Now that my summer vacation has officially come to a close, the kids are back in school, and I’ve finally got the wheels of my business turning again, I want to share a few new things with you. I previously mentioned that I had very little (if any to none) time for tending to my own business matters while on the road with my family or sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows. However, I did get to enjoy and review the work of some other very fine and talented photographers.
First up is a new e-book called Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide, by noted fellow landscape photographer Michael Frye. I’ve had a chance to meet Michael several times, and he is truly one of the nicest, most humble and quietly reserved photographers out there today. And like his own persona, one of the things I’ve always admired about his work is how it speaks with a quiet clarity, both in terms of composition and processing. There are no baseball bats trying to hit you over the head with crazy HDR or insanely saturated colors trying to compete for attention in a sea of such screaming imagery. His process is more about massaging, balancing, subtle emphasis, and area control, rather than turning all the knobs to “11″.
Now I’m no photoshop whiz, or an uber-technical type. In fact, I don’t even consider myself an artist. I tend to operate on a very simple path, and Michael does a great job presenting the content of this book in a very clear, simple to understand, and easy to follow manner, with plenty of supporting illustrations adorning this 87-page e-book. The latter part of the book contains a half-dozen selected image examples, each of which has a variety of unique compositional or elemental characteristics. With these, Michael walks you through his image processing workflow, but also takes the time to expand on the ‘why’ – his mental thought process behind the choices he’s making, and the tools he’s using. And if that’s not enough, one of the great hidden bonuses of this book is more than an hour of special private video tutorials linked to the e-book showing specific details of how best to use some of Lightroom’s most important features and tools which he is discussing in a particular section or example.
As much as I like Michael and his work, and in the context of this being a review, perhaps the only criticism I could make is that I think his e-book is perhaps a bit mis-titled. It’s *not* just about Lightroom 5 exclusively. It’s still 90% relevant and worth investing in if you only own Lightroom 4 and want to better understand how to get the most out of your landscape or nature photos.
In the first half of this e-book, Michael explains in-depth why Lightroom has taken a quantum leap as an RAW image processor; namely the introduction of the 2012 Process Version… which shipped starting with Lightroom 4. Now granted, understanding the 2012 process is a huge deal, as is knowing how to best use the tone controls and how the default settings have changed since earlier versions. In this book, Michael does a fabulous job explaining this in a very clear, concise, and easy to understand manner, as well as showing how to incorporate this information into a managed workflow for processing RAW files. But… this information isn’t exclusive to Lightroom 5; in fact, I’d say owners of Lightroom 4 will gain just as much value from this ebook as owners of Lightroom 5, simply because of the amount of information passed on about understanding the 2012 processing engine.
The information specific to the new features exclusive to Lightroom 5 only takes up a few pages of descriptions, albiet described with the same easy to understand clarity. The examples given later in the book do touch on some of the features of LR5, like the new advance healing brush; but in many instances, if you only own LR4, you won’t feel left out or left behind at all, and will be able to follow along with just about everything presented. And speaking of following along, Michael also provides the untouched RAW files of the example images he uses in the book, as well as a set of B&W processing actions that he provides for incorporating into your own workflow. This way you can use the same images as presented in the e-book, and watch first hand as you process the same image file using the workflow steps Michael has laid out, and see exactly what each step in the process is doing, and how it builds towards a final artistic vision.
I would definitely recommend Landscapes in Lightroom 5 by Michael Frye to any user of Lightroom (version 4 or 5) who wants a better understanding of how to get the best control over your RAW processing techniques or workflow, especially if you’re just starting to work with RAW files. Click on the text links or on the e-book cover at the top of this post to order.
(Disclosure, I should note that although Michael was nice enough to offer me the opportunity, these are not affiliate links. They’ll take you straight to Michael’s web site so you can order direct from him. I’m not pushing this to make any money for myself. I want to keep my reviews clean from any affiliate ties, and to make recommendations – or criticisms within a clear and clean venue.)
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