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Tutorial: Converting RAW Files in Lightroom

Shooting in RAW format mode (if your camera allows it) is so much more advantageous than shooting in JPEG. How many times have we heard or read this line? A thousand times or maybe a million times? I can go on and on discussing the advantages of capturing in RAW format (by the way RAW is not an acronym. It simply means “raw”, uncompressed and unprocessed). When shooting in RAW format, you don not need to worry about the proper white balance settings to use since this can be corrected later. You can also achieve the highest quality possible for your images since you can still tweak or play with the exposure settings, sharpness of your raw images without losing quality.

But all these advantages that RAW format capture offers will be useless if you do not have a program that allows you to quickly preview, organize, edit and convert your photographs so you could share them through email or upload it to your online album or blog quickly. Using this kind of program will also save you plenty of precious time that you could use shooting instead.

converting raw files

So if you are pressed for time but still want to enjoy the benefits of shooting RAW format, then you should consider using Photoshop Lightroom.

But why use Photoshop Lightroom if you already have Photoshop? Well, Photoshop will continue to be the program of choice for many people. If you are already very comfortable using Photoshop in converting RAW files, then I would say that you stay with Photoshop. However, for beginners, especially photographers who are not expert Photoshop users, Photoshop Lightroom is a good alternative because of its ability to ingest, sort, classify, keyword, organize, process, display as sideshows, and print–which are the essential tools needed by most photographers. All these tools are put under one roof in Photoshop Lightroom using a very user-friendly and more intuitive interface.

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CONVERTING RAW FILES IN LIGHTROOM

The steps in editing and converting raw files in Photoshop Lightroom is divided into three: import (catalog and sort), develop (edit) and export (slideshow/print/upload/save)

01- IMPORTING PICTURES
The first step is to import your raw files or photos to your Photoshop Lightroom library. You can do this by going to File>Import Photos…then locate the folder of your photos that you want to import to Photoshop Lightroom.

converting raw files

Meanwhile you can create a metadata template that contains very general information such as your name, copyright, and other information that are also applicable to most photos that you are going to edit in Photoshop Lightroom in the future. These data are embedded in the pictures and will be included when you export them later. Doing this therefore saves you time than entering all these data every time you edit a picture. To do this, go to the metadata pull down menu (located on the upper left portion of the screen). Create a preset and enter your tags or info. You can then save this preset for future use.

converting raw files

02- SORT
Once your pictures are in, your Photoshop Lightroom will automatically put you in Library mode. You can now browse through your images, add additional tags or metadata to each of them if you want (in addition to the tags you entered in the preset you created). You may also put star rankings to your photos so you could eliminate those horrible shots and pick the pictures that you want to edit later. Here are a few keyboard shortcuts to help you sort through your photos quickly:

While in Library mode in Photoshop Lightroom, choose a photo that you want to view and then tap “L” to dim the interface.

converting raw files

Tap “L” on your keyboard twice to make the background black. Then, use the right arrow key of your keyboard to flip through your photos.

converting raw files

Tap “L” again to put your interface back to normal.

converting raw files

If you like a certain image, tap the “P” on your keyboard to mark it as a pick. If you changed your mind, you hit “u” to take the flag away.

converting raw files

To compare two photos side to side, just select both photos and press “C”.

converting raw files

Use star-rating for your photos. Just select the image and press the number that you would like to assign to each photo. press number “1” for 1 star, “2” for two stars, so on and so forth.

converting raw files

If you see a horrible shot in your library, just hit “X” to mark it as a reject.

converting raw files

03-DEVELOP
From Library mode in your Photoshop Lightroom, you have to click the word “DEVELOP” located on the upper right portion of the screen so can start editing your photo. Since you are editing a RAW format, all the editing that you are going to make are nondestructive and can be easily reversed. Photoshop Lightroom also has a history window where all the steps that you made are recorded. So you can always go back every time you mess up with your photo editing. In Photoshop Lightroom, the primary editing tools are located on the top right portion of the screen. So it is better to work from top to bottom. The options include control for exposure, brightness, contrast,white balance correction, sharpness, etc. These things are easier done in Photoshop Lightroom than in Photoshop because of the very helpful tools that Photoshop Lightroom has such as the dropper for setting the color balance and the “little doughnut” tool for adjusting the right tone for your image. You can also save the steps that you made in certain photos and save it as a preset that you can apply for editing photos which were shot using the same camera settings.

converting raw files

04- slide presentation
You can use this option for making a slideshow presentation of your photo album in Photoshop Lightroom. It is pretty easy to do and I do not think you will ever need a tutorial for making one.

converting raw files

05-PRINT
This option in Photoshop Lightroom allows you to color-manage your printing. One of the advantages of using Photoshop Lightroom for printing photos is its feature that allows you to save presets for your print settings. So you have to setup the print settings once only and then use the saved printing presets next time you print another set of photos. The only time that you will ever need to do another round of print setup is when you change paper size or type.

converting raw files

06- EXPORT

If you do not want to print your pictures but want to save your photos in another format, then all you need to do is select the images that you want to export by highlighting or selecting them and then go to menu and click “export”. There, you will have the options to select export with previous, export with preset or export as (Photoshop Lightroom) catalog. You can also burn the pictures to CD or DVD.

converting raw files

You also have an option to upload it directly to your website. Or, if you have a Flickr or a Picasa account, you can also install a plugin so you can upload your pictures directly from Photoshop Lightroom.

converting raw files

If you want to know more about using Photoshop Lightroom, adobe.com has many video tutorials on how to use the features of Photoshop Lightroom, from the most basic tips on using Photoshop Lightroom to the most advanced techniques that you can do using Photoshop Lightroom.

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4 Comments

  1. very nice tut! now how could I use this on my site??..hmmmm??..lol

  2. You can use these tips in editing/enhancing your photos that you will eventually upload to your website. :)

  3. Hey, thanks for this informative tutorial. The tutorial helped me improving my skills pretty much. It’s at all times excellent to get some new inspiration and I hope to find more of such articles here the next time because no one will ever stop learning new stuff. Keep on

  4. Excellent tutorial and one I’d like to keep (and share actually).

    As I was browsing your blog I wondered if you would consider linking THIS tutorial up with my Linky Party today… it’s aimed at photographers with a tutorial to share… I then choose the best and pin onto my Pinterest board. Maybe you will consider the invite… http://www.snapdragonshots.com/2012/04/sunday-school-linky-party.html
    Jennie. x

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