How to Get Accurate Nikon Colors in Lightroom

Camera JPEG vs Adobe RAW

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. Unfortunately, as you might have noticed when importing files, Lightroom changes the colors immediately after import, when the embedded JPEG files are re-rendered using Adobe’s standard color profiles. 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 when an image is captured. In this article, I will talk about getting accurate colors from a Nikon DSLR in Lightroom.

Camera JPEG vs Adobe RAW

Due to the fact that Adobe’s RAW converter is unable to read proprietary RAW header data, which often contains chosen camera profiles, some settings have to be either applied manually or applied upon import. My personal preference is to apply a preset while importing images, which saves me time later. Before we get into Lightroom, let me first go over camera settings and explain a few important things.

1) RAW File Nuances and Metadata

When shooting in RAW format, most camera settings like White Balance, Sharpness, Saturation, Lens Corrections and Color Profiles do not matter. Unless you use Nikon-provided software like Capture NX or View NX, all of those custom settings are mostly discarded by third party applications, including Lightroom and Photoshop. That’s because it is hard to process each piece of proprietary data, which is subject to change from one camera model to another. Now imagine trying to do this for a number of different camera manufacturers!

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How to Create a Panorama in Lightroom

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

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

Adding Filename Attributes and Custom Text

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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Open and Closed Composition

Open and Closed Composition-11

In the first article of our Mastering Composition series, we discussed the definition of the term “composition”. We also outlined the main goal of composition and talked about why it is such an important part of any work of art. As we dive deeper, it is necessary to define two discrete types of composition with photographic context in mind. One such type is called “open composition”, while the other one, predictably, “closed composition”. These two types are further split into several smaller branches. Our readers have already mentioned some of them previously, such as symmetrical composition. These subtypes will be discussed in separate articles over the next few weeks. As before, an assignment for beginners is waiting for you to participate in at the end of the article.

Open and Closed Composition-11

1) A Brief History Lesson

You may be surprised to hear about open and closed composition. Where did these definitions come from? Well, I am quite certain a lot of our readers realize or know that photography has always been very close to painting, and is so even today. In fact, at some point photographers were actually seen as rivals to painters. Only, their art and craft got away without the skill of wielding a brush normally associated with painting (which painters were quick to notice and criticize). Here is a very brief summary on how photography and painting are related.

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What is Composition in Photography?

What is Composition in Photography

With the first article in our new Mastering Composition series, it is only fitting that we start off by discussing the very definition of our main topic. In this article for beginner photographers, I will outline the general meaning of the term “composition” in art. I will also briefly discuss the goal of composition, define what a good composition is and why it is such an important part of any work of art. At the end of the article I will provide you with a simple question that is also a hint on what is to come in future articles.

What is Composition in Photography

1) General Definition of the Term

The term “composition” applies not only to visual arts, but to music, dance, literature and virtually any other kind of art. In certain contexts, such as writing, this term may not be as widely used, but is just as valid nonetheless. In general, the term “composition” has two distinctive, yet related meanings.

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Why Are Some Lenses So Expensive?

Nikon Lens Comparison

Every once in a while, I get asked why some lenses are so much more expensive compared to others. Interestingly, this question comes from both beginners and advanced photographers, but in different contexts. Beginners want to know why pro-level lenses are a lot more expensive than consumer lenses, while knowledgeable photographers wonder about what makes niche/exotic lenses from companies like Zeiss and Leica so much more expensive than modern professional lenses. These are all interesting and valid questions, so I thought writing a couple of articles to attempt to answer these questions would be useful for our readers. In this article, I want to answer the first beginner question on what makes professional lenses expensive.

Nikon Lens Comparison

1) Lens Categories

To understand differences between lenses, I believe it is important to first categorize them into different groups. This is obviously a subjective categorization, something I personally came up with to group lenses in our lens database:

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Wildlife Photography Tips: Ask Questions First, Shoot Later

Grackle in Crabapple Blossoms

You have heard it said, “Shoot first, ask questions later” but when it comes to wildlife photography, if you will ask questions first, you will get to shoot more later.  This quick tip for the beginning wildlife photographer encourages you to ask questions. While you might go to a park to find wildlife, some photo ops might be in your own backyard, literally, and if not your own backyard, maybe in your friend’s or neighbor’s backyard.

Grackle in Crabapple Blossoms

Some time ago, I was busy frequenting a local park looking for a bobcat that was being seen.  I made at least 20 visits and spent considerable time there looking for that bobcat.  I found tracks and evidence of its kills but I never found the cat.  On one particular day I had been out to the park for about 4 hours hiking and looking, all to no avail.  I got home and my wife asked, “Did you see the pictures of the mountain lion that so and so posted on their Facebook page?”  I asked where she had seen the mountain lion and it turned out that it was in her back yard.  When I heard this, I was a bit frustrated, as I had been within a few minutes of their home when I was looking for the bobcat and had I known that there was a lion there, I would have made a trip over there to try and see it.   By this time however, I knew that realistically, it was long gone.

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Introduction to Street Portrait Photography

Street Portraits (12)

In my opinion, street photography is a significant craft, geared towards preserving human history and history of any given society. It helps us preserve once-in-a-lifetime moments and capture truly authentic imagery. As many of us start getting weary and tired by the polished, glossy magazine looks we encounter daily, random portraits photographed in streets preserve that originality a lot of us crave, once again reminding us of real subjects and objects around us. Street portraiture is a big chunk of street photography and documentary. Today, I want to concentrate on giving you some tips on street portraiture. I should also warn you that the pointers I give today may work better for female photographers, rather than for boys with cameras :)

Street Portraits (11)

1) Brush up on your people skills

Photographing people close-up is a little different than photographing street architecture or doing documentary style street photography. While the main reasoning behind street photography itself is to get away from posed, artificial and repetitive, photographing random people provides a great opportunity to work with the raw beauty. But it is a challenging task for many of us – those people on the streets are not your paying clients, they do not know who you are and most of them do not wish to be photographed at all!

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Lightroom Q&A Session Updated

Lightroom Q&A Session

A week ago, I started a Lightroom Q&A Session where I offered to help you solve any problems you may have with Lightroom and answer other questions. I was delighted to see some many inquiries and hope that I managed to help out at least some of you. I’ve just finished updating the article with more answers. I did my best to contact some of you in the comments section in earlier updates. Those who still haven’t heard from me personally, please see the updated article.

Lightroom Q&A Session

I haven’t had the chance to answer all the inquiries – there is still about a dozen questions waiting for my attention. I will try to comment on the remaining issues as soon as I can, it has been a tough week in terms of workload. Any additional questions are still welcome. Thank you to all those who helped!