Every once in a while I have come across a piece of software that just does the right thing with a clear interface. Intuit's Quicken is one such example. Adobe Lightroom is a new example of such an application.
If you are just getting started in digital photography, or if you haven't noticed many differences between how you take pictures in the digital world from the film world, you probably don't even know that you need an application to do the things that Lightroom does.
Lightroom helps you follow a process or workflow -- the steps you must take after you take a digital photograph until you arrive at rendering the photograph in whatever medium (print, slideshow, web) you choose to use. You may not be aware that you are doing this, and you may not currently be doing the same set of steps every time. You should. Why? Because that is the only way you can improve your technique of going from the camera to the ultimate presentation of your photos.
Lightroom helps you follow a standard set of steps you should take with every photograph you take:
- Off load the pictures from your camera
- Catalog them according to a standard naming and filing convention.
- Make "mechanical" improvements to a photo such as rotation and cropping
- Make "subjective" improvements, such as brightness, contrast, color balancing, and a whole host of other possible picture quality improvements
- Allow you to add labels, titles, captions, tags to photos. Allow you to examine and compare photos and form collections of selected photos.
- Render a photo or collection of photos in one or more ways including prints, slide shows, and web pages.
- And, do this all in a completely non-destructive way to the original photo that came from your camera. This is important because mistakes do happen and you never want to modify your original.
For me, Lightroom has answered a set of needs I have had for quite some time.
How much does it cost? A pretty hefty $300. But wait: are you in school or do you have a child in school? If so, you can get this for $100 through the academic discount.