Archive for August, 2013

#Lightroom – Using the Datacolor Cube to make calibrated photographs

A couple of weeks ago I put a post together to how to calibrate your camera using the Datacolor Checker (available here). Now it’s time to finish the workflow and talk about the Datacolor Cube and calibrating your pictures in the real world (N.B. this example uses the Process 2012 profile available in Lightroom 4 and  Lightroom 5). The Process 2012 profile was introduced in Lightroom 4 and offers better control of the Shadows and Highlights of the image. To check your settings, make sure you are in the Develop module, choose menu option Settings / Process, 2012 (Current) should be displayed.

Before we do anything with the Cube, we should turn on the Lens correction inside Lightroom. Lens correction makes sure that any lens vignetting and pin cushioning are removed from the image. You can turn on lens correction in the Lens Correction panel (Yellow) using the check box on the basic tab or on the profile tab, in this case, the lens was chosen for me based on the meta data that was supplied from the image during the import.

Based on the previous post on calibrating the camera and lens using the Datacolor Checkr (available here) the colour profile has also been applied (Red) and the colours have been corrected based on this calibration.

The Datacolor Cube is in the scene and the grey/white side is facing the light source (in this case the sun) and the black trap/side is facing the camera. I have metered the scene to make sure that i get the correct exposure. As a result you can see that the histogram (Orange) is perfect and has tone across the highlights, mid-tones and shadows and isn’t clipping anywhere. (You will see that the actual F stop used was f4.8 and not f4, this will cause the exposure to be slightly underexposed (Aperture ring slipped slightly when taken these photographs). Most Light meters are not calibrated when they are made. To calibrate it head over to Frank DoorHof’s blog and follow the instructions there.

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The cube is designed to make sure that my images look correct based on calibrated settings. It will do quite a few different things :-

  • 1. Set the correct white balance (this is not part of the profile that the Spyder Checker created).
  • 2. Enable me to set the correct white and black point for the image
  • 3. Correct the Exposure

The Technically the CUBE is defined to provide :-

  •  1 Chrome Ball Measures catchlight to analyze specular highlights.
  •  2 White Face(s) Define highlights in relation to catchlight.
  •  3 Gray Face(s) Measures color temperature and midtone response.
  •  4 Black Face Defines shadows in relation to black trap.
  •  5 Black Trap Defines absolute black.

It doesn’t matter that the cube is the first picture, as long as you do it at some point during the shoot.

STEP 1: Set the White Balance

The White Balance tool is used to set the colour temperature of the scene.

You can see that the White Balance (Red) is taken from the camera ‘WB:  As Shot”, the scene looks a little warm to me, so let us set this, set the White Balance. Click on the Eye Dropper (in the Red box) by clicking directly on it and it will be  selected). Then click on the lighter of the grey faces using it. The White Balance will change (if required) and this will be the correct White Balance for this scene.

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You can see in the following image, the new white balance (White Balance is now 5000, which is much cooler).

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 15.24.43_fixed

STEP 2: Exposure

Adjust exposure so that none of the color channels are clipped in your RAW converter’s histogram. Keep an eye on the Cube in the image for reference as you make this adjustment.

Inside Lightroom, make sure that the Highlight/Shadow clipping indicators are turned on, you can do this by clicking on the up arrows within the histogram space (Blue) (this should be displayed now with a white border). You can also turn both highlight and shadow clipping on using the keyboard short cut key ‘J’.

Move the exposure slider to the right until the bright specular highlight in the silver ball turns red (Blue box) (for extra information the brighter of the white sides now reads R99.2, G99.2 and B99.2 in the histogram (Red box)). You can also press the ‘ALT’ key whilst moving the Exposure slider to see when the highlights are starting to clip, if you don’t want to have the Shadow/Highlight clipping on all of the time. If the bright white side of the Cube starts to clip, and you see the Red appear, back off slightly, you can also type the numbers in to the Exposure values for more control.

You should see a very snug fit between the end of the highlight (right hand side) of the histogram box (Red box). (N.B. Having looked at this exposure in more details the aperture ring moved during the shot and it used f4.8 as opposed to f4, thus causing an under exposure).

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STEP 3: Brightness

Next, brightness can be adjusted to compensate for lightening or darkening that occurred during exposure adjustment. Check the RGB values of the lighter of the gray faces; this face is designed to represent 18% gray, and can be used to determine how light or dark image midtones should be. You are able to alter and work on this value by slightly altering the Exposure value and make sure the mid point is where you need it to be (it isn’t hard and fast to be at 18%, it may be under or over, depending where in the scene you need it to be to make your image look amazing).

You can see in the histogram (Red) that the grey tones are now R 85.6, G84.8 and R85.2). We will check this actual value in Photoshop CC in the next step to see it as a percentage.

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To test the values i am going to load the image in to Photoshop and see what the actual value of the Light grey face is, you can see that the value is now set to 18%, which means that the exposure is correct.

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STEP 4: Blacks

Finally, set your black levels using the blacks slider in the Basic panel on the black trap. There should be a clear distinction between the black surrounding face and the black trap. If there is no seperation once the black trap has been set, you can use the shadows slider to create slight seperation.

You can see in the following image, as soon as i start to move the Blacks slider (Red), not only does the area under the ellipse (the Black Trap) go to black (displayed in blue) but the rest of the face goes to black as well.

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 16.17.01

To fix this we need to open the shadows using the shadows slider. You can see that by moving the shadows slider (Red) to the right we start up open up this area (Yellow). It will have an impact on the Black Trap, you will just need to work with both the Black and Shadow sliders to achieve the desired result.

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 16.17.36

Datacolor do recommend that the order of steps should be 1,2,4 and 3 because the mid-tone can shift in step 3, however this example was done with steps 1,2,3 and 4. As a final check you may want to go over the settings once again and check the values and the histogram.

You can see the final image below. Notice the shape of the histogram and that the ends (Highlights and Shadows are snug to the end of the histogram box), also there is a slight bit of clipping in the shadows which adds contrast and punch to the image. The only area that is clipping in the highlights is the silver ball at the top of the Cube. This is a perfectly calibrated image. The next step will be to use this across the other images on the shoot.

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You can see the other images that i shot in the Survey mode view below. There images are straight out of the camera, and other than having a crop applied to tidy up the composition, have no other adjustments applied.

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To make sure that the other images have the same settings, select the image that has the cube adjustments applied to it. (Notice the light grey box around the image in the film strip.)

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Now in addition to this image, select the images where the adjustments need to be applied (i have used the CMD key on the MAC or CTRL key on the PC to select individual images that i want (i could also use the Shift key to select a range of images).

Then press the ‘Sync’ button (Red).

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Here is the minimum set of adjustments that you are going to synchronise across the pictures, these settings are a representation of the changes that have been made to the calibrated image (described above), (including the colour profile for the lens and body from the Spyder Checkr (previous post), the Lens correction tab for automatically removing any lens issues, as well as the adjustments for the Cube white/black and exposure settings.

Press Synchronise, this will apply these settings to the other images.

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 16.44.32

You will see that Lightroom applies the adjustments to the images as soon as you press the button.

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 16.48.35

Of course you may need to tweak each image and make sure that it looks ok. But you can see by combining the Spyder Checkr, Spyer 4 Elite and the Cube, you can create extremely consistent results with the correct histogram and tonal values. Also the calibration process here is exactly the same in Adobe Camera RAW that comes with Photoshop.

Cube and Meter shot

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3


Here is the link to the Datacolor website.

#CreativeFriday – Extend your Lightroom Export PDF Processing with Acrobat & Creative Cloud

Lightroom has the ability to export your files with either the adjustments you have made, or original files from the application. Some users are ok with this workflow, however, some Photographers would like to export the files to PDF and have more control of the output. The export of PDF is available in a few different ways, one is to use the Print module and “save as PDF”, the other is to use the Blurb book module and save as PDF. There is however another way, and this will give you more control of the files that are included in the final PDF.

If we examine the Export dialog we see that there is a Post Processing option on the Hard Drive export option.



The Post Processing option provides a way to open another application after all of the files have been exported from Lightroom. The default options are to open with Photoshop or show the images using the operating system file browser (Finder in this case, Explorer on Windows). You can also see that there is an option for “Open in Other Application” that can be used as well.

When you are using Adobe Creative Cloud (or are maybe not using the Creative Cloud but have access to Acrobat) you are able to call Adobe Acrobat as part of this process (as well as other applications). You can create an export preset for this setting or the same settings will be used in subsequent “Exports” (when selected in an export process).To associate the opening of images within another application, choose the “Open in Other Application” option and select “Adobe Acrobat” within your Applications (MAC) or Program Files (Windows). Also, the main factor here is the flexibility of the output settings controllable from this interface.

In the example below, three images have been chosen

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Then choose “File / Export” and set up the Post Processing options to call Adobe Acrobat once the image export has finished.

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When Adobe Acrobat is used in the Post Processing application and the Export button is pressed the following screen is displayed.

Pressing “Yes” will enable Acrobat to join all exported files together, otherwise, they will open in individual PDF files.

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 22.14.18


During the assemble process Acrobat will update you and will look like the following

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 23.07.29

The benefit of creating PDF’s this way from Lightroom, is that you will have complete control of the quality and size of the PDF’s within the final PDF (controllable on the export settings), as well as the water marking and other options.

To demonstrate this I have created 2 example PDF’s (available for view using the links below) of the two exported files. You can see from the file size of two outputs (one full size PDF and one that contains images with 1500px on the long edge)

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 23.13.43


The files are viewable here

Full Size PDF

Images @ 1500px on the long edge 


Once you are in Acrobat you can then do anything you like to the PDF document.

i.e.1  Add simple password protection to the document


i.e.2 – Add Bleed and Crop marks

First increase the size of the size of the pages by choosing the “Output Preview” under the Print Production menu.


Set the new document size under the “Change Page Size”, then apply the page size changes to either all or some of the pages within the document under the “Apply to” field.


Once the page size has been increased choose “Add Printer Marks” from under the “Print Production” menu.


(PDF with Crop Marks)


Here are just a few options, however, Acrobat is incredibly powerful, so you may want to head on over to Adobe TV and look at the Acrobat tutorials for more post processing options.


#CreativeFriday – How to increase your Photo’s size using Photoshop CC

I had a request in recently on the best way to increase the size of a Photograph for a poster. Luckily Photoshop CC has the new Up Sampling algorithm to help me out.

There have been many strategies for up sampling/up resing an image in the past, do you do it in one go, do you do it in increments of 50%, but which ever way there is alway some confusion to the best one to use on a real world image.

Photoshop CC was released with a brand new Intelligent Up Sampling Algorithm that has been designed to do this exact operation, but keeping it really simple. One of the elements that photographers worry about is sharpness and that if an image is increased in size it will loose some of the edge sharpening. The new up-sampling code in Photoshop CC has been designed to not only make the up-sampling super easy, but will also intelligently protect the edges during the operation.

Let us work with an example.

This will will be sent to Photoshop CC, either by pressing CMD+E (Mac) or CTRL+E on a PC, or by opening at as a Smart Object in Photoshop CC. You can see that the image size is 4624h x 3468w, or big enough to print (out of the box) at just over 9 x 12, but lets be honest, we could probably print this as is at 18 x 24 and there would be no significant loss of quality.

N.B. From a performance point of view, there is a significant difference in processing an image that is brought into Photoshop CC as a Smart Object compared to opening the file in the traditional way (or not as a Smart Object).

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 07.54.47

But anyway, say, that i wanted to upscale this to A0 or larger.

Inside Photoshop, the usual way to increase the size is to open the menu option Image / Image Size. Then decide on the new size and just type it into the boxes. You can see below, that i am increasing the size to 42inches on the height, which happens to be 326% of the original size. Notice, that the “resample” check box is turned on and the “Preserve Details (enlargement)” option has been selected. This option will use the new intelligent up sample code and protect the edges. Also, notice that if any noise is generated during the process, you can adjust the “Reduce Noise” slider to reduce it.


Once the conversion has completed i have zoomed into 100% and provide a couple of screen shots. You can clearly see that Photoshop CC has done an incredible job of protecting the edges even when increased to over 300% the original size.

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A second shot of the new up-sampled image.

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N.B Up-sampling to this sort of size will increase the file size. In this example it has increased from just under 92mb to just over 980mb.



#CreativeFriday – MotionTracking objects in videos using Premiere Pro CC & After Affects CC

Once you are signed up for the Adobe Creative Cloud, wanting the next app goes away, as they are all there, all ready for you to learn and use. In this tutorial, we are going to head over into the video solutions with Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC (make sure you have both applications downloaded from your Creative Cloud desktop app) , and look at how to accomplish tracking an object in a sequence to cover it up. On a recent trip I shot a bit of footage that I intend to use in a 2 minute video. However, looking back at the recording, I realised that I needed to mask/blur something out, in this case a number plate of a small Tuk-Tuk  (if you watch the video below you will see a Tuk-Tuk come in from the right hand side, then disappear into the frame and will be obscured by another vehicle).


Open Premiere Pro and navigate to the media browser, find your footage and then right click it to import into the project’s media bin.
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Once the clip has been successfully imported into the Project’s media bin you will be able to place it onto the time line. To do this, right click on the clip and select “New Sequence from Clip”, this action will create a new sequence as well as placing the entity onto the time line.
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First thing to do with any media in Premiere Pro when wanting to make a cut, is to select the piece of footage from within it that you would like to use in your final piece. Doing this will not only enrich your final film and control the pace, but also save you a lot of time when modifying the track and adding any special effects. Premiere Pro and After Effects both look at individual frames of content when analysing them for post production. In any one video there will be a series of frames, frames are effectively single images strung together and played in a sequence. Typically there will be 24, 25 or maybe even 60 frames in each second of time, depending on how the footage was shot, regardless there are potentially a lot of frames to analyse for the special effect that you may be applying. From a performance point of view, the less frames there are to process, the less time it will take to render and complete.
The first thing to do when working with footage is to cut it down to size (this particular clip will be part of a longer piece of footage and is a cut away scene (cut away’s are traditionally used to break up the main line action). There are many ways to edit and cut this clip, for this cut, I will use the play head (highlighted in blue) to select the “In” or “Start” point on the time line (i.e. where the clip needs to start from).  The start point that i need is when the Tuk Tuk that i want to follow comes into frame, the finish point for the clip or the “Out” or “End” point is when the Tuk Tuk is about to leave the frame or something else obscures is.
Position the start frame, by moving the play head to the desired start point, once you have found this (don’t forget you can also use the source monitor to do this as well. Once the start frame has been located, press CMD+K, this will cut the clip at the play head.
If you hover over the section of the clip that is not wanted, right click on it and select Ripple Delete (Ripple Delete will remove any spaces/gaps from the clip). You may need to zoom into the time line to perform the delete, especially if it’s only a few frames, to do this you can drag out/in the horizontal scroll bars at the base of the time line panel. Next find the “Out” or “End” point, press CTRL+K, then right click and perform the Ripple Delete on the unwanted section end of the clip. One thing to note, Premiere Pro and After Effects are non destructive editors and will not do anything to the media you are working in. The clip in the time line is just a reference to the main video, you are able to bring back these deleted sections in the future if you make a mistake here.
Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 00.33.53
You should be left with the useable section of the clip.
Once you have the section of the clip that contains the piece of footage that you need, right click it and select “Replace with After effects Composition”. This menu option uses the Adobe Dynamic Link engine to link both products together and create a seamless workflow. Premiere Pro will send the piece of footage to the After Effects timeline and in real time will reflect in Premiere anything that is done in After Effects without having to render the footage/export or any other post render process. This also means that you are able to hot swap between both solutions to fine tune your changes.
Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 00.35.09
Now switch over to After Effects.
Once inside After Effects, the first thing you may need to do is save the project file (choose a safe place and save), then you should see a screen similar to below, with the clip in the time line.
Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 00.36.10
The objective of the exercise is to track the number plate from when it comes into the frame to when it exits, so we need to create a couple of items in After effects to hold relevant data points. The first thing we need to create it a NULL object (we will use this object to hold the tracking and motion data that After Effects will create).
Select the menu item Layer / Null Object, then you may want to rename it
Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 00.36.26
You will see the Null object in the time line, you can right click on it to open the menu and choose rename.
Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 00.36.58
We then need to create a Solid object which will be used to cover the number plate (this will be just like a solid colour layer in Photoshop). It maybe (as in this case) appropriate to blend the colour of the Solid in with the item that we are tracking. To do this you will need to drag and position the play head to a frame in the clip that contains the object that you are wanting AE to track, you are then able to derive the Solid colour from this using the eye dropper tool (you can also manually select the colour in the Solid creation box as well).
Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 00.37.19
You may want to rename this Solid in the first field (Name), to make it easier to find later in this editing process.
Clicking on the “Make Comp Size” will make the solid the same size as the canvas of the frame, then you can select a colour of the solid. In this case I want it to be a similar colour to the number plate I am trying to cover. Click on the eye dropper (highlighted Red below), select the colour from the frame, of course you can also click on the colour box and manually select the colour for the solid using the colour picker.
You will see in the timeline now you have multiple layers (The video is the bottom layer, the middle layer (NULL) will hold the motion data and the top layer is the Solid).
Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 00.38.02
We are now going to create the tracking motion data. Firstly see if the Tracker window is open, if not, select Window / Tracker. The window will appear or will already be in the bottom right hand corner of the screen (when using the standard panel configuration).
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For the motion tracker to work properly you need to make sure that the “Track Motion” (Red) has been clicked (this tell’s After Effects what you about to do). Then the Motion Source (Yellow) entry needs to be the clip that you are about to use at the source footage. The area highlighted Green tells After Effects the type of algorithm to run, in this case we are going to select position (as it is the position of the object in the frame that we are going to track).
Once the “Track Motion” in combination with the “Position” options have been clicked, After Effects will show two squares on the clip. I have already moved the clip to the start position the frame for where the the number plate first appears (this isn’t the first frame in the sequence (will cover this later), as the Tuk Tuk appears slightly earlier).
The Tracking point tells After Effects what to look for in the frame, in this case the number plate (notice that number plate has enough contrast for it to be found (this will make it easier for After Effects to track it though subsequent frames)). The inner square is the area that we are looking for across the next frames, and the larger square is the area in which to look for the tracked object. The combination below will give After Effects enough information be able to track the number plate, even if it moves slightly out of the inner box.
N.B. Take into consideration, that the larger the outer box, the more work that After Effects is going to have to do, therefore will take longer time to analyse the area and ultimately take a longer time to process.
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Once you have selected the area that After Effects is to look for, press the play button in the Tracker panel, this will move the frames on one by one, and will try to automatically find the object.If After Effects finds the object, it will place a blue track mark on the frame then we are able to modify the position if required and then store the data in the Null object that we created earlier.
As you can see in the image below After Effects has created each track point and highlight them in Blue. If any of the track points are in the wrong place (you can test this by moving the play head forward and backward). You can then zoom into the image to see more detail (use CMD and + and CMD and – to zoom in/out). You can then grab individual points and move to the exact location of the tracked object.
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The Blue icons are telling you that the motion points are temporary and have not been saved.  Click on the “Edit Target” on the Tracker panel, and choose the Null Data object and not the Solid. Then to apply the changes, click the “Apply” button in the Tracker panel.
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When you click the “Apply” button, After Effects will ask you to confirm the the positions to store (x and y dimensions are fine for this motion tracking piece).
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If you double click on the Solid object layer, and you will be able to work with this layer (as below). When the Solid was created we made it the same size as the comp, now we need to resize it so that it matches the object it is going to start tracking. To do this, select the direct selection tool (Red) and grab a red handle (Yellow) and re-size the Solid to the same size as the object we are going to (don’t worry about the resize of the object due to it’s size when the tracked object moves around). You are able to move the solid by selecting the middle point with the direct selection tool and drag it around and out of the canvas.
Move the Solid over the Tracking point.
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The next step is to attach the Solid to the track data, this will allow After Effects to move the solid in line with the tracking data. The central point of the solid will be used as a reference point. Click on the parent of the solid and select the Null object.
To test the tracking, you can move the play head backwards and forwards and you should see the solid move with the tracking point.
Additional Steps
In the above example the number plate will decrease in size at a constant’ish rate as the Tuk Tuk moves away from the camera (Tuk Tuk’s tend to drift sideway’s quite a bit as well). The solid that we are using will need to decrease in size as the number plate moves away and into the scene.
This problem is easy to solve in After Effects. Open the Solid layer effects by using the arrow to the left of it’s name, you will then see the list of options that you can use to create motion tweens & key frames. To enable After Effects to reduce the size/scale of the solid, position the play head the start frame (in this case it will be when the number plate comes into view), as opposed to the first frame of the clip (in this example). To create an initial key frame, make sure the play head is in the correct position, click the clock icon (Green), this will create a new key frame (Yellow & Pink). The Yellow marking on the key frame will mark where in the time line where the key frame starts (or when something changes) .The pink marker will show that we are parked on a key frame, the arrows either side of this marker, will move the playhead to the next key frame, if there is one available.
To create the reduced size Solid as well as the animation of Solid over time, move the play head to a future point in the video where the number plate is smaller than the Solid, then create a new key frame by changing the size/scale of the Solid (don’t click the timer, is this will remove the key frames). This operation will instruct After Effects to create a motion tween from the last keyframe to this key frame (tween is used to represent the frames that will be created be-tween the 2 key frames).
Repeat the above until the number plate has stopped changing size or is no longer in view.
Notice the key frames in the following image on the scale configuration.
Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 00.49.33
When we play this video from start to finish there is a problem. Because we started the Solid movement at a point that was different to the first frame of the clip, the Solid will stay on the left hand side of the screen, until the motion data frames are reached, then, once the motion is found the Solid will start to move. This looks odd , so we will need to move the Solid off the screen until it is time for it to appear.
The simplest way to do this, is to make a keyframe of the Solid at the start of the Motion tracking by clicking the timer on the Position option, then find a position in the video just before the motion tracking starts. In this example it is when the Tuk Tuk is on the screen and the number plate is just off the screen. When this has been located grab the Solid using the direct selection tool and move the solid out of the frame. This will create a new keyframe for the Solid on the timeline and subsequently won’t show the Solid until the Motion Tracking frames start.
Finally save the composition.
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Keep After Effects open and switch over to Premiere Pro (you may want to fine tune the After Effects comp). You will see the clip is now pink in the time line of Premiere Pro (Red).
To test the video, reposition the play head in Premiere Pro and press play or the space bar.
Additional modifications to the Solid.
Once the Solid layer has been created and attached to the Motion Track points you can then modify how the layer works with the underlying pixels. In the following screen shots you can see how you can add an opacity element to the Solid, then modify the opacity by using the keyframes in the same way as we did with the scale/size.
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You may also want to modify the amount of blur with the underlying pixels, using something like the “On the Time / Pixel Motion Blur option” or the “Effect / Blur & Sharpen / Gaussian Blur”.

The following screen shot shows the Gaussian Blur and Opacity options.

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#Lightroom – Keeping your Lightroom Catalog up to date

One of the major benefits of Lightroom is that it does not lock you into any kind of proprietary database format, also, Lightroom will enable you to grow the number of pictures/videos that you store in any catalog to hundreds of thousands. It will also allow you to use as many external hard drives that you need within a single Catalog. Lightroom is an extremely powerful archive, search/retrieval and editing program. Of course there are a few things that you need to know to make it really work for you.

One of the most common problems I hear about is that Lightroom has lost photographs and is now showing a question mark on the thumbnail image. Fortunately the Lightroom Product Management team have already put a solution in place to help you with this and keep your Lightroom catalog up to date. The most likely cause of this problem is that something happened to the images, folders or hard drives outside of the Lightroom environment. Lightroom is a viewer of images and is only able to work properly once it know about your images and where they are, if you change anything outside of it, then you must tell Lightroom what you have done.

The following examples will cover a range of why Lightroom is not able to see the images or video and explain how to fix it.

N.B I am using Lightroom 5 for this blog post. There is a difference between Lightroom 5 and previous version of Lightroom for when files cannot be found. In Lightroom 5 the thumbnails in the film strip at the bottom of the screen or in the grid view of the library are displayed using an exclamation mark “!” and in previous versions of Lightroom they are question marks “?”.

Let me quickly explain the problem with an example.

I have just imported 12 photographs that I took at the weekend. The photos exist on my external hard drive (called G-Drive Mini (highlighted Red)) and reside in the folder “Pictures”. The drive is online and is represented with the green icon against the drive name (inside the area marked in Red). The thumbnails are in the Yellow and Blue areas and are available for edit (no exclamation marks or question marks).


In this case everything is ok and we are able to edit the photos either in the Library module with the Quick Develop or in the full Develop module.

Between the image above and one the below, something has changes and you can clearly see the question marks “?” in the folder area of Lightroom (Red) as well as the exclamation marks “!” in the areas marked Yellow and Blue.

We do have some visual information that leads us to what the problem is. If we look at the status of the external drive, we can see it is grey (next to the external drive name “G-Drive mini” (Red)), which means that it is not available…phew..

To fix this, just re-connect the drive and the pictures will then be available, the exclamation marks/question marks will disappear and the photographs will be available for editing.


In the next scenario the exclamation marks (in Lightroom 5, Previous version of Lightroom will show question marks), inform that Lightroom is unable to find the original picture. If an initial check is performed, we can see that the drive is available, a green light is showing next to the external drive (Red).

What can cause this to happen ?

There are normally a couple of reasons that Lightroom is unable to find the original images :-

  • The images have been deleted from the disk directly using Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) .
  • The images have been moved into a different place and no longer exist where they were.


The actual reason why the images cannot be found is that they have been moved on the disk, but have not let Lightroom know where they have moved to.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.10.39

So how do we fix this issue!

One option is to tell Lightroom to update the Pictures folder and make sure what it is showing is the same as what is on the physical disk, to do this, right click on the “Pictures” folder in Lightroom and choose “Synchronize folder” (always make sure the external drive is turned on). Synchronize folder will check the contents of the Lightroom Catalog with the actual contents of the disk and tell you what needs to happen next.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.14.33

Lightroom will take a couple of minutes or longer (depending on how many pictures there are, as well as the speed of your disks and the connection type), eventually, the following screen will be displayed.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.17.49

This tells us that for Lightroom to correctly represent the images in the folder, it needs to remove the 5 pictures that have moved manually. Clicking Synchronize at this point will remove the missing pictures from the Catalog.

But what about the pictures that have moved, how does Lightroom know about these?

There are at least two ways to tell Lightroom about the new folder, but both ways will use the Import facility in Lightroom. Lightroom’s power comes from the ability to provide a sophisticated search across your images by indexing them into the Lightroom database. To do this Lightroom needs to understand the basic information about the images / videos (if you have any), as well as any keywords that may exist as for the image. The Import mechanism is the way in Lightroom to tell the search engine about the images and where they are.

  • You could perform the Synchronize action on each folder that exists in Lightroom and make sure that they match what is actually on the disk.
  • You could also use the “Import” button in the Library module and import them into Lightroom using the “Add” import mode.
  • Or you can use a combination of both

To use a combination of both.

Typically pictures are stored in folders within a parent level folder on the disk, in this example it is called “LR Sync” (it will most likely be something different on your system, maybe “Pictures”). Whichever you use, it is referred to as the root or parent folder.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.27.50

We need to make the “LR Sync” folder in Lightroom match what is on the physical drive. To do this we can right click this folder and “Synchronize” it.

In this case, we now can see that we are going to remove 5 images, and import 5 images.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.29.56

Notice that the “Show import dialog before importing” option is turned off, this assumes that the pictures have moved and you would like to bring the pictures into Lightroom, also that keywords have most likely been applied. If this is the case, then it’s safe to click the “Synchronize” button and import them into Lightroom. The important thing to remember is that Lightroom will not move the pictures, it will just re-link them for editing.

Obviously there may be occasions that the pictures or content may not have already been imported. In my workflow, i tend to copy the files manually to the disk/external drive outside of Lightroom, then i will synchronise the folder at this point. In this case I will need to turn on the “Show import dialog before importing” as i will want to apply additional keywords on the import.

You can see once the Synchronise folder has been clicked on the LR Sync folder, Lightroom correctly identifies the new folder, removes the images from the original folder, and re-linked the images to the new folder.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.34.33

What if you cannot find your images, what can you do next?

The two typical reasons that Lightroom is not able to find images, is that they have been deleted outside of it and Lightroom hasn’t been updated, or the images have been moved from their original location. But what if the images are still not available and you are sure that they exist.

  • Lightroom by default will not bring in duplicate files, it may be that have you used multiple camera bodies and there is a clash of file names (duplicate file names) causing Lightroom to think that the image is a duplicate of an existing image that already exists in the catalog?

In the following example you can see that inside Pictures 3 there is a duplicate file of the same image that already exists in pictures 2

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.46.02

You may or may not want to import this image in Lightroom as it would cause confusion (however, it may be that you need a duplicate file to additional processing, if this is the case, then i would recommend that you rename the file), but you will need to make a decision on the import dialog about what to do if Lightroom encounters a duplicate file.

Once you click on the synchronise button (making sure that you show the import dialog screen) or using the “Import” button on the Library module, you will need to check the configuration of the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” option (Yellow). When this is turned on duplicate files won’t be imported, you can of course turn this off and import them if required. In this example the duplicate file is not selected for import (Red). This option is designed to keep your Catalog clean.


Other scenarios!

There are of course other scenarios, what if you have your camera configured to store RAW as well as JPG files?

By default Lightroom will recognise just the RAW files. In the following scenario Pictures 3 has both a RAW file and a JPG file.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.56.21

If we synchronise the LR Sync file now, you will see that Lightroom only recognise a single file,

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.58.24

exploring this further, we see that it is a RAW file and not the JPG, even though the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” is turned off.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.59.50

Lightroom has a configuration within the general Preferences panel to keep the RAW files and JPG files separate, when this is turned off only the RAW file is imported.


When turned on the import dialog will show both files

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 12.04.11

If the files are still not showing inside Lightroom, then what i suggest you do is to write down the name of the file that you see inside Lightroom and then go to either Finder on the Mac or Explorer in Windows, and manually find the file and import the picture from this place or to move it to a better place for Lightroom to see it.

If you are still not able to see it in Lightroom, did you delete it ? If so, you may want to look at your backups….


#CreativeFriday – Configure Photoshop for Autosave

How many times have you been caught out during your editing process and not pressed the Save or Save-As option after hours of work? It seems that every time we forget to save, something tends to go wrong and the computer or the software package encounters an error and the worst happens, typically everything goes into meltdown and you can’t do anything about it! It’s probably going to be highly annoying and potentially devastating.

Did you know that since Photoshop CS6, you can now configure Photoshop to automatically backup your work on a periodic basis and prevent you from loosing your edits (i.e. due to Power failure, software errors etc).

The Auto-Save feature is available under the Photoshop preferences menu (Preferences / File Handling configuration (see below)).

The Save in Background check box will enable Photoshop to save the file without interrupting your creative workflow. The Automatically Save Recovery Information check box (when ticked) will use the time value (10 minutes in this case, but is changeable) and save a back up/temporary version of your image to a special place in the Photoshop installation. The Save as Background needs to be turned on for the Automatic save to be selectable.


When the automatic save is set up, the original file is not affected during the save, you will still need to either use Save or Save As to fully commit the changes to the original file.

How does this work inside Photoshop ?

Photoshop places the temporary/back up version of the file inside it’s installation directory and manages the most current version there. When you commit the final file save (i.e. Save or Save As) Photoshop will overwrite your chosen file and remove the temporary file .

N.B. If between the save points (i.e between the 10 minute periods in the example below) something happens, any changes since the last save point will be lost.


Don McCullin’s Journey into Digital Photography courtesy of Canon CPN

Last year Canon CPN created a video interview with Don McCullin about his Photographic journey and his move into the Digital world supported by Jeff Ascough, it’s a great film and full of inspiration. You can learn more and see the film “Don McCullin’s – Seeking the light here“.