Mastering Lightroom: How to Enhance Landscape Photos

So, you’ve taken a photograph of a beautiful sunset or a peaceful, fog-covered valley. But something is missing in the picture – it just doesn’t look as good straight out of camera as the scene you were seeing at the time. By using simple Lightroom tools, such as Clarity, Graduated Filter and Curves, enhancing a landscape can be a very simple and fast process. While there are many advanced ways of processing landscapes, not all images require that much post-processing. In this Mastering Lightroom series article, I will show you how to quickly enhance landscape photographs using just Lightroom 4.

Mastering Lightroom: How to Quickly Enhance Landscape Photographs

[Read more...]

Lightroom 4.3 and Camera RAW 7.3 RC Update

I typically cover Lightroom and Camera RAW updates pretty quickly, but this time I am a little late in the game. For those who have not yet updated, last week Adobe released the release candidate versions of Lightroom 4.3 and Camera RAW 7.3. If you own one of those new Macbook Pro laptops with a retina display, you will be happy with this Lightroom update, because it makes the interface more compatible and easier to read in the Develop module. Aside from the usual bugfixes, Lightroom got additional support for new cameras. If you are a Nikon D600 owner, you should update as soon as possible, since the release now has full support for the camera (Lightroom 4.2 only had partial or “beta” support for the D600). A long list of newly supported lenses (mostly Leica) is provided below.

Lightroom 4

[Read more...]

Efficient Aperture Workflow for High Resolution Images

After I posted an article on Efficient Lightroom Workflow for High Resolution Images, Jason Schultz posted a video tutorial over on his blog on efficient aperture workflow. While I personally do not use Aperture (I don’t own a Mac), I liked Aperture’s ability to first import JPEG images, then only import matching RAW images after all the sorting and deleting is done.

To do this though, you have to set your camera to shoot RAW + JPEG, which will use more space on your memory card. Jason recommends to use JPEG Basic to have smaller images, but he does not mention the image size. You need to make sure that the image size is set to “Large”, or the images will be down-sampled to lower resolution by the camera, which means that you will not be able to view them at 100% zoom. So if the idea is to delete images that have even slight blur or softness at 100%, for example, then you need to make sure that you are looking at the largest image.

This method wastes about 6-8 MB per image for JPEG Basic (on the D800) and your camera will slow down a little when shooting bursts. But given how cheap memory cards are today, it is really not that bad of an argument anymore. And cameras like D800 are not fast anyway in terms of fps. So if you use Apple’s Aperture, check the below video out – this might be a great solution for you!

Mastering Lightroom: How to Geotag Photographs in Lightroom 4

Lightroom has always had a lot of interesting features on offer. With the introduction of the latest version, Lightroom 4, Adobe has added two more modules to the already existing five – Map and Book. In this short and simple Mastering Lightroom series tutorial I will show you how to geotag your photographs in Lightroom using the map module.

Mastering Lightroom: How To Geotag Photographs in Lightroom 4

1) What is Geotagging?

Simply put, geotagging images allows you to input location information within your image EXIF data so that you can know precisely where that particular image was taken. Ever felt like you were at an amazingly beautiful place for landscape photography but missed peak colors by a couple of weeks? Geotagging will let you remember your physical location, so that you can come back to the same spots next year. Many modern smartphones and cameras with GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity make geotagging a very simple and automated process. If you own a camera without such a feature, geotagging can be made possible with an external GPS unit, such as GP-1 unit for Nikon DSLR cameras (see our Nikon GP-1 Review).

2) So Why Bother with Lightroom?

No need if you have a camera with built-in geotagging feature. However, if you don’t find yourself needing the feature more often than occasionally, Lightroom 4 is about to save you a couple of hundred dollars. It is also a very quick and simple process, so why not? In a year or two you may be glad you geotagged your photographs to know where to look for those locations.

[Read more...]

Efficient Lightroom Workflow for High Resolution Images

It seems that the continuous increase of megapixels in our digital cameras is inevitable. Year after year, camera sensors are getting better, image resolution is increasing and file sizes are getting bigger. If just several years ago 10 megapixels was plenty for a DSLR, that number has grown way higher lately, thanks to such fine tools as the Nikon D800. This increase of resolution and file sizes clearly puts a load on our quickly aging computers as well. Larger files require more storage and post-processing images in Lightroom and Photoshop is taking longer due to insufficient computing power and resources, dramatically slowing down our photography workflow process. While upgrading your computer could speed things up quite a bit, it is often a costly proposition. Instead of spending money on more gear, revisiting your workflow process and perhaps even revising it might significantly reduce the amount of time you spend editing images. In this article, I will show you a very efficient Lightroom workflow for high resolution images, which my wife and I adopted after acquiring the Nikon D800.

Lightroom Export Catalog

1) Why I changed my Lightroom Workflow

On average, my wife Lola and I shoot about 20-30 thousand images a year. It sure sounds like a lot, but if you factor in all wedding and portrait work we do, where a single wedding day could yield over a thousand images, it is actually not that big of a number. Since it was extremely slow and inefficient to keep all images in a single Lightroom catalog, I started organizing catalogs by year about 3 years ago. Since then, I was quite happy with my Lightroom workflow. At the beginning of each year, I would move my primary catalog for the previous year to slower archival storage and create a new one. Everything was working well, although towards the end of the year Lightroom would get a little sluggish. But it was tolerable…Until Lola and I bought the Nikon D800.

[Read more...]

Mastering Lightroom: How to Use the Spot Removal Tool

Lightroom 4 is a great tool for post-processing your work, especially if you tend to shoot RAW most of the time. It’s quick, easy to manage and offers an extremely wide range of color adjustment, as well as other kinds of processing. But what if you need to retouch your photographs? Does that mean Photoshop is the only way to go? While I certainly use Photoshop CS5 for more complicated retouching, I’m glad that Lightroom 4 offers options that are sufficient at least 90% of the time. In this short and simple tutorial I will teach you how to use the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom. This simple yet powerful tool will then let you remove small objects out of your photographs or fix flaws, such as skin blemishes or sensor dust spots. You will be able to perform these actions very easily and quickly and, more importantly, all within Lightroom 4 environment.

How To Use the Spot Removal Tool

1) Where to Find It?

Spot Removal Tool#1

Lightroom is a very photography-centered piece of software. Unlike Photoshop, which, from the very start, had a very broad range of applications, Lightroom doesn’t need many tools. Luckily, this makes finding them that much more simple – all the tools, including Spot Removal, are located under the Histogram tab. You can, alternatively, press “Q” to pick it up for use.

2) What’s Wrong with the Photograph?

I will be working on a photograph a friend of mine snapped while enjoying a walk in a park, and you can see it shown above. Nothing is really wrong with it per se – I think it’s a great, fun street shot. However, since Spot Removal is so simple to use, I would like to get rid of a small white spot right between the dog’s front legs. Take a look:

Spot Removal Tool#2

3) Let’s Get Rid of It!

Most of the time, Spot Removal works with just a single click. In order to remove the white spot (which may have been a chewing gum once, but let’s not think about that), first select the tool by pressing “Q” on the keyboard. You will notice your mouse pointer has been replaced by a circle, which defines how big is the area to be affected. My settings are currently at 75 (Size) and 100 (Opacity). Lets go ahead and just click on the white spot we dislike so much. Here’s what happened:

Spot Removal Tool#3

[Read more...]

Lightroom 4.2 and Camera RAW 7.2 Update

Great news for those of us that use Lightroom or Photoshop – Adobe has just released the final versions of Lightroom 4.2 and Camera RAW 7.2 that add support to a bunch of new cameras, including the Nikon D600 (preliminary suppport). A bunch of Lightroom bugs have been fixed and tethered support has been added to cameras like Nikon D4, D800, D800E, Canon 5D Mark III and 1D X. Many new lens profiles have also been added, including the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 that we recently reviewed. This is primarily a bugfix and camera support release, which means that the final version of Lightroom 4.2 does not contain any new features compared to the last release candidate.

Lightroom 4

[Read more...]

Insane Adobe Photoshop CS6 + Lightroom 4 Deal

When I first received this special from B&H two days ago, I decided to post it on our Facebook page only. Within minutes, I received a bunch of emails and comments from our fans, asking about this deal. This morning, I found out that B&H is running this for another day, so I decided to let you guys know about this truly amazing deal.

Adobe Photoshop CS6Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Basically, if you buy both Adobe Photoshop CS6 (latest version) and Lightroom 4 before midnight eastern time today, August 31 2012, you can get it for an insane price of $389 for both. These are retail versions of both and you can get either the Mac or the PC version. Photoshop CS6 by itself costs $650 and Lightroom retails for $139, totaling $789, so this is a crazy $400 off deal! This deal was so popular yesterday, that B&H ran out of stock quickly. They have both in stock again today, so get it before they run out again for good.

On top of all this, it looks like B&H is also bundling “Kelby Training DVD: What’s New in Adobe Photoshop CS6,Kelby Training DVD: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Crash Course” ($94.98 Total Value)…

Click here for the link to this special or click on any of the above images.

Mastering Lightroom: How to Manage Presets

One of the biggest advantages Lightroom offers over some other RAW converters, such as Camera RAW found in Adobe Photoshop environment, is speed and flexibility while working with tens, hundreds and even thousands of photographs at a time. However, it wouldn’t be quite as fast if we didn’t have a way of applying a set of our own settings to any amount of images we choose with a single click. For this, Photoshop offers us Actions and Batch processing. Lightroom, in turn, gives us Presets.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to manage an ever-increasing amount of presets. You will learn how to save new presets and remove those you don’t need anymore, how to export, import and organize them into different folders for simpler browsing. You will also learn how to update existing presets with new settings and how to remove certain settings so that they are not affected by presets.

1) What Are Presets and Why Would One Use Them?

Changing settings in Lightroom is very easy and intuitive. Adobe designed it with a very thought-out, photographer oriented workflow, suitable for most professionals and amateurs alike, and it offers an uncluttered, none-distracting interface. However, with such a huge amount of settings available (and, as a consequence, an immense amount of different looks you can achieve to your photographs), it would be very hard to memorize your favorite setups so that you could use them again and again. That is what we have presets for. Basically, presets are files that contain specific setting information you applied to a photograph. You can save a preset that will set the Temperature of the photograph you have selected to, say, 7300K degrees, or adjust Exposure to +1,15. While these would be very basic presets containing only one adjustment, you can save a preset that will change Temperature, Highlights, Blacks, Vibrance, Tone Curve, Color Luminance and add Vignetting and Grain to your image. This way, you can achieve a particular look with just one mouse click, and save lots of time you could then spend with your family or photographing.

One-Click Processing

Without presets, it’s impossible to experience all Lightroom has to offer, so it’s vital you learn how to use and manage them.
[Read more...]

Maximizing Dynamic Range

The more time I spend in my photography pursuits, the more I appreciate cameras that capture and photos that exploit their maximum dynamic range potential. Digital cameras have undergone dramatic improvements over the last 12+ years, but they still don’t come close to the human eye’s dynamic range capabilities. By some estimates, the human eye can distinguish up to 24 f-stops of dynamic range. Higher end DSLRs such as the Nikon D800 by comparison, can capture up to a theoretical max of 14.4 f-stops of dynamic range. The usable dynamic range of most DSLRs, however, is closer to 5-9 f-stops, considering the impact of noise, which can render some of the DSLRs’ f-stop range impractical to exploit. Thus your eyes – at least for now – are still far more capable than the best DSLR relative to recognizing various tonal gradations. As I will demonstrate via my new model, “Doris” (shown below) of the Pittsburgh Zoo, even photos taken with high quality DSLRs sometimes need a bit of extra processing to match what your eyes can see. The photo below is the result of a processing technique I often employ to boost dynamic range when it is apparent that my camera’s sensor failed to capture what I remember seeing.

1) Good Dynamic Range Starts With A Good Camera

The first step in maximizing dynamic range is to have a camera that scores high in this category. DXO Mark can provide a good understanding of how DSLRs stack up against each other in this regard. The results from the D800 dynamic range testing have been amazing, clearly showing that it has the capacity to pull significant shadow detail while still keeping noise levels relatively low. If and when I actually get my hands on a D800, I will be able to determine this for myself! For this tutorial, I used my trusty Nikon D7000, which despite its modest price, has a very good dynamic range score.

[Read more...]