Time to be with your loved ones

Time to be with loved ones

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I saw Adobe Lightroom on my friend's computer and it seems awfully complex to me. Basically he was adjusting color palette of the photo by changing some curves and moving sliders. I noticed that many settings overlapped each other but I got completely lost because I couldn't understand why my friend picked one setting over the other. He said that it's something I would just get used to but right now I'm totally puzzled.

What are basic tips to getting started to use such software? Should I just "play" or should I progress from one setting to the next?

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4 Answers

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Tools like Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture are geared towards the professional photographer, and as such, offer a lot of tools. While I do agree with your friend, you might want to decide which tool is best for your needs. Tools like Lightroom and Aperture tend to offer pre-packaged tools and settings for things that can already be done in Adobe Photoshop. Doing some of the same things in Photoshop may be more complicated, but, if you are already an adept PS user, then you might not gain anything from Lightroom or Aperture.

As a Lightroom user myself, I can say there are things I like and hate about it. While I am well-versed in Photoshop, Lightroom does provide a much smoother and quicker workflow when you need to work with a lot of images. For one, it offers a lot of image organization and management tools, which are not natively available in Photoshop. In particular, Quick and Smart collections can help you rapidly find the photos you are looking for.

Lightroom does offer some improved workflow over using Photoshop to do the same things. Adjusting exposure, white balance, tone, etc. is very, very easy in Lightroom. However, when you need to work with a lot of images that may span a variety of collections, Lightrooms segmented UI can be disruptive and frustrating at times.

Adobe Aperture is another tool like Lightroom. Personally, I find it to be one hell of a phenomenal tool. Unlike Lightroom, which has distinct areas of the application that provide a specific set of tools, Aperture has a non-linear, unsegmented, continual workflow. You can do anything at any time, without needing to change modes or stop your train of thought to do something else. I think it is generally a more mature product that is easier to use. As it is only available on Mac, I do not have it. Otherwise I would purchase it in a heartbeat! I highly recommend Aperture if you have a Mac.

Both applications, Lightroom and Aperture, seem daunting and overly complicated at first glance. Such a sense is probably only highlighted by watching a skilled user race through edits on their photos. Despite this, learning these tools is a lot easier than it looks. You'll quickly find the key tools that will help you touch up your work, and they will become familiar extensions of your workflow in very little time. I have not found the learning curve of either program to be particularly high. As for how to learn them...I would just "play". :) Set your mind to fixing up a few photos that have a lot of issues, and you'll quickly become a pro.

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While "play"ing around is a great way to experiment, if you're looking for tutorials on how to do specific things there are a lot of them available. Some are available for free on YouTube, and if you're willing to spend a few dollars the videos available from Lynda.com and Kelby Training are excellent.

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I think it really comes down to how you learn best. You can certainly jump into a program like Lightroom and start messing around with the sliders until things look right. You also might consider books, or some of the various learn Lightroom videos online.

One thing that helps a lot with some of the settings is to do some reading up on stuff like white balance, exposure and sharpening. These are all things that the camera can do for you, but you can also choose to tweak within Lightroom.

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What has worked best for me is watching videos on Lynda.com - they cover the full spectrum of photo and design software and are both for beginners and advanced users.

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