Lightroom – The Power Within

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is incredibly powerful and has layers and masks!!

Ok, if you are used to Photoshop layers and layer masks don’t go looking for them in Lightroom because they are not be found! That is, they are not to be found in the ‘conventional’ Photoshop sense but read on and you will see that they are there and in my opinion in a much more intuitive and easy to use form.

Of course if you are working on a composite or a technique that NEEDS Photoshop layers you will still need to go into Photoshop at some point but for processing the image ‘as is’, the power of Lightroom and it’s ‘layers and masks’ are incredible.
So, if you are used to working in Photoshop with layers and layer masks and are put off by Lightroom’s lack of these, don’t be!!

While it would be unfair to and you never really can compare Lightroom and Photoshop, Lightroom is incredibly powerful and is an constant part of my workflow, as much as taking the shot is. For my floral portrait work, Lightroom is all that I use. Not being a Photoshop genius, I truly would be lost without it.
Even for my landscapes, that I will sometimes put into Photoshop, all of the main processing is carried out in Lightroom first before going into Photoshop and then most often back into Lightroom for a final touchup.

Here is a recent example of what is possible using just Lightroom. The starting image was first created as an HDR from 3 separate images (-2, 0, +2) and then the resulting image was worked on. HDR was also carried out in Lightroom. Lightroom does a great and quick job of creating HDR without the ‘HDR look’. Carry on reading to see how easy it is to use Lightroom ‘layers’ and to see a before and after shot….

Making Hay

Canon T3i, EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Kit lens at 18mm, ISO 100, f8, 0.6 sec, single exposure


So where are Lightroom’s layers, I don’t see any layers??

Well, besides the global adjustments that affect the whole image, Lightroom also has local adjustments.
The real power of Lightroom to me is in the local adjustments and these can drastically transform a good image into a fantastic image as well as becoming a big part of your own unique style.


Lightroom Local Adjustments

Local adjustments can be applied using a brush, radial filter or graduated filter.

Each of these individual local adjustments can have a great number of edits applied to it by increasing or decresing the following settings…

Temp, Tint, Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks, Clarity, Dehaze, Saturation, Sharpness, Noise, Moire, Defringe, Color.

Of course all this can be achieved in Photoshop but I find it much quicker and easier to just draw a circle or paint where I want these adjustments to take affect and then dial in the settings that I need to achieve the desired results.

As each local adjustment applied has it’s own independent set of adjustments and you can add as many local adjustments of varying kinds as you wish, these are in affect your layers!
Each local adjustment is shown as a ‘pin’ that can be selected and edited independently of all others just like a layer.
What’s more and in my opinion so much better than Photoshop is that you can drag and move local adjustments around or even copy them, retaining all of their settings.

So where are the masks? Well, you can also ‘brush out’ areas that the local adjustment affects, acting just like a layer mask would!

This all adds up to a very powerful amount of precise and quick editing available at your fingertips.

Whether I am working on, floral portraits, landscapes or anything else, I always use Lightroom and always work the same way. Start with global adjustments and then use local adjustments, layer by layer to build up the final result.

So, if you haven’t given Lightroom a try yet for whatever reason, give it a go, the power is there!
You can get both Photoshop and Lightroom CC and all features that CC has to offer in Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan for just $9.99 / month or get a free trail here


Before / After



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