I can remember vividly the day I purchased a new D90 camera, and much to my dismay, realized that Photoshop CS2 could not read the files! What to do?! Well, I downloaded a trial version of Lightroom 2 that I had been reading about on Wetpixel and thought I would see if it worked. Sure enough, it read all my D90 files just fine and I was up and running again. However, after years of using Photoshop and Bridge I was a little lost about what I was doing in Lightroom and it took me a while to get a good workflow setup. What I needed at that time was an easy to follow “A-Z” of how to use Lightroom to get me going in the right direction. All I could find on the net were rather dry tutorials about areas in which I was confused or downloads of video tutorials that I couldn’t download due to my lousy internet connection in Indonesia. However, after watching and using Doug and Lorenza Sloss’ latest release “Lightroom 3 for the Underwater Photographer” I have discovered that what I really needed at that time was this disc. I have had several of Doug and Lorenza’s previous releases on how to use Photoshop and Bridge but this is the first “all in one” Lightroom tutorial that I have used and all I can say is “wow, why didn’t I have this before?” It could have saved me hours of frustration trying to find answers about simple things that aren’t necessarily intuitive in Lightroom itself. Simply put, this disc is an absolute must have for anyone who uses Lightroom, especially for those who are just discovering this great photography software and want to save hours of internet searches trying to figure out a reliable workflow.
Allow me to touch on a few of the highlights and a couple of nitpicks that I have about this presentation by Doug and Lorenza:
First, Doug has a funny sounding East Coast American accent that needs some getting used to ;)
At first glance, the layout can be a touch confusing as the “tab” for chapter navigation is on the left of the screen as opposed to on the top so I panicked a bit before finding it. However, once you click on the tab the entire menu navigation becomes easy as you please and any chapter can be clicked at any time. Therefore, if you want to start from the beginning simply click on the first “movie” and go from there or if you want to go to a specific tutorial hover over the number and a small preview shows you what tutorial is contained within. The menu is broken down into six sub sections and each section has a series of numbered tutorials ranging from a couple of minutes to over 10 minutes. Each chapter description is written on the back of the DVD case, but it would have made the layout simpler to navigate if each description on the disc cover had a number beside it corresponding to its number in the disc menu.
The content is thoughtfully laid out and in the correct order that photographers will use Lightroom. Basically, Doug and Lorenza guide you through Lightroom from A-Z without going A to N to D to R to E to Z, therefore, it’s a great guide for people who are absolutely new to Lightroom. Starting with the Catalogue they then move into the Library Module, Develop Module, Exporting, Integration with Photoshop, and then into Sharing via slideshows and multimedia. This is exactly the workflow that most photographers will encompass when working with their own photos.
The tutorials are very easy to follow along as Doug uses a “dynamic cursor” to show exactly what and where the controls are while talking through the workflow. Doug’s speaking volume and rhythm are well controlled and improved from some of their earlier efforts. It’s easy to pause and rewind a tutorial to watch again or stop it while you follow along to what Doug is doing in the tutorial. Unlike an online tutorial, there is no buffering and reloading the video, it’s simply start and stop to your heart’s content. What makes this tutorial relevant to underwater photographers is that Doug uses underwater photos as his examples and he discusses the specific issues that plague us. With general Lightroom tutorials, there are no examples of getting rid of unsightly backscatter or dealing with blue tints and hues that are common in underwater photography. By showing samples of both macro and wide-angle scenes, Doug really brings to light what we can do with this program in conjunction with our very specialized field.
As a fairly experienced Lightroom user, I found that I learned a lot from many of the videos especially for things such as keyboard shortcuts, using Collections, User Presets and Templates, Masks, and other time-saving options that can be used within Lightroom but aren’t necessarily easy to figure out on your own. Another key tutorial for me was the Printing discussion; I have never been able to get consistent results from printing my own photos. Doug walks through printing from beginning to end and the test prints I made came out perfectly without having to leave Lightroom.
I can’t really find any negatives to write about the product as it is exactly what it professes to be: A guide to understanding the Lightroom workflow aimed at underwater photographers. For folks who are new to Lightroom or have only explored it a little bit, these tutorials are absolutely essential to create an efficient workflow. For folks who are fairly experienced with Lightroom there is also a lot of good information contained within that can optimize workflow time. One of the most important tutorials covered is right at the beginning and deals with backing up and exporting the Lightroom catalogue. I bet a lot of folks out there who use Lightroom on a daily basis don’t back up their catalogue often enough or even understand what that means, so watching that video alone may be worth the purchase of this disc!
The copy of Lightroom 3 for the Underwater Photographer used by the reviewer for the review was provided free of charge by the Ocean Magic Productions. It is available via their website at a retail price of $99.
About the author: Originally from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Wetpixel moderator Mike Veitch is a professional underwater photographer and trip leader. After spending many years working on boats and resorts in the Indo-Pacific region, Mike has settled in Indonesia where he spends his time photographing the worlds richest marine bio-system and conducting photography workshops and leading trips throughout the country. For more information please visit his website.