D-Noc Photography

Finalizing pictures in Lightroom

When I first started using Lightroom, the ways of Non-Destructive workflows were nothing new to me.

I had already used Canons Digital Photo Professional (DPP) and Corel Aftershot (the first version, which had its share of quirks).

I understood that you did not alter the RAW files at all, you were just creating a sidecar file, containing a "recipe" for how the RAW file should be developed.

This way of working is excellent as it allows you to experiment with multiple versions of the same photo, without having to have multiple versions of the photo lying around. You would only have multiple "recipe" files, which take up only a small fraction of the actual photo file.

But one thing annoyed me. There were no way of making a photo "Final" or "Read only".

An example: You import a photo and give it your default treatment. Next, you creat a Virtual copy and try another preset to it. Then you mess around with the various slider, to get the perfect look. Once you are done, you export the photo as a jpg and that's about it.

But now that you have reached a point where you are satisified, there is no way of marking the Virtual Copy "Read Only", which means that it is possible to ruin you fine work by accident if you at some point copy some settings to the final version you exported.

Of course you have the History panel, in which you can roll back to previous steps in the development, but you would have to roll back on step of the time until you are back where you should be. This works, but it is not a very elegant way of doing it.

Instead, Lightroom provides a Snapshot feature, which sort of, but not entirely, do what I want:

In the Snapshots panel, click the '+' icon and enter a name for your final edit in the dialog. You should now see an entry with that name in your snapshot panel. If you continue to work on the photo but wants to revert the changes you made since the last Snapshot, you can do this by simply clicking the snapshot. You can create multiple Snapshots for each photo too, if you want.

In some ways this solves the Final / "Read Only" issue, but there are still some minor issues to be aware of:

  • It is still possible to make changes to a photo that you consider final. This is not really a major issue anymore, as you can now revert to the Snapshot.
  • You can still accidentally delete the Virtual Copy you are working on.
  • You can't do a search for all photos that have one or more snapshots on it.
  • You can't create Snapshot for all selected photos at once, if you have multiple photos selected. You have to create one snapshot at the time.

Still, Snapshots solves the main issue of accidentally messing up your work and having to figure out how it looked when you considered it done, and Snapshots seems to be the generally accepted way of dealing with final versions.

I still think there is room for improvement, but at least now I have a safe way to revert to my final state.

Also, snapshots can be used if you want to experiment with different exposures, crops or sharpening settings, as you can always go back to the snapshot of your choice.

Micro adjustment made easy

Micro adjustments has always been a bit intimidating to me. The idea is that the lens and the autofocus sensor in the camera does not always result in an exact focus on the actual image sensor. Focus might be a bit in front or behind the point that were focused upon when autofocus were engaged. This happens because of a tiny offset between the distance between Lens/Autofocus sensor and Lens/Image sensor.

To fix this, most Mid-/High range DSLR's allows you to perform micro adjustments per lens. But the procedure included buying advanced focusing gadgetry that had to be set up very precisely, taking photos of the gadget and then trying to determine how far off the focus is.

In short, complicated and with a bit of magic involved.

This weekend I read a bit about a procedure called Dot-Tuning. It is kind of the same procedure as explained above, but much more simple to understand and do. Instead of a complicated setup, you print out a sheet of paper with a high contrast pattern which you then tape to a wall or similar. Next you place your camera on a tripod at a distance of 50x focal length of the lens (e.g. with a 50mm lens the distance would be 50x50mm=2500mm). Position the camera to point directly at the high contrast pattern with the center focus point and enable Live View. Now use the 10x magnification on the Live View to set focus, either manually or with the focus button. Once focus has been acquired, set the lens to manual focus to avoid refocusing.

Next the idea is to microadjust up from 0 to +1, +2 and so on, one step at the time, each time looking in the viewfinder and checking if the camera can acquire focus instantly without any hesitation. Once you reach this point, write down the number of the offset that were the last giving a positive focus dot. Now do the same micro adjusting down from 0 to -1, -2 and so on.

When you have two points, e.g. 6 and -2 you find the middle value, in this case 2. (-2, -1 ,0, 1, [2], 3, 4, 5, 6).

To make this step simpler, the video above links to this calculator.

The idea is that since 2 is dead in the middle of the values giving positive focus confirmation, the auto focus should be much more precise than without the micro adjustment.

I tried it on my 35mm, 50mm and 85mm primes, and so far it is too soon to determine if this were a major difference, but the camera / lens combinations seems to be faster to acquire focus when I try to focus on my fast moving 7 year old daughter or in low light situations. I will still have to test this further before I can say anything with absolute certainty, but at least the Dot-Tuning procedure has made micro adjustment easy to do.

Further details about the method, as well as an ongoing discussion can be found here.

Please note that I did not invent this method, nor am I trying to take credit.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Improve Lightroom performance with Smart Previews

Earlier this week, Adobe released Lightroom 2015.7 CC, which mostly contained the usual addition of support for new Cameras and lenses as well as a number of bugfixes.

They also added one small feature, which doesn't really seem like much of a deal when you read about it, but after having tried it for a couple of days you can now officially call me impressed.

Some time ago, Lightroom added something called Smart Previews. In essence "just" an image file created from the original RAW file, that had a smaller file size. This Smart Preview could be used when syncing your lightroom library with the iOS app, to avoid having to clutter your iPad or iPhone/Android device with huge RAW files.
The Smart Previews could also be used if, for some reason, your RAW files were unavailable at workstation.

To me that wasn't really much of a deal. I hardly ever use the Lightroom Mobile app and my RAW files are always available, so I hadn't really paid much attention to Smart Previews.

But now, a new feature has been added, which makes it possible to make Lightroom use the generated Smart Preview, even when the original RAW file is available and THAT is really a big deal. On my old-but-not-that-old i7 laptop, I used to have a slight lag between when I started pulling a slider and when the changes were applied. But now the changes are instant. Adding Sharpening or Gradient masks, the results can be seen instantly and that makes Lightroom so much easier to work with.

Of course, when you export the pictures, the RAW file is used, so that you gain all the details from you big old RAW file.

To try it out follow these instructions:

  1. Open the Preferences dialog
  2. Check the new checkbox 'Use Smart Previews instead of Originals for image editing'
  3. Then, if you have not already used Smart Previews, Go to the Library module and select the image or images you want to work on and let Lightroom generate the previews:
  4. If you have selected multiple images in the above step, Lightrooms starts generating Smart Previews. If not you get a dialog that lets you choose if a Smart Preview should only be created for the selected image or the entire Collection in which the image are selected:

That's it! You are now ready to experience the improved performance that the smaller Smart Previews provide.

Of course the Smart Previews show a little less detail, especially if you zoom in, but in most cases the performance gain more than outweights that.

Enjoy..

Lav dit eget julekort med Paint Shop Pro X5

Corel har lagt en fin lille video på Youtube, der på glimrende vis forklarer hvordan man kan bruge Paint Shop Pro X5 til at lave sit eget julekort ud af et af sine billeder. Videoen er meget elementær, men giver alligevel en idé om hvad der er muligt og hvordan det skal gøres.

 

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