Make 2011 A Lightroom Year!

By Gene McCullagh
January 20, 2011 | Comments: 2

The decorations are all put away. The fog of the New Year's Eve party has lifted. Life has returned to something resembling a normal schedule. 2011 is now with us and poised to be a great year for you. That is, if you choose to make it a great year. Rather than let the year slip away why not plan to learn more about Lightroom? Lightroom can appear to be a simple and straight-forward application. But don't be fooled. There are subtleties and nuances in every module. It is a rich program with a lot to offer. Let's explore it more in 2011. Don't call it a resolution to learn more about Lightroom (because we all know what happens to New Year's resolutions). Just work it into your regular routine.

To assist you here are a few suggestions for things to explore further.

Take a class...Read a book

There are many different approaches here. If you like to learn via video then take a look at some excellent offerings from lynda.com and NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). Check the listings of courses in your local Community College or Adult Education programs for Lightroom related courses. Local photography clubs and Adobe User Groups often offer sessions on Lightroom.

If you prefer books then, here again, there is a wide variety of choices. Looking for tips and tricks? Try something like Dan Moughamian's Adobe Digital Imaging How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques for Photoshop CS5, Lightroom 3, and Camera Raw 6. If you prefer a question and answer format take a look at Victoria Bampton's Adobe Lightroom 3 - The Missing FAQ - Real Answers to Real Questions asked by Lightroom Users. And if you like the full seven course meal then give Martin Evening's excellent The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers a try.

Spend some time with HELP

There is a wealth of information that comes with Lightroom. True. We no longer get printed manuals, but the community help system is always changing and improving. If you haven't been there or only occasionally visited then it's time to stay a while and explore. In addition to some excellent entries there are also links to other resources all over the web.

Explore keywords

The art of applying keywords to your images is essential to having a well organized collection and, more importantly, being able to find that shot of the puppies in the red basket in Galway quickly. If you haven't been keywording then now is the time to start! explore the many tools Lightroom offers to keyword images.

I know you have a large collection already. But that's no excuse. Start with your new images. Keyword them on import. Add more specific keywords as you review them. Going forward, your keyword list with get richer and your images will naturally gravitate to certain words.

As for that large existing collection - take it in small bite-sized pieces. Whenever you have a few minutes to spare (ok - stop laughing) grab 10 or 50 or 100 images and add some keywords. By the time 2012 gets here you will be a keyword expert!

Get to know your organizational tools better

In addition to keywords, Lightroom offers different ways to help you organize your images. On the other side of the Library module you will see the Catalog, Folders, Collections, and Publish Services panels. Dig in there and explore different ways to organize your image collection.

Need some help? Take a look at dpBestFlow. dpBestFlow is a wonderful resource on digital photography best practices and workflows brought to you by the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and the Library of Congress. Best of all IT'S FREE! You can also take a look at the best book on organizing your images, Peter Krogh's The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers.

What's your preference?

Dig a little deeper into your Preferences and Catalog Settings. There are some gems hidden there. Preferences apply to Lightroom overall while each catalog has it's own settings. If you find a setting that is unfamiliar, learn what it does.

Show me your ID

Customize your Lightroom! Identity plates offers a way to use text or images to change how your installation of Lightroom looks. There are also other uses of identity plates in different modules. Spend a little time here.

Hey! That's my image!

While Lightroom has always has some kind of watermarking feature, Lightroom 3 finally made it useful and flexible. Now you can set up different watermarks. Use images or text. Save presets. Control style and placement. Sometimes you just need to tell the world "That's my image!" and watermarks can be one way to do that.

The power of presets

One of the most powerful and time saving features of Lightroom is the preset. Have a certain look you like? Save it as a preset. Follow particular development steps? Save them as presets.

Presets are easy to use and easy to create. They can be shared with others. Many free presets are available on the internet. And with Lightroom's non-destructive approach and powerful History panel, you can feel free to explore presets without the fear of damaging your image permanently. So go ahead and play!

The "other" modules

Many people I talk to spend most, if not all, of their time in the Library and Develop modules. If you don't go to the other modules then now is the time to see what they have to offer. Slideshow, Print, and Web have a lot to offer you. Pick the one you visit the least and spend more time there. Find out what it does and how that can assist you. Once you've become well versed in one, move on to the next module. You may find new ways to use their features!

Get to know the new features

Lightroom 3 brought us quite a few new features. The changes in sharpening and noise reduction alone was worth the cost of upgrading for many photographers. Pick through these new features. Get to know them. Put them to use. Explore. Play. Have fun!

As you progress through 2011 and build your mad Lightroom skills, keep the community informed. Find a bug? Have a new feature idea? Let Adobe know about it. Yes, the team DOES read the bug reports and feature suggestions. You can bet they are hard at work on the next revision of Lightroom. So don't be shy. Let adobe know by clicking here.

Remember Rule 5! Have a great time. If you have ideas, suggestions, plans, etc. post a comment and let us all know about it. Together we can master Lightroom and make 2011 a Lightroom year!



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2 Comments

I'll add to that list getting acquainted with the wide variety of plugins available to extend the Lightroom workflow in all kinds of directions. The export dialog has a "Plugin Manager" button in its lower left, and in the Plugin Manager's lower left is a "Lightroom Exchange" button that brings you to Adobe's (circa 1997 style) site for browsing plugins, develop presets, etc.

I've written many of the plugins you'll find, and did so because I wanted to fill a hole in the workflow that Adobe hadn't yet, such as geoencoding and proximity search, image protection, metadata control on export, etc.

There's tons of stuff out there for the exploring...

Thanks Jeffrey! You are so right! I apologize for not mentioning plugins. Your plugins work so well I often forget that they aren't part of LR! In fact you've given me an idea for another article: LR Plugins.

But don't be shy! If anyone is interested in some really GREAT plugins go and take a look at what Jeffrey has over at http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies . He is by far the best and most prolific LR plugin author out there!

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