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« Friday Finds - New & Noteworthy | Main | {Texture Tuesday} Hello December »

Lightroom 5 & Photoshop CC - Big Savings


I receive lots of questions from newbie photographers/post-processors……

The questions go something like this.

'Hi Kim…. love your photos….I’m new to photography …. I have no idea where to begin.What software would you recommend? What class would you recommend?'

Today I want to chat about Lightroom and Photoshop/Elements…… while the special Adobe Photography Subscription Program is still on.

Each has different strengths....quite honestly... I LOVE/NEED both!!

My Editing Journey

Okay, when I first started taking pictures Lightroom was fairly new…… I already had photoshop for my painting/artwork….. so I choose Photoshop for my photo editing software.

Looking back, I wish I had explored Lightroom from the start….. 

The catalog/organizational features would have saved years of file/folder messes…. the editing options are mind blowing…. Not to mention SUPER FAST, non-destructive and highly efficient. 

But with all that said……when I was first starting out.... my main interest was TEXTURES. Lightroom is NOT a layer program… it’s not designed for adding textures, blending layers…. creative text touches....or making graphics. 

I love textures…type and graphics. I love Photoshop.

So I would say…. at the time....Photoshop was the best place to start.

Fast forward several years…..Lightroom entered....and I fell madly in LOVE. It’s quick….efficient…. powerful…..the editing possibilities are MIND BLOWING… I can’t imagine living without it.

So.....…. if I were just getting started …. 

Here’s what I would do.

Disclaimer - this post is simply my opinion...based on my creative process..... 

Keep in mind….. this may not be the most budget friendly option…. But if budget were not an issue, here is what I would do, without a doubt.

I would START with Lightroom. But I wouldn’t STOP there. I would add Photoshop/Elements to my editing tool box…. 

And with the fab Adobe Photography Program that's running right now.... it's a fairly affordable option.....

Let’s Talk Lightroom

Organizational Wonder

Lightroom's organizational tools are exceptional. The sooner you get your image folders/files systematically organized the better. 

LR make this so easy...... (with a little patience and practice)

I’m not saying it’s impossible to organize your images w/o LR… I’m just saying LR makes it really easy.

The LR catalog feature cuts down on multiple folders, lost and duplicate image issues etc. It makes image sorting and key wording super fast and friendly……It’s fantastic.

Before LR I was constantly clicking through folders looking for photos. I had duplicate and triplicates of so many images….taking up tons of unnecessary space.

This may not sound very interesting…. but if you’ve gone years w/o a good system (or no real system at all)….and you finally get your big mess under control….it really is an awesome thing.

LR is much more than an organizational wonder.

It’s a non-destructive image editor. Technically speaking it’s a Parametric Image Editor. Everything you do in LR can be undone…. today, tomorrow… next year. It’s never too late to get back to your original image.  As you develop your photos in LR, LR is writing a set of instructions that are stored along with your photo. The original image is always there….. It’s fantastic. You can create multiple versions of one photo, without actually duplicating the file over and over. You can apply the same settings to an entire group of photos with just a few clicks. It’s brilliant.

You can create collections, templates and quick click presets….. All of these options can speed up your workflow….allowing more time for pretty picture making and taking.


Non-destructive Raw Editor

Lightroom is a raw image editor, but you can also process jpegs.

LR is workflow friendly….starting with import, to organization; including keywording and rating images, to processing and finally a variety of output options…which include posting images on photo sharing sites, making slideshows, web galleries and printing….. it’s all nicely presented in one pretty photo-centric software package.

User Friendly

LR consists of user friendly panels and sliders…. it makes image development super quick…. and efficient. You can move the sliders back and forth all day long….. and watch the image update live on screen as you experiment.

From cropping, to exposure and contrast adjustments…. tonal adjustments…. vibrance and saturation edits…. split toning, sharpening… vignetting and loads more.

There are global and selective editing features available.

You can make/buy develop presets..….giving you endless creative possibilities…. that you can use over and over again. 

Once you’re done in LR you simply click to open the image into Photoshop….. There you can add texture, type etc. Save the image….and your photo will pop right back into your LR catalog. It’s genius.

So Many Output Options

As mentioned above, not only can you sort, organize and edit your photos…. You can also output your images to flickr/facebook and many other social networks right inside Lightroom. You can create slideshows and beautiful print books…even web galleries. You can create amazing print layouts super fast and efficiently as well. The possibilities are truly endless.

Okay….. are you still with me?

Let's Take Photoshop

Now, let’s talk about what LR can’t do…… and why I will always LOVE photoshop.

Photoshop is a pixel based editing program. 

I do all I can to my images in LR, then move into Photoshop for the finishing touches….. the stuff that can’t be done in LR or the things that Photoshop is just plain better at.

Photoshop works in layers…. allowing you to stack image on top of image…… or type on top of type on top of texture….……

It’s the perfect artist tool.

I love adding textures and type to my photos. Photoshop is THE tool for these tasks.

It’s also great for removing complex objects from a scene, in-depth retouching and selective editing. The type tool (especially in full photoshop) is incredible. You can use digital brushes like rubber stamps on your images, build scrap book layouts and graphics……add filter effects and much more.

I always begin in LR, often adding fun and creative processing effects…. If I wanna take it a step further…. and add textures and type….. I take a trip into Photoshop.

So as you can see….. I need both programs….. 

In a perfect world I would suggest both Lightroom and Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

But it’s not a perfect world…. sometimes we have to make a choice….

So if you are set on using textures and type…. making graphics etc…. and can’t afford 2 programs….then go for Photoshop/Elements.

Photoshop and elements offer their own organizational software. Full photoshop includes bridge for organizing your files and ACR for your raw/jpeg parametric editing needs. Elements includes the organizer and a lighter version of ACR.

ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) allows you to non-destructively edit your images. It’s works the same under the hood as LR….. you can perform your non-destructive edits in ACR then pop into Photoshop/Elements to add your finishing touches.

The biggest difference between ACR and Lightroom would be the ease of workflow in LR. Lightroom is so smooth and photographer-friendly.

Note: My Picture Process classes covers all the ins and outs of Photoshop/Elements including ACR and organization.

If you are taking tons of photos and want them organized and easy to access….if you wanna make pretty picture fast and efficiently with TONS of options in between….. then go for Lightroom.

There’s no final answer on this…… It's up to you.... the Artist.

But thanks to the Adobe Photography Program you may not have to choose.....

One more thing… Lightroom Users can purchase a plug-in called Perfect Layers. This allows you to apply textures to your photos. Personally I don’t use it, because I’m very comfortable moving into photoshop and it gives me tons of creative control. But it may be appealing to LR users simply interested in adding textures and little more.

Okay, that’s my thoughts on Lightroom &/or Photoshop. I would love to hear about your process.... what works for you?

Questions? Please post in the comments below.


Before I sign off.... I do not want this post to turn into an Adobe CC debate. You are certainly entitled to your opinion about the new subscription Creative Cloud program..... but I believe it's been argued enough.... Personally, without Adobe's incredible software I would not have a creative business.... The Creative Cloud works great for me.

Get the details about Adobe's Photography Program HERE. The $9.99 offer ends on December 8th.

Questions about the Creative Cloud Photog Program click HERE


Ready to take the LR/PS leap.... be sure to sign up for the Texture Lovin' List to get loads of free textures.... 

Wanna learn more....Check out my Lightroom and Photoshop classes here.

Want more free textures, pop over to pinterest for exclusive freebies here.


That's it for today... See you back here for Friday Finds.


Reader Comments (12)

Kim, thank you for taking time and posting thorough details and sharing the awesome things both of these programs will do. I have LR5 and PSE-11 and love them both…most of all I appreciate all the classes you offer that teach us how to use them and get the best results, along with your fabulous textures!
December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly
Hi Kim I have taken the plunge and signed up for CC am loving it...
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterViv Halliwell
Thank you Kim, this is really useful, I have been wondering about Lightroom for a longtime and now what to ask Santa for xmas. Will you be running another start to finish course. It looks great
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzannah
Kim, You are like my very best photo friend at a click away. Thank you so much for helping to make sense of the the editing software that resides on a cloud! I'm one of those "love to take pictures/hate to spend all day at the computer" types so I am grateful for your guidance and advice.

We are praying every day for you and John. A new start is just ahead for you.
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna
Hi Kim, I've been struggling with LR since I bought version 4... for some reason my brain doesn't work with the organizational system... it reminds me of organizer in PSE and I had the same mental block with it. I "get" Bridge, so I always fall back on it which turns into a disaster in my LR system (of course). But I love the editing in LR and I miss it. I signed up for CC and some time in the New Year, I'm going to try LR again. The thing is, I think I have to start a new catalogue - wish me luck! yikes!
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarb
I have been trying to decide if I wanted to sign up for that special offer for a few weeks now and I was sort of sketchy on how I would use LR since I love my Elements so much. I think you nailed your explanation of the strengths and weaknesses of both programs. It all makes sense now!
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam
I use both LR5 and CS6 and I couldn't get along without both. I recently sat down and decided I had to learn LR5 better and now I start there and edit most everything there and then use Photoshop for all the creative stuff. I'm big on collages and use lots of layers. I want to keep getting updates so I will have to move to the cloud also. I guess it's all part of keeping up with the latest technology. Hey cloud, here I come!!!!
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam
Thanks for this great info! I have been wondering about LR. I have a mac, so I use iphoto and I have elements which I love for textures, layering etc.

Any input regarding Aperture? I was wondering about Aperture vs LR.
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Bueti
I absolutely love LR. It has made sense to me where PS always caused me to struggle. I also have Elements but it seems it takes constant refreshing for me to remember how to use it. Still, the special offer is tempting.
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDenise
Thank you for this information Kim. I need to upgrade my operating system so I will be looking into Lightroom.
December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie
Kim, I took the leap and signed up for the LR and PS 1 year plan….downloading it now. The full PS program was intriguing to me so I had to give it a try. Thank you again for this detailed post!
December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly
Thanks for your thoughts on this subject. I am not new to photography, nor to post processing, but I've been torn about which program to invest in next. I started out with PS, LOVED it, but when we finally had to upgrade our Mac, the version of PS we had became obsolete. Elements was free, plain old Photoshop, not so much. Having dealt with Elements for the past couple of years I can unequivocally say that I hate it. I would go back to PS in an instant, if only I could afford to (am saving up the pennies now). However, one of my favorite photographers of all time (30+ years in the field) uses Lightroom, so the debate between the two began. I would love to have both PS and LR eventually, but for now, it's one or the other.
February 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercarole

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