Lessons in DSLR Workflow with Lightroom and Photoshop

Author: Jerry Courvoisier
Publisher: Peachpit Press

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

Workflow, for digital photography, is the sequence of tasks from preparing one’s camera, through capturing, downloading, processing, outputting, cataloging and archiving images. Workflow is concerned with an effective sequence of steps rather then the techniques, like moving sliders for particular effects.

Like most photography books, this book starts with a description of the equipment involved in the process, including cameras and computers. The second part deals with the workflow through Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0 (“LR2″). The third part looks with more particularity at the Develop module of LR2 and the fourth part with the integration of LR2 and Photoshop. In all cases, the book deals with the second iteration of Lightroom, including the new tools found in LR2.

The author writes clearly and the illustrations are good, although as usual for most books, the screen saves are a little small for those with poor eyesight. Using the book to review my own LR2 workflow I found that there were several tools available in the now feature-rich software that could ease my use.

One of the major problems of writing about workflow is drawing the boundaries between workflow and technique. I suspect that a volume devoted to just workflow would be about 20 pages long. This is particularly true in the case of LR2, where, with the exception of the new Local Adjustments toolbar, the entire software is laid out in a linear workflow fashion. Inevitably authors slip into technique. Courvoisier does this with the regard to the new Development Module, and to a certain extent with regard to Photoshop integration, although as to the latter, he delves into the matter further and more usefully then any other author I’ve read to date.

Unfortunately, his technique descriptions are not only outside of the idea of workflow, but also lack the details necessary to make really effective use of LR2. For that I would recommend the reader look at “The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book” by Martin Evening, or one of the other LR2 books which are scheduled for release. Occasionally tools important to the workflow concept are not even discussed. For example, there is no mention of parent-child keywords, the use of which can significantly effect workflow.

When it comes to the Photoshop section, Courvoisier serves a highly useful function in calling attention to the many aspects of Photoshop that can be initiated from within LR2. Similarly his pointing out the uses of multiple catalogs is innovative, even though he only suggests methods that create different catalogs for different subjects. His concept of round-tripping could be expanded even further. For example, I do my raw processing in one catalog, but keep another for managing my finished TIFF pictures, and still another just to test that files that I save to DVD are indeed intact. (Call me compulsive, or read “The Dam Book”!)

This is probably not a book for beginners to learn about LR2, although they may benefit from it after reading an LR2 primer. Intermediate and advanced LR2 users will find it useful to use to review their own workflow and improve their efficiency.