Website Design with Lightroom

I’ve been meaning to update my website for 2 years now. It is outdated and stagnant, but time, money and my innate procrastination skills have put it off for too long now. So my friend Rod Barbee put me onto these cool website creation plug ins from The Turning Gate.These plug into the Lightroom web module and allow you to create a website from scratch with update-able image galleries. Which is great since all of my images are organized in Lightroom.

These tools make website creation fairly straightforward. As with everything there is a learning curve! The company has great tutorials to walk you through the various stages of creation and the on screen information is good as well. It helps that I’ve actually had experience writing my own website so I understand the basic coding behind it, but there is so much new stuff out there I didn’t want to learn an entirely new language to have a modern looking website. You could also pay someone to design a site for you and if I had the money I would go that route! Sadly the nature photographer is not so highly paid.

As with all things it takes some time to determine the ‘look’ of your site. I find this tedious but necessary for branding and cohesiveness of your business. The Turning Gate offers several free templates to get you started and then you can customize colors and images to your hearts content. Take some time to look at other peoples websites to get an idea of what you want and what you like.

Then map out what you want to offer. For example you’ll have a splash or home page, galleries, services of some sort, about you and contact info. Write down everything you want and under what heading you want it. Do you want to sell from your site? Turning Gate has cart options as well. There are a ton of options available to the photographer.

If you are starting a business I highly recommend having a graphic artist design a logo for you. Fortunately my friend helped me out. Make sure it is something you like and use it everywhere, again branding is the key!

So if you’re looking to create a website and are already using Lightroom check out Turning Gate. The prices are good for the variety of options available plus you can mix and match to create what you want!

Check out Rod Barbee’s  site to see what he did with the The Turning Gate and be on the lookout for a new website from me!



Lightroom 4

The newest version of Lightroom is out. I just purchased the program and had no problems with installation. Opening the program for the first time seamlessly updated my current catalog. If you have been considering getting Lightroom now is a good time. The full version is $149 from Amazon and the student/teacher version is $79 from Amazon. Amazing prices for this program.

New features for LR 4 are expanded controls in the Basics Tab. You now have highlights, whites, shadows and blacks replacing brightness, recovery and fill light. This combined with the new process version 2012, which renders a file for editing in Lightroom, helps you recover information in dark and bright areas and define the black and white points with more precision. If you have no idea what I’m talking about I will try to expand more in a future post. There are other new features to talk about!

There are 2 new modules, Maps and Books. Create books and export them to PDF or have them directly printed via Blurb a popular online printing service.  The map module lets you utilize GPS information from the camera, if you have it or apply GPS info via Google maps once you mark the location of the images on the map.

For printing there is a soft proofing control. This gives you an idea of how the image will look printed.  For video buffs there are controls to edit and organize videos. I doubt these are very high end but if you are new to getting into video this may be a good starting point.

So should you upgrade? If you are into editing images and enjoy the process by all means! If you already have Lightroom 3 and are new to the interface, stick with it for now unless any of the new features really grab you or you have to have the latest technology! For a really in depth review of Lightroom 4 and the features it offers visit:

If you don’t have Lightroom at all, well now is the time!

I can’t recommend this program enough. The combination of a friendly interface and variety of editing tools far surpass any other program out there. Photoshop does not have the friendly interface and few programs that come with your camera or iPhoto can match the editing options. Make editing and organizing easier by jumping in with Lightroom 4. To get going take a class, I offer several! Or get a book by Nat Coalson and/or Scott Kelby to help you get started.

Lightroom Tip: Add pop to your image!

Ever have those dull lifeless images? Oftentimes this is the result of low contrast or lack of a good black point in the image. In the film darkroom it was important to have a print that had a black and white point. In other words a place on the print that has absolute black and absolute white. This creates contrast and results in an image with a good range of tones.

Not all images will have an absolute white or black point but most images will. So when your image looks flat and lifeless try this tip in Lightroom to boost the contrast and set the black point:

Under the basic tab go to the black slider. While holding down the Alt key AND left clicking on the slider the image goes white. Now move the slider slowly to the right until you see an area of black appear. Release the Alt key and see what the image looks like. There should be a definite increase in contrast which gives the image pop and will give more saturated colors.

These examples are from a hazy day shoot in Palouse, WA. The first image is flat but once I adjusted the black point the image has good color and life again.