Tag: Recommended

Alternatives to personal Lightroom tuition

Pound Sterling

We often get enquiries about a less costly alternative to our one-on-one Lightroom training courses. Here are some ideas.

1) George Jardine’s Lightroom 3 workflow video tutorial for $29.95

Back when Lightroom was new, George Jardine produced an excellent podcast of related interviews and discussions that offered great insight into the product and some very useful video tutorials from George himself. The podcast also involved the Lightroom team, world class photographers and master printers who used the product and who were involved with its development.

George’s new video tutorial for Lightroom 3 doesn’t cover the Develop module—this one is all about workflow. The reviews are really good and, having listened to and enjoyed every single episode of that early Lightroom podcast back at the time of the first public betas and Lightroom 1, we can highly recommend George’s knowledge and his approach. Take a look at the free sample video and see what you think of his style. Some important notes: you can only watch these videos online (you don’t download them), there are separate links for the iOS versions (iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) and you’ll need to make sure you’re up-to-date with your Flash browser plugin for Windows or the Mac.

(We are not associated with George Jardine.)

2) The Luminous Landscape Lightroom 3 tutorial videos at $49.99

Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe are back with a completely new course covering Lightroom 3. In total, there will be more than nine hours of material for download; at the time of writing (Aug 2010), the footage has been shot but is still being edited so that when you buy, you get access to as many episodes as are online, with the rest available for download as they appear (with nothing further to pay, obviously).

A 10% discount is available while material is still being edited and uploaded.

For more about Jeff and Michael, see our original post about their Lightroom 2 videos. These guys really do know both photography and Lightroom and even at full price ($49.99—currently about £32), the course is great value. The 10% discount takes the cost below £30.

If you own their Lightroom 2 tutorial, you get a further 10% discount on this new release. You need to obtain your discount code—full details are on the product page.

Again, there’s an online sample and a table of contents in the form of a PDF here.

(We are not associated with the Luminous Landscape.)

3) Lightroom 3 books

We always leave photographers with a book to accompany our own one-to-one Lightroom tutorials. After experimenting with a few very good titles, we’ve pretty much settled on two: Scott Kelby’s and Martin Evening’s. We’d recommend them to anyone interested in mastering Lightroom 3. The general standard of Lightroom books is pleasingly high now so there are good alternatives but we’d be comfortable describing these two as the best Lightroom 3 books on offer right now.

Kelby_Evening_Lightroom_Shoot_Raw.jpg

Of the two, the Kelby (full title: The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers) initially seems lighter in tone but its jollity disguises Scott’s knack for delivering a lot of information in a very effective way. As with photography, making your writing seem effortless and breezy is very hard work but he does it. Martin Evening’s alternative (The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers) is perhaps suited to the more technically minded. Both books, however, are excellent.

Where to buy—Amazon UK links

In the UK, you generally get the best prices at Amazon (click here for Scott Kelby’s book and here for Martin Evening’s) but you can also find them books at larger bookshops. For Londoners, Foyles in Charing Cross Road generally keeps stock of both.

Kindle owner?

Both are available for Kindle (Evening, Kelby) but we haven’t tried them in that format so can’t comment on readability.

(We’re not associated with the authors but we are Amazon UK affiliates so we earn a small commission if you buy either of the books using the links above within 24 hours of clicking. Every two book sales nets roughly enough Amazon commission for a cheeseburger. Good times!)

4) Lightroom workshops from Jerry Courvoisier

We have no personal experience of Jerry Courvoisier’s training but he’s delivering two Lightroom workshops in the UK in November 2010 and we mention them here because George Jardine (ex-Adobe, see above) is giving the same workshops for the same company in different parts of the world. No guarantee but perhaps that’s a benchmark and says something good about the company’s standards.

As you can see from the linked page, there’s a two-day workshop provisionally scheduled for London on the week-end of 6th/7th November 2010 and and another for Manchester a week later, on 13th/14th November 2010. You can’t book yet but keep an eye on the page and the links should appear shortly.

(We’re not associated with Jerry Courvoisier or lightroomworkshops.com.)

Mix and match

If you’ve tried one or more of the above and are interested in shorter tuition sessions to tie up any loose ends, we’d be happy to hear from you.

Remote training

We’re considering a new idea that might also fit in here: short, one-to-one remote training sessions, using the secure screen-control software that we’ve been using for years to provide support to our customers.

The idea is that, for 30 minutes or an hour, we help with specific aspects of your workflow that you would like us to address. We can see your screen and your mouse pointer and can even take control of the computer to demonstrate things, then watch as you work. It’s not a substitute for a day of face-to-face training but is intended to quickly address specific questions, at a low cost. It’s a technique we’ve used for over three years to provide support and has worked very well.

Thoughts? Let us know. We’ll say more about it in a separate post so revisit the bog or subscribe via e-mail or RSS. If you’d like to get in touch, just call (0333 577 5703) or mail us. (Note: we don’t spam you or pass your information on to any third parties.)

Haven’t turned pro yet?

We offer discounts to amateur photographers, whether or not they intend to go professional. You might remember our March deal. Interest from amateurs wasn’t enough for us to maintain those prices (the idea was to go for volume without an ongoing sales and marketing effort) but we do have a one-day offer for those of you not making money from photography yet—just drop us a line for details. When we hear from you, it would be useful for us to know which aspects of your workflow are currently holding you back, what camera and computer systems you use, what type or types of photography you do and roughly where you live.

News: Lightroom 3.2 RC

Unrelated to saving money on Lightroom training is the news that the Lightroom 3.2 release candidate is out, with bug fixes, support for recent cameras (including the Panasonic Lumix LX-5 and the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5) and automatic correction for more lenses. A release candidate (RC) is a build that is feature complete, has gone through the beta-testing process and is now being made available for a final, public test intended to reveal any show-stopping bugs. Because this is an RC release, it won’t replace your existing copy of Lightroom 3 (or Lightroom 2)—it sits by its side. Read more and download it here.

And finally… welcome to new readers from the BJP and Photo Pro

You might have seen us over the last few months in the business directory of the British Journal of Photography (BJP) after its successful, industry-defying transformation into a heavy, top-tier monthly.

Below: the advert we’re running in another favourite, Photo Pro magazine.

Lightroom 3 point-curve tutorial, online tips and Shoot Raw updates

A great piece on Lightroom 3’s point-curve editor

I was some way into the writing of a long article about Lightroom 3’s excellent new point curve editor (available in the beta 2 release) when I came across Gene McCullagh’s comprehensive piece on the topic over at lightroomsecrets.com. It’s very well written and worth reading carefully—it left my own half-finished attempt seem mostly superfluous. Beginners who wish to try creating custom tone curves after reading Gene’s post should start with the Linear curve, which contains only two control points—it just makes things a little easier to begin with. A linear curve makes it easier to follow the advice on adding a control point and holding down the option (alt) key while adjusting the position of that point.

Lenswork Technology Bog—highly recommended

One day, we’ll add a long-overdue list of resources that are useful to your raw workflow but since we’re on the topic of the new point curve editor in Lightroom 3, now seems like a good time to mention one very useful site that dealt with tone curves recently. Take a look at Brooks Jensen’s use of a custom tone curve in Lightroom to control highlights in print.

Brooks’s post is based on Lightroom 2, which offers a parametric tone curve but no ability to control the end points, preventing him from using the curve editor within Lightroom 2 itself to finely control the appearance of highlights in print. His workaround was to create a custom tone curve using Adobe Camera Raw, export that curve and then use it in Lightroom. It should now be possible to use the curve editing within Lightroom 3 to allow at least a similar level of control.

The Lenswork Technology Blog is excellent reading for photographers, particularly those of us who produce our own prints; the same is true of the Lenswork podcasts and the Ask Brooks blog. If you’re in the UK, you can get the Lenswork podcast via the UK iTunes Store (for free) here.

Welcome to our new subscribers

Lots of you have subscribed recently to the blog—thanks and welcome.

We went through a bit of a busy patch recently, as you might have gathered from the absence of blog posts but we now have a few days before the next scheduled training session so we’re firing off a few updates and articles. We’re hoping to add a little more information to the site and reorganise things a little, too. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in our main offering—one-to-one workflow courses in the UK based on Lightroom—we’re now taking bookings for May and June. Call 0333 577 5703 if you’d like to chat, or drop us a line. We’re doing a bit more travelling in the UK now and have worked out some ways of making our Lightroom courses more affordable—we’ll put details up on the training page soon and add a post here when it’s done.

We now use Lightroom 3 for all training

We recently switched to using Lightroom 3 beta 2 for all our training—it didn’t really make much sense to base tuition on Lightroom 2, given the quality of the current beta, the improved rendering of raw images and the new features that beta 2 offers. Reaction from photographers continues to be very positive—we’re very, very pleased with the direction in which Adobe is taking Lightroom 3.

Can you help?

We always appreciate new readers and subscribers (articles and subscriptions are free). If you find anything on our site useful, we’d love it if you could tell other photographers about us by forwarding our URL or by putting a link to us on your site, Facebook page or blog. Thank you!

To subscribe (for free)

If you’re not currently a subscriber, you can choose e-mail via Google or RSS/Atom for your feed reader. (For the e-mail option, you get a single e-mail message in the morning whenever there’s a new article on the site but nothing otherwise.) The blog is a collection of tips, news and information for photographers, mostly covering workflow, image quality and technical subjects.

Photoshop Elements 8 offer at Amazon UK

Elements_8_Shoot_Raw

Update 12th April 2010: the price of Elements is now back to normal. The offer lasted till 11th April 2010 so over three weeks in total. Still very good value but the prices mentioned below are no longer available from Amazon directly . The article will stay up since it provides some detail on using Elements with Lightroom.

First, our apologies to the regular Photoshop users among you and to those of you outside Europe. You can skip the rest of this note.

We don’t plan to do this sort of thing often but we received e-mail today from Amazon UK mentioning that it is now listing Photoshop Elements 8 at less than £50 as of 16 March 2010. That price includes VAT and shipping. This is the boxed, retail DVD and by UK standards, that price is an absolute bargain. (US readers who are still reading will raise their eyebrows at that description but sadly, it’s true.) The list price is £75 and it routinely sells on Amazon for £65.

It comes as a Mac version (Intel processor only) or a Windows version and both are currently at the same price.

Compared with most of the newer image editors intended for casual and occasional use, Elements wins hands down. It now offers layers, full Adobe Camera Raw compatibility, adjustment layers, and layer masks (for adjustment layers). It even offers smart sharpening and a version of the context-aware scaling function that you find in the full Photoshop (attempting to keep people and buildings in proportion while you stretch the image).

Who’s it suitable for?

Photoshop Elements will suit you if you don’t need to do much retouching outside Lightroom or Aperture but do need to clone out a stray object or element or if you need to run third-party noise-reduction plugins or something else requiring Photoshop. It will also suit you if you previously outsourced most of your own post-processing (or provided your clients and editors with images that weren’t retouched) and are only now beginning to do more of it yourself. It’s an excellent, low-cost way of beginning your Photoshop journey.

Elements 8 compared to Photoshop CS4

For occasional use, Elements 8 has only three significant weaknesses compared with Photoshop 11 (CS4).

  1. It doesn’t allow you to do as much work on 16-bit files as the full version of Photoshop does
  2. It doesn’t offer any access to the LAB colour mode
  3. It doesn’t allow you to convert to CMYK.

(It’s also not a 64-bit application but neither is the full Mac version of Photoshop CS4.) Both LAB mode and the ability to work at 16-bit depth are useful but for many people who do most of their work (including local adjustments) in a raw converter like Lightroom or Aperture, these things might matter less than they once did.

LAB mode in Photoshop is very powerful but relatively few people use it today, particularly after recent additions to Photoshop’s functionality, offering the “fade to luminosity” function. (That’s not to say LAB isn’t useful, powerful or under-rated—it’s all those things and fans of LAB mode will be horrified, of course, to read all this. It’s just relatively unusual to see people actually use it today, now that editing in RGB is as powerful and capable as it now is.)

You’d convert to CMYK if you’re preparing press-ready work (for magazine or book adverts, say). Again, you’ll already know if you need it. If you ask nicely, many publications’ prepress folks will do the conversion from RGB to CMYK themselves if you provide them with tagged files that you produced in a colour managed workflow.

Working in 16-bit mode, particularly in a larger colour space like Adobe RGB (all things we will discuss in future articles) is a way to help preserve smoothness of tone and colour, among other things. It will help avoid banding and other colour artefacts. The banding and other issues are mostly likely to appear when you do lots of work to the contrast, saturation and exposure of part or all of an image, particularly in areas of the image the show smooth surfaces

If you have used Lightroom, Aperture or another raw converter to do most of the grunt-work, like exposure compensation, highlight recovery, tone, white balance, contrast, dodging and burning) on a raw file, you’ve done most the things that would cause problems with 8-bit files. Performing some further minor work (some cloning or healing in small areas) on an 8-bit file is not usually something to worry about.

In addition, if you’d like to use Photoshop to run a noise-reduction plug-in like Neat Image or Topaz Denoise, the plugin will usually work in 16-bit mode in Elements 8. If you intend to use layers to blend the post-NR image with the regular image, you need to convert down to 8 bits so the conversion after you’ve run the noise-reduction routine to minimise the effect. (Elements 8 opens and saves 16-bit TIFFs—it’s just that layers and some of its own built-in filters and functions don’t work in that mode. Luckily, the third-party NR plugins work fine.)

Lightroom integration with Elements 8


Above: setting up Lightroom to work with Elements 8 for work that will remain in 16-bit throughout.

Lightroom integration with Photoshop CS4 is deeper than with other image editors like Elements. However, Elements offers most of what you need: in Lightroom’s preferences, perform a one-time setup. You specify that Elements 8 is your image editor, you tell Lightroom which colour space to use when creating an export file and which format to and bit depth to work at. Once you’ve set it up once, you’ll have a keyboard shortcut (for example, command-option-E or ctrl-alt-E) to invoke Elements but you can also right-click an image inside Lightroom and edit in Elements that way. Because it’s set up, the bit depth, file type and colour space will be taken care of automatically after that.

Lightroom also allows you to set up Elements 8 in different ways (16-bit TIFF, ProPhoto, 8-bit TIFF sRGB) so that you get a choice of options for each image that you send to Elements: you would choose the most appropriate for the task at hand.


Above: examples of what you might see when you right-click an image in Lightroom having set up different ways of sending an image to Elements 8.

If you do work that requires you to shift to 8-bit mode, first switch to a smaller colour space. (ProPhoto RGB is not a sensible choice for 8-bit work. More on colour spaces another time.)

What you don’t get with Elements 8, compared with CS4, is the smart objects integration, the HDR-from-raw-files integration and the ability to create panoramas from your raw shots.

To run noise-reduction plugins

If you were using Photoshop Elements to run a noise-reduction filter like Neat Image or Topaz Denoise, you’d choose to work with 16-bit TIFFs in something like Adobe RGB space. Lightroom will create a TIFF that contains all your existing Lightroom edits and will send it to Elements. When you finish and save your work in Elements, you’ll see the edited file in Lightroom, next to the original. Lightroom will handle the 16-bit TIFF as it would any other file, allowing you to export JPEGs, print, etc.

We own and use both CS4 and Elements 8 (for which we paid a good deal more than £49!) here at Shoot Raw, just to make sure we keep up-to-date with both. We can recommend Elements 8 for photographers who don’t spend a huge amount of time doing advanced Photoshop work or for people beginning with Photoshop, who’d like to get familiar with the application.

One more thing: if you were to buy Elements at £49 and then upgrade to Photoshop CS4 today at the Adobe UK site, you’d end up saving £30 over the cost of just buying CS4 outright from Adobe. Though it’s impossible to say this with absolute certainty, that saving is likely to continue when CS5 is released.

Amazon UK is marking this is “for a limited time only”. No idea how long it’ll last. We’ll try to update or delete this note when the offer has gone.

Disclosures and disclaimers

We earn commission from Amazon UK if you click one of the links and check out and pay for a product within that shopping session. That’s nice but the commission (about £2.50 per copy of Elements that you pay for during your visit to Amazon from our links) clearly isn’t reason enough to plug the product. We’re recommending it because it’s good (as long as you understand its limitations—see above), because the sub-£50 price is an absolute bargain and because Amazon UK is a reputable seller. (On which subject, we’d recommend that you buy directly from Amazon rather than one of its resellers—look for “Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk “.)

The Mac version:

Below: the Windows version

Coming up

We’re going to start a series of articles looking at exactly which camera settings affect the data in your raw files when you work with Lightroom and how. We’ll be looking at the primary exposure controls—shutter speed, aperture, ISO—and secondary camera settings like saturation, sharpness, contrast and colour mode (meaning options like Adobe RGB and sRGB). Over the series, we’ll be giving you definitive answers and explaining the technical language.

If you were sent a link to this post, you can subscribe by e-mail or RSS to receive all future articles in full. It’s free.

Best Photoshop CS4 book for photographers

For many photographers, Lightroom is almost a complete solution

Up until some time in 2007, more and more photographers switching from film to digital photography were turning to Adobe Photoshop (sometimes used together with Adobe Bridge) to perform routine post-processing tasks. Simple changes to tone, contrast, white balance and exposure, and the usual dodging and burning—all were being done in a relatively cumbersome application designed for much more complex things. That situation is changing quickly, with many of you now doing that kind of work in Lightroom or Aperture. (There are now many digital photographers—even those who shoot raw—who don’t use Photoshop at all and that number will rise.) However, there are still some things that just can’t be done in Lightroom: if we need to adjust the colour of an object or part of an image, or need to add or remove small elements by some means other than cropping, it’s still Photoshop that we turn to.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Photographers, by Martin Evening

You could probably fill a small shop with examples of all the weighty volumes on Photoshop but there’s one book we can recommend for photographers who’d like to get the best out of Photoshop CS4 for regular photographic post-processing work (rather than t-shirt design or the million-and-one other things that Photoshop is also used for). It carries a suitably no-nonsense title: Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Photographers is by Martin Evening and is published by Focal Press. It’s written by a professional photographer for other photographers and it does the job very well. You can find it at Amazon UK, Amazon.com or any larger bookshop. Those Amazon links will also allow you to browse through some pages of the book. (If you’re in London, Foyles in Charing Cross Road always has it, albeit at full retail price.)

General approach

This isn’t a book of just screen shots, small captions and white space. It tells you exactly what you need to know for the detailed post-processing of your own digital photography and does so in words rather than just pictures, meaning that to enjoy the book, you need to be comfortable reading a fair amount of text. However, it doesn’t assume or require any previous Photoshop knowledge—it’s perfectly suited to someone starting from scratch.

Setup

Before getting into the use of Photoshop, Martin devotes a couple of chapters to the setup and configuration of the application and your computer. Two chapters might seem a little excessive but if you get CS4 set up correctly, the resulting performance improvements usually repay any time spent. It’s quite common to see Photoshop performing sluggishly on quite capable hardware, for want of some quick changes to its setup.

Martin Evening uses Lightroom

Martin Evening’s approach is well suited to Lightroom users; he makes it clear in the book that he has chosen to use Lightroom himself to manage his own work and he documents that approach quite well. (He even has a book on Lightroom—Amazon UK, Amazon US.)


Above: the Adobe Camera Raw plugin (included with Photoshop) being used to import a raw file into CS4. Same controls as Lightroom’s develop module, different interface

Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom

One chapter of Photoshop CS4 for Photographers is devoted to Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), which will seem familiar to Lightroom users, even those who haven’t yet used Photoshop CS4. Camera Raw’s code and functions are very similar to those of Lightroom’s Develop module, though its interface is very different. That matching code base allows very close integration between Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4— you can move Lightroom image edits intact into Photoshop and continue to be able to adjust them within CS4. For example, you could adjust for chromatic aberration even while correcting for something like lens distortion— just open the image in CS4 as a smart object from Lightroom. It’s worthwhile becoming familiar with ACR if you’re primarily a Lightroom user intending to dip into Photoshop—it deserves the chapter it gets in the book.

Good for reference but very readable

Evening’s book also provides a good basic grounding in colour management and it comes with a DVD that contains example files and a good collection of demonstration videos. It’s worth watching those before you start on the book itself. You’ll be equally comfortable dipping in for answers (there’s a decent index) or making your way through the whole book, step by step. You’ll finish knowing exactly how to work on photographs non-destructively in Photoshop CS4, doing the things that aren’t possible in Lightroom—particularly detailed healing & cloning, colour changes to areas of an image and the use of elements from different images. (You’ll learn how to make and quickly finesse selections and masks and how to use layers and adjustment layers to get that sort of work done.) And, of course, you’ll be able to integrate Photoshop CS4 into your Lightroom 2 workflow.

More about Martin Evening

You can find Martin’s work here. If it’s your kind of thing, you might be interested in watching this episode of George Jardine’s excellent podcast series that covered early versions of Lightroom.

Twentieth birthday for a game-changing product

There’s an interesting video of a discussion (18 minutes) between the Knoll brothers and two key Adobe employees, filmed this year, about the genesis of the application that Thomas Knoll wrote and how it became known as Photoshop.

Shoot Raw Store

We’ve added Martin’s book to our store for UK and European readers.

One-on-one training

If you’re more comfortable with face-to-face training, you’re in the right place. We’re taking bookings for March and April for our Lightroom courses in London. We have an offer available for emerging photographers who are currently turning professional or are thinking of doing so. There are still spots available for March!

A good Lightroom 2 video tutorial

When we deliver one-to-one Lightroom training, we leave photogrphers with one of several published Lightroom books to supplement their notes. (Watch for reviews of these books in future articles.) Some photographers understandably prefer to watch video tutorials, rather than plough through a book, in which case we recommend this video tutorial.

The instructors

When you learn using a one-way medium like video, you’re at the mercy of an instructor’s styles and priorities but the approach adopted by the two presenters of these videos should please most viewers.

Jeff Schewe works closely with Adobe on Lightroom and Camera Raw, testing the software and providing his input as a professional commercial photographer. He is also the current author of the best source of information on sharpening digital images for print and screen, the awkwardly named Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom [Amazon UK link]. (That book is highly recommended as well—essential reading, in fact, particularly if you produce your own prints—but it’s not an introduction to Lightroom. It’s also worth a look even if you already have the late Bruce Fraser’s original edition.)

Michael Reichmann is an alpha tester for Adobe products, a long-established photographer himself and the man behind The Luminous Landscape.

Those of you familiar only with Jeff Schewe’s posts to various forums, for which he sometimes employs what you could call a very direct approach, might be surprised by the avuncular style on display here— there’s a twinkle in Jeff’s eye that came as a surprise to me when I first watched it. The conversational format of the video works well and the collection is easily worth the price of download, at $40 for more than seven hours of HD, split into many short, bite-size episodes.

Good for beginners and existing users

If you’re planning on booking one-to-one tuition with us, this tutorial is a good primer but it’s just as useful if you plan to work alone. You’re likely to learn quite a bit and even experienced Lightroom users will probably find new information and appreciate Jeff’s insight. The tutorial covers most aspects of Lightroom 2 and only minor details are outdated. (There were some changes introduced in the resizing methods used by Lightroom at version 2.3, for example.)

After watching the video a few times…

If you have specific questions after completing the videos, you could always buy some support time with us. More information coming soon.

We have no links whatsoever with Mssrs Schewe or Reichmann, nor with the Luminous Landscape, except as satisfied customers.

New readers always welcome

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