Why Learn Lightroom?
...And how it lit up my world.
If you’ve read other posts, you know that my photography journey began over 30 years ago, several years before children, in fact. It was “back in the day” of 35mm film photography. Reflecting back, the care I took to get the better shot, because with film, you only had so many images available on each roll, and it was deflating and expensive to take several similar shots — only to save a few worthwhile prints from each roll.
What a difference it made going from film to digital, on so many levels — it’s a mammoth conversion. Yet, for me, I didn’t quite understand the most remarkable element of digital, until I discovered processing. In using film, the processing was done in the assembly line darkrooms of the mass developing companies, like Kodak, until the onsite machines were created to handle processing, on location.
I recall locating a “boutique” processor in my area, who gave more attention to the developing process, and delivered a finished print product that was superior in quality to the alternative mass methods. It was certainly more expensive, but in the case of large prints or special memories, I wanted the images processed with personal attention.
That was 1992. So at this point, I’d been using 35mm film for almost 10 years.
I was comfortable with the camera, and the process — and then everything began to change in the 2000’s and make a huge move, and then leap, to digital format. At this point, not knowing if digital was “here to stay” — I chose to stay with the film format, until it became more expensive to print, as less outlets were available.
At some point, around 2002, my 35mm film camera was damaged, and I just dropped taking photos with a “big girl camera" for awhile, to see where everything would settle before I reinvested.
Before I knew it… the world had gone completely digital in photography, while I had my head in the sand. During that time, I was just using a point-and-shoot pocket camera, and making digital prints - but it felt very awkward and impersonal that way. I was accustomed to greater degree of control in the elements of composing, and light manipulation, using shutter speed and aperture in the 35mm — so I knew I would have to take the plunge and go digital with a DSLR camera.
I waited far too long, just being caught up in life and raising children. It was another 10 years before I took the plunge, and digital had moved lightyears ahead. I had (and still have) a lot to catch up on.
While I still have quite the affection for film photography, there is so much to love about digital vs. film, that is most appreciated in 4 huge areas, from my perspective.
This changed everything. I experience so much more creativity now. Instead of taking what the camera give me, which is nowhere close to what the human eye sees, adjustments are made to the processing of the digital file to stylize and design the art, according to photographer’s flare and taste. I’m not a fan of overprocessing, but I never was a fan of under processing - and that’s what we had a lot of in the film era.
Sometimes the greatest photo can also have a few flaws that just ruin it. Yet, with editing through Lightroom, the ability to edit that flaw allows great possibilities that didn’t exist years ago. This is invaluable, truly.
Let me just say, in the film/negative era — I just could not keep up. Yes, I had a system for organizing prints and negatives, but it wasn’t a good one, and it wasn’t manageable, when the demands of raising children and running a business drive more important areas to stay on top of. Truth be told, I’m not a naturally organized person. I have to go to great lengths to organize certain things, and I pick my battles. There are certain areas of my life that may likely never be well organized, and one of those revolves around paper. I just can’t handle papers and piles — so this digital age serves me very well in this area.
Lightroom is a godsend.
To organize automatically, as the images are imported straight from the camera — searchable, stored, and backed up - well, it's incredible. Yes… I sleep easier at night. Images are our lifeline to memories and moments that we never get back. They are treasures, but not just for us. Our images will be of tremendous enlightenment and historical value to our families as time moves on. The families who began in the digital age are fortunate. My children have mountains of prints and negatives, unorganized — that document their lives. Who has time to sort through all of that? With Lightroom and other services I use (see previous post on Dropbox and Carousel) the treasures are accounted for and available in organized fashion.
Big sigh of relief.
Seriously, it’s huge.
How do you spell relief? You see, when we lose our photos and videos, we lose the captured memories and moments that reveal and represent our lives. To risk that through fire or flood or any other type of damage is tragic. In the end, it’s what we want to keep safe, more than anything. And today, with the back-up offered through the cloud on Lightroom Mobile in conjunction with Lightroom - it’s truly indispensable. However, as I’ve written previously about great back-up and storage options (I actually use 3 back-up systems) - Lightroom offers a key benefit using online cloud access, but it’s not the only storage option we should use.
There are great solutions available today that operate automatically to store and back-up photos — once they are set up. If you’d like more information on what I use — don’t hesitate to ask.
No doubt, there is much more to appreciate in this digital era than the 4 listed above — but those are the biggies, for me. The processing and editing made a huge impact on the ability there is to create a final image as you choose - and as you saw it. And for everyone, that is different, which is a good thing.
Photography has gone to a whole new level through using Lightroom. It’s hard to grasp what it can do to bring images to the style and design you envision, until you actually see what it can do.
Nothing short of amazing. I encourage you to learn it, if photography is important to you.
Trust me, it’s worth the effort.
Below are great online resources for introductions to, and tutorials for learning Lightroom:
This is what the Lightroom control-central panel looks like, and while it looks intimidating, at first, it's truly no that hard to learn. If you want help... let me know!
For those who are considering, or just getting into photography -- should you choose to go beyond point-and-shoot so that you can create your own style, it's my favorite way to go!
I hope to inspire others to dive into this marvelous world of light and timeless revelation.
Until next time...