As we all know, Adobe loves the software-plugin interface. In fact, if you start counting how many plugins are available to use with Photoshop, you may be surprised.
Well, in a similar way, Lightroom has that same thing to offer. Even though the Plugins are much fewer if we compare it with Photoshop, nowadays some of the most important plugins pack for Photoshop now have they versions for Lightroom.
So let’s take a look at what could be a list of Lightroom useful plugins
Alien Skin Plugin Pack
One of my favourite suites no doubt. Three Plugins work for Lightroom
Exposure: What can I say? It has to be one of complete plugins for non-destructive RAW files editing. It has that film emulsion effect that most photographers love; the kind of feel that you can’t achieve with digital cameras on its own.
One of it “pros” is that its interface it’s much easier to use than Lightroom’s native, so it is a good start point for beginners to work with this. But please notice that Adobe Lightroom handles colorway much better. Somehow, this is something guys at Alien Skin hasn’t perfected yet. Bokeh rendering effects are pretty cool.
Snap Art: For that “Inner Artist” we all have 😉 Snap Art allows your photos to become into beautiful works of art. It has plenty effects to play with (Color Pencils, Pen & Ink, Oil Paint, Watercolours, etc). The ideal plugin when you feel up to a creative moment
Blow Up: An image enlargement plugin with no quality loss.
Notice that if you can’t find your plugins, they are located under the Photo menu
Some people may say they are competitors with Exposure; in my opinion, they target different public.
VSCO focuses more on producing the artistic-looking effect. It adds A LOT of film grain in order to produce old/vintage looking photos, but the kind of photos you may actually look at a Magazine.
Sample from VSCO website
Whenever I see a photo post-produced with VSCO FILM it always makes me feel like I travel through time. Not too far away, perhaps the 90s with the Kodak cams everywhere. But it is on how VSCO FILM handles photos that its magic lives within.
In my opinion, a must have. Even more, if you work as a Photojournalist.
This plugin allows us to blend multiple shots with different exposures in order to create a natural looking image.
It works really well with interior photos of dark places (like for example churches) as its blending process can image at the dark scene can create a much more exposure than what is possible to achieve with a single shot series of photographs.
Sample from LR/Enfuse site
Another goodie to have. A bigger compound of plugins that most Photoshop users know off.
It is composed of the following plugins:
Analog Efex Pro: It gives the effect of a classical camera shot.
Color Efex Pro: An amazing compound of postproduction tools, mostly focused on filters to apply and make your photo became a masterpiece
Silver Efex Pro: B&W Effect Perfection, by far. It also can add Film Grain effect to make pictures look older.
Viveza: It is a selective color tool, where you can adjust the image tone without needing to apply layer masks
HDR Efex Pro: Even though you can manage HDR look in Photoshop, HDR Efex Pro offers you a quicker way to create natural-looking HDR images
Dfine: Noise reduction plugin. A fantastic thing that this powerful plugin adds is the possibility of applying noise reduction per color. Not something that we see every day, and it is also combined with sharpening effects (although not as powerful as Sharpener Pro)
Sharpener Pro: Best tool for image sharpening. It gives your photos that realistic boost looks they need, enhancing the details you want to select for your picture to shine on.
Portraiture Skin Retouching
What every photographer needs – A sort of “make beauty” my portraits tool.
It eliminates hours and hours of working with masking tools in order to reduce ugly imperfections on pictures, with automatic skin smoothing healing effect
It works as a noise suppression software that can be amazingly useful in Photo Restoration techniques.
As it reduces film grain effect considerably, it works really well with scanned images or with high ISO pictures that need to be fixed as soon as possible.
Topaz Labs Restyle
With over 1000 color enhancement options, it does more than just changing colors at images, it also adds emotion to it. Want to see how could you look at an autumn scene? Well, with Restyle it is only just a couple of clicks away. (It reminds me of old Variations tool at Photoshop)
A Windows only option, but useful when working on the cloud. It allows you to export your produced photos in Lightroom to Dropbox
DxO Optics Pro
More than a plugin, this is mostly like a Standalone that creates an interesting workflow with Lightroom.
On its proper workflow, Lightroom should manage and catalog images, allowing them to be printed or other elements of digital distribution, while DxO Optics pro is settled for correction and processing of RAW files.
To Sum Up
Nowadays, there is no workflow at Lightroom that can discard one of the two vital elements: Plugins and Presets.
It depends on mostly in how to combine them both to what kind of effect you may achieve. And that’s where having a good collection of presets, along with some of these plugins that I mentioned over here can help a lot.
But notice that even though this tools can make photos look fantastic, it doesn’t only depend on digital arts to become a good photographer. This tools can enhance the look of our job… however, how can they enhance something if we don’t take seriously the job we are doing?
Don’t expect magic to come out from them, but the reward of enhancing a job well done.