Using Lightroom, Shooting in Raw, Opinions?

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Using Lightroom, Shooting in Raw, Opinions?

I recently started learning how to use Lightroom, which also made me curious about shooting in raw. Since both of these are really new to me I was wondering a bunch of things:

1. Do you shoot in raw or jpg? Why?
2. Any tips for processing in Lightroom? What's your processing method? Any useful tutorials?

Umm, I guess that's just two questions, and maybe I should make two threads? I'll leave that up to the photo moderators to decide.

Since we're about to go to Egypt I'm going to need some help with all those photos! Any advice would be appreciated.

I ALWAYS shoot in RAW. Yes the files are bigger, but the ability to pull out some of those lost pixels if a shot is blown out, or have complete control over the color, is worth it!

I also ALWAYS use Lightroom. I updated to Lightroom 4 and i'm amazed how I ever lived without it. I use photoshop for some of the heavier processing (like face swaps or portrait touchups) but it is the perfect photo management tool. It imports all my raw photos, i can edit on the fly without having to save out a billion different jpegs, batch edit all the photos, use presets (same as actions in PS), and I save and tag all the images, put them in collections, export final ones to my hard drive, post to Facebook, Flickr, and my blog, and even make an album... ALL FROM LIGHTROOM! Seriously, it is a beast of a software, i'm amazed at how inexpensive it is for what you get from it and how many photographers (even hobbyists) don't use it. I also use Lightroom to organize my scrap goodies, and Kayla Lamareaux has blog posts on her process here

I subscribe to Scott Kelby's website where there is massive info on how to use photoshop and lightroom (and photography) but that's pretty much my best resource on how to learn it. I also bought his book on kindle as I like to go back and reference without logging in and watching a video. Lightroom 4 on Amazon

that is so friggin awesome you're going to Egypt!!!! one of my bucket list places, i've always been interested in ancient egyptian history. Can't wait to see those photos!

I am just the opposite of Jaclyn -- I never shoot in RAW because the files are just too big. As she says, the downside is that if you have blown highlights, that's just too bad, Photoshop can only do so much. If I were a professional wedding or portrait photographer where I had to deliver pics to a client, I would definitely shoot in RAW though, but for what I do, it's just not critical and not worth all the extra digital storage I would have to have.

I have had LR for a long time but never use it. I buy every upgrade thinking that I will make myself like it. If I want to locate a file it's just easier in Picasa. If I want to edit or mess with my photos, it's just easier in CS6.

Another good lighroom learning resource is Lightroom Killer Tips by Matt Kosklowski, one of the Photoshop Guys.

You guys are great moderators to be perfectly split! I think this trip will be my big make it or break it for raw/lightroom. I've been trying to learn them, but I also haven't been taking any photos, so it hasn't really worked well. I'm hoping this will really force me to do it, and do it a lot and figure out what's happening. I'll check out those resources you mentioned. Thanks!

I always shoot RAW +jpg. With the jpgs I can have a quick view of what was captured once photos are transferred to my computer (I'm slightly impatient and like to be able to have the flexibility of seeing things right away). Like Jaclyn said, RAW allows so much wiggle room when editing for clients. To be honest, I'm still digging into Lightroom to do basic color correction and to fix lighting issues. The bulk of my work is done in Photoshop.

I'm definitely going to need to check out the resources that you posted. It sounds like Lightroom is capable of much more than what I'm currently doing!

I shoot RAW and jpg as well.
I have some basic processes I do on most every photo
*exposure adjustment if needed
*adjust the white balance if needed
*take vibrance to 27
*saturation to 1 or 2
*up the vibrance on the specific colors I want to POP
*and always a sharpening to 75% with a radius of 2

beyond that its a case by case basis if I do anything additional before pulling it into Photoshop

Those are my basic adjustments that are done to nearly every image before exporting to Photoshop

Thanks ladies! I was thinking about shooting both RAW and jpg, that way I have a fall back if I need to. Glad to know other people do that too, it seemed a little extravagant.

@Katie: Thanks for sharing your process. There's so much you can adjust it's hard to know what to focus on.

It does take quite a bit of storage space. However, if you thin out and delete the photos that you know you won't use, it helps greatly.

Something I need to figure out a way to do long term storage. I have a huge amount of storage space that I currently use, but know that I should figure out something else to do long term. Katie, how long do you keep client files? I've been up and running for about 3 1/2 years and still haven't committed to deleting old client files (both RAW and edited shots). Do you burn disks, etc.?

For the rest of you gals, how do you store your photos? Or maybe this should be a new topic of discussion??

Oh, and thanks for posting your process Katie. I like having an idea of where others start their editing process. smiley

Janet, I have never deleted old client files, storage is pretty inexpensive these days, especially around Christmas with all the black friday deals. I stock up on external hard drives and back my files up to those right away and then remove them from my computer about 3 months after the order has been placed. I have a stack of external drives but it's defnitely peace of mind knowing they are there.

I have never burned disks, I suppose I could do that as a backup for my backup though, but then I'd have a stack of external drives AND a stack of disks. I also never burn disks for clients, photography is a dying profession with the birth of that process. I have to follow it through all the way to delivering the prints, I want to see those images processed and printed the right way and I have to pray that clients still want it that way too. I lose clients because of it but I have made peace with that.

I love hearing what you all do, it keeps my mind open to new things smiley

Completely agree with everyone... even Tina! lol! I think it all goes back to what you want out of it... i do heavy editing sometimes, and sometimes I just like to play around... and I think the RAW format comes from me also using film and having those negatives as backup... I don't develop my own film but each company will have a slightly different way that they develop... so its nice to keep those handy as like the original piece of work. Same with RAW. Awesome for sharing your workflow Janet... I typically do the following for just a normal "day in the park with my boy shoot:"

1.) insert memory card to memory card reader
2.) Open LR and select the catalog (I have 3 catalogs--- 1 for me, 2 for clients or portfolio, and 3 for digital scrapbooking supplies & layouts
3.) import images and select "Convert to .DGN" (.dgn is the adobe native extension for RAW images...) and select to make a backup to my external hard drive.
4.) I dont apply any settings b/c usually I want to do that inside LR, but I may include copyright info, or a generic tag... like if they are all of my son and at the same location, I might go ahead and add "James" ; "Tamuning Beach" ; "Guam" etc. so I don't have to do it later
5.) I keep the same file name but save it under a folder structure by dates on my laptop (I have a macbook pro so there's a lot of storage... but still if I need to clean it off I have all of this going to a backup).
6.) Click Import and it's done.

I then edit however I want... can even right click and image and edit the raw image in photoshop, save it, and applies the changes back to my LR feed. I also go in and batch edit anything and add my keywords to the photos. Remember, the awesome thing about LR is that it embeds your keywords TO THE FILE itself, so you can search in windows or finder or anything using these keywords... not just LR!

When I'm done editing the photos I want to keep or scrap, I do the following:

7.) Drag and drop the final edits into it's corresponding collection. I have a collection "James" or " 2012 Holiday Party" etc.
8.) Drag and drop all of the ones I want to share with flickr, facebook, iphoto (my husband doesn't use LR, so I downloaded a free plugin that lets me export to our i-photo photostream. All of our apple devices are synced at home, so when I do that, these photos will instantly be available in his phone, ipad, or his laptop. with just one click! SWEET!!!!
9. Now I export these to actual images (because when you're working in LR, you're not saving actual JPEGS like photoshop, these are like versioned copies... and LR remembers your every single bit of your history in each catalog... so you can go back 2 years from now and get the 2nd step you did to a photo... it's crazy!) ... and there are several settings I have saved that can help me export multiple kind. First I make a high res jpeg and save it in a subfolder of its original location. l then might go and save out a web file in case I want to share it on a forum that I can't publish on a plugin. all of these photos can be resized and sharpened exclusively for the web. Then I might want to email these to my mom... so I click on my "email" export preset and it will email the copies. The sky is the limit with this.
10. Then depending on what it is, I can go back and do a book or whatever else... and if I close out my catalog and work on something else... I can go open it back up months from now and it will be in the same place I left off.

Seriously guys... it's amazing what you can do with it... when I took some time to sit down and watch the videos and books about what all this software can do, I was floored that I hadn't been using it to its potential before... workflow and life will be so much easier.

About Space: Jordan is always telling me that "space is cheap" so don't delete anything. So that's his two cents given by me smiley

Thanks Jaclyn for sharing your process. I know when I was watching some initial videos about Lightroom I was like, "why have I not been using this my whole life?" (because my computer was too slow). Although going from watching the videos to processing hundreds of photos from a trip is a big step! So I really appreciate people sharing their steps.

You've reminded me of a bunch of great things, like sharing right to flickr, or having a separate catalog for my digi scrap stuff. I've been using Picassa for my digi scrap stuff, but I do find it very limiting in certain ways.

Thanks for all the great advice everyone! You better believe I'll have a lot more questions when we come back with a giant pile of photos.

@Katie: I just have to say it, since this is a digital scrapbooking site, that while I appreciate wanting to deliver a quality product, I would never hire a photographer who wouldn't give me the digital version. How could I scrap it then?

I'm certainly not trying to tell you how to do your business, and probably you can find enough people who aren't digital scrappers to work for!

It's nice to hear all your opinions and work methods concerning editing photographs!

For the every day pictures I usually only shoot jpeg, because the enhancements I can make with Photoshop I find almost always sufficient enough. You can do a whole lot with just adjusting the levels and curves in Photoshop (under image --> adjustments), like adding or decreasing contrast, lighten up or darken the photo and play around with the tone of the colors (red, green and blue).
However, I do have some problems sometimes with adjusting the last, since the screen of my laptop does not really represent the true colors of the photo. When I look at the same picture on another computer or when I print it, it always turns out different. A calibrated screen that can show true colors is still on my wishing list.

For the special occasions I do shoot RAW (+jpeg), just to be save. And sometimes it really makes the different! Especially when a picture turns out to be over-lighted I'm always amazed to see what can be restored.

Concerning the storage of all the photos: I guess I'm a "digital hoarder". I always find it difficult to delete a photo, even if it's not that great.
At the moment I have several external hard disks where I store everything. I even made a back-up from my back-up and stored it at my parents house in case of a fire or some other horrifying event. Currently I'm thinking about buying a NAS-server. You can place several huge external hard disks in it, and the best part is that you can always access them wherever you are.

I started out shooting JPG.. went to RAW & JPG and now I do RAW only. I dont take enough when I am using my camera so the huge files dont bother me. I do like correcting a photo with RAW.
I only use PS, I am not familiar with LR.
I have made a couple of actions that I use when I edit. I mess with curves and levels. I have actions for portraits and then actions for nature and landscape.

Backup storage. I used to only use drive backups until one of the drives stopped working. Fortunatly the files were on two different drives, but it could have been a huge loss.

Now I do use DVDs. I buy them by a package of 100 when I find them on sale. Open the spindle and turn the cover upside down. After I burn a disk I label it date it and place it into the lid. After I burned all of the disks I just have to close the lid with the bottom. I than label the outside with a start date and end date. Put the spindle in the closet. If for any reason the drive fails I can still regain the files.

Sharon, about your computer not displaying the correct color.... are you using a mac or a pc? a mac's monitor comes calibrated, but if you're using a PC there are several different calibration tools you can purchase and install to help correct the issue.

Hi Jaclyn! I'm using a PC and the screen is not consistent in color representation from different angles, so it also depends on my position behind the screen to which colors I see. I did printed out some photographs and tried to calibrate my screen myself according to the prints, but of course there is some color variation in printers as well. I never thought of looking for some software that could help me calibrate my screen, so thank you for your great tip! I will definitely be looking into it!

I shoot in RAW. Need to give lightroom a try it sounds like.

I shoot Raw. It allows so much more flexibility in editing especially for white balance. Also, I've had my computer crash before saving a file in photoshop, in lightroom if my computer freezes my work is still there.

I shoot RAW + large JPG. I'm not a HUGE fan of Lightroom and mainly use it to cull images and crop (if I'm working jpg only)...then I'll just open those in photoshop and do a few tweaks, save, then resize, add watermark and upload to facebook/flickr/500px, etc.... Most of the time now I'll just go through my images in Windows Picture Viewer and open the RAW files I like in photoshop and go from there.

RAW, it's a lot more flexible when you edit things

Marisa, what did you end up deciding?

For our trip to Egypt I shot in RAW and edited in Lightroom, and I have to say I've been converted. It really did seem to make a difference in the photos. They seem so much more vivid and sharp. Definitely worth the effort in learning a new editing process.

I have enjoyed reading this thread from experts! I don't even understand my camera but I did finally buy PS CS6 after seeing how much more you can do with it vice PSE. So now I have to learn photography, CS6, raw and the like. I had considered getting LR but thought I would wait until I understand more about everything else. Don't want to be overwhelmed! Thanks all for the info on how you do things I expect it will really help down the road!

Loved reading this thead, especially Jaclyn's step by step of what she does. Thank you all.

I did my first photo shoot in RAW yesterday. Now I have to learn to edit RAW. At this point I've figured out how to open NEF and DNGs in Photoshop and Lightroom but I don't see that the recovery you're supposed to be able to do is that great, so obviously I'm missing something. I've got a few pics with blown highlights that I'd really like to fix. Anyone?

I am sooooooooo glad I read this thread!!!!!! So many questions have been answered, things I have wondered about for awhile now!!!! I just love it here!

Ugh! I NEED to learn RAW and LR, but I can maneuver myself pretty well with jpegs and PS, so I haven't yet. However, my hubs keeps reminding me that I need to stay with the curve, so I need to buckle down and learn it! *sigh


My Nikon software came with ViewNX. It has adjusters/sliders for WB, exposure, etc. Very nice and easy to use.
Looks like you may be able to download it for free!

My Photoshop CS4 does not open NEF files. After downloading files from my card using Nikon Transfer, ViewNX opens automatically and seamlessly!