Lightroom Rocks, But Get The Right One

Lightroom is the core app around which my business revolves. I love it; it quadruples my productivity; the math they did to make it work is incredible, and frankly, if they charged $1,500 instead of $150 I would still buy it.

The caveat? I have said it before: I am not a fan of Adobe CC. “CC” stands for “Creative Cloud”, and it is a suite of products for a monthly fee. Great technology, wonderful, and worth a lot—but not that much.

First, even with upgrades over the years, that monthly fee works out much higher than the stand-alone product, if Lightroom is all you use, And most photographers do not need Photoshop. Illustrators do, but we’re not illustrators.

But that is not my main gripe. My main objection is: I buy a product that is completely essential to my company and hence to my income. And now when I have the CC version, Lightroom “calls home” at regular intervals to check whether I am allowed to use it. Didn’t pay bill? No Lightroom for you. Bank screwed up? No Lightroom for you. You’re in Africa when it’s time to call home, so no Internet connection can be made? No Lightroom for you. Database problems? No Lightroom for you. Account hacked? No Lightroom for you. And so on. And these things really happen—they are not mere theoretical possibilities.

I simply cannot allow mission-critical software that necessitates me asking politely for permission to please use it.

So I, and you too may want to, buy the stand alone version for $149 once only, instead of the CC version for the “introductory” (i.e. will-go-up) fee that starts at US$9.99 per month.

But how?

Good question! It takes me 15 minutes each time to find it. Eventually by listing all products, you get a screen like this:


And you see, at the bottom on the left, the tiny, tiny “Products” link?

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-16-57-19 screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-16-57-30

Yeah, that one. That takes you to this page:


..which contains:


That is, as far as I have been able to tell, the only way to get to the non-CC product. While it is still available. Which will not be forever.

The link above is for Canada, but there’s similar pages for others.

You may also be able to buy copies in a box, in stores like Henry’s. But that too is very hard to find.

Back to regular business. But if you have not checked out Lightroom: go get it. Free 30 day eval, after which you decide to buy it—or not.

And if you have bought it, do consider having me help you set it up properly, and fix any errors. Good news: anything you get wrong can be fixed later. Lightroom really is a fantastic app, but you do need to put some thought into how to organize your files. A few hours of private consulting and you too, like me, will dramatically increase your productivity. Drop me a line or give me a call to explore the options, and see


Wonderful Willems Warhol

I am surprised at the willingness of people to buy Lightroom “presets”. There’s people who sell these sets of edit presets for good money—I see them hyped on Facebook daily, and then I see friends “liking” them and “forwarding” them—and there’s a lot of buyers who think they are buying something really valuable.

And they are. But it is value they could have just as easily (and more quickly, and a lot more cheaply) created themselves. They are just settings of the controls.

But all right. If you really have too much money, I will gladly sell you the “Wonderful Willems Warhol” preset. An amazing value at $19.99, it turns this recent “OK” portrait of my friend Rob McNaught…:


Into this Utterly Amazing Andy Warhol-like creative creation:


Wow, eh. But there’s even better news; for you, my good friends, it’s only $4.99 if you order today! Yes, that’s right: I will sell you the Wonderful Willems Warhol Special Art Effect for just $4.99! And you can use it as often as you like: no restrictions, and no license fee! So you are really buying an infinitude of artworks for just a few bucks. Have you ever seen better value?

Oh wait. No, that’s wrong. No.

No, I will not sell it for $4.99. Instead, I’ll sell it to you for $0.00.

For nothing. Naught. McNaught. Yes, really.

Why? Because if I charged you any money for this, I would feel bad. For two reasons. First, these presets are easy to make. Twiddle your settings, and hit the little “+” button on the left, give the new preset a name and you are done. $5 for that is asking too much. And second, by paying some guy $5 for a couple of settings, you are getting that guy to do your creative work for you. A picture created with that preset will be as much mine at it would be yours.

But if you want that one, here you go. Go to Lightroom’s DEVELOP module, and apply the following changes to an image:

[1] In GENERAL, change Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Clarity and Vibrance as follows:


[2] Change the Tone Curve as follows:


[3] And finally, change Detail settings as follows:


Now on the left, above the Presets section, hit “+” and give it a name, like “Warhol”. You will now see it added to your User Presets:


And you are done!

That preset took a minute to work out, and I did it all myself. Is that worth paying lots of money for? Lightroom’s functionality is worth every penny, but should you pay that much for someone telling you how to set that functionality? If you think the answer is “yes”, then my three-hour Lightroom course has just gone up to $3,000. Personally, I think it’s like selling someone an iTunes preset called “Loud” that turns up the volume.

My advice: work out what changes you want, and then figure out how to achieve them in Lightroom, i.e. “what control do you need to increase or decrease to get the desired effect?”. That way, you have done the work, and you’ve saved some money. And you have gained extra insight into the wonders of editing in Lightroom. And you get to play, and discover new stuff.

Enjoy! (And sorry, Gavin, Coles, and the many others who sell presets. But don’t you think we should teach our students how to edit, rather than sell them ready-made edits?)

Why go pro?

This is why. Just one example, a builder selling a wonderful, large, home in a prestigious Toronto neighborhood. So we’re talking millions. And in selling that, visual imaging is everything.

So this is what a non pro produces:


And this is what I made of that on a few seconds:


Colour, geometry, sharpness, all much better.

Details matter, and quality matters, and when you are a pro you take great care to get all the details right, both when shooting and afterward.

And I would have used a tilt-shift lens to get it straight without having to edit.

Just saying.