The top “Must Have” Features
Adobe Lightroom was created specifically for photographers to simplify every stage of the workflow. By using it you’ll l be able to spend far less time at the computer and a lot more time out in the field with your camera.
Lightroom has a lot of powerful features that are of imense benefit to a wildlife photographer. On this page you’ll discover the features that will allow you to efficiently organize your photos and do 90% of your edits quickly and efficiently without needing to use Photoshop.
Automatically Apply Settings on Import
Adobe Lightroom allows you to automatically apply adjustments and metadata as you import your photos. This is done by creating any number of presets and then selecting them on import. The example below shows an import of a set of photos where I’ve chosen to automatically apply a strong contrast tone curve and a metadata preset that adds copyright information. At the same time, the keywords “starling” and “murmuration” are tagged to the photos.
The end result of this is that as soon as the photos from this shoot are imported, they will all be immediately organized under keywords “starling” and “murmuration”, have copyright information assigned, and will have a strong tone curve applied. This can save a lot of time.
Where Are My Photos?
If you make use of Lightrooms powerful organizational features then you’ll always have an answer to the question “Where are my photos”? Just do two things:
Organize your photos by keywords.
Assign a single keyword and Lightroom will automatically assign others provided you’ve setup keyword categories. For example tagging a photo with the keyword “barn owl” will automatically tag it with animal, barn owl, bird, bird of prey, nocturnal, predator, raptor and tyto alba (the Latin name). This is covered in more detail
Group your photos into Collections
Adobe Lightroom takes keywording one step further to make your photographs easy to find by adding them to any number of collections. Think of a collection as a virtual folder – you can add photos to it, or Lightroom can automatically add photos to it, but nothing gets duplicated or moved. Lightroom simply records the fact that the photo is in the collection.
The screenshot below shows two smart collections, Barn Owl and Barn Owl – Best. Barn Owl is a smart collection that automatically contains photos tagged with the keyword “Barn Owl”. Barn Owl – Best automatically contains photos that are in the Barn Owl collection and have a rating of three stars.
This all happens automatically by just tagging photos with the keyword “Barn Owl” and rating them. You can then either select the “Barn Owl” collection and see all barn owl photos, or select “Barn Owl – Best” and see the Barn Owl selects. My absolute best Barn Owl photo will also be in my “Portfolio” collection.
As you can see a barn owl photo can potentially be in 3 collections, but there is only one physical file sitting in a folder on the computer.
One of the great things about Adobe Lightroom is that you can edit your photos as much as you like non-destructively. No matter what you edit, you can always go back to any previous stage of editing and even back to the original photograph which remains untouched in a folder on your computer.
Crop, Straighten and Clone
Cropping, Straightening and Cloning in Adobe Lightroom is one of the easiest to use that I’ve come across. It should be one of the first things you do in the Develop module.
Local Adjustments with the Adjustment Brush
The adjustment brush is an extremely powerful feature. It allows you to adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, clarity and sharpness locally on specific areas of the photograph, rather than on the entire photograph. This means that you no longer have to go into Photoshop to use adjustment layers and masks.
The graduated filter tool in Adobe Lightroom allows you to quickly and easily adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, clarity and sharpness gradually across a region of a photograph. A typical use of this is when you have a washed out sky because the sky has been over-exposed in order to expose the rest of the scene properly. The graduated filter tool can be used to show detail in the sky without altering everything else.
The ability to create presets and then apply these to any photograph instantaneously saves a huge amount of time.
As you make adjustments to your photo in the develop module, you can take a snapshot at any point. Name it whatever you want and you’ll always be able to return to that point in your editing process. This is a very powerful way of comparing your edits to see if you’ve improved the shot.
If you want to know more about the things covered above then have a look at the folllowing pages:
Lightroom Workflow – If you get your lightroom workflow correct then you can very quickly organize and process your photos, leaving you with a lot more time out in the field.
Using Keywords in Lightroom – Lightroom keywords are a very powerful feature and should form part of your photography workflow.