Editing at the speed of Light(Room) Day2

This next entry is from a photographer I met recently. He’s never been one of my workshops and he actually teaches lightroom where he works. So not only is it a fresh perspective but it’s a pretty knowledgeable viewpoint


What types of photography you do: Urban Decay, Landscape/Scenic, Portraits, Travel/Lifestyle

Vist Him Here>>: http://samscholes.carbonmade.com/ & http://www.flickr.com/photos/pictobox/

Written by Sam Scholes:

A blurb about Lightroom and how it helped you: Lightroom revolutionized my workflow. Prior to using it I tried just about ever other RAW editor out there (Capture One, Bibble, Nikon Capture, Adobe Camera RAW, etc. etc).

Every one was difficult to use, slow, and unpolished. RAW editors at that time lacked the sophistication and ease-of-use I was used to having in Photoshop and were more frustrating than helpful. It wasn’t until Lightroom was released that things began to turn around.  Lightroom was the first RAW editor that offered the flexibility and ease-of-use I wanted.

I love Lightroom.

Random Tip:If you are shooting RAW and not using Lightroom do yourself a BIG favor and buy Lightroom, it will revolutionize your workflow too. ‘)

My Workflow

Before anything else capturing some photographs is a must. My recipe for success is to go somewhere amazing and (hopefully) shoot some even more amazing photographs ! My current love is a Nikon D300 DSLR and various Nikon lenses. I exclusively shoot 14-bit RAW and use the Adobe RGB color space (for more vibrant colors and smoother gradients). Shooting RAW gives me the most flexibility when editing and allows me to achieve exactly the look I am going for.

When I can home from a shoot…

Part 1: Library module

1. The first thing I do after getting home from a shoot is take a shower and change my clothes. Usually I am pretty dirty after a long day shooting, so this is a good thing.

Next I insert my memory card(s) into a USB card reader and import all of my photos into my Lightroom catalog.  I import the photos with the following custom settings….
* File Handling: Move photos to new location and add to catalog
* Organize photos into folders by date (ie. 2009/2009-03-01)
* Rename photos by date with a number sequence (ie.2009-03-01_001.NEF)

* Embed custom metadata which includes my copyright, name, email, and web site. This metadata will be added to every file I import or export, so every JPG I send out can be traced back to me. This is important for helping protect my copyright.

Finally, I choose to have Lightroom render high resolution previews so I can easily and quickly zoom in and out without having to wait for Lightroom to render a new preview. This makes reviewing my shots much faster.

2. Once Lightroom has transfered all of the photos and rendered the previews I begin reviewing the photos. Its at this stage that I realize that most of those “amazing” photos I took actually sucked… Its a good thing reviewing a lot of photos in Lightroom is so easy…
* Any photo that is out-of-focus, severely underexposed or overexposed, has a bad composition or just isn’t very good gets rejected. You can do this by hitting the X key.
* Often times I will use the Quick Edit sidebar to make slight exposure or white balance adjustments when comparing different compositions of the same shot. I want to make sure I keep the best shot and get rid of the others so small tweaks can be helpful to make sure I select the right shot.
* Hitting Z or clicking on the image zooms in and helps me check focus and sharpness. I use this a lot which is why I like to have Lightroom render high-resolution previews and not the smaller, standard previews.
* If I want to compare two compositions of the same image I will often select the two images and hit the C key to compare the shots. This shows both photos in a side by side comparison and is a great way to evaluate different compositions and check sharpness.
* In reviewing the photos from a shoot I will rate photos as well as reject them. This helps to separate the wheat from the tares and allows me to focus on only the best shots. Any photo that I like gets rated with 3 stars (hit the number 3 key to do this), any shot I really like gets 4 stars (hit the number 4 key), and any shot that really is amazing I will rate with 5 stars (hit the 5 key). I usually don’t bother with anything under 3 because any photo less than 3 should probably be rejected and deleted.

3. Once I’ve gone through all the photos I go to the Photo menu and select “Delete Rejected Photos”. This removes all of the bad photos so I am left with just the “good” ones.

Part 2: Develop module

1. Switching to the Develop module I change the rating to 3 stars or more. This hides all of the photos I’ve not stared and lets me focus on just the “good” shots. Sometimes I will also change the rating to 4 or more, so it narrows things down even further.

2. From here its time for editing, some more editing, and even more editing! Every photo is different so I won’t go into any detail about my process here.

3. Most of the time I can get my photos 90% of the way there in Lightroom. For that extra 10% I than take the photos into Photoshop. This is especially true with portraits which require additional retouching and editing that is only possible in Photoshop.

4. When I export from Lightroom to Photoshop or to JPG I make sure and convert to the sRGB colorspace. This is the default for the web and for most printers. I shoot Adobe RGB for the additional flexibility when editing but export to sRGB for compatibility.

After hours of editing hopefully I’ve survived long enough to shoot another day. Rinse and repeat. Have fun!


  1. mickelle says

    I’m lazy. This I know. But I can’t believe I’d never thought to use metadata tags like copyright, name, email, and web site. Oh thank heavens you posted this!


  2. Melissa says

    So, so informative! Not that I don’t like your blog posts but I would love to see more guest bloggers. I’m testing the max capacity of Goggle Reader.

  3. Kimbrey says

    Interesting! The more I read, the more I feel like I should get my lightroom installed right now!

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