5 Tools You Might Not Be Using in Lightroom

I am a professional wedding photographer and I end up editing thousands of images for my clients. While there are lots of wedding photographers who outsource their post-processing to free up their time, I am a believer in editing my own photos. In order to make my job easier, I tend to look for shortcuts and tools in Lightroom itself, which I use extensively. I’d rather do everything in one program than switch back and forth between Lightroom and Photoshop. You do not have to be a wedding photographer in order to take advantage of these tools in Lightroom. You can use these techniques wherever they are applicable. Below are some of the tools you may not be using to edit your photos.

1) Straightening Tool – Perspective Correction

There will be times when you come back with photos that have a tilted horizon, making the composition look awkward. Perhaps you held the camera wrong or simply did not pay attention to framing at the time of taking the picture. Either way, you can fix this issue in Lightroom by using the straightening tool, which is located under the Histogram and looks like a perforated rectangle. Or you can simply press the “R” button on your keyboard to activate the Crop Overlay Menu in the Develop Mode. When you activate the Crop Overlay, the image you are working on will be framed with a cropped edge. While you can hold the corners of the photo and twist and turn it as much as you want, fixing the horizon can be much more calculated and easier than that.

2014-07-09_0006

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How to Get Accurate Fuji Colors in Lightroom

Our readers often ask us if it is possible to get Lightroom to provide the same colors as one would see from camera-rendered JPEG files when shooting in RAW format. Many photographers often choose specific color profiles in their cameras and they get surprised when images are imported into Lightroom and all those changes are lost. You might have noticed when importing files that Lightroom changes the colors immediately after import, when the embedded JPEG files are re-rendered using Adobe’s standard color profiles and settings. As a result, images might appear dull, lack contrast and have completely different colors. I have heard plenty of complaints on this issue for a while now, so I decided to post series of articles for each major manufacturer on how to obtain more accurate colors in Lightroom that resemble the image preview seen on the camera LCD and in camera-rendered JPEG images. In this article, I will talk about getting accurate colors from Fuji mirrorless cameras in Lightroom. Please see our previous articles on getting accurate colors for Nikon, Canon and Sony cameras.

Camera JPEG vs Adobe RAW

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How to Get Accurate Sony Colors in Lightroom

Our readers often ask us if it is possible to get Lightroom to provide the same colors as one would see from camera-rendered JPEG files when shooting in RAW format. Many photographers often choose specific color profiles in their cameras and they get surprised when images are imported into Lightroom and all those changes are lost. You might have noticed when importing files that Lightroom changes the colors immediately after import, when the embedded JPEG files are re-rendered using Adobe’s standard color profiles and settings. As a result, images might appear dull, lack contrast and have completely different colors. I have heard plenty of complaints on this issue for a while now, so I decided to post series of articles for each major manufacturer on how to obtain more accurate colors in Lightroom that resemble the image preview seen on the camera LCD and in camera-rendered JPEG images. In this article, I will talk about getting accurate colors from Sony DSLRs, SLTs and mirrorless cameras in Lightroom. Please see our other articles on getting accurate colors for Nikon, Canon and Fuji cameras.

Camera JPEG vs Adobe RAW

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The Bureau of Advertising Purity

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
- C. S. Lewis

One would think that with the myriad of problems facing the United States and the rest of the world, our lawmakers might be content to prioritize them, determine which are best to be solved by the private sector, the public sector, or some combinations thereof. But alas, there seem to be some that believe every problem should be solved with some form of government intervention and control. Recently, Congressional Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R -FL), with assistance from Ted Duetch (D – FL), and Lois Capps (D – CA), introduced a bill (H.R. 4341) allegedly to save our children from eating disorders and other mental problems by regulating the use of what essentially are labeled as “unrealistic Photoshop” alternations to pictures of models and others that are prominently displayed in advertising, magazine articles, etc. I was a bit surprised to find out that Ros-Lehtinen had sponsored this bill. I happen to be well-acquainted with her stances on many issues and often find myself in agreement with her.

They title the bill, “Truth in Advertising Act of 2014.” Don’t get me wrong – I am not advocating advertisers should be allowed to make blatant false representations regarding their products’ benefits. But policing every photo tied to an advertisement under the watchful eye of some government overseer seems to be fraught with it its own set of problems.

Photoshop Beauty

So how could anything go wrong with such a well-meaning piece of legislation? Read on…

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sRAW Format Explained

With the release of the D4s and D810 cameras, Nikon has introduced a new format to store images – sRAW, or “RAW Size Small”, as referred to by Nikon. Although Canon has had this format available in its DSLRs for years, this is Nikon’s first time introducing it. As a result, a lot of Nikon users are wondering what this format is, how it works and how it compares to standard RAW files. Personally, I had very limited knowledge of this format and thought it would be an exciting feature, until I dug deeper and found out what it was all about. After a few hours of research (and some input from Iliah Borg, I decided to summarize my findings in this article, which I hope our readers will find useful. Let’s start with the basics first.

sRAW vs RAW Format

1) What is sRAW?

sRAW, which stands for “Small RAW” or “Small Resolution RAW” is a file format that was introduced by Kodak to allow photographers to capture images at smaller size in order to allow more images to be stored on memory cards and allow for faster workflow when full resolution files are not needed (since computers were slow for processing RAW data). The sRAW format was created as a bridge between full resolution RAW files and JPEG images. Since JPEG images are already processed, compressed and only contain 8-bit data, sRAW allowed more flexibility with more bit depth (Kodak’s original design of the sRAW format was 10-bit). The advantage was noticeably smaller file size, but at the expense of resolution – the resulting images contained either twice, or four times less megapixels. Still, these images contained more data than JPEG files for later post-processing, which increased the popularity of the format.

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Pics.io – In-Browser RAW Image Processing

Aside from various online portfolio solutions, there aren’t many online services that photographers can use for their work. Well, this may change soon. With technology of in-browser RAW processing, Pics.io aims to become an all-in-one photo management and editing solution in the cloud or, as they call it, “Google Docs of photo editing”. We spent some time checking out what Pics.io is all about and we are excited about where this project might take us in the future. Although it is at an early stage of development, some interesting and useful tools have already been released for beta testing. For example, the newly announced online raw converter, raw.pics.io works with Canon and Nikon RAW images. And despite our initial thoughts and doubts, it turns out that the converter opens images locally from your computer, without uploading any data to the Internet. Basically, you open the site raw.pics.io in your browser, drop a raw file (nef/cr2/dng) and save a processed JPEG file. At this point it is not anything amazing, but that’s just the first step. Imagine what this platform could potentially do when it is built with a complete set of controls and various presets, similar to what you see in Lightroom.

raw.pics.io

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Adobe Outs Lightroom 5.4 and ACR 8.4 Updates

We’ve still got quite a lot of catching up to do and this time Adobe grabs our attention with the release of new Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom versions (which basically is the converter only in a separate package and with some added functionality for processing masses of files quickly). Version 8.4 of ACR and 5.4 of Lightroom bring the usual updates – new camera and lens support, some bug fixes and a few new features on top of that. Happily, Photoshop CS6 users are not left out and their ACR can be updated. That said, only new lens/camera profiles and bug fixes are part of the update, whilst new features seem to be reserved for CC only. Clearly, Adobe wants you to move to CC, but does not yet blatantly force you to do it by ignoring “older” software completely – at least until ACR 9 arrives.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.4

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Check your Composition with Lightroom

As I was working on the “Composition in Photography: Assignment Discussion” article and upcoming Lightroom Crop Tool article last night, I came across a feature in Lightroom that I had not previously used. I love it when that happens. Realizing that the software tool I enjoy using and find to be very versatile is actually even more functional than I thought, is pure joy. In this article, I will teach you how to quickly check your composition in Lightroom against known rules and guidelines, such as the Golden Ratio or the Rule of Thirds (and, yes, these are indeed two separate things), by overlaying the image with them.

Golden Spiral Guide Overlay

How Does It Work?

Basically, Lightroom allows you to overlay any image with several different guidelines, called Crop Grid Overlays. To do that, select the image you want to check against one of the available guidelines and engage Crop Tool, which is found right below the Histogram. Alternatively, you can hit the “R” key on your keyboard. Once the tool has been engaged, notice that the selected image is already overlaid with the default Rule of Thirds Grid Overlay. Hit “O” on your keyboard to toggle between all 7 available Grid Overlays. Use “Shift + O” (Windows PC) to rotate the guidelines. You can further customize the behavior of the Overlays (or Guides) by selecting the Crop tool to enable the settings in the Tools->Tool Overlay and Crop Guide Overlay menus.

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How to Organize Photos in Lightroom

Lightroom has become a very essential part of the workflow process for many photographers, including myself. I cannot imagine managing my photo catalog without Lightroom and I use it every day for my photography needs. In fact, 95-98% of my post-processing work is done in Lightroom and I only occasionally use Photoshop for advanced photo editing / retouching, which not only simplifies my workflow, but also decreases the amount of time I spend on post-processing. Over the past few years of using Lightroom extensively, I have come up with efficient ways to store, organize and access photos on my computer, so I wanted to share a few tips with our readers on how I do it for both personal and professional work. Although there are many ways to organize images, this particular method has been working great for me (and many others that have been reading our site for the past few years). If you are looking for a generic guide on doing this without any third party photo software like Lightroom, then please read my older article on “how to properly organize pictures“.

1) Where do you store your pictures and how?

The first question is, where and how do you currently store your pictures? I used to store all of my photographs in various subfolders of my hard drive (commonly in “My Pictures” or “My Documents”), but after I got into photography, I decided that it was best to keep all of my photographs in the root folder of my PC’s hard drive that I use solely for storing photos and small family videos. Hard drives are really cheap nowadays, so creating a properly organized and redundant storage for your photography needs does not have to cost an arm and a leg.

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Post-Processing Pains

Over the last several years operating this site, I have been incredibly lucky to meet many talented photographers from all over the world. Some I met face to face (whether in my workshops or other gatherings / conferences), while others I met and interacted with online. One interesting pattern that I noticed in the majority of photographers, and I am talking about the ones that understand light, composition and proper technique, is that they often lack the key component of completing the image and making it successful – post-processing skills. It turns out that most of us spend our time learning our gear and how to take good pictures, but we fail to take that beautifully captured photograph to the next level and make it look amazing by enhancing it further in post-processing. Yes, camera technique, light and composition are all extremely important and those are certainly key ingredients that each of us needs to learn and eventually master, but we need to understand that a captured photograph is just the beginning of making the image. What happens to the photograph after it is taken, is as important as the process of capturing it. I have seen many photos that would have looked breathtaking, had the person put some extra effort into making it work. Even worse, I have seen so many examples of great photos that get slaughtered by very poor post-processing techniques and ugly presets.

Dead Horse Point Sunrise

How many times have you seen an overdone HDR, over-saturated, over-sharpened, over-contrasted, over-recovered, over-preset, over-insert-any-photoshop-term-here mess? Unfortunately, I have seen too many. The worst examples are what I call “forced photos”, where the photographer takes a terrible image and thinks that it can look better when post-processed. So much time and effort is spent on making a terrible photo look absolutely horrendous. How do I know? Because I have done it many times myself.

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