Presets for Raw+JPEG

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Today’s Question: I import both RAW and JPG files [into Lightroom]. Do Develop presets apply to JPG files when imported even though the photos had in-camera adjustments made such as aberration and distortion corrections?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Develop presets applied during import would affect all photos regardless of file format. However, the net result will be different since the JPEG captures will have had in-camera adjustments applied, while raw captures would not have.

More Detail: Quite frankly, as a general rule I recommend not using the Raw+JPEG capture option in the camera if you’re using Lightroom to manage your photos, other than to serve a specific purpose such as to provide a reference from the in-camera adjustments to be used while optimizing your raw capture.

By default, Lightroom actually doesn’t import JPEG images that are part of a Raw+JPEG pair. In order to actually import those JPEG captures into your Lightroom catalog you need to turn on the “Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos” checkbox in the General tab of the Preferences dialog in Lightroom.

If you apply the same preset during import (or later in your workflow) to both images in a Raw+JPEG pair, the same adjustments will (for the most part) be applied in the same way. Of course, there are some adjustments that apply based on the actual image, such as the “Auto” adjustment for the Basic adjustments.

Of course, for many of the other adjustments, you could be doubling up on the effect. In many cases that doubling up of adjustments won’t cause any significant issues. For example, applying the chromatic aberration correction twice shouldn’t result in any problems in the photo. But for more general adjustments, there could be issues.

And, of course, the simple fact that applying the same preset to both a raw and a JPEG image from the same capture pair will result in images that don’t match each other could create confusion or other challenges in your workflow.

In general though, I don’t consider there to be a significant advantage to importing both the raw and the JPEG of a Raw+JPEG pair into Lightroom. I prefer to simply work with the original raw captures, optimize to suit my vision for the photo, and then export copies of the image (such as to create a JPEG copy) as needed when sharing the images.

Dealing with a Soft Proof

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Today’s Question: [In regards to soft proofing covered in a prior Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter], is the idea to make adjustments to the soft proof so it looks like the finalized original?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Conceptually, soft proofing does indeed provide the opportunity to apply adjustments to the image in order to ensure the print will be as accurate as possible. In actual practice, I tend to think of it more as a tool for understanding what to expect rather than for necessarily changing the actual output.

More Detail: As noted in a previous Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, soft proofing involves software altering the appearance of an image on your display in an effort to simulate what the actual print will look like. This preview is based on the specific printer, ink, and paper combination you will intend to use to print the image.

Just to illustrate the point, imagine a scenario where you were printing a color image to a printer that only includes black ink. A profile for that particular printer (taking into account the ink set for the printer as well as the type of paper you’re printing to) would reflect the grayscale capabilities of the printer. That, in turn, means that soft proofing would cause the preview of the image on your monitor to appear in black and white rather than color.

The soft proofing preview can be helpful for understanding what to expect in your final print. For example, an uncoated matte paper will produce a print with less contrast and saturation than a glossy print, and the soft proofing preview would reflect that.

Conceptually you can also use the soft proofing display as the basis for adjustments to compensate for the output conditions. For a print to a matte paper you might boost the contrast and saturation of the image, for example. Or the soft proof preview might show a color shift, which you can compensate for with adjustments.

However, it is important to keep in mind that issues discovered via the soft proofing preview may not be issues that can actually be overcome. In the example scenario of soft proofing a color photo with a profile for a black and white printer, for example, no amount of adjustment to the image will cause the print to be produced in full color.

Similarly, if a printer is not able to produce highly saturated colors in the paper you’re using for printing, increasing the saturation would magically improve the capabilities of that printer.

That said, within reason adjustments you apply based on the soft proof preview can indeed help improve the appearance of the final print. It is just important to keep in mind that soft proofing provides a preview of what the printer is capable of, not a magical way to overcome limitations of the printer, ink, and paper combination you’re using to print a photo.

Original without Adjustments

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Today’s Question: After completing a lot of adjustments [in Lightroom], where do I find my original?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Because Lightroom employs a non-destructive workflow, your original capture remains unaltered on your local storage. In addition, you can always reset the adjustments (perhaps using a virtual copy as part of this process) to return to Lightroom’s original version of your capture.

More Detail: One of the features of Lightroom that is arguably one of the most important features is a non-destructive workflow for optimizing your photos. Note, by the way, that this same non-destructive workflow is applicable in Adobe Camera Raw.

A non-destructive workflow means that your original capture is not actually altered when you apply adjustments to an image. In the context of Lightroom, what that means is that all of your adjustments are really just metadata updates, preserved in your Lightroom catalog (and possibly in an XMP sidecar for your raw captures if you have chosen to save metadata out to the image files).

As a result, you could always return to your original capture by navigating directly to the applicable image on your hard drive. Of course, in the context of a Lightroom-based workflow, you would not really want to work directly with your image files (unless you’re very careful about how you approach the task).

You can, however, create a virtual copy so you can have a non-adjusted version of the photo in question. Naturally you could simply use the “before and after” view option if you just wanted to see what the original looked like. In the Develop module, for example, you can press the backslash key (\) on the keyboard to switch between the “before” and “after” versions of the current photo.

A virtual copy enables you to have two (or more) versions of a photo in Lightroom. To create a virtual copy, simply right-click on the image and choose “Create Virtual Copy” from the popup menu that appears.

Assuming you’ve already applied adjustments to the image, the new virtual copy will include those adjustments. If so, you can then select the new virtual copy and then click the “Reset” button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module to reset the virtual copy (or the original) to the original interpretation of the image with no additional adjustments applied.

In this way you can have an adjusted version as well as an “original” version of the image, switching back and forth as needed. Note, of course, that even with all of the adjustments in Lightroom reset to the defaults, you’re still seeing Lightroom’s default interpretation of the original image, which is certainly not the same result you would achieve if you used, for example, the software from the manufacturer of your camera to interpret the same raw capture.

Photos to the Map

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Today’s Question: How do I add a photo to a place on the map [in Lightroom] if the photo doesn’t have any GPS info?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Put simply, in the Map module in Lightroom you can add location information to the metadata for a photo by dragging the photo from the filmstrip to the correct location on the map.

More Detail: Some photos, of course, will appear on the map in Lightroom automatically, if they have been captured with a camera that includes a GPS receiver. You might also use the option to synchronize a GPS track log (assuming you have recorded such a log) to add location information to a group of photos, and therefore add them to the map. But you can also manually add location information to photos by simply dragging and dropping them to the map.

To get started, make sure you can view the photos you want to work with on the filmstrip. That may simply mean navigating to a specific folder, but you might also want to use various filter criteria. Then switch to the Map module so you can view the map and add photos to the map.

Next, navigate to the correct location on the map. You can use the zoom controls for the map, and also click-and-drag on the map to move to the intended location. In addition, you can use the Search field at the top-right of the map to navigate more quickly to a specific location.

When you can view the correct location on the map display, you’re ready to drag-and-drop photos to the map. You can first select multiple photos if they were captured in the same location on the map. Then drag and drop the selected photo (or photos) from the filmstrip to the correct position on the map.

When you drop one or more images on the map, the GPS coordinates for that position on the map will be added to the metadata for the images.

Updated “Auto” Adjustments

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Today’s Question: I saw some information that suggested a recent update to Lightroom provided a big improvement to the “Auto” adjustment option. With this update, do you now recommend using the Auto adjustment?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While I’m generally not a big fan of “automatic” adjustments, I do have to admit that the recent update to Lightroom did greatly improve the utility of this feature. I actually think it may now be worthwhile to apply as a standard adjustment during import, for example.

More Detail: One of the problems I’ve always had with “automatic” adjustments for photographic images is that these adjustments are based on specific algorithms, which aren’t really able to take into account the specific nature of the photo or your specific intent for the interpretation of the photo.

That said, the new Auto adjustment feature in Lightroom (and Adobe Camera Raw) is quite impressive. This new update makes use of the Adobe Sensei technology, employing a neural network with artificial intelligence and machine learning, to make the most of these adjustments. What that really means is that Adobe is able to analyze a huge number of images, along with the adjustments that had been applied to them, to better calculate the optimal adjustment settings for a given image.

Perhaps most importantly, the automatic adjustments simply involve changing the existing settings for the slider controls found in the Basic section of adjustments on the right panel in the Develop module. In other words, you can always refine those adjustment settings later, with no penalty in terms of image quality.

Because of these latest updates to the “auto” adjustment, I actually feel that for many photographers it may be worthwhile to include this automatic adjustment for all images upon import. The result will generally be an image with a bit more “pop”, with the flexibility to refine those adjustments later in your workflow.

Vignette Style Options

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Today’s Question: Can you explain a little about the Highlight Priority, Color Priority, and Paint Overlay options in the Post-Crop Vignetting setting [in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom]? How do they differ?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Highlight Priority and Color Priority options are very similar, enabling you to have bright highlights overpower the vignette effect. The Paint Overlay option causes a simple black or white overlay, which carries the risk of having areas with the vignette effect appearing very muddy.

More Detail: In theory the Highlight Priority and Color Priority options for the Style popup in the Post-Crop Vignetting are slightly different, but in actual practice you likely won’t see any significant difference between them. The Color Priority option ostensibly preserves more natural colors in the vignette areas, while the Highlight Priority retains higher saturation. In practice, the difference between these two options tends to be extremely subtle.

The Paint Overlay option will produce a result where either black or white (depending on whether you’re darkening or lightening with the vignette effect) will create an overlay at the corners of the image. The result is a relatively muddy appearance in those areas, which I personally find is not a pleasing effect in most cases.

With both the Highlight Priority and Color Priority styles the Highlights slider will be available once you have applied a negative (darkening) value for the Amount slider for the Pont-Crop Vignetting effect. When you increase the value for Highlights, any bright (highlight) areas that have been darkened by the vignette effect will be brightened up to “shine through” the vignette.

A somewhat extreme example of the value of the Highlights slider would be having the sun at the corner of the frame. The vignette effect would darken the sun to some extent, but you can brighten it up again to have it “overpower” the vignette effect by increasing the value for the Highlights slider. When you have very bright areas of an image being darkened by the vignette effect, this can create a more realistic (and pleasing) result.

I generally use the Highlight Priority option for the Style popup, in large part because it is the default setting and is virtually indistinguishable from the Color Priority setting. I don’t like the Paint Overlay setting because more often than not it tends to create a muddy appearance (with poor contrast) in areas where the effect is applied. In addition, the Highlights slider is not available with the Paint Overlay mode.

Folder for Image in a Collection

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Today’s Question: [In Lightroom] how can you find the original folder for an image that is in a collection?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can navigate to the source folder for any image in Lightroom by right-clicking on the image and choosing “Go to Folder in Library” from the popup menu.

More Detail: The “Go to Folder in Library” command can be tremendously helpful in a variety of situations, where you have located a particular image but you don’t know which folder that image is contained in. As noted in today’s question, this solution is helpful when you have located an image in a collection but don’t know which folder the image is stored in. Similarly, when you search for an image within your Lightroom catalog it may not be clear which folder the image is in.

With the “Go to Folder in Library” command you will be taken directly to the folder for the image you right-clicked on. That means the folder in question will be highlighted on the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module. In addition, the image you right-clicked on will be selected, so it is the active image and therefore readily visible.

Soft Proofing Explained

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Today’s Question: What is soft proofing?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Soft proofing involves changing the appearance of an image on your monitor display to simulate what that image will look like when printed using a specific printer, ink, and paper combination.

More Detail: As most photographers have probably realized by now, sometimes it can be difficult to anticipate exactly what a given image will look like when printed using a particular paper type with a specific printer and ink setup. Soft proofing enables you to simulate on your monitor display what that print will look like.

Obviously in a perfect world soft proofing would be completely unnecessary, as the print would be a perfect match of the image as you’ve optimized it based on your monitor’s display. Of course, in the real world there is a somewhat significant difference between what an image looks like with the emitted light of a monitor display compared to the reflected light from a print. And that doesn’t even take into account the tremendous difference the paper type can make, such as the difference between a glossy versus matte print.

Various software tools (such as Photoshop and Lightroom) enable you to employ soft proofing to simulate the printed output on your monitor display. You simply specific the profile for the printer, ink, and paper combination you intend to use for printing the image, and the presentation of the on-screen image is altered to simulate what the print will look like.

To be sure, soft proofing isn’t perfect, because you are still using a monitor display to present what a print is expected to look like. But soft proofing can be helpful for troubleshooting problems with a print, getting a sense of what a print will look like, and choosing which paper might provide the best results for printing a given image.

Noise Reduction Refinements

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Today’s Question: Can you explain how the Detail, Contrast, and Smoothness sliders work in Noise Reduction [for Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Detail and Contrast sliders for noise reduction in Camera Raw or Lightroom enable you to improve the degree to which detail is maintained in the image, though at the risk of introducing other visible artifacts in the image. The Smoothness slider improves the blending of any color artifacts that remain based on the current noise reduction settings.

More Detail: The primary control for noise reduction in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw is the Luminance slider for luminance noise reduction and the Color slider for color noise reduction. These sliders provide the strength control for noise reduction.

In addition, there are several controls that enable you to fine-tune the overall behavior of the noise reduction effect.

There is a Detail slider for both luminance and color noise reduction. These both provide the same basic capability, just focused on luminance versus color noise reduction. Increasing the value for Detail increases the threshold for when noise reduction is applied in an image. In other words, with a higher value, detail will be preserved by virtue of the noise reduction not applying (at least not as strongly) along detail edges in the photo.

The risk of increasing the value for Detail, however, is that noise may be revealed in the image. This can be especially problematic since the noise will appear in small areas (even individual pixels), causing it to stand out a bit more clearly.

The Contrast slider is only available for luminance noise reduction, and is similar in concept to the Detail slider, but focused more broadly on contrast rather than fine detail. If the noise reduction is causing midtone contrast to be reduced, you can increase the value for Contrast. However, you will need to keep an eye out for splotchy artifacts with a value that is too high. For smoother detail (with less contrast) you can use a lower value. In other words, you need to balance the setting based on trying to improve contrast without creating a mottled appearance in areas of the image.

The Smoothness slider is only available for color noise reduction, and it is focused on reducing color artifacts that remain after applying color noise reduction. When you reduce color noise, you will often see that noise represented by individual pixels gets blended so that instead you have blotches of color artifacts. Increasing the value for Smoothness will blend those artifacts, often removing their appearance altogether. In general it is relatively safe to use a high setting for Smoothing, but you’ll want to watch for blending of colors along contrast edges in the photo.

The effects of these refinement controls can be more easily seen if you apply relatively strong noise reduction to an image with extreme noise, as a test for getting more familiar with the actual effect in the photo.

Update a Develop Preset

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Today’s Question: Can you edit Develop presets [in Lightroom] after saving them?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can update the settings for a Develop preset in Lightroom by using the “Update with Current Settings” command after right-clicking on a preset.

More Detail: Presets in the Develop module in Lightroom enable you to save settings based on the adjustments you’ve applied to one image, and then apply the same settings to another image. You can even include only certain adjustments as part of a preset, so that other adjustments won’t be affected when you apply the preset.

If you want to change the settings for an existing preset, the process is relatively straightforward.

First, I recommend selecting an image that you have not yet applied adjustments to, so you can simply reset the adjustments after using the image as the basis of altering your preset. Then apply the preset to that image by going to the Develop module and clicking on the applicable preset from the Presets list found on the left panel.

Next, make any changes to the adjustment settings for the image that you want to update for the preset. For example, let’s assume the preset only included the application of a vignette effect, and you wanted to make the effect stronger. You could apply the preset, then go to the Post-Crop Vignetting adjustment controls and make the desired changes.

When you’re finished modifying the settings you want reflected in your updated preset, return your attention to the Presets list on the left panel in the Develop module. Right-click on the preset you’re currently working to modify, and choose “Update with Current Settings” from the popup that appears.

This will bring up the Update Develop Preset dialog, which is the same basic dialog you would have used to save the preset in the first place. If you had only included certain adjustments as part of your preset, only the checkboxes for those adjustments will be turned on at this point. In most cases you would probably want to leave the checkboxes as they are, but you can enable (or disable) specific adjustments if you want to change the behavior of the original preset.

You can then click the Update button at the bottom-right of the Update Develop Preset dialog to apply the changes to the preset.

It is important to note that updating a preset in this way will not change the adjustments for images that you had previously applied the preset to. So if you want to update the adjustments for certain images based on the preset, you’ll need to re-apply the updated preset to those images.

Note that this question was posed as a follow-up during my recent “Top Hidden Features of Lightroom” webinar presentation. You can view the recording of that presentation on the Tim Grey TV channel on YouTube here:

https://youtu.be/yvQwlBnQCe4