I couldn't resist , and although it may not seem like it, your point is well taken ("export" makes more sense when it's a program like Lightroom).

     

    R

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 4:37 PM   in reply to pintree3

    pintree3 wrote:

     

    ... a must have if you are serious about photography...those who have limited computer knowledge can begin to explore any given software knowing that some things seem to be constant...

    a. not a must have - some serious photographers prefer photoshop/acr (& bridge) over lightroom.

    b. lightroom is not designed to be as easy to learn as possible, it's designed to be as efficient as possible to use, once you learn it.

    (personally, I like the plugins , e.g. publish services: after editing, one-click distributes changed photos to all end-points for consumption)

     

    Cheers,

    Rob

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2013 7:47 PM   in reply to pintree3

    When I am using Lightroom I don't depend on Bridge for anything. Bridge is good if you don't have Lightroom. And if I am working on a few images that I don't want in my Lightroom catalog I will use it. But, other than that, Bridge is not part of my workflow. So, you are right in your assessment.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 4, 2013 7:47 AM   in reply to pintree3

     

    pintree3 wrote:

     

     

    Considering what LR seems to be able to do, shouldn't it be part of Photoshop instead of Bridge (or am I showing my ignorance again and should keep my mouth shut until I know it better first?)

     

    Here's what I said at post #8:

     

    " I also use Adobe Bridge in addition to LR's cataloging tools. Bridge let's me see all of my project assets in one place, including those that can't be imported into LR (.ai, .pdf, .mp3, .indd, etc.).

     

    If you use InDesign or any other layout program, need to keep track of multiple digital assets, create PDF, or eBook publications then Adobe Bridge is a very useful tool.

     

    By comparison LR is very limited as to file types that can be imported into its cataloging database. There's a need for both and each has its strengths and weaknesses.

     

    Here's a good article on the subject and a video that outlines the differences between PS and LR. The video answers your original posted question:

     

    How does this software work: I don't understand the hype

     

    http://thelightroomlab.com/2010/02/adobe-photoshop-lightroom-vs-the-ad obe-bridge/

     

    Enjoy!

     
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