Saturday, January 17, 2015

Using Lightroom for Fine Art

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a tool used mainly by photographers. They use it for their workflow, cataloging images and organizing them into folders.

Lightroom also allows photographers to experiment with contrast and color on batches of images without overwriting changes. Once a photographer is satisfied with a particular shot, they can hit Command+P to open it in Photoshop for more fine-grained editing if needed, or they can export it straight from Lightroom to a web-optimized JPG.

Most of the tutorials you'll find online are about using Lightroom for photography. But you can use it for fine art workflow management too.

Here is how I use it:

As you can see, these are watercolor paintings, not photos. Well, technically they're photos because I took photos of my paintings.

From SD Card to Hard Drive

When I put my SD card into my computer, Lightroom automatically opens and asks if I want to import the new files that it finds. It copies them onto my hard drive, into a new folder with the date that I took the photos.

I've set it up to work this way, but you can do whatever you want. I used to have Picasa set up this way, but I recently graduated to Lightroom because it does a lot more.

Picking Out the Clearest Shot

Typically I take several photos of each painting. Sometimes a photo turns out blurry. Sometimes I want to experiment with different lighting angles. In Lightroom, I go through these and pick out the single photo that came out the best.

Straightening and Lighting Fixes

Lightroom has a Develop module which can be used for simple edits. It's roughly equivalent to using Picasa's editing tools. I use Develop to correct the lighting of a painting, and to straighten it. Often that's enough.

If not, I then open it in Photoshop to make additional corrections, such as when there are shadows that I need to remove manually.


You can use Lightroom to manage fine art workflow, treating your photographs of your paintings or sculptures as if they were any other photo.

In upcoming posts, I'll be writing more about specific things that you can do in Lightroom with fine art.

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