Adobe Lightroom CC was developed to assist you in doing three primary things: arrange your images, post-process them, and export them.
In this detailed guide, we will go over the procedure of utilising Adobe Lightroom for newbies, from start to end, so you’ll know how to make the most of the tool.
This course is written in a way that allows a newbie to understand pretty much anything about Lightroom, regardless of what version you have. And if you’re a pro and want to refresh your info, this site has a heap of other resources, like this list of keyboard shortcuts for Lightroom.
Ideally, even if you begin with no understanding at all, you’ll wind up with a medium-to-excellent understanding of Lightroom’s essential principles. It’s a long post, but it will help you understand how to get the most out of Adobe Lightroom.
You might want to revisit this later on if you discover a few of these pointers to be beneficial. So save it to your bookmarks, or just remember it’s here. Lightroom can be frustrating in the beginning, and the purpose of this guide is to streamline whatever as much as possible. So be patient with it, because it pays off!
What is Lightroom?
Lightroom is a post-processing software application created by Adobe and is included in the Creative Cloud suite. There’s a free Lightroom trial you can take advantage of, too. It lets you arrange your images, modify them, and export them at whatever size you require. It runs on Windows, Mac and iPad.
Organising Your Pictures
The most apparent thing that Lightroom does is arrange your pictures.
Each time you import images into Lightroom, you’re likely seeing where they’re found on your computer system (i.e., the file structure). This appears on the left-hand side of your screen. You may see something like this:
The pictures that are currently on your computer system do not automatically appear in Lightroom. Lightroom isn’t an image browser by default. If you wish to include a few of your images to Lightroom, or you wish to add a whole folder of pictures, you’ll need to import them. I’ll cover more about how to import photos later on, but for now, you just need to understand that Lightroom only displays content that you have imported, either from your camera, or from your hard drive (e.g. like your Documents folder).
Lightroom has numerous other methods to sort and arrange your images. What if, for instance, you take a picture that you especially like, and you want to find it once again in the future quickly? Lightroom makes that really simple by letting you attach certain pieces of metadata, either manually or automatically.
When you import images, your camera type and lens used will automatically be referenced in the file. You might also think it’s one of the best pictures you’ve taken, so you flag it as a ‘keeper’ or give it 5 stars. You might include it to a “My raddest photos” collection, or something similar. There are lots of options in Lightroom, and we will go into the options later on. We’ll talk about how to utilise each option to arrange and sort your photos quickly in Lightroom.
Modifying Your Images
Lightroom isn’t all about arranging your pictures. You probably purchased Lightroom because you want to edit your photos. And that’s what Lightroom is primarily for!
Lightroom works a little differently than other big software options. Lightroom is what is referred to as a ‘non-destructive’ editing tool. What that means is that Lightroom doesn’t modify the original file.
Professional photographers can usually manage perfectly fine with Lightroom’s post-processing functions. There are some editing functions that Photoshop is better at, such as cloning. Fortunately, you can quickly launch Photoshop directly from Lightroom, make your edits and return it straight to Lightroom to finish off.
Lightroom’s post-processing choices cover all the primary bases: brightness, contrast, colour, sharpness, and many more. Lightroom was developed to modify your images. This isn’t just a side function that you can utilise from time to time instead of permanently altering the picture in Photoshop; it’s planned to be the primary tool you use for post-processing.
Exporting Your Pictures
Exporting your photos is probably straightforward and doesn’t need much explanation. Lightroom packs all the usual features for exporting your images ready to be used in whatever way.
Once you’re finished your editing, you might want to send a few copies by email, and then save the finished copies in high resolution for your own safe-keeping. Rather than images that are 3000 pixels wide with no compression, you might want to make the file size smaller for email, and keep your high-resolution images only slightly smaller than their original size. For example, you could export a set of images that are 100kb each, and also export a collection that is 1.5mb each, while keeping the photos all in the Lightroom library in case you need a higher resolution later on.
Exporting the images does not erase the original copy of your images. If you export a 500-pixel copy of an image, it’s merely that – a copy. It will have a various file name (or naming convention of your choosing) from your initial image, and you can delete/modify/send it any way you want without impacting the original image on your hard drive or the edits that you made.
This isn’t the most popular thing that Lightroom does, however, in the long run, you’ll wind up exporting your pictures all the time.
What makes Lightroom different from other software applications?
As we mentioned before, when you make a modification to your picture in Lightroom, that modification just appears in Lightroom. Think of it as a reference to the settings that seem to change the photo, even though the original file remains the same. Perfect for when you become better at editing and want to go back and improve your older original photos as I did!
The non-destructive editing method is an essential part of Lightroom, and it’s not a function you can disable. If Lightroom makes it difficult to modify your images really, and the edits are just noticeable in Lightroom, why would experts ever utilise it? Because of the flexibility of the non-destructive editing engine that applies the edits to the images as you export them.
Why is this much better than just modifying the real, initial picture? Lightroom makes it difficult to mistakenly make permanent changes to any of your images that you’re working on.
So how is that different to Photoshop? If you open one of your images in Photoshop, crop it, save and exit, your image will be cropped entirely unless you carefully ensure that you aren’t saving over the original image.
What is the Lightroom catalogue?
As you check out Lightroom, you’ll see the word catalogue everywhere you look. Lightroom is a cataloguing software application.
What does that suggest? This is what I covered in the previous area: Lightroom does not really touch your images.
Every edit that you make to a picture; each star ranking you provide; each time you include an image to a collection – all of those modifications are kept someplace aside from the real image on your computer system. Where? The Lightroom catalogue file.
The Lightroom catalogue is one file which contains each modification and changes you make to each of your images. My Lightroom catalogue file is just about half a gigabyte in size because it consists of all the edits to each of my many pictures. It might sound like a big file size until you remember how many edits I must have made to all of my photos.
Don’t forget, you need to import your photos to the Lightroom catalogue to have them appear.
At the simplest level, however, Lightroom was developed to assist you to do simply 3 primary things: arrange your images, post-process them, and export them.
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