Work. Flow.

Your workflow needs to be exactly that: a flow. A logical sequence of actions.

In my case, that means:

  1. Import the images.
  2. “Asset Manage” them: add keywords; rate them 1-5; backup.
  3. Then from the ones marked 3 and over, pick the ones to actually use.
  4. Edit only these.
  5. Mark the edited ones as finished.
  6. Select the finished ones and output them for use.

So it is basically “input – handle – select – edit – use”. And whether you are a pro or an amateur, it is going to be the same flow for you.

And that flow is where you need to save time: you do not want to spend an hour making photos, followed by two hours in Photoshop.

That is where Lightroom comes in. Lightroom is a one-stop workflow tool. It handles all the steps above: ingestion—asset management—editing—using. And it does it in an amazingly efficient way.

Evidently, if you can save time in Lightroom, it saves time overall. And that is where Wacom comes in. I now also use a Wacom Intuos tablet, which I find very useful; much more useful than I would have imagined. Part of the reason is better quality than the last time I looked, years ago. And part is new functionality. Like customizable buttons per app.

This tablet is especially useful when editing, and especially because of its pressure sensitivity. When using the brush, the harder I press, the more brush effect I get.  Very cool. Skin fixes and other local edits are now much quicker—and that saves me a lot of time. This functionality is simply not available on a mouse.

In the next weeks I will keep you up to date as to how I am using the Wacom tablet. I will start with customizing the buttons: how do I do it? What functions are most useful? As I sort it out, I will give you my recommendations. Stay tuned.

 

Lightroom 6

Yesss… Lightroom 6 is out. And that is a reason to rejoice.

After a complicated upgrade (I had real trouble finding the “buy it as an app” option: Adobe really wants the extra revenue of the Creative Cloud, so it pushes you there), and after a subsequent day of converting catalogs (my one catalog contains a quarter of a million photos) I am playing with it now.

Cool.

First, the feature you do not see: speed. Reports talk of a significant speed increase. I have not seen a giant difference, but based on reports, I am sure I will. It sure is not slower. Faster is good.

Second, the one feature that was cool in iPhoto (now: photos): face recognition. It has now been added to Lightroom, and it works well.

The feature is intuitive: I have not had to read any sort of manual, so far. Lightroom recognizes where faces are in your pictures, and it guesses who they are with an amazing degree of accuracy. You start it; it identifies faces; you conform its guesses or correct it and name the people, and you are done. I did 2015, and am now am doing the preceding years. It will take me a while, but it’ll be well worth it.

Another new feature: HDR, “high dynamic range”. You are now able to take a photo multiple times (2, 3, 10, whatever) with varying exposure, and pull them together into one HDR image. Gone are the days that dynamic range was something to worry about. Select the various photos, do some settings, like deghosting (see below), and you are done.  Lightroom creates a new images named …-HDR.dng: a full DNG. Finally, a good use for the DNG format. And much better than creating a JPG.

Next: Panoramas. You can stitch together pictures that lie beside each other into one wide panorama. Another feature that until now needed additional software. Both Panoramas and HDR appear in a new PHOTO option:

So now you choose “Panorama” and wait as it is built in front of your eyes. You even have an “Auto crop” option: marvellous. And again, a huge, excellent file is built in front of your eyes, as it were. And again, it is a .DNG file, a huge advantage over other software, that creates JPG files. And look what I just created: the city of Las Vegas at this size:

Yes: 25,000 x 3412 pixels. That is, an 85 Megapixel DNG file. Wow!

Here is a small version, “just” 5,000 pixels wide, that I deliberately saved with a logo and at that “small” size and with high compression, i.e. low image quality (it is, after all, a copyrighted image). It still shows the point very well though when you view it at full size. Go ahead and view at full size:

Fantastic, no? I will be doing this all the time now.

I see all sorts of other advantages and incremental improvements in version 6.

Let me give you just one cool little timesaver. To use the entire dynamic range of your image, take a grey, low contrast image, where the bottom end of the histogram does not reach “0″ (the left end) and the top end does not reach 255 (the right end) (i.e. the blacks are not black and the whites are not white).

Now, in DEVELOP, in the BASIC module, shift-doubleclick on the words “Whites” and “Blacks”. Lightroom automatically drags blacks down and whites up until you are using the full dynamic range from 0 to 255. Cool, or what!

In the next little while I will document some more of these advantages and tricks, but for now, let this be enough reason already to upgrade. Enough reason by far. Have fun!

 

Yes, you can.

I teach Lightroom, among other favourite things I teach. And that means I see many students’ computers.

And often, I see less than I expect. Often, options, important options, are missing.

Like the toolbar.

What toolbar?

No toolbar there.

I mean the toolbar that appears when you turn it on by pressing the letter “T” (it toggles, so if it is already there, it will be removed), or by using the menu function VIEW–TOOLBAR. This toolbar, in other words:

See it there, between the grid and the negative strip?

Now, within that toolbar, see the last option, that pulldown arrow? Click on it and you see a bunch of options. You may want to turn those on:

Now your toolbar will have all the tools. Check them out, then disable the  ones you are sure you will not use.

Another option that is often missing is also a very handy one: the filter bar. At the top. You toggle that one by first being in the LIBRARY module (press “G” to go directly to the Grid view, for instance), and then pressing “\” (the backslash key).

(NOTE: In the DEVELOP module, the backslash key \ has a different, but also very useful function: it shows you the “before” view of a picture. In other words, the picture as it was when you imported it, or when you made the virtual copy. The image at the start of its edit history, in other words).

There are many, many other cool little tools in Lightroom. You do not need to use all of them, but I recommend that you use the ones you like; the ones that are good for your way of working. And there is one simple way to learn them: just check out all the menus and try every function. Learn them. Yes, you can!

 


End notes:

First, I teach Lightroom, and I will help you set up your Lightroom installation: file structure, import methods, backups, disks, and more. Worth every moment of the session I assure you.

Second, Lightroom only takes a few days to learn and is 100% worth your time and effort. Learn it. And as a supplement to my teaching and consulting, also watch my tips videos: see www.youtube.com/user/cameratraining/videos.

Third: just saying: if the subjects interest you, then my e-books (see http://learning.photography) are worth your money also. As is my teaching (see the same site).

 

Cloudy

As you all know, Apple Aperture is end-of-life. And with that, end-of-competition: Lightroom is the only game in town.

And with that, Adobe is flexing its muscle; it is trying to get everyone to use their “Cloud” subscription model. That way, they get a fee (like $9.99) every month, instead of one payment of $150 for Lightroom forever. Clearly, they are interested in this.

Clearly, I am not interested.

  • First, I would pay much more (In five years I’d pay $600, as opposed to $150 for the app, and even with upgrades perhaps double that over that period).
  • Second, I want nothing with auto upgrades. This is mission critical. I am still using CS3 (very occasionally). If it ain’t broke…
  • The price is $9.99 per product per month, I think. But that is today’s price… subject to change.
  • Third, I want nothing to do with a product that has to go online occasionally to check if I am allowed to use it. No way. What if I lose my password? What if their authentication system fails? What if my Internet connectivity fails, e.g. because I am travelling? No, that just will not do. This is company critical: I need an app that is mine to run without authentication, permission, whatever.

Adobe is making it almost impossible to buy Lightroom today. But the key is “almost”. After a long while online with support, I was today given the “BUY AS A PRODUCT” links:

Normal Users: https://www.adobe.com/products/catalog/software._sl_id-contentfilter_sl_catalog_sl_software_sl_mostpopular.html?promoid=KLXMI

Educational Users: https://store1.adobe.com/cfusion/store/html/index.cfm?store=OLS-EDU&event=displayProduct&categoryPath=/Applications/PhotoshopLightroomSTE

For as long as possible, I shall go on using Lightroom as  a normal license rather than a monthly subscription, and you all may want to do the same.