Lightroom & Learning New Things


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For anyone who has a blog, or is semi-serious about photography, there comes a point in time where one outgrows the features of iPhoto or other (free) editing software.

That’s where Adobe Lightroom 3 came into my world.

Disc of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

Not that anyone cares, but I spent all free moments of my weekend (at least 6+ hours) and all spare moments on Monday and Tuesday when I wasn’t working (another 6+ hours) just trying to figure it out.

I know Jessica and Ashley use Lightroom version 2.   Kath uses Lightroom 3 and just posted an amazing post about how she blogs and uses LR 3.  I had this post somewhat pre-written but didn’t want to post about Lightroom until I sort of had the hang of it.

This software is no joke!  The program is complex enough that I wish I had a graphic design minor to figure it out. Just getting 25,000 photos from my iPhoto library into the LR 3 library took me enough google searches and time spent in uber-geeky online forums to really question what I was doing.

Close up of disc

There are entire blogs and websites devoted to learning the program such as:

Lightroom Killer Tips

Digital Photography School’s Post Production Tips

Lightroom Secrets

and Adobe’s own AdobeTV with Video tutorials

I think one could make learning this software it’s own college degree.  I have heard Lightroom 2 is a bit easier and more user-friendly as it pertains to uploading pictures into a Mac, but even so, a major learning curve for me since I have no experience with graphic design, Photoshop, or photo editing.

After all is said and done, here are a few screenshots of a couple of photos I edited of the No Bake Toffee & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Before on the left and After on the right

Comparisson of No Bake Toffee & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites edited and unedited

Before on the left and After on the right

Before and after editing No Bake Toffee & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

And apparently Lightroom worked because I just re-submitted this newly edited photo to Foodgawker and it made it!


Also potatoes, Before on the left and After on the right

Before and after editing Potatoes

The screen shots are nice because they show the before and after simultaneously.  Unfortunately, you don’t get quite the full effect because the pictures are smaller and not full screen, but I think you can see there is a difference in the before and afters.  Brighter, crisper, cleaner, more “pop”.  Enough of a difference that it’s worth it to keep learning.

I feel like I’m in college again, seriously.  I have been “studying” so hard!  All that studying made me hungry.

I made a salad with Vegan Slaw Dressing

Salad with Vegan Slaw Dressing

Jar of Vegan Slaw Dressing
And 4 Ingredient Hummus (garlic-free, vegan)

Close up of 4 Ingredient Hummus

Dessert: Vegan Chocolate Chip Coffee Softserve Sundaes

Vegan Chocolate Chip Coffee Softserve Sundaes in white bowl
Close up of Vegan Chocolate Chip Coffee Softserve SundaesYou can omit the coffee if you don’t like it, but I think coffee + chocolate go so well together.  Most things go well with chocolate, though, for me.

From my last post and my meetup with Marla, thanks for telling me who your last meetup was with and if you’ve met anyone from the blogosphere or been recognized or recognized anyone.  Some of you have been recognized, too!  Cool and surreal, all at the same time, right?


1. Have you ever used any photo editing software? If so, which one and do you like it?  How was the learning curve?

I realize that not everyone has a camera, has a decent camera, cares about photography, or cares about how the photos they do take look.  <— That was my progression the past two years.

Fast forward to now, I traded in the Point and Shoot for a DSLR, photography is becoming a passion of mine, and I do care how my new photos look.  I could never go back in time and re-make and re-photograph 500 recipes but going forward, I am trying harder and using editing software will only help.

Once I wrap my mind around it and learn it.

2. What new things have you learned lately?

I have learned or attempted to learn:

My DSLR camera

New ways to workout in less time and I have streamlined 75+ minute workouts into 40 minute ones

I’ve learned that the grass is not always greener and to be content with where I am at today.  Right now.  Life is a journey, not just an end game.

I’ve learned my body can tolerate small amounts of dairy

That mindless TV like the Kardashians and The Real Housewives gives me joy

I learned that my mother’s intuition is right on the money

Close up of young girl smiling


What things have you learned?  What would you like to learn?


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. Hi Averie! This is really great tutorial. Could U make a detailed post on using Lightroom? What things to be considered and what to leave out? Thanks in advance.

  2. I occasionally edit my photos, but I usually only use Picasa, Google’s free editor… I don’t have time in my life right now to mess with anything else! ;) I love the difference in your photos though… they look great!

  3. I only use picasa, but I really want some osrt of program for my picture editing!!!

  4. I have used the free photo editing program that came on my computer. While I like pictures that are pretty, I don’t really spend much time playing around with them. As long as they get my point across I’m good.

    I’d really love to learn to speak another language though. I keep saying it, and my husband and I actually were practicing nightly for a little while, but I think I’ve already forgotten everything we learned!

  5. Hi Averie,

    On a totally different subject, I’ve seen many different Blogging sites mention Kombucha and I have no idea why this is something that should be added to my daily diet? I bought some flavored Gingerberry Kombucha and wow, what a different experience that was. I can’t even imagine drinking it if it didn’t have some other flavor to sweeten it up. Can you go into detail how you stumbled upon this and what the benefits are?

    I love your site, and follow it religiously over my lunch hour!

    Keep up the good work.

    1. kombucha is a fermented beverage and all fermented foods have healthy bacteria for our gut and bodies. the same principle as probiotics, healthy bacteria.

      my kombucha that I make at home is not sour but i know some people just dont like the taste. I actually dont sweeten it but I promise, it’s great.

      just google kombucha benefits for tons of info!

  6. Awesome post. I’d never really considered getting Lightroom before, but now I’m really quite interested!

    I’ve been a Photoshop user for many years & I’ve dabbled with Illustrator & a bit of Flash (I am an Adobe fan, teehee!) but never Lightroom… I guess I figured I could do most of the editing I needed with Photoshop…but I actually don’t know a lot about *photo* editing with photoshop. I use it mainly to *draw* using a WACOM tablet (like this:

    But I do strive to take good photos for the recipes in my blog. It’s amazing how much of a difference a good photo (or two or three or four!) can make to help people recreate dishes, inspire them & entertain readers. :-)

  7. WOW the lighting is SO good!!!! those pics turned out great!! YES .. i actually used to take a digital imaging class! but it was fancy software that I really dont know where to get!

  8. I have just gotten into photography, so this is probably a stupid question, but it has been bugging me for a while. How do you get pictures side by side in one frame? Do you need a certain type of photo editor? I can’t figure it out!

    1. On your blog, side by side would be based on where you drop/insert and how your have your internal settings configured. Lots of variables but google what you need and likely, the answer will pop up. That’s how i learn most of what i need. Lots of research b/c everyone’s computer/interfacing is different. Hope that helps!

  9. Between you and Kath, I may have worked up the courage to try Lightroom. I’m scared to do it with a Mac! I’m currently just using iPhoto and Picnik.

    Those pics are incredible! I thought they were good before, but whoa! :)

  10. I have never used any photo editing software, but I have seen two lightroom posts tonight and I am SOLD!! It looks like a great piece of software.

  11. Nope, don’t use image editing software although after seeing your before and after’s I SHOULD. Wow. Reason #3450 why I’m not a food blogger;)

    1. Thanks, Kath :)

      And thanks for the comment replies to me on your posts, i.e. creating my own presets. I figured that you manually created what you wanted and have a few standard “batch edit solutions” in your arsenal. I am going to create my own, too, because after looking online and downloading tons of free, pre-made ones…nothing is striking me. Necessity is the mother of invention. Off to create my own :)

      1. There aren’t many presets that look good with food. A few good for people though. I have found a boost in clarity and contrast is all it takes to make photos pop a bit – with warmth and brightness/fill light upon request

  12. We are going to have to enjoy being tech head buddy – photo geeks together OK? Dang girl, you and Lightroom are gonna be tight from here on out. xo

    1. I heart you :)

      And I got a SECOND photo accepted into FG today. That’s 2 in 1 day, accepted. Meaning, I am now a lightroom convert and believer.

      We can be photo geeks together any day, for sure. I’d love it!

  13. Oh my goshhh I want to get lightware! Is it expensive? It def. looks worth it though! And I love the marshalls plate :)

  14. I currently use iphoto. I think it’s working for me right now, but someday I might be ready to move on to one of the big boys out there (LR or PS).

    Recently I have learned that cinnamon can be toxic in large doses. Apparently a “large dose” is 1/2 teaspoon a day. Ummmm…I’m not sure how I’m still alive?!!

  15. I think I’ve caught a teeny tiny baby photography bug. I have a feeling it will bloom into something big at some point!

    This past year I tried to purposefully learn a lot of things and put myself into new situations – took a painting class, learned to letterpress, learned to swim the crawl, learned to meditate, committed to practicing yoga 3-4 times a week. I feel like my brain & spirit really woke up!

  16. I would love to learn more about photography. I have Photoshop and I am pretty good with editing, I would like to learn how to take better pictures and graduate to a DSLR camera :)

  17. Ahh I am so jealous I want a new camera so bad and now I want lightroom ahaha ooh I cannot wait to graduate and have money! Your photos look beautiful and LOVE your plate!

  18. oof! look at you becoming a photo-guru! i love it ;) it’s so fun for you to look back and see how your pictures have changed over time plus i bet your creating GORGEOUS memories of photos of skylar as she grows up!

  19. I have SO MUCH to learn about photography! But right now I also have a lot to learn about statistics and physiology so I’m focusing on those. lol!

    I ALSO need to learn more about vegetarian cooking. I just made the decision & commitment to go veggie and let’s just say I’ve spent like 4 hours in the kitchen today and I have ONE good meal to show for it. ONE. Oy.

    1. girl vegetarian cooking doesnt have to be hard. 99% of the recipes on my site are vegan. Don’t over think it. Just do everything you used to do and skip the meat and add tofu, beans, lentils, whatever. Focus on plants, not meat, and fresh, easy, not complicated. 4 hours is not good!! Think: basics. :)

  20. I use Photoshop.. and it has been quite the learning experience! I am self taught with everything and sometimes I think it takes me longer to grasp certain concepts than it does others!

  21. The cookie dough bites look beautiful, Averie!! Congrats on the FG submission getting approved. I’ll have to check out the Lightroom links you posted. Thanks for those.

    1. Thanks, Allie, and glad the links help. My god…I was in link, online forum, and computer chat room hell all weekend. And am back…daily. Because every time I want to do something, I end up searching for it. Nothing like being self-taught :)

  22. Have fun playing with Lightroom!! I haven’t used it at all, but I was contemplating getting it when I got my new Mac. I lost Photoshop with my old computer and thought there would be NO way I’d be able to afford it again, but luckily Adobe offers wicked good student discounts, so I’ve currently got the CS5 suite. It’s sort of scary how much power it has and really makes you think about what the future of photography will be, as people start relying more on digitally manipulating their images. I think it’s great that you put off purchasing it for a little while, so you didn’t build a reliance on it to make your photos better and instead realize that shooting the photos correctly is important, too!
    And congrats on the Foodgawker admission!! You’re rockin’ this photo thing!!
    Lately, I’ve learned that it’s okay to have doubts, because it makes you really think about why you’re doing something. (that probably sounds odd, but it makes sense with a current situation of mine!)
    This is random, but lately I’ve wanted to re-learn how to ice-skate. And run. And I can’t get enough yoga!

    1. Thanks for the FG congrats :)

      And you are so right about “I think it’s great that you put off purchasing it for a little while, so you didn’t build a reliance on it to make your photos better and instead realize that shooting the photos correctly”– YES that is so true!

      And tomorrow’s post is going to touch on this “It’s sort of scary how much power it has and really makes you think about what the future of photography will be, as people start relying more on digitally manipulating their images.”

      You can get LR 3 for under a hundred bucks with a student discount. For you, and your skills, you would totally love it. Get it!

  23. I have been loving your pictures! They always look amazing and always make me hungry. Also, just thought you should know that I have been addicted to your microwave blueberry oatcakes lately. I have been using raspberries instead though and I can’t get enough! They are the perfect breakfast for a student to take to class and eat :)

    And in regards to learning something new-I just started a blog so I’m definitely learning a lot there :)

    1. thanks for the pic compliments and raspberries…oh they even trump blueberries for me! They are just usually pricey but i guess frozen ones arent as bad. Yum!!! :)

  24. There is so much more in life that I want to discover and want to do. Nice post and really looks that you’ve given your time and effort with it, Congratulations for having a good start!

  25. I’m loving all the new pictures/photography posts, you seem to have grasped so much, so quickly! You’re definitely a talented photographer and the blog looks amazing for it!

  26. wow i really can tell the difference! my hubs is a wizard with editing software though i have never used his resources on the blog. i might buy an olympus pen to get some better photos! it makes a world of difference!

  27. I think most of the photo programs are CRAZY complicated! I’m in a Design Studies class and we had to do a project on Photoshop, which I had never even opened prior to the project, and it was overwhelming!

    Good luck on the program and keep us updated. I really do notice the difference in your photos, but I’ll be curious to hear if you think the difference is worth the time and effort spent in learning AND using the software.

    1. for me, i do love photography. new found passion.

      but if one is not serious about photography and is just “whatever”…or doesn’t want to get their pics into FG or TS, then who cares…dont bother. But for me, I want to bother :)

      1. LOVE this reply Averie! That’s true dedication to your passion! :D

  28. The photos look great! I don’t use anything, but iphoto. I want to learn more, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on it unless I am making money doing it.

  29. I read Kath’s post today and after reading her post and yours, I’m seriously tempted to buy Lightroom now.
    I spend a lot of time “studying” blogging related info. It’s time consuming, but it has made a huge difference with my current blog, as opposed to my older short-lived ones. I’ve learned so much in the past 6 months. I have a lot more to learn though. :-)

    1. you should get it IF you are serious about learning it. it’s not as easy as kath made it sound, well for me it hasnt been. I mean, it’s not impossible b/c just in a few days about about 25 hrs of my time, I am getting results but it’s not “overnight” and it’s not idiotproof which is pretty much iphoto. Just wanted to give you my unbiased thoughts :)

  30. Wow! What a change that software makes! Very nice :)

    I want to learn to belly dance, sew, crochet, knit, wrap jewelry, blow glass! The list goes on!

  31. Between you and Kaths post it makes me want to get Lightroom! But I would definitely have to spend lots of time on google to figure everything out

  32. This takes my back to my graphic design days in college, LR is a huge app with tons of features and a huge learning curve.Super useful, just takes awhile to get the hang of. That’s awesome you bought it, I’ve been thinking about getting Photoshop since Paint.NET is just too weak sometimes. I used to be a huge graphics junkie and still have my art pad. Pretty much any photo from my point-and-shoot needs help before posting, they’re usually way too dark, grainy, etc. I’m spoiled by hardly needing to touch photos from the DSLR.

    1. Yes, I used to work in Photoshop all the time for jobs and Photoshop contests. Since I’m too cheap to buy a home license, I’ve been using Paint.NET at home which isn’t too shabby for a free alternative.
    2. Improved photography skills, working with new ingredients, gardening, sprouting, and always new challenges at work.

    1. I really think you’d like LR 3. Since you already have a background in it, it would be a SNAP for you to learn probably. Soooo many options and features and yes, learning curve central for me w/ no background but for you, a shoe in :)

  33. Sooo hoo! Congrats on getting accepted by fg!! I need that Lightroom program, can’t wait to get it!

    It really does make a world of difference. I have Photoshop and I know it’s capable of the same, but it seems Lightroom is designed just for what I need.

  34. I have learned that the cookie dough balls are like food crack. I <3 them so much. My son is the photographer in the house. He is four and takes pictures better than I ever have.

  35. Wow, those pics look great! Lightroom looks like so much fun – I love figuring stuff like that out :)

  36. The pics look great! I used to use Photoshop a long time ago, and really need to take the time again. It clearly makes a huge difference! Lately, I’ve been using Aperture, just for time sake.
    I learn new things everyday… It can still snow 10 inches in one day in NY on March 23rd!

    1. girl my mom’s bday is march 26 and growing up in MN we used to get blizzards on her bday, routinely.

      And aperture is another really good one. I just had heard great things about LR so went with it. It’s not easy, but worth it :)

  37. ok, just the THOUGHT of using LR3 freaks me out!! way to go, averie, on your self-directed learning, and on conquering the world of LR3! your photos are *improving* (they were never horrible to begin with!) daily!
    happy experimenting with your dslr + LR3!

  38. you can definitely see the difference in the pics! They look amazing! Good luck learning LR, I have a sample of it and I just click on the different settings and just let it go. I have no clue how it works hahhaa

  39. I have apparently been really into learning lately. Last week I signed up for a DSLR camera class (finally), photoshop and most recently (and most excitingly!) the teacher training course for yoga sculpt!
    I love seeing the side by side pictures, I can see a HUGE difference!

  40. There is so much I’d like to learn more about — one of those subjects being photography!

    I am amazed at the difference the lightroom makes — your pictures really POP when they are brightened up!

    New things I have lately learned — so much blog stuff that I didn’t realize I would need to know. Oh and Twitter — but I don’t think I’ve really learned how to use that yet!

    1. hey your last comment to me, the blog trip. i need info/details about that. email me!