Web Safe Colors

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Today’s Question: When I’m adding text to an image that I’ll be sharing online, I’ve noticed the “Only Web Colors” checkbox. Do I need to turn this on when selecting a color for an image I’ll share online?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, the concept of using “web safe” colors is largely outdated, and not an issue you need to be concerned about with today’s web browsers. When selecting colors in the Color Picker dialog, you can therefore leave the “Only Web Colors” checkbox turned off.

More Detail: In the early days of the World Wide Web, web browsers (and in many cases the computers being used for browsing) were not able to display a particularly large number of colors. As a result, the notion of “web safe colors” was developed.

Because only a limited number of colors could be presented by certain hardware when the World Wide Web was first developed, it was important to use “web safe” colors when creating a web page in order to ensure the colors could be presented accurately.

Originally, there were only sixteen colors defined as standard “web safe colors”. You could certainly employ colors beyond that number if you wanted to, but the appearance of the colors would not always be accurate depending on the capabilities of the computer (and web browser) being used to present the page. The number increased to 216 colors later, but now this concept can generally be ignored.

The vast majority of computer systems and other devices used to browse the web can present 8-bit per channel color (or better). Therefore, it is not necessary to limit yourself to only the “web safe” colors when selecting a color to use in an image or graphic that will be published online.

In other words, at this point there is no need to worry about the concept of “web safe” colors. I do, however, recommend embedding a color profile (preferably using sRGB) for photos that will be displayed online, in order to help increase the potential for the most accurate presentation possible for the image.

Opening Photos from Bridge

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Today’s Question: I recently was browsing some old files using the current version of Bridge CC. When I double-clicked on a file in Bridge, it didn’t open in Photoshop CC [2018]. I went to the menu to use “File Open With” but the only option listed was Photoshop CC 2017; no other choices were listed. So how do I change default preferences for opening old files from Bridge?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Assuming you have Photoshop CC 2018 installed, I would first make sure you have enabled the startup script for this latest version of Photoshop in Adobe Bridge. Then you can confirm the file type association for the applicable file types to ensure they open properly in the latest version of Photoshop from Bridge.

More Detail: When you install a major update to Photoshop that gets installed as a new application rather than simply updating an existing application, a new startup script will be enabled in Adobe Bridge. The first time you launch Bridge after such an update you should see a message asking if you want to enable the script.

If you chose not to enable the startup script at that time, you can still enable it in the Preferences dialog within Bridge. From the Adobe Bridge menu on Macintosh or the Edit menu on Windows choose Preferences. Then, in the Preferences dialog, go to the Startup Scripts page. Turn on the checkbox for Adobe Photoshop CC 2018.

You can also go to the File Type Associations page to confirm that applicable file types (such as TIFF and PSD) are associated with the latest version of Photoshop. Locate the file types you want to open with Photoshop and click the popup, choosing the latest version of Photoshop to set the association.

After making these changes, click the OK button to close the Preferences dialog, then quit and re-launch Adobe Bridge, and you should be able to open files in Photoshop by simply double-clicking on the file you want to open.

Hard Drive Capacity

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Today’s Question: I take seriously your point about having only one drive will al my photos on it. I am currently at about 75,000 images and increasing by about 20,000 per year. At the moment I have them all stored on a 2TB external drive and backed up on another 2TB external drive. I have about half a terabyte on each left but as we approach a New Year I thought it would be time to invest in two new drives. Would it make sense to get a 3TB or maybe even 4TB capacity drive, so that I minimize the number of times I have to keep replacing drives? I’d be interested to know what size drives you have.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general I don’t feel there is a need to “rush” to replace a hard drive until you’re getting close to the point that it is full. When you to replace a drive, I try to balance my future storage needs with the potential for even better storage devices becoming available over time.

More Detail: If you have some sense of approximately how many photos you tend to capture in a year, it is relatively easy to estimate when you will reach full capacity on a hard drive you are using to store your photos. Let’s assume, for example, that each raw capture on your camera is about 25MB in size. If you are capturing about 20,000 photos per year, that adds up to 500,000 megabytes, or about half a terabyte each year. In this example that means it will likely be about a year before you reach full capacity on the drive, so I would probably want to replace the drive in about six months or so.

When it comes time to replace the drive, I would probably opt for a drive that will provide about another two years worth of capacity. In this example that would mean buying the 3TB drive rather than the 4TB drive. Of course, you may prefer to opt for the higher capacity drive to allow for an upgrade to a higher-resolution camera, if you think you’ll be capturing more video as part of your photography, or if you simply anticipate doing more photography in the next couple of years.

With this approach, in two years you would be due for another upgrade, but that also means you will be able to take advantage of new developments in storage. For example, solid state drives (SSD) provide a number of advantages, but are still quite expensive compared to traditional hard drives. In a couple years that may have changed somewhat significantly.

There are other factors to consider, of course. In my case I am using 4TB hard drives even though my total photo storage requirements are currently at about 6TB. But in my case, because I travel so extensively, I want to have my photos (or at least most of them) readily available while I’m traveling. I therefore prefer to use a ruggedized USB-powered hard drive, and there isn’t a 6TB (or larger) option available.

So, I’ve made a compromise based on my specific priorities, but I continue to hope that an appropriate 8TB drive will be available in the near future.

Multiple Software Versions

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Today’s Question: I see multiple instances of Photoshop, Lightroom, and Bridge in my Creative Cloud app window (I am an active subscriber). Which am I supposed to download? I only want desktop-based workflow. Help?!

Tim’s Quick Answer: The latest versions of the Adobe applications included in the Creative Cloud are nominally the 2018 versions, but they appear in the Creative Cloud application without a year. Older versions include a year as part of the name. Thus, you only need to update applications that don’t show a year in their name, and you may want to uninstall versions identified with the year 2017 or earlier.

More Detail: One of the benefits of a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud is that you will receive relatively frequent updates to the applications, with new feature additions and bug fixes. Periodically, however, Adobe releases more significant updates to the applications, and updates the version number as a result.

Adobe recently shifted to an approach of presenting a calendar year in place of a version number, although a version number can still be found in the “About” dialog and on the splash screen for the various Creative Cloud applications. In the Creative Cloud application, under the “Apps” tab heading, you can find the current status of your applications, including the option to update or install new versions of the applications as they become available.

If you see an “Install” button to the right of an application, that means the application (or major new version) is not currently installed. If you see an “Update” button to the right of the application name that means the application is installed and a new update is available. Finally, if you see an “Open” button, that indicates the latest version of the application is already installed.

For applications that you use, and that are shown on the Apps list without a year as part of the application name and with an “Install” or “Update” button to the right, you will probably want to click that button to install or update to the latest version.

For applications with a year of 2017 or earlier as part of the application name, and for which you have installed the 2018 version of the application, you can uninstall the application through the applicable “uninstall” application through your operating system to remove that application from your computer. I recommend that you wait to perform this step until after you have installed the latest major release and have confirmed that new version is functioning properly.

For Lightroom users, note that the latest “desktop” version of Lightroom is Lightroom Classic CC. If you are not interested in the cloud-based version of Lightroom, you should not install the “Lightroom CC” application, but instead continue to work with the “Classic” version.

Trouble with Presets

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Today’s Question: I would like to know how to create a preset [in Lightroom]. I created one, but neglected to set “As Shot” [for the White Balance adjustment] before creating it. So now every image I import is blue!

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general when creating a preset in Lightroom, I recommend working with an image for which the adjustments have been reset to the defaults. You may also want to limit which adjustments are included as part of the preset, so that other existing changes to adjustment settings will not be lost when the preset is applied.

More Detail: In the context of Lightroom, a preset simply records the value for adjustment settings found on the right panel in the Develop module. In other words, presets aren’t able to add any effect that isn’t already possible within Lightroom. Presets provide a quick way to apply specific adjustment settings to an image, which can be helpful in a variety of scenarios.

To get started, I recommend selecting an image that you aren’t particularly concerned about, but that still provides a good representative sample based on the adjustments you intend to include in the preset. Then click the Reset button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module in order to reset the adjustments to their default values. This would include, for example, the “As Shot” setting for White Balance noted in today’s question.

Next, apply the various adjustments you want to include in the preset. Perhaps you want to apply the Lens Corrections adjustments to all images you import, for example. Or you might want to make a creative preset that includes a conversion to black and white with a vignette effect added.

Once you’ve applied all of the adjustments you want to include in your preset, you can create the actual preset. Start by clicking on the plus symbol (+) to the right of the Presets heading on the left panel in the Develop module. In the dialog that appears, first type a meaningful name for the preset based on the adjustments you’ve applied. You can then choose the Folder you want to include the new preset in, which is simply a way to group presets together to stay better organized.

Next, you’ll want to decide which adjustments you want to include in the preset. In general, I recommend first clicking the “Check None” button to disable all adjustments, and then turn on the checkbox only for those adjustments you actually want to include in the preset. Note that you can also turn on the “Auto Tone” checkbox if you want Lightroom to apply the automatic tonal adjustments on a per-image basis when you apply the preset to one or more images.

When you have configured the settings for the new preset, click the Create button to save the new preset and close the New Develop Preset dialog. The preset can then be found in the folder you selected below the Presets heading on the left panel in the Develop module. You can apply that preset to any image by selecting the image and then clicking on the name of the preset. Note that it is also possible to apply a preset to all images being imported within the Import dialog, using the Develop Settings popup in the Apply During Import section of the right panel.

Avoiding Fogged Lenses

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Today’s Question: I am the photographer for a local volunteer fire department. I usually keep my camera bag in my truck year-round as I felt it was better to keep the camera at the temperature it would be working in rather than a warm (cool) house then quickly to a cold (hot) outdoor temperature. I haven’t had any real condensation issues, but I am not certain that some may have occurred which will haunt me later. What is your advice for people who need this ready access to extreme temperature changes?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Keeping the camera in a warmer environment close to the ambient working conditions can help prevent fogging up of the lens caused by taking a relatively cold lens into a relatively warm and humid environment. However, if this means storing the camera in a humid environment, I would suggest taking measures to avoid having the camera exposed to relatively high humidity for extended periods of time.

More Detail: In terms of the immediate issue of capturing photos, taking a camera from a relatively cool environment to a hot and humid environment can cause the lens to fog. Merely wiping the lens with a lens cloth will only provide a temporary solution, as the lens will then continue to fog up until it has warmed up to closer to the ambient air temperature.

For example, when I am teaching onboard a cruise ship in a tropical environment such as the Caribbean, my camera is kept in an air-conditioned room. If I see something that warrants capturing photos, I can grab my camera and head outside. However, because the lens will be relatively cold at that point, the front element will immediately fog up. If I wait about five minutes, the lens will warm up closer to the ambient air temperature, and the fogging goes away with no additional intervention required.

In this type of situation, you can avoid the fogging by keeping the camera stored somewhere where it will remain at about the ambient temperature. That could be an area of a vehicle, provided the camera won’t be exposed to extreme heat in this case. If the camera is already at about the ambient temperature, you would not see condensation as you do when taking a cool camera into a warm and humid environment.

However, there may be some concern of relatively long-term exposure to humidity, which have the potential to create problems for the camera. Therefore, I would suggest taking steps to keep the camera dry while at the same time keeping the camera at about the ambient temperature. For example, you could put the camera in a plastic bag that can be sealed, and include a desiccant in the bag with the camera. This will help ensure the humidity is relatively low in the bag, helping to keep the camera in conditions that are well within the operating limits recommended by the manufacturer.

Testing Lightroom CC

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Today’s Question: Is it possible to test [the new] Adobe Lightroom CC without losing Lightroom Classic CC?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can test Lightroom CC without disturbing Lightroom Classic. I do, however, recommend only working with a test set of photos for this purpose.

More Detail: The new cloud-based Lightroom CC provides online synchronization of all of the original image files within your library, which is a key feature that many photographers may find intriguing. Of course, there are still key features that are not available within Lightroom CC, which means it may be too soon for some photographers to adopt this new software.

The best way to get a sense of whether Lightroom CC might work for you is to take advantage of the free trial for this new software. But, of course, you don’t want to create any problems for your Lightroom Classic catalog when you are performing this testing.

Lightroom CC will have its own library that is separate of the Lightroom Classic catalog. Note, however, that synchronization with Lightroom CC requires that you first disable synchronization with Lightroom Classic. That means if you later decide that Lightroom CC is not for you that you’ll need to re-enable synchronization in Lightroom Classic, and that all folders you had enabled for synchronization will need to be re-synchronized. Other than that, as long as you work with duplicate images, there aren’t any risks associated with testing Lightroom CC.

I do recommend exporting copies of a variety of your photos from Lightroom Classic, using the “Original” option for the Image Format popup in the File Settings section of the Export dialog. You can then add the images in that folder into the Lightroom CC library for testing purposes. When you’re finished testing, you could simply delete all of those photos since they are just copies of your “real” originals.

Provided you work with duplicate copies of specific photos in Lightroom CC, and don’t import any of the actual source photos that are being managed by Lightroom Classic, you can have both applications installed on your computer so you can determine which provides the best solution for your workflow.

You can view a webinar presentation that talked about Lightroom CC versus Lightroom Classic on my “Tim Grey TV” channel on YouTube here:

https://youtu.be/Os0-QNG1wjw

And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you can receive future updates with new videos!

Batch Actions

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Today’s Question: In your answer about using an action in Photoshop to add a watermark to an image you said it was possible to apply the action to multiple images at once using a batch process. How do you initiate that batch processing?

Tim’s Quick Answer: My recommendation is to start with Adobe Bridge, selecting the photos you want to process with an action and then choosing Tools > Photoshop > Batch from the menu to get started batch processing the images.

More Detail: The first step is to use Adobe Bridge to select the photos you want to batch process with an action in Photoshop. You can make use of all of the various features in Bridge for this purpose, such as applying filters to narrow the range of images you’re viewing, and then selecting only the images you actually want to process.

Once you’ve selected the images you want to process, you can go to the menu in Adobe Bridge and choose Tools > Photoshop > Batch. This will cause Photoshop to be launched if it wasn’t already running, and the Batch dialog will appear.

Because you selected the images for processing using Adobe Bridge, the source of images to process will already be selected. You can then select the set (folder) that contains the action you want to use from the Set popup, and then the specific action from the Action popup.

You can then choose how you want to save the images from the Destination popup. Note that when you’ll be using an action for batch processing, it is generally necessary (or at least helpful) to include a Save As command as part of the action, so that step in the action can determine the settings for saving the images as part of the batch processing.

As a general rule I recommend using the Folder option from the Destination popup, because this will cause additional copies of the source images to be saved in a new location. In other words, the source images will remain unaltered, with new copies created as part of the batch processing.

After choosing the Folder option, you will want to turn on the “Override Action ‘Save As’ Commands”. In other words, for batch processing with an action you’ll generally want to include a Save As step to define how the images should be saved, but then you’ll need to override that step so that the images are saved individually in the location you specify in the Batch dialog, rather than in the location and with the filename that is included as part of the original action you recorded.

There are other options that may be applicable to some workflows, but in general the above process will work for most scenarios. Once you have defined the settings for batch processing, you can click the OK button to initiate processing of the images you selected in Adobe Bridge, using the selected action created within Photoshop.

Note that it is possible to initiate batch processing directly from within Photoshop as well. You can get started by choosing File > Automate > Batch from the menu. The challenge is that with this approach you either need to process a full folder of images, or to open all of the images first. In other words, the advantage of initiating this process with Adobe Bridge is that you’re able to filter and select photos from any source and then process only the selected images.

Backup Metadata Automatically

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Today’s Question: Can you expand on the last paragraph of the November 29th newsletter?:

<<Note that if you had enabled the option to save metadata out to the actual image files, this process would effectively recover the majority of the metadata that had been included in your Lightroom catalog, including all of the adjustments you had applied to your photos.>>

Tim’s Quick Answer: There is an option in the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom that enables you to have metadata updates saved automatically to the actual image files on your hard drive. This can help minimize the risk of data loss in the event the Lightroom catalog becomes corrupted, or if you decide to no longer use Lightroom in your workflow.

More Detail: I recommend turning on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox in the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom. You can find this dialog on the Lightroom menu on the Macintosh version, or on the Edit menu on the Windows version. The checkbox is located on the Metadata tab within the Catalog Settings dialog.

With this option turned on, all standard metadata values (such as star ratings and keywords) will be saved to the actual image files on your hard drive as soon as you apply those updates in Lightroom (or the next time those photos are available if you’re working with photos that are offline). In addition to standard metadata, the settings for your Develop module adjustments are included.

It is important to note that not all updates you apply in Lightroom will be saved to your image files when you enable this option. Features that are essentially Lightroom-specific, with no standard metadata field associated with them, will not be saved to the files. So Pick and Reject flags, membership in Collections, the History states found in the Develop module, and Virtual Copies will not be backed up with this feature.

Note, by the way, that for raw captures the updates will be saved to an XMP sidecar file alongside the original capture. Other supported image formats (such as DNG, JPEG, and TIFF) will have metadata updates saved to the files themselves.

And yes, when you enable this option, Lightroom will go back and save all prior metadata updates for your existing images.

If for any reason you lose your Lightroom catalog, you could create a new catalog and import all of the photos from your hard drive. With the metadata saved to your actual image files, all of that information will then be included in that new Lightroom catalog.

Just note, as indicated above, that features based on Lightroom-specific features would have been lost in this scenario, meaning it would generally be preferred to recover from a backup Lightroom catalog as compared to depending on the saved metadata. But, if you don’t tend to make use of the features that can’t be saved to metadata, this wouldn’t be a significant concern.

Automated Watermark

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Today’s Question: Would you tell me how I can place a watermark on my images as an action [in Photoshop]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The basic process here involves recording an action that includes (among other steps) the task of adding a text layer with your particular watermark text onto the image, and then playing that action for all other images you want to watermark in the same way (perhaps with batch processing).

More Detail: The first step is to open an image that you can use as a reference for creating your action. After opening such an image, I recommend creating a duplicate copy for purposes of creating your action. You can do so by choosing Image > Duplicate from the menu, and then clicking the OK button in the Duplicate Image dialog.

Next, choose Window > Actions to bring up the Actions panel. If needed you can create a new folder for this action (and others) by clicking the “Create New Set” button (the folder icon) at the bottom of the Actions panel, typing a name, and clicking OK.

To start creating the action, click on the “Create New Action” button (the blank sheet of paper icon) at the bottom of the Actions panel. In the New Action dialog you can enter a name for the action (such as “Watermark”), confirm which Set (folder) you want to include the action in, and assign a keyboard shortcut if you’d like for faster access to playing the action for other images. Then click the Record button to start recording the steps in your action.

You can then perform the tasks you want to include as part of the action. For example, I would probably include a step to flatten the image, so you can more easily align the watermark with the Background image layer. So, you could choose Layer > Flatten Image for example to flatten the current image.

Next, choose the Type tool and click in the image to start typing text, selecting the text if you’d like to change attributes such as the font and size. When you’re finished you can click the Commit button (the checkmark icon) on the Options bar.

To align the text within the image (which in turn will ensure the text is in the same position for horizontal versus vertical images, for example) you’ll want to first select the text and Background layer. Since the text layer will currently be active (since you just created it) you can simply hold the Shift key on the keyboard and click the thumbnail for the Background image layer to select both layers.

Now you can choose the Move tool from the toolbox, and then click the applicable alignment buttons on the Options bar. For example, you might click the “Align Right Edges” button and then the “Align Bottom Edges” button to align the text to the bottom-right corner of the image. I would then suggestion holding the Shift key on the keyboard while pressing the up arrow button followed by the left arrow button (in this example) to move the text layer a short distance away from the absolute corner of the photo.

If you will be using the action for batch processing, you’ll generally want to include a step for saving the resulting image as the final step within your action. This will define the file format and options to be used for saving the image, which can then be used as part of the basis of batch processing. If you won’t be batch processing, you may not want to include a Save command as part of the action, but this depends of course on the specific details of your workflow.

When you’re finished performing the steps you want to include in the action, click the “Stop Recording” button (the square icon) at the bottom of the Actions panel. You can then open another image, select the action from the Actions panel, and click the Play button (the right-pointing triangle icon) to play the action for the current image. Or you could initiate a batch process for the action from Adobe Bridge.

Note that this type of approach involves setting the text for your watermark at a particular point size. As a result, the action will only work well if the images you’re preparing for output with a watermark are of approximately the same overall pixel dimensions.