Adobe Lightroom: everything you need to know about the ‘alternative Photoshop’

Adobe Lightroom: what every photographer must know about the 'alternative Photoshop'

Adobe Lightroom is often referred to as the ‘alternative Photoshop’, but in truth this powerful photo editing software is much more than a budget alternative. We recently dedicated our popular Raw Tuesday series on editing raw format files to a thorough investigation of Adobe Lightroom and what it actually offers photographers who want a sophisticated photo editing software that combines image cataloguing, Raw conversion and non-destructive editing.

Adobe Lightroom: what every photographer must know about the 'alternative Photoshop'

Image by Sylwester Zacheja,

Imagine a fusion of Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. A place where you can organise your photos, search for images and create themed Collections, web albums and slideshows.

Lightroom also incorporates the non-destructive editing tools of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), including dynamic range/tonal adjustments, curves, sophisticated colour controls, localised adjustments and more.

But these tools are organised into a simpler, more efficient and streamlined user interface – and they work on JPEGs and TIFFs, too, so that all your file formats are integrated into the same workflow. The key point about Adobe Lightroom is that all your adjustments are 
non-destructive and stored within the Lightroom catalog.

You can apply a colour adjustment to an image, for example, and come back weeks later to change it – the sliders will be exactly where you left them.

Adobe Lightroom also supports Photoshop ‘round-tripping’. You can open an image in Photoshop from within Lightroom, make your changes and save the image, and the edited version will automatically appear alongside the original in your Lightroom catalog.

Adobe Lightroom is not a Photoshop replacement, then, but a complemetary aid. And over the next several pages we’ll give you a glimpse at what it can do for photographers. Much of the in-depth analysis in this Adobe Lightroom tutorial was provided by our friends at our sister title Practical Photoshop, who have been using Lightroom since its launch.

PAGE 1: What Adobe Lightroom offers photographers
PAGE 2: Getting to know the Adobe Lightroom interface
PAGE 3: 3 things you need to know about the Adobe Lightroom Metadata Panels
PAGE 4: Adobe Lightroom Library Module – Folders and Collections
PAGE 5: Adobe Lightroom Library Module – Filter Bar
PAGE 6: Adobe Lightroom Library Module – Flags, Ratings and Labels
PAGE 7: Getting to know the Adobe Lightroom Develop module interface
PAGE 8: Making selective adjustments in the Develop module
PAGE 9: New sharing options in Adobe Lightroom 4
PAGE 10: How to create a website in Adobe Lightroom
PAGE 11: How to make a slideshow in Adobe Lightroom
PAGE 12: How to make books in Adobe Lightroom
PAGE 13: How to speed up your workflow using the Quick Develop tools
PAGE 14: All your options for printing photos in Adobe Lightroom


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  • jmeyer

    You’re right – thanks for pointing that out. Looks like we uploaded the wrong version of the infographic. This has now been fixed and it should be much more readable.

  • Michelle Ropiza

    Hi, I’m so confused. I’ve been scouring the internet and can only find this cloud version of lightroom that costs $9.99 a month (or more) Is there a program I can install on my mac, or just the web based system? Thanks for any advice. Michelle