No sooner did Adobe release the latest generation of its popular Creative Suite, including Photoshop CS5, than the company unveiled Lightroom 3. For those readers who aren't familiar with it, Lightroom is an advanced workflow management program for digital photographers.
In short, Lightroom allows you to view, organize, edit, and print a large number of digital photos in a short amount of time. While Lightroom 2 offered many advantages over the first iteration of Lightroom, Adobe's Lightroom 3 provides a whole new array of tools to speed up your workflow and improve the quality of your images.
Step One: Importing Images
One of the biggest problems that professional and amateur photographers face in the digital age is finding a way to manage an almost limitless number of photos. Gone are the days of film where every click of the shutter was a precious (and costly) frame of film. Nowadays you might shoot 40 images of the same thing and look at them later to decide which photo you like best. This is where Lightroom 3 really shines.
Lightroom 3, like its predecessors, starts out as a digital asset manager - you "import" your images into the Lightroom database either by copying them from your camera's memory card or adding them from a location on your computer's hard drive - and then you get a "lightbox" view of your photos so you can start working. Lightroom 2 made importing a little difficult because the program was slow when importing dozens of high-resolution images, and if you had multiple folders of images on a card you had to perform multiple imports before you could start working on the photos.
Version 3 of Lightroom gives importing a much needed face-lift along with some additional improvements. The default startup screen is the Import screen where images are automatically added to your image library when you insert a memory card or connect a digital camera. You can also manually select the file location on your hard drive. Thumbnails of images are easy to preview in the center of the screen or you can view them in a larger preview area on the left side of the screen that is adjustable so you can make the preview even larger. Lightroom 3 now displays all of the subfolders that will be created along with the number of images in each folder.
Once images are inside the library you can give them a star rating from zero to five to help you organize your images and determine which ones you don't want to waste time editing. You can also add "keyword tags" to your images and perform basic image editing using the "quick develop" tools. One particularly useful feature is the Presets option which allows you to save the current quick develop settings and apply them to multiple images.
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