With their Introduction to Lightroom course, Fstoppers is one of many companies seeking to make the powerful app more accessible to photographers. It’s aimed squarely at complete newbies and walks you through your first nervous steps in processing.
So, if you are new to the world of Lightroom, is this course the one to help you make a start? Read on to find out.
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Who Is Introduction to Lightroom For?
The title gives us a slight hint here. It’s primarily made for beginners who are completely new to Lightroom and image processing.
Now, some beginner courses offer similar sections, why do you need a complete, separate course for that? You might ask.
To understand and appreciate what Lightroom can do, you need to dig in slightly deeper.
Introduction to Lightroom by Fstoppers offers you not only the basic set of tools but also the right approach and philosophy for editing.
Introduction to Lightroom is made up of 36 chapters.
The course focuses on showing Lightroom’s image editing capabilities. Two-thirds of the chapters are about that.
This stands in contrast with SLR Lounge’s Mastering Lightroom course. There, the focus is on workflow optimization and speeding up processing. And this is one of the two key differences between the two, the other being currentness.
So, these are the chapters you’ll find in Introduction to Lightroom:
- Creating a Catalog and Importing
- Interface Module and Basics
- Scratching the Develop Module Itch
- Important Pre-Work Optimization
- Scratching the Develop Module Itch
- Culling and Organizing Images
- Diving into RAW
- Using the Library Filter System
- Batch Processing and Synchronizing
- Fix Those Underexposed Images!
- Overexposed, Not to Worry!
- Adding Brushes for an Extra KICK
- Maximizing Dynamic Range
- Awesome Panoramas
- Timeless Black and Whites
- Going Vintage with Curves
- Soft and Silky Skin Tones
- Poppy Portraiture
- Bright and Airy Colors
- Extreme Crops
- Ordinary to Extraordinary
- That Magazine Matte Finish
- Retouching in Lightroom, YEP!
- When to Retouch in Photoshop
- Ruggedly Strong Black and Whites
- Getting Wild on the Dance Floor
- Soft and Creamy Newborns
- Tilt-Shift Baby!
- Producing for the Mood
- Detail Shots to Impress
- How Presets Can Change Your World!
- Lightroom + Video
- Exporting for Print
- Exporting for Web
- Importing via Tethered Capture
- Advanced Exporting Methods
About the Creators
Fstoppers is an online community aimed at educating and inspiring photographers.
It was started in 2010 by founders Patrick Hall and Lee Morris in Charleston, SC. Fstoppers has since grown into one of the most popular resources for photography education.
Introduction to Lightroom, however, is not presented by either of those guys. Instead, it’s authored and taught by Pye Jirsa of SLR Lounge.
To be honest, I find this price slightly too much for a great but ageing intro course. It’s also higher than its competition on the market.
If you’re for any reason not satisfied with the product, you’re eligible for a full refund. This a welcome addition, although quite a standard one today.
What I Loved About Introduction to Lightroom
Don’t get me wrong. This is a great course. Judged only by its age, it could’ve been much much worse, but the positives generally make up for that. So, let’s see these first.
Being an intro course, this is key. Pye shows us every step you need to take and everything you need to clear up in your mind to get ready for editing.
While editing, he is very clear and easy to follow. Having watched Mastering Lightroom from SLR Lounge, I can say that the language here is easier to understand.
The line of thought, as in why and how we do things in Lightroom, is also clear.
You’ll have no problem understanding everything in this course, even if you’ve never opened Lightroom before.
Focus on the Goals of Editing
Many course presenters make the mistake of teaching Lightroom by going through all its functions in a horizontal way.
Introduction to Lightroom is different. There’s a short tour of the software included, but the function of specific buttons and sliders is not at all the focus. The focus is on getting the looks you want out of your images and using the proper tools for that.
Here, you’ll learn Lightroom by editing images from start to finish, while getting to know new functions with each new example. However, the emphasis is always on the end result.
And if you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. People watching your images won’t wonder which slider you pulled back to achieve a certain effect. Instead, they will be curious about the general process and your underlying ideas.
Pye Jirsa has long been one of my favourite presenters in this industry. The way he mixes entertaining and fun teaching with accurate and full coverage of various matters in photography is quite unique.
The course, while disclosing a lot of new information for beginners, doesn’t feel overwhelming at all. Instead, the style of presentation is quick, but friendly and fun, which makes learning comfortable.
I’d love to not have to make this point over and over again, but some courses are disappointing in this respect. Thanks to the hard work of Pye and others, this is not at all the case with Introduction to Lightroom.
Everything Pye says is accurate, on-point and really hard to argue with, even 6 years after release. The core of Lightroom hasn’t changed much in this time.
Areas to Improve
Relevance and Place on the Market
Introduction to Lightroom is in a strange situation in 2020.
Having been released in 2014 and covering Lightroom 5, it shows its age in some areas. In those 6 years, new tools and functions have been added to Lightroom, some drastic and some quite subtle. We’ve seen new sliders, better local adjustment options, better transforming options. A huge addition to Lightroom has been cloud integration and the arrival of support applications for smartphones and tablets.
These haven’t changed the fundamentals of how we edit our images in Lightroom. But they have opened up new possibilities for professionals and beginners alike.
SLR Lounge has released a fantastic new Lightroom course recently, called Mastering Lightroom. With a slight difference in focus and emphasis, this course covers very similar things, including the basics. It also features Pye Jirsa as host and has similar great style, clarity, and production. Furthermore, it’s available for the same price of $129.
Lack of Online Streaming
This issue is the most severe but also the easiest to fix. Unlike every other photography course provider, Fstoppers doesn’t offer online streaming.
This means you have to download the episodes, whether you want offline access or not.
It’s quite a bothersome process, to be honest. You get multiple compressed .ZIP files containing the videos and the image files, and they’re large. You have to unzip them or wait minutes to watch the episodes without unzipping. The video files themselves are also large.
For viewers with less powerful computers than what I happen to have, this will be even more lengthy and annoying. So, Fstoppers, please include an online streaming option as soon as you can.
There’s another comparable product on the market.
Contrastly’s Decoding Lightroom is a great choice for the hobbyist photographer who wants to learn Lightroom’s ins and outs. You don’t need to have any former knowledge to take this course.
Yet, it has the potential to take you to a level where you will intuitively use even the more hidden features of the application.
It’s available for a comparably low price of $48.
Judged based on its qualities, Introduction to Lightroom is an excellent course.
However, for everyone except complete beginners, I’m more confident recommending Mastering Lightroom instead.
To standardize and compare our product reviews, we’ve decided to use a scored-based ranking system. To learn more about interpreting these numbers and how other courses measure, please visit our review roundup page here.