Once you’re rocking your DLSR, the next step is quality post-processing. When asked, I usually recommend Lightroom. I’m happy to offer a few posts to get you going with Lightroom 4 but the absolute best way to learn it from start to finish is Scott Kelby’s LR4 book. I read it (a few versions ago) on a road trip. It was a guaranteed nap every 8 or 9 pages but had solid information written in a clear & understandable way. Then I breezed back over it when I sat down at the computer. So I’m not offering a comprehensive tutorial on LR but rather just a few tips to get you going. Adobe also has good tutorials on Adobe TV.
I edit primarily in Lightroom. It’s been key in organizing my images; both personal and professional. Once imported into the catalog, you can do global changes to the image, apply presets (a one-click combination of lots of editing settings), do spot adjustments and then export for web sharing or print. You can also pop a photo into photoshop or photoshop elements, edit and then save back into LR. Lightroom uses sliders to adjust things like white balance, exposure, saturation and lots of other more complicated settings. It is not photoshop. You can’t swap heads or do any fancy photoshop trickery or super-precise adjustments with Lightroom.
The newest version of Lightoom, LR4, is dramatically less expensive than previous versions, making it a very affordable way to access professional photo software. You can find Lightroom4 on amazon.com for $119.00 right now. There is a student & teacher edition that you might also qualify for. Check it.
Also, Adobe offers 30-day free trials of most of their software. No, you don’t have to provide a credit card number or anything, just create an account and install the trial. It will stop working after 30 days unless you purchase and then you’ll just be prompted to enter the serial number instead of having to re-install.
In the next post, I’ll give a basic rundown of initial setup. Please feel free to ask questions if you’re considering giving Lightroom or another post-processing program a try. Post-processing isn’t meant to fix an image. It’s meant to enhance it. If you’re fixing, you’re doing it wrong.
Speaking of doing it wrong, here’s a lucky shot I caught of my kids getting on the bus on the first day of school. Ellie asked me to “keep taking pictures until we’re all the way on” so I was shooting blind into the sun, but it was worth it: