I installed the trial version of Adobe’s Lightroom last night and have started playing around with it a bit. I’ve followed George Jardine’s podcasts since the program was in beta (some of the podcasts relate specifically to Lightroom but many are just fascinating interviews with a wide variety of photographers). So I know a little about what I’m getting into, but after a few hours I’m still at the stage where I’m more confused than confident.
My current workflow is to use Photo Mechanic for my initial sort and ranking of my favorites, Adobe’s Camera RAW to do the actual RAW editing, and finally Photoshop to do any resizing and copyright text for images destined for the web.
Lightroom has a compare mode that in theory should be similar to what I can do in Photo Mechanic but with the added benefit of working directly with the RAW files, but so far I haven’t gotten comfortable with Adobe’s approach. Time to delve into the help files. The RAW editing controls are similar to Camera RAW so I’ve picked up that part pretty quickly.
There are some nice touches in Lightroom, such as the ability to press a key to go into “Lights Out” mode where the controls fade and you see only your image (although I’d prefer it fill the screen instead of staying the same size). And I haven’t played around with the Print or Web options yet.
I keep a full-size JPEG of all of my images on my laptop’s hard drive, with the RAW images and a full-size TIFF stored offline on hard drives and optical disks. This gives me safe backups of the original images plus the ability to view my images at any time. I find it relaxing to browse through my images, using either Photo Mechanic or Graphic Converter to effortlessly navigate my files. I’m not sure if using Lightroom will be better or worse for laptop browsing.
I’ve got a month now to figure out if Lightroom will find a place in this workflow. I’ve created a test directory with a bunch of images from 2001 (when my wife bought me my first digital camera) that I’d like to re-sort and re-edit, so it should be a good test without worrying about trying to learn Lightroom while working with my current files.
Today’s image is one of those from 2001, a little burrowing owl the locals named Big Face, one of my favorite subjects I’ve ever photographed. This picture is from a rainy winter day at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge west of Salem, Oregon.