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Managing Your Photographic Workflow with Photoshop Lightroom

Rocky Nook was founded in 2006 in Santa Barbara, California, and is closely associated with dpunkt.verlag in Germany. Rocky Nook is associated with, and releases books, through O’Reilly Media Company, hence the distribution through the O’Reilly address.

Rocky Nook specializes in books on digital photography, imaging, and workflow. Their stated goal is "to support creativity, and improve the quality and efficiency of photographic work".

The writers chosen by Rocky Nook are photographers with serious experience and a thorough understanding of the technical nature of the subject matter. I must also add, their writers have an ability to communicate clearly and logically the sequences of events they wish to explore, and equally clearly explain the reasons they chose those sequences.

In the case of MANAGING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKFLOW WITH PHOTOSHOP LIGHTROOM, their authors bring serious practical experience packaged in an extremely attractive format. It is a pleasure to me to hold a book in my hands that is beautifully printed, laid out in a manner that lends itself to lying open on a table (so that I can work from it without having to nail down the corners to keep it from curling), and finally is bound in such a manner that it will survive continual handling. Combine careful packaging with good writing and quality illustrations and you receive a full service for your money.

Jurgen Gulbins has partnered with Uwe Steinmueller in their collaboration and contribution to Christian Bloch’s THE HDRI HANDBOOK that I previously reviewed. Currently living in Germany, Jurgen is a prolific photographer with books and articles on such diverse subjects as CAD, Unix, DTP, typography, document management and the Internet.

Uwe Steinmueller is most known in the US for his editorship of and his camera reviews, workshops, and articles and books on Fine Art Printing and HDR printing. He currently lives in San Jose, California.

Together they present an excellent look at Adobe Lightroom through version 1.2.

I like to read technical books twice. Once, I read it through in a fairly rapid manner with a box of sticky tabs ready at my side. This enables me to mark material that I consider most relevant. Using red tabs for the most important; orange for secondary importance, and green for interesting but not particularly important, I ready a book for the second reading which is study and implementation.
I’ve already mentioned that I like a book to lie flat beside my laptop computer and my Wacom tablet because this allows me to practice the exercises and techniques shown in the book I am using.

So, what do we have in MANAGING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKFLOW WITH PHOTOSHOP LIGHTROOM? A quick glance at the table of contents will allow you to grasp the organization of Gulbins and Steinmuellers’ book.

Chapter 1–The Photographic Workflow
. For those unfamiliar with Lightroom itself, this chapter outlines the methods of preparing the image in the camera, including choosing the Camera Image Format and Exposure. It takes you from the camera to the computer, and discusses Metadata, Image Optimization, Presentation and then maps the digital Photographic Workflow into Lightroom. Put another and more simple way, it tells you where you are coming from and where you are going. In my opinion, that’s the way all good technically-oriented books should begin.

Chapter 2–Understanding Lightroom. This second chapter introduces the reader to the concept of nondestructive editing, and defines the structure of the modules that make up Lightroom. It defines the Library, Developing, Slideshow, Print, and Web modules and explains how these work together to make up a proper workflow.

Chapter 3–Image Management in the Library Module. Like its title indicates, this explains how images are organized, collected, and viewed. Keywords play an important part of organizing a retrieval method that will allow the photographer to readily find work from the past, and this chapter explains the hierarchal method of rating and marking images.

Chapter 4–Editing Images in the Develop Module. To optimize the efficiency in correcting images there is an order to the corrections and adjustments. Like building blocks, some things need to appear at the foundation level and others are stacked on top of them. The order of correcting White Balance, Exposure and Color Correction is defined. Tone Curves and more Color Corrections lead to Black and White Conversion (when desired) and Split Toning. Sharpening and Noise Reduction precede Lens Corrections, and next the final steps of Chromatic Aberration and Vignetting leave only Cropping, Straigntening, Spot Removal, and Red Eye Corrections to finish out the image. Individuals may change the order of some of these steps depending upon circumstances, but Gulbins and Steinmueller give logical reasons for following this order of production.

Chapter 5–The Slideshow Module. Since most images are viewed as a part of a whole, the concept of showing a sequence of views has long been a part of the photographer’s toolbox. The Fifth Chapter tells you how to design a slideshow, defines the options available, discusses the layout and tells you how to use overlays and add text to the slides. Backdrop options, the playback controls and adding a soundtrack are all discussed. Finally, how to export the slideshow as a PDF file and how to modify the slideshow templates ends the chapter on the Slideshow Module.

Chapter 6–Print. Here we learn how to set up the Lightroom print settings: the page, image, layout, overlays, print settings are explained. Color management which includes settings for both Color and Black and White prints is emphasized, as well as how to print to PDF or Tiff. Finally, printing on silver halide paper is covered.

Chapter 7–Web Galleries
. One of the output collection points for images today is often a web gallery. Web galleries allow clients and potential buyers of images to see a large collection of images after they have been edited and sorted by the photographer. The creation of the web gallery is discussed in terms of the site info, the color palette to be used, the appearance, the image info, the output setting and upload settings. How to test your gallery and upload and export it are carefully discussed.

Chapter 8–External Editors and Exporting Images. Lightroom cannot do everything. Every software designer working in photography would like to think that their product should be the number one editing software, but seldom can one application satisfy all users. Sometimes you will have to use another editor to make some of the corrections or modifications to an image. In Chapter 8 the methods of using external editors are explored, as well as how to properly export an image including its Color Space and Post-Processing attributes. Finally there is an example of the procedural work flow for Lightroom as Gulbins and Steinmueller demonstrate it. Obviously, a number of additional or alternate software products are mentioned or demonstrated in this chapter.

Chapter 9–More Useful Lightroom Features. In this chapter, some items previously discussed are elaborated upon and some new items are introduced. Since Lightroom assumes that large numbers of images will be examined and cataloged, how to manage, define, keyword, separate, and store images in such a manner that they can be retrieved is of paramount importance. Nuances, personal experiences and serious suggestions abound in this final chapter.

Appendix A–Keyboard Shortcuts. Here are four-and-a-half pages of all the possible shortcuts that can (and will) speed up your workflow. If you are a power user you might as well start memorizing these; they will be worth your time if you are not billing by the hour.

Appendix B–Resources. Three pages of titles and URL’s give you direct access to books, discussions, trial software downloads, blogs, and service providers.

Appendix C–Index. As a person who is always going back to refresh my memory or to clarify a point, I appreciate a good index to supplement the colored tags with which I flag pages on my first reading. This one is of sufficient depth and detail to allow you to find your way to topics that you want to visit or revisit.

Chapters 8 and 9 are where I got excited. I’ve used Lightroom since Adobe released the first Betas for trial usage, and I thought that I had worked out most of the nuances and hidden aspects of the program. I’m afraid that I was wrong–pride goeth before the (reality) fall–it seems. I learned a great deal about integrating Lightroom into my own workflow procedures for better efficiency; it was a case of “just because I always did it that way” didn’t mean it was necessarily sensible. I’m not yet too old to learn when someone logically shows me that I was wrong.

Jergen Gulbins and Uwe Steinmueller have done an excellent job in producing a volume that will serve as an introduction to Lightroom for the novice, and yet contains valuable advanced data that will fill the needs of the advanced Lightroom user. I consider it a valuable addition to my bookshelf even though I thought that I was a reasonably experienced Lightroom user.


Managing Your Photographic Workflow with Photoshop Lightroom
By Jergen Gulbins & Uwe Steinmueller; ISBN: 1-93352-20-2; 200 pages; $29.95 USD,£18.50 GBP

The volume is available from, 1-800-998-9938 and 1-707-827-7000.

By Dr. Michael N. Roach

Dr. Michael N. Roach is a retired Professor of Art from Stephen F. Austin State University. His 33 year teaching career spans the silver to digital age. His images have been shown throughout the American South, Russia, Ireland and France; some of them are in the permanent collection of the Combes Gallery at The American University of Paris in France. An avid Mac Computer advocate he teaches workshops on digital imaging and courses in Adobe Photoshop as well as digital printing for the Fine Arts.

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