Lightroom and Random Photo Stuff

Well I threw down and purchased a license for Adobe Lightroom. I’ve been using it since the first beta for RAW processing, and since the full release, I started using it for its library management as well. I’m not one to give a lot of gushing praise about software, but this is seriously the best thought-out piece of software I think I’ve ever used. After watching a few tutorials, I keep discovering new things that make lightroom even better. While I would love true dual screen support, and a couple of plugins, this is an amazing effort by Adobe.

Last night I hooked up my camera to my G5 for a tryout of tethered shooting in Lightroom. I fought with Canon’s lousy software for a while but finally got all the updates in place to run EOS utility, which I set up to dump images into a folder on my HD. Then I set up Lightroom to monitor that folder and auto import them. Of course, Lightroom being the beast that it is, will copy the files to a new location, rename them, add metadata and develop settings as soon as it imports, and display the image in all its glory within a couple of seconds of the shot being taken. I set it up in library mode, at 1:1 zoom, and each new picture showed up at full zoom as it was taken. Just awesome. If I were a working professional, I would have the wireless attachment doing this instead of USB, and have the art director pulling picks and rejects as I shoot.

There are a lot of exciting realms of photography that digital tools open up in a way unthinkable just 10 years ago: Helicon Focus for infinite depth of field, Autopano Pro for large stitched images, Photomatix Pro for high dynamic range. There are more tools to be sure, but the combination of high dynamic range, huge focal range and large image sizes are very exciting, and very achievable using relatively cheap software with relatively cheap cameras.

Of course, all of these tools require… more exposures. Depending on your camera, this can get very labor intensive. I’ve love to see 5 shot exposure bracketing on more cameras, along with automatic focus bracketing as well. I’d also love for cameras to have a level built in, with an indicator in the viewfinder, along with an indication of focal distance for hyperfocal focusing.

All these exposures beg for simple processing, and truthfully, AutoPano Pro is close to being there. The interface isn’t great, but it is relatively simple to use and does both stitching and rudimentary HDR. If it added in focus tools like helicon, it would be a tour de force.

Someday, all of this will be built into cameras, but for now it’s a lot of fun just playing around with it.

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