Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lightroom 5 Beta - A Boon for Photographers

I recently downloaded the Lightroom 5 public beta from Adobe Labs and have been working with it for a couple a weeks.  There are some new features that elevate Lightroom into a new editing space and in many cases will eliminate the need to process first in Lightroom and then move the images over to Photoshop for final post processing. A really great in-depth review can be found at http://www.dpreview.com/articles/1304150010/lightroom-5-public-beta-whats-new

The first major feature improvement is the advanced healing brush.  In Lightroom 4 the healing brush was limited to a variable sized circle and could emulate some"healing brush" features of Photoshop but not all.  In Lightroom 5 the advanced healing brush is a true brush that can paint an area to be healed or cloned.  While it is not quite as good as the Photoshop version it will certainly do the job in the majority of cases and for the majority of users. 

The next really great feature is the Radial Gradient Filter.  This is a brush-like feature that you can select an area to adjust with new exposure, clarity, shadows and highlights (to name a few).  This means you can select an area to re-light in your image and to emphasize (or de-emphasize) in your photo.  And it is not limited to one area, but you can select multiple areas to adjust.  I don't think I can really see all the purposes that can be used with this feature.

As an example I have processed a black and white photo that I have displayed in my fine art collection.  The first photo shows the final result that portrays a scene in the mountains near Payson, Arizona with a rising moon and with the setting sun spotlighting the stark cliff in the middile of the image and white rocks along the small stream in the foreground.




The second image below is a marked up version of the image with four areas circled in red.  These four areas were processed with the Radial Filter feature in Lightroom 5 Beta.   Area #4 was de-emphasized with less exposure and softened shadows, clarity and contrast.  The options available for adjustment are shown to the left along with the button to select the Radial Gradient Filter tool.  The other areas were treated to more exposure and varying amounts of other settings in order to bring the eye of the viewer to the center of the image and to the more luminescent moon.

As you can see the number of adjustments available is incredible and will provide an infinite amount of creativity to the photographer in interpreting an image in their viewpoint. 

The last major feature that I want to review is the Upright Tool. The Lightroom 5 beta introduces an automated perspective correction and leveling tool called Upright, and is a great feature for pros that shoot architectural photos and those like me that may shoot a scene at a weird angle that distorts the perspective of an image.

An example of this is a recent photo that I took of one side of my booth at the Art is Alive festival in Surprise, Arizona. As you can see the verticals and horizontal lines are, well not vertical or horizontal.  Prior to Lightroom 5 beta I would have to take this shot into Photoshop to straighten it out.  But now I have this slick feature that does the straightening almost automatically.

Located in the Basic tab of the Lens Corrections panel, Upright offers four options, all of which adapt intelligently by analyzing the scene. 'Level' searches for horizontal lines that are slanted and straightens them. 'Vertical' duplicates this effect but corrects for off-axis vertical lines as well. 'Full', as its name suggests, attempts to correct for any perspective or alignment issues and is easily the most aggressive of the options here. The Auto button similarly corrects for these, but takes a much more conservative approach, striking a balance between corrections and aspect ratio.


I start by checking the Enable Profile Corrections box. This allows its algorithms to take into account the specific lens characteristics that you used for the shot. You can still use Upright on unsupported lenses, but it's best to enable these profile corrections where possible. I also place a check mark in the Constrain Crop box in order to eliminate white space around the image.

I have found that trying each of the four options allows me to choose the type of correction that is best for each image.  The result is this image, to the right that I used the "Auto" variation to get, what I thought was the best result.

I could imagine using the Upright Tool on any image that is out of alignment.

This completes my review, but there are many other new features in the Lightroom 5 public beta and I can't wait until the released version is available for purchase.

The Lightroom 5 public beta can be downloaded here: https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/entitlement/index.cfm?sdid=KFENU&e=labs_lightroom5 . Keep in mind this is a beta and should not be used for production images and you will have to maintain two Lightroom catalogs.  Check out the system requirements to make sure your computer will support the beta version. 


Here is an affiliate link to my favorite book about Lightroom 4 (the old version, not the one reviewed above). I'm sure Scott Kelby will be releasing an update to the book when the new Lightroom 5 starts shipping.


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

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