Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lightroom and the Development Module

Over the last several weeks we've reviewed the many features within Adobe Lightroom 3's Library Module.  It provides some excellent tools to sort and organize your photography catalog.  The real magic, however, happens in the Development Module and this week we begin our journey into the incredible number of tools at your disposal to help your images be their best.

Adobe has put A LOT of thought into the layout of the panels in the Development Module and taking a moment to understand just a few of these considerations will go a long way in helping you to become proficient with the tools. 

  1. A "Top Down" Approach - The panels you are most likely to use appear toward the top of the sidebar.  It's always handy to have visibility into the histogram and convenient access to the tools like crop, spot removal, red-eye removal, graduated filter and the local adjustment brush so they appear at the top and remain visible.  After that, my workflow follows the panels by starting at the top with the "Basic" panel to make general exposure adjustments and works it's way down through the other panels to do things like adjust contrast or apply sharpening.  We'll cover these all in detail in the coming weeks and months.
  2. Logical Groupings - Each panel in the Development Module is organized into distinct sections that allow you to focus on a specific type of adjustment.  If you set the sidebar to "Solo Mode" (right-click on the sidebar and check Solo Mode), expanding one panel will automatically collapse the other panels.
  3. Intuitive Sliders - If you look at the background color of a particular slider, it helps you to identify what will happen when you drag the slider that direction.  For example, if your white balance looks too blue, you can see that dragging the "Temp" slider to the right will help to reduce the amount of blue.
  4. The "Light Switch" - Looking at the screen shot to the right, you'll see a little light switch icon to the left of each panel header (except the Basic panel).  This "switch" allows you to make adjustments within that panel and then turn those adjustments "on" or "off" using this light switch in order to see the overall impact.
  5. Double-Click = Reset - On any of the adjustment sliders, you can double-click either on the slider or the slider label to reset it to its original position to "undo" a particular change.  You can also do this for groups of controls, such as the "Presence" sliders, by double-clicking the label (would reset only "Clarity", "Vibrance" and "Saturation").  You can also revert to the original image and undo ALL changes by clicking the "Reset" button at the bottom of the panel.
  6. Non-Destructive Adjustments - This is a biggie and very important to understand.  Any adjustment you make in the Development Module is NOT being applied directly to your image.  Instead, it is a "layer" that sits on top of your image which then gets applied when you print or export the image.  This means any change you make in Lightroom can be undone.  The "History" panel found on the left sidebar in the Development Module keeps track of each and every change applied.
Understanding just these few points will help you to get more from the Development Module as we begin to review each of the available adjustment options.  Stop by next week when we start with the most powerful of all the panels - the "Basic" panel.

Until next time, keep click'n.


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