Join Julieanne Kost for an in-depth discussion in this video Lightroom or Photoshop?, part of Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop Workflows: Start-to-Finish Studies.
- [Instructor] One of the questions that I'm asked on a regular basis is how do I decide when to use Lightroom and when to use Photoshop in order to make edits to my images? So, let's start by taking a quick look at some examples of work that I do in Lightroom and then I'll show some work that I do in Photoshop. So, here in Lightroom I might do things like remove any lens distortions using the lens correction panel or I might straighten a crooked horizon or crop in when I can't get close enough to my subject when I'm taking the photograph.
I can also correct perspective in Lightroom and I can change things like white balance after the fact. I can make tonal corrections, so I can add contrast or clarity or dehaze in order to change the exposure and make my image pop or I could go in and make selective adjustments to specific color ranges so I could say for example de-saturate the sky and maybe saturate the red rocks in the foreground. So, once I make all of my global adjustments in Lightroom, then I move on to make my local adjustments using the local adjustment brush where I can do things like dodge and burn.
I can also add light after the fact in Lightroom so when I'm not able to maybe take lights while I'm on a Zodiac I know that I can add light to make the image more interesting after the fact. I can also use the local adjustment brush to help guide the viewer to specific parts of my image, here making the icebergs more blue and lightening the seal in the foreground. I can also remove small dust spots or distracting elements from my images in Lightroom and I can even convert my images to black and white or I can create special effects like adding grain or a nice little post-crop vignette.
We can even combine multiple images together as panoramas or as HDR, high dynamic range images. So, if we can do all of these edits in Lightroom when and why do I move to Photoshop? Well, my goal is always to move to Photoshop only after I make all of the enhancements that I believe make the image look the best that it possibly can in Lightroom. Then I'll move to Photoshop for three primary reasons, either I need to do more elaborate or sophisticated retouching which is beyond the scope of Lightroom's healing brush or maybe it's just easier in Photoshop to quickly make a selection based on color or focus and I can do that much more quickly than using the adjustment brush in Lightroom to paint my adjustment.
And of course I use Photoshop when I'm compositing multiple images together using layers and masking. So, let's take a look at some examples of retouching in Photoshop. So, here the scene is just a little bit too busy and my eye gets stuck in all of the little pieces of ice. So, in Photoshop I would go ahead and remove those. So, there's before and there's after. Now, I just want to explain that I think that all editing in Photoshop is perfectly fine. I'm not a photo journalist, in fact, I took a class by a photographer by the name of Keith Carter, does wonderful work and he introduced the term lens-based artist and I really like that because while I'm starting by capturing an image with a lens, in Photoshop I can then do whatever I want because for me it's much more important that the image that I create makes the person feel in a certain way.
So, I'm not just trying to depict reality, I actually want the viewer to feel the same way that I felt while I was there. So, in this next example again, it needs a lot of retouching beyond the scope of Lightroom so I'll do the retouching in Photoshop and I wanted to show this example because even though my final image might end up in black and white I typically will do the retouching on a color image and then use adjustment layers in Photoshop if I want to convert it to black and white because too many times I've converted to black and white, done all the retouching, then I wanted the color back and then I have to do all the retouching again.
So, I just retouch in color 'cause I know I can always get rid of color much easier than bringing back the color. Here I use Photoshop just to remove those distracting elements. I don't really need to see the mountain on the right-hand side. What's really important to me is that fantastic shape of the ice and the two little foreground elements there. Here I think the image is all about those vertical and horizontal lines, so the iceberg on the far left was bothering me so I just replaced that iceberg with another one from another image, just so that you weren't distracted by that element and you could focus on really what I think are the patterns in the image.
I'm always trying to simplify my photographs, so again, if there's unnecessary information, I just want to get rid of it. I think this is a more impactful image than this one. Of course it's all subjective but I do this a lot. Here's another example where I've got this beautiful arch that's just phenomenal but I don't want to see all the clutter that's behind it so I'll just remove it. Here when I took the photograph I wasn't even looking at the background. I mean, I knew all that stuff was there but I'm going to take the photograph, I don't want to miss it because I know in Photoshop I can simplify the image and remove those distracting elements.
In this image again I love the iceberg but there's just too much stuff in the water so a few minutes later I take another photograph when we've move to a different location that has cleaner water that makes it really easy to composite these two images together. Here, love the iceberg but I just need one more little element in the foreground so I combined two photographs and I get rid of the distracting elements in the background. We can also reposition objects in the scene and doing something like just adding a second bird here completely changes the story that I'm trying to tell.
We can also create our own world so I can start with an image like this and add a solar eclipse that I took months apart in a completely different location and then just add a little bit of an overlay of some raindrops. We can actually take an image and add in a night sky. Now, I know that some of you know the night sky and you know that this was actually photographed in the northern hemisphere but that's okay, I'm making my own reality so I have no problem compositing it in. In a case like this I really wanted to get some long exposures to get some motion blur but unfortunately in a Zodiac, didn't have a tripod, couldn't accomplish it in camera so we can create those kinds of effects in Photoshop after the fact.
And finally, one of the things that I really wanted to capture while I was in Antarctica was a split scene, so an under-over so we could see over or on top of the water as well as under water but there was an algae bloom so the water was very cloudy and murky, you really couldn't see anything, so why not just create whatever it is you have in your imagination, composite images together and come up with something like this. So, there you go. I think that tells you what kind of changes I can make in Lightroom and when I would move to Photoshop to continue editing my images.
- Selecting Lightroom or Photoshop to edit images
- Optimizing in Lightroom, and then proceeding to Photoshop
- Retouching to remove distracting elements
- Using multiple photographs to quickly replace unwanted elements
- Unifying multiple images using color and tone