Advanced Lightroom techniques.

Last week I started a workshop program on Lightroom. I polled a lot of people at the gallery over the past two years and a Saturday morning 1 hour event was by far the most popular time for most of you. Its a good time in the Exchange area with parking at its best between 9 – 11:00 and you have 2 hours free on Saturday. We will be starting this Saturday and I hope to fill each week till spring so watch the blog or subscribe to our twitter feeds.

Lightroom – Capture to Print

Pixels will be hosting a series of talks on Lightroom starting this Saturday, Oct. 20th at 10:00 AM. and it will run for 7 weeks through to December 1. Each Saturday morning Joe Kerr will host a one hour talk on Lightroom with topics ranging from the basics to advanced processing techniques. There will be a couple of guest speakers to add in some additional insights as well.

Joe has been working in Lightroom since the first beta release in the Fall 2005 and today he runs his custom photographic printing business primarily on Lightroom version 4.2. He has provided workshop sessions for most of the camera clubs in the city and some have become well attended annual events. He tutors photographers one on one, mother & daughter, three buddies and who ever wants to learn specifics of what he calls the “best software processing and printing package for photography in the past decade”.

Joe’s printing expertise has helped win many awards for his clients locally, nationally and internationally. In the past two years he has won in excess of 30 awards with his own images all produced in Lightroom. He is proud to include in that list the Manitoba Camera Club (MCC) Grand Aggregate Award which is based on accumulated competition placements and best of show awards in three separate disciplines over one competition year. The MCC is the oldest photographic association in Western Canada, arguably in Canada.

If you have an interest in learning more about Lightroom please join us at Pixels this Saturday morning at 10:00 am sharp. This  first session is a free session and discussion on how the program will evolve and includes an introduction to Adobe Lightroom.

To reserve a spot or for more information please call Joe Kerr at 204-415-4580 or email Joe at seating is limited to 25. Refreshments will be served.  To learn more click here

These notes are from the first Saturday meeting on Lightroom held Oct. 20, 2012.


Welcome to this our first in a series of 7 episodes of the new Lightroom. This was inspired by some of the presentations I’ve made at the camera clubs in the city over the past couple of years. There is a lot of interest in Lightroom and I think for two reasons, first its an extremely good value and secondly it has become what Adobe had hoped, one of the best photographic workflow packages on the market today.

After we finish this morning if you are new to Lightroom I hope you will have the confidence to try and explore what Lightroom can do for your images and how you work with them.


Why was Lightroom created?   Adobe held a first meeting in Iceland back in 2005 where 11 top photographers from diverse fields were invited. They were taken on a photo excursion and upon returning each talked about their specific needs in workflow and the tools they needed to accomplish their goals in producing their images. They were then introduced to the first beta version of Lightroom and by the end of their 5 day stay they all agreed it was impressive and going down the right track. Lightroom is the current incarnation of that first meeting 12 years ago.

Lightroom was created to offer a complete workflow solution specifically for the photographer. So what does that mean. The goal of Lightroom is to provide the photographer a set of tools that will allow you to do everything you want with your photo’s from the time you activate your shutter to the final sharing of your photos electronically or by print.

Lightroom does three basic things and today in version 4.2 does them very well:

1 – Great system to organize your photo’s
2 – A powerful tool set to make your photo’s look their best
3 – The ability to share your photo’s both electronically and print forms.

What are the fundamental differences between Photoshop & Lightroom:

Photoshop – has a million tools to process images but more so to manipulate or transform images. The photographer will use about 10% of the PhotoShop CS6 program.

Lightroom  – Is great for managing a large collection of images directly upon import (not available in Photoshop), a concise set of powerful tools to make your images look good. Then ultimately sharing those images which Photoshop does not do. A photographer will likely use all of the tools at some point.

Lets Start Basics

We want to talk about importing images to Lightroom. Now lets start by saying “do not try to import your vast collection of 10,000 images strait off, that can be over whelming”. Its more important to take your time. Take your current card from you camera and just start there.”

The Lightroom Catalogue, what is it – its a data base file not much different than iTunes. In iTunes you can create different play lists, do you copy a song file to create a new play list, no… In Lightroom your image files are stored on you hard drive at a location you select as your import destination. Lightroom then attaches a link or thread to that file. From that point forward the only data that Lightroom keeps is a copy of the adjustments you make. I repeat it is all about the non destructive adjustments, your images are stored in a separate file outside of Lightroom on your hard drive.

Every week you will get a request to back up lightroom. What is this backup feature. Early versions of Lightroom 1-2 could loose adjustments you made so in a Lightroom 2 update a backup failsafe was created to save those adjustments and its been there ever since. Today it only save the differences from one week to the next.

How many catalogue files do you need to create. Only one….ie: If you are a professional wedding photographer you may want to have a work catalogue and a personal one but don’t over think it, it will only lead to confusion.

Lets begin by importing:

Open lightroom and on the bottom left is the import button. Push it and the import screen will open.

Import screen
Source (left) – where they are coming from
Destination (right) – where they are going to.
Grid (centre) – to view the images

Import settings are remembered from the last import instruction. If your change the settings every time save it and make a preset to confirm, multiple presets are possible. We touched on a few of the import settings but we’ll get deeper in future weeks. Default was a recommended start point with a date file record.

Main Library Screen after import

At the top of the screen you have Library, Develop, Map, Book, Slideshow,Print

Basics in Library & Develop tools were discussed.

The left side are your navigational tools, center image grid, right development tools

Once you’ve imported images its important to keep your images well organized and to give them some added information: Your camera automatically stores data on each file and that gets transferred, this may include GPS on some cameras (map module upcoming), the more difficult is adding Keywords (names, locations, seasons, whatever). Most photographers will by pass this until they have a few thousand images and they start looking for that one file and realize then that they should be doing this.

When starting keyword tags it will seam daunting, but as you start entering Lightroom remembers all your tagged inputs, you can then auto name a range of photo’s.

How good does it get – on the centre screen scroll over an image and on the edges you will find additional resources to further define your images, star ratings, flags, colour tabs. They are all there to help organize your library.

At the top of the centre grid are search options in the Library Filter that allow you to search by Text, Attribute, Metadata

Text – keywords
Attributes – Flags, stars, colours
Metadata – all camera data

Remember it will only search in the file you have selected, if you select a catalog it will search you complete catalog.

Development Module

In Library select an image in a file or maybe its a search you’ve just completed and click Develop. This opens a new window. The left side is navigator, presets, snapshots, history and collections. A centre screen to view your image and the right are all the development tools.

Develop Panel

We discuss basic panel and brushes, we talked briefly about the history file and I addressed issues like deleting an action in the history without loosing adjustments. The differences between the controls on versions 3 & 4 and what they represent. Explanation on non destructive editing, photoshop is a destructive editing tool and I demoed a black image & cropping an image and the easy recovery in Lightroom.

Again I’ll remind you in lightroom you never have to worry about your image it is non destructive.

“Here is why I didn’t want to show much more on the controllers at this time. I’ve just shown you that you cannot destroy your original image. I want you all to go home and explore all the controllers with one of your images. Take each slider and push it from one extreme to the next, try different combinations look at the results and think about its potential. Remember your the photographer and its your form/style that count, don’t try to follow a specific recipe of someone else, create one.”


In future sessions I will delve into each module and explore most of the elements that they provide. Creating collections and more catalog features. We will go deep into the development module and show you a lot of its processing power and potential even some creative abilities. I’ll take you through the map module and show its benefits. We will touch on tethered shooting, the book module and how to share your images through social media which has been very well thought out. Slideshows and print module will round out the series. Lastly I want to show you some of the third party programs that work with Lightroom and also show you some presets that you can add to your tool repertoire. So there is much more to look forward to in the study of Lightroom.


Today we talked about what Lightroom is, what you can use it for, basic catalogue files, ways of organizing and its benefits, how to make your images look good and non destructive editing.

If your new to Lightroom I hope you walking away more confident in trying and exploring with a bit more understanding, if your a seasoned professional I hope this has given you a bit of information that either refreshed an idea or even gave you something new that you didn’t know before. I want to assure you that we will be getting much more advanced and detailed in upcoming sessions.

I would appreciate your feedback and ideas of what you would like to see in the future I may be able to build it into one of the modules.

Thank you to those participating…

The fist morning light that touches the tree tops.

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