Lightroom vs Photoshop? It’s a question many photographers have been asking themselves. With the full version of Photoshop now only available as a monthly subscription, many who previously baulked at the hefty price might now be tempted to give it a go. But it’s still a big commitment.
As photographers, do we really need Photoshop any more, or can cheaper alternatives like Lightroom satisfy our requirements?
The answer depends on what you want to do with your images, and whether you need other, non-photographic tools. All manner of professions use Photoshop, from designers and painters to animators and videographers.
So there’s an array of tools and commands that photographers will probably never use. Which begs the question: are we getting our money’s worth, or is there a better Photoshop alternative?
In this tutorial, we’ll show you several reasons why Lightroom can be just as effective a tool as Photoshop, and – for those who need to make swift, useful changes to their raw images – much more accessible.
We’ll also show you how to use Lightroom for a range of editing staples, from fixing white balance, cropping and sharpening, to recovering detail, removing chromatic aberration and making colour shifts.
Lightroom vs Photoshop: why Lightroom has everything you need
Lightroom offers a powerful array of tools for tasks like these – not to mention a comprehensive library system, printing controls that surpass Adobe’s flagship software when you compare Lightroom vs Photoshop, not to mention a slew of other useful features like book building and web gallery tools.
It’s not the place to make intricate composites or photo paintings, but with tools like the Adjustment Brush, Lens Correction, and Curves, it offers exactly the kind of features that photographers need.
1. Fix the white balance
Download our start files and follow along! Next go to Lightroom’s Library Module, then drag in this tutorial’s bindery_before.dng file and click Import. Next go to the Develop Module. In the Basic Panel on the right-hand side, click the White Balance tool in the top left, then click over the black machinery to fix the warm colour cast.
2. Improve tones and crop
Use the Basic Panel sliders to improve tones and recover detail. Set Shadows to +40, Whites to -65 and Clarity to +52. Grab the Crop tool from the toolbar, then go to the crop settings in the top right. Set Aspect to As Shot then click the lock icon. You can then crop in tighter to the machinery.
3. Darken the top
Grab the Graduated Filter tool from the Toolbar. From the top of the image, drag towards the middle while holding Shift. Go to the tool’s tonal sliders on the right and set Exposure to -0.65 to darken the top half of the image. Next, grab the Radial Filter. Drag a circle over the machinery.
4. Fix the fringing
Tick Invert Mask, then set Clarity to +46 to make the machinery look crisper. Click the arrow in the bottom left of the image and tick Zoom, then drag the Zoom slider to 1:1. Go to the Lens Correction Panel on the right. In the Basic Settings, tick Remove Chromatic Aberration.
5. Remove the flare
Zoom in to the flare on top of the machinery, then grab the Adjustment Brush from the Toolbar. Paint over the flare then set Exposure to -1.80, Contrast to 36 and Highlights to -70. Next, grab the Spot Removal Tool. Set Brush to Clone and Opacity to 30%, then use it to tidy up the area.
6. Shift colours and sharpen
Go to the Tone Curve Panel and click the Point Curve box. Set Channel to Blue. Drag the top left of the blue curves line upwards and the top right point downwards for a creative colour shift. Finally, zoom to 1:1 then go to the Detail Panel. Set Amount to 68, Radius to 0.9, Luminance to 35 and Colour to 42.
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