I Did It In Lightroom

I was reading my buddy Scott Kelby’s blog yesterday and enjoying all the great images he took of the red Cadillac in Savannah  when something he wrote kind of struck me as funny.  When discussing the post processing of the images, Scott wrote, “I didn’t even need to run a noise reduction filter. In fact, there are no effects filters or HDR used on any of these shots—-just Lightroom”.  I completely understand what it is that Scott was saying but the thought that crossed my mind was that these days, you can process the heck out of an image using just Lightroom.  So much so that you can completely change the look and feel of an image to the point that it appears that plug-ins and special filters were applied.

I think most people believe that Lightroom is a scalpel that lightly touches their image, but with the coming of Lightroom 2 and the Adjustment Brushes, there is more possibility for drastic or over the top processing than most individuals are even aware of.  A perfect example of this can be found by checking out all of the Lightroom presets that are available from my buddy Matt Kloskowski at Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips.  Matt has amassed dozens of presets over at his blog that range from a slight enhancement of your image to a complete overhaul.  Then take into consideration that you can create great looking black and white images with complete control over the luminance values of separate color tones within the image.  This is black and white that is beyond what Photoshop used to be able to produce.  Of course Photoshop has caught up to Lightroom with the changes in Camera Raw but who needs to go into Photoshop for that?

Finally, there is the ability to adjust specific features of your image with the adjustment brush so that you can effect any number of characteristics (color, saturation, exposure, clarity, etc) all in a localized adjustment.  So, gone are the “global only” adjustments that made Lightroom a lesser processing tool than Photoshop.  Now when someone says that “the only processing I did was in Lightroom”, I have to wonder what that means.

Blue Boat OriginalHere is an original image, right out of the camera with no processing applied in Lightroom.

Blue Boat Lightroom

Here is the same image after processing in Lightroom.


  1. mike meyer says:

    Nice shot of the boat and water. This is another perfect example of why digital is better than film. Ever try to adjust contrast or saturation using an enlarger. Unless you enjoyed making tri-color seperations you were pretty much out of luck. How about doing a multi-shot panorama with the enlarger. That was easier in the earliest verisons of Photoshop now it’s simply vodoo. Welcome to the 21st century!!!

    mike meyer

  2. I’ve been showing clients for months how much adjustment can be done in Lightroom. Quick fixes on images prior to printing are necessary in my business. When I “touch up” images for clients in under a minute with Lightroom I usually see the light bulb go off. 🙂 I read Scott’s Lightroom and Lightroom 2 books, and ever since a ton of my final work occurs in Lightroom.

  3. Hey Jeff – I completely agree with you. With LR2 and adjustment brushes, it’s really a powerful tool. I think a lot of people still don’t realize the power of that and still go (by default) to Photoshop because that’s what they’re used to.

    For example – ‘dodge and burn’. You can either do this via LR2’s adjustment brushes or via Photoshop. Some people prefer to use PS because it’s second nature to them.

    For me, the main advantage of starting in LR is that I get the photo management/organization capability instead of managing them via folders/bridge.

  4. I can attest to the truthfulness of this. Since I started using LR (from version 1.2), image management has never been this facile to me. Then with the major update done in LR2, I have found myself using PS less and less to the point that I’m thinking much of my workflow may not necessary require PS anymore.

    I even created a Project in my Flickr account which is a LR reprocess initiative for me. You can see the set here:


    (forgive me for the shameless plug)

    have a wonderful independence day weekend!



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