Lightroom: the tools that we love

Varun Vasudevan

Adobe Photoshop has become quite the central player is a wide variety of industries. From photographers to digital artists, graphic designers, web developers, even video production and CG, it really is a tool that crosses boundaries. But it wasn’t really designed to suit all these needs; so what are the tools that do? In this series of posts we’re going look at programs tailored for more specific jobs, from our friends who do this like their lives depended on it.

Varun Vasudevan: Photoshop vs Lightroom

The thing is that I don’t actually prefer Lightroom over Photoshop. My workflow generally tends toward using both.

Allow me to highlight to you why I use each and in what ways they are similar/dissimilar (purely based on my workflow, of course).

The first, most obvious, difference according to most people would be that Photoshop does layers and Lightroom does not. While that is one difference, I think the most important one is even more basic, more obvious. Lightroom works as a database/catalogue of one’s work. Its great because you can organise your library according to your taste and completely forget about the file system behind it. The app takes care of the organisation. With Photoshop comes Adobe Bridge, which many mistake to be similar to Lightroom, but in fact what Bridge does is mostly act as a window to the file system. You have to do all the folder organisation yourself, which is a pain.

Lightroom also does the work of ‘Adobe Camera Raw’ which is Adobe’s RAW file processing program. This also opens as a sort of separate app/plugin when you open a RAW file directly in Photoshop. Lightroom, on the other hand, processes the RAW file and opens it in a friendly format when you want to shift to Photoshop to do something that Lightroom cannot do.

People want it to do layers, people want it to be able to make the subject thinner and fairer, they want it to prove the existence of Martians.

These two things, for me, are the essence of Lightroom. It is a cataloguing and RAW processing program which has gotten more and more powerful with things like a great healing brush, lens distortion adjustments and has the backing of an amazing ‘preset’ community (I use VSCO Film). People want it to do layers, people want it to be able to make the subject thinner and fairer, they want it to prove the existence of Martians. But all that will remove from the core essence of what Lightroom is, and make it more complicated.

Are there some things done easier on Lightroom than on Photoshop? YES! Ask any wedding photographer who comes back with 5000 pictures at the end of a wedding. Its great for batch processing.

Are there some things that one would rather do on Photoshop because Lightroom is just not that kind of woman? Yes! Retouching, selections, more comprehensive colour grading, the list is endless.

I think the easiest way to say it would be that Lightroom is best used as a front office to Photoshop. Sometimes you don’t have to go inside and sometimes you do.

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