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Getting to know the Lightroom interface

From: Getting Started with Lightroom 4

Video: Getting to know the Lightroom interface

One of the things I really appreciate about Lightroom is that there's a consistency in the User Interface. Once you learn how to use one module, for example, you can apply that knowledge to other modules. And there's an overall logic to the way things are organized. Let's take a look. In the center of this interface you'll find what I refer to as the Preview area. This is where you focus on your image, whether you're changing the appearance of the image or preparing to share an image. This is where you're going to be watching what you're doing for the most part.

Getting to know the Lightroom interface

One of the things I really appreciate about Lightroom is that there's a consistency in the User Interface. Once you learn how to use one module, for example, you can apply that knowledge to other modules. And there's an overall logic to the way things are organized. Let's take a look. In the center of this interface you'll find what I refer to as the Preview area. This is where you focus on your image, whether you're changing the appearance of the image or preparing to share an image. This is where you're going to be watching what you're doing for the most part.

And of course surrounding that image area there are four panels that allow us to control the way we interact with the image. The Top panel is used primarily to switch between the modules in Lightroom. The Library module allows us to organize the images. The Develop module allows us to change the appearance of an image. The Map module allows us to view photos on a map, or add location information to our photos. With the Book module, we can create a book layout. Slideshow of course is for creating slideshows to present your images. We can print our images, and of course create Web galleries to share the images online.

For most photographers, you'll probably find that you spend most of your time in the Library module organizing your images. And then a fair amount of time in the Develop module optimizing the appearance of your images. And then of course, using most of the other modules for sharing your images depending on your particular preferences. At the bottom of the interface, you'll find a Filmstrip panel. And here we can scroll through the currently available images. What you see will depend on which folder you've selected for example, and how you might have filtered your images. But all of the currently available images can be found here. So, for example we can switch between images very quickly and easily using this Filmstrip.

We also have some additional information about our photos and the ability to filter images using the Filmstrip. We also have panels over on the left and right side. And generally speaking, you'll find that your bigger decisions are made over on the Left panel. For example, whcih images you want to view in general, or which settings you'd like to apply to an image. You can then exercise more specific control using the Right panel. Just as an example, if we were in the Develop module, over on the Left panel. I might for example switch to a particular preset to apply a change to the appearance of my image.

But then over on the Right panel I can fine-tune the effect of those adjustments. I can change the overall appearance of the image. So again, more general decisions over on the Left panel, and more specific decisions over on the Right panel. And you'll see that theme repeated from module to module. Now this gives us a pretty good sense of the overall structure of the Lightroom interface. But there are also a couple of additional things that you can do, specifically to hide some of the panels. For example, once I've switched to the module that I want to work in, I don't really need the Top panel.

So I can click the triangle up at the top in order to hide that panel. I could do the same thing for any of the other panels. And I can also use keyboard shortcuts to accomplish the same thing. I'll bring back all of the panels, and if I press Shift and Tab I can hide all panels. And Shift + Tab again will bring all of those panels back. I can also hide just the left and right panels by pressing the Tab key. And once again, that serves as a toggle so I can press Tab to hide or reveal the panels on the left and right sides. We can also change the behavior of the panels.

If we right-click over on that triangle, we can choose Auto Hide and Show, Auto Hide, or Manual. With Auto Hide and Show selected, if we hide a panel and then mouse over that stub of the panel, the panel will appear again. If we move our mouse away, the panel will hide automatically. If we turn on the Auto Hide option, the panel will automatically hide when we move our mouse away. But it will not be revealed simply by moving the mouse over that stub. We have to click to bring the panel back.

An manual simply means, don't automatically hide or reveal. You have to click to hide the panel, and click again to reveal the panel. We can also synchronize the opposite panel so the left and right, or the top and bottom. I'll go ahead and turn this option on and now if I hide the Right panel, the Left panel also disappears. Notice that within the panels themselves, we have a variety of sections. We have the basic section in the Develop module, for example, and further down we'll find tone, curve, HS and so on, color, split toning, detail, etc.

Each of these sections can be expanded or collapsed using the triangle button over on the right-hand side of the label. You can also enable Solo mode, if you'd like only one of these sections to be visible at a time. I'll go ahead and collapse the histograms, so that we can see a little bit more space here. And then, I'll right-click on one of the Headers and choose Solo Mode from the Pop-up menu. Now if I scroll down and expand the tone curve section the basic section will be collapsed automatically. Similarly if I expand Split Toning then I will see only the Split Toning section with all other sections closed.

And if I decide I don't want to work on Solo mode. I can simply right-click again and turn off Solo mode. We can also expand or collapse all of the sections at once if we'd like to. I'll right-click on one of the headers here and I can choose Expand All and then all of these sections are expanded once again. Or I could righ- click and choose collapse all if I want to collapse all of those sections. As you can see, there's quite a bit of consistency in the Lightroom interface. But also a fair amount of flexibility so that you can fine tune things to suit your particular preferences in your workflow.

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Getting Started with Lightroom 4

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Tim Grey
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