FYI, this is Part 2 of a 3-part series on this subject – –
• Part 1 is here: https://blog.main.wattsdigital.com/?p=1840
• Part 3 is here: https://blog.main.wattsdigital.com/?p=2637
To see why Photoshop vs Lightroom is the “Wrong Question” (& much more),
I’d encourage you to check out Part 1 (at the link above) before perusing Part 2 below – that way, some of the things discussed below will be put in their proper context …
So, here’s the perspective I’m coming from:
• I am, at my core, a custom photographic printer, and have been professionally since the early 1980’s – you know: enlargers, lenses, easels, chemistry, etc, etc. – “analog”, baby! But, as analog printing started to go the way of the dodo bird (and my hairline!), I was dragged kicking & screaming into the Digital Age in the mid-1990’s. Now, I embrace it with a passion.
• For decades, I’ve always strived to get the absolute best out of ANY image for custom printing – and sometimes there’s an “art”, as well as a “science”, to that. Hey, I do this for a living – so generally, I know what works, and what doesn’t (and yet, I still seem to be learning – haha, joke’s on me!).
• So, sometimes it pains me to see how photographers approach their post-processing workflow, and I gotta ask myself – –
Why go to all of the trouble of capturing those awesome images – – all of the blood, sweat, tears, travel & money that’s involved in achieving your photographic vision – –
… and then proceed to use your digital post-processing tools incorrectly and/or improperly for “ho-hum” (or even mediocre) print output?
Yes – I’m speaking of the great
Photoshop vs. Lightroom “debate”…
For those of you who know me (or have worked with me), you know I’m not a big fan of Lightroom for most of my clients, for 2 reasons:
1) I believe that a lot of photographers who use Lightroom are not using the Develop Module properly for the highest quality output, either thinking that it’s the “end-all” in post processing for best printing results (it’s most definitely not!) – or that it’s “Photoshop Lite” or “Beginner Photoshop” – or that, just by moving a few sliders willy-nilly, they can make their image “look great”- – and generally, none of this could be further from the truth.
• FYI: The Develop Module is virtually the same program as the Adobe Camera RAW Plug-in (“ACR”, which is accessed through Photoshop), and they should both be utilized with the same end result in mind. See these important post-processing “Goals” for your RAW capture in my post (and why), “The Philosophy of RAW”: https://blog.main.wattsdigital.com/?p=2215
2) I also believe that it’s more “program” than most people need for browsing, cataloguing & labeling your digital files – plus, it has its own separate (and sometimes complex) learning curve. If you don’t need the organizational power of Lightroom, why learn a second complex program?
• I use Bridge, by the way, and have for dozens of years – and even though I don’t personally shoot hundreds of images a week, its not unusual for me , as a printing professional, to work with hundreds (sometimes thousands!) of files in a week’s time, and I still don’t need (or want) the complexity of Lightroom – I prefer the sheer simplicity of Bridge.
• Here are some examples of photographers who might benefit from the extraordinary organizational power of Lightroom (this list is far from complete): wedding photographers, product / catalog photographers, fashion photographers, sports photographers, both professionals & amateurs with thousands & thousands of digital images, photographers who regularly shoot hundreds of images a week, etc.
So – do you still need (or want) Lightroom in your post-processing workflow? Read on …
• Remember, Lightroom’s strength is its incredible organizational power for those with a zillion images – That being said, I’d consider using it as your “Digital Library” ONLY(see Part 1) to select those images that are ultimately deserving of a Master File.
• For those Master File images, I’d recommend that you generally perform ZERO permanent post-processing adjustments in the Develop Module in Lightroom – but instead, perform your adjustments in Adobe Camera RAW plug-in, which is the first step of working in your “Digital Darkroom” – see Procedure #1 below for more …
Why this “Procedure”?
• THE biggest reason: migrating your files in & out of Lightroom can be confusing. If you want the highest quality final output, you’re typically going to want to open the file in Photoshop. By using Procedure #1 (discussed below), there is ZERO chance of corrupted metadata while migrating your RAW, TIFF or PSD files between programs.
• Photographic community blogs are full of horror stories of compatibility issues when migrating files between Lightroom & Photoshop. For example, one noted Lightroom / Photoshop guru even has a specific video course on how to “clean up” your Lightroom Catalog, and it’s over 5 hours long – yikes, really?!?
• Now I admit that this is strictly a personal preference – but to me, the Develop Module workspace in Lightroom is not near as “user-friendly” as the Adobe Camera RAW plug-in (ACR) accessed through Photoshop. The Develop Module has a very dark workspace & a cluttered layout – personally, I prefer a much cleaner, lighter interface (ACR, including the new RAW 12.3 User Interface) – but, hey, that’s just me …
Ok – so, if you’re a dedicated Lightroom user, you’ve got 2 possible “Procedures” you can use to migrate your files between Lightroom and Photoshop (& safely back) – BOTH with the same ultimate post-processing “Goals”:
Before you decide which “Procedure” below to use, ask yourself a question: do you want to PROPERLY work on your RAW file …
– in the Adobe Camera RAW Plug-in (ACR) – –
– in the Develop Module of Lightroom?
After answering that question, pick the appropriate “Procedure” below, and stick with it – Procedural consistency is a major key to effective post-processing – ultimately, either “Procedure” gets the job done, especially if you use my suggested Photoshop Workflow Chart.
• Procedure #1 Summary (using ACR):
– Use Lightroom as your “Digital Library” ONLY (See Part 1 of this series), then “Export …”
– Using the “Goals” as guidance, adjust your RAW file in the Adobe Camera RAW plug-in ONLY
– Open your file in Photoshop, then use your PS “mojo” to create your Master File (as a .PSD)
– Once saved in Photoshop (as a PSD), synch Folder in Lightroom
• Procedure #2 Summary (using the Develop Module):
– Using the “Goals” as guidance, adjust your RAW file in the Develop Module of Lightroom ONLY
– “Edit in …”, Open in Photoshop, then use your PS “mojo” to create your Master File (as a PSD)
– Once saved in Photoshop (as a PSD), synch Folder in Lightroom
• Once you decide which “Procedure ” to use, check out this blogpost for the specific illustrated “how-to” steps:
Part 3: Lightroom to Photoshop Migration (& safely back):
• For a closely related post, check out – “How (and why I use Adobe Bridge …”:
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By the way, all of this is part of my Photoshop book designed for photographers, “Not just another Photoshop Book”, available exclusively on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HNLS1Q2
Questions? Please contact me – also, feel free to comment, and tell all of your photography friends!
Thx again, and cheers,
John Watts 🙂