Pictutres at an exhibition (part 2)

One of the most useful sessions at Nikon
Expo this time was with Adobe, and in
particular their relatively new addition to
the software stable, Lightroom.
Photoshop, in all its various incarnations,
has been the tool of choice for the
professional for many years up to its
massively powerful CS3, part of a
complete image management and design
system with In Design and Illustrator.

Having been with Adobe's product since,
I think, version 5, I have found the
continuity of the workspace one of the
most refreshing features. It means that
while extra tools and functions have been
added to successive versions, a certain
familiarity remains at the controls.

Adobe in fact retain some items for
customer personal choice even though
their actions have long since made
virtually redundant by other preferences.
Baby and bath water stay intact.

Photoshop has had to adapt to the
development of digital imaging - larger
and more numerous files - was well as the
introduction of non-processed files like
RAW. So the simple thumbnail browser has
had to become a more complex gallery
system capable of sorting through these

Inevitably Photoshop becomes memory
hungry as a result, but there is no option if
the tradtional features are to be retained
in the familiar configuration.

Lightroom version one, introduced a year
ago, was a sidestep from this formula.
Designed to run with Photoshop or on its
own, it was an opportunity to re-invent
the wheel, perhaps particularly for those
who hadn't had the years of conventional
development and were coming fresh into
image editing without any previous

The opportunity to work with a blank
canvas gave Adobe the chance to totally
change the workspace - to make it much
more like a photographer's darkroom than
a graphic designer's desktop.

I have to confess that my original
impression was that this was more of a
lightweight gimmick, and hadn't had
much of a chance to give it a serious look.
It was only when watching Lightroom
being put through its paces at Nikon
Solutions, I realised what a serious bit of
heavyweight kit this was.

I thought I was watching a simple Jpeg
being manipulated, it was only when I
looked closely at the screen info I was
impressed to see it was actually a RAW file,
and that this programme can match
process such mighty beasts rather than
the laborious one-at-a-time conversions.

It is also able to fine process Jpeg files by
a much more sophisticated colour and
content management system than has
previously been available. In effect, like
RAW convertors, you can post process
image to alter white balance, exposure,
density and even more subtle aspects of
fill and shadow, not to mention all manner
of hue and saturation of all colours
contained in the original image.

You can't put in what isn't there, but you
can recover files that look like a pea soup,
or enhance ones that are just average.

The software is non-destructive - one of
the buzz words of the moment - is that it
initiates the develop commands only after
the selections have been finalised. Even
then they can be exported automatically
to an "edited" folder so the originals are
still intact in case it all goes pear shaped
in process.

This enables Lightroom to run lean, light
on memory until processing is
commenced. That's when you can walk
away and make the tea while the serious
number crunching is going on.

Lightroom is worth looking at for efficient
photo editing because it's another of
these tools that will put you ahead of the
average customer. They will be quite
happy playing with Elements which they
get free with almost every camera and

It's certainly a cheaper option than an
upgrade of Photoshop if that is not really

You can get a 30 day trial of Lightroom
from the Adobe website, and additional
help and tips from the many links you will
find from Google. The great thing with the
internet community is that lots of
information is quickly disseminated, and
much trial and error is thereby avoided.