I love taking and looking at photographs, but I am in no sense a professional photographer; rather the happy amateur! Therefore, I'm constantly on the look-out for better photo management and photo editing tools, making viewing and enhancing images better. As of lately, I've been taking Aperture and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for some test drives.
The one I definitely prefer and regard in that "war" is definitely Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and wanted to tell and show you some things about it.
What's in a name?
Ok, now I've written the name of the application a couple of times already, and some of you may wonder about it. It was initially named Adobe Lightroom and then changed to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, something certain people were definitely more sensitive about it than me. While I agree that the Photoshop part of the name isn't necessary or in no way actually related to the Photoshop application, I don't really care. If they think that the strong Photoshop name will help sell and market the application, so be it; live and let live.
What is the program about?
Mainly it is about photo management and professional editing, although most features are very easy to use for the layman as well. Basically, you certain views you're working with, which are:
A grid overview of the currently chosen folder or photo shot.
Working with a specific image doing basic and fairly advanced editing. And yes, loupe is basically just a fancy word for magnifying glass... :-)
More advanced editing options
The default view when you open the program is the Grid view of the library. If working in any other view, just press G to come back to the Grid view again. Use the arrow keys to navigate around and Enter or E to go into the Loupe view. The side panels consists of existing folders and/or photo shoots and they're filled to the brim with metadata end editing options.
Use the tab key to show/hide the side panels:
In any view, you have the wonderful Lights Out-function, where you can partially dim everything but the selected image or make everything around it black.
Just select any number of images in the Grid view and then press C to compare them side-by-side. After that, press the arrow keys to keep one fixed image and switch the other (Note: the first one you selected is the one that will be switched).
The Loupe view, available by pressing E, is displaying one image at a time where you have the same information and ways to edit like in the Grid view. You can use the arrow keys here as well to navigate back and forth between images, and Z to toggle the zoom view.
The Develop view is the most advanced editing view, where you have a myriad of ways to alter and change settings for an image. To switch between the main views, just press Command(Mac)/Ctrl(PC) + 1 for the Library view and Command(Mac)/Ctrl(PC) + 2 for the Develop view.
There's also a very sophisticated Crop feature, where you easily crop and twist and turn your image:
Almost all of the key navigation and view operations can be found under the View and the Window menus. Learn the keyboard shortcuts by heart and your work will go phenomenally fast! :-)
I noticed that it got a little sluggish in the Grid view when having several thousands of images to show. It wasn't that bad, but most likely something they will address before the final release. Overall, though, I recommend that you use it on a fairly fast machine, since it is definitely resource demanding.
Download for free!
Right now, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is in beta (currently version 4.1), and it is free for anyone to download; all you need is an Adobe account that anyone can register for. The beta will then, naturally, expire when the final version is released. So, go download it now!
What I love about it is that I have photo management and editing in the same program. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is truly a great application, and I'm sure it will fundamentally change photo editing for a lot of photographers as well as happy amateurs.