This series of my blogs is all about how I make use of Lightroom’s workflow. I have to confess that I’ve left out one logical step in the overall workflow, camera calibration, because I simply haven’t found a strong enough need for it (in the context of my own work) to take the time to apply it. So I’ll leave camera calibration to someone else who knows what they’re talking about and jump straight to the Slideshow module.
Lightroom makes organizing your images for a slideshow really easy. I work with Collections a lot (the topic of a whole ‘nother blog), so I like to put the images for a slide show into a Collection. All you have to do is name the Collection by clicking the + sign in the Collections panel in the Library module, then either going through your Folders and dragging anything you want into the collection or searching for the Keywords or other Metadata most likely to call up the images you want for that slide show and then flagging and dragging those for the slideshow into the collection. The first method works best if you’ve been too lazy or rushed to be thorough about adding keywords when you first Import to your Catalog. In either case, I Flag (press P after highlighting the image in the Library) the shots I really want in the Slideshow. If there are hordes of pictures to choose from, I recommend doing the choosing in the Library Panels. If you’re looking mostly for specific subjects, you can drag the Size slider to make the Thumbnails quite small, so you can see a large number of images at once. If you’re looking for subtle variations in similar images, make the thumbs large enough to judge each frame more critically. Also, if you’re just picking a few from a small collection, you can pick them in the Filmstrip by just selecting them.
Once you’ve Flagged all the images you want to keep in the slideshow, just click the Slideshow module header. Go down to the Filter bar and click the Flag icon. Blink! There’s your slideshow collection.
Now, here’s the workflow for the rest of the Slideshow-making routine:
1.Pick a template. Just open the Template Browser on your left. Watch the Preview window as you cursor down the various templates. When you see one you like, click. You can add your own Template if your choices are those you’re likely to use over and over.
2.Size and position the image. You have lots of options here, but most of the time, you’ll just want the image to be as large as possible and for it not to be cropped. If you want to crop an image, do that in the Develop module. Then it won’t affect the entire slideshow.
3.Create an Identity Plate. The Identity Plate can be any text you want to stay in one place during the entire slideshow. In other modules, I usually use my name and profession for this, but for a slide show, I’d usually rather give it the theme title for the slide show. Choose Edit from the Identity plate menu, type the title you want, then choose a typeface and size. You can also choose a color. When you see the Identity Plate appear, you can just drag it into position, change the typeface, size, and color…all interactively.
4.Choose how you want the images captioned. I choose to have the Rating Stars appear if I’m sending the client a slideshow for approving images…but I rarely do that because I prefer using a Web Gallery (next blog). I like to add a title name to the file name and use that as the caption. If I haven’t done that already, I just go back to the Library, and change the Filename by adding Custom Text to the original. You can also change the color of the caption, drag to put it anywhere you like, drag to resize it and click the color box in the Text Overlays panel to change its color.
5.Style the slideshow. You can create a drop shadow, make a border of any thickness and color around the image (I wish this could imitate a double mat, but not yet). You can even…and I strongly suggest it…make a subtle gradient backgound. To do that, check and choose you basic background color, then do the same for Color wash and set its Opacity and the Angle of the gradient. You can see the example in the screen shot at the beginning of this blog.
That’s it. Now it’s time to view your slideshow. You’ve got choices here, too. If you want to use music and transitions, you must play the slideshow from inside Lightroom. That means that if you want to play it that way on another computer. Export the slideshow as a Catalog and then copy that Catalog to the machine that will be showing the slideshow. Then run the slideshow within Lightoom. Of course, Lightroom must be installed on the destination computer, too.
If you Export the Slideshow, it exports as a PDF. You can playback the PDF as pages where you can click to go to the next slide or you can play it back full screen. The beauty of PDF slide shows is that they’re easy to email if someone wants to see some particular samples of your work. It’s a very good idea to make up some slideshows from several sepecialized collections, just so you can have them on-hand when you get a portfolio request for a particular type of look.
The Slideshow’s ability to only Exports slideshows as PDFs is, in my opinion, a major overlook. However, it’s an easy shortcoming to overcome, if you happen to own Camtasia (a $300 Windows program) or Snaps Pro X for the Mac. Windows users can also download Windows Media Encoder 9 and capture to WMF format. All you have to do is use the auxiliary program to capture the live playback from within Lightroom. There are also several utilities that will translate WMF files to QuickTime. Most of these programs will also let you add narration, numerous other transitional effects, and so forth.