That's when I began to seriously considered buying Lightroom--it's very much like ACR on steroids and not only had the target adjustment capabilities, but had multiple targeted adjustment capabilities. Yes, it also has a powerful organizer/database capability, but I didn't buy it for that. I've come to appreciate it however, but it's the RAW editing that I was after. As you might have anticipated, the second major change I made was to start shooting everything in RAW instead of JPG. There is an almost endless debate about which is better, and that debate is more rooted in the end use (from a quality standpoint) of your images and the amount of post processing involved--but there is no debate however in terms of which format has the greatest final image quality potential...RAW is the undisputed favorite of professionals and serious amateurs.
There is one drawback (or WAS) with shooting RAW and that is that from an editing standpoint, you're starting from scratch with a format that MUST be edited to give you a pleasing final result. I found that I was spending considerably more time in post production because I had to edit every single image. That's when I made a "discovery"...and exploited another powerful capability of Lightroom--presets.
I have created presets (automated routines/scripts) in Lightroom for exporting but until now hadn’t seen a need for creating a preset in the Develop module, especially with all the creative ones already there. But that was until my "aha" moment which came today...
What hit me was that in order for my Nikon (or Canon...) to generate JPGs, it starts with the very same RAW capture, applies a series of adjustments based on a very scientific and pre-defined algorithm, saves the JPG to your memory card in a reduced file size, and then discards the RAW capture. What I realized was that if I could approximate what those changes/adjustments were, then I could save it as a preset, apply it to future RAW captures, and have a good starting point for further edits instead of starting from scratch with each and every image...and of course the advantage would be that my starting point would be on a foundation of RAW data which is far richer that what's in a JPG image (hence the difference in file size).
So, I went out to the backyard where I made a test shot with my camera set to RAW+JPG so that I’d be dealing with the identical image capture and could go back and forth to see an "A-B" comparison. From there, I went into the develop module and toggled back and forth between the two images, making adjustment to the NEF image until it was nearly identical to the JPG image. At that point I created the preset.
Now, whenever I import my next batch of RAW images, I will apply that preset ON IMPORT (or after the fact is fine) so that at least when I start going through the images, I’ll have increased the odds that more images will be fine as-is, without further editing.
By the way, my image gallery is at http://costamesaphotography.com/ I'd be happy to have you look around and give me your feedback. You can always email me CostaMesaPhotography@gmail.com