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Lightroom 3: Streamlining Your Digital Photography Process [Paperback]

by Nat Coalson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 6, 2010 047060705X 978-0470607053 1
"I’ve worked my entire adult life in digital imaging, from managing high-volume production departments to running my own photography and printing businesses. And for many years, I’ve been teaching photographers how to be self-sufficient when it comes to working with their digital images.

Having used all major image editing software released over the past twenty years, I now choose to use Lightroom because it allows me to work quickly, helps me deal with large numbers of images and lets me get back to enjoying the creative aspects of photography.

From my experience, I know how hard it can be to learn new ways of doing things–especially computer stuff. Unfortunately for a lot of photographers, struggling with digital processing can take the fun out of photography. Trying to figure out the intricacies of file formats, resolution, color management, etc., and even simply where to put all the files can be daunting tasks. Worse yet, sometimes it’s hard just to know the right steps to get the best quality from a single photo!

It’s my mission to ease your pain; to show you that you really can be in control of your entire imaging process, and help you develop a personalized workflow that fits your style and needs. My students frequently tell me how liberating this is: to comfortably handle all the files coming off the camera and residing on hard disks, to work methodically through a known sequence of steps and to produce finished pictures that you’re proud to show other people. This is at the heart of the photographer’s experience, and I want you to know this sense of confidence and capability.

I’ve taught large groups and individual photographers alike. Over the years I’ve learned where people get stuck. I understand the pitfalls new users face when first starting to use Lightroom as well as the concerns of more experienced users looking for ways to tweak their workflow for better performance. I want to help you overcome these challenges.

My goal for this book is to teach you to effectively use Lightroom 3 as quickly and easily as possible. My writing has been heavily influenced by my experiences working with clients and students, and I’ve approached the content of this book as I would tutor someone in a one-on-one training session. The order in which concepts are presented and the emphasis I give to certain aspects of the workflow are unique among books of its kind.

We’ll start by reviewing some important, basic principles, such as working with Lightroom catalogs, the Lightroom workflow, color management, and an introduction to Lightroom 3’s updated tools and screen interface. From there, we jump right in to importing images into Lightroom. This is followed by a step-by-step editing tutorial that will make your work much easier. Then we move on to in-depth explanations of how to perfect each photo for tone, color, contrast, sharpness and much more. After a detailed look at exporting images out of Lightroom, the next three chapters deal with presenting your work to others with prints, Web sites and slideshows. Finally, we’ll wrap up with an in-depth look at advanced techniques for integrating Lightroom with other software.

The material presented in this book is appropriate for digital photographers working in all disciplines, at all skill levels. The information and tutorials are applicable to every kind of photography: from weddings and portraits to fine art landscape work, everyone can learn to streamline their digital photography process using Lightroom 3."

Nat Coalson
Conifer, CO

Ten Lightroom 3 Tips for from Author Nat Coalson

Whether you’re new to Lightroom or have been using it for a while, my new book, Lightroom 3: Streamlining your Digital Photography Process can help you master the tools, techniques and workflows to get the most from your photography with the least amount of effort. Below are some of my top tips for a solid foundation in Lightroom, all of which are covered in more detail in the book:

    Top 5 tips if you’re new to Lightroom

  • Lightroom uses a database, called a catalog, to manage your image files. When you import photos into Lightroom, the image files are not stored in the catalog. Lightroom simply references theoriginal files on your hard drive and creates links to them within the catalog. (However, all the work you do to photos is stored within the catalog.)

  • If you need to move, rename or delete photos after importing them into Lightroom, do it from within Lightroom (not using the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer). This ensures that the links in the Lightroom catalog will remain up-to-date with the actual files on the hard drive.

  • Break down your workflow into distinct tasks: import, edit, Develop, export, etc. Following a consistent sequence of steps will make your work go much quicker.

  • Lightroom provides loads of time-saving features to automate and speed up your workflow. Most important are presets and templates. Generally speaking, presets store settings and templates store formatted layouts. Get in the habit of setting up your own presets and templates for any settings that you will use frequently.

  • Be sure to make frequent backups of your Lightroom catalog and image files; ideally, after every work session. (You will most likely only need to keep the most recent couple of catalog backups.)

    Top 5 tips if you’ve been using Lightroom for a while

  • The Import process has been entirely revamped and streamlined in Lightroom 3. The new Import window provides more functionality and is easier to navigate. Maybe most importantly, you can now save Import presets! If you perform many imports using the same settings, this will dramatically speed up your import workflow.

  • The processing in Lightroom 3 is built around a new Process Version, which offers notably better image quality and speed when working with your photos. New photos imported into Lightroom 3 will automatically use the new Process Version (2010). Photos already in the catalog will retain their original Process Version (2003). You can update older photos to use the new Process Version, which will allow you to extract even better quality from those photos. After updating photos to the new Process Version you will likely need to go back and fine tune the Develop settings for those files (especially sharpening).

  • Lightroom 3 offers new and improved sharpening algorithms with a greater degree of control. One important point to note is that the Amount adjustment generally applies stronger sharpening than in previous versions, so now, you probably will use lower values for Amount.

  • Lightroom 3’s updated Noise Reduction (NR) controls are also vastly improved over previous versions; so much that you may no longer need any specialized NR software for the majority of your photos. Luminance noise reduction, in particular, lets you apply much stronger reduction amounts without adversely affecting important image detail.

  • If you’ve saved Develop presets using adjustments for sharpening, noise reduction and vignetting you should revisit those settings and consider making a new preset based on the changes in the new Process Version.

Before & After Examples

Example 1. This example shows how you can
dramatically improve a photo using just a few
controls in the Basic panel. I adjusted White
Balance, Exposure, Blacks and Brightness.

Hasselblad H4D-40
Hasselblad 35-90 f/4-5.6
1/45 sec at f/11, ISO 100
Example 2. For this photo, I used Lightroom’s adjustment
brush tool to selectively dodge and burn (lighten and darken)
specific areas of the photo.Canon EOS 5D
Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM
0.8 second at f/22, ISO 100

Example 3. In this example, I used Lightroom
3’s new Lens Corrections panel controls to
fix distortion and chromatic aberration.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM
5 seconds at f/20, ISO 200

Frequently Bought Together

Lightroom 3: Streamlining Your Digital Photography Process + The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter) + Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 - The Missing FAQ: Real Answers to Real Questions Asked by Lightroom Users
Price for all three: $104.38

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Nat Coalson is not only a passionate photographer, but also an accomplished digital professional. This combination makes him the perfect instructor, with his new Lightroom 3 book lending expert guidance through the digital maze along with a healthy dose of inspiration to become a better photographer."
George Jardine, Former Pro Photo Evangelist at Adobe Systems and member of the original Lightroom development team

Master Lightroom 3,and fall in love with photography all over again

As a digital photographer, you work with increasing numbers of images and countless options for editing and sharing your photos. The process can become tedious and complicated. But now there's Lightroom 3, the single, essential software for organizing your photo library and fulfilling your creative vision. And there's this book, with step-by-step tutorials, clear examples in plain language, and in-depth explanations to teach you Lightroom 3 — fast!

With this Lightroom 3 book, you can

  • Make your photos look their best

  • Apply creative effects

  • Process many images at once

  • Save time with shortcuts and presets

  • Share your photography with others

  • Establish a photo workflow that will serve you for years to come

For more information and supplemental training materials, visit

About the Author

Nat Coalson is a visual artist working in photography and mixed media. His work has been extensively exhibited and has received national awards. An Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom, Nat provides training and consultation on digital imaging and photography for both private and corporate clients.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047060705X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470607053
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nathaniel (Nat) Coalson is a fine artist, travel photographer, instructor and writer based in Leicester, England and Denver, Colorado. Nat specializes in providing custom artwork and services for commercial interior design and has worked in the graphic arts and related industries since 1987. In addition to art and photography, Nat has worked professionally in graphic design, prepress, printing and Web development. Nat's work has been exhibited extensively, received national awards and is held in numerous collections. Nat is an Adobe Certified Expert in Lightroom and Photoshop and an author of many books on photography and imaging. Nat is an experienced instructor and provides training and consulting in photography, printing and digital imaging for private and corporate clients. For more information and to see Nat's work visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
119 of 119 people found the following review helpful
I have been using Adobe Lightroom for a little over a year and while I am deeply impressed with it (I recommend it highly) I always felt that I simply didn't have a clue about how to use it properly.

Adobe has tonnes of excellent on-line help material for Lightroom including hours of video tutorials. The company runs a helpful forum for users and those users themselves have set up a vast array of websites and blogs dealing with the program. Full marks to all of them and thumbs up to Adobe for creating the best imaging program I have ever used.

But I could never get a handle on how I should be approaching the "workflow" or method of working with my photos in Lightroom.

For me Lightroom is not just some place to play around with pictures; it's more like a giant mansion filled with rooms crammed with mysterious machines, secret passages, and stuff that looks a bit like magic. I was always more than half lost in the Lightroom mansion whenever I processed photographs.

Until Nat Coalson's book that is.

I am about a third of the way through it and if I stopped reading it now I would still consider what I have learned as worth the price of the book. Indeed, as the headline to this review says, I would have been happy to have paid twice as much for just the little I've got out of it already.

Mr Coalson writes the way I think he must deliver his training programs. There is a strong sense of one-on-one teaching in his writing and it pays off in ways that everything else I've read concerning Lightroom failed at.

One of the problems with Lightroom, for me, has always been the bewildering series of options, features and menu selections.
Read more ›
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent step-by-step book September 13, 2010
Having spent the last few years working closely with Lightroom users on various web forums, and writing three Lightroom books (Adobe Lightroom - The Missing FAQ series) myself in that time, I'm well aware of the information new users need when they're getting started.

In Lightroom 3: Streamlining Your Digital Photography Process, Nat has achieved an excellent balance between being simple enough for new users without being condescending, but also providing enough detail without overwhelming the reader.

When any of my readers need a step-by-step introduction to Lightroom, this is always the book I recommend.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nat Coalson's Lightroom 3 book July 3, 2010
I met Nat Coalson at the Moab Photo symposium where he gave a very impressive talk about Lightroom. I also attended his Lightroom workshop both of which, of course covered lightroom 2. After hearing his talks I really looked forward to his Lightroom 3 book. I have gotten through the first half of the book and as a lightroom user from the get go I have been amazed at what I didn't know! Nat has many specific recommendations for making your workflow more efficient that have been very helpful to me.
Nat presents things in a logical and easy to follow manner and suggests that the book be read and or referenced while you are at the computer working with Ligtroom 3. You can either read it from front to back or use the extensive index to look up specific problem areas. I am doing both.
My only complaint is that some of the screen shots seem small.
For me the book is a very valuable tool and I recommend it highly.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best one November 23, 2010
By corst
I have been using Lightroom since it came out, therefore felt I was pretty proficient in its use. I was amazed about the amount I learned alone in the Library module. I appreciated Nat's attention to detail and the fact that he explained what each term meant. It opened up new, faster and more effective possibilities. His information in the other modules filled holes I had in my workflow, again saving time or gaining a better understanding of what is going on. I am not afraid of trying out what a slider does, but that does not necessarily mean I understand it.
Over time, I have developed my workflow in Lightroom. Yet there was always the question could I do it differently and, therefore more effectively. It was very helpful to have Nat describe his workflow and have that as a comparison. I will try out some of his ideas.
Personally, I prefer to look something up in a book over having to read it on the screen. Using the well organized index makes it a lot faster for me than searching for the right information in the vast amount of online help.
This is a book, I would strongly recommend to anyone who wants to learn Lightroom because of its methodical approach, great layout and clear language . I would also recommend it to those who "know" Lightroom. I am certain they can find a wealth of information about more effective uses of tools and shortcuts.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference that's easy to understand. September 21, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've been using Adobe Lightroom since it's inception and with each version I've searched the internet for information and purchased books to try and speed the learning process. I've bought at least a half dozen books on the subject and while they've all been pretty good Nat Coalson's "Lightroom 3, Streamlining Your Digital Photography Process" is undoubtedly the best reference manual I own. Nat does an excellent job of explaining how to configure the software so that everyone (even a non-computer geek like me) can understand. He then goes through each module of Lightroom and gives detailed step-by-step information on how it works and how to get from point A to point B. Along the way he even offers a suggested workflow along with an explanation of why to work in that manner. After reading this book I have a much better understanding of Lightroom than I've ever had and my photos are looking better than ever. I took Nat's advice and took my copy to Staples and had it spiral bound as I know I'll be using it for reference for some time to come. Whether you're new to Lightroom and looking to learn the program from the ground up or have a working knowledge and are looking to take your skills to a higher level Nat Coalson's Lightroom 3 may very well be the reference you've been looking for.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, or so I hear (edited so as to not sully Amazon's...
With this Lightroom 3 book, you can

Make your photos look their best

Apply creative effects

Process many images at once

Save time with... Read more
Published 5 months ago by G. Willickers
4.0 out of 5 stars Good product
Handy guide to using Lightroom 3. Only criticism is that is didn't point out how time consuming it is to insert existing images into the program with the appropriate key words and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Neil Z
5.0 out of 5 stars Book was in pristine shape. Very pleased.
This is a great book. Basic, but thorough. I will use it again and again. Easy to read and understand.
Published 9 months ago by Boaz
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Author is thorough and concise. Easy to understand. I loaned the book out once and it hasn't made it back to me yet. It is still circulating.
Published 13 months ago by Beamie
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Manual
If you have Lightroom 3, this is the manual you need. Very easy to follow and no jokey stuff like the 'for Dummies" book.
Published 14 months ago by ReTyre E
5.0 out of 5 stars Really helps
I prefer books to video instruction and this one did not disappoint. It had up and running pretty quickly. well written and easy to follow. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mark
5.0 out of 5 stars Great in-Depth Learning of Lightroom
Nat Coalson's Lightroom book is a must read if you want to learn anything about Lightroom. Not only does he cover every aspect of the program in great detail but he also brings his... Read more
Published on March 9, 2012 by Armando Martinez
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I needed!
I bought Lightroom for the first time a couple weeks ago, so I'm a total newbie. This book is helping immensely. Read more
Published on February 24, 2012 by Cat Lady 67
5.0 out of 5 stars Eliminates Confusion and Helps You Move Ahead
This gem of a guide is well written in easy-to-understand language, affording ease of use for the average person. Read more
Published on February 3, 2012 by Yvonne C
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Service
I ordered this book for my sister, who is really into photography, and I thought this book was good for the price. It also arrived in time for her birthday. good service.
Published on December 25, 2011 by Solomon
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