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Creative Lightroom

Lightroom for Landscape Photographers : Part One

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Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish

Professional landscape photographer. His personal website is www.joecornishphotographer.com/

In the first part our new guide to Lightroom for Landscape Photographers we take a look at the environment - how you view and assess images.

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  • Excellent idea for this series, Tim and Joe.

    Shortcut keys directly relevant to this instalment, which may help:

    Toggle EXIF/metadata overlay on and off: i
    Go to library module: e
    Go to Develop module: d
    Toggle mono/colour: v
    Also may be useful: lights-out: L

    • Thanks David, Shortcuts are a great way to speed the process, and for what it is worth I also think it helps us to build a can-do mentality and confidence when using extremely powerful applications such as this one. Apologies that we haven’t necessarily included every shortcut. You know how it is, we are both still learning Lr too as we go along, including shortcuts.
      In future issues we will focus principally on the image interpretation process, using the develop tools.

      • You are right, Joe. Shortcuts make thinks much easier and can be easier to remember than “which menu is that in?” Good for avoiding mouse or trackpad RSI, too!

        No need for apologies for not including shortcuts. Like, I suspect, a number of readers, I’ve been using Lightroom since the first public beta, so I am fully geeked-out on it. Meanwhile I’ve learnt a great deal from your and Tim’s photoshop videos –, not the commands or the menus or the shortcuts, but the thought process and the philosophical approach – believably; as much as necessary, as little as possible, etc. So I am looking forward to more of the same as you make yourself at home in Lightroom.

        For what it’s worth, I do about 70 percent of my processing in Lightroom but finish nearly every image in Photoshop – usually the polygonal lasso selection, refine edge then curves routine, because Lightroom’s tools still don’t provide the fine control.

        This isn’t to question the premise of the series. Lightroom has been much more affordable than Photoshop (the economics are somewhat insidiously muddied by the creative cloud deal for photographers), but most of the things that I do in photoshop and that I’ve seen you do can be done in recent-ish versions of Photoshop Elements that can be had from e-bay for hardly any cash. That’s where I send my students when they ask me about Photoshop: an education licence for lightroom and second hand, one version behind current copy of Photoshop Elements.

      • Ian

        I was compiling a list of useful LR shortcuts when I found the one shortcut to rule them all:

        “CTRL/” on the PC or “CMD/” on the Mac.

        This brings up a display of all the shortcuts for the module that you are in the time.

  • David Foster

    Joe, Tim – great to see you starting a series on Lightroom! On the matter of shortcuts, if you don’t already know it, this link http://waldobronchart.github.io/ShortcutMapper/ may be of interest to you and fellow readers.

  • Jeff Grant

    I may be alone in this but my initial reaction to this article was ‘Why’? I really want to read about the art of photography and you are doing an excellent job at it. I really don’t need yet another article on LR.



    • Because you can’t talk about the art of post processing without knowing what the post processing software can do. Lightroom seems the best and most widely used, affordable software for such purposes and hence that’s what we’re using.

    • You may well not be alone Jeff, but the fact is that some people have not yet have looked at the basics of Lightroom. So I would politely suggest that you ignore this first issue and hopefully the ‘Lightroomcasts’ in future issues will offer the interpretation aspects that you do enjoy. We did have a lot of requests for editing/image interpretation in Lightroom, rather than Photoshop, and felt that a basic introduction was required. I know from my teaching experience that while it will be obvious to hard core Lr experts, many people remain unaware of the wide number of different viewing options for example. And this can be pretty fundamental if you are working on location with a small laptop such as a Macbook Air…

  • Ansel Adams exposed his negatives anticipating what he could do to them “in post” – equally part of the artistry is capturing an image while being aware of how you could process it. Second, while this episode was rather generic Lightroom stuff, I think there is plenty of scope to concentrate on Lightroom for landscape – so I expect they’ll show tricks like local clarity or blue luminance for skies, and a few others.

    As one of those “hard core Lr experts”, I’d just pick up Joe’s comment about 5 ways to do something in Lr as in Photoshop. For one thing, Photoshop often has 20 ways! Also the Lr ethos is to escape from that confusing accumulation of techniques – in Lr there’s usually only one *right* way to do something!

  • PS that was a reply to Jeff Grant

  • As an old fart who use C1 and PS, and who looked at LR and didn’t like it or the Adobe processing of RAW files, I guess that I am in the minority. Far be it from me to argue with the requests that you receive, or to argue what percentage of your readers use LR, but it does mean that a percentage of your readership will see no value in LR articles.

    The point that I was trying to make is that doing articles on LR specifics starts to move you closer to every other mag. On Landscape is a breath of fresh air in the dross of photo mags, I’d hate to see that diluted.

    • I have to disagree that you’ll see no benefit and also I disagree that it moves us towards supposed “dross” mags. The techniques in Lightroom are transportable to Photoshop fairly easily and we still plan on including Photoshop techniques where appropriate. Most of the series will concentrate on the “why” of using different techniques and give just enough how to make sense. This “why” will be relevant even if you were to use a darkroom to a certain extent (as long as you know the darkroom techniques to put them into practise. They will also discuss a little about what might be happening in the field so that you know you can achieve something in post processing. All relevant regardless of post processing experience and, as far as I know, not covered in many other mags (I might be wrong however).

  • OK Tim, I’ll crawl back into my Antipodean hole and await developments.

  • Dave Moorhouse

    I enjoyed watching your introduction to the basics of Lightroom & look forward to seeing the follow ups for the ‘develop’module. Whilst I’ve been using Lightroom for some time it’s always interesting how others post process their files & there’s always some extra knowledge to tuck away for trying out later.
    On that note I did notice in the video that you were having to scroll down all the open the panels on the right hand side of the screen. To avoid this , if you scroll to the bottom, right mouse click and check ‘Solo Mode’ this will automatically close all the panels except the one you are working in, and saves all that scrolling.
    Cheers, enjoying all that you publish.

  • Paul Gotts

    I enjoyed the video, found it useful and very relevant to me just now. I look forward to more. Isn’t it inevitable that some articles will appeal differently to different people but that doesn’t mean high standards are slipping. Crystal clear quality images, good text, good variety and nobody tempting me to spend more money on lenses (indeed, quite the reverse from Joe recently!) show no adverse signs to me. Thanks.

  • Graham Lawson

    Useful video! As someone who’s pretty much ‘self taught’ in Lightroom there were a few useful tips in there that I’ll use in future.

  • Ian

    There’s a useful series of videos on the Canon Professional Network site giving an intro to Lightroom. Find the first part here:


  • I thought the video was worth watching, and yes I am a self taught Lightroom user still learning. I’m sure I will hopefully pick up some new approaches. I don’t really enjoy developing my images on the post processing side but is a necessity and engaging with the raw file in the right manner can only be beneficial on more than one level.

  • I enjoyed this introductory article and look forward to the series developing with a focus on how to get the best out of a landscape image using Lightroom. I’ve used LR for a few years now – actually still using v2 – but did learn a couple of new things – for me it was background colour and Ctrl+Tab.

    I did feel that the first half of the video felt rather unrehearsed with much backtracking – if future episodes could be more structured I feel that would help the learning process. The old speechwriting guidance of “say what you’re going to say, say it, then say what you said” remains valid.

  • GrahamD

    Thank you for uploading this – I’ve been using Lightroom for a while now but this has given me a lot of food for thought – I’m pleased to see that at some point I’d switched from a black background to Mid-Grey, probably subconsciously, but will try the light grey and white, as for me the Print Output is the final destination.

    I also liked the reminder about “squinting” – I’ve known about this for more years than I care to remember, and what it does is immediately reduces the detail to just shapes, highlights and shadow and you can very quickly judge basic shading and contrast control at a glance.

    Already looking forward to episode 2!


  • PeteRob55

    That was good! I am looking forward to the next in the series.

  • Adam Pierzchala

    This is a great primer not just for total newbies but also for those like me who have only been scratching the surface of LR for a few years. I have a couple of questions to the Wise Ones in LR techniques: is it possible to erase any one step of the History (left hand toolbar)? I haven’t found a way to do this. Some of my History records are quite long when for example I try something with the adjustment brush, decide I don’t like the effect and reverse the move. The History records the adjustment as well as its cancellation thus building up a lot of unnecessary bulk.

    The second question is whether the newer development technology in LR5 is also effective in improving the processing of old film scans (originally processed in say LR3). I am being a bit lazy and here but I wonder whether anybody has tried to go back to their old scans?

    • I don’t think you can remove individual items, only move backwards down the list.

      As for revisiting old film scans – yes it could make a huge difference as the shadow recovery on it’s own has improved massively.. I’ve been going back to a few of mine recently (I work on my scans in Lightroom quite often to rough ideas out)

  • Adam Pierzchala

    Thank Tim, I thought that perhaps recovery from a TIFF scan, would be very different and less successful than recovery from a RAW where there is likely to be more info embedded in the file. I’ll go back to some old scans myself, or even try to re-scan what I know are under-exposed slides.

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