Is Lightroom for You

Photography doesn't end in the camera. Or at least it doesn't have to. Its fine for most folks to make photos with their camera set to JPEG. After all the fun is in the moment the shutter is released and in the event surrounding that moment. But for those wanting the best possible results and the opportunity to continue the journey, beyond the camera, software like Adobe Lightroom offers so many creative possibilities.

As a way of helping to illustrate my view let's examine 4 versions of a portrait made of my good friend, Joseph San Laureano, at The Convent in Central Victoria. Joseph, myself and David Campbell had a day out photographing including visits to Trentham Falls, Daylesford and Mt. Alexander.

Original RAW file. Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro L series lens. Exposure Details: 1/25 second @ f2.8 ISO 800

You'll notice how flat this image looks. That's largely due to an incorrect white balance. The sort of thing that happens when someone else messes with your camera. At times like that I have been known to utter the words "who's been sleeping in my chair."

Adjusted White Balance

Now it's a very straightforward matter to fix poor white balance on the desktop when dealing with a RAW file, as was the case in the photo immediately above. However, if the camera had been set to JPEG, it is unlikely that problem could have been fixed, even by an experienced software operator.

Further adjustments to image brightness, contrast and color

Here's the version I prefer. A few simple tweaks in Adobe Lightroom allowed me to alter the brightness, contrast and color of the image without losing the subdued mood.

Black and White version processed in Adobe Lightroom

The final alternative is a fairly straightforward black and white rendering, also achieved in Lightroom. I probably spent between 5 and 10 minutes to process all 4 versions. And, given the range of choices produced, I'd say that was time well spent.

So, whether you're a confirmed JPEG shooter or a RAW devotee, image processing with programs such as Adobe Lightroom is well worth it. And the recently released version 4 is a substantial improvement on previous versions. If you're just not interested in spending the time processing images that's fine, stick with JPEG. But if you want to expand your photographic horizons, start thinking beyond the camera. And that's true for both RAW and JPEG files alike.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru