Friday, January 13, 2012

Lightroom 4 – A Few of My Favorite Things

Good Morning Everybody,

New OrleansLaDawn and I were up well before the crack of dawn this morning working to get everything packed for Imaging USA Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. Our plane leaves shortly after nine o'clock this morning so I went to get this blog post up before we head out the door.

As you all know, Adobe launched the Lightroom 4 Public Beta this past Tuesday. I quickly downloaded a copy, installed it, and fired it up to check out all the new features. I have to tell you, my first impression is that I love it. In today's post I thought I would give you a quick listing of some of my favorite features and invite you to give them a try. Why don't we get right to it.

Lightroom 4 – A Few of My Favorite Things

1. If you read my blog post on Wednesday you know I'm really stoked about the new video features and how I plan to make that work with the brand-new Book module. You can check out my video tutorial on those features right here.

New Sliders2. Right off the bat let me say that I really don't miss the Recovery and Fill Light sliders at all - yes, they're gone.  Two new sliders have taken their place.  That would be the Highlight slider and the Shadow slider. Both worked eminently better than with the previous Recovery and Fill Light sliders. I like the fact that I have both negative and positive control with the new sliders.

3. I also like the addition of the new Whites and Blacks sliders. Once again I have negative and positive image control with these two sliders when establishing both the white point and my black point of the scene.

4. I haven't had a lot of time to play with it because I've never been a huge fan of the Clarity slider. But while watching Matt Kloskowski and Adobe's LR4 product manager, Tom Hogarty, the subject of the Clarity slider came up. In Lightroom 3 it apparently created a lot of halos around the edge of the subjects when pushed to its limit. I like how Tom phrased it during his broadcast with Matt the other day – he said; “We've now made it into the "magical" Clarity slider.” In his remark and in his demonstration he also implied how you can really process single exposures into HDR-like images with its new functionality. I better spend a little bit more time with the new Clarity slider and see how I like it.

5. Lightroom 3 uses process version 2010. In Lightroom 4 that's been upgraded to process version 2012. My first impression is that the new process version tweaks the images slightly better than the already very good 2010 process version.

New adjustment Brush6. I think one of the huge improvements in Lightroom 4 is a fact that now we have the complete set of Develop tools available under the adjustment brush and also the gradient tool. That means that we can selectively warm or cool parts of the image and apply noise reduction and or moiré removal on selected parts of the image. Definitely a great plus for the new release.

7. One of the coolest improvements in the new version is and how Lightroom 4 handles video clips. Now we can easily  trim our videos, adjust exposure and color balance, and stylize clips in many cool ways for some great new video effects. And, it's all very easy and very fast to accomplish.

8. I was never a big fan of the Print module in the previous versions of Lightroom. But, I think the new Book module offers some very fascinating possibilities to the event photographer. I hope, down the road, that Adobe will tie it to more publishing services than just Blurb. I foresee other album publishing companies working with Adobe to make this happen. In fact, I just called my buddies at Zookbinders to see how we might get Zookbinders incorporated into the Book module of Lightroom 4.

9. I think another great feature in Lightroom 4 is a fact that Adobe has simplified the e-mailing process of sending images directly from Lightroom. I'm thrilled to see that. It should make it a piece of cake now for us to review images with our clients giving them a peek at their finished image and a chance to approve special artwork all at the same time. Don't get me wrong.  Now we have a very easy way to communicate with the client confirming that everything was done to their liking before we go to press.

10.  Although this is a minor point, I also like how the Preset folder is now divided into smaller sub-folders making it easier to find presets that we will use in our projects.

So, there you have it those are my Top 10 favorite improvements that I see in Lightroom 4.

Now Just 3 Minor Gripes

Only 3 GripesNow, having said that and keeping in my mind that my mother always said, "If you can’t say something good about somebody, then don't say anything at all."  Well, I've said 10 things in a row so now I want to get three LR4 gripes off my chest. Maybe Adobe will get these three things fixed before the final release of Lightroom 4 ;~)  Here we go.

1.  Lightroom 4 still does not work on a network and, from what I hear, it never will. It has to do with the internal workings of the software itself which means that a networked Lightroom is not happening in the foreseeable future at all.

2.  I sure wish Adobe would pay attention to the Spot Removal tool. I find it a very in-elegant solution for removing small spots from an image when compared to the other very elegant tools that Lightroom 4 offers. I would love to see it work like the Rubber Stamp/Clone brush in Photoshop. That sure would make post-production chores much easier in Lightroom and just avoid another trip over to Photoshop.

3.  One of the first tests I tried a Lightroom 4 was the Adjustment brush with the Auto Mask checked. I wanted to see if that functionality had been improved in any way. I always hated the artifacting I got around the edges on some of the images, particularly when I was making heavy adjustments to that image. I blogged my work-around here DigitalProTalk months ago which, actually works great. I guess I'll continue to do it the same way as I did it in Lightroom 3.  Not a big thing but sure would like to see an improvement on the next version or in the actual release version of Lightroom 4.

Okay, only three gripes for Lightroom 4 - not bad. But I will tell you that they are really only minor gripes. Overall I'm thrilled with the new functionality of this new version.

What I'm seeing with my brief experience of working with Lightroom 4 is that it does the absolute best job ever of letting me fine tune my images exactly the way I want them.  Adobe just added new functionality to Lightroom 4 but, they also improved much of the functionality that was already available by a substantial amount. The result for us, ladies and gentlemen, is that now we have an even more sleek set of digital tools at our disposal which means we can make our images really sing! I sure hope you'll give it a try.


Hey gang , that's it for me today. We've got a plane to catch in the next couple minutes and we're heading out the door shortly. We'll be hanging out at Imaging USA from Saturday through next Tuesday. You will find me mostly hanging out around the tradeshow.  If you spot me, come on up and say Hi.

The bags are packed and were out the door. LaDawn is giving me the high sign that our ride has arrived. How about I see everybody next Monday from New Orleans – all my Cajun pixels willing.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you then,



  1. My biggest gripe is that you can't rotate video, i don't understand why this is so hard for programs to do; i've often had to send my files to my iphone, used imovie to rotate video then send it back.. .very annoying

    I agree the clone stamp in LR4 would rock! I would hardly ever have to go into photoshop (i'm guessing thats why they will never do this... less of a need to purchase the PS if LR had all the primary features)

    but anyways looking forward to the final release!

  2. I haven't actually tried the export to CD/DVD yet, but the 64 bit version finally appears capable of output to a CD/DVD. The function at least appears in the export dialog now. This has been long overdue in the 64 bit PC version.

  3. I really like the new brush tool. One thing I do a lot of in my small studio is working on a white background. I don't have enough room to shoot two lights at the background to get it pure white so I setup large umbrellas far enough away from my subject (fast moving kids) to expose them correctly and get a white(ish) background.

    I always have to use the brush in lightroom to brighten the background a bit and run into the same artifacting problems with the auto mask.

    With the new brush you can just boost the highlights instead of boosting the overall exposure. This will brighten the white background to pure white without leaving artifacts around hair, clothes and skin.

    Very cool

  4. Gripe #4: Still very weak and unattractive slideshows, far behind where iPhoto was almost a decade ago. Beefing up the slideshow feature is way overdue for LR.

  5. Amen to the Lightroom on the Network.

    We have a work around now and it works ( but it is pretty hack-y).

    I would kill (or at least pay) for a multi-user Lightroom option.

  6. I didn't think I'd be seeing much of a wow factor after the large improvements introduced in LR3 but they've wowed me again with the new sliders and 2012 process that seems to make skin tones look nicer!

  7. Being able to brush away gradients. That's the main thing I am missing in LR3 and it looks like LR4 won't fix that. It would be so easy to just apply a GND-like filter perhaps with extra clarity over the sky and then brush it away where the subjects/trees/etc extend past the horizon line.