Saturday, November 01, 2008

Let there be Light(room)

I've had ambivalent feelings towards the whole post-processing part of photography. There's probably a few different schools of thought along a whole spectrum about this in the photography world, from people who believe the "true magic" of photography only happens on the computer, to the way part of me still feels, that it's almost "cheating" to use software to make your photographs outstanding (not to mention the hassle of finding the time to edit your photos). It is true that you shouldn't depend on a computer program to make your photos into something worth looking at, but at the same time as I've dabbled here and there with even simple programs and effects I've discovered how even a tiny tweak in colors or contrast can turn a blah photo into something that's stunning (to my eyes, at least). And so, I've been wanting to experiment more with this aspect of photography, to learn more and try to master a few techniques.

I blogged before about my frustrations with Picasa3 and the GIMP. Both fabulous programs, but just not quite what I want. So I downloaded a free 30-day trial of Adobe Lightroom and played with it for the first time today, and I have to say I'm quite pleased. Part of this may be a carry-over of what I've learned using the other programs, but Lightroom does feel like it's pretty user friendly. I've had a handful of photos sitting in the My Pictures folder for a couple months that I've wanted to do something to, but haven't taken the time to yet, and after just a few minutes I'd transformed them into something I am pretty pleased with:
(original)
LR edit
(original)
LR edit
(original)
LRedit
(original)
LRedit

As expected, Lightroom is basically a souped-up version of Picasa, with the same sort of organizational capabilities but allowing me to do much, much more editing-wise. It's still limited compared to GIMP or Photoshop (eg, no layers) but I'm thinking LR would work for the vast majority of what I'll be doing now, and anything I encounter that I decide I want to do that goes beyond LR I can always open up GIMP for. So, um, I think a permanent version of LR might be my christmas present this year. =)

As a semi-random aside, I think the feature I was most excited to see in LR was the ability to make vignettes. (the darkening at the edges of a photo, I have slight ones in the first 3 photos above) I love vignettes . I just love the look, I think it can really "finish" a photo and make it look grand. So that's exciting to have at my disposal. =P

5 comments:

  1. Amazing photos - I love going back and forth from the original and edited version.

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  2. great pics! Pete bought his backdrop stand from tubetape on Ebay. I don't like pics that look over edited and my husband like smore of an computered up look. I guess people just have different tastes!

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  3. Great photos...I love your "eye"...and thanks for the before and afters!

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  4. jessinveyrier4:56 AM

    i dont really see the vignette in these photos very well. i bet you could amp it up a notch or two and it still look great. im glad you found a program you like. im trying to work between nikon capture and photoshop, not so much by choice but that is what we have. its kind of annoying to go between the two, and im afraid i lose a bit of image quality compressing them twice. le sigh.

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  5. You know what's going to make your use of Lightroom even better? Buying Scott Kelby's "Lightroom 2 Book for Digital Photographers". It will be the wisest decision you make (and it's cheapest at Amazon.com). I recently switched to Lightroom (I feel exactly as you do about post-processing but now that I am doing some client work, I need to be able to fix a few things up). Anyway, since getting Lightroom, and knowing I can't learn any software wtihout some sort of help, I bought the book by Kelby -- what a wise decision!! In it he explains all the pros and cons, how to get the most out of it, his own personal system for workflow, editing, and organization. It's well worth it. Also, Lightroom is intended to work along with Photoshop and not replace it so a person can do all the basic stuff with LR and any of the 'fancy' or super advanced work is done in PS. I sure hope this helps you! Good luck == I think your photos are great.

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