Where Are My Mid-tones? Deriving Hidden Baseline Exposure Compensation

As we already mentioned in the previous article “Where are my Mid-tones?“, most raw converters apply some hidden adjustments to a raw shot, often resulting in a bumped mid-tone, clipped highlights, and compressed shadows. This is done to make the shot look good, but can also lead to all sorts of confusion. If you are using or planning to use some raw converter, you may want to know what “beautifiers” it applies, and their price.

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Where Are My Mid-tones?

We’ve gotten several emails, the most recent and the best phrased one from a reader of Photography Life, with questions along the following lines:

What happened to my mid-tones? I set the exposure using exposure meter, opened the shot in Adobe Lr (or Adobe Camera Raw, or some other converter) … and the shot looks overexposed and everything from mid-tone and up looks very flat. If I shoot in RAW+JPEG, the JPEG looks OK, while the RAW is not. Should I expose lower?

We’ve decided that the reply to this question belongs here.

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JPEGmini Software Clarifications

Ever since I published my JPEGmini review and subsequent articles like the last one on reducing backup storage needs, I have received some emails and comments from concerned readers, who do not understand the point of using JPEG compression software, particularly when there are other existing commercial or free tools available. In this article, I would like to address some of these concerns and explain the strengths and weaknesses of the JPEGmini software.

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JPEG Compression Levels in Photoshop and Lightroom

Determining the ideal JPEG quality setting in both Photoshop and Lightroom can be challenging, because we often see two different values to choose from. Photoshop gives us compression levels from 0 to 12 when saving JPEG images through the “Save” or “Save As” dialog, while Lightroom only allows us to input a percentage. While percentages are easier to understand than numbers from 0 to 12, as we relate to 100% being the “best image quality” easier, Adobe also created a confusion as to what number represents what percentage, since the ranges of numbers are not provided in any of the help documents. The truth is, the percentages we see in Lightroom do not really scale from real 0 to 100 in single digits. Adobe simply mapped the 0 to 12 scale to the percentage scale. This ultimately means that changing from one number to another, like from 85% to 90% might make no difference whatsoever in compression or image size, while changing from 84% to 85% would make a big difference.

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Adobe Lightroom CC 2015.3 and 6.3 Released

After a huge backlash from its user base when Adobe released a very buggy Lightroom update featuring its new Import tool, the company officially apologized and promised not only to address the bugs, but also to bring back the old Import tool and all the features it previously had. It took a bit of time, but the update is finally out! After testing the new CC 2015.3 release, I am pleased to see much better performance, particularly when using a dual monitor setup (the previous release was extremely buggy in a dual monitor setup). In addition to fixing a slew of bugs, Adobe also provided a rather big list of newly supported cameras and lenses.

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Adobe’s Poor Handling of RAW Files

With Adobe Lightroom being the most popular post-processing tool on the market, one might wonder how good the software really is in processing RAW images. After-all, that’s what we use Lightroom primarily for – to post-process our images and get the best out of them. Having been using Lightroom since the early release versions (dating back to Lightroom 1), I have seen the software grow from a simple RAW editor to a pretty complex piece of software for both image management and powerful RAW processing. While there have been many great additions to Lightroom over time, Adobe certainly has had its share of rather disappointing problems, from typical bugs and stability issues to poor handling of RAW files. True, the software has gotten much more complex and with that complexity, it is surely expected to see potential bugs and issues. But one would hope that things would get better with each new release and bugs would eventually get taken care of. Sadly, the direction where Adobe is heading with Lightroom has just not been looking good. It appears that with every update, instead of getting proper fixes, all we are getting is additional bugs and new features that are not ready for prime time.

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Why I No Longer Convert RAW Files to DNG

For a number of years I have been recommending our readers to convert RAW files from their cameras to Adobe’s DNG format. In my DNG vs RAW article from 2010, I pointed out the reasons why using DNG over RAW made sense – it simplified file management, resulted in smaller files (when compressed or when embedded JPEG image size was reduced) and seemed like a good way to future-proof RAW files. But as time passed, higher resolution cameras were introduced and I started exploring other post-processing options, I realized that DNG had a few major disadvantages that made me abandon it. In this article, I will revisit the DNG format and bring up some of my concerns on why it might not be the ideal choice that I once thought it was.

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How to Process Infrared Photographs

As the number of photos taken each year continues to increase at a nearly exponential rate, infrared photography remains a relatively small niche in the photography world, one that allows us to see and capture the world in a unique manner. Because of my infrared articles and photos, I often receive emails from others struggling to achieve good IR processing results, sometimes even from our illustrious leader. ;) Recently, I received a spate of questions regarding my technique and seeking assistance. I thought that sharing a detailed example of my workflow might be helpful for those of you who have an interest in this style of photography and are looking for some tips and pointers.

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Lightroom 6 Bugs and Performance Issues

Back in April, Adobe introduced the sixth version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which came with a number of new features, as highlighted in our Lightroom 6 announcement article. Since then, Adobe updated the software once with a relatively large release in mid-June, which was the first sub-version release for both CC (2015.1) and standalone (6.1). I have been using Lightroom 6 rather heavily for my work and I have found a few bugs and performance issues, which I would like to share with our readers. If you have identified other bugs or performance problems, please let us know in the comments section below!

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Adobe Adds More Features to CC, Except for Standalone LR 6

Today Adobe unveiled a number of pretty major updates to its Creative Cloud suite, with new “2015” versions of software, such as Adobe Photoshop CC 2015. Along with these updates, Adobe has also released two updates to Lightroom – one for the Creative Cloud version (Lightroom CC 2015.1) and one for the standalong version (Lightroom 6.1). The interesting part about this particular release, is that for the first time, Adobe is making a distinction between the two versions of Lightroom. The Creative Cloud version gained a new “Dehaze” feature, along with two more “White” and “Black” sliders for the adjustment tools (such as Gradient Filter, Radial Filter and Adjustment Brush), while the standalone version of Lightroom did not get these new features and instead only gained the typical bugfixes, along with new camera and lens support.

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