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On Reflection I Would Have Paid Double Price For This
on July 12, 2010
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. I never really knew what half of them did and of the other half I hadn't a clue about which choices to make. Those choices are all explained nicely in the book, not in the sense of what they do, but what they can mean for your work, for your images. And if you still aren't clear on what option to choose he usually finishes off the section by telling you what his personal choice is which at least gives you a very well informed place to start.
The section of the book I have completed deals essentially with how to get your images into Lightroom in an organized way, how to sort them, judge them, and get everything lined up before diving into the actual processing. This is a critical phase of what Adobe calls the "workflow". While there is no one way to go about the workflow the ways I was using were wasteful and utterly draining of my time and energy.
Reading about workflow in Lightroom always used to make me feel like someone was painting varnish over the surface of my brain. I just couldn't get the concepts, the details were byzantine, and it just all seemed way too bureaucratic and anal.
Now I don't even think about the process. It is all transparent and effortless.
I set up the program and my picture files the way he recommended. I found the options and features I liked. And I started to get-stuff-done -- quickly.
It used to take me an hour or more just to get a hundred or so shots sorted and evaluated, ready for full scale image processing. But now I can zap through a hundred shots in a handful of minutes.
I am really looking forward to the next two thirds of this book.