Archive for January 2006

Adobe Lightroom FAQ’s

Posted By PSN Editorial Staff

Adobe has written a Lightroom FAQ. It answers, from Adobe’s point of view, some of the questions that are bound to surface regarding Adobe’s intentions regarding Adobe Lightroom Beta 1 and the development of the commercial release sometime later this year.


Q: What is Project Lightroom?
A: Adobe Lightroom Beta is a new, exciting image handler built from the ground up for professional photographers. It is an efficient, powerful way to import, select, develop and showcase large volumes of digital images. It allows you to spend less time sorting and organizing images, so you have more time to actually shoot and perfect them.

Q: Why Lightroom Beta?

A: To put it simply, Adobe Lightroom is unfinished. And before we finish it, we want input from the people who are going to rely on it. We want to make it available to you now, so you can tell us what you like, what you’d like better-so you can help us shape it into as close to the perfect photographer’s application as we can possibly get.

Q: What is Adobe Labs?

A: Labs was originally developed as the public home of work-in-progress at Macromedia. Now that Macromedia is part of Adobe, it has been retitled Adobe Labs, and will be the source for early looks at emerging products and technologies from Adobe, including Project Lightroom. Here you can not only gain early access to downloads, samples, documentation, release notes, tutorials and more. You can also ask questions, discuss, and share your feedback with Adobe.

Q: Who will use Lightroom Beta?

A: First and foremost, Lightroom is the product professional photographers have been demanding, especially those who deal with large volumes of digital images. These include fashion and portrait photographers, photojournalists, wedding, landscape and commercial photographers. To these add the seasoned personal photographers who aspire to achieving the same results as the pros, and who demand the same level of quality in their tools.

Q: Does Lightroom Beta replace Adobe Bridge or Camera Raw?

A: For some, it might. In truth it will depend on what you do and how you like to do it. Having an interface that is 100% tuned to the photography workflow, plus the unique features that will be in Lightroom, will mean some people will use Lightroom in place of Bridge. On the other hand, some photographers will need or want the broad image capabilities of Adobe Bridge-such as integration with Adobe Creative Suite 2, previewing PDF, InDesign¨ and Illustrator¨ documents, and workgroup management tools. Some or all of the time, these people will continue to use Adobe Bridge.

Q: How does Lightroom Beta differ from Adobe Photoshop CS2?

A: Adobe Photoshop CS2 is, and will continue to be, the industry standard in digital image editing. Photoshop will always hold an important place in the pro photographer’s toolbox, for detailed image editing and compositing. However, photographers face a variety of workflow concerns beyond image editing. The Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw components of Photoshop CS2 began solving these problems in recent years. Now, Lightroom takes these concepts further, in a very photographer-centric way. Lightroom is also different from Photoshop in terms of its software architecture. Developers and customers have long appreciated the ability to extend Photoshop functionality through third-party plug-ins that are confined within dialogs, and that can’t always access all of the information in an image. In contrast, Lightroom has been designed from the ground up with a fully modular architecture. All of the tasks you see in Lightroom’s main interface-Library, Develop, Slideshow, and Print-are actually independent modules that have full control over your images, and which can use the entire screen to show you just the tools you need for the task at hand. In the future, Adobe will be releasing a developer SDK for Lightroom, so that third parties can create additional modules that extend the application and the workflow in groundbreaking ways.

Q: Will Lightroom Beta be compatible with Photoshop CS2 and Photoshop Elements?

A: Yes. Images handled by Adobe Lightroom will be editable in Photoshop CS2 or Photoshop Elements. Some non-photography file formats usable in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements will not be supported by Lightroom, but this is in keeping with the mandate of Lightroom as a photographer’s application. Lightroom does provide a somewhat different approach to image adjustments than Photoshop, however, and this initial beta release is somewhat experimental. Thus, users should expect the integration between Photoshop and Lightroom to evolve over time.

Q: Is Lightroom Beta an image editing tool or a workflow productivity tool?

A: The concept behind Lightroom is to provide a single environment that has all of the functions photographers most commonly need to perform on their images. It’s not about having every tool in the hardware store. It’s about having a focused set of features that are just right for photography, are intuitive, powerful, and easy to learn. So yes, it’s an image editing tool, and it’s a workflow productivity tool.

Q: Are there any training materials available?

A: One of the goals of Project Lightroom is to create an application that is so easy to use, you may never even look at the user manual. A basic tenet of the product team is that a new user should be able to get up and running easily after learning no more than five basic rules about a new application. Thus, Lightroom displays its five rules prominently when the application is first launched. Basic information about using Lightroom is contained in the Release Notes available with the product download at Adobe Labs ( There is also a discussion forum accessible via links on the same web page. We encourage you to ask questions and talk about your experiences with Lightroom, as Lightroom product team members will be participating as well.

Q: How can I download a copy of Lightroom Beta?

A: Simply visit Adobe Labs at ( to download a copy of the Adobe Lightroom beta. You can choose to download only a copy of the Lightroom application, or the application along with some sample content to get you started.

Q: When will Lightroom ship?

A: Our current intention is to ship a 1.0 version of Lightroom before the end of 2006, but that date could shift based on user input during the public beta.

Q: How will vendors create modules of their own? What kind of third-party support will Adobe offer?

A: Because Adobe Lightroom is being built using an entirely new open modular architecture, third-party vendors will ultimately be able to develop valuable enhancements and custom workflows. Once the final product is released, an SDK for this purpose can be made available.

Q: What are the system requirements?

A: Adobe Lightroom Beta requires Mac OS¨ X version 10.4.3 (Tiger) or higher, a 1GHz or faster PowerPC G4 or G5 processor (including iBook G4 or PowerBook G4), and 768 MB of RAM (although more is recommended), and 1 GB or more of free hard drive space.

Q: What about a Windows version?

A: A Windows version of Lightroom is already under development, but is not yet ready for its public debut. The final, packaged versions for both platforms should be released within a few months of each other. As Microsoft is gearing up for a major operating system transition, and since Lightroom is a brand new product from Adobe, we are spending extra time on the Windows side to investigate the best design approaches that will support our Windows customers today, while also building for the future.

Q: What file formats will Lightroom support?

A: Over 100 native camera raw file formats, DNG, TIFF and JPEG-in other words, the formats primarily used in digital cameras. A complete list of manufacturers and models supported in Camera Raw can be found at

Q: Why is Lightroom unable to read the white balance settings for my Nikon D50, D2X or D2Hs cameras?

A: These three Nikon camera models have encrypted white balance settings that cannot be read without additional support from Nikon. Adobe Systems and Nikon worked together to provide support for those cameras in Adobe Camera Raw, but Lightroom is a tool designed on the latest available coding platform, and we are again working with Nikon now to provide a solution that works with our new platform.

Q: Why don’t my Camera Raw images look the same in Photoshop and Lightroom?

A: Although Lightroom leverages much of the core Adobe Camera Raw technology, we’ve disconnected compatibility for the moment to provide the most flexible environment possible.

Q: Will Lightroom be available in languages other than English?

A: The final version of Adobe Lightroom will initially be available in English, French, German and Japanese.

Q: How do “Shoots” and “Collections” differ?

A: A single photo belongs to only one Shoot, but it can be in as many Collections as you choose. The Shoot is created when you import photos to Lightroom-it’s the digital film roll. If you want to organize a photo in different ways, you can place it in more than one Collection afterward.

Q: When will the beta version of Adobe Lightroom expire?

A: The first release of Adobe Lightroom Beta will expire in June, 2006. However, additional beta versions with appropriate expiration dates will be released throughout the life of the project, so that photographers who have come to rely on the beta version will not have an interruption in their ability to use Lightroom.

Q: How do I make the panels at the left and right side appear again?

A: Just run your mouse to the left or right side to make the relevant panel appear temporarily. If you want them to stay open, press the Tab key on your keyboard-and press it again to make them disappear.

Q: I thought “beta” meant “feature complete.” Is Lightroom complete?

A: Terms change. Lightroom is not final software, which makes it a beta to us. But no, it’s not feature complete-we will finalize the feature set based on the input we receive from you, the people who use it first.

Q: Will Lightroom run on Intel-based Macintoshes?

A: Lightroom Beta requires a PowerPC-based Macintosh, as the Intel-based Macs are not available yet. The final shipping version of Adobe Lightroom will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.

Announcing Adobe Lightroom

Posted By Jeff Schewe

Adobe announces Adobe® Lightroom®, a new digital photography application and provides a free Public Beta download.

Adobe Lightroom Public Beta 1 splash screen.

While not known for being adept at keeping secrets (see the PSN article; Adobe accidently leaks Photoshop CS2), Adobe has succeeded in keeping Lightroom (AKA Shadowland) very low profile up until a leak at AppleInsider on January 6th, 2006; New Adobe app to take on Apple’s Aperture and one brief mention 3 days earlier on Duke Of Digital; Shadowland – 287. Of course, AppleInsider got the name goofed up-there is no innercap on the “R” of Lightroom. If you know Mark Hamburg, you know that would NEVER happen. See this PSN article: It’s Photoshop, not PhotoShop–Fact

So, it might come as a surprise to many people that Adobe is taking the unusual route of announcing a new application and making it available as a Public Beta on the same day. It’s a rather un-Adobe sort of thing to do, but then Lightroom is a rather un-Adobe sort of application. The download and additional resources which include a User Forum and video tutorials will be hosted on the new Adobe Labs web site (see PSN story; Adobe Labs Delivers Early Access to Emerging Technologies)

What is Lightroom?
Well, in Adobe’s own words “Adobe Lightroom Beta is a new, exciting image handler built from the ground up for professional photographers.

Ok, I have no idea what an “image handler” is, but let me tell you what I think Lightroom is; a robust front-end and back-end for Camera Raw with lots of cool stuff in the middle and in need of some additional tools-which will come.

Remember, this is a Public Beta (some might argue it’s really alpha) Lightroom is not yet “feature complete”.

What will be added or changed in Lightroom?
That is for the professional photographers who download it and use it to help decide. Unlike another certain “A” company that recently released an application directed to pro photographers (whose development was was shrouded in KGB like secrecy) Adobe is hoping that those people who download and use it will have a positive and direct impact on it’s development. Thus, Lightroom will truly be an application designed by photographers for photographers.

What will Lighroom cost?
I have no idea-I’m not sure Adobe even knows for sure-although I know they have certain “target price points”.

When will it be released as a full commercial application?
Again, I have no idea but Adobe has stated an intention to ship it “before the end of 2006″.

So, what does Lightroom look like?
Glad you asked, because it’s pretty nice.


Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
The main window of Lightroom defaults to the Library module (more about modules later). The window includes the Library info (left panel) and the image info (right panel) and a grid of images in the center. At the bottom is the Film Strip (I’m actually getting kinda tired of analog film analogies). At the top are application menus. The interface is considered a “single document interface” (SDI) meaning everything except for the menus are within the main window-no palettes.


Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
The next module is Develop (shown with the left panel of small preview and Presets Browser hidden). The Develop module allows for a wide array of image controls over tone and color as well as additional controls (ala Camera Raw) for sharpening, noise and lens corrections. All edits are “metadata edits” meaning the original files are preserved and only previewed with the adjustments made. Adjustments are not actually applied until images are rendered upon Export. The controls are a superset of Camera Raw controls with very interesting additional controls added.

Controls for rough tone and color adjustments.

Tone Curve
Adds some interesting and useful touches to a curves adjustment.

Split Toning
Adds interesting color adjustments for both color and B&W.

Grayscale Mixer
Adds a unique approach to converting color to B&W.

HSL Color Tuning
Allows for very precise and accurate hue, saturation and lightness tweeks.

Detail and Lens Corrections
Ala Camera Raw.

Also from Camera Raw’s functionality.


Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
The next module is called “Slideshow” for lack of a better name at the moment. Slideshows are only the tip of the “iceberg” of what this module can actually do. Yes, it’s there to be able to create slideshows but those shows can be exported as HTML, PDF files or Flash movies. So Slideshow has a bit of an under-promise in it’s name.


Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
The last module in Beta 1 is Print. This is one that will really attract photographers who wish to go from raw to print with as little fuss in-between as possible. Unlike Photoshop where each image must be handled as a separate document, Lightroom treats images as pages and allows for far more efficient and robust printing-while keeping things such as color management very simple.

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
Most users will be spend most of their time in the Library. The Library module allows for a wide variety of configurations (currently not savable as “workspaces”) and users can easily hide the info panels to better view the image grid.

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
When you select a single image, you have access to the EXIF metadata as well as IPTC Caption, Copyright and Keyword fields.

You can also do a quick adjust of the image tone and color using the Quick Develop controls .

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
From the Grid view, double-clicking (or clicking on the Loupe button or clicking the E key or hitting the space bar) brings you to the Loupe view to see a single image.

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
The view is limited to the screen real-estate of the center panel but you can access a 1:1 zoom view by clicking in the image. Zoom out by single-clicking (the space bar will also toggle between fit in panel and 1:1) The hand tool allows panning or you can use the small preview in the upper right to navigate throughout the image. At this point, there are only two zoom views available, either fit in panel or 1:1. Hopefully additional viewing options will come.

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
From the Loupe view you can easily add additional images for the Compare view of two or more images. Command clicking on additional images in the filmstrip adds images, command clicking on the image previews dismisses images from the Compare view.

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
Back in the Grid view with the left & right panels hidden, a user can expose the panel by hovering in the hot-point area on the far left & right. The respective panels appear as opposed to sliding in/out.

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
Here the right panel is exposed…

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
…here the left panel is exposed. Command keys allow exposing and hiding the panels as well.

Other than the drop down or fly out menus in the Lightroom window, the only other menus are the application menus;

The main Lightroom menu.

The File menu.

The Library menu.

The Photo menu.

The View menu.

The Window menu.

And the Help menu.

Importing into Lightroom

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
One of the most critical aspects of Lightroom is the main “Import Photos” dialog. Lightroom uses a relational database for maintaining its knowledge over all of the images in its photo library, all of the image settings as well as all metadata. This database is critical to keeping Lightroom fast when accessing image thumbnails and previews as well as being able to do fast searches.

In the Import Photos dialog you are given a very important choice-either copy/move images or maintain references to images in their existing locations. If you move or copy, the images will end up in the Lightroom “Library” wherever you’ve chosen to locate it-either in the default location of User/Pictures/Lightroom/Photos or wherever you’ve selected in the Lightroom preferences.

This is a critical decision because at this point there is no easy or elegant method of moving the Library location once you’ve set the preferences. Also, depending on how you have set up your computer’s hard drives, the copy/move options can rapidly fill up the main boot drive where the User folder is located.

Each import can have its own designation–either reference or copy/move. But at this early stage of development, one should use caution. At this point, I’m going to punt and generally only reference files in their current location (often on my server) instead of doing a copy/move. As there is no current ability to do a double-copy, Lightroom’s Import can not really be considered a full featured ingestion procedure.

Exporting from Lightroom

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
As with Import, the only way to get images out of Lightroom is to either Export them or open them in another application. The Export dialog allows for some innovative renaming capabilities as well as 3 standard file formats; JPEG, TIFF or DNG.

The bit depth is relevant only for TIFF, the color space only for JPEG and TIFF. At this point, exporting a DNG does not produce Camera Raw settings reliably as Lightroom contains far more metadata editing than Photoshop’s Camera Raw plug-in can understand.

This is an issue that must be addressed, I’m just not sure how it will be resolved. On one hand, I would hate to have Lightroom’s editing capability limited. On the other hand, it would be useful to be able to export DNG’s that could be used by users inside Bridge and Photoshop. This falls under the heading of TBD (to be determined).

Speaking of preferences, Lightroom’s preferences are very simple.

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
The location of the Managed Photos folder is an important consideration. But other than that, there is no general color management nor other complicated preferences. Simple, huh?

In point of fact, Lightroom is itself very simple. But this is deceiving. Lightroom is much more powerful than its current application size of 10.1 MB might suggest. Even with only the current four modules, there is enormous functionality already in Lightroom. With the prospect of additional modules either by the Lightroom engineers or future 3rd party developers, the sleek and modern architecture of Lightroom leaves a lot of room for expansion-which was one of the fundamental reasons that the engineers wanted to do a modular design for the application.

Simplicity vs. Complexity.

Their approach is reflected in “The Five Rules
(under the Help menu).

Rule One
Module Picker
The Module Picker strip is located at the top right of the Lightroom window. The choices found there — Library, Develop, Slideshow, and Print — describe a loosely sequential “garden path” of tasks common to a photographer’s work. Change the contents of the panels (at right and left onscreen) to provide the tools necessary for that particular task or set of tasks.

Rule Two 
The Panels are found at the right and left of the screen. Each contains the elements needed for tasks associated with the current module. The panel to the left will generally contain content and preset browsers; the panel to the right will generally contain the tools needed to accomplish the tasks at hand. Clicking on the section headers hide and show their content.

Rule Three
The Filmstrip at the bottom of the screen is a persistent view of the current images in the library grid. The contents of a selected shoot or collection will be reflected in the Filmstrip. The other modules will use the images in the Filmstrip as source materials for operations undertaken therein. Change your selection in the Filmstrip to change the images used by the other modules. To change the contents of the Filmstrip, simply return to the Library and select new images.

Rule Four
Important Key Commands
Tab Hide and show panels
Shift-Tab Hide and show all panels
F Cycle screen modes
L Dim the lights
~ Go between Loupe and Grid mode

Rule Five

I particularly like Rule Five…which I also interpret as have fun…and Lightroom is indeed fun to work in. Yes, it’s very feature incomplete. But unlike other apps that may have been released prematurely with a fixed set of functionality and usability, Lightroom is open to a lot of room to grow in ways that are important to users.

I suppose a lot of people will look at Lightroom and think Adobe is simply doing a last minute panic reaction to Apple’s Aperture. They would be wrong. I know for a fact that both Adobe and Apple have been working on their respective applications for years. Both companies took different development strategies and both companies worked in near secret-although it’s pretty clear both companies knew the other company was working on an application “for photographers”.

It’s both ironic and also encouraging that two talented sets of developers seem to have found some common solutions to photographer’s problems.

The ideal way of evaluating Lightroom is to download the free public beta and see for yourself. It doesn’t take long to get the gist of using Lightroom. Check back in the Lightroom forums-the Lightroom engineers and development folks will be hanging out there to answer questions and give suggestions for using Lightroom to its fullest. The Lightroom forums will also be the primary place for users to put forth their feature requests and bug notifications. A lot of the early alpha and private beta testers will also be visiting-I know I’ll be there a lot to see what users think.

Lightroom Resources:
Project Lightroom at Adobe Labs
(home of the beta downloads and forums)

Introductory Lightroom video tutorial by George Jardine-Lightroom Evangelist (Quicktime required)

Adobe Lightroom A First-Look & Primer by Michael Reichmann
of The Luminous-Landscape.

Michael Reichmann (and myself) will be releasing an in-depth look at Lightroom with tutorials in Issue #14 of his The Luminous Landscape Video Journal due to ship in February.

Check out my story The Shadowland/Lightroom Development Story with an inside look at its development and some of the players involved.

Read Adobe’s Lightroom FAQ’s.

PhotoshopNews will be adding a Lightroom editorial catagory so PSN readers can keep up with news and info pertaining specifically to Adobe Lightroom.

Ian Lyons (our Leprish Iricon) has posted a Lightroom Preview

About Mark Hamburg:
Mark Hamburg was the second engineer hired to work on Photoshop-after Thomas Knoll. Mark actually interviewed at Adobe the same month that Photoshop was first released-February of 1990 but wasn’t brought on-board until the fall.

Mark has been responsible for both features and core architectural engineering since Photoshop version 2. Mark’s first feature implementation was Bezier curves added in 2.0. Mark was responsible for a major UI and usability overhaul for Photoshop 4.0 along with Andrei Herasimchuk–who returned to Adobe to initially team up with Mark for Shadowland. I worked with Mark extensively while he developed the Photoshop History feature for version 5.0.

Mark was named Photoshop Architect and was responsible for helping guide the direction of Photoshop through Photoshop version 7-after which he moved over to Adobe’s Digital Media Lab. Under the guidance of Greg Gilley, he started working on early experimental developmental versions of what would eventually become Shadowland/Lightroom back in 2002. He recruited the additional engineering help of many of the former Adobe ImageReady engineers (called the Minnesota Phats) from the Adobe Minneapolis office including Troy and Melissa Gaul.

Mark is married with two children and lives in Scotts Valley, CA. He has developed a keen interest in digital photography-one of the reasons he wanted to work toward developing an application for photographers. He is also an avid musician whose musical interests have lead to the code naming of a lot of the early Photoshop beta versions. His musical style might best be described as “Ambience“.

Listen to a short sample of Mark’s music: Dark Water (Coda)
from the CD The Evolution Of Desire (available only from Mark Hamburg).
(1.4 MB .mp3, run time 1:15 minutes)

Photo of Mark Hamburg by Jeff Schewe. Images shown in the Lightroom screen shots ©2005 by Jeff Schewe–all rights reserved.


The Shadowland/Lightroom Development Story

Posted By Jeff Schewe

The development of Adobe Lightroom, code named Shadowland, was not something Adobe started after Apple announced Aperture. The Shadowland project has been going on for years.

How do I know that Adobe has been working on Shadowland for so long?

Because that’s how long I’ve been working on it.
Back in October of 2002 Mark Hamburg sent me a little developmental application he called PixelToy (breaking his own rule, there was an innercap) and jokingly refered to as “SchewePaint”.

After leaving the Photoshop development team he worked on a concept application based upon painting with snapshots which used no layers. Mark had developed the History feature of Photoshop to more or less to suit me so he believed that I was uniquely suited to look at his new “toy”.

The original PixelToy floating palette was rather reminiscent of Kai Krause’s UI design-something Mark actually laughed about. (See the PSN story on Where’s Kai Now.) Ironically, Mark ended up choosing Phil Clevenger (Kai’s former UI designer) to work on UI design for Shadowland after going through some other designers (myself included).

Phil Clevenger
Photo by George Jardine

The original PixelToy application

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
It its original incarnation, shapshots were taken after image adjustments were made by punching the adjustment buttons. The adjustments could then be painted in from the snapshots.

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
The next build of PixelToy dropped the floating palette in exchange for the slide out panel for adjustments. The concept was still to make adjustments, do a snapshot and then paint them in.


Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
An early developmental application called Shuffle was coded by Mark to determine the feasibility of organizing images as though they were slides on a lightbox.

At the time, late 2002, Mark was in Adobe’s Digital Media Lab under the direction of Greg Gilley working on experimental development primarily directed towards Mark’s then increasing interest in digital photography. Greg had already gotten highly interested in digital photography and that had leaked over to Mark.

Greg Gilley
Photo by Jeff Schewe

In December of 2002, Mark, UI designer Sandy Alves, project lead Andrei Herasimchuk and Thomas Knoll visited my studio for a couple of days of brainstorming product ideas directed towards photographers. During that meeting I expressed the importance of developing an application to deal with lots of images easily and efficiently instead of an application used for spending a great deal of time on a single image-in the 1990′s it was all about how long an imaging artist spent working on an image, the new millenium dictated an application designed to spend as little time as possible working on many images.

And…the time spent should be more enjoyable for photographers than working in a complicated application like Photoshop.

For various reasons, Mark was no longer working on Photoshop and his desire to develop his own application for digital imaging went down the path that lead to Shadowland, uh, I mean Lightroom.

From Mark: “I don’t know that it’s so much that I wanted to do my own digital imaging app as that I felt that I had done Photoshop and it was time to see what the world held beyond Photoshop. With Greg really pushing me to look at photography and with a lot of leftover ideas from Photoshop that had been at most partially explored — e.g., snapshot painting — it seemed like an interesting challenge to create a digital imaging app that wasn’t Photoshop.

Shadowland is a musical reference to K. D. Lang’s 1988 album Shadowland.

Mark has a history of choosing code names based upon musical references.


The early development of Shadowland was a bit rocky-to say the least.

Adobe just didn’t know how or where to position Shadowland in the ecosphere that is known as Photoshop.

A great deal of time was spent researching to determine exactly what Photographers needed and wanted. Mark, Sandy, Andrei and researcher Grace Kim made a lot of site visits to photography studios all over the country. There they interviewed a wide variety of photographers-some famous and some just regular hard working folks-from all walks of photography. The aim was to identify where the current pain points were with digital and to design innovative solutions to relieve the pain…

On one particular site visit to Greg Gorman’s studio, Mark got a rather rude awakening-he personally had to deal with gigs of images that he shot. Greg, shooting with a Canon 1Ds, shot about 4 gigs of images during the course of the shoot day. Mark, shooting with a Canon 10D, (smaller raw file sizes) shot about 4 gigs of shots of Greg shooting as well as the models; Andrew and Kevin Atherton-twin gymnasts from the Cirque du Soleil show Varekai. Mark also shot Greg’s studio and anything he could think of to aim his camera at. Mark learned firsthand the difficulties of dealing with tons of RAW images.

Mark shoots Greg shooting the models.

Mark’s actual shot from his camera.

Mark did this shot of Grace Kim (left), Sandy Alves (right) and myself (center-in case you didn’t figure this out yourself). I’m not sure what the fascination is with the beard…

Mark got this shot of me shooting Greg.

Mark took this shot of the models under natural light in Greg’s studio. I processed it into B&W-I’m not sure Mark remembers he gave me copies of his files.

Mark shot me under the same light, unfortunately, the body doesn’t seem to have the same impact.

I then got Mark to stand in and shot him.

Mark hit the wall when he had to deal with downloading all those cards and dealing with all the files. Grace takes a moment to ponder the problems of photographers.

Mark and the models and Sandy watch as Greg makes his selects. Greg, shooting both RAW plus JPEG was able to use iView MediaPro for selection editing (far faster than Photoshop’s File Browser) and made rapid edits in Camera Raw to get final prints for the models before they left the studio. It was proof that what photographers needed was a fast way to get a lot of files edited down to selects, corrected and printed, ASAP.

Of course, after a hard day’s work we all went up to Greg’s house for dinner-of course wine to start.

Greg had invited a few other friends, on the left, Graham Nash and on the far right Mac Holbert; partners in Nash Editions. To the right of Greg is Steve Gorman, Greg’s brother and owner of Gorman Framing. Useful to have a brother in the framing biz, huh Greg?

Also stopping by was Seth Resnick and Jamie Spritzer. Seth and Jamie happened to be in LA for one of his D-65 Workshops so Greg invited them over to meet Mark and the Shadowland crew. Look at Seth’s hair…this was his pre-Miami slicked back Eastcoast look, check out my Antarctica Expedition to see what Seth’s hair looks like after a year on the beach.

One of the treats of going to Greg’s house for dinner is that Greg loves to cook. This time however, the foie gras got a bit “smokey”.

The smoke actually came rolling out of the kitchen-those of us in the dining room became a bit concerned.

Robb Carr, Greg’s digital retoucher was also invited to come meet Mark.

Here is Robb bending Mark’s ear a bit. Mark actually loves the attention…

Seth talks to Sandy about the problems of digital workflow.

Mac and Sandy listen to Seth-Seth can get going pretty good talking about “workslow”.

Grace wanted to have me take a shot of her with Graham.

So did Sandy-she wanted a print to prove to her husband she met Graham. I guess I really should make a print for Sandy now that I’ve found these shots.

As might be expected, Seth-a wine lover-got a little buzzed.

Mark decided to take a late-night plunge in Greg’s pool.

Mark and the Shadowland crew made a lot of site visits to determine, on a task based system, those things photographers really needed to accomplish that Photoshop and even Bridge with Camera Raw can’t quite provide. That is what Shadowland, er, Lightroom is all about. But the difficulties surrounding Shadowland persisted. Sandy left the team-she and her husband moved out of Santa Clara up to the mountains outside of Lake Tahoe and she decided to quit the commute. Andrei got a bit fed up and left to start Involution Studios, his design firm. Mark also had to try to recruit additional engineering help-he couldn’t do it all himself.

Andrei Herasimchuk
Photo by Jeff Schewe

During a trip to Adobe Minneapolis to evaluate how to deal with the Adobe ImageReady code, he met one of the senior engineers on the ImageReady team, Troy Gaul. Troy and Melissa Gaul struck up a good working relationship with Mark (something that isn’t always so easy) and Troy, Melissa and some of the other former ImageReady engineers (called the Minnesota Phats) signed on to start working with Hamburg-Mark finally had an engineering team.

But with the loss of Andrei, Mark didn’t have a “product manger”. Enter George Jardine. George was an ex-Adobe guy who had worked with Russell Preston Brown in the mid 1990′s evangalizing Photoshop. George had a commercial photo background from working in at Shigeta-Wright Studios in Chicago (ironically just down the street from my studio-although we never met till much later).

George Jardine
Photo by Douglas J. Martin

Months and months went by while Mark, George and Grace Kim tried to nail down a feature set for Shadowland and try to develop a product position within the Adobe pro-imaging product line. The development continued-slowly-with new builds being sent out to a small select group of early alpha testers. Some of us were Adobe “regulars” such as Martin Evening, Katrin Eismann and myself (Photoshop alpha testers) and some new testers where brought on to represent a non-Photoshop centric photographer’s view. But development was difficult without a strong voice in the UI design of Shadowland.

During a visit to Adobe I had dinner with Mark Hamburg. He was lamenting the fact that the UI, something he felt strongly should be non-Photoshop in design, needed a jumpstart. He wanted to get a UI designer to bring new ideas and innovative designs to the team. I shocked him by offering my services as the UI designer on Shadowland. Of course, I had no actual work experience as a UI desginer…but I had worked extensively with the Photoshop UI design team for years and I knew a little something about working with Mark.

Click on the image to see the full dialog in a new window.
This was an early prototype compare module mockup I did for Mark.

I think Mark was shocked…both that I would offer myself but that he was considering it. Seems I did impress him by turning around the mockup on a flight back from San Jose and that I had some skills mocking up UI and usability. But ultimately he wanted somebody with a known track record and experience doing UI design in tough development situations. He turned to Phil Clevenger, formerly of MetaCreations. Phil earned his UI design bones by having to deal with Kai Krause-who could also sometimes be hard to work with.

Kai’s Soap 2 splash screen-released in 1998.

Soap 2 Desktop view.

For the last year, it’s been a struggle for the Shadowland development team. Not only was Adobe fixated on finishing the Macromedia acquisition but Team Photoshop was working to get Photoshop CS2 with Adobe Bridge 1.0 launched. It’s fair to say that some thought engineering resources used on Shadowland might better be used on Photoshop. The internal struggle also had to deal with the fact that Apple was working on Aperture and the odds were good that it would beat Lightroom to the marketplace.

During the PhotoPlus Expo in New York during October of 2005, Shadowland had a pretty up/down existence. First, the Aperture announcement (Adobe knew it was coming) caught a lot of attention in the photo community. Apple is always great at doing product launches and Aperture was getting a lot of attention. On the other hand, Hamburg and the Shadowland team had to deal with the fact that they would not be first to market a high-end application to professional photographers. However their contention-that an application designed for pros could be a reality-was proven. In many respects, Aperture actually helped save Lightroom. It gave the dev team and all of Adobe a target to shoot at-and the engineers at Adobe are nothing if not competitive (as well as being pretty darn talented).

So, here we are at the official announcement of Adobe Lightroom. Adobe chose to go an unusual route (for Adobe) and offer what is arguably a work-in-progress project up to the photographic community for review and comment. Time will tell if that approach will work. I think it will. It’s really hard to develop an entirely new application from the ground up without a lot of feedback and involvement by what will be the application’s end users-which in today’s climate of corporate secrecy is tough.

I personally really like Lightroom and the direction it’s headed-but of course, I’m biased. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Photoshop…I’m pretty good at Photoshop. But Photoshop is an application with many masters used by many different types of users in a lot of different industries. It’s also a huge application, not only from the code base but from the complexity of use. It’s tough for photographers-some of them old graybeards-to learn all the ins and outs of working with Photoshop. Add the complexity of a new application, Adobe Bridge and the powerful but complex interaction between Bridge, Camera Raw and Photoshop and you have a lot of photographers whose eyes spend a lot of time glazed over.

I’m also really glad that the professional photographic community is finally getting the attention of not one, but two big players in the computer software biz. I’m tickled to death that Apple and Adobe are paying us so much attention.

So, the best thing for pro photographers to do is test the waters, check out the various options out there. Lightroom is a free download, so all you lose is a bit of bandwidth to get it. Working with it is far easier than learning something like Photoshop. Spend a little time playing and see if you like what you see. If you have strong ideas or opinions about where Lightroom should go, check out the Lightroom user forums. You’ll find a lot of the Lightroom development team there was well some of the early testers like Bruce Fraser, Katrin Eismann, Martin Evening, Seth Resnick and others. I’ll be around too, see ya there.

Oh, one last thought, if you have some friends who just KNOW that Lightroom is just a knee-jerky reaction to Apple’s Aperture, tell them to read this story. Applications take years to build…

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated at 5:55 PM on 1/10/06 to correct several small errors.