Tools and Appliances

Stairway, originally uploaded by john.king.

I’m a big fan of George Jardine‘s video tutorials for Lightroom. He’s an excellent teacher and his presentation is well-organized and engaging. I was happy to see that he has produced a free tutorial to focus on black and white processing recently. It’s an in-depth look at the different ways that black and white conversions can be made starting with some of the theoretical foundations and moving to the tools and functions in Lightroom and the latest Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).

One of the things I like best about George’s videos is that he focuses on the tool itself and gives excellent explanations of the logic behind each function as he demonstrates the effects of each element. He treats Lightroom and ACR as tools, not appliances. Let me explain that one. My view is that appliances are fixed in their function. Toasters, vacuum cleaners, CD players are excellent at what they do, but their outcomes are mostly determined by their design. Tools, by comparison can create outcomes that are varied according to the skills of their users. Chisels, paint brushes, well you get the picture. I bring this up because I think that using develop presets in Lightroom can reduce this tool to an appliance of sorts. Lightroom’s own presets and the myriad varieties of free and purchased presets can be interesting, but I think individually tuning each image offers far more opportunity to create good results. I don’t use develop presets and I’ve stopped making my own presets for the same reason. They look great on the first image they were created from but never seem to have a snug fit with any subsequent images. This is where George’s video tutorials have been very helpful. George guides you to understand the logic and function of each element in the Develop Module and constantly reminds you to experiment with settings and use your own eyes with every image.

I took the image above today in available light.There was some soft and shadowless diffused north light coming in from the right side of the image and tungsten light at the top of the stairs. The day was seriously overcast and I needed a shutter speed of 1.5 seconds at f8 ISO 100. I’ve been using Lightroom almost daily for the past 10 months. With increased knowledge of how the different elements work as well George’s recent Black and White tutorial fresh in my mind, I came up with some fairly radical settings that produced this result. I’m happy with it and that’s what matters. George won’t tell you how to achieve this particular effect, but he will encourage you to experiment until you’re happy with what you see on the screen. The tutorial is worth seeing if you use Lightroom or ACR. All you have to do is send him an email from his blog post here  http://mulita.com/blog/?p=1244

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About John King

I live in Newfoundland and I like to play outside.
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