Lightroom is a non-destructive photo editor that is powerful enough in its functionality for professional use, yet affordable and approachable enough for photographers of any skill level to use.
It is one of the best choices in editing software regardless of someones photographic skill level or intended use.
Lightroom is part of the Adobe Photoshop family of products, and its official name is “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom” but we call it Lightroom for short. Lightroom combines the image management and organization of Adobe Bridge with Photoshop’s Camera Raw Processor. What we have is a powerful software that can manage, organize, cull, and develop images.
ABOUT Adobe Photoshop LIGHTROOM
Lightroom gives us options to create different end products from images within our catalog. If we want to make a book, slideshow, print, or upload the photos to the internet, Lightroom has these features built-in to make your workflow efficient. Each of these workflow components are separated into Modules as you can see in the image below:
Each module is essentially a portion of your workflow that has been broken out into a logical organization so that the software interface isn’t overly cluttered.
BATCH PROCESSING IN LIGHTROOM
What makes Lightroom such a powerful image editor is the ability to batch process our images. Batch processing means that we’re able to edit an image, and then apply all of the adjustments to a sequence of images by simply copying and pasting. Batch processing is an integral part of an efficient Lightroom workflow. While we will get into the actual “how-to” portion later in this series, the image below shows an example of the Synchronize Settings dialogue which allows you to select which develop settings you wish to apply to selected images.
LIGHTROOM IS A NON-DESTRUCTIVE EDITOR
Lightroom is a non-destructive editor meaning that what you see inside of Lightroom is simply a preview of what an image would look like, were the settings actually applied. Since the develop setting modifications are not actually applied to the image, at any point in time you can go back to the original image.
Lightroom does this through its Catalog System. Inside of the Lightroom Catalog File all the changes to your photos are saved. As you make adjustments to your settings, the “preview” is updated in real time so that it looks like you are actually modifying the image. However, those editing modifications are only applied when you choose to “Export” an image. By exporting your images, you are telling Lightroom to apply all of the changes made to a photo and export them as a new image.
However, at no point in this process is the original altered; and even when exported, the original image still remains unchanged and within the catalog. This means that at any point in time, you can always simply hit “Reset” on the interface to reset all of the develop settings back to the original image.
This is why we refer to Lightroom as a “non-destructive editor.”
WHAT IS A DESTRUCTIVE EDITOR
A Destructive Editor is a photo editor that saves changes to the image over the original image data. The original file essentially becomes inaccessible after saving because the edited file is saved over the original file.
Photoshop is an example of a destructive editor. When you edit a photo in Photoshop and save the file over the original image you cannot go back to the original file because it has been replaced by the edited one.
Of course, this can be avoided by editing on layers, and saving the image as a PSD. But once the image is saved as a JPEG the changes are permanent and cannot be reverted.