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Did you know that as a Lightroom Classic subscriber you can access the photos in your Catalog in at least four different ways? There’s the Lightroom Classic app, the Lightroom app for mobile, the Lightroom desktop app and (last but not least) Lightroom for web.
Lightroom for web might be the most underrated of these. But it also happens to be very useful. So I think it will be interesting to take a closer look at it.
Lightroom for web and Smart Previews
But first, let’s talk about Smart Previews. A Smart Preview is a compressed DNG file measuring 2560 pixels along the longest edge. Smart Previews are a fraction of the size of Raw files (as little as 2%).
Adobe uses Smart Previews to enable services like Lightroom for web. When you sync a Collection, Lightroom uploads the Smart Previews for the images in that Collection to Adobe’s servers.
Lightroom Web pulls those Smart Previews from the servers so you can access your photos in a browser, or use them to create an online photo gallery. Adobe calls this CreativeSync.
It’s a good idea to get into the habit of syncing Collections. If you don’t do it at the import stage, you can do it once you’ve developed your photos and put the best ones into a new Collection.
Syncing a Collection is easy. Go to the Collections panel in any module and check the box next to the Collection (see below). An empty box means the Collection isn’t synced, a lightning bolt icon indicates that it’s synced.
Once the syncing process is complete you can view the photos in the Lightroom for mobile app, add them to websites made with Adobe Portfolio, or use them in graphics created in Adobe Spark.
And of course access them in Lightroom for web from anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection and your Adobe ID.
What can you do in Lightroom for web?
There’s lots of interesting things you can do in Lightroom for web.
1. You can view your photos
You can view any synced Collections in Lightroom for Web (go to https://lightroom.adobe.com/ to see for yourself).
This is what you see when you log in (if you have photos in synced Collections).
You can see your synchronized Collections on the left. Note that they’re called Albums as per the Lightroom desktop app terminology.
Lightroom for web shows the photos in the All Photos Album/Collection on the right.
Click on any other Album/Collection to see the photos inside it.
Click a photo to go to Loupe View.
There are also some options to customize the display. Click the Display icon at the bottom of the screen (below).
You can change the appearance of the thumbnails and the theme used for the display using the menu at the bottom of the screen (below). This is useful if you want to create a web gallery for other people to view (see point nine).
All this (and more) thanks to the magic of Smart Previews!
2. You can create slideshows
The slideshow is a nice way to look at your photos or show them to other people.
Click on the three dots at the top right of the screen (see below) to open a menu.
Select Start Slideshow. Use the menu at the bottom to go into fullscreen or set the slideshow options.
3. You can flag and rate photos
In Lightroom for Web you can rate and flag photos (but you can’t apply color labels). The options for rating and flagging appear at the bottom of the screen in Loupe View (see below).
4. You can develop photos in Lightroom for web
Some (but not all) of the developing tools available in Lightroom Classic and the Lightroom desktop app are available in Lightroom for web.
This is a great feature. Imagine that you’re sitting in a cafe or coffee shop within hour or two spare. All you need is a tablet or laptop and an internet connection and you can develop photos.
You can adjust tonal values, apply profiles, correct white balance, add clarity or texture, adjust hue, saturation and luminance values and even use the new Color Grading panel.
You can apply Develop Presets, including any that you’ve imported into the Lightroom desktop app.
But there are limitations. The biggest one is that you can’t make local adjustments. Hopefully Adobe will add this tool in the future.
Click the Edit icon at the top right of the screen to get started.
The layout (below) is based on the Lightroom desktop editing interface.
5. You can create new Albums/Collections in Lightroom for web
If you need to reorganize your photos it’s easy in Lightroom for web. You can create new Collections (called Albums) and Collection Sets (called Folders) and add photos to them. Any changes you make sync back to Lightroom Classic.
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6. You can download photos
In Loupe View, click the download icon (see below). You can download a JPEG file that measures 2048 pixels along the longest edge (a box opens to show you the file’s size in pixels and KB).
That’s not a full-size file, but it’s plenty big enough for many practical uses including display on a website. Imagine, for example, that you are visiting grandparents and showing them photos of their grandkids. If they have a printer you can download a JPEG and make a small print. It’s much easier than waiting until you get home to do it.
7. There’s a find your best photos tool
If you’re a fan of letting the computer do the work then you’ll love this tool. To get there, open an Album/Collection, click the three dots icon and select Choose Best Photos.
Lightroom for web shows you what it thinks are the best photos in the Album/Collection. It gives you options on the right to modify the selection. There’s a Share button at the bottom of the screen that lets you add the selected photos to a new Album or send them to Adobe Portfolio.
8. You can view and add keywords
If you like keywording photos you’ll enjoy this. Go to Loupe View and click the Keywords icon on the bottom right (below). A panel opens showing any keywords you’ve added in Lightroom Classic. It gives you the option to add more keywords or delete existing ones.
It’s a simple tool that lacks the advanced keywording functions in Lightroom Classic. But it’s good enough to get you started.
9. You can share photos using Lightroom for web
I recently connected on Facebook with a friend who I lost contact with after high school. It turns out she is a performance artist and wanted to see some of my photos of circus performers. It only took a few minutes to add them to a new Collection, create a web gallery and share the link with her. In my opinion this is Lightroom for web’s most useful feature! You can see the result below.
If somebody logs in with an Adobe ID they can leave comments and flag photos (if you enable this option). Photographers preparing photos for clients, or sharing photos with friends, may find this useful.
You can share a photo gallery from Lightroom Classic or Lightroom for web.
In Lightroom Classic go to the synchronized Collection you want to share and click the Public button at the top right.
Lightroom Classic gives you a url that you can share with other people. Click the url to open the gallery in your browser.
In Lightroom for web click the Share settings icon at the top right of the screen (below left). A window appears with the gallery link. Click it to open it in your browser or click the Copy link to clipboard icon to copy the url ready for pasting. You can even send the gallery url by email.
Don’t forget you can use the Display menu to customize the appearance of your web gallery.
Lightroom for web doesn’t get talked about often, but it’s one of the more useful features of your Lightroom Classic subscription. Can you remember when the Web module was the only option for making photo galleries? Then you’ll appreciate how easy it is to use Lightroom for web.
Plus you get all the extra functionality, including the ability to log in and see your synchronized Collections from anywhere with an internet connection.
Have a play, and don’t forget to explore the other options that your subscription plan includes!
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