Adobe Lightroom is a powerful photo editing software that allows you to make various adjustments to your photos. With Lightroom, you can improve the quality of your photos, add special effects, and even create custom presets for future use. Whether you’re a professional photographer or simply someone who wants to make their photos look their best, Adobe Lightroom is a good option for photo editing. Lightroom is a non-destructive photo editor that is powerful enough in its functionality for professional use, yet affordable and approachable enough for photographers of any skill level to use.
Lightroom is part of the Adobe Photoshop family of products, and its official name is “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom” but we call it Lightroom for short. Lightroom combines the image management and organization of Adobe Bridge with Photoshop’s Camera Raw Processor. What we have is a powerful software that can manage, organize, cull, and develop images.
Lightroom gives us options to create different end products from images within our catalog. If we want to make a book, slideshow, print, or upload the photos to the internet, Lightroom has these features built-in to make your workflow efficient. Each of these workflow components are separated into Modules as you can see in the image below:
Each module is essentially a portion of your workflow that has been broken out into a logical organization so that the software interface isn’t overly cluttered.
Batch Processing in Lightroom
What makes Lightroom such a powerful image editor is the ability to batch process our images. Batch processing means that we’re able to edit an image, and then apply all of the adjustments to a sequence of images by simply copying and pasting. Batch processing is an integral part of an efficient Lightroom workflow. While we will get into the actual “how-to” portion later in this series, the image below shows an example of the Synchronize Settings dialogue which allows you to select which develop settings you wish to apply to selected images.
What is Non Destructive Editing?
Lightroom is a non-destructive editor meaning that what you see inside of Lightroom is simply a preview of what an image would look like, were the settings actually applied. Since the develop setting modifications are not actually applied to the image, at any point in time you can go back to the original image.
Lightroom does this through its Catalog System. Inside of the Lightroom Catalog File all the changes to your photos are saved. As you make adjustments to your settings, the “preview” is updated in real time so that it looks like you are actually modifying the image. However, those editing modifications are only applied when you choose to “Export” an image. By exporting your images, you are telling Lightroom to apply all of the changes made to a photo and export them as a new image.
However, at no point in this process is the original altered; and even when exported, the original image still remains unchanged and within the catalog. This means that at any point in time, you can always simply hit “Reset” on the interface to reset all of the develop settings back to the original image.
This is why we refer to Lightroom as a “non-destructive editor.”
What is a destructive Editor?
A Destructive Editor is a photo editor that saves changes to the image over the original image data. The original file essentially becomes inaccessible after saving because the edited file is saved over the original file. Lightroom’s older sibling, Photoshop, is an example of a destructive editor. When you edit a photo in Photoshop and save the file over the original image you cannot go back to the original file because it has been replaced by the edited one.
Of course, this can be avoided by editing on layers, and saving the image as a PSD. But once the image is saved as a JPEG the changes are permanent and cannot be reverted. You can find a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of using Lightroom vs. Photoshop in this overview from SLR Lounge’s Pye Jirsa. Each application has merits that warrant one’s use over the other in particular situations. For example, Photoshop’s efficient retouching tools make it the go-to for retouching whereas Lightroom’s tools are more cumbersome. Lightroom, on the other hand, excels in other areas (such as non-destructive editing, as mentioned above). It’s worth getting to know both systems to develop a more efficient workflow that meets all of your editing needs.
What are Adobe Lightroom Presets?
Lightroom presets are a set of predetermined adjustments that can be applied to a photo with one click. These adjustments can be anything from simple changes like white balance and exposure to more complex edits like split toning and sharpening. Lightroom presets are a great way to save time when editing photos, as they allow you to quickly apply a desired look without having to make all of the adjustments manually. Additionally, presets can be used as starting point for further editing, or as a way to achieve consistency between multiple photos. There are both free and paid presets available, and many photographers find that they can get great results by using a combination of both. Ultimately, Lightroom presets are a valuable tool that can save you time and help you achieve the look you desire for your photos. If you are interested, The Photo Argus created a set of Landscape Lightroom Presets for one-click edits of your travel and landscape photos.
How to Buy Adobe Lightroom
To buy Lightroom, go to adobe’s website and either sign up for Adobe Creative Cloud or purchase the standalone app.
What are some Lightroom Alternatives?
The most popular alternatives to Adobe Lightroom include the following:
We recommend Adobe Lightroom for all professional photographers because of its RAW processing power, versatility, Lightroom presets, and photo organization capabilities. For amateurs, the subscription price might make the software difficult to justify for every day use. But if it’s within budget, Lightroom will provide you with the best tools for optimizing your photos.