Photoshop Lightroom has become a very powerful, almost indispensable tool in photographers’ workflow; and for good reasons. It provides an environment for digital asset management, image editing, and output creation. It has easy to use tools for totally nondestructive editing at speeds that far exceed that of Photoshop’s in many, if not most cases. I now do most of my photo editing and outputting in Lightroom, pushing the photograph to Photoshop only when Lightroom falls short for some editing I need to do on an image. Even then, the round trip to Photoshop and back is only for that specific function. I like it!
Photographers and programmers have been trying to expand the capabilities of Lightroom by developing plug-in modules for it to perform functions that are not available in the core program. I will share several with you in this post. What you will read in this post will be the tip of the iceberg as there are many more such add-on modules, I will only share those that provide functions that I consider of use. Furthermore, this review excludes paid plugins from vendors like onOne, Nik, SlideShow Pro, and others. What you will find here are plugins that are free to try, and donate to own. The developers put many hours to developing these programs and deserve to be compensated no matter how small or large you decide to donate.
I first tried Enfuse, an image stacking software add-on, several years ago when it was an experimental piece. After a few tries, I decided to put it aside and then totally forgot about it. Recently I saw it mentioned in a book Night Photography by Lance Keimig (very good book, by the way) and tried it once more. The Lightroom plugin that makes using Enfuse much easier is from Photographer’s Toolbox and the use is fairly straight forward. Below are three photographs that show the input, the first two, and the output from LR/Enfuse. The plugin is donationware, you are free to try it with some limitations. I sprung for the donation and got the fully functional version. It works as advertised. I took the two shots with a hand-held 5D Mark-II in a children’s museum in Massachusetts. The result is akin to HDR processing without the lengthy process and unsightly artifacts. I like that.
After my Exploring Lightroom presentation a short while ago at the Photographic Society of RI, a friend asked if Lightroom did have the facility to add a watermark as he exported images for sharing on the Web. I knew the print and slide show modules had that feature but was not sure if the export workflow had that built-in. It turns out that Lightroom 3 added that to the export facility. That said, if you want to add more elaborate watermarking or to add a frame on the photograph, LR/Mogrify 2 seems to be the tool to use. Its installation is a bit involved, so read the instructions on the site and follow them carefully. The opening image was processed with LR/Mogrify 2 with the bluish border and the text in the center. It can be positioned depending on your needs and it can contain EXIF data as you see here.
This could be a very useful plugin for those who use Lightroom and Photoshop Elements. Although Lightroom has a very tight integration with Photoshop, it can only pass an image to edit to other programs. The promise, and the premise, behind Elemental is to offer a similar tight integration with Photoshop Elements, like opening multiple files as layers, or photo merge. Since I do not have Elements, I cannot tell you how well the integration works, but the free trial should encourage Elements users to give it a go. It may be a satisfying experience.
Some cameras have built-in GPS facilities that add location data to each image identifying the exact location where the photograph is taken. My cameras do not have that and some photographs will benefit from having geoencoding data. This plugin, GPS-Support Geoencoding, allows the user to manually add location data. It interfaces very nicely with Google Earth and takes the coordinates of the displayed location. The embedded geoencoding data is not visible under some circumstances which are explained in the documentation on the Web site. With many cell phones having built-in GPS may allow users to take a few photographs at certain places will acquire the GPS location data for use in this plugin.
Each image exported to various formats contains surprisingly rich metadata. Sometimes this is useful at other times it may reveal information you may not want to reveal. The two photographs that accompany this segment are identical in every respect except for the amount of metadata. Take a look at the first image’s metadata, I am sure you will be surprised at the length and detail of information. Now, take a look at the second one’s metadata which was passed through the Metadata Wrangler, removing much of the information. You decide how much to keep and how much to discard.
In addition to these, you may consider looking into plugins for Proshow Producer or Gold for Lightroom, or Photomatix plugin if you use these software, they are free to download but do not do much if you don’t have the host software that will interface with them.
There are also Lightroom presets that you can download from different sources. onOne Software offers presets for Lightroom, and there are many others on the Adobe Lightroom Exchange. Visit and look around.
You may have your favorite Lightroom plugin, share it with everyone by posting a comment to this post.