How to Create a Panorama in Lightroom

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.

How to Create a Panorama in Lightroom

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.

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Basic Image Backup Tips for Beginners

One of the first things that comes to mind when faced with some sort of a disaster (fire or flood, for example) is the safety of the people we love. If one’s family and friends are well and within arm’s reach in the case of such a tragic event, people often tend to think of… photographs. Wouldn’t you? After all, photographs ensure the memory of our children, parents, siblings, friends and the greatest days of our lives remain no matter what. Consequently, it is a good idea to always have a safe copy of all or at least the most important photographs you may have. If you have been storing images on a single computer, DVD or other simple storage, there is no way to make sure that your photographs are 100% safe – all types of storage unfortunately fail, it is just a matter of time! There is a way, however, of eliminating the possibility of loss almost entirely. In this article for beginners photographers, I will provide you with several inexpensive basic backup ideas. Even if you choose not to follow this particular backup strategy, it should give you a decent starting point and help you figure out a way that suits you better. It is worth noting that we do not recommend these tips for professional photographers, as they should take more serious, reliable and faster means of backing up their work.

Basic Image Backup Tips for Beginners

1) Keep a Copy at Home

In addition to storing photographs on your hard drive, it is a good idea to have a copy of them on an external drive somewhere at home. This is in case your computer suffers from some sort of malfunction, data loss or physical damage. Storing copies of your photographs on the same disk isn’t a backup – if the disk breaks down, both originals and backup copies may be lost. Also note that it is a good idea to store original copies on a separate internal hard drive rather than the one used by the operating system. This way, if you ever need to format your computer you’ll know all the important files will remain untouched.

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Using Filename Template Editor in Lightroom

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.

How to Use Filename Template Editor in Lightroom

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.

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How to Upgrade Lightroom 4 to Lightroom 5

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.

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Lightroom Lens Corrections Explained

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:

Move mouse over to see before and after Lens Correction

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How to Import Photographs in Lightroom

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.

How to Import Photographs in Lightroom

Importing Photographs

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.

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Q&A Session

Updated: 07/07/2013

Happy Sunday everyone! New week is about to start so I thought I’d run this Lightroom Question & Answer session. For the next few days (depending on how active you are) you are welcome to ask any question you like about Lightroom and I will do my best to answer them! Each time a question is posted by you in the comments section below, I will update the article as soon as I come up with the answer. If there are any questions very specific to a certain case, I may answer them in the comments section. Specific, to-the-point questions will be answered in this article, while questions requiring more extensive explanation will be covered in separate articles in the future. I know many of our readers know a lot about Lightroom and you are most welcome to participate. If you are new to Adobe’s Lightroom and find it difficult learning what’s what, this is the time and place to ask for help!

Lightroom Q&A Session

Questions about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Here are some of the questions I have been asked already in no particular order. I will update this list with new questions as soon as I find an answer to them.

  1. Can you rename photographs within Lightroom?

    Yes! Lightroom is not just a post-processing tool, it is also a very powerful photo manager. Even so, this particular function isn’t as apparent as one might hope. To rename source photograph, go to your Library Module and choose “Rename Photo…” from Library menu (or hit the F2 key).

  2. How to cancel color toning with adjustment brush and gradient tool?

    Resetting color effect or virtually any other effect or slider in Lightroom is very easy. All you have to do is double-click on the name of the effect or adjustment slider. Alternatively, you can cancel the color effect by dragging color marker to the very bottom of the color selection box. This has the same effect as setting Saturation of that color effect to 0.

  3. Can you hide Edit Pins in Adjustment Brush, Spot Removal and other tools?

    Hitting the H key with the tool engaged will toggle between visible and hidden Pins. This is especially helpful if you want to see the effect on small areas that would be otherwise covered by Pins. Alternatively, you can hit “T” key to toggle tool panel and choose from there.

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How to Photograph High School Seniors by Mario Masitti

We are continuing our education series from some of the best photographers in Colorado and this time we are proud to feature Mario Masitti, who is without a doubt, one of the most successful high school senior photographers in the nation, not just Colorado. In this article, Mario will shed some light on high school senior photography and share his technique, style, gear and provide some sound advice for aspiring photographers. We hope you enjoy reading this article and learning from him.

Mario Masitti Seniors 13

Canon 1Ds-II | 85L at f/1.2 | ISO50 | 1/400s | Existing Light

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Mastering Lightroom: Basic Post-Processing Workflow

Most of my previous Mastering Lightroom series articles were about specific techniques and features of Adobe’s popular post-processing tool for photographers. Of course, learning these techniques is very important, yet for someone who’s just started using Lightroom, other questions come to mind first. Where do you start? What do you do first? How to keep your catalogs uncluttered and organized? Answers to these questions can be extensive, but in this article, I will try to describe a very simple, basic workflow I often use myself. This workflow allows me to keep my catalogs tidy yet at the same time helps me get to actual post-processing very quickly and in just a few steps. Many of you already have your favorite workflows, I’m sure, and some will involve different or more steps than this one. With this article, my goal is to get those of you completely new to Lightroom up and running quickly so that, with practice, you can decide on your own approach.

Mastering Lightroom Basic Post-Processing Workflow

1) Import

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Import_1 Lightroom is a catalog-based post-processing application. For someone new to such photo managing approach, it may sound complicated at first, but actually isn’t. What it means is that Lightroom doesn’t work with the original files, but stores information about them – along with rendered previews – in a set of files that make up a Catalog. We’re not going to talk about advantages and disadvantages of such a system, suffice to say both are present. More importantly with Lightroom, in order to edit images, you first need to import them into the Catalog. To import your images, start Lightroom and select “Import…” from the bottom of the left-side panel while in Library module (hit “E” to engage Library module or select from the Module panel at the top of the screen). Alternatively, you can import photographs by selecting “Import Photos and Video…” from File menu (Ctrl+Shift+I for Windows users).

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How to Use a Reflector

In the world of photography, nothing happens without light. In most cases, there are two types of light that photographers work with: natural light and artificial light. Although I often find myself using artificial light sources, I prefer using natural light whenever possible and consider myself to be a natural light photographer. One of the tools that has made the biggest difference to my natural light photography (and, for that matter, studio photography) is a reflector. In this guide, I will show you how to use a reflector effectively to enhance your photographs by simply bouncing natural light.

1) Choosing a Reflector

If you have never purchased a reflector before, the options that you find once you start looking might be overwhelming. There are large and small reflectors. There are round, rectangular and triangular reflectors. There are white, gold and silver reflectors, as well as combinations of these three colors with names like Sunfire, SoftSilver, Zebra and Sparkling Sun.

One of the first things you’ll want to decide on is the size of reflector you’ll need. If you’re mainly shooting individual portraits, a smaller reflector might work better for you than a larger one. Of course, a larger reflector will generally produce a larger area of softer light, but larger reflectors are also more difficult to handle, so there is a compromise to be made. A 42″ reflector is a pretty common size that is a nice combination of ease of use and nice light.

Once you know the general size you’re looking for, you can start looking at different brands and shapes. You’ll find reflectors that have handles, brackets or frames. You’ll also find reflectors that don’t have any fancy features. You’ll usually pay a premium and have fewer options if you choose a reflector that has a handle or a frame, but the added ease of use might just make it worth the extra money.

Reflectors

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