Adobe Lightroom Vs. Photoshop is a long standing debate in the photographic world. One of the biggest philosophical questions to date.
What is it about them that makes them so different, when they are both software designed to edit your images?
Photoshop has been the standard for photographic manipulation for decades. Lightroom has been with us for just over a decade.
Many photographers use one, or the other. some even use both. Although they are similar, they allow you to work on the image in different ways.
Lightroom is more for local adjustments, with Photoshop better suited to very detailed and complicated editing.
Photoshop even has its own term, coined from its excessive use by photographers.
Saying something has been ‘Photoshopped’, is a negative look at how reality has been bent to fit current trends.
These range from Kim Kardashian having her hips made slimmer to photographic contest winners losing first place due to manipulation.
But let’s move past the negative points. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are two of the greatest programs you can use as a photographer.
At first glance, they both seem like they cover the same base of image editing. The truth is that although their intention is to adjust your photographs, they do so in very different ways.
Photoshop is a digital darkroom. A plethora of detailed adjustments and alterations to all kinds of images.
It is the gold standard for all photographers, amateur or pro, around the globe. Due to the inclusion and adaption of Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw, it has become bigger than ever.
If you captured your scene in raw, the first area of Photoshop you will come across is the Camera Raw pop-up.
This is because Photoshop can’t process raw images on its own. Raw image data is just data, so it needs one of two programs to run it (Lightroom being the other).
Camera Raw lets you tweak any aspect of an image. From white balance correction to lens correction.
Currently, it includes features once reserved for Photoshop. Adjustment layers and Adobe’s Magic Healing Brush tool are just two of these.
After you pass that adjustment panel, the image opens in Photoshop. This is where you work on your image in any way you see fit.
You can only work on one image at a time, and see them one at a time unless you utilise Adobe Bridge.
This program allows you to place your images into folders and add metadata to them. The thumbnails make it easy to search and select.
Your workflow takes place here. Without Bridge, Photoshop is very much a one-image-at-a-time program.
Advantages Vs. Disadvantages
Adobe Photoshop is a great tool yet complicated. It can apply local adjustments but it prefers working on large composite images.
Layers and masks allow you to grab specific areas or objects in an image. You can then change these areas as you wish, for example, changing the contrast.
The heavier edits take place in Photoshop. Yet, if you need only local and small-scale adjustments, you can get away with combining Bridge and Camera Raw.
You don’t even need to open Photoshop. The problem here is if you are working on one image from a series, you may have three programs running for one image.
As you can only work on one image, copying and pasting settings applied to a photograph cannot be easily applied.
Actions are possible, and they do automate things somewhat. These need programming to then be recorded while being applied. It can become complicated to do simple things.
Lightroom is the younger, faster brother of Photoshop. Unlike Photoshop, it doesn’t need a degree in digital engineering to understand.
It is a great software tool that already has a raw processor included. You import your images and you are ready to go. Plug and process.
After importing, you have the opportunity to add keywords to each image. This makes searching for those Iceland photographs easy.
As long as you organise properly, Lightroom will help you as much as it can. Folders are another great thing about Lightroom.
You can create and add images to them manually. Or, a smart folder process will add and find images through keywords or coloured flags.
Basically, if you put Adobe Bridge, Adobe Photoshop and Camera Raw in a bag, shake it and pull out a simpler version, you get Adobe Lightroom.
Advantages Vs. Disadvantages
Not only is it more accessible, Lightroom’s ease of usage makes editing images almost fun. Sure, it doesn’t have all the graphic elements, but if you don’t need them, this won’t bother you.
The differences present in Lightroom are that you can share your images directly to Facebook or Flickr. Keywords and metadata follow them, wherever they go.
The addition of modules is an easily overlooked area that separates these siblings. Library collects all your images together, Develop lets you edit.
You can see where the majority of your images were taken using the map module. The GPS that most modern cameras have pinpoints the exact location.
This is yet another function of finding those Iceland photographs. The book module lets you effortlessly create a book from your images, utilising a drag and drop method.
Lightroom doesn’t have all the tools to create composites. But it can smooth those skin blemishes for perfect, magazine fashion editing.
Newer editions let you work in creating HDR images. It will help you stitch your images into a wonderful panorama. Boundary warp continues the editing process.
Lightroom Vs. Photoshop Pricing
Both programs are part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite. Currently, you can no longer buy and own either software for unlimited use.
You need to join a payment plan to be able to use these programs. The newest software packages start at under $10 a month for both.
This sure beats the $400+ cost of owning the previous editions, as you can stop and start as you wish. A free trial is available here.
Lightroom Vs. Photoshop Conclusion
I am a live concert and street photographer who dabbles in double exposure photojournalism when I have the chance.
95% of my workflow is through Adobe Lightroom. Importing images is easy and can be done many ways. I can even add the keywords during this process.
My metadata gets added automatically. Smart previews build themselves to allow speedy editing later on.
From there, the library houses all of my images. Here, I fully utilise smart folders, which work on keywords and flags. An easy way to cull my images.
Going through hundreds of images is a breeze. Auto-advance with the addition of numbered keys allows me to flag and star the best images.
These are easily found and then processed in the develop module. I can apply presets and convert to black and white before exporting to a previously used folder.
Photoshop for me is useful for eliminating blemishes and increasing sharpness. I also use it for resizing many images through actions.
The great thing about these programs is that they work well together. Lightroom houses your images and applies local adjustments.
You can then send an image to Photoshop from within the software itself. Here, you can do all the things that Lightroom can’t do powerfully.
Photoshop allows you to resize images bigger than what they are, changing the resolution in an easier way than Lightroom.
If I was to print my images, I would run them through Photoshop one by one.
This becomes time-consuming, as unlike Lightroom, you cannot continue to work on images when saving or exporting.
Our suggestion is to own both. You can’t find them cheaper at $10 a month, and they aren’t available separately.
You will find ways to use them. Even training yourself in Photoshop will help your editing knowledge.
This allows you to create better images, which is the entire purpose of modifying your images in the first place.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
Thank you for reading...
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