Friday, May 1, 2015

Lightroom 6 Upgrade

I finally made the jump and upgraded Lightroom to the most current version.  I have been running LR4 for many years now and it finally made sense for me to upgrade.  

I mainly use LR for cataloging, keywords and pre-processing of images before I jump into Photoshop or Nik products.  I was never that comfortable doing image edits in LR.  I like to have finer control of the edits being applied to my images and LR just didn't give that level of control.   Well, the new LR has a more refined feature set, some cool new features, and is optimized to run on the newest operating systems (read faster) so I thought it time to upgrade.

I am not a Creative Cloud user (yet), so I had to upgrade the standalone version of LR.  I hear this is the last version that they will sell outside of CC.  The download of the upgrade went smoothly and relatively quickly.  Installing the upgrade software went without a hitch on both my iMac and my Macbook.  When you launch LR6 for the first time, it will ask you to upgrade your LR catalog.....if you agree, the program will do that for you in a short time and you can then start exploring Lightroom.

Due to a lack of time since I installed it, I haven't had that much time to explore all the new features of Lightroom.  There are two things that I will mention so far....ensure that in LR Preferences there is a new Performance tab and make sure that the box to use your computers graphics card is checked in order to have the fastest performance you can in the system.

The second feature I've played around with is a couple of the new "Merge" options.  With this version of LR they have included "Merge to HDR" and "Merge to Panorama", so you can accomplish these functions without jumping to an external program.  I will say, if you have advanced needs for HDR or Panos, LR just gives basic options and you will probably find yourself wanting the extra features in standalone programs.  But for basic needs, I think this will be a great time saver for many folks.

For an experiment, I decided to try the Panorama merge feature to see what it could do.  I had a 7 shot vertical panorama that I took in the Portland Japanese Garden.  To create a panorama of these images in LR, all you have to do is select the images, right click and select Merge to Panorama and boom the program takes just a little bit of time and there is your pano preview.  You can select different perspectives if you want to have different looks......for the below image I stayed with the basic "spherical" perspective.  Another cool feature is that they provide an "auto crop" feature where the system crops the image to the maximum size, while trimming off the lost areas in each image.   

The 7 shot pano took just 15 seconds to render a preview! Much faster than going to an external program.   Once you have made your selections in the Panorama dialog box, hit OK and the program creates the pano and puts it in your image library.  From there you can make adjustments in LR, or as in my case, I went to Photoshop and did a quick processing job using luminosity masks, some contrast adjustments and a little bit of special sauce on top.
                                          (click on pic to view larger)

So far, I can highly recommend moving to LR6!  I have alot more to explore with the program though before I can give a final recommendation.  

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