Archive for September, 2013

#CreativeFriday – Using Lightroom’s Survey mode to create a tetraptych and re-ordering system

Recently I was working with Lightroom and wanted to create a tetraptych (which is 4 images together) to show a series of images of a church that i visited in Norway. I wanted to find the best way to arrange them before i started the Photoshop work and blend them together. The Lightroom survey mode is a great tool and  used for comparing images together by all photographers, and i feel is the best approach for this task, however,  I want to play around with the order without having to come in and out of the view. This is possible inside Lightroom’s survey mode, and it allows you to drag images around whilst in this view.

Here’s how. Move Lightroom into the Library Module (if it is not already selected) and pick multiple images in the film strip. Then to re-order the images, grab one of the images and move it around the view. The other images will move around to accommodate this image. This is great, as it allows me to not only experiment with my  tetraptych, but also allows me to compare images together in a way that makes sense.

You can see in the following screen shot, that I have selected 5 pictures, but only 4 are needed to be part of  my tetraptych, so now i need to select the one’s that i like, but also work together as a set. Initially i am going to start with 4 that grab my attention and use the Adobe Behance platform to collaborate with others to get feed back.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 13.13.27

When in Lightroom’s Library module in grid mode, you can select multiple images to compare (Red). In this case click on the first image, then hold the shift key, click on the last image and selected the range. You can also used the CMD (Mac) or the CTRL (Pc) key to individually select them (the images may not be in a natural sequence). Then move Lightroom into Survey mode to check the images work (Yellow). I would like to use the whole screen estate as well, so i need to remove the panels, pressing SHIFT and ALT keys together will allow me to do this.

Screen-Shot-2013-09-19-at-13.22.03

Pressing the ‘L’ will move Lightroom into Lights out mode. This is now what is displayed.

This view in Lightroom really allows me to see which images work well together. It also allows me to try different combinations, by dragging images and placing them in different locations (click on an image and drag it into a different location on your computer).

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 13.37.42

 

Once the images have been moved they look very different

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 13.41.55

Now let us move them into Photoshop for the assembly.

As this series of images will be for the web, just export them to a folder on the desktop (Red), then set the quality to maximum JPG (Yellow), and the long edge to be 1500 at 360 PPI (Blue).

Screen-Shot-2013-09-19-at-13.44.23

Now open them all in Photoshop CC and assemble to a Black background for editing.

By just opening all of the files inside Photoshop, you can create the final comp using the following techniques

1. Extend the canvas of one on the pictures (this will be an ideal base as it has the same bit depth and height as the rest.

2 Use the crop tool to extend the height of the canvas to support the black edges which will be 3 pixels of black around the edges of the whole comp and the images in the comp. (To make it easier to see where the black edges are, choose the move tool (V) and right click on the canvas and select a lighter colour than black).

3. Set a black background for the comp. Create a new Solid layer (Menu Tool bar / Layer, New Fill Layer / Solid Colour), choose Black or another colour, then move this to the bottom layer of the layer stack (so it is behind the other layers).

4. Turn on the rulers (Menu Tool bar / View / Rulers) and enable guides (Menu Tool bar / View / Show / Guides). I am chosen to use pixel for the rulers (this will help me select 3 pixels), right click on the ruler and choose pixels. Then pull out some guides from the ruler portion of the canvas. I have used 10 vertical and 4 horizontal.

5. Position the vertical guides at the edges of each photograph, starting from the left, choose a 3pixel gap (using the ruler and guides), then move the first picture in place (it will snap), then follow this technique for the rest of the images (as well as the last edge). Continue to do this for the top and bottom edges as well.

Now you should have something like the following. The guides are sticky, so saving the document will these enabled will enable you to add different pictures or re-order pictures, and use this as a template.

6. Save the file as a .PSD, you may also want to save as a template for other work as well.

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 13.57.21

Now let us get feedback on this image from the Behance community using the Behance Work in Progress feature, effectively i am going to use either Behance to get critique on my work (this could be from your peers or the wider community).

At the bottom of the image screen, there is a share on Behance icon (Red). Click this icon and you will be presented with the “Share on Behance Screen”.

Screen-Shot-2013-09-19-at-14.08.34

The Behance Share panel will automatically prepare the file for editing and convert for a web display. You can see that i have already filled in the title, description and SEO (Search Engine Tags) for this image, as well as a conversation piece.

You can control the audience at the bottom of the panel.  Public will be everyone on the Behance network, then Feedback Circle will be a private viewing of peers and colleagues. This is a great way to really make your work shine, by asking other people how it can be improved. This type of workflow is new, but is where I see the future of Photography and Digital Art work.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 14.14.21

Press Continue to move to the next step.

Crop the cover of your work and Publish the work when ready (there is also a chance to promote you work on Twitter as well, in the next step, which is not covered here).

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 14.18.36

You can then see the final Work in Progress image on Behance. You can see below the actual Work in Progress that was issued before this post was written. At the bottom of the page, you can see there is a change to add revisions to this work and show progress of the image, based on critique received.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 14.20.23

If the sequence is not quite right, then you can go back and re-select in Lightroom and survey mode, then slot the image exports back into the Photoshop file, ready to create a new revision in WIP, or create a final project piece.

The feedback from talking with people on this particular image, was that the blured image doesn’t work very well and having something that links the church to more of a religious significance may make the sequence have more relevance and impact.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 14.31.00

You can see my current thoughts on the Behance Work in Progress and if you have any thoughts, please type your comment, it would be great to hear them.

 

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Adobe Lightroom and Leica S Demo day in London.

DemoDayAdvert2

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Adobe Seminar’s at Hassleblad’s Shoot London event

I just wanted to update you on the plans for the Adobe Mini theatre at the upcoming Hasselblad Shoot London event.

The event is free and  amazing as well as a first of it’s kind in the UK for Hasselblad. The Adobe Mini-Theatre will be hosting regular topics throughout the two days, supported by fellow shootLDN partners, Wacom and Datacolor, the hour long seminars will concentrate on the photo elements of Adobe’s new Creative Cloud suite and the new Adobe Photography Bundle.

Learn about the new features of Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5, along with advice on colour management and retouching from a selection of Adobe’s evangelists and partners – Richard Curtis, Dave Mallows, Tigz Rice, David Oduro and Richard West.

To end each day, there will also be a special Open Q&A session, allowing the audience to dictate the content of the session by asking any Adobe related questions.

For more information and registration head over to the Hasselblad Shoot London web page.

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The New Creatives

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Clive Booth – The importance of Print – (interview by Andy Torres)

Clive Booth has a deep interest in the creation, manipulation and printing of imagery. In this film we see Clive in his element, at home with a Canon large format printer. We will get a behind the scenes insight into his working processes and learn about his views on the importance of quality reproduction as we see him transform a series of beautiful images into stunning large format prints using Canon technology.
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#CreativeFriday – Photoshop 14.1 Update – Colour Range Enhancements / Micro Contrast

Photoshop CC in the Creative Cloud just got another update. There are a couple of great new features in this update to Photoshop, as well as some enhancements. The one i wanted to write about in this post, is the enhancements that have been made to the to the Colour Range feature. Colour Range has the ability to find Highlights, Shadows as well as mid-tones for the image, but up to this release, the selection has been based on fixed values. This new update has modified the algorithms to include more control of each of these zones, enabling a range of tones and the partial selection of tones by using the Fuzziness and Range values. This enhancement now provides the same way of working as what’s found in the  Colour Range’s existing “Sampled Colours” option.

Let us recap on what the two new sliders enable for this enhanced feature.

Range

Use Range to select the threshold value (Example: Highlights – 245 means all values 245 and up are selected, Shadows – 15 means 15 and under, mid-tones 100 – 150 means tones in this range will be selected).

Fuzziness

Use Fuzziness to gradually fan out the selection to outside values (uses a partial selection gradient for smoothness).

N.B. You can reset each selection back to legacy default values by holding down SHIFT+ALT and you will see the “Cancel” button change to “Reset”.

 

The best way to show how this is working is to use a step tablet, before we get into an image.

Let us look at the Highlights

For Highlights and you can see the areas of the step wedge that is being selected. The fuzziness here is quite small thus keeping the selection tight, extending just outside of the 190 to 255 range.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.07.11

You can see if we close the highlight range to 250 we narrow down the overall selection.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.07.24

If we now open up the fuzziness, we extend the results of the feather of the selection and start to include other tones.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.07.35

Selection of Midtones.

For Midtones, you select two threshold values, specifying a range between the black and white sliders.. You can see in the Midtones you need to select the lower as well as the upper range values, a fuzziness of 40 (feather) is applied to this, to extend the selection.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.21.27

If we reduce the upper and lower range you can see that the selected range is narrow but the feather extends this somewhat to provide a long blended selection.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.22.19

If we change the fuzziness down to 10, and restrict the feather to 10%, you can see the actual range that is selected is highly reduced.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.22.07

Shadows

Shadows selection work just like Highlights, except the Range selects values BELOW the chosen threshold. (Example: 20 selects all values 20 and lower). You can see that with the default settings for Shadows (the standard shadow range is shown).

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.35.24

In the following image, we have narrowed the range to just 15 (0-15) with a low feather range.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.35.38

We can then extend the Shadow feather by opening the fuzziness.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.35.48

You can quickly create selections of tonal ranges within an image that smoothly transition out into unmasked data. You are also able to save presets and record actions/scripts to make this process even faster.

Real world editing

Now let us work on an image to show how much control this type of mask creation can give us when editing our pictures. I’m not going to show the whole end of end re-touch process, just this particular feature, however, i’d love to know how you are using it or planning to use it.

On the image below I would like to show the details in the mountains & trees by deepening the shadows around the trees ,as well as specific low shadow detail areas in the image (within the fjord as there are reflections that contain the trees as well and I’d like to keep balance in the image). I think this technique will really show off the trees and add extra punch to the micro areas of the scene. One of the things that you get when you go up the Lens quality chain is colour, contrast, saturation, bokeh, dimension and finer details. Some lenses can also give you micro contrast. Micro contrast is the tiny details of contrast at almost pixel level, but will provide a subtle difference to the over all contrast and add another level of detail and dimension to the picture.

This does however bring up an issue, there are lots of trees and it would take a long time to work on just the tree shadows as well as the other lower shadow parts of the image, and keeping the balance is going to be tricky. In previous versions of Photoshop, this would have been difficult to do and would have taken an age to complete.

In the picture below you can see that there are thousands of trees on all sides of the facing mountains, but it is slightly difficult to separate them from the actual mountain and their shadows.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.43.00

If we look closely there are details that we can work on (the image below is at 600%), and yes there is actual tree details here (amazing huh, this detail is thanks to the amazing Leica Summicron 35mm F2). What I would like to do is to apply micro contrast to the shadow area on each tree on this image, as well as the reflections in the Fjord, and will do this by adding more black to these areas. But as i am sure you are aware, there are a hundreds of trees on this section, and thousands around the whole picture.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 20.33.53

Using the new Fuzziness and Range sliders in the Colour Range Highlight and Shadow feature is really going to save me many hours of time, but also give me a very accurate way to work on this micro contrast addition.

Creating Micro Contrast.

If you are working with micro contrast you want to have as much detail information as possible. I have brought this image into Photoshop via Camera RAW and applied some sharpening to give me as much detail as possible. As you can see in the following screen shot, I have applied quite a lot of sharpening to pull all of the details out (you may need to play with your images and see what values work on your images, as this will be camera/lens dependent). The lens i used for this creates images that hold up well to a lot of detail sharpening.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 20.39.36

To access the Colour Range command in Photoshop CC, choose from the tool bar menu Select / Colour Range. Notice that I have Shadows selected, and my mask is set to Quick Mask, I have also Invert turned on (This will allow me to see what is NOT being selected,  I find it easier to work on what I am not going to select), in this case what isn’t red will be affected by the next step (need to turn off the Invert before I press OK). I also have the Selection enabled for the thumbnail, as this will show me the selection of tones that is being selected for the whole image. The tricky bit in this process is determining the values in the Fuzziness and Range (you may need to play this and experiment on your images). First move the Range value to work out the selection values (42 in this case will select all of the shadow areas of the trees around the mountains, and exclude the green foliage of the trees (the difference between the green leaves and the shadow will be my contrast range), then refine this selection using the Fuzziness value. This may take a little bit of experimenation to get the right values.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 20.42.05

Make sure than when you are finished, turn off the invert. Then press OK.

You can see that all the fine details have been selected

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 20.53.33

(and zoomed out)

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 20.55.17

Now that we have this fine selection of just the shadow areas (mountains and Fjord, as well as the shadows in the foreground area), we can add some black using the Selective Colour adjustment layer using the mask from the selection. To apply the Adjustment layer to the selection, just choose the from the tool bar menu Layer /New Adjustment Layer / Selective Colour.

Once the Adjustment Layer has been applied, you will see the adjustments appear in the Properties panel (Red), you will also see the Layer and the Layer Mask has been applied (Yellow) from the selection of the Colour Range command.

Screen-Shot-2013-09-18-at-20.58.01

Let us quickly look at the mask (Hold the ALT key and click on the mask (marked with a white square in the image below).

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 20.56.38

If you zoom in using CMD(Mac)/CTRL(Pc) and + (Zoom out CMD/CTRL(Pc) and -), you can clearly see the level of detail that the Colour Range selection has generated.Remember Black conceals and White revels, so everything in will be affected by the micro contrast adjustment.

To return back from the mask just ALT+Click on the mask once again.

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 21.05.11

Now we just need to add some Black to the selected areas to increase the contrast in the shadows/white areas.

On the Properties panel of the Selective Colour Adjustment layer just add a positive value to the Black/Neutral values and watch the image gain Micro Contrast.

Screen-Shot-2013-09-18-at-21.09.29

Also, this command can be scripted as well, so you are able to add speed and consistency to your edits.

There are many other benefits of having this feature on the Colour Range feature, have a play and hopefully you will find ways to improve your picture making skills.

 

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Photoshop Photography Program now available.

For a limited time, you can join a special Creative Cloud plan designed exclusively for Photoshop customers focused on photography. It includes access to Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5, plus feature updates and upgrades as they are available, 20GB of cloud storage for file sharing and collaboration, and a Behance ProSite. And it’s just £8.78/month when you sign up for a one-year plan. This is not an introductory price, but you need to join by December 31, 2013. To qualify, you must own Photoshop CS3 or later (Standard or Extended version)

 

You can see more details and to buy the offer here.

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Lightroom 5.2 is now available!

Lightroom 5.2 is now available as a final release on Adobe.com and through the update mechanism in Lightroom 5.  The goal of this release is to provide additional camera raw support, lens profile support and address bugs that were introduced in previous releases of Lightroom.

The Lightroom 5 Software Development Kit (SDK) is also now available.  The Lightroom SDK allows developers to extend and customise Lightroom through the use of plug-ins.

Release Notes

New Features in Lightroom 5.2

  • A Smoothness adjustment slider has been added to the Detail Panel under Color Noise Reduction. This helps to reduce low-frequency color mottling artifacts
  • Refinements to the Spot Healing Tool:
    • New Feather control
    • Auto find source method now works better for images with textured areas like rocks, bark, and foliage
    • Auto find source method now prefers source areas within the crop rectangle
  • Auto Exposure has been improved to be more consistent across images and across different image sizes.
  • Smart Preview size has been updated to 2560 pixels on the long edge.
  • Refinements to the Local Adjustment Brush:
    • Right Click (PC) / Control-click (Mac) on a brush adjustment pin to bring up a context menu to duplicate or delete
    • Control+Alt+Drag (PC) / Command+Option+Drag (Mac) on a brush adjustment pin to clone (duplicate) that adjustment

Newly added support for Tethered Capture in Lightroom 5.2

  • Canon EOS 6D
  • Canon EOS Rebel T5i / EOS 700D / EOS Kiss X7i
  • Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D / EOS Kiss X7
  • Nikon D7100

New Camera Support in Lightroom 5.2

  • Canon EOS 70D
  • Canon PowerShot G16
  • Canon PowerShot S120*
  • Casio Exilim EX-ZR800
  • Fujifilm FinePix HS22EXR
  • Fujifilm FinePix HS35EXR
  • Fujifilm FinePix S205EXR
  • Fujifilm X-A1
  • Fujifilm X-M1
  • Leica C (Typ 112)
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1*
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72
  • Pentax Q7
  • Pentax K-50
  • Pentax K-500
  • Sony DSC-RX100 II
  • Sony A3000 (ILCE-3000)
  • Sony NEX-5T

* denotes preliminary support

New Lens Profile Support in Lightroom 5.2

Mount Name
Sony Sony E 35mm F1.8 OSS
Hasselblad Hasselblad LF16mm F2.8
Hasselblad Hasselblad LF18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS
Hasselblad Hasselblad LF18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS
GoPro GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition
GoPro GoPro Hero 3 Silver Edition
GoPro GoPro Hero 3 White Edition
Leica Leica TRI-ELMAR-M 16-18-21 mm f/4 ASPH.
Canon SIGMA 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM A013
Canon, Nikon, Sigma SIGMA 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S013
Nikon SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A013
Olympus, Sony SIGMA 60mm F2.8 DN A013
Pentax, Sony SIGMA 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM C013
Pentax, Sony SIGMA 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A012
Nikon Nikon 1 NIKKOR 32mm f/1.2
Sony Sony DSC-RX1R

Bugs Corrected in Lightroom 5.2

  • Output Sharpening and Noise Reduction were not applied to exported images that were resized to less than 1/3 of the original image size.
  • Slideshow Exporting process fails for time-lapse sequences.
  • Unable to export a Book.  This only occurred after a customer deleted a background photo.
  • Catalog containing images processed with PV2003 were adding a post-crop vignette when catalog upgraded to Lightroom 5.
  • JPEG decoding produced a red colorcast.
  • Unable to scroll through photos when in Full screen mode.  This only occurs when more than 1 photo is selected.
  • “Store presets with this catalog” preference is not preserved when upgrading catalog from previous versions of Lightroom.
  • Crash when scrubbing Size slider with existing spot selected.
  • Landscape crop not maintained on portrait oriented photos
  • Pressing the Reset button while holding the Shift key results in an internal error.
  • Crash when attempting to move brush spots.
  • Gray area is shown when zooming in/out after cropping image.
  • A row of vertical artifacts appears along bottom edge of photo when applying Grain.
  • Defringe Color Sampler is inaccurate on photos that have Upright applied.
  • All of the images on a Compact Flash card did not appear in the Import Dialogue.
  • Metadata panel displayed incorrect information after modifying published photo. Please note that this only occurred when metadata was changed after the photo was published.
  • Soundtrack does not fade at the end of a slideshow.
  • The Esc key did not exit the slideshow after right clicking screen with mouse during slideshow playing.
  • Import dialog remained blank for folders that contain PNG files with XMP sidecars.

Download Links:

Lightroom 5.2: Windows | Mac

Lightroom 5 SDK – http://www.adobe.com/devnet/photoshoplightroom.html

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#CreativeFriday – An introduction to #Lightroom

I have been asked a few times recently, what is Lightroom, how does it work and what’s the best way to get started. I wanted to take a different approach and focus on the how, rather than the what. So decided to put together a short series of videos that show my workflow around Lightroom. The workflow is something that use for my image making and maybe different from other people, and that’s ok, because people find their own groove with the product. The idea of this series is to show the basics, but with the idea that as your skills grow, you will also develop your own technique, but it’s a great place to start and see how other people use the features in the product.

 

So first off, What is Lightroom?

Lightroom is a software application made by Adobe that allows a Photographer to mange their pictures and videos, as well as providing an elegant way to edit them and create beautiful finished Photographs and maybe a little bit of video.

Lightroom exists because it solves a very basic problem, and that was to provide an imaging solution for Photographers that would support the natural workflow from start to finish, but to provide elegance and simplicity. The other side of the problem is that any solution must support RAW files, as well as a way to not damage the picture, but provide a way to be creative and an ability to create beautiful images. Lightroom was designed in this way, with the photographer in mind and since then has grown in features to support new requirements, including the management and simple development of videos from the camera/phone.

You can see in the picture below that the Photographers typical workflow is label using the tabs at the top right hand side of Lightroom.

An-overall-lead-image-to-illustrate-Lightroom

How will Lightroom help the Photographer ?

Lightroom does many things to help the Photographer, from providing an intuitive interface for the beginner, but providing powerful tools for the advanced professional Photographer.  There are some key principles that Lightroom adopts to make this happen.

Lightroom supports non destructive and non linear imaging workflow (for RAW files, as well as other file formats (png,tiff, psd etc), which effectively means Lightroom won’t make any changes to the original files and all changes are stored separately in a small format called Metadata, as well as allowing you to make any changes at any point in time without having to think about dependencies. Not only does this protect you, but provides you creative freedom to try different visions on the same picture without having to commit to anything. It also means that when used correctly, it won’t take up huge amounts of storage for the adjustments.

 

What are RAW files & images and where does Lightroom put them?

RAW files & images can be confusing, so, it’s worth mentioning why it’s an import part of the picture making process. Most Digital SLR and compact system/mirror-less cameras today support both the JPG and RAW format. The JPG format is actually a final image picture format and it is created in the camera, this means that the colour, sharpness, saturation  as well as other elements are fixed in the picture and can’t be undone. The image can be changed using Lightroom, however, it is not as flexible when it comes to editing and certain elements can start to be destroyed (depending on many different factors, mostly relating to how the JPG was created in the first place). That is not to say that it can’t be changed and support a non destructive workflow, Lightroom is able to work with JPG’s as well, you just won’t be able to push the image as far in a JPG workflow, compared to a RAW file.  The JPG format is an important format though, as it is typically used to publish your images to the Internet, print or sharing with friends via social media, JPG’s are also heavily used in DVD creation etc.

On the other side of the fence, the RAW file is extremely flexible as the image has not been created yet, it’s more akin to a series of numbers that represent the final image. The challenge though is that a RAW file is just numbers, therefore requires a program to decipher them. Lightroom understands the RAW file and will create you a preview of the final image. All of the tools that are provided inside Lightroom are designed to work with this format and provide you with the best image quality possible in any picture editing tool. The only drawback with the RAW file is that it is typically larger in size that the same JPG file, and will take up more storage on your disks.

All file formats that Lightroom supports (described here) and there are hundreds of different RAW file types that are supported as well (documented here).

Which ever file format is used the files need to be imported into Lightroom, using the import feature (this screen is shown in the picture below).

RAW-image-screen-in-Lightroom

Let’s look at each module inside Lightroom and explain it’s purpose to the Photographer.

1. Library module

The Library module is at the heart of Lightroom. At its core Lightroom is an optimised database system, which provides a way for photographers to organise and manage their pictures, either by searching and find the content where ever it may be in the setup. This includes network drives and external hard drives. Lightroom never actually puts any of your pictures or videos in a place that you are not able to access them, therefore not locking you in.

It’s true however, that you need to import your pictures into Lightroom. Importing your work into Lightroom is really just to enable Lightroom to be aware of them and where to find them, should you want to edit/work on them. You can actually put your pictures wherever you wish, either using the Import module in Lightroom, or manually, and then telling Lightroom where it needs to find them (again via the import). Ultimately, Lightroom leaves you in control of your content, and as of such is able to manage 100’s of thousand of images and videos at any one time, across your whole set up.

You can see Lightroom importing images in the picture below, but the video at the end of this post will show you how i import and manage my images as part of my workflow.

Library-image-screen-in-Lightroom

There is a huge advantage with the Library module though. When you take a picture with the camera, the camera’s internal electronics also contribute to the final image, the camera will automatically apply this additional data to your image when it creates the file. This information contains the technical aspects to the picture, i.e. the ISO that was used, F-stop, flash settings, white balance and possibly GPS location information (if you are lucky enough to have a GPS receiver in your camera). This information is loaded into Lightroom upon import automatically and can be important when looking for your images later on. However, the real key to finding your images once they are in Lightroom is by using additional information that the camera is not able to tell you, and this is keywords. Keywords are a way to describe the picture by your own language, i.e. where it was taken, who is it the picture, if it was a celebration and there are many other ways to describe the pictures. Some people like to really go to town on this part of the workflow, but if you are not used it doesn’t  have to be complicated or even take a lot of time, it is really just about you explaining what you will remember about the picture, the next time you want to find it. I would suggest that you start with just enough for you to remember when/where or what is in the  the picture when it was taken.

Hopefully through the videos throughout this series and at the end of this post will help you in getting a clear understanding of how to get Lightroom to work for you and you too can create beautiful images that you will want to share with the world.

2. Development 

The Development module has been designed like an artists canvas and provides the tools that can be used for image enhancement (i refer to enhancement rather than manipulation because Lightroom never actually changes anything to the underlying content, where Photoshop is clearly a manipulation tool). It’s important to explain the difference between image enhancement and image manipulation. Image manipulation on an image is usually done with Lightroom’s big brother Photoshop and used hugely flexible when it comes down to changing elements within an image or including new images into an existing scene, i.e. removing things from the picture and replacing with other elements from different pictures. Image enhancement is really similar what you are able to achieve in the traditional Darkroom, or improvement of the image, but not fundamentally changing its structure . The structure of the final image is never really compromised when using Lightroom, it may be that blemishes need to be removed and other artefacts, but never introduced from another picture.

The Development module has some very powerful tools and will work with many camera formats (from RAW to JPG, TIFF and other standards). The tools that exist can help you create your vision for the Photograph, but will also enable you to be highly creative with the picture in hand. Lightroom also enables some simple video enhancement as well.

From a Development point of view, Lightroom is able to work on an image in two modes. 1. to alter the standard “global” elements of the image, from Exposure, recover highlights and shadows, convert to Black and White, sharpening plus many other options. 2. Lightroom introduces the powerful local adjustments panel, which allows you to paint your enhancements into the picture in defined selected areas, i.e. you may want to add more dimension or shape a models face with a dodging and burning tool (to create an image with more impact), therefore you can paint this adjustment in and create an effect that is easily removed or changed, at any point in time.

The image below shows the Develop module and the tools on the right hand side that are used in Global and Local adjustments.

Develop-image-screen-in-Lightroom

3. Map (an internet connection is required for this feature)

A different way to look and work with your pictures is by the location where they were taken. If you are lucky enough to have a camera with a GPS receiver or an GPS adapter, then the picture will be placed onto the map automatically (when you enter the Map module). The Map module does require an internet connection to work, as it is powered by Google Maps. The GPS data is part of the Meta Data that exists inside Lightroom and will created automatically when GPS tagged images are imported into Lightroom . You can also manually enter the GPS data or by collecting GPS data from another GPS enabled device (like a smart phone,or GPS receiver). Lightroom will also try to fetch more location data about the picture using the GPS coordinates if you would like it to, but can be turned off when required. This won’t have an impact on your connection performance, as the amount of traffic generated is negligible. This query to the Google Map engine will find the date and will fill in the blanks for you, collecting the town (sub location), state/province, Country, country code etc, location as well as other elements. We will look at this in more details with a dedicated session on the map module. For the more advanced user, Lightroom also support GPX track log data, which means that you will be able to see the route you took when taking the photographs and therefore re-trace your steps when required.

The picture below shows the Map module inside Lightroom, as you can see the map already has some pictures tagged, and will show those pictures in a pop up window.

Map-image-screen-in-Lightroom

4. Books

Adobe has partnered with a company called Blurb to enable book making from within Lightroom. This module is part of the Photographers workflow and is integrated into the Development module, as well as the Library module. Creation of books inside Lightroom, does not require and other special software to be downloaded, just an internet connection when you want to send books to Blurb for printing within Lightroom. Blurb are renowned for printing high quality ad-hoc books (from 1 to many), however, you can also create a high res PDF or high res JPG renditions of your pages. The benefit of having an in built module is that any changes that are made in the Development module are subsequently reflected in the book, where ever the image is used either in the book you are making or may have made previously. Once your book has been designed, it can than be sent to Blurb (via your internet connection) for printing (via a button within the Book module), which can then be accessed and viewed and print by others (if required)

You can see the book module in the picture below.

Books-image-screen-in-Lightroom

5. Slide Shows

Sometimes you want to show your work to an audience and want to create it based up on the images and videos in your Lightroom Library, as well as including some music. Creating a slideshow manually can take a long time with other products, having the ability for Lightroom to create it from your selection as well as your developed work is a great feature and is used regularly by many different people (from beginners to professionals).

You can see the slide show module below.

Slide-Show-image-screen-in-Lightroom

 

6. Web

Lightroom can help you publish your work to your website, ftp or create a page/site from a template.

Web-image-screen-in-Lightroom

7. Print

Print in Lightroom is super simple and will enable you to print your pictures on the printer and paper combination of your choice. Lightroom also supports a soft proof mechanism that will allow you to look at your picture before it’s printed, to make sure it looks right and you don’t waste expensive materials. The Print module makes is super easy to print within a calibrate workflow and makes sure that your prints are of the highest quality.

Print-image-screen-in-Lightroom

We hope you can see how Lightroom really embraces the Photographers workflow and provides a flexible and scalable solution for your future pictures. This series of tips and tricks, how to videos and posts will hopefully give you a good grounding and a starting point for understanding and working with Lightroom 5.

We also hope you enjoy the video and tutorial sessions that starts with this post.

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Importing your first pictures into Lightroom

This video tutorial will show you how to create your first Lightroom catalog as well as importing your first pictures.
Lightroom catalog
The Lightroom catalog is used to store a link to the actual Photos or Videos (and not to store the image/video itself), any adjustments that you make in the Development module are stored in the catalog, as well as keywords and other technical information as well as the thumbnails. The Catalog is underlying component that makes Lightroom so powerful. You will need to import any files into the Catalog via Lightroom.
As part of your workflow you may need to create new catalogs. Some of the most common reasons for this are:-
  • Wanting to split paid jobs and personal portfolios,
  • Having specific images inside different catalogs for content separation (i.e. Holidays, Portfolio, Landscapes etc)
  • Final work and work in progress in different catalogs
  • etc

(So, it’s always a good idea to know how to create a new one.)

Creating a new catalog
You can create a new catalog using the menu system and selecting File / New Catalog. Lightroom will then ask you where you would like to put the catalog, I would suggest that the catalog resides on your local computer’s hard disk, as this will enable the best performance (If the Catalog is placed on an external disk or somewhere else on your network you may not achieve fully optimised results) and will be there when you need it. once you have chosen a place for your catalog, then you can give it an appropriate name and press Create.
Importing your pictures & videos in Lightroom
Assuming that you have just created a new catalog or are just adding pictures to an existing catalog, the import module is something that will be used over and over again. You may import many different types of images into Lightroom, including JPG, PSD, TIFF etc. Lightroom has been designed from the ground up to support the RAW format and the RAW workflow. The RAW file is the most flexible format to create beautiful images from. There are many different types of RAW files, most camera manufacturers have there own format (i.e. Canon is .CR2), Adobe also have a format called the Digital Negative (DNG).  For a list of all supported cameras and RAW formats with Lightroom as well as Adobe Camera RAW then please navigate to this page.
The following picture shows the import interface of Lightroom.
Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 14.18.22
The best way i have found to navigate the Lightroom panels is by working from left to right and in a clock wise direction.
You can see from the screen shot above, that the source folder is on the left hand side. The source is used to import the pictures into Lightroom from.  You should select the folder that you wish to bring pictures in from (sometimes, you may not see all of your pictures, even though they are on the card or the drive. To resolve this, there is an “Include Sub Folders” flag under the “Select source” (if not source is selected), or clicking on the combo box at the top left of the screen (marked “EOS Digital” (to the left of the big black arrow). If this does not have a tick by the side of it then subfolder, won’t be displayed, click the “Include Subfolders” to display them).
Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 13.49.07
At the top of the import panel you can see the Copy as DNG, Copy, Move and Add. These are controls for how Lightroom will import your pictures and videos. If you are importing from a Memory card and card reader, it is more than likely that this will be set to Copy, and is that one that you will use to import from these devices. The other options are for importing with more control are :-
  • Copy a DNG will copy the native camera RAW file (i.e. Canon .CR2) from it’s native format and convert to the open Adobe DNG format.
  • Copy will copy the files from the source to the destination
  • Move will move the files from the source into the chosen destination and delete the files from the source.
  • Add will not copy or do anything to the pictures/videos, it will just tell Lightroom where they are.
Selecting pictures and videos to import
The pictures and video that Lightroom is able to find are displayed in the middle grid part of the screen. Those pictures with a tick in the check box will be included as part of the import process. All content can be selected (Check All), or none (Uncheck All), or a selection of them from the filmstrip at the bottom of the screen. Also, the order of your content that Lightroom is displaying can be changed in the sort selector placed in the bottom right of this window, as well as the thumbnail size.
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Options that are available as part of the import
On the right hand side of the import screen is where you are able to customise how Lightroom will import your content.
File Handling
Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 13.05.55
The Build Previews will create a larger image than just the small thumbnail that the Lightroom Library will display. These previews are handy for later and when we move to the Development module. However, making a lot of previews may have an affect on the size of your Lightroom catalog, but should not affect the performance of Lightroom when editing your work.
Build Smart Previews
This option will build a preview that can be used instead of the real image file, its useful when Lightroom is not able to find the original file. This can be handy when travelling and using Lightroom (i use this when i am on planes, trains and in a car). The files that are created are stored next to the Lightroom catalog in a special format and will not take up a huge amount of space (when compared to the original). There are controls within Lightroom to manage these files (i.e Build and remove, so is not a requirement to always build them here, just for the ones when required). My feeling is that they should be used when required and not all of the time, as it may increase the size of your catalog contents, unnecessarily.
Don’t import suspected duplicates
Lightroom has the ability to make sure that duplicate images are not imported into the catalog. This checkbox, when turned on will enable this feature.
Make a second copy To
As Photographers we are always protective over our content. This option will instruct Lightroom to back up your pictures whilst it is importing.  This is handy for whilst you maybe away on your travels, in the studio or at home and can help you organise your data (just in case anything accidentally) happens to your master collection. Also, Lightroom has a backup option, this is designed to backup you catalog only and not your pictures, this is something you will need to manage.
File Rename
Sometimes you may want to rename the files when they are imported, so that you can recognise them.
Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 13.19.21
By enabling the Rename Files tick box, you can change the name of the files to be something that suits your workflow. There are templates that you can select, or you can create your own.
Apply during import
This option will enable to apply a standard and consistent behaviour when importing your pictures and videos.
Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 13.30.15
Develop Settings
Lightroom has a concept of Presets within the Development module. These presets can give your pictures or videos a certain look and feel (i.e. Black and White, Highly Saturated, Grainy like the old film days) and create consistency across your work. Presets can be made in Lightroom, or purchased as well as some free downloads from the internet. Develop settings/presets are non destructive and will not harm your photograph and can be removed at any time in the future using Lightroom. I would recommend choosing None here (at least for your first import), then you are able to see your pictures as they were taking from inside the camera before any adjustments are applied to them.
Metadata
Typically we would like to get credit for our pictures if shared or used online. Having content in the Metadata preset (i.e. your name, website address and copyright information) will enable people to know where the picture came from. You will need to create your own, but can do from this option. The chosen one preset will stay in Lightroom Metadata option until it is changed (this will help you to not forget to apply it on every import).
Keywords
Keywords are an important part of the workflow and will really add more context to your catalog. They will not only remind you where you took the image or video, but also enable to find them later. One tip here is that when importing your data the keywords should relate to the whole import, rather than just one or two of the images. You can add specific keywords to the images later, once they have been imported.
Destination
You can specify where the pictures and video will be placed during the import process. This is where Lightroom will be able to find the each piece of work when you move into the Development module. I would suggest that this is an External hard drive, or somewhere on your network, but that is not to say that it won’t work on your computers hard disk (you may run out of space at some point, if working with large RAW files though).
Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 13.40.39
The Plus sign at the top of the picture above will enable you to create a custom folder in the destination, also, a right click on anywhere on the folder will enable you to do the same thing.
Go!
The final stage is to actually import the pictures from the source to the destination, and applying the options in the process.
Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 13.44.04

 

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Black and White Photography – Leica Monochrom ‘In the Field’ Exclusive

There were 6 photographers that had a portfolio review with Black and White Photography magazine and Eddie Ephraums a few months ago. The objective of the review was to see how a range of photographers are using the Leica Monochrom camera in the field to make their stories. The photographers were :-

Each Photographer submitted 10 images and using a consensus vote, selected 6 of these to be considered for the actual print run of the October 2013 issue of the Black and White Photography Magazine. From this selection 3 were selected and are now available inside the latest version of the magazine (front cover is below). The magazine is amazing quality and is available in print from your local newsagent or the issue can be found on the iPad via the app store . The magazine is a great resource for any budding photographer that would like to improve their photography as well as improve their black and white work, of course there are lots of other features as well from photographic great writers.

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