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

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Powerful Lens Corrections Coming to Lightroom 3

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Tom Hogarty at Adobe demonstrates in IN THIS VIDEO the new lens correction features coming to Camera Raw 6, which ships with Photoshop CS5, and Lightroom 3.   This includes vertical and horizontal transformations to correct perspective lines, as well as profiles that automatically correct lens issues – chromatic aberration, pin cushion, barrel and wave distortions and vignetting.  Hooray!  These additions, in addition to the new very impressive noise reduction, make me much more excited about Lightroom 3 than I was when the first beta came out last October … it was worth the wait.   No news yet on when it will be released.

When it is available, we will be able to easily fix issues like these without going to Photoshop:

Straighten Perspective Lines (from shooting upwards at this building) with Vertical and Horizontal Transformation Controls

Bowed horizons, Chromatic Aberration, Vignetting With Built In Lens Profiles


Until May

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 at 12:01 am

I’ll be off-line for a while, as I’m headed out to Minneapolis for a week to teach a Lightroom on the Road workshop for Rocky Mountain School of Photography.  I’m looking forward to teaching and to exploring downtown.

I had a blast teaching the same workshop in Austin last month — we had a wonderful group of students.

Here are a a couple testimonial excerpts from Austin students:

“This is the first time I’ve ever enjoyed attending a digital workshop. Laura made this fun and interesting. Laura is an excellent teacher. She is patient, easy to understand, well organized and knows her subject.” Dee W.

“I have had a lot of education in my career as a surgeon. Laura is as excellent an instructor as I have ever had.” Jim W.

Stay tuned — Lightroom on the Road is returning to Austin in 2011, and is also coming to Allentown, Pennsylvania!

Spot Removal in Heal vs. Clone Mode

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 at 11:41 pm

You may or may not have noticed that when you are using the spot removal tool, you can work in either Heal or Clone mode.  Let’s take a look at the difference.

Here is an image before any work:

(c) A. Nowacka

First I clicked on the spot removal tool to select it, and then on Clone:

Let’s do something very obvious for the sake of illustration:  let’s “fix” the father’s cheek, borrowing from the baby’s forehead:

As you can see, Clone is a straight copy of pixels, in this case from the baby’s forehead to the father’s cheek.

Now let’s try the same, in Heal mode:

As you will see if you click on the image to make it larger, Heal has taken the texture from the baby’s forehead, but adjusted the color and tone/darkness of the fix — made it darker and redder — to fit the destination better.

I find that Heal is almost always the option that works for me.  Occasionally though, because Heal pulls in color and tone from the surrounding area, it can show some bleeding around the edges, which makes the circular fix obvious.  What I advise is that users start in Heal mode, and then if they encounter this bleeding issue, switch to clone mode.

For more on using the spot removal tool, see my video.

Ok, now let’s “fix” the baby’s chin, for the fun of it:

These sorts of things happen when a Photoshop instructor takes my Lightroom class!  (Thank you, Nicole Dement, for the inspiration.)

I Would Cry if I Lost the Work I Did Today

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 at 7:41 pm

(Updated 7/21/11)

A reader pointed out recently that I have never written a post on the topic of doing backups — I was surprised by this since I agree it is a very, very important topic.  I checked back through the archives, and  indeed, he was right.

Have you ever  thought (as I did today) that you would burst into tears or have to break open a bottle (before noon!) if you lost Lightroom work you did or images you captured?  If so, you are going too long between backups.

Let’s first go back to my public library analogy for Lightroom:  if the stacks of books burned down but the card catalog was saved, could the library function?  Could it function if the stacks were saved but the catalog was destroyed?  Of course the answer in both cases is no.  It is true that it would take less time, expense and effort to recover from the catalog destruction, but both are critical pieces to the functioning of the public library.  With Lightroom, your images are like the stacks of books and the Lightroom catalog is like the card catalog in the library.  When you think of backing up your photo library, you need to plan to back up both the images and the Lightroom catalog.

It is obvious what you lose if your hard drive crashes and you lose all your images, but what do you lose if you lose your catalog?  YOU LOSE ALL OF THE WORK YOU HAVE EVER DONE IN LIGHTROOM — your keywords, ratings, flags, entered metadata, develop fixes and enhancements, collections and more.   (Yes, if you are saving to XMP you might still have much of your work, but that is a topic for another day.)     Could you recreate what you would lose?  Perhaps — but do you have enough free time and patience to do so?

My first recommendation is that you store your images and your catalog in one folder (which I’ll refer to as your photo library folder), so that you know that all you have to do is back up this one folder.  This folder can reside either on your internal hard drive or an external drive.  By default your catalog is in a folder called Lightroom in your My Pictures or Pictures folder on your internal hard drive.  If your images are also there and you are happy with that, you are set.   (If you regularly work on two computers, having your catalog and images on an external hard drive has the advantage of allowing you to easily move from one computer to another — see my post on this topic.)

If you are not sure where your catalog is, or you know where it is and you want to move it, see this post on how to do so. 

If you don’t want to move things around, that is fine — just make sure that you understand that you need to back up both your catalog and your images.

Once you know where things are, backing up is pretty straightforward.  You can do a straight copy to a backup external hard drive, or you can use a program like Time Machine on the Mac, Windows 7 Backup on the PC, or one of many third party programs —  a colleague of mine recommends Acronis True Image for the PC, and Carbon Copy Cloner for the Mac.  Advantages to using a backup program include (1) that the backup is verified, so you can be sure it was 100.000% successful,  (2) it can be scheduled, so it does not rely on you to remember to do the backup, and (3) after the first backup is done, future ones only copy things that have changed, so it is quicker.

How often should you do a backup?  Frankly, it depends on how risk averse you are and the stakes involved.  If you photograph or work your images every day, and it would be emotionally or financially distressing to you  to lose any of this work, then back up every day. If it would be upsetting to lose even one day’s work, back up after 4 hours.

How many backups should you have?  Again, it depends on how risk averse you are and the stakes involved for you.  At a minimum have a backup on site for convenience, and one offsite or online, in case a burglar breaks in and steals all your hard drives.

So what about the Lightroom-guided backups that you are prompted to do when Lightroom closes (starts in LR 2)?  Contrary to popular belief, these are just backups of your catalog, and not your image files.  This backup is critical as well.   Lightroom catalogs can become corrupted and unusable.  It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.  If corruption occurs right before you do the hard drive backup discussed above, all you have on your backup drive is a corrupted catalog.  You also need more backups of the catalog spread out over time, so you can get back to one before the corruption occured.  This is what the catalog backup prompt is for.   I put these backups on the same drive as my main catalog, in a Backups folder in my catalog folder (By default, Pictures\Lightroom\Backups).   As a result, I have backups on my main drive, and backups of the backups on my backup drive.  I like the redundancy that this creates.   

I have Lightroom prompt me to do this backup once a day.  If I haven’t done any significant work, I  just hit the Skip button.  To change the frequency of this prompt to whatever works for you, up in the menu bar in Lightroom go to Lightroom (Edit on a PC) > Catalog Settings.

I recommend occasionally going in and deleting many of these backups, because they accumulate and over time consume a tremendous amount of hard drive space).  (See my post on deleting backups.)

Finally, I recommend that most people take one more step to protect their work.  Lightroom allows you to write out most of your work not only to the catalog, but also optionally into the XMP information that tags along with your original image.  With your proprietary camera raw files (NEF’s, CRW’s, CR2’s, etc.) this shows up as a separate small XMP “sidecar” file that lives next to your original file.  With DNG’s and jpegs, the XMP information is stored within the file.  If you go to Edit (Lightroom on the Mac)>Catalog Settings, click on the Metadata tab, and check “Automatically write changes to XMP”, this will happen automatically as you work on images.  Most users will not even notice this extra write work that Lightroom is doing.  Some power users may — for you, don’t check this box;  instead, after working a shoot, select all the images (ctl/cmd-A), and then go to Metadata>Save Metadata to File (or ctl/cmd-S).  Note though that this isn’t a complete substitute for backing up your catalog — collections, virtual copies, Develop history, and some other types of information are not stored in the XMP files.  Why do it anyway then, particularly when you are religiously backing up your catalog as I advise?  It’s just extra insurance. 

In summary, I do a hard drive backup (of my photo library folder as well as of all my other documents) periodically, I back up my catalog every time I have done any significant work (otherwise I hit the Skip Now button), and I have Lightroom automatically write my changes to XMP.    Figure out a plan that works for you, and stick to it!

Reclaiming Hard Drive Space

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm

You may be using a lot more hard drive space with Lightroom than you need to be.  There are three major opportunity areas:  catalog backups, 1:1 previews, and deleting rejects.

Catalog Backups

My Lightroom catalog is about 500 MB.  (To see how large yours is, go to Edit>Catalog Settings on the PC, or Lightroom>Catalog Settings on the Mac.  The size is listed on the General tab.)  If I do a catalog backup once a week, that is 26 GB of catalog copies that I am adding to my hard drive every year.  If I do a backup every day, that is 182 GB per year!    It is important, therefore, to go in and clean out old backups.  I like to keep a few backups in case my catalog already had corruption issues during my most recent backups.  I keep one a week for a month and  one a month for a year.

If you are not sure where your backup catalogs are, next time Lightroom prompts you to back up your catalog, note in the dialog where they are going.  In Finder or Windows Explorer, navigate to this folder.  You will see a folder for each date — delete these date folders.

1:1 Previews

Lightroom creates and saves 3 jpeg copies of each of your images in a preview folder (or file)  in the main catalog folder:  a thumbnail-size jpeg that you see in Grid view, a screen or standard size jpeg that you see in Loupe view, and a full-size 1:1 jpeg that is used when you zoom in on an image in the Library module.   The 1:1 previews in particular can take up many gigabytes of space on your hard drive, depending on how many images you have in your catalog.

You can have Lightroom throw away  the 1:1 previews a day, a week, or a month after they are generated.   Go to Edit>Catalog Settings on the PC or  Lightroom>Catalog Settings on the Mac, click on the File Handling tab, and in the Automatically Discard 1:1 Previews drop down, choose a length of time that covers how long it typically takes you to work through a shoot.

So what if there is no 1:1 preview available, and you zoom in on an image?  Lightroom simply creates a new one — you will see the message “Rendering Larger Preview” on the image as it does this.  Depending on your system, you will most likely find this quick and painless.

Deleting Rejects

When you delete images from within Lightroom, the dialog gives you two choices — Remove and Delete from Disk.  If you choose Remove, you won’t see your images in Lightroom, but they are still on your hard drive taking up space, in most cases unneccesarily.  I suggest that for many if not most of us,  Delete from Disk makes more sense — this removes them from Lightroom and deletes them from your hard drive.

What’s New in Photoshop CS5

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

Adobe gave us a glimpse of  CS5 this morning.   The full price is $699.  Users with CS2, CS3 and CS4 will be eligible for $199 upgrade pricing.  The product is expected to ship mid-May.

Click HERE for a summary of what is new.

And click HERE for some videos.

I haven’t digested everything, but so far I am particularly excited about content-aware fill, improved selections,  and creative HDR functionality.  For Camera Raw users who don’t use Lightroom, the much improved noise reduction in Camera Raw is impressive as well.

Lightroom 2.7 and ACR 5.7 Release Candidates Available

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Adobe has announced the availability of release candidates for Lightroom 2.7 and Adobe Camera Raw 5.7.  Release candidates are not official releases, and are still in testing.  However, if you have one of the cameras that these releases introduce support for, you may want to download them now.

Lightroom 2.7 information and download

Per Adobe Labs:

  • Newly supported camera models include:
    • Canon EOS 550D (Digital Rebel T2i/ EOS Kiss X4 Digital)
    • Kodak Z981
    • Leaf Aptus-II 8
    • Leaf Aptus-II 10R
    • Mamiya DM40
    • Olympus E-PL1
    • Panasonic G2
    • Panasonic G10
    • Sony A450
  • Lightroom 2.7 also fixes a slideshow playback bug on Windows could cause Lightroom and/or the computer to crash.
  • Lightroom 2.7 camera raw cache limit has been raised to 200GB.

Adobe Camera Raw 5.7 information and download

Per Adobe Labs:

  • Newly supported camera models include:
    • Canon EOS 550D (Digital Rebel T2i/ EOS Kiss X4 Digital)
    • Kodak Z981
    • Leaf Aptus-II 8
    • Leaf Aptus-II 10R
    • Mamiya DM40
    • Olympus E-PL1
    • Panasonic G2
    • Panasonic G10
    • Sony A450
  • • Camera Raw 5.7 includes an updated demosaic algorithm designed to provide compatibility with settings applied in Lightroom 3.

Wild Tone Curve Moves in Lightroom 3 Beta 2

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I knew it wouldn’t be long before folks started creating wild presets with the new point tone curve in Lightroom 3 Beta 2.  Here are SOME and SOME MORE from Jeffrey Friedl.  Play with it yourself:

In the Tone Curve panel in the Develop module, click on the point curve icon, circled below:

This gives you a version of the curve with actual points on it.  You can click and drag on the existing points, add new points by clicking on the curve, and remove points by clicking and dragging them out of the curve graph completely.

If you find a look that you really like, save the tone curve settings as a preset.  In the Presets panel (left in Develop), click on the + next to the panel name, give the preset a name, put a check mark next to Tone Curve, uncheck everything else, and click create.  Select another image you want to apply the preset to, click on the preset name in the Presets panel, and voila!

Of course the point curve can be used for “serious” photographic work as well — it allows you more precise control over the tones in your image than the default parametric curve does.    See my Introduction to Curves post for an explanation of how to read and use the curve.