Authors: Tim Grey and Mikkel Aaland

Publisher: Adobe Press/Peachpit Press

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

Some people learn more by watching than by reading. I know that I first learned about how to use Lightroom in videos by the redoubtable Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe, but that was mostly because they were the first out with instructional material. Mostly those videos were images of talking heads with an occasional screen shot. “Learn Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 by Video (Learn by Video)” is an offering by two other great image processing authors, Tim Grey and Mikkel Aaland.

The approach taken is fairly standard. After an introduction the videos go chapter by chapter through each of the Lightroom modules, and an examination of most of the buttons and sliders that, because of its easy interface, has made Lightroom popular with so many photographers. Each section shows a screen shot where the viewer can follow the moves made by the authors to apply Lightroom functions, accompanied by the voice-over of one of the two authors. The chapters cover everything from bringing images into Lightroom to outputting them to web sites or slideshows. The level of instruction is fairly simple, but if you’ve never used the software, the instruction will get the average person processing pictures after several hours of watching. More experienced users won’t learn anything new, but they are not the audience. Not every function is covered in all aspects, like my favorite test, whether the discussion of keywords covers the importation of a keyword list from another source into Lightroom. On the other hand, although this isn’t covered, it clearly a subject for a more advanced user.

At the end of each chapter there is an examination. Unfortunately, if you get an answer wrong, you won’t be told the correct answer, so you’ll have to watch the lesson again. Maybe that’s not unfortunate.

The video comes with a booklet where Aaland first presents some ideas about composition (perhaps added because the video, like most Lightroom books, doesn’t tell you when a slider or button is appropriate; for that, I’d recommend “Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom” by David duChemin). That’s followed by a chapter about what’s new in Lightroom 3. The disk also contains images that can be imported into Lightroom by the viewer to follow the same procedures as the authors in the lessons. I’d like to say that this allows one to follow along with the authors, but it was here that video presentation encountered a stumbling block. With a book you could keep the book in front of the computer and, if images were provided, the reader could follow along. To duplicate the experience there is a button in the lower left hand corner of the video screen, called “Watch-and-Work”. If you click this, the video is reduced to about one-fourth of the screen. Unfortunately, when I tried to follow along with the video, the video image was often in the way and had to be moved around to gain access to the Lightroom sliders. Eventually I figured out that it was easier to pause the video and minimize the video screen and work in Lightroom. This doesn’t take a computer guru to figure out, but given that the videos are aimed at tyros, it might have been useful to provide more detailed instructions in how to use the videos. Unfortunately there is just a very brief help screen, that, to make matters worse, refers to processing the picture in Dreamweaver! It might also have been useful to suggest to users that as soon as possible, they should import the images provided on the disk into Lightroom, as well as other instructions on how to best use the videos to learn.

I’m still a person who prefers books, being a geezer who didn’t grow up with YouTube. I underline important ideas or read them twice, and even read them on a bus, without opening a laptop. To be fair, the video does allow for bookmarking (again undocumented), that accomplishes many of these functions and perhaps reading on the bus may not be the best way to learn about running a piece of software like Lightroom.

I’m impressed by the video technology, and even though there are a few bumpy spots, as an introduction to Lightroom, this will certainly teach the new user how to handle the software.


Sponsored by PMA – It’s not too early to mark your calendar because this is big. For the first time in the USA, the PMA tradeshow and conference will be open to the general public – September 6-11, 2011 in Las Vegas. See you there –