Recovering from a Backup Drive


Today’s Question: My “L” hard drive failed, but I had backed it up to another drive named “K”. Can I just rename the “K” drive letter to “L” and go on with life (and then back up the K drive to an extra disk?). I ask because I got a warning message that says, “some drive programs that rely on letters may not run correctly, do you wish to continue…”.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, provided the backup drive represents an exact match of the original drive at least in terms of photo storage, you can indeed just change the drive letter (or volume label for Macintosh users) and continue using the backup drive in place of the original (making a new backup as soon as possible of course).

More Detail: This type of scenario is exactly why I prefer a synchronization approach to backing up my photos and other important data. When you’ve created a backup drive that matches the source drive, it is very easy to recover from that failure.

With a synchronization approach to backup, the file and folder structure on the backup drive will be an exact match of the source drive. So, if the source drive fails, you can simply use the backup drive in its place.

In the context of Lightroom Classic, however, you’ll need to make sure that the drive itself appears as an exact match. That means for Windows users the drive letter must be updated for the backup drive to match the original drive. For Macintosh users that means changing the volume label (by renaming the drive) so that it matches the original.

The warning about a mismatch effectively describes why the backup drive wouldn’t work without this update. If you changed the drive letter or volume label of your original hard drive, Lightroom Classic would no longer be able to find the photos where they were expected. In this case it is sort of the opposite. The backup drive already represents a mismatch, so you need to change the drive letter or volume label to correct the mismatch.

Once you correct that mismatch, everything will appear normally within Lightroom Classic. Of course, you should also make sure to create another backup of your photos as quickly as possible after a hard drive failure.

I happen to use software called GoodSync to back up my photos with a synchronization approach. This provides exactly the benefits described above. You can learn more about GoodSync software here:

Printer Tonal Range and Lighting


Today’s Question: Regarding your response to the question on printer tonal range, you say to evaluate the test image under a bright light source. I wonder if one shouldn’t evaluate the test image under a light source, and at a distance, that provides a luminance value similar to that expected in the location where the print is most likely to be displayed?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In the context of evaluating the actual tonal range capabilities of your printer, I recommend using a very bright light source so you can better evaluate the print. That said, when it comes to a final print you intend to hang on the wall, it is most certainly reasonable to optimize the print based on those display conditions.

More Detail: From time to time I’ve written about an issue whereby a printer doesn’t actually render complete shadow detail in the darkest shadows, even when you’ve used an accurate printer profile to produce the print. You can compensate for this behavior by first evaluating the behavior of your printer, and then applying a compensating adjustment before printing.

You can read about the process, and download a target image used to evaluate the behavior of your printer, in an article on the GreyLearning blog here:

While it is perfectly reasonable to evaluate an individual print based on the conditions under which it will be displayed, when it comes to compensating in general for the tonal range limitations of a printer, I don’t recommend that approach.

To establish a baseline compensation that will ensure your prints contain all of the shadow detail possible, you should evaluate the test print under a bright light source. This enables you to determine the actual behavior of your printer (specific to the paper and ink combination being used with that printer) in terms of rendering shadow detail.

The result of this testing would provide you with a general compensation adjustment that could be applied to every photo you print. In cases where you know the precise conditions under which a print will be displayed, you could go a step further and evaluate that print under those conditions. You could then apply a compensation specific to that print based on the display conditions intended for the print.

Of course, it is important to keep in mind that if you apply adjustments to compensate for the specific conditions under which a print will be displayed, if that print is moved to a different location it may not look its best. The specific results depend on the lighting conditions, and in particular to how significant the differences in lighting conditions actually are.

Printing to Fit for Matting


Today’s Question: I’d like to print the photo to fit in a frame that has a 2″ matting all around. I don’t want to clip any of the photo, and I don’t want any of the blank border of the print to show once mounted in the frame with a 2″ matting. How do I account for the output photo size being mounted in a frame with matting?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general, you just need to make sure that there is some blank paper around the edge of the actual image printed on the page, to allow for the matting of the print. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is difficult to add matting accurately right up to the edge of the actual image area, so you’re going to need to allow for at least a tiny bit of cropping caused by the matting.

More Detail: When matting a photographic print, the print is attached to the mat board. This requires that there is “extra” paper around the edge of the printed photo. In general, about half an inch of space all the way around the print will be adequate. You can achieve this “extra” space by printing the image at the size intended, but doing so on a larger sheet of paper. For example, you could print a 11”x17” image on a 13”x19” sheet of paper.

However, it is important to keep in mind that you should expect the mat board to cover at least a tiny portion of the outside edge of the printed photo. A skilled mat cutter can minimize the amount of image that gets cropped in this process, but it is very difficult to have a cut mat edge perfectly follow the edge of the printed image on the page.

An alternative, such as you might use when a signature is on the paper area outside the printed photo, would be to “float” the image within the mat. In other words, you could have the mat cut larger than the actual printed photo area, to leave some white space.

If your aim is to have minimal cropping of the photo, you may want to print the photo slightly larger (about a quarter of an inch wider and taller) than the intended image area size within the mat. Alternatively, you could simply print to the intended size, and then ask the mat cutter to cut a custom mat that matches the image size as closely as possible with minimal cropping.

Masking as Creative Effect


Today’s Question: One step in Lightroom Classic I make in almost any post-processing is to sharpen using the Masking slider with the Option key [Alt key on Windows] held down. This lets me control how much of the image I am sharpening, but often I like the abstract black-and-white result that appears in the preview. Is there a way using LR or Photoshop to replicate the effect and to be able to turn that into a printable image?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You could capture a screenshot of this effect, using a timer option while making sure that the preview image is as large as possible to ensure maximum resolution for the resulting image.

More Detail: You can capture a screenshot of the screen display on your computer to preserve whatever is displayed on the screen. This can be a little tricky, however, when you need to use special keyboard shortcuts to make the intended display appear, such as the case with the example in today’s question. However, you can use a timer feature to capture a delayed screenshot, enabling you to apply the required keyboard shortcut before the screen is actually captured.

For example, I use the Screenshot utility included in the Macintosh operating system when I need to capture screenshots with a timer delay. Windows users can use the Snipping tool included with Windows 10 for this purpose. Both enable you to apply a time delay to the screen capture.

So, you could for example configure a five second delay for the screen capture. Get the screen configured overall, including in this case making the preview image as large as possible by hiding all but the right panel in the Develop module, for example. Make sure you’re ready to apply the keyboard shortcut that is required, and then initiate the screenshot.

While the timer is counting down, you can configure the display. In this case that would mean holding the Alt/Option key and clicking and holding the mouse on the Masking slider for the sharpening controls found in the Detail section of the right panel in the Develop module. Hold the key and mouse button until the screenshot is captured.

You can then open that screenshot in Photoshop, for example, to crop and otherwise optimize the image to your liking.

Preserving Virtual Copies


Today’s Question: If you lose the Lightroom Catalog you lose virtual copies even if you are using XMP files, which saves the adjustments made to the original image file. But is there any way to save the virtual copy with all the adjustments made to that virtual copy?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To preserve a virtual copy outside of the Lightroom Classic catalog, you would need to either create a copy of the source raw capture or create a new derivative image. That copy could be added to the catalog alongside the original, providing two copies of the same image rather than using a virtual copy for this purpose.

More Detail: Virtual copies in Lightroom Classic enable you to have more than one interpretation of the same source image. For example, you could apply adjustments to a raw capture with a color interpretation, then make a virtual copy and create a black and white interpretation of that image. Both versions of the image you see in Lightroom Classic would represent a set of adjustments applied to the same source raw capture.

However, virtual copies are only preserved within the Lightroom Classic catalog, so if you lost your catalog you would lose your virtual copies. You could overcome this issue by using an additional copy of the source raw image in place of a virtual copy. This obviously involves consuming more storage on your hard drive, but it also means you would not lose the additional version of the raw capture if you lost your Lightroom Classic catalog.

To create an additional copy of the source raw capture to apply different adjustments to, you could use the Export feature in conjunction with the option to add the exported image to the current Lightroom Classic catalog.

Start by selecting the source raw capture and clicking the Export button at the bottom of the left panel in the Library module. In the Export Location section of the Export dialog, choose “Same folder as original photo” from the Export To popup, and turn on the “Add to This Catalog” checkbox. In the File Settings section, choose Original from the Image Format popup.

Click the Export button to export a copy of the raw capture to the same location, with that copy added to the current catalog. Because you are exporting the image to the same folder location, there will be a filename conflict. In the dialog that appears to indicate this conflict, click the “Use Unique Names” button. This will create a copy of the selected image with the same base filename, but with a number (such as “-2”) appended to that filename.

At this point you would have two copies of the original raw capture in the same folder in your Lightroom Classic catalog. You could then apply unique adjustments to each version of the image. This provides the same basic capability of using virtual copies to create multiple versions of the image, though of course with more hard drive space being consumed in the process. But again, with this approach you would maintain both copies of the image even if you lost your Lightroom Classic catalog, which would not be the case with virtual copies.

Lens Elements and Groups


Today’s Question: As I was looking up the number of aperture blades on my lenses, I saw a specification that made me wonder: Do the number of lens elements and number of groups have any effect on bokeh, starburst or other aesthetics?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “simple” answer here would be that no, the number of lens elements or groups of elements wouldn’t have an impact on the creative aesthetic effects produced by a lens. Of course, the real answer is far from simple.

More Detail: There are a variety of factors that impact how many individual lens elements are included within a camera lens. However, aesthetic factors such as the bokeh or starburst effect would not be significantly impacted by the number of lens elements or groups.

What we call a “lens” in photography is actually a piece of sophisticated equipment that includes multiple lens elements. As a very general rule, better image quality and greater light transmission is achieved with fewer lens elements. However, that’s not to say that fewer lens elements will translate to a better lens.

More lens elements are also required to correct for distortion in a lens. In this respect, more lens elements can mean that the overall image quality will be improved, at least in terms of distortion. These types of corrections will often involve pairs of lens elements, which form an individual group of elements. So you can get some sense of the degree of correction being applied within the lens by the number of groups.

However, while the generalizations above may often be true, they are not accurate across the board and therefore can’t be used reliably to make a decision about lens quality or aesthetic results. In other words, I would generally recommend ignoring the number of lens elements and groups, and instead focus on other methods of determining the results you can achieve with a lens, such as reviews the delve into details such as the resolving power of the lens.

Deleting Outtakes En Masse


Today’s Question: I have a fundamental question. I’ve accumulated some 350,000 photos over the past 10 or so years. Many of the photos are missing in my Lightroom Classic catalog. I’d like to take the admittedly drastic step of trashing all photos with no star ratting, around 300k shots in all. Is there a master set of commands that can facilitate my doing this even where the program has lost track of the location of many of the photos without the tedious step of having to first track them down?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you’re confident you want to delete all photos without a star rating, you could simply go to the “All Photographs” collection, set a filter based on no star rating, select all of the photos based on that filter, and delete them.

More Detail: I too have been contemplating a strategy for going back and deleting older outtake photos, since my Lightroom Classic catalog currently contains over 400,000 photos. The key question here is whether you’re confident that deleting a very large number of photos based on specific attributes won’t result in losing photos you’d prefer to keep.

For example, as noted above you could certainly delete every single photo in your entire Lightroom Classic catalog that doesn’t have a star rating assigned to it, all in a single process. For me, and I suspect many other photographers, this would not be a good solution. That’s because over the years I have most certainly neglected to review all of the photos in my catalog. So, I most certainly would have some photos without a star rating that I definitely prefer to keep.

That said, if you have been diligent about reviewing photos, or you embark on that process now so you are confident all “keepers” have a star rating, you can most certainly delete all outtakes in a single process.

First, you would want to be sure you are browsing all photos in your entire Lightroom Classic catalog. Start by selecting the “All Photographs” collection in the Catalog section at the top of the left panel in the Library module. Then switch to the grid view display (you can press “G” on the keyboard to do so) and if you don’t see the Library Filter bar at the top of the grid view press the backslash key (\) to reveal it.

You can then select the particular criteria you want to use to filter the images. For example, in this case you could choose Attribute so you can filter by star rating. To the right of the Rating label click the symbol that appears (such as the “greater than or less than” symbol) to bring up a popup where you can select “Rating is equal to”. To the right of that, make sure no stars are illuminated, which indicates a zero-star rating. If any stars are illuminated, click on the right-most of the illuminated stars to remove that star rating, resulting in a zero-star rating filter.

Once you have established a filter based on the criteria for the images you want to delete, you can choose Edit > Select All from the menu in order to select all images that meet the filter criteria. You can then choose Photo > Remove Photos from the menu. In the confirmation dialog that appears, you can click the “Delete from Disk” button so the source image files will be deleted in addition to being removed from the Lightroom Classic catalog.

Delete from Collection


Today’s Question: [In response to a previous answer about deleting photos while browsing a collection in Lightroom Classic] If you are viewing an image in a collection and you wish to delete the image from both the collection and the folder in which it is stored, you can press and hold Command+Option+Shift on Macintosh (Ctrl+Alt+Shift on Windows) and then press Delete. The selected image(s) will then be moved to the trash.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can indeed delete a photo altogether even if you’re browsing the photo in a collection in Lightroom Classic, as noted in today’s “question”. This is actually a keyboard shortcut I was not aware of!

More Detail: At first glance, it appears that if you want to actually delete a photo in Lightroom Classic you must go to the folder. Deleting from a collection will only remove the photo from the collection, and not actually delete the source image file from the folder on your hard drive.

And, in fact, in an Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter some time ago, I explained a process for navigating to the source image files from a collection so the photos could be completely deleted rather than just removed from a collection.

Fortunately, when I share an answer that is incomplete, I can generally count on one of my readers letting me know about it. Such is the case here, and so I wanted to share this helpful tip.

When you choose to remove a photo from a folder in Lightroom Classic, you’ll be prompted about whether you want to remove the photo from the catalog or delete the file from your hard drive. In general, if your intent is to delete the photo, you would want it removed from the hard drive.

If you’re browsing a collection and choose the command to remove a photo, you aren’t offered the option to delete the source file from your hard drive. Instead, the photo will only be removed from the collection, but will remain as a file on your hard drive and will still be reflected in the applicable folder within your Lightroom Classic catalog.

If you want to delete the photo altogether while browsing within a collection, you can do so by holding Command+Option+Shift on Macintosh or Ctrl+Alt+Shift on Windows while pressing the Delete key, and the photo will then be removed from the collection, removed from the Lightroom Classic catalog, and deleted from the folder on your hard drive. Space permitting, the selected photos will be moved to the Trash (Macintosh) or Recycle Bin (Windows).

Keyword Misspellings


Today’s Question: How do you suggest handling misspelled keywords [in Lightroom Classic]? For instance, suppose in haste I typed “doh” for “dog”. I have done that more times than I would like to admit.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can correct such errors by editing the misspelled keyword on the Keyword List on the right panel in the Library module. Using the Keyword List to add keywords to photos can also help avoid adding misspelled keywords in the first place.

More Detail: The Keyword List in the Library module of Lightroom Classic is one of the most helpful tools for managing keywords.

On the Keyword List you can simply right-click and choose “Edit Keyword Tag” from the popup menu to bring up a dialog where you can correct the spelling for the keyword. This will automatically correct the applicable keyword in metadata for all affected images.

Note, however, that this won’t work if you have both the correctly spelled version of the keyword and the misspelled version. In that case you’ll need to add the correct keyword to all affected images, and then delete the misspelled keyword.

To correct this issue, start by clicking on the right-pointing arrow to the right of the misspelled keyword, which appears when you hover the mouse pointer over the keyword. This will filter the images to show only those that have the misspelled keyword applied.

Next, choose Edit > Select All from the menu to select all of the photos with the wrong keyword. Switch to the grid view display by pressing the letter “G” on the keyboard, and then turn on the checkbox to the left of the correctly spelled keyword. You may need to click the checkbox more than once to get a checkmark, in the event that some of the selected photos already had the keyword and some do not. Then turn off the checkbox for the misspelled keyword to remove it.

At this point the number to the right of the misspelled keyword should be zero, indicating that no images in the catalog have that keyword assigned to them. You can then right-click on the misspelled keyword and choose “Delete” from the popup menu.

Keep in mind that you can help avoid adding misspelled keywords in the first place by using the checkbox to the left of the applicable keyword on the Keyword List to apply the keyword, rather than typing it manually in the Keywords section of the right panel.

Two Views for One Image


Today’s Question: Is it possible in Photoshop to have a duplicate live screen open for an image to see an overall effect [at a lower zoom setting] while working on a small detail way blown up?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can open a second window for an image you’ve opened in Photoshop, then tile the windows so you’re able to see both and set different zoom settings for the same image in the two different windows.

More Detail: I’m sure most photographers who use Photoshop are well aware that you can have multiple images open at one time, and you can adjust the arrangement of those images on the screen. For example, you can have a tabbed display with only one image visible at a time, or you could have several images arranged alongside each other, so they are all visible at the same time. This same capability also applies to having the same image displayed multiple times, and at different zoom settings.

Once you have an image open, you can create a second window that displays the same image by going to the menu and choosing Window > Arrange > New Window for [filename]. Note that this command will include the filename of the current image at the end of the command. When you select this command from the menu, the current image will now be displayed in two windows (or tabs).

Next, go back to the menu and choose Window > Arrange, followed by the desired arrangement for the windows. For example, you might prefer “Tile All Horizontally” or “Tile All Vertically”, which will arrange the windows alongside each other either horizontally or vertically.

With the image displayed in two windows, you can have a different zoom setting for each. So, you can keep one window zoomed out so you can see the entire image area, with the other window zoomed in to evaluate detail as you’re working. Simply switch between the windows to determine which window will be affected by changes in the zoom setting.