Here at Modern Album Designs, we post process thousands of photos weekly ranging from wedding photography, family portraits, senior photos and everything in between. And to be honest, our photographer customers are quite particular (rightly so!) about how they'd like their images to be processed! We go through each photo in Adobe Lightroom and carefully adjust the color balance, temperature, highlights, shadows, tone curves, cropping and sharpness just to name a few.
So, how do we deal with processing all the thousands of images while maintaining consistency and sanity?? In this article, we're going to share with you some very cool gadgets that we have incorporated into our Lightroom post-processing workflow. These gadgets will eliminate the days of countless hours of editing and cut your post processing time in half.
The current gadget of choice for our Adobe Lightroom processing is the Contour Design's ShuttlePRO (v2). It's small form factor doesn't take much away from our precious desktop real estate, and the buttons and jog dial fit intuitively into our palms. Trust us, once you've gotten used to editing with the ShuttlePRO, you'll never be able to just use the mouse and keyboard alone. It's also small enough to carry with you in a laptop bag, but if you need something even smaller and more portable, there's the ShuttleXpress (pictured right).
The premise of Lightroom editing with the ShuttlePRO is that your left hand is placed on the device, while your right hand is on your mouse. Each of the ShuttlePRO's 15 programmable button is mapped to the your commonly-used Lightroom functions. The jog dial consists of an "inner" ring and "outer" ring. The inner ring is used to adjust Lightroom slider values - it has a subtle "click" to give you a nice tactile feedback while you are rotating the dial. The outer ring does not rotate completely; instead, it "bounces" back to it's original position after you let go. It is used to advance to the next photo in Lightroom, as well as to go back to previous photo.
The jog dial alone would make the ShuttlePRO worth it's price because intuitively, that's how we perceive advancing photos and making adjustments (not using a mouse to drag sliders!). The remaining buttons on the device can be programmatically set to best fit your Lightroom workflow. Typically, our commonly used buttons are "paste previous settings", "before/after view", "white balance dropper", "esc", and "enter". Below is a diagram of our ShuttlePro button setup:
The above settings cover 90% of what we do with Adobe Lightroom on a daily basis. The ShuttlePRO is very responsive and is able to work with any software application that accepts keyboard shortcuts. (We hear that it's really helpful for Adobe Premiere as well, but that's not our forte.)
If you're into digital music composition, you've probably heard of the Behringer BCR2000 MIDI controller - but if you're a typical wedding photographer, you're probably scratching your head right now.
As you know, Adobe Lightroom contains tons of "sliders" for adjustments. The Behringer BCR2000 has tons of dials. What if you could map each of those dials to each of the Lightroom sliders? So, for example, you can simply turn one dial to adjust image exposure, and another dial to adjust contrast. That's exactly what some brilliant programmers have done: Paddy (for Windows) and Knobroom (for Macs)
WARNING: These software packages aren't for the faint of heart - and they may have compatibility issues with the latest versions of Lightroom. (See the ShuttlePro below are an easier solution.) But once it's set up, your Adobe Lightroom post-processing workflow simply takes on another dimension!
This gadget is very easy to use. We've programmed the buttons to copy, paste, undo, reset crops and sync photos easily. The knobs on the other hand is the star of this powerful gadget. We programmed the knobs to easily adjust the white balance and tonality settings of an image just by turning the knobs until the desired effect is reached. The knobs make it extremely efficient to edit because you can see the image changing gradually compared to just using a mouse where it can be a clumsy and frustrating process.
Because the software is an added layer that interfaces between the Behringer device and Adobe Lightroom, it is not as responsive as the ShuttlePRO solution. The initial setup is quite daunting, and as such, we only recommend it to advanced users who are willing to tackle the challenge!
If you're editing or culling thousands of photos daily, you'll always yearn for more shortcut buttons to speed up your workflow. That's the dilemma we faced as we were investigating more gadgets to use with our post-processing workflow. We found it by looking at the computer gaming community - who also happens to do a lot of mouse-clicking and shortcuts, although for completely different reasons! The gadget we decided upon is the Logitech G600 Gaming Mouse. And if you have a gaming youth in your household, they will probably already know this device.
First off, the feature you probably don't need - the Logitech G600 has programmable color LED buttons! (Perhaps good for post-processing in a dark room??) While that feature may not appeal to you, the 12 programmable buttons on the side of this mouse will be useful. Imagine programming it to do star rating within Adobe Lightroom, or switching between the Library and Develop modules. In addition, there is also 2 programmable buttons on top (below the scroller button), and an additional mouse click button on the right-hand side!
We find ourselves having to scroll to the top or bottom of various webpages frequently during our workday, so we've programmed the top 2 buttons to immediately jump to the top and bottom of the webpage. That shortcut alone has saved us from hours of mouse scrolls! Just like the ShuttlePRO, the Logitech G600 mouse "detects" which application is currently active and applies your shortcuts or macros to the mapped keys. Because it is intended for the gaming community, the Logitech software actually has a very powerful macro editor to allow users to trigger advanced keystrokes. Now you'll experience what gamers feel like as you're editing photos within Adobe Lightroom!
During the busy wedding season, you may be so overwhelmed with post-processing that no amount of gadgets can save your soul. That's where we can save your day. We offer a comprehensive post-processing service for photographers, as well as an awesome image retouching service for you portrait photographers! (Oh, don't forget album design service as well!) Get to know us today, because we'll be here to get your life back when you need it most!