Saving Metadata to Photos


Today’s Question: If you haven’t previously enabled the option to saved metadata to XMP in Lightroom Classic, can you do this after the fact to old photos?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you enable the option to automatically write metadata updates to your photos in Lightroom Classic, that will take effect for all existing images automatically. You can also use the option to manually save metadata if you want to be sure the task actually completed.

More Detail: By default, Lightroom Classic only saves metadata updates to the catalog, not out to the actual image files on your hard drive. However, you can enable an option to have metadata updates saved automatically to the images as well. Note that for proprietary raw captures the updates will be written to an XMP “sidecar” file, while for other image formats the metadata will be written directly to the source image file.

To enable the setting, first bring up the Catalog Settings dialog by choosing Lightroom Classic > Catalog Settings on Macintosh or Edit > Catalog Settings on Windows. Go to the Metadata tab and turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox. You can then close the Catalog Settings dialog.

Once this checkbox is turned on, Lightroom Classic will immediately start updating the metadata for all photos in your catalog. However, you won’t see a progress indicator for this task. If you’d like the confidence of knowing the metadata was updated completely, you can use the manual approach.

Start by going to the All Photographs collection found in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. Make sure no filters are set, so that you’re viewing all images. Then choose Edit > Select All from the menu to select all photos in your catalog. Finally, choose Metadata > Save Metadata to Files from the menu to initiate the process of updating the metadata for your source image files. You’ll see a progress indicator on the identify plate at the left side of the top panel.

Keep in mind that only standard metadata information, along with adjustment settings from the Develop module, are written to metadata with this process. Lightroom-specific features such as collections, virtual copies, and pick/reject flags are only saved in the catalog, because they are not part of an established metadata standard.

Reverting Filenames


Today’s Question: I understand that Lightroom Classic can preserve the original filename in metadata when you rename photos. But is there an easy way to revert to that original filename if you change your mind?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can revert to the original filename for images in Lightroom Classic by renaming with the “Original Filename” option for a renaming template.

More Detail: In Lightroom Classic you can rename photos using a template, and when you do rename photos the original filename will be preserved in the Original Filename field in metadata. You can use that filename to revert images to the original filename, effectively providing the option to undo the renaming you applied.

To get started you can navigate to the folder that contains the images you want to rename, and then select the photos you want to rename. That would likely involve selecting all photos in the folder, so you could make sure there are no filters applied and then choose Edit > Select All to select all of the photos in the current folder.

Next, in the Library module choose Library > Rename Photos from the menu. In the Filename Template Editor dialog that appears, clear all of the tokens and text in the text field toward the top of the dialog. Then, in the Image Name section below that textbox, choose “Original filename” from the second popup and click the Insert button to the right of the popup.

If you want to save this template for future use, you can click the Preset popup and choose “Save Current Settings as New Preset” from that popup. Click the Done button to close the Filename Template Editor dialog.

At this point the template you defined will be active, so you can simply click the OK button in the Rename Photos dialog to rename all of the selected photos back to their original filename based on the value that was preserved in metadata when those images had previously been renamed within Lightroom Classic.

Color of LED Illumination


Today’s Question: When light painting I consistently get a blue color to foliage (greens). I have used a couple of different LED flashlights with similar results. Sometimes I am able to improve, but not completely correct, the issue in post by adjusting white balance and hue using the local adjustment brush in Lightroom Classic. Is there a better light source I can use for painting or some other fix that I can try?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I would recommend either finding a flashlight that can provide a warmer (more yellow to orange) color, or to make use of a colored gel of your LED flashlight.

More Detail: Many LED lights have a relatively neutral to blue color cast, often ranging from about 5,000 Kelvin to around 6,500 Kelvin or so. This can introduce a challenging mixed lighting situation when used as an illumination source for photos, such as when using a flashlight as a supplemental light for a light painting effect.

In most cases you’ll find that a somewhat “warmer” light source that has a somewhat yellow to orange color cast will work best. Some LED lights provide a color temperature adjustment, so you can shift between a warmer (more yellow) or cooler (more blue) illumination. You can also find LED lights that emit light with a warmer color cast.

In general I would aim for a light with a color temperature of about 3,000 Kelvin. An incandescent light bulb typically has a color temperature of around 2,400 to 3,000 Kelvin, for example. On the Kelvin scale a higher value is a cooler color appearance, so you definitely want a light with a value below 5,000 Kelvin, and closer to 3,000 Kelvin would be preferred.

Keep in mind that you can also use gels, which are typically colored translucent sheets of acetate you can place in front of the light source to shift the color of the light. There are various options available, many of which are designed to be mounted in front of flash units or other lights. You can also get a simple colored gel sheet to fashion your own modifier for the light you’ll be using, such as the option shown here:

Matching a Crop


Today’s Question: Is there an easy way to apply the exact same crop to more than one image in Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are several ways to apply the same crop to more than one image, including synchronizing adjustments, using a preset, or simply using the same aspect ratio when cropping each image.

More Detail: If you want to apply the exact same crop to several images, you can select all of those images and then turn on the Auto Sync feature by clicking the toggle switch on the left side of the Sync button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module. When you then apply a crop to the active image, the same crop will apply to all of the selected images.

If you’ve already cropped an image and want to apply that crop to other images, you can start by selecting the image you cropped in addition to the other images you want to apply the same crop to. After selecting all of the images, click on the thumbnail for the image you already cropped to make sure it is the active image. Then click the Sync button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module. In the Synchronize Settings dialog that appears, turn on the checkbox for Crop, as well as any other adjustments you want to synchronize across the selected images.

You could also use a preset for applying the same crop (or other adjustments) to various images. Start by applying the desired crop to one image, and then create a new preset using the plus button to the right of the Presets heading on the left panel in the Develop module, including the crop (and any other desired adjustments) in that preset. You can then apply the preset to other images to crop with the same settings.

If you don’t necessarily want the exact crop applied to all images, but rather just want to use the same aspect ratio for the crop, you can lock a specific aspect ratio for the crop. After choosing the Crop tool click the popup to the right of the Aspect label, and either choose an available aspect ratio or choose Enter Custom to enter your own aspect ratio. Use the same option for the Aspect popup with other images, and the aspect ratio will match for all of the images while the specific crop can still be unique.

Reason for TIFF Over PSD


Today’s Question: I have always used PSD files [Photoshop Document file format] based on your recommendation many years ago when I was first getting into Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw. In a recent newsletter you said you now use TIFF primarily. Why?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I currently use TIFF files rather than PSD files because both support the same capabilities, and the TIFF files will be smaller in the context of a workflow that revolves around Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: I originally used PSD files for the master version of my images because in early versions of Photoshop the PSD file format supported layers and other features specific to Photoshop, while TIFF files did not. Therefore, PSD files were used for the layered master images, and TIFF files were used for flattened derivative images.

When Photoshop was updated to support layers for TIFF images, I continued to use the same approach of having PSD files be the layered version and TIFF files be the flattened version, mostly just out of habit.

However, with Lightroom Classic you are not able to import Photoshop PSD files unless the Maximize Compatibility option was enabled for the PSD file. The Maximize Compatibility setting causes what is effectively a flattened version of the image to be embedded within the file, causing an increase in file size equal to what a flattened copy of the image would be. For example, if the file contains no layers, the Maximize Compatibility feature would cause the file size to double.

TIFF images do not require a Maximize Compatibility feature to be supported by Lightroom Classic. Therefore, a TIFF file will always be smaller than an equivalent PSD file that is supported by Lightroom Classic.

Note that both PSD and TIFF formats are able to use compression to help reduce the file size. However, even with compression for the PSD file, the Maximize Compatibility feature more than makes up for the reduced file size, causing the file to be larger than an equivalent TIFF file.

Both TIFF and PSD files support saving the same features in Photoshop, so either will work perfectly well. But in the context of Lightroom Classic, the TIFF file will generally be significantly smaller, and therefore is my preferred file format between the two.

Effect of Sensor Size


Today’s Question: In the context of fine resolution of details in a large print size, what is the difference between, say, a 26-megapixel APS-C sensor versus a 26-megapixel full-frame sensor? Will the full frame sensor be that much better to be worth the extra cost?

Tim’s Quick Answer: All other things being equal, including the number of megapixels for the sensors, the full-frame sensor will generally offer greater dynamic range and lower noise levels, which can translate into improved image quality.

More Detail: When two sensors of a different physical size have the same megapixel resolution, there will obviously be a difference in terms of the size of each photosite (pixel) within the sensor. A larger photosite translates into an ability to essentially capture more light. That, in turn, means that the difference between a “full” and “empty” photosite will be greater.

This results in greater potential dynamic range for the larger sensor, as well as reduced noise levels based on being able to capture more light.

Of course, there are many other factors that impact the final quality of the image, including many different factors related to an individual image sensor. Therefore, you can’t assume that a full-frame sensor will always offer better image quality compared to a smaller sensor size.

To be sure, greater resolution (as in more megapixels) can provide larger potential output sizes. And a larger image sensor has the potential to provide higher dynamic range and lower noise levels. Both of these can provide higher image quality, but the reality depends on the specifics of the sensor and image processing (both in the camera and after capture). This is why there is really no replacement for testing the output from different image sensors to determine the relative quality potential of each.

Edit Pins Unexpectedly Hidden


Today’s Question: Very recently when in the Develop module of Lightroom Classic, when I use the Adjustment Brush or the Graduated Filter, I can no longer see the circle with a black dot in the middle after making the adjustments. Usually when I hover the mouse over the dot, I can see the mask that was made during the adjustment. Has something changed in Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The edit pin icon you’re referring to is still available in Lightroom Classic, so the display must have been turned off. From the Show Edit Pins popup on the toolbar below the image preview you can choose “Auto” or “Always” to re-enable the display of edit pins.

More Detail: The targeted adjustment tools in Lightroom Classic (Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, and Adjustment Brush) use an edit pin to indicate where the adjustment has been applied within the image. You can click on an edit pin to select which targeted adjustment you want to refine, hover your mouse over an edit pin to see an overlay representing the shape of the area being affected by the adjustment, and press Delete after selecting an edit pin to delete a targeted adjustment.

You can choose when you want the edit pins to be displayed, which means it is possible to hide the edit pins altogether by selecting the “Never” option from the Show Edit Pins popup on the toolbar below the image preview in the Develop module. Note, by the way, that if that toolbar isn’t visible you can press “T” on the keyboard to bring it back.

I suspect in this case the keyboard shortcut for the edit pin display may explain why the edit pins unexpectedly stopped being displayed. You can press “H” on the keyboard to cycle through the options for the Show Edit Pins popup.

My preference, by the way, is to use the “Auto” option for the Show Edit Pins popup. This causes the edit pins to be hidden when you move your mouse pointer away from the image, so you can get an unobstructed view of the image. When you bring your mouse pointer back over the image (with the applicable targeted adjustment tool active) the edit pins will appear on the image again.

Backup to Recover from Corrupted Files


Today’s Question: It seems to me that most backup routines are primarily concerned with drive failure. I lost a lot of my photos because the individual photo files somehow got corrupted. What do you think is the best solution to prevent overwriting good files with files that have become corrupted? As I understand GoodSync, if a file on my data drive becomes corrupted, that corrupted file will be backed up to my backup disk and overwrite the good file. What is the best solution to prevent losing files in the case of file corruption?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This is actually a somewhat tricky issue to solve for, since it can be difficult to know when a file gets corrupted. It is possible that a corrupted file would appear as a changed file, and thus replace the good copy on a backup. A more traditional incremental backup solution would help, though such an approach can be a bit more complicated to restore from.

More Detail: The basic concept of backing up your data is rather straightforward. If anything should happen to a source file, you recover from a backup copy of that file. With a synchronization approach to backing up your photos, however, a corrupted original file may replace the good file on the backup, so that you no longer have a good version of the file to recover from.

With a synchronization backup the backup copy of a file will only be replaced if the original has changed. It is possible that if the source file is corrupted that will be detected as a change and thus the backup will also become corrupted.

Other incremental backup solutions provide a little more flexibility, by virtue of keeping track of incremental changes with each backup. Of course, if a file does become corrupted it is not very easy to recover since you won’t know how far back in your backup history you need to go to find the non-corrupted version of the file.

Fortunately, file corruption is not particularly common except in the case of failing hardware. This is especially true of raw capture photos, since most software will not make changes directly to the source raw files. However, it is always possible for files to become corrupted, and it can be difficult to have a backup solution that protects against this risk.

Performing regular scans to check for a corrupted file structure on your hard drive can help, such as with Disk Utility on Macintosh or System File Checker on Windows.

Automatic Lens Correction


Today’s Question: How do you create a Preset for Importing which includes Len Correction when the lens may be different for different pictures?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can use the “Auto” setting for Setup option for profile-based Lens Corrections to create a preset that will apply the adjustment properly based on the metadata for each image.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic enables you to apply profile-based corrections to photos based on the optical qualities of the lens that was used. That includes both distortion correction and vignetting correction.

To apply this adjustment to an image in the Develop module start by going to the Profile tab of the Lens Corrections section of the right panel. You can then turn on the “Enable Profile Corrections” checkbox and choose “Auto” from the Setup popup. At this point the appropriate profile should be selected below based on the metadata for the image, assuming there is a profile for the lens that was used.

If you want to include the profile-based Lens Corrections adjustment as part of a preset, I recommend using the “Auto” option for setup. This will enable the correction to be customized for each image. I use a preset with this profile-based lens correction as part of a Develop preset I apply at import, so that all images I import have this correction applied.

After applying this and any other desired adjustments to an image, you can click the plus symbol (+) to the right of the Presets heading on the left panel in the Develop module and choose Create Preset from the popup menu. In the New Develop Preset, turn on the checkbox for all adjustments you want to include as part of the new preset, such as the Lens Profile Corrections checkbox in this example. Enter a name for the preset at the top of the dialog and click the Create button to create the new preset.

That new preset can then be applied to any image, including to images upon import using the Develop Settings popup in the Apply During Import section of the right panel in the Import dialog.

Wide-Angle versus Panorama


Today’s Question: Why is a stitched panorama said to be preferable to a good wide-angle lens?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The two key advantages to a composite panorama compared to a wide-angle capture of the same general scene is higher resolution and less lens distortion.

More Detail: The overall perspective, or relationship between the various objects in a scene, is in large part defined by your distance from the scene. Therefore, if you photograph a scene from a given position, for the most part you will capture the same perspective regardless of the lens used.

In other words, you could either use a telephoto lens to extract a detail from a scene, or you could crop a wide-angle photo to extract the same detail, and the overall perspective will be the same for both images.

Of course, if you’re cropping a wide-angle photo rather than capturing the same scene with a telephoto lens, you’ll end up with fewer pixels in the cropped image. This addresses the first benefit of a composite panorama compared to a wide-angle photo. To over-simplify a bit, if a composite panorama consists of five frames, the resulting image will have somewhere around four times more pixels across compared to a wide-angle capture of the same scene, taking into account some overlap between frames for the composite panorama.

So, I would say that the primary reason to capture a composite panorama rather than a single wide-angle photo would be to produce an image of higher resolution. This enables the final image to be printed at a considerably larger size than the single wide-angle capture would allow.

In addition, wide-angle lenses generally have more distortion than lenses with a longer focal length. That means you can generally get an image that is more accurate with less distortion using a composite panorama technique as opposed to capturing a single frame with a wide-angle lens.

In some cases, a photographer may want to have the unique “distorted” view that can be created by a wide-angle lens. But when you want to avoid distortion and produce a final image that can be printed as large as possible, creating a composite panorama will help you achieve these goals.