Laura Shoe's Lightroom (and Occasionally Photoshop) Blog for Digital Photographers

Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

The Scoop on Vibrance

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2008 at 8:09 pm

If you have upgraded to Photoshop CS3 or CS4 or if use Lightroom, then you have encountered Vibrance. Consider it a smarter less heavy handed form of Saturation. Saturation will saturate all colors equally, and it is easy to go over the edge into blobs of frightening color and loss of detail in a color that was pretty saturated to start with, just to get the saturation up on another color that started out less saturated. Vibrance on the other hand will saturate less-saturated colors more than ones that are already more saturated. It will also protect somewhat against oversaturating skin tones. Consider this example. The first image is before adjustments. My goal is to increase the saturation of the colors in the hat.

Before
Before

When I increase saturation, as shown in the second image, it not only increases the saturation of colors in the hat, but the skin gets yellow as well. In addition, the reds in the hat have started to go over the edge where you lose the detail of the yarn, because the reds were more saturated than the blues to start with.

Increase Saturation by 50 (on scale of 0 to 100)
Increase Saturation by 50 (on scale of 0 to 100)

When I instead increase vibrance, notice that the skin color is pretty well preserved, and that I am able to get more saturated blues without losing the detail in the reds.

Increase Vibrance by 80 (on scale of 0 to 100)
Increase Vibrance by 80 (on scale of 0 to 100)

How well you see these changes will depend on your monitor. Give it a try with your own images, comparing what you get with saturation and with vibrance. I find I rarely use Saturation any more.

Photoshop CS3 has Vibrance in Camera Raw. CS4 also introduces a Vibrance adjustment layer.

Clarity — Part 2

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2008 at 11:38 am

I showed you in my first clarity post how to use negative clarity in Lightroom or Camera Raw to soften skin. For a creative look, try heavy negative clarity on the whole image:

Before

Before

Minus 100 Clarity

Minus 100 Clarity (click on the Image to see larger)

Negative clarity reduces midtone edge contrast, so it softens or blurs. The pier is much less ffected by the softening because it has alot of deep shadow tones.

Before

Before

Minus 100 Clarity

After: Minus 100 Clarity

It looks kind of like a slide sandwich, or having a gaussian blur layer or smart filter in the soft light blending mode over the background layer (for those that have taken my filters, blending modes and montages creative class.) You may have to increase vibrance or saturation and contrast afterwards.

Note that Camera Raw introduced negative Clarity with CS4. It has been in Lightroom since version 1.

Photoshop Scrubby Sliders

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Scrubby sliders are one of Photoshop’s great time saving features that you may not discover on your own. In many places in Photoshop, when you click and drag left or right on the name of a numeric setting, it adjusts the setting down or up — with no need to go into drop down boxes or to type in numbers. As an example, you may have worked with layer opacity, a setting in the layers palette that allows you to reduce the strength or opacity of a layer. The slow way to adjust the opacity is to click on the right facing drop down arrow to the right of 100%, and then adjust the slider that appears:

Drop down opacity slider - the slow way

Drop down opacity slider - the slow way

Th quick way is to click on the word Opacity and drag the slider to the left to reduce it. Notice that as soon as you hover the mouse over the word, a hand with a double arrow appears … this is your indication that a scrubby slider is present:

Another scrubby slider is found up in the options bar for the text tool. You can type in the font size, or instead, click on the Tt symbol to the left of the size and drag!

Set text size with the scrubby slider.

Set text size with the scrubby slider.

You will find many scrubby sliders in numeric options for your tools. Look for them everywhere!

He Really Is Not Kidding!

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2008 at 10:04 pm

This is a digital photography post, rather than Photoshop or Lightroom, but it has me fascinated enough that I must send you over to Luminous-Landscape to see for yourself. Michael Reichman was shooting with the new $500 Canon G10 point and shoot along with his $40,000 Hasselblad/Phase 1 digital medium format system and found that image quality is pretty much comparable, on screen and for small and moderate size prints (up to 13″x19:).

Please, read for yourself:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/kidding.shtml

This is a great site to monitor — excellent articles, reviews and training material.

Lightroom 2 Adjustment Brush Tip

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2008 at 9:58 pm

If you are using the adjustment brush to make local image enhancements, you can hover over the pin to see the mask that you have drawn, but it shows for just a moment. To keep it on as you brush, type the letter O, for Overlay. To turn the overlay off, type O again.

If instead you use the adjustment brush in Camera Raw, simply check the Show Mask check box to see the mask. (Why isn’t this check box in Lightroom?)

Are you clear on Clarity?

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2008 at 8:05 pm

The clarity slider was introduced in Lightroom 1.1, and is also now in Camera Raw. A positive clarity value punches up an image, makes it look a little more three dimensional, by enhancing contrast along edges. The changes are concentrated in the midtones, and do little to highlights and shadows. Here is an example, a portion of an image with Clarity set to 0, and then set to 60.

Before Clarity Adjustment

Before Clarity Adjustment

Clarity of +60

Clarity of +60

60 may be a bit strong, but hopefully you see the difference. I find that almost all my images can use some clarity, at least 30.  Note that it is not a substitute for sharpening, which does increase edge contrast, but along a much finer/narrower edge.

Now for the cool part: negative clarity, which as expected, decreases edge contrast. What are wrinkles, but edges?! So let’s soften some wrinkles and skin to get a little bit more of a healthy glow … my own face makes a great candidate. The first image shows no adjustment. In the second image, with the adjustment brush in LR (or CS4 Camera Raw) active, I set the Clarity slider to -100, and painted over my face, excluding the eyes and mouth.

Before Negative Clarity Adjustment

Before Negative Clarity Adjustment

After Clarity Adjustment of -100

After Clarity Adjustment of -100

Actually, since some of my wrinkles are deep enough to be dark shadows, clarity only improves them a little, but it does much to soften the blotchiness of my skin. If -100 was too much, I can dial it back after painting (can I ever look too young??) And it is so easy to do.

If you don’t know how to use the adjustment brush, watch my video HERE.

Should you upgrade to Lightroom 2?

In software on October 27, 2008 at 6:45 pm

If you are committed to Lightroom being the foundation of your digital workflow, then my answer is an unequivocal absolutely! And if you are on the fence about Lightroom being the foundation of your workflow, I also say absolutely. I expect that this release will get you off the fence and clearly on the Lightroom road.

Lightroom 2 introduces the ability to make local corrections to your images. With the new graduated filter and adjustment brushes you can burn and dodge, and make local saturation, contrast, brightness, exposure, color, clarity and sharpness changes. You are not able to make sophisticated selections and masks like you can in Photoshop, but for most local changes where a brush tool or a gradient mask is sufficient to specify the area to be worked on, you no longer need to go into Photoshop. For me this means huge efficiency gains in my workflow. Now I go into Photoshop on maybe 5% of my straight photographs. In my opinion, this is well, well worth the $99 upgrade price. My only word of caution is that these new tools are resource intensive. If your system is already struggling to run LR1, you will find that using the adjustment brush in LR2 is an exercise in patience.

Below are the minimum system requirements for LR2, as listed by Adobe. Of course, more and faster is always better.

Windows

  • Intel® Pentium® 4 processor
  • Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista® Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (certified for 32-bit and 64-bit editions)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 1GB of available hard-disk space
  • 1,024×768 display
  • CD-ROM drive

Mac OS

  • PowerPC® G4 or G5 or Intel based processor
  • Mac OS X v10.4 or 10.5
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 1GB of available hard-disk space
  • 1,024×768 display
  • CD-ROM drive

Here’s a Julieanne Kost video on the graduated filter and adjustment brush: http://www.workshopsondemand.com/ps_lightroom/lr2_p02/

Of course LR2 introduces other changes as well, including dual monitor support, improved management of multiple drives and libraries, and improvements to the interface. Here’s an Adobe blog post with more information on these and other changes. http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/2008/07/

Why Use Lightroom?

In software, Uncategorized on October 27, 2008 at 3:12 pm

These days there are two primary digital workflows for photographers: Adobe Bridge/Camera Raw/Photoshop (all packaged into the Photoshop product) and Adobe Lightroom, with Photoshop as a supplemental tool. Both routes are equally powerful, but I would say that the Lightroom route offers the potential for large efficiency gains. This of course is more important if you shoot large quantities of images and need to process them efficiently. If you are a fine art photographer and shoot and process few images at a time, then this won’t be so much of a consideration.

Lightroom’s efficiency gains come from these key features:

  • It is a streamlined application — it only has what photographers need — you are not navigating through a complex program designed to be the be-all and end-all not only for photographers but also graphic designers, illustrators, and many others. In Photoshop there are also probably 15 ways to accomplish each task, because the program has been around for years and the old ways of doing things are not dropped as new ways are developed.
  • Through the entire workflow, you never have to open up an image in an application (like Camera Raw and Photoshop). From initially importing the image from a memory card through keywording and otherwise managing, enhancing, printing, creating slideshows and creating and uploading web galleries you are working within Lightroom’s modules, where all images are accessible and essentially active. So you never wait for things to open and you don’t have to think about saving and closing them.
  • Collections and smart collections offer dynamic ways to group images for specific purposes. And these don’t require multiple copies of the images to be floating around.
  • Virtual copies allow you to have different versions of an image (for example color and a black and white versions, different crops) without having two actual file copies — so you are not doubling storage space or having to keep track of two files.
  • Easy-to-create presets allow you to apply your commonly used image enhancement, print, export, web, slideshow and other settings to groups of images with one click.
  • Lightroom can manage images on multiple drives, and you can actually perform a fair amount of work with the images even if its drive is not plugged in, because Lightroom stores information about the images in its central database. For this same reason, Lightroom can also find images from your database of thousands and thousands nearly instantaneously, whether they are on or offline.
  • The ability to apply Photoshop actions to images as you export them from Lightroom.

In addition, because Lightroom was created just for photographers and is streamlined, learning it and using it is much more intuititive than Photoshop.

So where does Photoshop fit in with Lightroom?

There are still things Lightroom cannot do. I find myself taking about 5-10% of my keeper straight photography images into Photoshop for further enhancements, which include more sophisticated retouching than Lightroom can perform with its spot healing brush, local changes that require complicated selections and layer masks, and the use of 3rd party noise reduction and other plug ins. In addition, while I use the LR2 Print module for all my printing now, it does not have soft proofing, which allows you to see the image with the printer profile and rendering intent applied. So when soft proofing is critical, I take the image quickly into Photoshop to verify that I will get what I expect when I print.

In any case, with the release of LR 2 with its local adjustments, I find myself in Photoshop much less than with LR1, and I am sure I will even less so when LR 3 comes out, and so on. Of course I also have to go into Photoshop to do more creative work, like creating composites with multiple photographs and applying artistic filters. I would imagine that Adobe will always preserve some reasons for us to use Photoshop!

I would suggest that you base your decision on whether to start using Lightroom on your tolerance for learning a new product, your desire for a more efficient workflow, and your ability to absorb the $299 cost, realizing that you may still want Photoshop (though you may no longer feel the need to upgrade Photoshop each 18 months — more on that in another post.) If you want to test drive Lightroom, download a free 30 day trial version from http://www.adobe.com. I have been searching for a high level video introduction to Lightroom that demos LR 2, but haven’t found one yet. (There are plenty that show what is new in LR2.) If you know of one, please post a comment. Otherwise I may have to create one myself!