Image processed in Lightroom with Vintage Film preset
If you take photographs and publish them anywhere, you probably edit or post-process them in some way.
And if you don’t, I think you should.
Photoshop can be a dirty word to some and I do agree that excessive manipulation can blur the lines between photography and digital art.
I’d never digitally remove a person to make a beach look deserted. I’d rather tell a story of a beach with people on it.
However, I would straighten the horizon if it needed straightening. Adjusting things like shadows, highlights, contrast, and saturation is also fair game.
If you want your images to stand out, I’d say post-processing is almost essential.
Don’t feel guilty. The photographers you follow online do it, and they’re only doing digitally what people did for decades in the darkroom anyway.
The good news is you’ve got plenty of options for software that can help you with your editing and post-processing.
I use Lightroom.
Let me tell you why.
Lightroom is simple to learn and use
Before I started using Lightroom (and Photoshop), there was some intimidation around the thought of learning them.
Because they’re really complicated, right?
Well, yes and no.
They’re really powerful and have a lot of features. It would take you forever to learn everything about them, but you don’t need to.
You only need to learn what you need to know and, in the beginning, that isn’t much.
As you get better at the simple things you can start diving deeper.
Take it slowly, step by step, and you’ll one day realise how much you’ve learnt – how much better you are at editing than you used to be – without really noticing the incremental improvements along the way.
The learning curve goes as high as you want it to, but it starts off very easy with one-click straightening and sliders for all the main adjustments.
And not to mention the presets you can use.
Using Lightroom presets
Lightroom presets are like the filters other photo editing apps give you.
They’ll make pre-determined adjustments to your images.
The good thing about Lightroom presets is there are countless ones you can use.
Whereas other software may have a limited number of filters and effects, anyone can make Lightroom presets.
It’s effectively an open-source market.
A lot of photography bloggers create their own and make them available to you.
And if they can make their own then so can you.
Presets are invaluable in streamlining your photo editing workflow and getting consistency through your image sets.
Using other platforms with set filters means being at the mercy of what they give you.
Having the ability to make your own means that, once you’ve taken the time to create and save them, you can have your photographs looking exactly as you want to with a single click forevermore.
Check out this before ‘n’ after – done with one-click auto-straightening and the VF-01 preset from my Vintage Film pack.
Lightroom to keep your images safe
Another great benefit of using Lightroom is the way it keeps your original images safe and intact.
Safe means that they’re uploaded into Lightroom itself, rather than being temporarily opened by the software like you would with Photoshop.
This is good for quite a few reasons.
The first is being able to use Lightroom to back up your files.
Lightroom itself will periodically back your library up, with the frequency depending on you.
So long as you save them on a separate drive, these backups can be used to rescue your photographs should your computer crash.
Another advantage of uploading your files to Lightroom – and the reason I said intact earlier – is that it allows you to work on them non-destructively.
You can export a copy of the image with the edits you’ve made while Lightroom saves the full edit history on the version in its library.
This means you can go back later and edit your edit, continue where you left off, or even start over.
When I used Photoshop for editing, I needed to save a PSD file with all the layers if I thought I might want to continue editing later.
It meant starting over was my only option if I didn’t.
Accidentally saving over the original copy could also mean it was gone forever, if I was careless enough.
Lightroom eliminates all of this.
Having your images uploaded to Lightroom also means being able to transfer them between devices.
You could, for example, edit on the big screen of your laptop and find that edited image on your Lightroom phone app to upload it to Instagram.
Lightroom as a future-proof time-saver
You may be a little reluctant to pay for Lightroom when there are other, free options out there.
For me, it comes down to time vs money.
It’s about investing in yourself.
Lightroom and Photoshop are available for $9.99 per month which is good value if you use them both (as I do).
I could use free alternatives but I don’t want to waste my time trying to get good results from an inferior piece of software.
Adobe have been refining these products for years and I’d rather have the peace of mind of knowing I’m using the industry leader than struggling with something a notch below.
I also think about the future. You could spend time learning how to use a free alternative and discover it’s not enough for you. Or maybe it becomes unavailable for some unforeseen reason.
Then you have to spend time learning something else.
Better, in my opinion, to save that time by going straight to Lightroom.
The $9.99 per month Photography Pack that gets you both Lightroom and Photoshop includes all future updates to the software.
This is why I consider it future-proof.
Back in the day, if you wanted the upgrades you had to buy the latest versions of Lightroom or Photoshop every time one was released.
Why I use Lightroom to edit my photographs
- it’s powerful enough to do all the processing (not manipulation) you need yet simple enough to have an easy learning curve
- you can install or even create unlimited presets to speed up your workflow and get consistency in your photo sets
- the software can keep your original files safe from crashes, accidental saving-over, and with full edit history to pick up where you left off
- as a future-proof industry leader, it saves time with its power and ease of use and also in learning only this software, for life
I use Lightroom for processing the photographs I publish on here and Photoshop for Pinterest images (like the one below), headers and logos, and other projects I work on unrelated to this site.
For $9.99 a month the Adobe Photography Pack is a steal.
If you edit or create a lot yourself, I highly recommend you check it out.
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