A while ago, I posted an article on why I thought Adobe’s Creative Cloud model was a bad idea. The feedback from our readers was great, with over 300 comments and counting. Most agreed with my stance on why the “renting” model was not for everyone and talked about the risks associated with going to the cloud. Today, Adobe reported that its security was breached and hackers were able to obtain private information including customer names, encrypted credit/debit card numbers, expiration dates and other private data for 2.9 million customers, all part of the Creative Cloud subscription model.
A while ago, I wrote an article explaining how to use Lightroom with external editors. Since then, I’ve been asked specifically about merging panorama images. In this article, I will show you all the steps you need to take to successfully merge a panorama and have it back in your Library with minimal fuss. I will be using Lightroom 5.2 and Photoshop CS5, but the process is virtually identical with (reasonably) older versions of both software tools. This tutorial will focus on the process of stitching a panorama image while using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom as the heart of your post-processing and image management workflow.
If you are new to panorama photography, the best place to start is by reading our “Panoramic Photography Tutorial”. Manual panorama stitching technique will be discussed in a separate article.
1) There is a Catch
We start, unusually, with a problem. As a RAW file converter and photo manager, Lightroom has limited functionality when it comes to graphical editing. In fact, all its great flexibility is concentrated within the two mentioned main functions of the software. In many other respects, Lightroom is not the best choice. For example, I can edit 98% of my wedding photographs with Lightroom alone, no problem. However, the two remaining percent happen to be Brenizer method panoramas. This is where things, at first glance, get a bit more complicated. As I am sure a lot of you already know, you can’t stitch panorama images with Lightroom alone. If you didn’t yet know this and stumbled upon this article hoping to find a different answer, I am sorry to disappoint you. It lacks such functionality at its core. There is, of course, a workaround. What Lightroom can’t do on its own, it can do with the help of external editors and plug-ins. Panorama stitching happens to be one of those holes you can fill in quite easily if you own a Lightroom-compatible panorama stitching software which, in my case, is Photoshop. So, in order to create a panorama in Lightroom (sort of), you need to export those files to an external editor. Photoshop has a very powerful Photomerge tool for just such occasions, but the problem remains. You need to own another piece of software to perform such a task. I find that perplexing.
A while ago, Adobe has made the Lightroom 5.2 and Camera RAW 8.2 Release Candidate version update available. I restrained from updating my Lightroom 5 version to the RC update and decided to wait for the full release. Today, final Lightroom 5.2 and Camera RAW 8.2 updates are finally available for download and fix a number of bugs while also adding support for several newest cameras. New Camera RAW features are only available for Photoshop CC users. CS6 users are also eligible for the update, but Camera RAW 8.2 for Photoshop CS6 only adds new camera/lens support and fixes bugs. It does not add new features.
As always, Lightroom 5.2 and Camera RAW 8.2 updates are very similar. Having said that, there are some differences. In this quick overview, I will provide you with information for both.
Pretty much the whole Photography Life team uses Lightroom (Tom, hint hint) and we all love it. Without a doubt, Lightroom is an integral part of many photographers’ workflows. It is easy to learn and use, comes with a boatload of great tools and makes the process of managing and organizing images a breeze. However, it seems like Lightroom is often plagued by various bugs and annoyances, some of which have been there for a very long time. One of those nasty old timers, is the Lightroom Exit Bug (I came up with this title, since I have no idea how else to call it), which has been plaguing Lightroom for a very long time, I believe since version 2 or 3. It also occurs in the latest release of Lightroom 5.2 RC. Basically, at some point of time, Lightroom’s shortcuts and menu windows just stop working and random presets get applied to your photos. The bug also prevents you from being able to exit out of Lightroom. The only cure is to exit out of Lightroom by clicking the “X” on the top right corner of the Lightroom window.
As any reader of our previous Mastering Lightroom series articles will know, one of the biggest strengths Adobe’s popular RAW converter has is presets and templates. With its emphasis on speed, Lightroom allows you to create a preset or template for more or less anything, from Metadata, to slideshows or book design. I have already talked about the super-useful Develop Presets. In this article, I will show you how to use Filename Template Editor so that you learn how to name your images as quickly and efficiently as possible.
1) Why Should You Use the Filename Template Editor?
As with all other kinds of templates and presets you can find in Lightroom, filename templates are there for you to make managing and working with images easier. With the Filename Template Editor, you can create several naming templates and include as much or as little information as you want. What sort of information? Well, more or less everything from the metadata of that image – date, equipment, keywords etc. In addition to that, you can also include a custom text field.
This is a quick guide on how to upgrade from Lightroom 4 to Lightroom 5, if you are considering moving up to the latest and greatest Lightroom version. While the process of upgrading the actual software is pretty straightforward, there are some important steps you need to take to make sure that the catalog is upgraded successfully and you are using the latest available features. If you are scared about upgrading and have not done it in the past, this guide might help you to go through the process. The good news is, Adobe allows keeping both versions of Lightroom on the same machine, which means that you can install LR5 and continue to use your old LR4 with the old catalog(s). Once you are satisfied with the upgrade, you can then remove the old version of Lightroom, along with the old versions of catalogs.
1) Download and install Lightroom 5
If you are hesitating about downloading the online version of Lightroom 5 versus buying a boxed version from a store, don’t – they are both exactly the same. Adobe lets you download the full version of Lightroom and use it for 30 full days until you input the serial number from a retail boxed version, or the one supplied by Adobe when you purchase it digitally. This is a great way to try it out and see if you want to keep it or not.
You know how things sometimes just… click together? You hear a new soundtrack and, out of nowhere, it takes you away. You meet a new client or a friend and it feels as if you were meant to work together or help each other. Click. Just like that. You read a book, watch a movie, start a project, fall in love, get a job you never knew you wanted – click, click, click. It’s perfect. Nothing else feels quite like it – so bizarre and, at the same time, so obvious, you can’t help but smile as broadly as you possibly can. Ever since I made a switch from Photoshop to Lightroom, I’ve been looking back awestruck at how easy and quick my post-processing has become. All in one place with no permanent, destructive changes – it was a revelation. If previously, I considered using professional post-production services just to save time, Lightroom made the whole process hassle-free and I could do everything myself. Mind you, I am not Adobe’s spokesperson and would never promote their product like that without good reason. But Lightroom, despite all the frustrating bits…just clicked.
How do you improve on that?
Adobe’s recent change of license strategy for most of its Photoshop family software tools has introduced a lot of doubt among the previously happy customers. Because of Photoshop CC, many owners of Lightroom 3 and 4 have started looking for alternatives, fearing that despite Adobe’s claims, there is a possibility that Lightroom will also be moved to a subscription-based license in the future. Such fears are further complimented by the fact that the older versions of Lightroom will never gain support for the newest mirrorless and DSLR cameras, or new lens profiles. For this reason, Adobe had to make sure Lightroom 5 was so good, it would keep its customer base happy and tempted by the new features despite the recent changes in license strategy of its other products. The pressure is made worse by rivals always breathing down Lightroom’s neck.
Since Lightroom version 3, Adobe has been providing a Lens Corrections sub-module within the Develop Module to correct various optical issues commonly seen on all lenses. It is a very powerful and complex tool that can be applied to one or many photographs with a couple of quick steps, potentially saving many hours of post-processing time. In this article, I will explain what the Lens Corrections sub-module is, how it works and how you can effectively use it to correct optical issues in your photographs. I will also show you a method of adding a lens profile manually, if you have unsupported lenses in your arsenal.
1) What is Lens Corrections in Lightroom?
Lens Corrections is a tool within Lightroom’s Develop Module (hence I often refer to it as a “sub-module”) that allows fixing such lens problems as distortion, chromatic aberration, vignetting and perspective correction “non-destructively”, without leaving Lightroom. The beauty of the Lens Corrections feature in Lightroom, is that just like any other setting, lens corrections can be copied from one image to another, applied to hundreds of images at once, or can be set up as an import template, automatically applying corrections to images during the image import process. Keep in mind that lens correction is not a simple fix that applies to any lens – corrections are lens-specific. Since each lens model is designed with a unique optical formula, lens corrections must also be uniquely customized for each model. For example, one could not take a lens correction from the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G and apply it to the Sigma 35mm f/1.4G just because they share the same focal length and maximum aperture. Adobe staff spends time working with a number of different lenses and they continuously add support to new and existing lenses when new versions of Lightroom are released.
How does Lens Corrections affect images? Take a look at the following image sample:
In our previous Mastering Lightroom series articles we covered what Lightroom is and how it works. We also took a quick tour around Lightroom’s working environment. After highlighting the basic function and capability of each Module, it is now time to talk about them individually more in-depth, starting with Library Module. Before we can actually start using all Library tools, however, we need images to work with. That is why our first step is to learn how to import photographs in Lightroom. I will be using the latest (at the time of writing) version, Lightroom 5, to guide you through the process of Importing images. Virtually everything but Smart Previews is equally applicable to earlier releases.
Lightroom is a catalog-based photo manager and post-processing tool. That means in order to start working with photographs, you need to first Import them into your Catalog. Importing is a very simple, straightforward process done using the Import window. To start the process of Importing photographs, launch Lightroom and then click “Import…” at the bottom of the left-side panel in Library Module. Alternatively, you can Import photographs by selecting “Import Photos and Video…” from File menu (Ctrl+Shift+I for Windows users). This will open the Import window for you to choose source directory, image files, destination and other details.
A side note: by default, Lightroom should automatically launch and ready itself for immediate Import as soon as you connect an external storage device to your computer, such as a camera or memory card. If it does not or should you want to change this behavior, go to “Preferences…” in “Edit” menu and check or uncheck the “Show import dialog when a memory card is detected” box in the General tab. I find this a particularly useful option, yet nonetheless disabled it immediately after installing Lightroom on my computer due to a simple irritation. Lightroom would launch its Import dialogue even if I connect a simple USB flash drive which I use for general files and documents, not photographs I need in my Catalog.