The myth was that the electronic age would usher in more ‘free time’. Remember that? The opposite is the case for tasks grow – Parkinson’s Law fashion – to fit the time available: just think of all we have been prepared to put up with in the great ‘work flow’ fiasco. And for those of us involved with publishing we now have to get 98% of things ready to go before sending it off: great savings have been made to publishing costs but, strangely, not passed on…well, well.
The arrival of Lightroom has revolutionised things for me at home: as time passes I find less need to exit the program for a growing variety of image-related tasks. I know some readers will be au fait with all I have to say but, for those who are not, this is not just a boring old filing cabinet on a screen. Yes, it does that brilliantly but…a lot more to boot.
I bought my first Mac (an SE back in 1990 having written three books on an Amstrad PCW) and, with successive Macs did more and more of my own layout work for posters, cards and the like with those snap-to grids on screens. I don’t pretend I would have won any design awards BUT then neither would some of the people who did it for real in publishers I encountered…one or two having recently been promoted from monitor in charge of photocopying.
My photographer/geometer’s background with an eye for pattern functioned well for everyday stuff and more. I also found it highly therapeutic at times in just tinkering and producing something that looked good. For brochures a local printer in Cowbridge, S Wales was Mac – equipped, a bonus.
For some time I have worked with the range of layouts in Adobe Lightroom using the PRINT module which has become even more effective in Lightroom 3. It copes with much more than prints – there is an easy-to-use series of templates in the module plus a versatile custom facility. On a busy day there is not a great deal of need to leave Lightroom…not only can I select and modify RAW files for agencies but also make the contact sheets, web pages and DVD covers as well
NB all the screenshots below were made with Grab, the Mac utility and give some idea of how the module functions: it is quick.
As in the example above , I started by using the ‘triptych’ template to produced materials for an exhibition where I wanted to show a series of local ‘bee orchid’ (Ophrys) species for comparison.
- Registration is quick and perfect – things do not creep as they used to in the days when I prepared things in Appleworks.
- With Lightroom 3 you can select (or create a layout) adjust the size and spacing of cells for your images and then add stroke borders if you like them. If you like it you can save for future use.
- You can leave the background in white or change it to shades between within a grey-scale palette. You can add a personalised nameplate and data should you wish.
What I have tended to do when producing comparative blog illustrations, is to create a layout with images on a black background avoiding a white border by selecting a paper size (File >Page set-up) that gives borderless prints OR you can crop later when you have created the JPEG.
The captioning for Pixiq is on black anyway and so these images merge seemlessly. I make a selection of images to include (possibly from within a collection already made) – with or without a that white/grey stroke border of 1 to 1.5 points added from within the module and view the result. NB. Very fine borders (less than 0.5point) visible on screen are almost invisible in the final JPEG.
You can export the file directly to a printer OR best of all as a JPEG and then…
- Change the border. I often increase the black border to suit, usually at the bottom, where I can put in a caption of sorts. To do this open the JPEG in Photoshop proceed to Image > Canvas size and then add as much as you like.
- Create a New Layer(s) for text: This lets you put in a title, captions and so on. Finally, flatten the image and export at the image size you require. I usually do this at A4 and then reduce for use eg 980 pixels wide for the Pixiq Blog and 1920 for full screen width slides on the MAC.
- Title slides with several images are really easy to generate in the Print Module - add anything you want in Photoshop and then re-import into Lightroom.
- PDF slide shows are easily produced from within Lightroom via the Slideshow Module.It is quick and reliable and now, with Lightroom 3, you can add music easily.
- Printing at Home with black drinks ink – but JPEGS from Lightroom are perfect to send to a print house.
- A business card can be designed in any program you prefer, saved as a JPEG and imported into a Lightroom layout: same for CD/DVD covers and so on.
Lightroom is not as flexible as some slide-show programs for those who like the querky transitions, but it is quick and functional and it looks good. It is great, too, for working in the field: I mentioned last year how I had been out with a local group of school children, did a quick edit and had the slide show ready to go…great for those of us who lead tours, too and want to show something of the highlights of the day or go over points raised in the evening.
If you have not explored the potential of the PRINT module it can quickly and easily provide you with a plethora of potential layouts that you can send to your own printer or have bulk printed from the JPEG you created.
Lightroom is far more than the cataloguing program it seems at first sight
- ebooks There was an interesting Pixiq post by Jose Antunes on how Lightroom 3 could be used to create ebooks….seems useage is limited only by your imagination with this one.
- Instruction – there is a downloadable pdf and is backed up by excellent on-screen instructional videos by Julieanne Kost and others.