As a photographer, learning how to correctly edit your photos is half the process of presenting the final version of a photo. Editing also helps you create a distinct style that separates you from other photographers. In this post, I have compared the two photo editing programs created by Adobe, Lightroom (which I will abbreviate as LR for the sake of space) and Photoshop (PS). People often ask whether they should use LR or PS for photo editing. What it boils down to is simple, you want to use the right tool for the right job.
Lightroom: This program is great because it’s relatively user friendly and once you know your way around it you can edit a large amount of photos in a small amount of time. If you’re a professional who shoots a lot of weddings, portraits, or events where the lighting and exposure are consistent then you see the benefit to this.
Presets: If you choose to do so, you can purchase LR presets online and install them in Lightroom to use on whatever photos you want. Another option for presets is to create your own, say you’re shooting a commercial photo shoot in studio lighting and you edit a photo to show your client an example of what the final product will look like.
The client is happy with the way it looks and wants all the photos to look the same for an advertisement or catalogue. Now you can create a preset, select all the photos from the shoot, add this preset to them, and save yourself potentially hours of editing each individual photo.
Collections: Another thing I love about LR is that when you import a batch of photos, you can select that group and create a collection. For example I went camping at Devil’s Lake State Park on the weekend of June 2nd, 2018 so I created a collection titled Devil’s Lake 6/2/18. This feature helps you stay organized and allows you to find a set of photos quickly when looking for something specific or from a specific date.
Publish Services: If you have a Facebook account and want share photos, all you have to do is connect your account and you’ll be able to streamline the uploading process straight from Lightroom to Facebook. This saves you lots of time in the long run and allows you to focus more on work and waste less time uploading photos. This section also allows you to publish to the popular photo sharing site, Flickr, and to upload and sell your photos to Adobe Stock (Adobe’s Stock photo selling service).
Non-Destructive Edits: What this means is that when you edit a photo in LR you aren’t changing the original file and when you edit a photo in PS you are until you decide to save it as a different file. Any changes you make to a photo in LR will only appear on that photo once you export it to a new folder, the original RAW file or JPEG will stay the same.
Map: This module of LR will show you where any photos you’ve taken with a camera that has GPS enabled were taken. It also allows you to map them out on your own if you choose to do so by dragging and dropping photos onto a map.
Book/Slideshow/Print/Web: All of these modules allow you to publish your photos to different locations on the internet or make prints if you have a photo printer. The print section also makes it easy to create a simple watermark for your photos if you want to protect your work.
Develop: This module is where you’ll find yourself most often. It’s the section of LR that you use to make edits to your photos. You can change anything about a photo from the basics like exposure, white balance, and contrast to more advanced modifications such as hue/saturation/luminance which allows you to alter specific colors of your photograph. Using all of the tools provided in the develop module you can create almost any look or style you want. However you can’t take information from one photo and “paste” it onto another. This is where PS comes in, whenever I want to make a more advanced edit or retouch on a photo, I open that file in PS (which you can do straight from LR) and use this program to modify more of the details of the photo.
Adobe Photoshop has become the mainstream way of saying someone has made post production modifications to a photo, when someone says something is “Photoshopped” they mean that the photo is not how it looked straight from the camera. Although there are many different products that can be used to modify a photograph, Photoshop is recognized as the industry standard for professional photographers. I primarily use this program when I have to do a more intensive edit such as removing an object from the photo such as a distracting light post from a land or cityscape photo. Photoshop is also a great program for creative design work, making composites (taking information from one photo and adding it to another) and touching up the finest details on your photos.
One downside to Photoshop is that you have to use one program called Adobe Bridge to view and organize all your photos (similar to the catalogue in LR) and another program Camera Raw CC to open RAW files in Photoshop. However if you have the creative cloud photography plan from Adobe you get all these programs for a monthly fee. The benefit that I see to this is that you can use LR for all your organization and batch edits and when you need to make more fine tuned adjustments you can open photos right from LR to PS with the click of a button, saving you the time wasted dealing with Camera Raw CC and Adobe Bridge.
Think of Photoshop as a program that allows you to adjust every single detail of any type of image down to the pixel. This allows you the freedom to create almost any image if you spend enough time learning the program and practicing editing. This program is the replacement of a darkroom for anyone who shoots only digital photography. If you’re into doing heavy edits like the photo below then this is going to the best tool kit to use.
Lightroom is more of a digital studio where you can catalogue all your photos, make edits, and export them to different platforms online or for your audience. Lightroom is great because it has almost anything you would need for making adjustments to your photos and streamlines the process which is highly beneficial for anyone looking to spend less time in front of your computer and more time shooting photos.
Interested in learning more about Lightroom? We offer a 2-part streamlined class at The Camera Company (West) where we will walk you through an entire Lightroom workflow from import to export. We’ll cover the essentials of organizing and importing photos in part one, and in-depth editing and exporting in part two. Both sessions are packed with only the most useful info, laid out in practical terms.
Day 1 -
- How to import and organize images using keywords and ratings
- Basic editing including crop, exposure adjustment, white balance and color enhancement
Day 2 -
- Advanced editing techniques including cloning & healing, adjustment brush, and graduated adjustments
- Exporting photos as slide shows, files to print, and uploading to social media
This is a 2-part, 5-hour course. Cost $90.00 plus Eventbrite online processing fee
Sign up and reserve your spot: https://bit.ly/2yp2uCE