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

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Virtual Copies in Lightroom

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2009 at 11:16 am

I wrote a post recently about making snapshots while you work  so that you can explore different versions of your image — for example, a black and white and a color version —  with the goal of having just one version in the end.

If you want to end up with two or more versions — to export to share with others, or to use in the output modules, you can do so with virtual copies.  Simply right click on your image and select “Create Virtual Copy”.   You’ll see in Library Grid view or in your filmstrip that you now have two copies, and that the second one has a bent page corner symbol, indicating that it is a virtual copy.

Virtual Copy

You can now work on this second one as a completely independent image, converting it to black and white, cropping it differently than the first one, etc, etc.

Why is it called a virtual copy?  Because no duplicate of your original file is created.  A virtual copy is simply a second set of instructions to be applied to the one original file.  The days of having many different copies of your images on your hard drive for different purposes are over!

If you use virtual copies, leave a comment here sharing what you use them for.

Using Snapshots in Lightroom and Camera Raw 5

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Have you ever worked on an image, been satisfied with your work, but then wanted to try some other things with the option to get back to what you had?  Perhaps you want to compare different versions of your work to decide which you like best — for example, a color version, a black and white version and one with a mix of black and white and color;   or you want to compare a straight-photo look and many  different versions of a highly-stylized look.

Snapshots are perfect for this —  every time you reach a point that you want to be able to get back to, create a new snapshot.  Then later you’ll simply click on the snapshot name to get back to that version.

In Lightroom, the Snapshots panel is located on the left in the Develop Module, below Presets and above History.  Click on the + sign, and name the new snapshot.  If you later want to delete the snapshot, click on the – sign.

Snapshot Panel in Lightroom

Snapshot Panel in Lightroom

In Camera Raw, the rightmost tab accesses the Snapshot panel.  Click on the page icon at the bottom of the panel to create a new snapshot;  click on the trash can to delete one.

Snapshot Panel in Adobe Camera Raw

Snapshot Panel in Adobe Camera Raw

Your snapshots are saved with your file metadata, so if you come back to the image in the future, the snapshots will be there.  (Note that this is a partial workaround to ACR’s lack of  History.)

Both LR and ACR by default have an Import snapshot — clicking on this is a quick way to get back to how the image looked when you first imported it.

If you save a version as a snapshot and then improve the version more, you can update the snapshot with the improved look — in either program, right click on the snapshot name, and choose Update with Current Settings.

Of course in Lightroom you can also create virtual copies of your images. I will talk about these more in my next post, but as a general rule I create a virtual copy if I know that I am going to want to end up with two different versions.  I use snapshots when my goal is one final version, but I am experimenting along the way.   I can always turn snapshots into virtual copies …  stay tuned for more.

What Lurks in the Shadows: The Case of the Black Cat

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2009 at 10:43 am

As you may have heard, with digital, unlike film, your goal should be to expose your image as brightly as possible, without blowing out important highlights.  In other words, your histogram should be as far to the right as possible without going over the edge.

What is the histogram?  It is a graph of the tones in your images, from pure black (blocked up, no detail) at the left edge, to pure white (blown out, no detail) at the right edge.

I recommend that you set your  camera to show the histogram next to the image on the LCD screen, so that you can see right away how succesful you are with your exposure.

In this case, the exposure is ok:

ok exposure

ok exposure

If the subject of the image has no bright tones, the image may look perfect visually.  However, opening up a stop and a half gives a better exposure, even if the image looks to bright.

better exposure

better exposure

Why is this?  The camera is able to capture much more information in the highlights than in the shadows, so exposing your subject closer to the highlight end will improve your image quality.   Particularly down in the shadows, if you zoom in (and turn off any automatic noise reduction in Lightroom or Camera Raw), you will see alot of color noise, and a loss of detail.  You will not see this in the highlights.

Here’s an extreme example to illustrate what happens in the shadows.  This is a perfect exposure of my cat, visually — the cat is black, so I would expect it to fall at the shadow end of my histogram.  (If the cat looks like a solid black blob with no detail in the fur, it is your monitor.)

perfect "visual" exposure, cat in the deep shadow tones

perfect "visual" exposure, cat in the deep shadow tones


But look at this image when I zoom into 200% and focus on the dark fur (I have brightened it so that you can see it more clearly on the web):

noise and loss of detail in the shadows

noise and loss of detail in the shadows

If your image is only going to be displayed at low resolution such as on the web or emailed,  and what falls in the shadows is supposed to be very dark so you don’t need to brighten it in Photoshop or Lightroom as I have, then the noise won’t show.  But if it needs to be brightened (meaning you underexposed it), or you are going to print the image at high resolution, it most likely will.

This image is also one that has a full range of tones from very dark (the cat) to very bright (the white blanket), so I can’t increase the exposure to get the cat out of the deep shadows, without blowing out the blanket.  But for the sake of the illustration, I would like to pretend that the cat was on a darker blanket, so that there would be room to shift the histogram to the right.

To reduce the noise, I open up one stop in my exposure, shifting the histogram to the right:

Photographed one stop brighter

Photographed one stop brighter

better exposure histogram

better exposure histogram

Less noise and loss of detail

Less noise and loss of detail

(The image is blurrier, because it was a slower exposure and my cat insisted on breathing!)

Now in Lightroom or Camera Raw, I simply reduce exposure and brightness to darken the cat:

Darken the image after overexposing it

Darken the image after overexposing it

Zoomed out and at low resolution this image looks the same as my first one, but because it has  less noise and more detail in the shadows, it will hold up to a high resolution print, and I can brighten it or adjust it in any way I need to without fear that noise will be revealed.

Once again, my advice to you from all of this is to:

–  display the histogram when you are photographing

–  expose as far to the right as possible without blowing out important highlights.  If you underexpose, don’t think “that’s ok, I’ll fix it in Photoshop” —  if you can, take the time to reshoot.

See also my follow up post:  The Perfect Exposure, Or When Good Things Don’t Look So Good

Adobe TV

In Uncategorized on March 11, 2009 at 11:42 am

I’ll get back to making my own tutorials and videos soon, but in the meantime, check out Adobe TV.  Click here for Lightroom videos, and here for Photoshop videos.  (They load in two stages, so give it a little time.)    Check or uncheck the Release, Skill Level and Topic checkboxes on the right to narrow your selection.  Enjoy!

Seattle Lightroom Lecture and Workshops

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Not sure if Lightroom is right for you?  Or you already have it but aren’t sure you are leveraging its capabilities fully?    If you are in Seattle, consider attending my free two-hour demo of Lightroom on March 18, from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Capitol Hill Library.  Please click here for more information and to RSVP.  I hope to see you there!  UPDATE:  THIS SESSION IS FULL — I HAVE ANOTHER ONE SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 11.  CLICK THE LINK ABOVE FOR MORE INFO.

My next set of Lightroom workshops are starting soon — there are still some spots left — sign up soon!

Lightroom Fundamentals: Making Your Work Flow — PART ONE

Lightroom is Adobe’s image management and enhancement program designed specifically for photographers. With the inclusion in version 2 of the ability to make local image enhancements, Lightroom has become a powerful program which can dramatically increase the efficiency of your workflow. In this two day Part One workshop, learn the fundamentals, concentrating on the Library and Develop modules where you manage, edit and enhance your images. With hands-on practice, discover how to optimize images and work through large shoots efficiently with collections, presets, and synchronized settings. Discuss where Photoshop may still fit in your workflow, and learn how to move between Lightroom and Photoshop. No prior experience with Lightroom is necessary; laptop computer required; limited to 12 students.

Seattle, Washington
April 4th-5th, 9 am – 5 pm, $285

Lightroom Fundamentals: Making Your Work Flow — PART TWO

In this two day Part Two workshop, explore advanced editing, searching and keyword management techniques in the Library module. Learn more about adjustments in the Develop module, and dive into the Slide Show, Web and Print modules. Achieve quality prints through Lightroom, learning how to print efficiently by fully leveraging the power of templates. Color management will be discussed in terms of color spaces, monitor calibration and printing. Finally, learn how to incorporate Photoshop actions and third party plug-ins into your Lightroom workflow. Laptop computer required; limited to 12 students.

Seattle, Washington
April 18th-19th,  9 am – 5 pm, $285

A $40 discount is available to those who register for Part Two by the end of Part One.

click for more details

For questions or to sign up, contact Laura

Lightroom 2.3 and Adobe Camera Raw 5.3 Released

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Hooray — the official 2.3 release of Lightroom is out.  This fixes a number of bugs in 2.2 that I am happy to have behind me.

From Adobe:
The goal of this release is to address bugs that were introduced in previous releases of Lightroom 2 and provide additional camera raw support. A comprehensive list of issues fixed in this release is included below:

  • In the Windows 64-bit version of Lightroom an sFTP upload process could cause Lightroom to crash.
  • Slideshows could return to the first image randomly during playback.
  • A memory leak could cause Lightroom to crash while attempting to process files with local adjustments.
  • Canon EOS 5D Mk II sRAW files could process with artifacts in Lightroom 2.2.
  • Lightroom 2.2 could cause disc burning to fail for Windows customers.
  • Attempting to undo(CTRL-Z) a single step in Lightroom 2.2 on Windows could cause a series of previous actions to be undone.

I actually installed the early release of this a few weeks ago, and no longer experience the crashes that I had with 2.2.

LR 2.3  and ACR 5.3  also introduce support for the Nikon D3X  and the Olympus E-30.

Updates are free.  In Lightroom, go to Help>Check for Updates to install LR 2.3.  In Bridge, go to Help> Check for Updates to install ACR 5.3.