Monday, November 22, 2010

Back And Forth Between CS5 And LR3

It’s often nice to get out with some friends and do a little shooting.  We had a chance to do that a while back and today’s image of a friend is one of the results.  One of the things I notice every time we do a group shoot is that no two photographers come back with the same shots.  A few of the people out shooting that day were taking shots from across the street in the same general direction the women in the image was aiming at.  She was the only person to cross the road and get a unique perspective on whatever was up there.  The reasoning behind today’s image is that, just like a group of photographers out shooting bounce back and forth between views of a subject, Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 bounce back and forth between what they’re good at.  I couldn’t have “finished” today’s image “easily” by using only one program or the other.  Today’s image started out in LR3, bounced other to CS5 and then back to LR3.  The seamlessness of going to and fro is so clear that even if an image needed only one little tweak in CS5 it would be worth it to me to make the jump.  Lately, three fellow photographers have asked for my advice about getting LR3.  Two use CS5 and one uses Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.  One does a combination of “fine art”, editorial and product shots.  The other two do fine art and a little wedding photography.  So, we actually have three different photographers, each with a different set of needs.  To find out what my recommendations are to each friend, hit the “read more”.
The first on the list would be the fine art, editorial, product shot photographer. Editorial and product shots are a no brainer. LR3 would almost be a necessity in this case. For the editorial work the ability to correct for color balance once and apply the same color correction to the whole set of photographs would be huge. With LR3 there’s two ways to accomplish that control. If you’re out shooting on the run and not tethered to a computer you’d use a gray card to get a record shot to use in the digital darkroom when processing the work. Click on the gray card on the target image and then sync the white balance for all the other shots in that same lighting condition. If you are using LR3’s tethered shooting panel it’s even easier. Take your setup shot with the gray card in the scene. Spend a moment and set the white balance. Under Develop Settings on the shooting bar, select “Same as Previous” and shoot away. Every capture will be given the same white balance settings. What a great time saver. So, as far as the editorial and product shots go, a big checkmark, use LR3 and life will be easier. For the fine art “stuff”, a combination of LR3 and either CS5 or PSE9 would handle anything you might need. Depending on how fancy you get with Layer Masks and using Channels would determine which one you’d want. If you don’t know what Channels do you can probably get away with PSE9.

The second case is a fine art and some wedding photographer. He recently “upgraded” from Photoshop 7 to PSE9. Based on what he was using in PS7, I’d call the move to PSE9 an upgrade. I questioned him on how he use the older version of Photoshop and his answers lead me to the conclusion that he would be better served with a simpler product. Should he make the jump to LR3? Based on the type of fine art photography he does and the limited number of weddings he shoots (2 or 3 a year) I recommend he hold off on purchasing LR3. If his wedding shooting increases he might want to revisit getting into LR3.

The third shooter already had CS5 and said he was interested in getting LR3 for the Develop Panel. That’s a red flag right there. If he only wants LR3 for the Develop Panel he’d be wasting his money. He already has all the functionality of the Develop Panel in CS5. It’s called ACR 6.2. The Adobe Camera Raw processor is exactly the same thing as the Develop Panel in LR3. It has all the same controls: targeted adjustment brushes, post crop vignetting , sharpening, noise reduction, camera calibration and anything else you can think of that’s found in LR3. There are other reasons to get LR3, but for the Develop Panel only is not a deal maker. It’s a deal breaker. The Library Module and its rapid sorting, keywording, selection process is great. If he said he needed to output slide shows, the Slideshow Panel would be good. He would have to have multiple needs to be able to justify buying LR3.

Could each of the three photographers find life with LR3 rich and rewarding? Sure, but make sure you know what the benefits and cost savings, money producing results will be before plunking down your money.