Lightroom philosophy help??

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by WT21, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    I'm getting better with the Lightroom tools. That is, modulating them to get what I like, but I am sure there is a philosophy behind how the tools work.

    For instance, in another thread, someone commented that they don't use the tone adjustments in presets. When do you / are you supposed to use them? When do you use tint or WB vs. camera calibration, etc.

    Anyone know a good overview -- preferably online than print, if possible -- that overviews the philosophy of how the LR modules work together?
     
  2. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    Margaret
    I wish I did! :smile: I've started reading the Lightroom Forum that Victoria Bampton runs, because I've gotten no response to the one or two LR-related posts I've made here.... But that forum's pretty much all about using the application. This is certainly helpful, but sometimes I'd like to discuss LR with photogs using the same system as I do. Too bad there's not more interest in that here.

    --
    Sent from my phone. Please pardon my brevity!
     
  3. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Julianna Kost's video how-to guides for Lightroom (free) are truly outstanding.
     
  4. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Well, you and I can start dialoging, and maybe others will join!
     
  5. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Lightroom does a great job, better then Nik SEP2 once you get the hang of it.
    The key issue is...to approach each image on it's own merits. Then looking at it, try to get a definition of what it looks like in a finished state. If you use the Library module and the grid...just pick your images that you want to see processed further. Give them a 1 star rating. This way you can find them when your ready to process.

    After you get some that you want to work on....choose one and go into the Develop Module....just click "D". At this point you should have an idea if the image will be color or b&w. Let's assume your thinking straight and you want to convert to b&w....

    If you have presets, start by using them first. There are some already in LR on the Left panel in the develop module. If you want to start fresh, on the right top, you'll see the converters and the Monotone one. Click it.

    Now about that philosophy thing........forget it....you need to be inside your head and PRE-VISUALIZE the image. Blame Minor White not me.

    Start by moving the exposure slider both ways...SLOWLY.....notice the change in the contrast and tonal range. Then after something looks about right....start moving the contrast slider...this is opposite of what the books teach but contrast will effect tones so do that first. Then, slide the highlight and shadow sliders to get the values you are seeing in your head.

    The Clarity slider is the most powerful slider in LR. It adjust the intensity of the mid tones but it also effects the tonal scale and contrast. Don't be afraid to move that slider all the way to 100. If you want a glow in the whites like I get sometimes.....move the clarity slider to the left.....

    let's assume you now have the photo looking close to what you want.....make a preset out of the settings....you'll see on the left panel, the preset folders....there is a + sign...click it and a box will open.
    In the box you can select what you want to save as a preset....1st one should be "Click All".

    Now you can do sharpening....Raw files will tolerate 150 while jpegs are pushing but safe at 100.....
    Try toning the photo....there are 2 ways to tone....shadow and or highlights......

    LR is totally non destructive so don't worry about mistakes........
    There's more but that's the mechanical philosophy of processing....
    Feel free to call upon me at anytime if I can lend a hand......
    don
     
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  6. Lisandra

    Lisandra Mu-43 Veteran

    234
    Nov 16, 2010
    the modules in Lightroom are built to be used in the order they are in, from top to bottom. For example, white balance should be done first, and exposure should go first than whites or black. If you change saturation before white balance youll get weird colors and results. TInt should be corrected fist along with wb, and perfected with the hue/saturation/luminance color sliders.
     
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  7. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    When I work on a set of images I tend to apply a theme or particular style to most images within that set, as a result, I tweak a preset of choice, one that most closely represents that theme/idea until I have it as close a possible to what I picture in my head. I then use that new customized version of the preset as my base formula and batch apply it to all the images I have in that set. Light, color, contrast, forms and subjects change from image to image so I then basically go through each image individually and tweak accordingly. Ever so often a particular image within a set wants something entirely different done so I will work on that image from scratch...for example, an image that is just crying out to be mono and hit with the mega-contrast stick in a set of otherwise softly toned color images.

    Ill agree with Lisandra here, my tweaking of a preset/image tends to follow the 'top to bottom" layout as per the right hand side LR panels...unless of course something irregular like some nasty fringing is apparent in which case i will tend to that first. My final step tends to be selective use of the adjustment brush, it's my fine tuning tool so to speak.

    Very rarely do I apply a particular treatment/preset to a whole set and leave it at that, enjoying the digital darkroom as I do, I really like working on every image individually after the 'base formula' has been applied broadly. It's an enjoyable creative process, I put on some good tunes and I don't rush it. I admit that quite often, where I end up is entirely different to the place I had imagined at the start...and that is a huge part of the enjoyment.

    I'm not sure where the philosophy is in my process, but that's how I do it. I guess I feel a personal attachment to each image, that's how I justify to myself the time I spend.
     
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  8. My basic LR procedure is this:

    - Import raw files and open each individually in the develop module
    - Apply camera specific preset which changes values in the basic, detail, and lens correction tabs only.
    - Adjust exposure slider to move the overall exposure left or right where applicable
    - Check white balance
    - Adjust the clarity slider if it is causing any edge issues between blocks of dark and light colours
    - Combination of crop and manual lens correction tools to set aspect ratio and extents, correct any rotation, adjust perspective distortion where appropriate, increase strength of CA removal if required. I'd throw any cloning out of dust spots or unwanted objects into this step as well.

    From this point I export to tiff and open in Photoshop where I may use:

    - Nik Silver Efex for B&W conversion and/or Color Efex for various minor adjustment filters
    - Tone curve and saturation dialog boxes (adjust overall saturation or saturation of individual colour channels as required)
    - Nik Dfine for any additional noise reduction
    - Smart sharpen for any additional sharpening.
     
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  9. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Oof! A lot of reading and experimenting here!

    It would be super-awesome (pretty please) if some of the more veteran LR users would be willing to post a pic, and their LR recipe. Then, we could try similar settings in our own LR, and see how the work. Looking, then doing and comparing is a great way to learn. At least for me.
     
  10. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    I understand WB and tint coming first (though for me, crop and straightening come first, as to me, that's part of framing -- or at least, correct my poor framing), but if this was taken literally, then things like camera calibration and lens correction come last? Or are those two just the anomalies?
     
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  11. Zariell

    Zariell Mu-43 Top Veteran

    535
    Sep 28, 2012
    Bountiful, UT
    I don't have any specific recipe for LR, I simply download, keyword, preview quickly, flag the specific images I like, then I quickly go down the list of the develop pane, originally it took me about 5 or 6 minutes to do a photograph, now I can do all the preliminary work on most images in less than a minute. Then its off to PS where I do most of my photography tricks, and I've been developing actions over years to get everything as automated as possible :p

    I think the best advice is practice practice practice, its nearly impossible to give a specific help, since almost every photograph needs different things. :)
     
  12. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    So, did you create camera specific presets yourself?

    I always feel like cropping, aspect ratio, correction and rotation first. If I can't get the framing right, I can't be bothered with WB, etc.
    Nic, how come you don't do tone curve or sat in LR (hsl, etc.)? I don't have a choice, as I don't have PS, but I'm curious what I may be missing.

     
  13. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    In principle, Lightroom is designed to left-to-right (across modules), top-to-bottom (within a module). I generally operate in the same way, although over time I've found it useful to override some settings globally (remove CA, use medium contrast curve, etc.).

    I will say that Lightroom's develop module has a lot of features, most of which I use rarely or never. The top 6 or 7 sliders are usually more than enough for me.
     
  14. Yes, but they are not particularly complex, they don't vary greatly from one to another, and they include values for: shadow/highlight recovery, clarity, vibrance, sharpening, noise reduction, lens colour correction (CA) and lens profile (if applicable). I'm away from my home computer at the moment to be able to check but I am pretty sure that that is all they contain. If I have a new camera I will just use an existing preset as a base and tweak it slightly to suit the characteristics of the new sensor. A difference might be that one sensor can accept more clarity than another, or needs less noise reduction.



    I know what you mean and it's a valid approach. My reason for doing it in this order is that I also generally follow a top-to-bottom approach with the right side panels and I'll usually know at the start if I can salvage a composition out of an image. It is also practical because I apply the adobe lens profiles for cameras that don't have them built into the raw file and the corrected image might alter the file enough that it will undo some of your careful cropping and correcting.

    Don't worry about the PS bit, it is basically a hangup from my pre-Lightroom days. It's at least six years old but it is where I have my Nik plugins loaded and I just use it out of familiarity. Anything I use it for I could do in Lightroom.

    The reason why I leave tone curve and colour saturation adjustments until this step is because I use them as finishing adjustments. For example, I will apply a Silver Efex B&W filter first and then adjust the curves afterwards. Similarly I often use a very light pass of the "Tonal Contrast" filter in Color Efex to improve edge contrast of colour images before I adjust the curves.

    My raw conversion presets are centred around maximising the dynamic range so I am working with a reasonably low contrast file up until this last step. I want to retain all that data for as long as possible before deciding what to do with it. I leave saturation until after the tone curve adjustment because by pushing the histogram around I am altering colour saturation at the same time and might need to correct it afterwards.
     
  15. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    Margaret
    Yes, except for some reason, camera profiles & process are at the bottom. These are things you want to change first, assuming you don't use the default. I've created a preset that sets Process 2012 & the Huelight standard profile. First thing I do in Develop is to apply this preset and sync to all photos I'm developing in a given session.

    --
    Sent from my phone. Please pardon my brevity!
     
  16. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Why not just apply upon import?
     
  17. savvy

    savvy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    714
    Sep 28, 2012
    SE Essex, UK
    Les
    +1:thumbup: That is exactly my default import preset.
     
  18. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    941
    Oct 20, 2011
    My typical flow in LR is, Import with conversion and batch setting I like with custom names general keywording, Batch out my WB with my x-Rite color checker, huge timesaver that I canot recommend enough. Sorting, and throw out, and a couple quick edits to see what's worth keeping, reset edits on what will be kept. Then anything worth editing is opened as smart object copy in CS6, saved as a PSD if I don't finish, all flattened images will be tiff's back into LR. JPEGing happens in LR and is not saved in library.

    Not for everyone, but I've really been far happier since moving to PS heavy flow, and using LR for import, organization, WB, most of my cropping, and exporting. While using the ACR in the smart object for my non destructive edits, as I like how the ACR feels in it's GUI. And being able to utilize the PS features on top of it, instead of constantly popping in and of the plug-ins, and all the extra copies I seem to get when I used primarily LR.
     
  19. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    941
    Oct 20, 2011
    ...oh and for people pictures, I use the old ACR slider set, the contrast is whacky on the exposure slider. I don't like how they're connected and what it does to skin. Try switching them back and forth on a portrait, and slide the exposure slider around. it's amazingly different.
     
  20. TDP

    TDP Guest

    You might want to check out Scott Kelby's Lightroom For Photographers book (of course, what else would Lightroom be for it not photographers?) for some overall end-to-end workflow ideas.

    Me? I start off with a nice clean image and Lightroom it to death.

    I do use a custom camera calibration for each of my cameras since apparently no 2 sensors are alike. I use X-Rite ColorChecker Passport.