LOS ANGELES — It’s a bold statement, but trust me on this: I can improve any smartphone photo by editing it in Adobe Lightroom Mobile.
The free app has become my go-to software for taking a bland smartphone photo and enhancing it.
There are so many photo and camera apps, and all work pretty much the same: Take an ordinary smartphone photo and jazz it up with colorful filters. You know the names –Instagram, VSCO Cam, Snapseed, Prisma and many others
Lightroom Mobile takes the darkroom approach to photography. Instead of primarily adding colorful filters to dramatically alter the look of the image, you adjust the things photographers care most about — exposure, shadows, blacks, whites and color balance, as well as cropping
You import your photo, and then use the Lightroom sliders to adjust manually, until you’re happy.
Did you shoot photos in a hotel ballroom where the lighting ie excessively yellow? Reach for the white balance control and adjust the color.
Take a portrait that’s just too dark? Use the exposure slider to improve it.
Snap a landscape photo and want to see more of the clouds? Crank up the blacks and use a little vignette to add some shadow to the sides.
Lightroom began as a desktop app, used by photographers to process hundreds of photos at one time. It is a vital tool for workflow and adding quick, easy enhancements to images without having to leave and get it done in a full-service program like Photoshop.
The desktop app sells for $150, or $9.99 monthly as part of a monthly subscription for Lightroom and Adobe’s Photoshop. Editing on the mobile app is free, but if you want to sync photos back and forth between the desktop and mobile apps, you’ll need to subscribe.
In other Lightroom news, Adobe has announced some radical changes to the Lightroom desktop version, a move that is sure to concern many pro photographers who might not be ready for such a drastically different experience.
Lightroom CC, as it’s now being called, looks like a desktop version of Lightroom Mobile, with fewer tools and features, and a cleaner look. Lightroom’s ability to create photo books, rate favorites by identifying them with a color label, and create slideshows, for instance, are gone.
As a longtime Lightroom user–as much as I like the simplicity of the mobile version, when I tested the new desktop version it frankly threw me. I missed the old version, dramatically.
Luckily, Adobe had a sense I wouldn’t be alone on this, so it’s offering two versions, CC and Classic. The classic version looks and feels like the previous one, but is now faster. This means that when you’re barreling through 1,000 photos, as I do most weekends, you can really zip though in time-lapse like speeds.
The rationale for the new look on CC is that many of us never use the other features, or found them confusing, Adobe says. Additionally, the CC version offers the ability to sync the edited photos back and forth between computers and devices, and comes with 1 terabyte of storage yearly as part of the subscription price.
Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham on Twitter, @jeffersongraham.