Lightroom TipsNews

Lightroom "Pro" Q&A with Sean McCormack

Hi everyone. Today is the first 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: Sean McCormack from the (photo credit: David Hobby)

Bio/Intro: Hey Matt, thanks for the chance to do this. By education, I’m an electronic engineering graduate, but all through college I mixed sound. From that I started shooting band photography in 2003. That lead me into photography proper eventually. These days I shoot people and landscapes, often together! I love location shooting with artificial light, and am now based off an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra system. My Lightroom involvement began with the first public beta in 2006. Since then it’s been my program of choice for photo management and Raw development.

Q. How many presets do you have in the Develop module?

A. Hundreds. I’d actually be afraid to start counting. There’s over a hundred in the grad pack, and that’s only one small part of them. A lot of them are partial presets, so they allow me to preview a change quickly by hovering over them and viewing the Navigator panel. I quite like your Sunset presets actually.

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

A. Easy. Split Toning. I’m a lover of the cross processed look and have 50 or 60 presets based on variations of this look using the Split Toning panel.

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

A. While I do make use of Profiles in Camera Calibration, I rarely ever use the rest of the panel. In fact, if Profiles were moved to Basic (where I think they should be), I wouldn’t touch it at all.

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

A. I always put in generic descriptive keywords at import. I keyword additional tags on final/keeper images. I do think keywording is important, but I don’t think every single image I take deserves that attention. If there was something specific in a photo that I suddenly needed, I can still get close with generic keywords to be able to find it quickly with a visual search (90,000 images in the Catalog). If I was a stock photographer exclusively, then I would probably spend more time on it.

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

A. All the time. My entire workflow in Lightroom is Collection based and I recommend them to anyone who’ll listen. They’re just so versatile. I do keep a structured folder system (just in case), but Collections are king.

Q. Favorite Lightroom Plug-in?

A. I’m not trying to get a free plug, but I really love my own web plugins. My 3 photo websites were built with them. See I’m not even going to name them. After that it would have to be Tim Armes LR2/Mogrify, which is great for branding and watermarks. While LR3 does have a very cool watermarking system, Tim’s plugin still does a better job.

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

A. Well, now that Tom Hogarty has announced there will be Lens Corrections in Lightroom 3, I guess that means my next favourite request is on top: Books. I really want to be able output books from Lightroom. I know Custom Package gets us closer, but I want more layout options and export options. For example Blurb and Lulu can take PDF files to print from. I know we have ‘Print to Jpeg’ in Print, but the quality from it, is not as good as from Export. Mark Sirota, a fellow Lightroom Guru, recommends 600ppi/No sharpening when using Print to Jpeg. From there you import the files and then export at 300ppi to get the best quality output. Can we fix this and add books for LR4 please?

Sean McCormack
Author: Photoshop Lightroom 2 Made Easy