My university’s library has a huge photography section, and I’m allowed to keep books indefinitely providing nobody else requests them. I checked out Martin Evening’s guide to Adobe Lightroom in late November, and quickly glanced at some issues that were confusing me at the time. The book has been in the ‘I should really read that properly’ pile ever since, until yesterday when guilt got the better of me. I moved it to the ‘take back to uni’ pile, then just before midnight started flicking through it. I was still going at 0200.
Adobe Lightroom is my favourite image processing program, and I thought I had a pretty good grasp of how to use it. I really didn’t. The Lightroom manual detailed a huge variety of tips and tricks, as well as a few features I’d somehow missed. It also took me step by step through a digital workflow, explaining when it’s best to make each adjustment, giving basic primers in tonal range and broadly indicating what I should be trying to achieve. For example, I now understand how Lightroom tells me about overblown highlights, know a quick way to temporarily view only these pure-white areas of an image, and can judge which to leave intact. I also now see that Lightroom’s tone curves are much more powerful than I realised, and are in fact superior to Photoshop’s. I’d only scraped the surface of their functionality before.
I wish I’d read this book months ago! I re-edited a batch of photos using the book’s workflow suggestions this morning, and they all looked much better. Embarrassingly so – I replaced their Flickr versions immediately.
I should have known better. I’m reasonably proficient in Dreamweaver, and that’s entirely down to working through a huge manual when I bought the full version. Such complex software is fun to play around with, but playing can’t pick up design rationales and subtleties. Lesson re-learned.