Organizing Files by Type


Today’s Question: I used to take everything in JPEG, then I moved to taking everything in JPEG and RAW, and now I take everything in RAW only. So I have a mix. What do you think is the best way to manage a mix of JPEG, RAW, and video captures in terms of folder structure? Do you suggest keeping individual folders for the RAW, JPEG, and video files, or would you mix RAW and JPEG in the one folder for the one shoot?

Tim’s Quick Answer: My personal preference is to use my folder structure as an organizational tool on a per trip or photo shoot basis, and not divide my photos up any further based on date, file format, or other criteria. So in this type of situation I would keep all of the photos from a given shoot, whether RAW, JPEG, or video clips, in the same folder.

More Detail: It is important to keep in mind that with today’s image management software we are able to filter our photos and video clips in a wide variety of ways. You can filter by date of capture, by file type, by camera model, by lens model, and any of a number of other factors. This plays a significant role in my decision to keep all photos and videos from a given shoot in the same folder. This approach provides greater flexibility, in my view.

When I want to see all of the photos from a given shoot, I can simply select that folder and turn off any filters. When I want to filter the images based on particular criteria, I can very easily do that. So to me it simply makes more sense (and helps avoid confusion) to use folders only for dividing images based on a trip or photo shoot, and to use filters to otherwise choose which specific images I’m able to see at a given moment.

Part of my motivation here is to streamline my workflow, and to ensure that I am not duplicating criteria unnecessarily. For example, I don’t need to divide the photos from a single trip into individual folders by date, because I can very easily filter by date (or a date range) once I have navigated to a given folder. And in situations where I want to be able to search among all photos from a given multi-day trip, having a single folder from the trip provides a benefit.

To be sure, different photographers have different perspectives and different priorities when it comes to organizing their photos and video clips. You may read my explanation here and decide you want to take a very different approach to folder structure. Frankly, I consider any folder structure that works for you is a great solution. I just feel it is important to consider the factors involved and make sure the approach you’re using really is the best approach based on your individual needs and preferences.

Disable Photos Auto-Launch


Today’s Question: I use Lightroom on a Macintosh, which means I also have the Apple Photos app, which I don’t use. Do you know of a way to stop the Photos app from launching every time I connect a camera or insert a card in a card reader?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The solution here is to turn off the “Open Photos for this device” checkbox on the Import tab in Photos. The catch is that you’ll need to do this for every photo device you might connect to the computer. The alternative is to remove the Photos application altogether.

More Detail: You may have been simply closing the Photos application each time it launches, meaning you may have never actually gotten into the “full” application. So, next time you connect a camera or other device with photos, go ahead and click the “Get Started” button to enter the full application. Then, in the Import tab you’ll see your device listed on the toolbar, with a checkbox for “Open Photos for this device”. Turn off that checkbox, and Photos will no longer launch when you connect that specific device.

Again, as noted above, you’ll need to repeat this step for every photo device (cameras, smartphones, card readers, etc.) that you connect to your computer. But once you’ve turned off the “Open Photos for this device” checkbox for all devices the Photos application won’t launch when you connect those devices to your computer.

And, of course, if you’re not going to use the Photos application at all, you could uninstall it from your computer. Of course, chances are a future operating system update will cause Photos to be installed yet again.

Image Size versus Canvas Size


Today’s Question: I was wondering if you could explain the differences in Photoshop of canvas size and image size. I am confused as to their differences especially when printing. For example I would like to print as an 8×10 on 11.5 x 8.5 with an even white border all around. Is that possible?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Both the Image Size and Canvas Size commands in Photoshop allow you to change the overall dimensions of an image, but they operate in different ways. I think the best way to understand each of these commands is to consider when you would use each of them. The Image Size command is used when you want to change the size of an image, such as to print at a different size than the native pixel dimensions of the image. The Canvas Size command is used for adding space around a photo or essentially cropping the image by reducing the available space.

More Detail: For example, let’s assume you have an image that is currently sized at 8-inches by 12-inches at 300 pixels per inch (2,400 by 3,600 pixels). If you want to print that image at 20-inches by 30-inches, you need to change the pixel dimensions of the actual image. In other words, the image needs to be “stretched” to contain 6,000 by 9,000 pixels. In the process, pixel values need to be calculated for all of the “in between” pixels that are created when the photo is enlarged.

The Canvas Size command allows you to add space around an image, or to effectively crop an image. So, for example, let’s assume you want to print a photo at 11-inches by 17-inches, but on a 13-inch by 19-inch sheet of paper. This doesn’t actually require you to add canvas around the photo. If you print an image sized at 11×17 inches to a sheet of paper that is 13×19 inches, centering the printed image will automatically result in empty space around the photo.

However, let’s assume you want to have a colored border around the outside of the image, to simulate an effect similar to matting the image. You could use the Canvas Size command to add two inches to the width and height of the image, using an underlying color layer to apply the color to the “extra” space that is created around the photo.

What all of this really means is that for most photographers with typical workflows, the Image Size command is the only command you need when you need to adjust the output size of a photo. The Canvas Size command, however, can be very helpful in certain specialized situations, where you’re essentially going beyond simply working with the image and instead performing some tasks related to page layout.

15 Years of Ask Tim Grey!


Today marks the 15-year anniversary of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter.

cropped-ATGLogoCircle1.pngI had no idea what I was getting myself into when I sent out that first email newsletter. Little did I know I would still be answering questions from photographers through that email newsletter fifteen years later, and that writing those emails would become a major focus of my working life. The time has flown by very quickly, and we’ve seen so much change along the way!

Early questions in the email newsletter (which was called “Digital Darkroom Questions” way back then) related mostly to scanning slides, processing scanned slides in Photoshop, and understanding the potential of digital cameras and when they might replace film.

Today, many of the questions relate to image management, photography, and better understanding the technologies that influence our photography. We’ve transitioned from low-resolution (and heavy!) digital SLR cameras that seemed better at generating noise than creating photographs, to smartphones with greater resolution and higher image quality that fit in our pocket.

I’ve written over 3,000 editions of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter (3,029 as of now, to be exact). I don’t know how any photographers find the time to read the emails, much less how I manage to find the time to write them. But it is so wonderful to have photographers tell me they appreciate the effort.

On more than one occasion when I’ve missed a day or two of the email newsletter due to a hectic schedule, I’ve had photographers write to make sure I was OK, indicating they were worried at the absence of the emails. And a great many photographers have told me how much they enjoy reading the daily emails with their morning cup of coffee.

As a way of celebrating this milestone, I’ve teamed up with some partners to provide discounts on products and services I’ve become a fan of over the years. I am also providing a special offer on a GreyLearning subscription.

You can get all of the details about special “15-Year Anniversary” discounts here:

I am extremely grateful to all photographers who let me into their Inbox with the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter. I appreciate the support I have received and the kind words I’ve heard from photographers for fifteen years and counting. Thank you so very much.

Here’s to another fifteen years!

Tim Grey

Tim Grey

Version Mismatch


Today’s Question: With Adobe not updating Photoshop CS6 with the new profiles, but updating them in Lightroom 6 I now have some questions to ask. When I want to edit an image in Lightroom 6 using Photoshop CS6, I get three options:

1) Render using Lightroom (which gets me a file by the name of filename-Edit.psd)
2) Open Anyway (which gets me a file by the name of filename.psd)
3) Cancel

What is happening with 1 & 2? What conversion am I getting with each?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The choices presented to you translate into whether you want Lightroom (the first option) or Photoshop (the second option) to process the RAW capture. In this case Lightroom has a more recent version of Camera Raw, so you are better off using the “Render Using Lightroom” option.

More Detail: The core issue here is that Lightroom and Photoshop do not have the same version of Camera Raw. As you may be aware, both Photoshop and Lightroom use Camera Raw as the processing engine for RAW captures. When both Lightroom and Photoshop are using the same version of the underlying Camera Raw engine, you will get the exact same results when processing a RAW capture in either Photoshop or Lightroom, and all of the same features will be available.

When there is a mismatch between the version of Camera Raw available in Photoshop and Lightroom, you need to choose which version should be used to process your RAW capture. In this case Lightroom will have a later version of Camera Raw than Photoshop CS6 will have, and so you are better off using Lightroom to process the RAW capture in order to ensure that all of the adjustments you’ve applied within Lightroom will actually be applied to the rendered image.

If you’re concerned about the “-Edit” being added to the filename by Lightroom, that is easy to remove. For derivative images that have already been created, you can simply choose the Rename Photo command from the Library menu after selecting an image in Lightroom. To cause Lightroom to no longer add the “-Edit” text to the filename of derivative images, you can change the Template settings in the Preferences dialog.

To change the file naming template for derivative images, first choose Preferences from the Lightroom menu on the Macintosh version of Lightroom or from the Edit menu on the Windows version of Lightroom. Click the button for the External Editing tab in the Preferences dialog, and then choose Edit from the Template popup at the bottom of the dialog.

In the Filename Template Editor dialog that appears, you can then change the settings for the filename template for derivative images. For example, you could simply remove the “-Edit” text from the template if you want to retain the base filename with a new filename extension (TIF or PSD depending on which file format you’ve chosen to use). Then click the Done button to close the Filename Template Editor dialog, and close the Preferences dialog. Images sent to any external editor (including Photoshop) from that point forward will be named based on the changes you’ve made.

Mysterious Lines


Today’s Question: I’m using the current version of Photoshop and just recently I’ve been getting an artifact (vertical translucent red lines) appearing in the image when making an adjustment on adjustment layers. The problem is intermittent but occurs with regularity. When I flatten the image the artifact disappears. Have you any ideas on how to overcome this problem?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The fact that these lines only appear while you’re working in Photoshop and disappear when you flatten the image is a clear indication to me that the issue at play is the display adapter (graphics processor) in the computer. Turning off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox on the Performance tab of the Preferences dialog will most likely cause this problem to be resolved.

More Detail: The photographer who submitted this question included a sample screen shot image that showed the lines that are appearing on his photos. Those lines resemble corruption artifacts that you might otherwise see with a corrupted digital capture. The fact that these artifacts disappear when the image is flattened suggests that the issue relates to the way the image is being rendered on the screen, not the actual contents of the photo.

Photoshop (among other applications, including Lightroom) makes use of the display adapter (graphics processor) for a variety of tasks, primarily aimed at improving overall performance for the application. Using the graphics processor can most certainly improve performance, but in some cases it can also lead to compatibility issues and stability problems.

Whenever you see visual artifacts that seem to relate to the Photoshop interface, the display adapter is the most likely culprit. For example, I’ve seen issues where the mouse icons for tools will only partially appear. Fortunately, you can easily turn off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox to test whether that resolves the problem. In many cases this does provide a solution.

Turning off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox won’t have any significantly harmful effects on Photoshop, other than a potential degradation in performance for certain processor-intensive tasks. However, certain features that require the graphics processor will be disabled as well, such as the HUD Color Picker. But all of the features that are disabled can be accessed through other means, so you’re not actually losing any core features.

To access the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox you need to bring up the Performance tab of the Preferences dialog. To do so on Macintosh you can choose Photoshop > Preferences > Performance from the menu. On Windows the same menu command can be found under Edit > Preferences > Performance.

Sensor Size and Depth of Field


Today’s Question: A friend has a Canon PowerShot G1X camera and it appears that when we are both photographing the same subject (me a D800E with a Sigma 180mm macro) that he gets a greater depth of field at f/13 than I do at f/22. Is there a way to estimate the f-stop I need to use to get a comparable depth of field using my full frame sensor versus his smaller sensor?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The overall math involved here could certainly be a bit tricky. However, as a general rule if you are adjusting your position to achieve the exact same framing of the scene, on the full-frame sensor you would need to use an f-number that is about double the aperture setting being used on the smaller sensor, bearing in mind that the f-stop is a fraction based on focal length. So, for example, if the G1X sensor is set to f/11, you would need to use about f/22 on the full-frame sensor with the same framing of the subject to achieve the same depth of field.

More Detail: There are a variety of ways you could look at this issue, but I think the key thing to keep in mind is that several factors are impacted by the smaller sensor size. The image sensor on the G1X is considerably smaller than a full-frame sensor (in this case about the size of a four-thirds system sensor). As a result, the framing of the scene will have a narrower field of view compared to the same focal length on a full-frame camera.

It is common with smaller cameras to reference the “effective” focal length of the lens, rather than the actual focal length of the lens. For example, the kit lens for the G1X is often described as having an effective focal length range of 28mm to 112mm. However, the actual lens focal length is 15.1mm to 60.4mm. The smaller sensor is simply cropping the image circle, resulting in the field of view you would achieve with a longer lens on a full-frame camera.

Because of that smaller image circle then, you are able to achieve the same field of view (cropping) for the scene from a greater distance. Focusing at a greater distance results in greater depth of field. This increased depth of field can be a tremendous advantage in some cases, but of course it can be a tremendous (and frustrating!) disadvantage when you are trying to achieve narrow depth of field.

In this type of situation, my personal approach would be to think about the fact that the focusing distance would be greater (or the focal length shorter at the same distance) for the camera with the smaller sensor compared to the camera with a full-frame sensor, rather than trying to think about the difference in aperture setting that would be required. In other words, I would tend to think about the overall concepts rather than trying to do a bunch of math in my head (or taking out my iPhone to use my depth of field calculator).

Adjustment Order


Today’s Question: How do adjustments in Lightroom (for blacks, whites, shadows, clarity, vibrance, etc.) affect noise? Should noise be dealt with first or last, after all other adjustments?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general concept, you can make changes to the various adjustments within Lightroom in any order at all, since the order you apply adjustments doesn’t impact the actual effect of those adjustments. That said, it is important to evaluate the impact of one adjustment on another. For example, if you brighten up shadow detail you may need to increase the strength of noise reduction.

More Detail: Lightroom employs a non-destructive workflow for your photos, meaning that when you are working in the Develop module you aren’t actually changing pixel values in your original capture, but rather creating a set of adjustment metadata that is used to adjust the appearance of your photo within Lightroom, and as the basis of the processing for the photo when you export a copy of a photo.

Among other things, this means you don’t need to apply your adjustments in any particular order to achieve a given result for a photo. In theory, for example, you would want to apply noise reduction before sharpening, so that the sharpening doesn’t enhance the underlying noise. In the case of Lightroom (and also with Adobe Camera Raw), it doesn’t matter whether you adjust the settings for noise reduction or sharpening first. All that matters is the final settings established for these controls.

To be sure, if the noise reduction adjustment doesn’t eliminate the noise altogether, other adjustments may make the noise more visible or more problematic. For example, sharpening can serve to emphasize noise in an image, and brightening shadows can make noise more visible in the photo.

Any adjustment that enhances color or contrast, or that brightens up detail in the photo, has the potential to make noise more visible in the photo. But if the noise reduction settings you’ve applied cause the noise to be mitigated adequately, the effect of those other adjustments on any noise that remains will generally be relatively minor.

Smart Collection Sync?


Today’s Question: I saw your presentation about synchronizing photos from Lightroom so I can view and share those photos on my iPad using Lightroom Mobile. I’ve created a smart collection that includes all of my five-star photos, but there is no checkbox to turn on synchronization for this smart collection. Did I miss a step somewhere?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The issue in this case is that you are using a Smart Collection. At least for now, Lightroom is only able to synchronize images via “normal” Collections. Smart Collections can’t be enabled for synchronization to Lightroom Mobile.

More Detail: I would imagine that at some point in the future Adobe will enable the option to synchronize Smart Collections in additional to “normal” Collections, but that’s just a guess on my part. In the meantime, you’ll need to use standard Collections for synchronization to Lightroom Mobile.

The overall synchronization process is actually very simple. The first step is to make sure synchronization is enabled. To do so, first click on the Identity Plate (the Lightroom logo) at the top-left of the Lightroom interface. You should see a “pause” button (two vertical bars) to the right of the “Sync with Lightroom mobile” item. If you see a “play” button (a right-pointing triangle) or the words “Start” you can click that option to enable synchronization.

Next you need to turn on synchronization for one or more collections. If you’ve not already created a collection, you can do that first. In this case, for example, you might want to go to the Smart Collection you’ve already created. Then select all of the photos (choosing Edit > Select All from the menu, for example). Click the “plus” symbol (+) to the right of the Collections header on the left panel, and choose “Create Collection” from the popup that appears.

In the Create Collection dialog you can enter a meaningful name for the new collection. In this case, since you’ve already selected the photos you want to include in the collection you can turn on the “Included selected photos” checkbox. You can also enable the Collection for synchronization by turning on the “Sync with Lightroom mobile” checkbox. Then click the Create button to close the Create Collection dialog and actually create the new Collection.

At this point you’ll see a small icon that looks something like a lightning bolt to the left of the new Collection you created, indicating that this Collection is being synchronized via Lightroom Mobile. You can click on that icon to disable synchronization, of course. And if you want to enable synchronization for an existing Collection you can click in the space where that icon would appear to enable synchronization.

Once synchronization is complete, you can launch the Lightroom Mobile application on your mobile device in order to access all photos that are included in synchronized Collections.

Scale Styles


Today’s Question: I have always wondered what the option to “Scale Styles” adds to the Image Resize window [in Photoshop Elements, or the Image Size dialog in Photoshop].  I usually click it but don’t know what it contributes to resizing.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “Scale Styles” option relates to any effects you may have applied to an image layer. For example, if you apply a Drop Shadow to an image layer, with the “Scale Styles” option turned on the Drop Shadow will also be resized in proportion to the change in size of the photo. With the option turned off, the Drop Shadow would remain at the same size, even though the photo itself would change in size.

More Detail: In Photoshop Elements and older versions of Photoshop, the “Scale Styles” option is available as a checkbox in the Image Resize dialog (or Image Size dialog in Photoshop). You can simply turn this checkbox on to have any layer effects you’ve applied to the photo scaled in proportion to the degree to which you are resizing the photo. Or, if you want to resize the photo without resizing the layer effects, you can turn this checkbox off.

In newer versions of Photoshop, the Scale Styles checkbox is no longer included within the dialog, but the feature is still available. Simply click the “gear” icon toward the top-right of the Image Size dialog to disable or enable the Scale Styles option.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but if you have not applied any layer styles to any of the layers within an image, it doesn’t make any difference whether the Scale Styles option is enabled or disabled.