In this article I’ll give you an insight into how to use Adobe Lightroom. I’ll be covering the supported file types, importing photos, personalising the software, exploring the Library module and will touch briefly on how to sort through your photos.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Lightroom, here’s a previous article giving you an overview of the software.
What kind of files can Lightroom support?
The following file types can be imported into Lightroom:
- Camera Raw
- Digital Negative (DNG)
- Photoshop Document (PSD)
- Video files (eg. AVI, MOV, MP4)
Here’s a link that gives you more information on the different file formats.
Importing your Photos
You can download your photos into Lightroom directly from your memory card or import from your computer if you’ve already downloaded your photos. Either way you’ve got the following options when importing:
Copy or Move: Lightroom lets you copy or move your photos from their current location to a new location. This is handy when you want to copy your photos from your memory card to your computer.
Add: If your photos are already on your computer, Lightroom lets you add them to the catalogue without moving them.
Types of Previews
During the import, Lightroom generates previews for your photos. Here are your preview options:
- Minimum: This is the smallest preview and is useful when seeing the photos in grid view.
- Embedded & Sidecar: the previews generated by the camera – these will be used until Lightroom generates the 1:1 preview.
- Standard: a larger preview, this is the size used in the Loupe view. I recommend using this size as it gives you enough detail and Lightroom generates these previews more rapidly than the 1:1 previews.
- 1:1 :The largest preview showing 100% of the pixels. This view is really useful when you are editing your photos but it takes longer to generate.
Having 1:1 previews can make your catalogue very large and it’s good to check the size of your catalogue from time to time. If you need to work with 1:1 previews, it’s a good idea to discard these previews after a period of time – there’s a setting in the File Handling section of the Catalogue Settings which enables you to set a time frame for deleting the previews. The 1:1 previews will automatically be regenerated when you choose to view a photo at 100%.
Lightroom gives you the option of renaming your files when importing them. This can be useful especially for photos coming straight off the camera as you might have other photos on your computer with the same file name. The file renaming option is only available when copying or moving your files.
You can choose to rename your files using one of the available templates or you can create your own naming convention.
If you decide not to rename the photos upon import, you can rename the photos at a later stage. This comes in handy when you only want to rename a few photos eg just your best photos.
Applying Develop settings
Lightroom lets you apply predefined develop settings to your photos when importing them however I strongly recommend against doing this as would be useful in very rare instances when you want all your photos to have the same look. This feature is most useful for pro photographers but even then it would be only be used occasionally….
This function permits you to easily apply the photographer’s name and copyright information to all your photos as well as any other information you wish to add. Even if you’re not a pro photographer it’s still important to include this information with the photo.
The best way to apply metadata is to create a new template as this enables you to apply the same information every time you import photos. When you create the template you’ll see many fields – the only ones you need to worry about are the IPTC Copyright and Creator sections – the rest can be left blank.
You also have the option of adding keywords to your photos to make them easier to find. These keywords will be added to all the photos being imported so make sure they are relevant to the entire batch of photos.
You can always add extra keywords to individual photos once they’ve been imported.
Importing the photos
The photo import can take a little time especially if you are copying your photos from a memory card and if you are generating 1:1 previews. While you can start working on the photos immediately, I recommend that you leave your computer to work for a few minutes before start looking at your photos.
Customising your Lightroom Catalogue
It’s fairly easy to personalise Lightroom. Here are a few options you might want to consider:
Personalising your Identity Plate
To personalise your Identity plate (at the top left of the screen) go to the Lightroom menu (on a Mac) or to the Edit menu (on Windows) and choose Identity Plate Setup.
Here you can change the default name (Lightroom) with your own name or logo. I chose to replace it with “Claire de Groot Photographe” ☺
You can also change the appearance of the Module titles on the top right. You’ll see that I have changed the colour of the active module to Red.
Personalising the Modules
You can also choose which modules you want to see on the screen. I don’t use all 7 modules and it’s really easy to hide those you don’t want to see.
Simply right click in the Module bar and select those you don’t want to see. To make them reappear simply repeat the same process or click “Show All”
Personalising the Panels
You have multiple options when dealing with the panels (on the left and the right of the screen). Your options range from hiding the panels you don’t use to hiding them all.
If you only want to hide a few panels, right click in the panel header and click the ones you don’t want to see. If you want to hide all the panels click the Tab button to make them disappear. To make them reappear click the Tab button again.
Different View options in the Library Module
You have a few different viewing options in Lightroom. You can see the photos in Grid view, Loupe, Compare or Survey view.
- The Grid view (first button) is useful to give you an overall view of all your photos, to sort them and to add keywords to multiple photos.
- The Loupe view (second button) is used when you want to see individual photos, select your favourites and to add keywords to individual photos.
- The Compare view (third button) is useful when you have 2 similar photos and you want to compare them to choose the best photo.
- The Survey view (last button) is used when you want to compare multiple photos to choose the best ones.
Sorting your photos
The Lightroom Library module is primarily used to find and sort your photos. The next step after the photos have been added to the Lightroom catalogue is to go through your photos to pick the best ones and to get rid of the worst photos.
One way to do this is to assign Pick or Reject Flags to your photos. You can also use stars or coloured labels to indicate your favourite photos.
My process involves going through all my photos and Pick the sharp photos and Reject the blurry or failed photos. Then I take a look at my picks and I star my favourites.
Here’s a video from Adobe TV that takes you through the Library module.
Ok that’s it for this article. I’ll go through the Development module in a blog article in a couple of weeks.