So, on a local Facebook photography group, the consensus was that Adobe Lightroom was the best photography editing tool for a first time DSLR user like myself. While I wait for my camera to come in, I decided to download the free 30-day trial and see what I’m getting myself into. I’m jumping into this completely blind. I haven’t read any tutorials or anything so I am going to sound like an idiot. Also to be noted, as I was previewing and reviewing this post, I noticed that the pictures do not transfer at 100% quality, I don’t know how to fix it, but it’s not really the purpose of this article so I will address it at another time.

I started off with a picture I took of my dog back in 2010. It was taken with my old Samsung 8MP point-and-shoot camera, so it’s pretty generic and is kinda low-res. Here is the original, raw file:

Meet Tommy.

Meet Tommy.

Not only is he adorable, he looks just like me. The photo has a definite subject in my dog, as well as bright supporting colors with the grass, so it will be interesting to see how the program caters to what I’ve got. There’s a dropdown menu on the left hand side once you have selected and imported a photo with several presets. They all seemed to easy to just click and go, but I wanted to see what they have to offer.

I notice right off the bat that when used stock, a lot of the hi-contrast filters immediately give your photo a completely fake feel. This isn’t necesarilly a bad thing for me, because there are times I get a kick out of making something look completely ridiculous. For example, the first car I owned was a 1997 four-door Pontiac Grand Am. Shortly after buying it, I put a big yellow vinyl sticker across the windshield, had bright yellow wipers, I even bought a bunch of yellow shag fabric to coat the backseats in. You had better believe it was looking freaking ridiculous. My weird obsession with being over the top at times might come into play throughout my photography editing, but I’ll save that for later.

One of the first stock filters that really stuck out to me is the Blue Hi-Contrast filter. For this particular photo, It makes my subject stand out, and makes it the background look less interesting. I also feel like it sharpens some of the detail without going overboard. With absolutely no alterrations, here is the filter on the picture:

tomtomtomtom

Another stock filter that caught my eye was the Cold Tone, located in the Lightroom Color Presets menu. The problem with the picture I am using is that Tommy is white. I mean, he is white. In using some of the filters, I notice that there is no definition in the whitest parts of his body. It kind of screws things up, but hopefully I can fix some of these things through learning about exposure with my new camera. Anyways, here is the unaltered Cold Tone filter on the picture:

tomtomtomtom1

So the whole “whites being too white” thing was pissing me off. I started browsing around and I notice in the histogram on the right hand side. It appears to go into detail about color levels and exposures, balances, hues, and all kinds of things I’m not too sure about yet. There’s a button that says “show highlight clipping”, which puts blood all over my puppy where he’s too white. Turning this on resulted in the following areas being too bright:

highlights

After moving every slider in every direction, I found that the easiest way to remove the highlights is to lower the exposure, which made the whole picture darker. I had to move the exposure to negative 1.67 to remove the highlights from the raw picture completely. However, even when you fix the highlights through exposure, it doesn’t entirely wipe out the whiteness of the whites.

The last edit for now that I’m going to post comes with a few things here and there. The exposure indeed was set to negative 1.67 to try and get some of the white, I applied the Yesteryear stock filter, and I used a post-crop negative paint overlay vignette. Lastly, I used camera calibration and set the blue primary to negative 55 hue, and positive 45 saturation. It seemed to add some depth to the image, and gave it more of a yesteryear look than the stock filter:

tomtomtomtom3

All in all, Lightroom seems like it has some fun features, allows a lot of color customization, and is very user friendly. But it also has a very Instagram-ish feeling. Take a picture, throw on a filter, and here’s your “unique” product. I will try and continue to research other editing software, but even as a first time user, I was very comfortable using the program. If you have any other ideas or reccomendations, leave them in the comment section below and I will try and give them a shot!

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