Drive Visibility in Lightroom

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Today’s Question: I have two external hard drives attached to my MacBook Pro but they do not show up on the left panel in the Library module in Lightroom [Classic CC]. Is there a way to get them to appear there? I can still see all my files on both drives but the drives are not listed under the Folders heading as volumes.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In order to see folders (or photos) from an external drive in Lightroom Classic CC, you need to import the photos into your Lightroom catalog using the “Add” option. After the photos have been imported if you don’t see the folders in the Folders section of the left panel in the Library module, you can click the heading for the hard drive itself in that Folders section to expand the list of folders below.

More Detail: In order to view and manage folders and photos in Lightroom Classic CC you must import the photos into your Lightroom catalog. When it comes to photos that are already stored in their intended location (such as an external hard drive) you would select the “Add” option from the top-center of the Import dialog after clicking the Import button at the bottom of the left panel in the Library module to get started with the import.

In addition to the “Add” option, you can specify the source of photos to be imported, including being able to select an entire hard drive as the source of photos to import, and to include all subfolders on that drive in a single import operation. There are also a handful of additional options on the right panel in the Import dialog.

Once you have imported existing photos using the “Add” option in the Import dialog, you can see all of the folders that contain photos that were imported under the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module. Folders will be displayed under a heading for the individual hard drives you have imported photos from (or copied to in the case of importing new captures from a media card).

If the folder view for a hard drive has been collapsed, you won’t see any folders below the header for that drive. You can click the header for the drive to collapse the view (and hide the folders), or click again to expand the view and reveal the folders.

Note that after importing photos into your Lightroom catalog, you’ll be able to view those photos within Lightroom, even if the external hard drive containing those photos is not currently connected to your computer.

Color Profile Mismatch

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Today’s Question: When opening a photo from Adobe Bridge to Photoshop I get a message that the document has an embedded color profile that does not match the RGB working space (Monitor RGB – Color LCD Calibrated4). It offers me the option to use the embedded profile, convert to the working space, or discard the profile. Which choice would you choose and how do you change permanently your choice?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general you will want to convert the profile to your working space when you get a color profile mismatch message in Photoshop. However, if you want to ensure you are maintaining the color appearance of a source image file, especially if the file was received from someone else. However, in this case you also have your working space in Photoshop set to your display profile, which is not a configuration I recommend using.

More Detail: The working space profile in Photoshop can be set in the Color Settings dialog accessible from the Edit menu in Photoshop. The working space profile should generally be set to a profile created for this purpose. When in doubt the Adobe RGB (1998) profile is a good option. If you want maximum potential in terms of color gamut and always work in 16-bit per channel mode, the ProPhoto RGB profile is a good choice. And some photographers will want to use sRGB if they generally have their images printed by common photo printing services.

When you open an image that has an embedded profile different from the working space profile you have established in Color Settings, you will see an alert about this issue as long as you have enabled the “Ask When Opening” checkboxes within the Color Settings dialog.

When there is a profile mismatch, you have three choices. You should choose “Use the embedded profile” if you don’t want to convert the image to the working space profile, such as to evaluate the “native” appearance of the image. You could always convert the image to the working space profile later in your workflow.

In most cases you would want to choose the “Convert” option, so that the color information is converted to your working space. This provides greater consistency in your workflow, and will generally result in minor (if any) change in appearance for the image.

In general you would never want to use the “Discard” option, as doing so means you are not actually managing the colors in your photo.

Note that the topic of profile mismatches in Photoshop is covered in the “Photoshop Profile Alerts” lesson (Lesson 2 of Chapter 4) of my “Color Management for Photographers” course. You can get a 50% discount on this course by using coupon code color50 at checkout, or by using this link to get started with the discount applied automatically:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/color?coupon=color50

Photo Buttons

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Today’s Question: I remember seeing a video lesson where you demonstrated how to make a button featuring a photo. I’ve been asked to provide some photos for a fundraising event and thought a photo button would be a good promotional gift to provide attendees. Can you point me to the information about what you recommend for creating photo buttons?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The video you’re referring to was an episode of “Tim Grey TV”, filmed on location at the headquarters of American Button Machines. They sell all of the equipment, supplies, and software you need to create buttons featuring photos or other artwork. You can find my video about creating a photo button on the Tim Grey TV channel on YouTube here [https://youtu.be/EaTgqyke-9I]:

More Detail: When I had the opportunity to visit the American Button Machines headquarters I was surprised at the wide variety of buttons you could create featuring photos or other artwork. I imagine just about everyone is familiar with the traditional “pinback” buttons. In addition there are also a wide variety of variations on this concept, including buttons with a mirror on the back, buttons that function as a bottle opener, and many other options.

I think photo buttons can certainly be a great way to promote a charitable organization or event. For example, the owner of American Buttons Machines is also an accomplished photographer, and creates photo buttons for events supporting a raptor rehabilitation center.

If you’re just getting started creating buttons, and specifically want to create buttons that feature your photography, I recommend considering a kit that includes supplies for 2.25-inch, 3-inch, or 3.5-inch buttons. You can find kits for these photo-friendly button sizes on the American Button Machines website here:

[https://www.americanbuttonmachines.com/collections/photo-button-making-kits]

You may also find it helpful to review some of the informative videos available on the American Button Machines website, which you can find here:

https://www.americanbuttonmachines.com/pages/video-library

And finally, if you decide to purchase a photo button kit, if you use coupon code TGPHOTO during checkout you’ll get a free year of button making software (an $82.95 value) with your purchase. You’ll also get free UPS Ground shipping on the kit to the lower 48 states.

Traveling Workflow

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Today’s Question: Which computer do you use in the field? And is it mainly to download and get a quick look at your images or do you do any initial adjustments in Lightroom or Photoshop as well?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When traveling I use a 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop (https://timgrey.me/macbookpro18), both for image download, review, and initial editing, as well as all the other work I need to keep up with along the way. In fact, about ten years or so ago, I switched to using a laptop as my exclusive computer, doing away with my desktop computer.

More Detail: My needs are probably not representative of most photographers, but I do think they are similar to what many photographers might need at least when they are traveling for photography.

I bring a laptop with me on virtually every trip, not because I necessarily need it for managing or processing my photos, but because I need additional utility along the way. For example, even on extended trips I still produce new video content for GreyLearning, continue publishing the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, and more.

While I do need the additional power of a computer for tasks beyond my photography, I still also prefer having a laptop for my photography workflow when on the road. I simply find I prefer the additional features available with a laptop as compared to something like a tablet or portable storage device.

Part of my reasoning for traveling with a laptop is that it enables me to maintain my normal photographic workflow no matter where I am. I travel with a laptop and external hard drives, so I can work with new and old photos along the way. I use Adobe Lightroom Classic CC (https://timgrey.me/creativecloud) as the foundation of my workflow. With my Lightroom catalog stored on the internal hard drive of my laptop, I’m able to work with my photos from virtually anywhere.

While traveling I download my photos into my Lightroom catalog, copying the image files to an external hard drive (and to a backup drive). I then at the very least identify favorite photos along the way, and optimize and share the photos I consider to be my best.

There are obviously other potential solutions, such as to use the cloud-based Lightroom CC to work from a mobile device such as an iPad. But my preference is to travel with a laptop so I have greater utility while traveling.

Shutter Speed for Video

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Today’s Question: When I’m capturing video on my digital SLR, the shutter speed can only be set as slow as 1/30th of a second. But there doesn’t seem to be any limit to how fast a shutter speed I can use. Is there any guideline on what shutter speed I should use when shooting video?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Generally speaking you will want to use a relatively slow shutter speed for video, for a smoother playback experience. Using fast shutter speeds can result in a video that has a bit of a stuttering appearance. I generally aim for shutter speeds of around 1/30th to 1/60th of a second.

More Detail: There has long been a rule of thumb in video that the shutter speed should be half the duration of each frame based on the recording and playback speed. For example, many videos are recorded at 30 frames per second (fps), which would mean a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second would be good.

I don’t consider it critical to strictly follow this “rule”, but it does provide a good general guideline. If you use a very fast shutter speed for video, the playback will have a stuttering appearance. By using a shutter speed that is close to the duration each frame will be visible in the video, you’ll get a more natural and generally pleasing appearance for the video.

The only time I would use a faster shutter speed than about 1/60th of a second for video is if it was important to freeze action in the video. For example, you may have noticed when watching movies that if the camera pans across a scene, it is often impossible to read words on signs that appear in the frame, because at a shutter speed of about 1/30th of a second the panning movement is enough to cause motion blur for each frame in the video.

So, opt for a shutter speed of about 1/60th of a second as a general rule for video. You may find a neutral density filter helpful for this purpose, especially if you want to keep the lens aperture relatively wide open to achieve narrow depth of field. Only use fast shutter speeds for videos where it is important to freeze the action, keeping in mind that the video will have a somewhat stuttering appearance when fast shutter speeds are used.

Download Connection

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Today’s Question: Is there a preferred method for downloading images to the computer, such as connecting the camera to the computer via a cable versus inserting the memory card into the computer’s card slot?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In terms of reliability, connecting a camera to your computer or using a card reader are generally about the same. However, I recommend using a card reader for better performance and less risk to your camera.

More Detail: Generally speaking you will get the same reliable transfer of data whether you’re using a card reader or a direct camera connection to download photos to your computer. That said, I do think there is a slightly higher risk of having problems with a direct camera connection, simply because a camera tends to get abused in the field a bit more than a card reader. But if there is a problem with the camera in terms of downloading photos, there may also be a problem capturing photos in the first place. In other words, I wouldn’t consider this to be a major cause for concern.

However, in most cases you will be able to download photos faster with a card reader than with a camera connected directly to your computer. More importantly from my perspective, I prefer using a card reader in order to avoid putting my camera at risk. I’m simply worried that with my camera directly connected to my computer with a cable, there’s too much risk that I’ll manage to snag the cable and knock my camera to the floor.

So, both for performance benefits and keeping your camera safe, I recommend keeping your camera in the camera bag, opting for a card reader to download photos to your computer.

Transform Confusion

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Today’s Question: When resizing a layer in a composite image in Photoshop, I used to be able to hold the Shift key while dragging the mouse to lock the aspect ratio for the layer so the image wouldn’t get distorted. With a recent update that isn’t working anymore. How do I get the Shift key working again for resizing layers?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Transform feature now maintains the aspect ratio by default for a layer you are resizing. So, without holding the Shift key you’ll maintain the aspect ratio, and you can hold the Shift key if you want to alter the aspect ratio while resizing.

More Detail: In earlier version of Photoshop if you were using one of the Transform commands to resize an image layer or layer mask, you needed to hold the Shift key if you wanted to maintain the aspect ratio while dragging the handle for one of the corners of the layer. With a recent update to Photoshop CC, however, the behavior is now reversed.

So, if you want to retain the aspect ratio when resizing using one of the Transform commands, simply drag the handle at any corner of the image you’re resizing. You don’t need to hold the Shift key, as the aspect ratio will be retained automatically. If you do want to alter the aspect ratio while resizing, simply hold the Shift key as you drag the handle for one of the corners.

Note that the various Transform commands can be found on the Edit menu in Photoshop. For most of my resizing I use the Free Transform command, which you can activate by choosing Edit > Free Transform from the menu. In addition, you can access additional types of transformations by looking at the submenu under Edit > Transform on the menu.

DNG to Raw

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Today’s Question: I originally imported files in Lightroom Classic CC as DNG files. I switched to importing the CR2 [original raw capture] files a few years back. When I go to the menu and choose Edit > Preferences > File Handling > File Extensions, the only options I see are dng or DNG. How do I make the change back to CR2? And what’s the difference between dng and DNG?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The filename extension (which can be upper or lower case) reflects the file type. While you can convert an original raw capture to the Adobe DNG (Digital Negative) file type, you can’t convert a DNG file to a proprietary raw capture format. Your only option would be to extract the proprietary raw capture file from the DNG if it was embedded originally, or to recover the proprietary raw capture files from a backup.

More Detail: The Adobe DNG file format was created as an alternative to the many varieties of proprietary raw capture formats created by camera manufacturers. Some cameras include the option to capture in the Adobe DNG format in place of the proprietary raw capture format. In addition, when importing photos into Lightroom Classic CC you have the option to convert your raw captures to the DNG format. To do so you select the “Copy as DNG” option (rather than the “Copy” option) when configuring the import for your new photos.

It is not possible to convert and Adobe DNG file to a proprietary raw capture format. However, if you embedded the original raw capture in the DNG file, you can use the Adobe DNG Converter application to extract that embedded raw capture. This would be done using the DNG Converter directly, outside of Lightroom.

The option to embed the original proprietary raw capture in the DNG file would need to have been selected before importing (or otherwise converting) to create DNG files from your proprietary raw captures. That option can be found on the File Handling tab of the Preferences dialog in Lightroom. Simply turn on the “Embed Original Raw File” checkbox, and when you create DNG images the original raw will be embedded as part of the file.

If you did not use the option to embed the original raw capture in the DNG files you created, the only option would be to recover from a backup copy of the original proprietary raw captures. However, if you used the “Copy to DNG” option during import, you may not have such a backup. Unless you manually copied the files yourself, the only backup of the original raw capture files would have been created if you made use of the “Make a Second Copy To” option in the Import dialog. That would cause a copy of the original raw captures from your media card to be copied to the designated location. When copying as a DNG file, the original raw capture file is not retained, so this backup option during import would provide the only other way to access the raw captures.

Dangerous to Delete In-Camera?

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Today’s Question: I’ve heard it may not be a good thing to delete shots from the memory card while it’s in the camera body. Does this hurt the card or the camera?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Deleting photos from a media card in the camera does not harm the camera or the media card. It is perfectly safe to delete images directly on the camera.

More Detail: I have frequently gotten this question from photographers, and have heard more than a few people give the advice that deleting in the camera could lead to corrupted images or damage to the media card. That is not true.

Media cards (and cameras) have gotten quite sophisticated, and do a very good job of managing the data stored on the media card. In many respects a media card functions very similar to a traditional hard drive, though with obvious differences based on the different storage media involved.

With these types of storage devices, when a file is deleted the space it was occupying is marked as being available. Other files can then be written in that space on the media. With both hard drives and flash-based media, a single file might be spread across a number of non-contiguous areas of the media. I suspect this attribute of media card storage may be what causes some to conclude that deleting files could lead to file corruption.

Rest assured it is perfectly safe to delete files from a media card directly on your camera. Deleting on the camera can also be helpful, both in terms of freeing up space on the card and deleting outtakes before you get back to your computer. Just be sure you don’t miss a great photo opportunity because you were busy reviewing photos on the back of the camera!

Maximize Compatibility Unnecessary?

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Today’s Question: You suggested that the Maximize Compatibility for Photoshop PSD files wasn’t required to open an older PSD file with the latest version of Photoshop. If that’s the case, is there any reason to actually use Maximize Compatibility?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Maximize Compatibility option for Photoshop PSD (and PSB) files is not generally critical for photographers using a workflow that revolves around Photoshop. If you are using (or planning to use) Lightroom, however, you will want to enable the Maximize Compatibility feature. The Maximize Compatibility option also enables you to preview PSD files with other software applications, and ensures that an image will maintain the same appearance even if opened with a significantly different version of Photoshop than it was created with.

More Detail: As you are probably already aware, in Photoshop you can create images with a variety of different image and adjustment layers. To retain layers in an image, you need to save it as either a TIFF or Photoshop PSD file. With the Photoshop PSD file format you have the option to enable a “Maximize Compatibility” feature. Note that enabling the Maximize Compatibility option will double the base file size for the image, so you may not want to use it unless you absolutely need it in your workflow.

On the File Handling tab of the Preferences dialog in Photoshop you’ll find an option for maximizing compatibility for PSD (and PSB) files. You can always enable the Maximize Compatibility feature, never enable it, or have Photoshop ask you whether you want this option enabled each time you save a Photoshop PSD file.

When you enable the Maximize Compatibility feature, you are essentially saving a flattened copy of the image as an additional layer, beyond the image and adjustment layers you would otherwise see on the Layers panel. This serves two basic features.

First, with this flattened composite layer as part of the file, other software applications can render proper previews of the image. Note that Lightroom does require that Maximize Compatibility be turned on in order to import these files into the catalog.

Second, the Maximize Compatibility option helps ensure an image can retain the same appearance even if it is opened with a different version of Photoshop than it was created with. For example, the algorithms for some of the adjustment layers have been changed from time to time. If you open a PSD image from an older version of Photoshop with a version that uses different algorithms, the appearance of the image would be altered. With Maximize Compatibility enabled, you can essentially open a flattened version of the image that looks accurate, or a layered version that may not be accurate.

So, Lightroom users most certainly need to enable Maximize Compatibility for all PSD files they will manage within Lightroom. Photographers who won’t be using Lightroom generally don’t need to enable this option.