Lightroom Q&A's

Lightroom Pro Q&A with Rob Sylvan

Hi everyone. Here’s another in a series of mini-interviews with some of the Lightroom pros out there where they’ve answered a short series of questions about how they use and feel about Lightroom:

Today’s Guest: Rob Sylvan.

Bio/Intro: Rob, a trainer and photographer, is the author of Photoshop Lightroom 2 for Dummies, the Lightroom Help Desk Specialist for the NAPP, instructor for the Perfect Picture School of Photography, and Site Director for iStockphoto. Check out his Lightroom tips and tutorials at
Q. How many presets do you have in the Develop module?

A. Too many to count actually. I went through a crazy hoarding phase, and though I’ve cleaned out a lot, I still have quite a few of yours and a bunch from X-Equals that I’m keeping. I’ve learned a lot from using the presets and from seeing so many creative possibilities. Over time they’ve helped me to re-define my camera raw default settings too. Some of my favorite and most used presets are the ones for local adjustments, such as brightening teeth and eyes (adjustment brush) and darkening skies (grad filter). I only have about 10 local adjustment presets, but they get used a lot more regularly.

Q. What’s your favorite panel besides the Basic panel ( 🙂 Sorry the basic panel is too much of a gimmee)?

A. This is a tough one as I have a few favs. I adore the Camera Calibration panel since the addition of the camera profiles. It has given me such a better starting point for my raw files. However, I’d have to say my favorite is the Detail panel. Perhaps I’m a pixel peeper at heart, but I do love the fine tuning I can do there, and thanks to the improvements to sharpening and noise reduction in LR3 Beta 2 I’m seeing much higher quality output as a result of that panel, which to me is what matters most of all.

Q. What panel/slider/feature do you use the least?

A. That would have to be the Split Toning panel. Aside from testing and some demonstrations, I never use it as a part of my own workflow.

Q. Do you keyword (All the time/Sometimes/Never)

A. I feel guilty for not saying “all the time”, but then I’d be lying if I said I did. I do it when I need to for stock purposes, and then I try and go back and add keywords as I go for other important shots, but I don’t lose any sleep over it. For the most part I rely on collections, folders, the Filter Bar and good old looking at thumbnails when I need to find something.

Q. Do you use Collections (All the time/Sometimes/Never)

A. I can honestly say I do use collections all the time. I use both the regular drag-n-drop kind as well as smart collections. I love smart collections. For a given shoot, I will set up a collection set for organizing, then several smart collections for filtering out by dates, ratings, color labels and sometimes keywords. I’ll also use output collections in certain situations for web galleries and printing.

Q. Favorite Lightroom Plug-in?

A. Lr2Mogrify is my all time favorite. It completely changed my output workflow, and made Lightroom 2 much more useful to me. I am glad to see the watermarking improvements in Lightroom 3 Beta 2, but I still like some of the features of LR2Mogrify, such as being able to add both a text and graphic watermark at the same time. That said, the new watermarking integration in all LR3 Beta 2 output modules is such an improvement I know I’ll use Lr2Mogrify less in the future. My second favorite (though you didn’t ask) is probably Metadata Wrangler because it is nice to have that level of control over metadata during output.

Q. If you could add one feature to Lightroom what would it be?

A. Being able to access a catalog stored on a network drive. I realize it is no small thing (else I’m sure it would be there already), but if I could make a wish it would be for that.

Thanks for asking!