SLR up to speed - complicated software replaces complicated darkroom
November 22, 2015
An essay series about the differences between digital and film must include software. Complicated software replaces the complicated darkroom. I had a black and white darkroom for a few years back in the 90's. My own darkroom granted me the ability to edit photos. Edit creatively and sometimes just to salvage a mistake. Software is no different than the darkroom, only now there are endless choices.
What do I use? Adobe lightroom 5.7 of course. Expensive and complicated it works for me just like a darkroom once did. But just because I use it but does not mean I always recommend it. It’s not for everyone. The interface is not intuitive. The price is high. It’s esoteric and difficult to learn. I normally dismiss anything negative online as written by sad, angry, crackpot misanthropes. (Sure that might be me at times.) Regardless please allow me to explain. There were reasons why so I was very sore at first.
I was set up for disappointment because everyone said Lightroom is so awesome. I expected Lightroom to be easy to use because it was expensive. Not sure about that logic but reading in print journals Lightroom comes up a lot. Online essays Lightroom is widely described as the gold standard. Used by millions. Lightroom often regarded as not just a tool but the tool for digital photographers.
So I went right in: downloaded Adobe Lightroom 5.5 and spent the mad money: paid for a license. Dove in the deep end and found myself underwater until the bubbles stopped. Tried multiple times and failed miserably. Without any training, nothing so much as a book or manual you simply can't expect to use Lightroom 5. Just figured after decades of using computers I'd figure it out. Lightroom would just be another fun challenge. I was wrong.
Decades of computer experience was of little help and perhaps a hindrance. I wasted many hours over several days and had the worst end user experiences of my life. For me to say Adobe Lightroom was the worst initial end user experience may be a bit of an overstatement, but not by much.
Of course I had a miserable time trying to use Lightroom. Lightroom is not supposed to be intuitive it’s supposed to work magic for a trained user. Everyone says it’s good, no one in their right mind says it’s easy. Lightroom use requires extensive training. I could not just use it without any training at all. Even books alone were not enough. Forget about online forums as reference.
There is a whole cottage industry that revolves around Adobe products. And in particular Adobe Lightroom. Gimme money: Countless books, user communities, websites, forums and classes. Lightroom is the only program which I've spent more money on training and books than I did on the program.
Lightroom does very detailed, precise and complicated things to photographs. Controlling anything complex requires experience, training and a good book or two. After about a month alone on my own I gave up. Never discouraged by failure I reassessed. Signed up for a correspondence course online. An excellent course taught by an experienced teacher. Bought a great book on the subject. Went back and started having fun.
Negative initial experiences aside: I find Lightroom to be the best and most useful software for organizing, editing and publishing digital images. If you get Lightroom YouTube videos along will not teach you, also plan to take a course on how to start using it. Plan to buy a book or two on how to use it. Lightroom goes way beyond what most people need to edit and organize. But if you want the best, plan on spending some money and investing some time. It’s more than just the price of a license and done.
If you get it plan to invest the time and the money Lightroom is worth both. Lightroom is an investment in your hobby. Never forget its supposed to be a fun hobby.