The title of the article deserves three exclamation marks, because this is one of the best news I have seen in photographic history! Google has just announced that it has made the best plugins for Photoshop and Lightroom, bundled into a single “Google’s Nik Collection” absolutely free (it was priced at $150 per license before). This is awesome, and no, it is not an April 1st Fool’s Day joke! As of today, March 24th 2016, you can download Google’s Nik Collection for free by visiting this page and clicking the “Download Now” button on the top of the page.
Your earliest photographic habits naturally will build over time, including the ways that you name and organize your images. What seems like a small issue at first – say, keeping your camera’s default file names – could spiral out of control when you have tens of thousands of images. It can be easy to delete photographs on accident when they have the same file name, potentially deleting some of your favorite photos. Although a good backup system helps you recover a photo that has been lost, it is far better to prevent such a mistake from happening in the first place. While there is no perfect naming system, I will cover some useful tips that help you avoid duplicating the file names of your own photographs.
Adobe Lightroom is a complex piece of software, and it includes countless features that are buried beneath the surface. In this article, I will cover four useful Develop options that aren’t obvious at first glance, ranging from precision cropping to local color adjustments. If you are a Lightroom guru, you certainly may use each of these already; however, for most Lightroom users, these features are somewhat difficult to find.
One of Lightroom’s simplest, most useful post-processing options is the humble split-toning panel. Buried between the HSL and Detail sidebars, split-toning isn’t exactly a go-to tool for most photographers. And why should it be? From tint to saturation, Lightroom already offers several ways to change the colors of an image; another option seems unnecessary. In truth, though, split-toning is far more useful than it may first appear, and certainly more valuable than some photographers believe it to be. In this article, I will cover in-depth the uses of split-toning, as well as the issues that arise from this interesting tool.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.