Jumping to Photoshop and LightZone

by Ken Milburn

In my last blog, I talked about the workflow for using the Develop module. For most of us, that's all you need to know for processing about eighty-percent of your images. Furthermore, the speed and beautiful and intuitive interface of Lightroom will likely improve the overall-quality of your images while making your workflow more profitably efficient. BUT, you just can't do everything in Lightroom. For starters, you can't do anything that requires doing only on an isolated part (selected, masked, or cut-out) part of the image.

Here's a partial list of things that Lightroom has to turn over to Photoshop (or another "standard" image editor):

1.Working with Layers. Since you're able to work non-destructively with Lightroom adjustments, you don't have as much need for layers...but some effects just can't be had without layer blend modes, retouching can't be done non-destructively without them, and you can always turn them on or off.

2.Burning and Dodging. There just aren't any burn and dodge tools in Lightroom. Even given the Fill Light and Recovery sliders, there are times when you can make or break a photograph by darkening the foreground or lightening the shadow under a nose.

3. Combine two RAW interpretations into a single photograph. There's real power in the ability to do this and I've already written a couple of blogs about doing it for special effects and doing it to create HDR (high dynamic range) photos. By the way, the new Align Layer command in Photoshop CS3 makes it much more practical to combine a pair of shots that were hand-held

4. Regional adjustments with masked layers.

5.Cosmetic retouching and skin smoothing. Although Lightroom has the spot removal capability, it's too clumsy to use for extensive zit removal. Photoshop's Spot Healing and Patch Tools are tough to be beat in that regard...not to mention all that can be done with the Clone Stamp, brush tools, and a huge variety of texture filters. It's also filters that allow you to lift the skin to its own layer so that it can filtered (usually with Diffuse Glow) and blended with a variety of Fill and Opacity settings.

6.Compositing and sky substitution. There is no way, in Lightroom, to layer images from a variety of sources, cut them out with variable transparency transitional edges, and then carefully position and re-light them so that they fit right in to an entirely new and fictitious scene. The new Refine Edges command in CS3 is especially helpful.

7.Panorama Stitching. You can synch the adjustment of all the Lightroom commands for all the frames, so you'll know the adjustments will match. It all makes it that much easier to stitch together an even better-looking panorama in Photoshop CS3's Photomerge.

8.Perspective correction. There's still no Transform or Lens Correction command in Lightroom.

9.Have more control over sharpening. Even though the sharpening commands in Lightroom 1.1 are much more flexible, it makes for better workflow control to do sharpening with the new Smart Sharpening filter on a separate layer that can be re-created and re-sharpened any time the target output device changes. Also, you may want to sharpen only part of the image as an effect...which can't be done in Lightroom.

And then, there's Light Zone...