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Pro Analysis: Adobe Lightroom
Beyond the bridge and into the drink

Cast and crew from the Wizard of Oz
Cast and crew from the Wizard of Oz, performed by St. John's Catholic School at Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins, MN on March 22-25, 2007.
Alex Bachnick

Cast stars from the St. John's Catholic School production of the Wizard of Oz
Cast stars from the St. John's Catholic School production of the Wizard of Oz. This image was shot originally in the school gym and enhanced later in Photoshop CS2. The background was stretched, and the Good Fairy, Glinda, was given her pink satin gown from the production, as the costume wasn't available during the original shoot.
Alex Bachnick

Glinda, the Good Witch of the north, discusses strategy with Dorothy for finding the Wizard.
Alex Bachnick

Fr. Ralph Goman, lt., and Deacon Jim Murphy
Fr. Ralph Goman, lt., and Deacon Jim Murphy, had a ball playing cameo performances in the Wizard of Oz.
Alex Bachnick

When tweaking files between the Library and the Develop Modules, I first tweak the first image of a group. I look at it at 100% view, and tweak exposure, color balance if necessary, and if I have made the shot a good one viewing the histogram during the shoot, I don't have to tweak much. I then copy the settings from the Develop module for that image, select all the images in the group, go to Synchronize (Sync) settings, and apply the exposure and color balance to all the images from that group. Lightroom will work on one image or as many as you've selected. [You need to keep in mind that two images will take x seconds for the tweaks to appear, 100 images will take 100 times x seconds. It works faster than it's taken to write this article—it zooms!] Lightroom, unlike Photoshop, works primarily within the file XMP metadata, and doesn't degrade the file or the pixels. Photoshop can be a destructive application, and it's imperative that you make copies of your files, and then make a copy of your first layer, so that you are not cutting, erasing, smudging or otherwise destroying your original file data.

Once all the images from a shoot have been enhanced to your satisfaction, you can generate a Web Gallery. Adobe has included a number of templates for both HTML files and Flash Galleries. I prefer the HTML version, because the color is WYSIWYG. I work with Safari, Apple's color-centric browser. Netscape is not, Internet Explorer is not, and to my knowledge, Mozilla is not. For what it's worth, Adobe's Photoshop Product Manager told me by email that generating a Flash gallery would probably look fine on Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. So, the choice of whether you generate the gallery in HTML or Flash is yours.

You first must go through and choose a template for the Web gallery. I made mine from selecting colors and hues that were neutral, so that the color in the files was accurate when viewed on my calibrated monitor.

Once you have made the necessary changes to make your first template, go to Menu, Web, Save Web Settings. With the Web Gallery options on the right of the Viewer window, you can select a title for the gallery, contact information, and caption and file name settings. Once you have created your first Web Gallery and have saved the Settings, you can generate subsequent galleries with the same look.

After you have the Web Gallery looking the way you like it, you can export it to either your external hard drive or directly to your Web Hosting Service. To generate a Web Gallery with about 200 images, it takes Lightroom about 1/2 hour to reduce the original files to three sizes of HTML files, and to set up the necessary configurations for viewing by anyone. After the Web gallery is generated, I then submit my galleries to the back side of my Web site via Transmit. These 200 images might take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour with a high-speed cable modem uploading at 400kbps. Depending on the time of day, and the amount of traffic from the servers en route to my Web Hosting Service, the time could take more or less. I prefer to be hard-wired when delivering files to either my Web site or to clients via FTP.

When my daughter was married in September 2006, my close friend, Lance Vicknair, shot the wedding. By mid-September, he delivered four DVDs, each with a GB plus of images, nearly 1,600 in total. I was putting together a one-of a kind wedding book, and Lightroom worked flawlessly to get my daughter Web galleries and image selections.

Lightroom wasn't developed and expertly engineered to be a lonesome cousin to Photoshop. I have been shooting digitally for 12 years, and back then we were shooting with a Dicomed (now Betterlight) Scanback. We were shooting 127MB files and at first, we were using a Mac Tower with 80MB of RAM. The large files would take 20 minutes just to save! After a couple days of watching the wheel of a death spin, a client told me if you have to watch a progress bar for more than a couple minutes, you need more RAM. We got it the next day!

Photoshop CS2 has been recently upgraded and offered as CS3, but I have not downloaded it yet. It still contains Bridge, and for some of you who work a lot on copying metadata to files from a shoot, that's fine. As an image-editing tool, Bridge was really slow going, especially on a large number of files in a folder, and Lightroom has taken a lot of that load away.

The result is a timesaving factor that helps you get more work done in less time, and for me, Lightroom has paid for itself in time saved over the course of a month!

If you shoot only five images a month, maybe you could wait on getting Lightroom. But keep an eye on it, because as you build volume, you'll want to stay better organized and be able to find those images when you need them.

If you shoot sometimes 5,000 images a month like I have recently, Lightroom has become a welcome friend to my integrated workflow. It saves me time editing, tweaking and delivering web galleries to clients and friends.

I am currently working on a Mac Powerbook and use an Apple Cinema Display for calibrated color. I also have several Seagate Barracuda 300GB External Hard Drives, and run Lightroom off the newest Seagate, and back up files daily! Since some of my images have as many as 20 layers, replete with adjustment layer masks and layer masks, a recent shot was up to 500MB and took about a minute to save.

I began turning down work about the middle of January. I was walking three miles vigorously by then and putting the final touches on my daughter's wedding images, and by the end of January, shipped off a PDF for an 80-page book to Asukabook ( in Bend, OR that contained about 400 images.

About a month later, we received the Wedding Book, a one-of-a-kind. It was gorgeous, with WYSIWYG color and excellent printing!