File Under: Multimedia, Software

Lightroom Tutorial Lesson 4

Welcome back to our Lightroom tutorial. In previous lessons, you learned the basics of organizing and editing your RAW image files using Adobe Lightroom. Now, it’s time to actually do something with them. To that end, we’ll look at the three remaining Lightroom modules — Slideshow, Print and Web.

Contents

  1. The Export Modules
  2. Slideshow
  3. Print
  4. Web
    1. Export to Flickr

The Export Modules

As the names suggest, the Slideshow, Print and Web modules help you export you images out of Lightroom and into various formats for sharing with friends and family.

Before we dive into the individual modules, let’s cover a couple of interface themes common to all three. In all of these modules the left hand side panel is devoted to the templates for the individual module and your photo collections.

There isn’t a way to browse your drive listings directly. But if you want to create a slideshow out of a folder of images, for instance, just select the folder in the Library module. Then, when you move to the Slideshow module, all the selected images will be available within the filmstrip at the bottom of the screen.

The other common element is the right hand panel, which will contain all the customization options for your export format. The exact options vary by module, so let’s dive in a see what each has to offer.

Slideshow

The simplest of the export modules is the Slideshow option, which — you guessed it — allows you to create slideshows. All the options you would expect are available in Lightroom’s Slideshow module — templates, custom layouts, text overlays, metadata and so on.

The easiest way to create a slideshow is to use one of the provided templates, which range from the simple photo-and-caption combos to more sophisticated auto-cropping and resizing layouts.

If you’re looking to build something customized to your whims, you can start from scratch, but you can also start from one of the included templates and then tweak it to suit your needs. Once you have a layout you like, you can save it as a custom template and reuse it again in the future.

Naturally there are also a bevy of transition controls, shading and other tools for getting your slideshows just the way you want them.

Lightroom's Slideshow Gallery
Lightroom’s Slideshow Gallery

Once you’re happy with the look and feel of your slideshow, you can export it as a collection of JPGs or PDF files for displaying on PCs that don’t have Lightroom installed.

We know what you’re thinking, why the hell would I want to put a slideshow in PDF format? You want to export straight to DVD so you can pop it up on the HDTV to regal guests with fascinating travel narratives.

This much-requested, but still missing, feature is currently Lightroom’s biggest downfall — there is no way to export a slideshow to DVD.

Of course there are ways to do this, but they would require you to export the images (losing your nice templates) and then create the slideshow in another program like iPhoto or Adobe Premiere.

Hopefully, Adobe will soon realize it’s short-sighted to lock users into using PDF files for images and correct this oversight. But in the mean time, we’re sorry to report that you’re out of luck when it comes to creating DVD slideshows in Lightroom.

Print

If you’ve decided to spare your dinner guests the torture of a slideshow in favor of the less intrusive well-placed print on the wall, Lightroom has you covered. The Print module is a very powerful tool with options to control everything from page layout (putting multiple photos on a page to save on paper costs) to post-production sharpening to make sure the details in your photos are nice and crisp.

As with the Slideshow module, the Print Module comes with a number of preset templates for printing in common formats — contact sheets, picture packages with multiple-sized images per page and more are all available out of the box.

You can configure your page layout to best maximize the use of available space.
You can configure your page layout to best maximize the use of available space.

And as with slideshows, the customization options are robust. If you’ve cropped some images to odd sizes, you can always resort to drag and drop placement to get the maximum images-per-page layout. You can also customize borders, control bleed regions and other standard photo printing options.

The Print module offers some limited ability to handle color management options directly in Lightroom, though how well this works depends on the quality of your printer. If our testing is any indication, a cheapo Canon won’t be able to make proper sense of Adobe’s print options, and you’ll likely get far better results letting the printer handle the color management tasks.

Web

While the web may be the professional photographer’s least favorite export option (it’s hard to get quality, high resolution images on the web), this is where the non-professionals and the serious amatuers will likely do the bulk of their exporting.

The Web module in Lightroom offers some very simple ways to create both Flash and HTML galleries which are exported in a nice, tidy folder that you can then upload to your site using an FTP client.

The HTML export options don’t generate the cleanest HTML code you’ve ever seen, but they get the job done. And they’ll be a godsend for those who aren’t comfortable writing their own HTML code. You can even dial in some fancy options like some nice Javascript-based “Lightbox” effects. In terms of speed and ease-of-use, Lightroom’s Web export module is tough to beat.

Lightroom's Web export module makes some nice-lookin' photo galleries.
Lightroom’s Web export module makes some nice-lookin’ photo galleries.

The Flash option is somewhat more primitive and less satisfying. The included templates end up making an OK slideshow, complete with a scrollable panel full of thumbnails. You can control the timing of crossfades and customize all the background colors and navigation elements to match the look and feel of your site.

However, if you’ve ever used the SlideShowPro photo gallery system, Lightroom’s options look primitive by comparison. Fortunately for those of you who do use SlideShowPro, there’s a very cool plugin available for Lightroom which allows you to go from Lightroom to SlideShowPro gallery in one quick and easy step. See the SlideShowPro website for more details.

Export to Flickr

And then of course there’s Flickr. Lightroom 2.0 doesn’t offer a direct-to-Flickr export option out of the box, but Lightroom fan Jeffrey Friedl has created a very nice plugin that makes it dead simple to upload your images to Flickr straight out of Lightroom. The best part is it’s free. Just download the latest version and then head to Lightroom’s Plugin Manager (File > Plugin Manager) and add the new Flickr plugin.

Before you can upload, you’ll need to head to the Flickr site and give the plugin permission to access you account. Once everything is setup, just select the photos to upload and head to export. Use the drop down menu at the top of the export dialog to select the new Flickr exporter. From there, you can pick your way through all the options — decide on image titles, include Lightroom tags, metadata and so on.

Configuring Jeffrey Friedl's Flickr export tool in Lightroom's plugin manager.
Configuring Jeffrey Friedl’s Flickr export tool in Lightroom’s plugin manager.