Adobe brings out updates to its Creative Cloud software a couple of times a year, and very often there’s not a lot to report that’s particularly significant to photographers, but this time it’s a little different, with some significant changes to the Lightroom ecosystem.
Perhaps the most important change is that Lightroom CC now supports Versions in both desktop and mobile versions. These look a little like Virtual Copies in Lightroom Classic, but they are not the same at all. In fact, if that’s what you’re expecting you could easily come unstuck, and I’ve written a separate story on Lightroom Versions vs Virtual Copies to spell this out. This does draw attention to the continuing differences between Lightroom CC vs Lightroom Classic.
Another key change is that it will now be possible to ’round trip’ images from Lightroom on iPad to Photoshop for iPad and back again. It’s potentially useful of course, but since they are companion applications it’s a shame this wasn’t built into Photoshop for iPad from the start. Photoshop for iPad is steadily improving – and it is free to Creative Cloud Photography Plan subscribers – but it’s as if Adobe is building it slowly before our eyes, rather than releasing a fully mature app like Affinity Photo for iPad.
Lightroom does have a new Local Hue adjustment feature. When you make adjustments with the Graduated Filter, Radial Filter or Adjustment Brush, you can now make Hue adjustments too. Previously, the only way to adjust the color was with the white balance too. Adobe’s example is a portrait shot where you want to adjust the subject’s skintones but not similar tones elsewhere in the image. It does seem a small step forward, but this is now pretty typical of the pace of development for Lightroom. Users will notice Lightroom Classic has a fresher, more modern ‘Lrc’ logo, too.
Adobe Camera Raw has a new look
If you do your RAW processing in Adobe Camera Raw rather than Lightroom, you might appreciate the new interface layout (or not, if you’d got used to the old one). Adobe has moved the tools from the toolstrip across the top of the window to a new vertical toolstrip to the right of the tools sidebar, so that they are closer to the adjustments they actually represent.
The tools sidebar itself has been redesigned so that the different tools are no longer accessed through horizontal tabs but via vertical expanding/collapsing panels just like Lightroom’s, which is very much the modern way of displaying/stacking tools panels. Lastly, the vertical thumbnail strip on the left side that showed multiple open images has been redesigned too, to show just the image and not the filename any more (it was considered unnecessary, apparently), and this panel can now be displayed as a horizontal filmstrip at the bottom of the window if required.
Photoshop gets few real changes for photographers
There are a number of changes to Photoshop in this update, but they are aimed mainly at designers, illustrators and artists – these areas are just as important to Photoshop as photography, after all.
There is, however, an improvement to the AI-powered Select Subject tool, which now uses Adobe Sensei technology to automatically identify and mask human subjects, including hair. This could be useful in photography, of course, but especially in commercial illustration, where designers need to quickly combine and layer people, type and background.