Impact of Video Shutter Speed

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Today’s Question: In a recent answer you addressed recommended shutter speeds when shooting video on a DSLR. I didn’t quite understand what you meant about the video having a “stuttering appearance” when playing back. Can you provide an example of that?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When I refer to a “stuttering” appearance in video captures, I mean that there is a lack of fluid motion within the video. You can see an example of this effect in a video clip included in a post on the GreyLearning blog here:

http://greylearningblog.com/stuttering-video-with-fast-shutter-speed/

More Detail: When you use a fast shutter speed in video, fast motion gets frozen, and the sense of motion gets lost to some extent. An object moving quickly across the scene will appear to jump from one position to the next, rather than smoothly transitioning across the frame.

Of course, with a relatively slow shutter speed for video there will also be more motion blur in general, which is not necessarily a good thing, depending on your intent.

The bottom line is that the shutter speed you use when recording a video can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your video, so it is worth giving careful consideration to which shutter speed you’re using when establishing your overall exposure settings for video.

Brush and Gradient Challenges

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Today’s Question: Often, I use the Graduated Filter in Lightroom [Classic CC] to bring out some color and definition in the sky. I use a lot of brush strokes to erase the filter effects from the non-sky areas of the photo. Occasionally, after I have been working a while, I notice that I made an error erasing too much of the filter effects and have erased a bit of the sky instead. If you try to unerase this area, you get an patch that does not match the surrounding area because the Graduated Filter graduates the effect while the unerase applies the effect full-force. Is there any way to correct a mistake along the filtered area where you have accidentally erased part of the sky?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The best solution in this type of situation is to reduce the value for the Flow slider when working with the Brush feature in conjunction with the Graduated Filter or the Radial Filter in Lightroom. This will enable you to paint at a reduced opacity as you blend the adjustment back into an area of the photo. The only other solution would be to undo enough steps in History to get back to the point before the unintended erasing was done.

More Detail: When you make use of the Brush feature with the Graduated Filter or the Radial Filter in Lightroom’s Develop module, you are essentially creating two separate layer masks that work in conjunction with each other. One mask is in the form of a gradient (or ellipse), and the other is a free-form mask you can modify by painting.

Because of this behavior, it can be challenging to produce a good effect when you need to modify either mask. For example, if you attempt to move a gradient mask after you have already used the Brush feature to modify the targeted adjustment, the two masks will no longer align with each other in the same way. In addition, as noted in today’s question, if you use the Erase feature for the Brush option with the Graduated Filter (or Radial Filter), it can be difficult to get a good result when painting a portion of the adjustment back into the image.

For example, in a relatively low-opacity area of the gradient created with the Graduated Filter, if you paint with a full opacity to add back the adjustment effect you will have an obvious brush stroke that has a stronger adjustment than the surrounding gradient effect.

You can overcome this issue by using a low setting for the Flow slider when using the “A” or “B” brush option. You may need to use a very low value (around 10 or less) for areas of the gradient that are of particularly low opacity. You can then paint repeatedly over the same area to build up the effect.

Of course, getting a result that blends in well can still be a bit challenging. It can take some practice and careful effort to achieve a good result, but that is often preferable to going back far enough in History to start over from before making an adjustment you aren’t happy with.

Why GPS?

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Today’s Question: You had several comments regarding track logs and GPS. How much of a drain is there on the battery when using the GPS? I usually carry a phone with GPS apps which I can easily use to mark the spot where I took the image. I also find it not too difficult to recognize the images I have made and do not see a real point of getting coordinates for all of them. What am I missing?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In my experience using GPS location tracking with a device such as a camera or smartphone causes the battery to last about half as long as it otherwise would. I find location information tremendously helpful as a reminder and for locating photos, but that is in large part because most of my photography involves traveling relatively far from home. If you don’t find that location information helpful, there probably isn’t a good reason for you to deplete your battery faster by enabling GPS.

More Detail: The effect on battery life due to enabling GPS will depend on a variety of factors, including how frequently GPS location information is being recorded. I’ve found that my batteries last about half as long as they otherwise would based on my own usage, but your experience may vary.

Personally, I find GPS location information to be an invaluable part of the metadata for my photos. Having that information added automatically by my camera is very convenient, and provides location details for my photos even if I neglect to add location-based keywords.

I often use this information to remind myself of where I captured a particular photo. I also browse my photos using the map in Lightroom Classic CC, and often seeing a location pin on the map reminds me of a photo that might work well for a particular project.

That said, not every photographer will find this location information particularly helpful. A studio-based portrait photographer, for example, would probably not benefit from GPS metadata at all. If you don’t find that information helpful, there probably isn’t a great benefit to recording a track log or enabling GPS in your camera (if your camera is equipped with GPS).

As noted in today’s question, however, a “location snapshot” can provide a good compromise. When you want to know the specific location of a photo, you can use a smartphone (with GPS enabled) to capture a snapshot that will contain location metadata. You can then reference that information to recall where photos captured without the benefit of GPS were captured. This type of hybrid approach provides a good solution for photographers who only need location information periodically, rather than for most (or all) of their photos.

Creative Cloud Files

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Today’s Question: Several weeks ago when I opened Photoshop, this message showed up: “Syncing your Creative Cloud files, please wait.” What does it mean? Do I just ignore it? Can I get rid of it?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This message refers to the synchronization of files saved in your “Creative Cloud Files” folder. You can disable synchronization if you prefer, or simply remove files from the Creative Cloud Files folder on your computer.

More Detail: Many photographers are familiar with the synchronization of photos that is available with Lightroom Classic CC or Lightroom CC. In addition, however, with an Adobe Creative Cloud plan (https://timgrey.me/creativecloud) you can synchronize other files to make them available from any Creative Cloud application, or directly from your computer.

The message mentioned in today’s question indicates that synchronization is taking place. You may have inadvertently saved a file to the synchronization folder, either within Photoshop or from another application.

If you want to disable synchronization for any reason, you can do so within the Creative Cloud application. Start by clicking on the icon for the Creative Cloud icon on the menu bar or task bar. Click the icon with three dots at the top-right of the application popup, and choose Preferences from the menu that appears.

On the Preferences page click the Creative Cloud tab at the top-center. Then choose Files from the menu below the Creative Cloud tab. To disable synchronization, turn off the Creative Cloud Sync checkbox. This will disable synchronization without deleting the local copies of your files.

If you’d like to review (and possibly delete) images that are being synchronized, you just need to browse the folder that is being used for files to be synchronized with Creative Cloud. From the home page of the Creative Cloud application choose Files, and then click the Open Folder button. This will bring up a folder in your operating system displaying the folder that Creative Cloud is using for file synchronization. You can delete files from this folder, or move them to another folder, based on your intent for the files saved in this location.

Redundant Track Log

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Today’s Question: My camera has GPS, so my photos can be tagged with location information automatically. It also has an option for recording a track log. Why would I need both options? Is there any reason I would ever need to record a track log when I already have GPS for my photos?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In my view the only reason you might want to record a track log is when you will be photographing in a situation where the GPS signal might be intermittent, causing some of your captures to have missing or inaccurate location information.

More Detail: In theory, if you enable the GPS feature on a camera that includes a GPS receiver, all of your photos will have location information added to the metadata at the time of capture. In reality, that location information can often be missing or incorrect. Recording a GPS track log can help.

In order to add GPS coordinates to the metadata of a photo at the time of capture, the camera must have a good signal from a set of GPS satellites. If you are indoors, for example, you will generally not have good GPS reception. In the absence of a good GPS signal, the location information in metadata will generally be left blank.

In some cases the camera may temporarily reflect an outdated GPS location. For example, let’s assume the last photo you captured included location information based on a good GPS signal. You then walk indoors through a large shopping mall, exiting at the other end, where you capture another photo. That photo may include location information from the opposite end of the shopping mall, based on the camera retaining the GPS location information from before you went in doors.

Both of these scenarios could be resolved by recording a GPS track log in the camera, even when you have enabled the automatic recording of GPS metadata for your photos. In situations where you know the GPS signal may be intermittent, you can record a track log and then synchronize that log with your photos later in your workflow. That, in turn, would enable you to update the metadata for photos that have missing or inaccurate metadata.

Removing the Wrong Lightroom

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Today’s Question: When I opened Lightroom Classic CC, a notice opened that an update was available. When I updated it, I mistakenly clicked on Lightroom CC [rather than Lightroom Classic CC]. Now I have both versions of Lightroom on my computer. Can I safely delete Lightroom CC from my Windows desktop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can absolutely uninstall Lightroom CC without impacting any of your work in Lightroom Classic CC. As long as you have not imported photos directly into Lightroom CC, uninstalling it won’t have any impact on your existing workflow.

More Detail: The names of Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC are obviously quite similar, and Lightroom Classic CC used to be called Lightroom CC. So it is understandable that you might get confused about which Lightroom is which, such as when installing updates to applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud.

The Lightroom Classic CC catalog is completely separate from the Lightroom CC catalog. The only real connection between the two relates to images that are synchronized via the Adobe Creative Cloud. In the case of Lightroom Classic CC, that means only photos in collections that have synchronization enabled. For Lightroom CC, all photos are synchronized to Creative Cloud.

If you inadvertently install Lightroom CC, but have never used it to import new photos, you can most certainly uninstall the application without harming your Lightroom Classic CC workflow or catalog.

I recommend using the Adobe Creative Cloud application to uninstall any applications you don’t need. Within the Creative Cloud app you can go to the Apps tab and locate the entry for Lightroom CC. To the right of Lightroom CC on this list, click the popup on the right side of the button that says “Open” (or “Update” if you haven’t yet installed the latest version). From the popup menu choose “Manage” followed by Uninstall to initiate the process of removing the application. You’ll be asked whether you want to keep preferences. Assuming you’ve not been using Lightroom CC and don’t intend to use it in the future, I recommend choosing the option to remove the preferences.

Track Log Setup

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Today’s Question: I’m planning to use a track log program on my smartphone to create track logs for geo-tagging my photos. The program’s default location sampling interval is 1 second. It seems to me that would create excessive location data over a trip that might last a week or more. What would you recommend for a location sampling interval for the purposes of Geo tagging my photos?

Tim’s Quick Answer: As a general rule I recommend recording track logs with an interval of about 15 seconds. However, it is important to consider how fast you might be moving and the degree of precision you’d like to have for your location metadata.

More Detail: A GPS track log records the current time and your current location at a set interval. Your camera includes the date and time of capture in the metadata for each photo. Since the track log and your photos both contain time information, you can synchronize your photos with a track log based on time. In other words, by recording a track log during the time that you are also capturing photos, you add GPS coordinates to the metadata for those photos later in your workflow.

Of course, chances are there won’t be a track log location data point that correlates with the precise time a given photo was captured. Instead, the track log data needs to be interpolated in order to estimate the specific location for each photo. The frequency of recording location data points for the track log determines how significantly the data needs to be interpolated. That, in turn, affects the accuracy of the location information added to each photo based on the track log.

So, in concept you want to record a track log with a very short interval. That would certainly result in a larger track log file than you would get with a longer interval setting, but the data is very simple and thus won’t result in an extremely large file size even with a track log recorded over the course of multiple days.

The bigger concern is generally battery life. The more frequently you are recording data points for a track log, the more your device will be tracking GPS satellite signals and processing that data. Using a lower track log frequency will help preserve battery life.

The right balance will vary for each photographer, depending on how much (and how fast) they move around during photography, and how critical it is to have very precise location information. For most photographers I find that an interval of fifteen seconds works well, but you may want to use a shorter interval if you’re moving quickly and want precise location data. You might also prefer a longer interval if you only need to know the general location (rather than very precise location) or don’t tend to move across large distances during your photography.

Display Calibration on a Budget

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Today’s Question: I am now wanting to purchase a calibration product and wondered whether I might get your advice on this subject. I am only an amateur photographer and would welcome your advice on what to purchase towards the budget end of the range.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I do highly recommend calibrating and profiling your monitor display, and I certainly understand preferring a tool at the lower end of the price scale. In this case I would recommend the X-Rite ColorMunki Smile (https://timgrey.me/smile), which sells for about US$99.

More Detail: When you calibrate and profile your monitor display you are ensuring that what you see on your monitor is as accurate a reflection as possible of the actual image data in the photos you are viewing. That, in turn, helps ensure you are applying appropriate adjustments to a given photo, and that when you share your photos the intended appearance will also (hopefully) be maintained.

A display calibration package includes a special instrument (a colorimeter) that measures the output from your monitor display. Between applying adjustments to the display settings based on measurements, as well as building a custom display profile based on additional measurements, the display can be adjusted to a more accurate presentation.

I generally recommend the ColorMunki Display package (http://timgrey.me/colormunkidisplay), which sells for about US$170. However, you can also get excellent results with the ColorMunki Smile package, which sells for about US$99. There are some minor limitations with the ColorMunki Smile package compared to the ColorMunki Display package, but for typical workflows that is a complete non-issue. To learn more about the ColorMunki Smile you can follow this link:

https://timgrey.me/smile

Understanding Collections

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Today’s Question: I’m sure this should be simple, but I can’t wrap my head around the concept of collections in Lightroom Classic. Can you briefly explain what they are and how I should be using them?

Tim’s Quick Answer: A collection in Lightroom Classic CC is simply a way to group photos together that are related by some concept beyond the folder structure on your hard drive. Adding a photo to a collection is similar to adding a keyword to the image, with a collection providing quicker access to those photos.

More Detail: In many respects from the perspective of a Lightroom user, collections and folders are very similar. You can click on a collection or a folder on the left panel in the Library module in order to view the photos that are contained within that collection or folder. The key difference is that folders reflect the actual organizational structure on your hard drive, while collections simply reflect a logical organization of photos within Lightroom.

In other words, the list of folders in the Folders section of the left panel in the Library module directly relates to the folder structure you could see on your hard drive if you browse that drive through your operating system. Collections only exist within Lightroom, and are not reflected on your hard drive.

It may be helpful to think of collections based on an analogy. Imagine you have added a keyword to a set of photos, and then have a saved search result that enables you to quickly see only the photos that include the specific keyword. That is the same concept for collections, but instead of adding a keyword and saving a search, you simply add a photo to the collection.

Collections can be used for a wide variety of purposes, enabling you to organize your photos beyond the folder structure on your hard drive. For example, I often use collections to organize photos for various projects that include my photos, such as presentations. You could also use collections to organize photos by category, similar to how you could add keywords to various photos.

So, folders are a reflection of what you might think of as the physical storage structure on your hard drive, while collections are extensions of that concept, enabling you to group photos together regardless of which folders all of those photos might be contained in.

It is important to keep in mind that collections only exist within Lightroom, and are not saved to the metadata for your photos. That means that while the folders you see in Lightroom actually exist on your hard drive, if you lost your Lightroom catalog you would also lose all of the information about the collections for your photos. This is one of the reasons it is important to regularly backup your Lightroom catalog.

Nik Collection by DxO

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Today’s Question: Do you know if the NiK Collection filters are still available to purchase?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, the Nik Collection is still available, now being offered by DxO Software. You can find the updated release of the DxO Nik Collection here:

https://nikcollection.dxo.com

More Detail: The Nik Collection set of (mostly excellent) plug-ins was originally available from Nik Software. Google acquired Nik Software a while back, seemingly with a primary interest in the Snapseed app for image editing on mobile devices. While Google initially offered the Nik Collection for sale, they later made the full collection available for free.

More recently, DxO Software acquired the Nik Collection, and released a new update dubbed the “Nik Collection by DxO”. This update to the Nik Collection is no longer free. You can get a 30-day free trial, but if you want to continue using the software you’ll need to purchase it.

It is important to note that if you have a previous version of the Nik Collection installed on your computer, installing the free trial of the Nik Collection from DxO will cause that previous version to no longer be usable. So, for example, if you have the free version of the Nik Collection from Google installed on your computer, even after installing the free trial of the Nik Collection from DxO, that Google version will no longer function.

There have not been any major updates to the Nik Collection by DxO, so if you’re looking for new features after using an earlier version, you may be disappointed. However, if you don’t have a copy of the Nik Collection, getting the latest update from DxO may certainly be desirable.

Within the Nik Collection from DxO, I don’t consider Dfine to be particularly useful, as many other software tools provide what I consider to be significantly better results. I also don’t consider Sharpener Pro to be a critical plug-in for most photography workflows. However, some of the other plug-ins, such as Silver Efex Pro and Analog Efex Pro, can provide some great creative effects for your photos.

Note that I have produced an updated video training course on the full set of plug-ins included in the Nik Collection by DxO. You can get a 50% discount on this extensive video course by using coupon code nik50 at checkout, or by using this link to have the discount included automatically:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/nik?coupon=nik50