Free Lightroom 4 & Photo Editing


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Lightroom 3 is one of the best things that ever happened to my life.  It’s better than sliced bread.

It’s almost better than chocolate chip peanut butter cookies but you can’t really compare cookies and software.

stack of chocolate chip peanut butter cookies

Cookies will always win.

I use Lighroom 3 multiple times per day for editing my photos.

More info about What Is Lightroom, here.

Like a Vita-Mix, it’s worth every penny, you get what you pay for, it’s 100% worth it, and you will look back and wonder why you didn’t find a way to buy it sooner.

If you’re a student, there are ways to get it for about $79 and if you’re not a student, it’s generally between $199 and $299 depending on time of year, promotions, coupons, and various internet specials.  I paid about $170 from about one year ago.

Adobe is coming out with a new version, Lightroom 4, and there’s a free download to trial the new Beta Version of Lightroom 4

It expires March 31, 2012 but for those of you on the fence about popping for Lightroom, not only do you get to play with Lighroom for free for a couple months, you get to try the newest version.

As I have posted about many, many times, I love LR 3 and it’s been worth it’s weight in gold and then some.

Here are a few posts from my Photography Page about Lightroom:

Examples of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 images

Lightroom 3 & Photo Editing

Lightroom 3 Examples & Samples of Editing

Photo Editing: Before & After, Truths & Trickery

Amanda recently wrote a fabulous post on Why Lightroom May Be the Only Photo Editor You Need and had a plethora of amazing photography-related resources and tutorials on her site.

Here are some before and after shots because a picture does speak a million words:

SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

After Lightroom 3 edits

Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

SOOC Ritz-Stuffed Peanut Butter Cups

Ritz-Stuffed Peanut Butter Cups

After Lightroom 3 edits

Ritz-Stuffed Peanut Butter Cups

SOOC Baked Savory Cream Cheese & Herb Donuts

Baked Savory Cream Cheese & Herb Donuts

After Lightroom 3 edits

Baked Savory Cream Cheese & Herb Donuts

And one of my favorite desserts of 2011

SOOC Marshmallow Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Pillowtop Bars

Marshmallow Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Pillowtop Bars

After Lightroom 3 edits

Marshmallow Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Pillowtop Bars

In general, I try to use editing to bring out the beauty of the food so that when it’s viewed on a computer screen, it looks like it did when it was on my countertop or table with the same detail, vibrancy, lightness, brightness, and the overall characteristics it had.

The camera can strip away the details we see with our eyes in real life, and make things things look lackluster, flat, or just blah.  I try to un-blah the images with editing.

Because I shoot in RAW format, I also need to use editing tools to put those details back in.

With my food photography editing, I do not remove things that were there or add things that weren’t.  For example, I have no idea how to make a new chocolate chip appear on top of a bar that didn’t have one or place a perfect M & M on top of a cookie.  Conversely, if there was an ugly crumb on a donut or I hated a streak in the frosting I made, I don’t remove those things.  I either live with them, or find a new photo without ugly crumbs or streaks.

Do you edit your photos?  If so, with what?

Do you have specific thoughts on photo editing?

I wrote this post with my thoughts on everything from editing food photos to editing photos of Hollywood celebrities.

I think that it’s fundamental that the images coming SOOC are as good as you can possibly make them and that you don’t try to use editing software to fix mistakes that should have been addressed when shooting such as poor photo composition, or food staging issues if you’re shooting food.

That said, sometimes it’s cloudy, sometimes you have to shoot food after the lighting is ideal and no matter what you do, you can’t get a fabulous SOOC image and that’s where the little slider dial on LR that turns up brightness, exposure, or fill light is invaluable.

Tip for those of you thinking of making a lightbox (i.e. a cardboard box you put food in and put lights around it and shoot the food that way): Don’t.

If that’s what you’re resorting to in order to get better lighting, you’d do better with just editing the crap out of your photos in post-processing.  My opinion only, of course.

I have Photoshop on my computer but need to google away and teach myself how to use it but I become overwhelmed by it and quickly shut the program down as fast as I open it.  Lightroom was easy for me to get started with compared to Photoshop.

Before Lightroom, I used iPhoto that came on my Mac, and for free software that is easy to learn and get started with, it was fine but I outgrew it.

I know there are many free programs out there such as Picnik and more that many people are fond of.

The type of camera and lens I use is all linked in my photography section and one other point to mention on this and I have said it many times in the past is that a fancy camera and lens will not make you a better photographer.

A fancy camera and lens will only capture everything (the good, the bad, and the ugly) in higher resolution and detail.  Think about food styling and staging and composing your shot rather than the kind of camera or lens you’re using and that way when you do upgrade to a fancier camera, you’ll be a pro at making your food look great because you know how to shoot, stage, and set up your shots.

And when all else fails, edit.

With a free trial.  I have compared version 3 and 4 very quickly and although there are a few things here and there that are different, the changes made after my very cursory glance don’t appear to be too major.

Note: All thoughts expressed are my own opinions and I am not being compensated in any way to plug this; I wanted to pass on what I believe is a great download.

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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  1. Woah this is definitely something to look into! I currently use Corel Paint Shop Pro X4 and I’m very pleased with it! Have you ever experimented with it before?

  2. I use Aperture. Used to use iPhoto, but once I got my first DSLR…I needed more than what iPhoto could do. My wife forwarded me thos email as she loves your blog. I’m definitely gonna try Lightroom, even though I’ve established a workflow with Aperture.

  3. Thanks for posting about this, I would love to read more about this topic. “Free Lightroom 4 & Photo Editing” – interesting title Averie. Another good post Averie.

  4. Great post, I adore LR too and will upgrade to 4. I also use Photoshop for serious editing. In my early blogging days when I was getting starting in photo editing, I used Paint.NET with is a pretty strong Photoshop wannabe app that’s free.

    1. I forgot about that one. Glad you like your LR, too. And excited to hear about the web software you mentioned in the other comment…intriguing…

  5. I use lightroom too. I have tried to go into photo shop a few times but LR just seems less complicated, especially if you are not use to the world of layers.

  6. I love lightroom. I have the trial version but my husband does not love the cost! I’m on the lookout for those deals!

  7. Hey girl! I love these information posts. I am happy though with my free iPhoto editing as it seems to work for my blog but maybe the photos could be improved? Is lightroom that much better than the new version of iPhoto? I might just give lightroom 4 a try just to see the comparison.

    1. I havent used “the newest” version of iphoto but yes, the difference is night and day from the last version I tried.

  8. i LOVE LR4. I never used LR3 cause when I went to go buy it, I had an email in my inbox from adobe letting me know there was a beta version of 4 available! I just recently started using it so I’m not really familiar with much yet but as far as I can see, i love it! makes my pictures pop!

  9. Regarding the VITAMIX – How can students get one for $79!?? I have 2 kids who would love this deal~
    Please – any info is appreciated. thank you
    Love your blog and site! :)

  10. I actually REALLY like your befores too! I think both of them look great, but in different ways. It’s rare that a picture will look good before editing. :)

  11. Talk about a difference a few edits can make. GREAT before and afters. I usually use Photoshop and adjust Levels, Crop if necessary, and touch up with Clone Stamp (if needed).

    1. Glad you enjoyed them. Clone Stamp..that’s a new one to me! But I don’t use Photoshop…

  12. Your pictures are STUNNING! I noticed the biggest different with the peanut butter cups. I agree, software and cookies are just not comparable!

    1. Thanks, Alexis. Browns and tans can get washed out easily so I find those to be the most noticeable when editing, too.

  13. I have gotten to be such a lazy crap photographer lately. I just can’t make time for it like I want to. I have too much other stuff, and sadly it just isn’t the priority it used to be for me.

    That said, I sharpen and tweak as much as possible in iphoto. I’m definitely downloading this free trial – thanks for the heads-up.

  14. Oh my gosh! How did I miss this! Going to download now. I am currently using GIMP, as my photoshop doesn’t want to work on my new PC. I’ve become lazy with pics, I admit. Must rectify that….
    Since I got my new phone, which takes pics at not-bad quality, I’ve hardly released the Nikon from it’s case.

  15. I have to tell you, your photos straight out of the camera are beautiful! If mine looked like that I probably wouldn’t edit them. I edit every picture, thats the only thing I don’t care about doing. I want an assistant to do that. I just want to bake and write my blog! :) But I do edit and I use the program on my computer, I was thinking of getting Adobe Photoshop, but now I am going to look into the Lightroom 4 program. I’ll have to save a little bit, but it will be worth it in the end. Thanks for the advice and input, for us amateurs it’s greatly appreciated!

    1. Well I appreciate the compliments on my SOOC pics :)

      And yes, as food bloggers we go from chefs to writer to computer programmers to camera buffs…who knew :)

      LR is SO MUCH more user-friendly out of the gate than PS. I think everyone would agree with that, 100%. Read some of the comments on this post, too!

  16. I am a new blogger so I love getting photo editing advice! I have a nice camera but don’t really know how to use it so I think that is the first step for me!

    1. YES before you do anything else with the pictures, you have to learn your camera, settings, and just practice :)

  17. Lightroom has seriously changed my blogging life. I SO agree with you! Your pictures before Lightroom are fantastic, you don’t even need it :)

    1. Thanks for the compliments and glad to know you’re LR fan, too! Your pics are always so pretty!

  18. I just use my basic mac editing that comes with i-photo. I really want to learn more about photo editing and maybe even invest in a great photo editing program. They definitely make a difference with photos!

  19. I was thinking about some of my best investments the other day and decided that LR3 is nearly at the top of the list. The happiness and fun it has provided me is invaluable, I agree. Can’t say enough great things about it and the fact that its SO easy to get used to was the best part.

    1. I tell everyone, possibly even you? can’t recall? to buy it…and glad it makes the list of top investments.

  20. This is why I need to get my own computer! I currently use my work computer for everything because I don’t have my own personal one and therefore I’m limited in what I can download. I would LOVE to try out LR4. As you know, I just recently discovered the free software to edit RAW images that came with my camera so I’m just using that right now and it’s incredibly basic. I don’t mind it yet, but I can see myself growing out of it or just wanting something a little more user friendly. Amanda’s post last week was amazing. Definitely made me want to try it out even more.

    1. Girl first, you NEED your own computer. 100% priority with all your photography! Second, you need LR3. Read from some people in these comments who say it was the best investment they’ve made in ages, etc…I would not lie to you. It will change your life based on where you’re at photographically-speaking.

  21. I am currently trying to decide between Lr or Ps. I have used both and like Lr 10x more than Ps – probably because it is easier to use and I am no pro. Between the two would you choose Lr? I am thinking yes from this post, but thought I should ask! LOL

    1. Based on what I wrote in the post, I am a dunce when it comes to PS and I wouldnt call myself an expert with LR, but I know my way around. And I love it.

      Read thru the comments others have left about their glowing praise of it, too, on this post.

  22. Thanks for passing along this info. I’d much rather try it out before making the investment.

  23. Whoa, seriously your pictures are so amazing! Great post – it’s always nice to hear some tips from an expert like yourself! Editing really does make all the difference!

    1. Thanks, Erika. I don’t consider myself an expert; just a work in progress, but like to pass on things I’ve learned & hopefully they may help others.

  24. Averie, I am like a drone reading this over and over again. I have such trouble with my lighting in editing my photos because clearly I am no photographer so this is excellent. I love that you shared your personal experience using it because I hate buying product that has mixed ratings or ratings from people I don’t know or trust. thanks!!!!

    1. Per the comment I left on your site; you already are very clued in to photography, hello FG accepts! So LR will just help you enhance what you’ve already got going on.

  25. Thanks for sharing. I wasn’t sure what it was. We used to have photoshop until I killed the laptop a few years ago. Now I am stuck using picasa’s free editing. Not ideal at all quite frankly. I know I should probably go ahead and invest in something at this point. I think it would have paid off already.

    1. It would have paid off but if you don’t care and it’s not your thing, then it’s not a biggie :)

  26. I think we’ve talked about this before? :D I don’t edit, other than to crop! any “editing” I do is what can be done with iPhoto. I have two paid photography jobs coming up soon, and was thinking about looking into editing software for those, but for what I do on the blog, nope. I may try this beta trial, though, because LR is one I was considering.


      You don’t make ANY adjustments, enhancements, color balance, etc…with anything other than iphoto? So you just crop in iphoto and that’s it? Or you do what you can do in iphoto with brightness, sharpening, etc and that’s where you end things? That’s what I was doing until about a year ago when it became clear I needed more. Girl…you will love love love LR. It will feel like driving a ferrari after driving a honda civic :)

      And congrats on your photography jobs!!! Would love to hear more!

  27. I have never edited my photos … I don’t really know how, and I have trouble taking the time to learn new things on the computer.

    1. If it’s not your thing, then it’s not a biggie and your time is better spent…just about anywhere else then :)

  28. I agree with you Lightroom is a fantastic program. I can’t wait to check out Lightroom 4’s new features.

    1. I’d love to hear more about your editing process; if you use LR and then put things into PS, too? Or just only use LR? As I said in the post, I am 100% clueless about PS but I do love me some LR :)

  29. I do all of my editing in Photoshop… I”m too lazy to use LR3, lol. PS has most of the same options, so I don’t bother opening up LR. I guess I’m just used to PS being I have used it for a decade. Gah. Old. lol