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Lightroom and Photoshop Question


Quick question. 

I purchased a basic Photoshop subscription for a teenage friend and am trying to advise her on how best to use it. It comes with Lightroom too. 

I do not have Lightroom myself. 

My question is, do you use both Photoshop and Lightroom or do you only use one or the other? Do they both do the same thing? For basic image editing, as she learns how to use this, should she start with Photoshop and work up to Lightroom or the other way around or jump in feet first with both? I do not know what Lightroom does, whether it's an editing software or an organizing/photo managing software.

Thank you. 


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Advise your friend to try LR first, Photoshop is a total different kettle of fish, it's a very steep learning curve and takes years to master.

    I have been on Photoshop for around 20 something years now, and I still learn something nearly every day, and of course each time there is an upgrade you get more options. There are many many different hidden things in Photoshop that people would never begin to understand, let alone learn in a few lessons.

    I am not trying to be a killjoy here, but PS if not a matter of dragging up the Curves Palette or the Levels Palette and it's done, not by a long shot.

    LR is fairly intuitive, there are many many free tuts on YouTube on that, and you can get good results from it.

    Although Photoshop comes with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) which is like Lightroom, it's still fairly basic in that regard with Lightroom having more options.


  • Thanks Trev. So Lightroom is image editing. And do some photographers only use Lightroom and not Photoshop? How will she process a raw photo if she does not use ACR? Is there a LR option to process raw images? (Must be). Those questions are probably answered by the tutorials. So thanks again.

    Yes, I have only ever used PS. But I still have only scratched the surface. And it is difficult, a lot of it. 

    I wonder why Adobe would sell two seemingly competing image editing softwares? 
  • I wonder if there's a good online class for her. She is 17. Not new to photography but new to PS and LR. She lives far away from me, different state.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited November 2016

    LR contains the same RAW editing engine as ACR, but, it has a lot more in it, also when you use ACR, you have to re-open the RAW's (it will contain the edits you have) but with LR, when you open you can have it set up to open at the last catalogue and it will open the whole group of image you imported, but with ACR you have to open each/all the images.

    There are so many features in LR compared to ACR, you have a plethora of components to work with. Catalogues/Libraries, you can do so much more, extra tools in it, etc.

    Photoshop has been around for 25+ years, LR was released around 2006.

    Some reading HERE for you on the history.

    Since she will be new to it, it will be Version 6 so search for 'Basic Training for Lightroom 6' on Youtube.

    There will be hundreds, so make sure you get LR 6 tutorials.

    She will have to learn how to Import, Sort, Cull, Edit, etc. etc. still a lot to learn, but at least it will be on a whole shoot, instead of having to open in ACR with no Library/Catalogue then having to learn Photoshop.

    It still will be daunting, but she is young, so a long time to go and if she sticks to it, I'd say in 3 months she will have a solid understanding.

    If they ever introduce Layers/Channel Masks/Calculations/Apply Image and the other masses of stuff Photoshop has into LR, it will become a juggernaut.

    About all I can say really.


    Edit: Oh, re Adobe selling 'two seemingly competing image editing softwares?' the answer is in the Libraries/Catalogue/Slideshows/Photobook capabilities, etc. Same basic engine, different methods and with LR it's like an all-in-one solution, but, has it's drawbacks for Photoshop users like me.

  • Thanks a lot Trev. I should check out LR. Thanks for the link. 

    I will search YouTube for her. That's is really helpful, the specific version I want to search for. So it will narrow it down. She will need videos and maybe books. 

    Thank you again. You are always so helpful!
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    For the simplest workflow, just use ACR hosted in Bridge, and edit your RAW files there to adjust the color, WB, contrast etc. 

    Then in Photoshop, retouch the subsequent JPG or TIFF, if needed. 
  • Skip, I would say that LR would be where your friend would start. The intended way of using LR is to use it as your total image management software - a library of all your images along with very capable image editing. The editing is non-destructive so LR never changes an original file (whether RAW, JPG, etc.). Instead, as part of its internal database, it keeps track of all the editing steps you did.

    So when I have taken photos, I stick the memory card into the computer and in LR I "import" everything from the card - in LR's import function I am "copying" so it takes the files from the card and copies it to my computer in the filing foldering method I want (ie. organized by year, then by month, etc.). This is a good time to add tags to the images if desired, to make it easier to find things later. LR's import function also has an "add" feature instead of copying, where it doesn't copy the file but instead only adds it to the database. This is what you do when you first setup LR and already have all sorts of images on your system - you don't move them, you just "add" them to LR's database.

    Now you can edit the images in LR. It is a very capable editor - lots of features. As Trev said, it uses the same RAW handler as Adobe Camera Raw so all those settings are there for you. It has all sorts of adjustment capabilities and features like spot removal, gradients, vignetting, noise reduction, sharpening, etc., etc.

    One thing LR is great for is editing a lot of photos in bulk. For example, if you have photos that all need the same or a similar action, you can "copy" these adjustments and "paste" them onto other photos and it will apply those same changes. For example, you have taken a bunch of photos with the same or very similar light. You can tweak one photo just the way you like it, then you can apply those changes to other photos. It's a real time saver.

    Then, you "export" JPGs (or whatever) of the completed images when you want to use the file (say to put on FB or Instagram, or send to a printer, upload to a print lab, email to someone, etc.). I actually export to a temporary folder on my desktop and once I'm doing with the files, I just delete the temporary folder - I don't need it anymore. If I need those images again, I just re-export them from LR.

    Where PS comes in (at least for me) is when there is some editing that either can't be done in LR, or can't be done as well in LR. So in LR, you select the image and use the function to "edit in PS". That sends you to PS to work on that file, and when you're done there, the PS-edited file shows up as a new image in LR.

    A recent example for me is where I took a bunch of photos of someone running down a dock, jumping on a diving board, and doing a flip into the lake. What I wanted to do is produce one photo that shows the person doing the flip into the lake with his body moving through the one photo. I had the camera on a tripod in continuous fire mode so I had like 12 images of this action. So I edited the photos the way I wanted them in LR. Since they were all essentially the same photo (just with the subject moving in them), I edited one the way I liked and copied those edits to the other photos. Then I pulled them all into PS and put each into its own layer, and masked each carefully so I had what I wanted. This needed PS because LR doesn't have layers.

    So I think for many people, LR is a good place to start and may be all the editor they need. Others, Neil included, have developed pretty optimized workflows using various tools for bringing photos in, quickly culling rejects, quickly applying initial edits, applying final edits, etc. But for someone starting out with this, LR is quite capable and may be all they need.
  • Thank you Nikonguy for all that great info. I will share this with my friend. I think she is pretty tech savvy. She seemed to be able to download her new software pretty quickly and start to use it. All on her own. She was having trouble because she tried to import a photo to LR and it was telling her it was a no-go because the file was not "writable" whatever that means. So that was frustrating. I sent her some links I found on Adobe forum and on YouTube and I hope that helped but don't know yet. 

    Yes, I hope in time she can take advantage of features of both PS and LR. I'm sure they are not repetitive or why would Adobe sell both. 

    The bulk processing sounds like a great time-saver. I should look into that myself. I use Bridge for some bulk actions but I'm sure it's limited in what it can do. And there is another feature of PS I use for bulk actions too, called batch processing. Your photo of someone flipping into a lake sounds cool. I was wondering how that was done, other than just sandwiching photos. Maybe the same thing as the single photos of different stages of the moon rising.

    LR sounds like a good way to keep your data bases organized too. I was thinking that was probably better than just folders on my computer. 

    Thanks so much for your lengthy reply. 

    Thanks Neil for that info too. I think that's what I do right now. I edit in ACR first and finish editing in jpegs, although I want to start finish editing in Tiff so avoid degrading the photo each time I open it. I wasn't able to do that before as my computer could not handle Tiffs well but know I have a better one. 

  • Creativelive.com has two recent amazing courses by Ben Willmore. one on LR and one on PS. a great educational value for just a few dollars an hour of instruction you are taught by one of the best teachers in the world. they often repeat the courses that always air for free and are discounted during the free airing. there is so much info that it really pays to own the program so you can go back and watch again when you need to remember how to do something.

  • You have said "for basic image editing" Saying truthly, Photoshop and Lightroom are very good editors but you should lose really much time to learn how to use it. (Or i'm just too old for it) If you need some basic simple editing, you can some online services like http://fixthephoto.com or something like that.
  • LR is easier for newbi like me
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