Aug 27, 2008

Lightroom 2 - Adobe's new USS Enterprise

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

Its been 42 years since Star Trek briefly blazoned across our Universe... DSLR cameras didn't even exist... Darth Vader has come and gone!
The latest buzz began a month ago; Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 was unveiled. The digital photographer's blogosphere went ballistic...
My first exposure to Lightroom 2 was a couple of videos showing new Adjustment and Graduated Filter tools - I watched in amazement as the new adjustment brush delicately enhanced body, wings, and tail of two completely different airplane images - all without requiring that exhausting quick selection/quick mask Photoshop solution to masking.
I sensed, "A Revolution in Our Midst... !" Did some Adobe wag deliberately choose a warped space-time continuum as an icon for the box cover?
Maybe not; but I think Lightroom 2 will warp how we do digital photography to a completely new way of faster, more sophisticated workflow.

It's possible to have LR2 in hand before you have a book or video to learn from. The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) is already producing video tutorials. Amazon will have Scott Kelby's book available September 21. Matt Kloskowski has in-depth videos on DVD through NAPP. Adobe TV shows a teaser LR2 series from Kloskowski; 8 to 10 minute overviews. Michael Clark, of Santa Fe New Mexico, has written an e-book explaining his use of LR2; it's been picked up as a source by Adobe. And each blogosphere rant gives us various other glimpses as this is written.
So what can I say that's new about LR2?
About a year ago, with my head pressed firmly into the wall of an ancient, remote Anasazi ruin, I did a handheld row-and-column multi-shot panorama. I came back to the mothership, tried to stitch it in CS2, and the stitching was a real mess. The next morning Jack Houser tried to stitch it in CS3 - it worked. Acting on gut instinct, I downloaded CS3. It's stitching was perfect - the image would later get Honorable Mention at the State Fair.
In the interim, CS3's Quick Selection tool and Quick Mask has slowly helped create several masked alpha channel versions of composite images which have recently won local awards and made it just below the final awards cut at the latest state fair. Privately, I was told by a highly decorated award-winning photographer who watched that judging ~ "You were robbed...!"

Conceptually, with what little I presently know about LR2, again my gut anticipates it will significantly enhance many aspects of professional photography digital workflow. If my new mothership tool can make archaic or even eliminate quick selection, quick masking, dodge and burn - just that response alone will clearly give me more time to shoot instead of compute. And, as my experience has gone with Photoshop, there will be amazing new little tips and tricks trickle out of LR2 for some time to come.

While Star Trek only lasted three years, The Next Generation has been with us for some time. May LR2 ~ Live Long and Prosper!

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