Content-Aware Fill Update


Today’s Question: I see on the list of new features in Photoshop that there is now an improved Content-Aware Fill. But when I use the Fill command and choose “Content Aware”, I get the exact same dialog with no changes from the previous version. How do I get the updated features?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The updated implementation of the Content-Aware Fill feature in Photoshop CC 2019 is actually separate from the Fill command (which does still have the Content-Aware option). So now the older implementation of this feature is found with the Fill command, and the new implementation is found with the new Content-Aware Fill command on the Edit menu.

More Detail: I can certainly understand being confused by the apparent lack of any change to the Fill command, based on Adobe having promoted a completely revamped Content-Aware Fill feature in the latest update of Photoshop. The new feature has simply been added as a new command on the menu. So, while you can still use the original implementation of the Content-Aware feature with the existing Fill command (Edit > Fill on the menu), you will also find a new “Content-Aware Fill” command on the Edit menu.

The key benefit of the new Content-Aware Fill command is that you can specify which portions of the image should (versus should not) be used as potential source pixels when removing a blemish or other object from the selected area of a photo.

To get started you simply create a selection of the area you want to cleanup within the image. Then choose Edit > Content-Aware Fill from the menu, which will bring up the Content-Aware Fill workspace. You can then use the Sampling Brush tool with the “Add” and “Subtract” controls on the Options bar to add to or subtract from the sampling area to be used for image cleanup.

This enables you, for example, to exclude areas from being sampled that might be causing unwanted textures to appear in the cleanup area. In other words, this adds a degree of control over a cleanup process that had previously been completely automatic.

Failure Selecting Subject


Today’s Question: I’ve tried using the “Select Subject” feature [in Photoshop] that you mentioned in one of your answers, and I haven’t had any luck with it. The selections don’t follow the key subject in the photo at all. Is there a way to give this feature a little guidance to help improve the results?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “Select Subject” feature that is available for the Quick Selection and Magic Wand tools is one that in my experience rarely makes a great selection and often makes a relatively poor selection. Furthermore, there is no option for altering the behavior of this feature, so you’ll need to use other tools or techniques to create or refine the selection.

More Detail: The “Select Subject” button can be found on the Options bar in Photoshop when you select either the Quick Selection tool or the Magic Wand tool. After choosing one of these tools you simply click the Select Subject button and a selection is created based on an analysis of the photo.

If the subject stands out relatively clearly from the background, the selection achieved by clicking the Select Subject button will likely be relatively accurate. In other cases you’ll find that the selection represents a reasonably good start, requiring some refinement with other tools to create a usable selection. In many cases, however, I do find that the Select Subject feature is not especially helpful.

Part of the challenge with this feature is that if it works well, other selection techniques might have been nearly as fast to implement. In other cases, you may find that so much cleanup is required after using the Select Subject feature, that it just isn’t worth making use of.

In general, I prefer to think of the Select Subject feature as a basic preview of some of the potential of what Photoshop could offer with future updates. In the meantime, I recommend considering the Select > Focus Area command from the menu, or the Quick Selection tool, as better starting points for most of your selection needs.

Creating a Metadata Preset


Today’s Question: You mentioned the option to create a unique metadata preset to add metadata to photos during import. Could you explain how to create such a preset [in Lightroom Classic CC]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can create a new metadata preset using the Edit Metadata Presets dialog, which can be accessed from within the Library module by going to the menu and choosing Metadata > Edit Metadata Presets. You can then define and save the preset, which can be applied to photos during import or later in your workflow.

More Detail: After selecting Metadata > Edit Metadata Presets from the menu, you will see the Edit Metadata Presets dialog. Within this dialog you will find the various metadata fields that can be included as part of a preset, which can be used to update metadata values for photos. I recommend being thoughtful about which fields you include in a metadata preset, since you will typically use such a preset to update metadata values for a relatively large number of photos. In general, for example, you may want to limit a metadata preset to include only general contact and copyright information.

When you update any of the fields in the Edit Metadata Presets dialog, you’ll find that the checkbox to the left of those fields gets turned on automatically. When you save your preset, only the metadata fields that have the checkbox turned on will actually be included. In other words, when you apply the preset to photos, only the fields that are enabled will be applied to the photos. If you have updated a field but then decide you don’t want to include that metadata in your preset, you can turn off the checkbox.

When you have finished updating the metadata values you want included in your preset, you can save a new preset. To do so, click the Preset popup at the top of the dialog, and choose “Save Current Settings as New Preset” from that popup. In the dialog that appears, type a meaningful name for the preset, so you’ll know which preset to select in the future based on the name of the preset. Then click the Create button to create your new preset, and click the Done button to close the Edit Metadata Presets dialog.

After creating a metadata preset, you can apply that preset to photos during import or later in your workflow. During the import process you can select the preset from the Metadata popup in the Apply During Import section of the right panel in the Import dialog. Later in your workflow you can also select an image and choose the desired metadata preset from the Preset popup in the Metadata section of the right panel in the Library module.

Filtering by Camera


Today’s Question: I like your recommendation to use only one catalog for Lightroom. I just have one question before I combine my two catalogs. Is there a way to find photos based on the photographer? When I shoot weddings I have a second photographer. If I put the photos from both photographers into the same catalog, is there a way to see only the photos from one photographer at a time for a wedding we photographed?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you could very easily filter the images based on the camera serial number, which in turn would typically mean you were filtering photos based on the photographer. You could also assign keywords or other metadata updates during the import process, identifying the photographer for each batch of photos.

More Detail: Lightroom actually provides a wide range of options for filtering your photos, which can be helpful for locating photos based on various different criteria.

One option that generally works well for identifying which photos were captured by which photographers is to filter the photos based on the specific camera that was used. This assumes, of course, that each camera was only used by a single photographer. But in that situation, you can use the unique serial number for each camera to filter the photos based on which photographer captured them.

Within the Library module, make sure you are in the grid view (you can press the “G” key on the keyboard to switch to the grid view). Then, if you don’t see the Library Filter bar above the grid view thumbnail display, press the backslash key (“\”) on the keyboard to display the filter bar.

Navigate to the folder you want to search in, and on the Library Filter bar choose the Metadata tab. Make sure there aren’t any other filter criteria selected, assuming you only want to filter based on the camera serial number. Then click the heading bar for one of the filter columns and choose “Camera Serial Number” from the popup menu. That column will then list all camera serial numbers reflected in metadata for all of the photos in the current location. Click on the applicable serial number, and the photos will be filtered to display only those captured with the camera having the serial number you selected.

As noted above, you could also add metadata with the photographer’s name, ideally during the import process. You could create a metadata preset for each of the photographers, and select the appropriate preset when importing each batch of photos.

Photo Missing After Photoshop


Today’s Question: After editing an image in Lightroom I usually send it to Photoshop for final editing. The problem is that Photoshop edited image is not in the catalog in Lightroom. Is there a way to return an edited image in Photoshop back to Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you are using the “Edit In” feature correctly, you’ll end up with a new version of the source image in Lightroom, right alongside the original. Note that you may need to disable any filters that could cause the new derivative image to be hidden from view.

More Detail: To send a photo from Lightroom to Photoshop, you’ll first want to select the image you want to work with. Then go to the menu and choose Photo > Edit In > Edit In Adobe Photoshop CC.

If the image you’ve selected is a raw capture, a copy of the image will automatically be opened in Photoshop. If another file type (such as a JPEG capture) was selected, you’ll be prompted to choose how you want to process the image. At this point of the workflow, you’ll typically want to choose the “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments” in the dialog that appears. Then click the Edit button to send the photo to Photoshop.

Within Photoshop you can then perform any work on the photo you’d like. When you’re finished with your adjustments, save the updated version of the file by choosing File > Save from the menu. It is important not to use the “Save As” command here, because doing so would create yet another copy of the image beyond the copy that Lightroom will be managing. Then choose File > Close from the menu to close the image.

At this point you can return to Lightroom and the source image will be right alongside the source image, at least in theory.

The derivative image created from the selected source image will be saved in the same folder as the source image. The base filename will also be the same by default, with the addition of “-Edit” to that base filename. The filename extension will be based on whether you have chosen the TIFF versus PSD file format option in Preferences. Note that you can also configure the file naming for these derivative images on the External Editing tab of the Preferences dialog.

If you aren’t able to find the new derivative image after using the above workflow, there is most likely an issue related to sorting or filtering your photos. While still viewing the original source image you had sent to Photoshop, turn off all filters for your images (using the “None” option on the Library Filter Bar). Then, in the Grid view display, choose “Filename” from the Sort popup on the toolbar below the image preview area.

Note that if you want to re-send the derivative image to Photoshop, you will want to select the “Edit Original” option in the dialog that appears when you choose the “Edit In” command. This will ensure that you are able to access of the layer you may have created when you first created the derivative image for your work in Photoshop.

Lost Lens Hood


Today’s Question: I lost the lens hood for my 70 to 200 mm F2.8 lens. While waiting for the lens hood to arrive, what precautions should I take when using the lens.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You could actually print a temporary lens hood to use while waiting for the replacement to arrive, or simply exercise caution while using the lens without a lens hood.

More Detail: First, you might consider printing a temporary replacement lens hood. You can find templates for many popular lenses at ( You can then print the template, cut it out, and tape it closed so that you can mount it on your lens.

The other option is to simply exercise caution while using the lens without a hood.

As a general rule, the sun is the primary light source to be concerned about, although other very strong light sources can certainly cause lens flare. The flare is only an issue when the sun (or other light source) is in front of a line parallel to the front lens element. In other words, if the sun is at least a light bit behind you, lens flare won’t be a concern because the lens will provide its own shade to the front lens element.

The key scenario where lens flare is a risk is when the sun is ahead of the front lens element but not actually in the frame of your photo. If the sun is in the frame, a lens hood won’t provide any real benefit. But when the sun is ahead of the lens but not in the frame, it can still cast light into the lens, which can then be reflected back and forth among the lens elements to create lens flare.

In these situations if you pay careful attention to the view through the viewfinder (or on the LCD display for Live View), you can simply use a hand or other object to shade the lens, blocking the light that could otherwise cause lens flare.

The key is to be aware of situations where lens flare is possible. In those situations, pay attention for lens flare, and even shade the front lens element regardless of whether you actually see indications of lens flare. Just be careful when shading the front lens element that you’re not putting your hand or other object into the frame accidentally.

Dust Test Capture


Today’s Question: Could you provide a more detailed description of how to capture a test shot to check for dust on a camera’s sensor? I appreciate that a loupe provides benefits, but sometimes I don’t have a loupe with me when I am traveling.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can create a test capture to check for dust by stopping your lens down all the way to the smallest aperture size, and then capturing a normal exposure of a “clean” subject, such as a blank wall or sheet of paper. The photo can then be evaluated for dust spots and other indications of blemishes.

More Detail: As noted in a previous Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, you can capture a test photo when you’re not able to use a loupe to evaluate the sensor directly for dust. I generally prefer using a sensor loupe to evaluate the surface of the sensor directly, as noted on the GreyLearning Blog here:

However, obviously at times you may need to check the sensor for dust when you don’t have such a loupe available. In that case a “manual” approach can work very well.

The first thing to do is locate a subject you can photograph that won’t have much in the way of texture that could cause ambiguity about where any dust spots might be. I typically use an empty wall or a blank sheet of paper for this purpose.

Then, configure your camera for a normal exposure of that subject using the minimum size lens aperture (such as f/22 on many lenses, for example). In many cases (especially if using a white subject for your test photo) it can also be helpful to increase the exposure by about one stop above what the meter indicates.

So, for example, in Aperture Priority mode with the lens aperture stopped down completely, you could set one stop of “plus” exposure compensation. Then point the lens at the intended subject, and capture the photo while moving the camera constantly during the exposure. This will help ensure that nothing in the photo appears sharp except for dust spots on the sensor that are blocking light from reaching the sensor.

After the exposure is completed, you could review the image on the camera’s LCD, zooming in and panning around to check for any blemishes. However, I recommend downloading the photo to a computer so you can get a bigger and closer look at the image.

Based on this evaluation, you can clean the sensor as needed, repeating the process of evaluating and cleaning until you have a thoroughly clean sensor.

Checking for Dust


Today’s Question: You have mentioned a sensor loupe for checking the camera’s sensor for dust. Is this more effective than the method of taking a test photo of a blank surface? It seems the latter would clearly show where there is dust on the sensor.

Tim’s Quick Answer: My experience has been that a sensor loupe absolutely provides an advantage over capturing a test shot for evaluating whether there is dust or other blemishes on your camera’s sensor. I’m currently using the Carson SensorMag (, and find that by using this loupe I don’t need to capture test shots at all in order to be confident that my sensor is clean.

More Detail: With a loupe designed for viewing the sensor in your camera (well, really the filter on top of the sensor), you can get an illuminated and magnified view of the surface, so that you’re able to clearly see even tiny dust spots and other blemishes. I’ve found this to be much more convenient and effective than the method of capturing a test photo to check for dust.

The basic process of using a test capture for sensor dust involves photographing a non-detailed subject while moving the camera, with the lens aperture fully stopped down. You can then evaluate the resulting image for spots, and get your camera cleaned as needed based on this test.

I have found, however, that a sensor loupe streamlines this entire process. With a sensor loupe you get a magnifier and bright light in a single package. This enables you to clearly see the surface of the filter in front of your camera’s sensor. You can therefore simply use the loupe to check if you need to clean the sensor, and use it again to confirm you were successful at effectively cleaning all of the blemishes.

To me this workflow is much easier than the process of capturing a test photo, downloading that test photo to the computer for the best evaluation, and repeating that process potentially more than once to evaluate the effectiveness of your sensor cleaning.

As a result, I consider a sensor loupe ( to be one of the more critical tools in my camera bag.

Remove or Delete?


Today’s Question: In your answer about removing a folder and its contents, you talked about deleting the folder from the hard drive when removing it from Lightroom. Wouldn’t it be safer to keep the folder on the hard drive as a backup, meaning to not delete it when removing it from the Lightroom catalog?

Tim’s Quick Answer: My feeling is that if you want to remove photos from your Lightroom catalog, you should also delete the source images. Otherwise you would have photos taking up space on your hard drive that you don’t even know actually exist, because you can’t find them in Lightroom.

More Detail: As noted in yesterday’s edition of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, when you remove a photo from your Lightroom catalog you can choose whether or not you want to delete the source photo from your hard drive. In other words, you can remove the photo from your catalog but keep the source file on your hard drive, or both delete the source photo and remove the record from the catalog at the same time.

I certainly understand the notion of wanting to keep the source files on your hard drive “just in case”, so that if you change your mind later you could add the source image back to your Lightroom catalog. But to me this creates bigger potential problems in your workflow.

In other words, if you aren’t totally sure you want to delete the photo from your hard drive, you shouldn’t remove that photo from your Lightroom catalog. This is based on the notion that I want to manage all of my photos in a single catalog, and therefore I want my catalog to contain all of my photos.

There are certainly exceptions in terms of photos you want to keep without managing in Lightroom. But in that context I would suggest moving the photos to a completely different storage structure, to avoid potential confusion.

So, generally speaking I would say photos being removed from your Lightroom catalog should be deleted from your hard drive. If you have a scenario where you do indeed want to retain photos but manage them outside of your Lightroom workflow, I would remove them from Lightroom but then also move them to a different storage structure separate from your primary photo-management workflow.

Deleting a Folder


Today’s Question: I have a folder that I want to completely delete from Lightroom, including deleting the photos within the folder. But when I right-click on the folder and choose “Remove”, I get a message saying the folder will be removed from Lightroom but that the photos will remain on the hard drive. How can I completely delete a folder and its contents from Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To completely remove a folder and the contents, you’ll need to perform two steps. First, you’ll need to delete all photos from the folder. Then you can remove the folder, which will cause it to be deleted from the hard drive as well as being removed from Lightroom.

More Detail: The “Remove” command for folders in Lightroom enables you to remove the folder and its contents from the Lightroom catalog, without actually deleting the contents of the folder. The Remove command will only delete the folder from the hard drive if it is empty.

Therefore, in order to delete the folder and its contents you would need to first delete the contents of the folder, and then remove the folder. You can perform both of these steps from within Lightroom.

First, navigate to the folder and make sure there aren’t any filters applied, so that you are viewing the full contents of the folder. Then choose Edit > Select All from the menu to select all of the photos and videos in that folder. You can then select Photo > Remove Photos from the menu, and click the “Delete from Disk” button in the confirmation dialog to actually delete the photos from the hard drive.

Once the folder is empty, you can right-click on the folder and choose “Remove Folder” from the popup menu. Provided the folder is completely empty (including, for example, files that might be in the folder that aren’t being managed by Lightroom), you this “Remove Folder” command will cause the folder to be deleted from the hard drive as well as being removed from Lightroom.