Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Learning curve

I've been busy these days, learning something new. I downloaded a trial version of Lightroom, from Photoshop, and have spent the last few days trying to make sense of it. These are my thoughts, so far:

(I'm strictly an amateur, so take the rest of this post with plenty of salt.)

Up until now, I have been using Picasa, free from Google, but limited. It's fine for correcting a white balance, cropping and straightening, but that's about it. Anything I do to a photo there is global; if there's a problem with a sky that's too light while the rest of the photo is too dark, I can't do anything about it. It is easy to use, though, and quick; doesn't tax my memory, even while I run other programs in the background.

I have tried many other free programs. Some are better than others; none are better for me than Picasa. One was about as easy to use, and had layers. I don't know why I decided against it, and uninstalled it. It probably merited a second chance, but now I can't remember which one it was. Oh, me!

Lightroom can adjust parts of a photo separately, can balance colours and brightness in a variety of ways, has interesting possibilities. It allows for fine-tuning values like sharpness and "vibrance". I have rescued a couple of photos already, photos I normally would delete, or worse, keep because of sentimental value. And it will be half the price of Photoshop, which is what I would like to use.

So far, though, I'm not sure I like it enough to pay for it. It is slow, very slow. It loads everything to the web, which I think is what contributes to its sluggishness. It sometimes crashes my computer. It doesn't do layers. It doesn't co-ordinate well with Picasa, which is what I would use anyhow for the majority of my photos, needing just a quick tune-up. And sometimes, I am not sure if the photos look worse or better once I'm done; they seem a bit too dramatic, too definite, out of sync with BC's soft, greyed tones, but the Lightroom skin is a gloomy dark grey, which skews my perception of colours and brightness.

Here's a photo I tuned in Lightroom today:

First hellebore of the year. In a pot by my door.

What do you think?

What programs do you use? Would you recommend them?


  1. I want something easy myself. I have an old version of photoshop that came with D's Wacom board but have never learned how to use it. I have used some features but don't know how to do layers and many, many other things ... I would like a quick lesson. For some reason, I can't get their help to work on my machine??? I bought a program this time down and am waiting to install it when we get home ... later today. I'll let you know ... but I think it is for Mac.

  2. I use Picassa because it does most of the job easily and I can't be bothered with all the fancy stuff. I have tried photoshop but it just frustrates me and crashes the computer. On my Mac I occasionally use iphoto, but I keep coming back to Picasa

  3. i absolutely love that photo, but don't know how it looked before using lightroom. I always use iphoto, as it comes with my mac. It is very simple and easy to use, and for my needs (mostly cropping and sometimes, shadow reduction), works well, although I've never tried to change separate parts of a photo.

  4. Picasa does nearly everything I want. It's great at organizing photos, but not so great for adjusting contrast, or for darkening a photo (you can only brighten, or increase contrast by increasing shadows). I, too, would pay for a program that would have more options for touchup work, but that would mean having photos out of sync with Picasa's organization.

  5. Thanks! It looks like, in the long run, I'll stick with Picasa. Lightroom is still crashing my computer a couple of times a day.

    Carol, the photo was pretty much ok, except that it had flare-outs on the petals, which Lightroom removed easily. And I was able to darken the background just a bit.

    Tim, that's an issue I hadn't thought of; synchronization. Tonight I sorted photos in LR, and deleted a bunch. When I went back to Picasa, there they were, still! So I had to review them all again.

    Not good.

  6. What a great photo. I use Photoshop all the time, but have not encountered Lightroom. Greetings from Wales (via I & the Bird, I think!).


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