An entry in the project-oriented imaging package market is Adobe Lightroom, which is available for both Macintosh and Windows. Like the other programs covered here, Adobe Lightroom takes a project approach to image editing and manipulation. It can be used to create image and text compositions for flyers and other promotional material, and it also can be used to create calendars, greeting cards, or similar types of designs. PhotoDeluxe easily transforms black-and-white photos into colorful creations or sepia-toned keepsakes. It can even be used to create artistic works such as impressionistic illustrations and electronic coloring books.
When using the On Your Own approach to Lightroom, users can apply editing, orientation, quality, and effects commands selectively to images and photo compositions. Images can be enhanced, modified, sharpened, rescaled, and distorted in a number of ways. It’s simply a matter of pulling in an image, selecting a portion of it, and applying the modifications. Because LR has its beginnings in Photoshop, it features high-end capabilities that might not be expected in a low-end package. For example, it has a surprisingly good selection tool. Parts of actioncamera images can be selected by shape or color. Once selected, masks can be expanded easily, just like in high-end packages.
In addition to printed projects, the program also can be used to develop Berkeley System’s After Dark screen savers. While it’s a powerful and versatile program, Lightroom allows users to work with their projects without getting bogged down in hands-on image editing.
There are two ways to work with projects in Lightroom . The Guided Activities option is for casual users, or users who want to run through a project quickly. The On Your Own option is designed for those who are more confident about their imaging skills, have more time to spend, or want to experiment.
The easiest way to use the program is to follow a project through the various steps. Lightroom ships with about 25 differentprojects, called “activities,” that can be modified and customized to meet specific requirements. Each step in the process is explained in easy-to-understand (sometimes a little too simplistic) terms. However, the hand holding can be very reassuring to someone who isn’t comfortable with computer graphics and imaging, and the predesigned projects help make the most inexperienced users productive quickly.
Lightroom commands are logical. They are divided into three categories: Touch-up, Transform, and Cards & More. Accessing a command brings up a set of tabs that indicate the type of activities involved. Each tab contains thumbnails of what can be done with an image at that point. The user simply clicks on a tab and follows the instructions to produce the desired results.
The program makes it easy to correct common photographic problems, like eliminating red eye, without having to understand how the software works. Therefore, it is relatively difficult to make a mistake. The program can’t protect users from poor design decisions, but it can protect them from a variety of technical errors. It is impossible to advance to the next step until the current step is completed.
Another high-end feature included in Lightroom is object layering. Object layering makes it possible to deselect highlighted objects within a photo composition–either text, parts of an image, or graphic elements–without destroying what’s underneath. Each selected or deselected object has its own layer, and each remains modifiable. However, since it is a low-end program, it can have only six layers–more than enough for most projects.
Lightroom ships on a CD filled with 500 templates, a selection of stock images, clip art, various fonts, Adobe Type Manager, and a special edition of After Dark. It accepts Photoshop-compatible special effects plug-ins and comes with five Kai’s Power Tools filters. It supports TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PICT, EPS, and other formats. Compositions also can be exported to the Adobe Acrobat PDF file format. Like other packages, it pulls its projects directly off the CD, so it has to be in the drive whenever the program is in use.