Sunday, February 25, 2007

I had been using the beta of Lightroom since its first release. Initially I wanted to use it rather than Apature because of Apature's lack of good Photoshop integration. Ironically, Lightroom didn't play well with Photoshop either. My biggest complaint was that Bridge and Camera Raw didn't recognize edits made from Lightroom. Although this is fixed in Lightroom 1.0, at the time I had to work in either Bridge/Camera Raw/Photoshop or Lightroom/Photoshop.

I like the Bridge/Camera Raw workflow because it's filesystem based. I don't like applications managing my files. But Camera Raw, as powerful as it is, is a clunky tack-on dialog where I really want an emersive tool. When I'm editing my photos, I work on them for hours at a time. I don't want to jump around between dialogs and have to save copies of my files.

After a couple months, I gave up completly on Bridge/Camera Raw. I was soon using Lightroom for all my post-processing, and doing touchups in Photoshop. As sad as it might be, I was using Photoshop solely for removing zits and cleaning up tape marks on my son's face (because of medical issues, he uses oxygen at night. His cannula has to be taped to his face). $600 of image processing power, devoted to removing tape and pimples.

And then Lightroom 1.0 was released. One of it's new features: Spot Removal. Here's the twist. Rather than saving a copy of the RAW file to edit in Photoshop, Lightroom's edits are lossless changes to the RAW file. While the Photoshop tool is more like a raster based brush, in Lightroom all the corrections are circles with source and destination references. Those references can be altered or cleared at any time in the future.

In the example above, I've made several corrections. The active one is represented by the two circles at either end of the arrow. The arrow is saying "copy everything in this circle to this one". At first it seemed rather limiting to have to use circles rather than a brush, but after a little time, I've found it to be very powerful.

What's more, this single tool has completely eliminated Photoshop from my regular workflow. While I still use Photoshop from time to time for other projects, I don't really need it for photo processing any more.

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