Unsupported Raw Captures

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Today’s Question: I have just purchased and am shooting with a Canon 5D Mark IV camera. I loved it until I went to download the raw files into Lightroom only to find that I am unable to! Any fixes or a way to get around this?!

Tim’s Quick Answer: Your camera (along with many newer camera models) is supported by Lightroom. So your issue would suggest that either you aren’t using an updated version of Lightroom, or that you’re running into an issue where the Creative Cloud application doesn’t show you that updates are available.

More Detail: When a new camera model is released, there’s a good chance that the new camera will make use of a new raw capture format. That, in turn, means that you’ll need to update your software to a version that supports the new raw capture format. If you don’t have support for the latest raw capture format, there are three issues that may result.

First, of course, it is possible that the software you’re using has not yet been updated to support the new capture format. If that’s the case, you’ll either need to use different software (such as that provided by your camera manufacturer) or simply wait until the software you use is updated. In this case, however, Lightroom has indeed been updated to support the Canon 5D Mark IV.

The second issue would be a need to update Lightroom to a new version that supports the new raw capture format. In general this would involve going to the Apps tab of the Creative Cloud application, where you should find an indication that there is a new version of Lightroom available and ready to be installed. If so, you can click the “Update” button associated with Lightroom to install the new version. You can also access updates by choosing Help > Updates from the menu within Lightroom.

The third possibility is that you are running into an issue where new updates are not listed for you in the Creative Cloud application. If so, one of the solutions provided on Adobe’s support website will hopefully solve your issue. You can find the details of recommended solutions on Adobe’s website here:

https://helpx.adobe.com/creative-cloud/kb/creative-cloud-application-recognizing-available.html

Histogram Mismatch

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Today’s Question: I have noticed that the histogram I can display on my digital SLR with live view enabled does not always match the histogram for the actual photo I capture. In some cases the live view histogram shows no clipping, and then there is clipping in the captured photo. Why don’t the histograms match?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The exposure preview and histogram available with live view is an estimation of what the final exposure will look like, but it can’t be expected to be completely accurate because the live view histogram preview is not based on the exact photographic exposure you will produce when you capture an image.

More Detail: This question was actually posed during my current photo workshop in the remarkable Palouse region of eastern Washington State. The example I provided to clarify the difference between the preview histogram and the final histogram related to exposure time.

If you consider that you might have your camera configured for a 30-second exposure, I think it is easier to understand that you can’t expect the image preview or histogram on the live view display to be completely accurate. After all, you can see the live view preview and histogram instantly, while the photo will require thirty seconds to actually capture. So the camera in this case would need to apply amplification to the signal being gathered by the sensor to enable the live view display, in order to simulate what the actual exposure will look like.

In some ways this is similar to the fact that the live view display will show you what the scene looks like with a wide-open lens aperture, even if you’ve set the aperture to be stopped down by several stops. You would need to press the depth of field preview button to see the actual depth of field you can expect, and even then the exposure is once again a simulation enabled by amplification of the signal being received by the image sensor for the live view display.

Having said all that, the histogram based on a simulated exposure for the live view display will generally be reasonably accurate. However, especially in situations where the light is very tricky, such as with high contrast for a sunset scene, you can expect some variability between the histogram you see in the live view display and the final result for the actual capture.

Hard Drive Confusion

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Today’s Question: My pictures are on an external hard drive. On a recent trip I left this drive at home and took a new hard drive along. The new drive was assigned the same drive letter as the existing drive. I use Lightroom Classic CC and have one catalog. As Windows does not recognize two hard drives with the letter D, I changed one to E. Now there is a question mark on all pictures. How do I go from here?

Tim’s Quick Answer: All you need to do in order to resolve this issue is to reconnect the missing folders so Lightroom is looking for them in the right place. To do so, right-click on a folder that appear missing and choose the “Find Missing Folder” command. Then navigate to that folder on the applicable hard drive, and click the “Choose” button. The folder will then no longer appear as a missing folder, and will move to a separate heading for the new hard drive on the Folders list in the Library module.

More Detail: When you import photos into your Lightroom catalog, the source files are referenced based on the hard drive, folder location, and filename. If any of those three attributes are changed, the affected photos (and possibly folders) will appear as missing in Lightroom.

This question relates to the simplest correction, since only the drive letter (or volume label for Macintosh users) has changed. In some cases you would correct this by simply changing the drive letter (or volume label) back to what Lightroom is expecting. In this case, of course, the issue is that the same drive letter was assigned to two different drives.

Therefore, you will find that photos from both the D and E drives will appear in Lightroom as being on the D drive, because they were imported to a drive with the same drive letter assignment. Therefore, you simply need to reconnect the folders that are now on the E drive. So, here you would right-click on a missing folder, navigate to the E drive, select the folder with the same name as the one you right-clicked on, and click the Choose button. That folder will then no longer be missing, and the photos within the folder will also be reconnected. You can repeat this process as needed for any other missing folders.

Number of Focus Points

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Today’s Question: My camera allows me to choose how many focus points I want to have available (1, 4, 8, etc.). When photographing a moving subject such as a flying bird, how many focus points to you recommend having active?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Generally speaking, with a moving subject my preference is to use a single focus point. I will then choose which focus point to select based on where in the frame I want the subject to appear. This enables me to focus where I want to, but also provides a “target” to help make sure I’m positioning the subject where I want it in the frame. But of course there are also scenarios when this approach might not provide the best solution.

More Detail: When you have multiple focus points active, the camera will decide which specific focus point will be used for establishing automatic focus for the scene you are capturing. As a general rule this will be the object closest to the lens that actually falls at one of the focus points that is active.

In many cases, of course, it may be perfectly acceptable (and preferable) to let the camera choose which focus point to use to establish automatic focus. In some cases you might want to enable the full range of focus points, which for many cameras could mean dozens of options. And with the sophisticated autofocus in many cameras, you may find that the camera does a great job of selecting the right focus point for many photos.

That said, I prefer to exercise as much control as possible when it comes to establishing a focus point, especially when depth of field is a concern. For bird photography, for example, I would want to make sure that the focus point is on the eye of the bird if at all possible, which can make working with a single focus point all the more important.

If you know you’ll have more than enough depth of field for a given photographic scenario, I think it is reasonable to let the camera select the focus point for you. But when depth of field is limited, or you are otherwise concerned about exactly where the focus is set, I think using a single focus point makes more sense. And, as noted above, enabling a single focus point also provides you with a “target” to use within the viewfinder for positioning and tracking your key subject.

Missing XMP Files

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Today’s Question: Recently I’ve noticed that some of my folders containing RAW files do not have any of the associated XMP files. Do you have any ideas as to how this could have happened other than my somehow inadvertently deleting them?

Tim’s Quick Answer: A lack of XMP files would indicate either you have not made any updates to some of your raw captures, you have disabled the option to automatically save changes to the original captures in Lightroom, or you have somehow inadvertently deleted the XMP sidecar files.

More Detail: The XMP sidecar files you might see alongside your original raw captures are there to contain any metadata you’ve added to the photos. This can include standard metadata such as keywords and star ratings, for example, as well as other information such as adjustment settings from Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom.

With most image types, when you update the metadata for an image that metadata is simply written to the file itself. This would be the case for JPEG or TIFF images, for example. But for original raw captures, the idea is that you don’t want to risk harming the original capture data, and so metadata will be stored separately.

If you are using Adobe Bridge to manage your photos and Adobe Camera Raw to process your raw captures, metadata would not be written to an XMP sidecar file unless you have actually processed the image with Camera Raw or have updated metadata such as with Adobe Bridge. If you’ve not worked with a particular raw capture, an XMP sidecar file would not be created for that capture.

With Lightroom Classic CC, XMP files are only created if you have specifically chosen to save metadata for your photos. You could use a menu command (Metadata > Save Metadata to Files), or enable the option to automatically write metadata to files on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog. If you have not made use of one of these options (or otherwise created XMP files with other software) there would be no XMP files for affected raw captures on your hard drive.

And, of course, it is possible that you could have inadvertently deleted the XMP files from your hard drive. Doing so would cause you to lose metadata updates for your photos (unless those updates are contained in a Lightroom catalog, for example), but would not cause any problems with the original raw captures.

Print Compensation Not Visible

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Today’s Question: As I make changes in the Brightness and Contrast adjustments in the Lightroom print module, I don’t see any changes on my actual photo? Do you know why this is happening?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This is by design. The Brightness and Contrast sliders below the Print Adjustment checkbox in the Print module enable you to compensate for a print that is too dark or bright, or that is lacking contrast. The image preview does not update when you adjust these sliders.

More Detail: Of course, the first thing I should point out is that if you have properly calibrated and profiled your monitor display, there is a reasonably good chance you won’t need the Print Adjustment controls at all. For example, I generally recommend the X-Rite ColorMunki Display (https://amzn.to/2y2PpyI) as an excellent tool for display calibration.

Even when you have properly calibrated your display, however, you may see prints that don’t quite match what you’re seeing on the display in terms of overall tonality. A common cause of this issue is a printer that can’t quite produce the full range of shadow values contained within an image.

The Brightness and Contrast controls under the Print Adjustment checkbox in the Print Job section of the right panel in the Print module enable you to compensate for these issues. Start by turning on the Print Adjustment checkbox. Then adjust the sliders for Brightness and Contrast based your anticipation of how much correction is necessary.

Of course, since the image preview won’t update, you’ll be guessing at what value might work based on the initial print. Therefore, some trial and error will be necessary to determine appropriate values. Fortunately, what you’ll generally find is that the same settings will work well for most prints, since the adjustment is typically a matter of compensating for printer behavior. Still, I would love to see an update from Adobe that provides at least an estimated adjustment for the preview image before printing.

Live Photos Cause Confusion

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Today’s Question: I’ve just imported some files from my iPhone 7+ into my Lightroom catalog. Two funny things show up. Most troubling is that apparently without knowing it I made short videos (maybe 3 seconds long) when I was making the photos. There is also a JPEG next to the movie. Why am I getting both a photo and a video?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The photos in question are “Live Photos”, which are really a variation on a short video clip available as a feature on the iPhone.

More Detail: The Camera app for the iPhone includes a “Live Photo” feature, which is a photo that has a degree of movement to it. The capture is a special video of about three seconds in duration, and a single frame is presented as the “photo” for this video clip. You can also apply some special effects to Live Photos using the Photos app on the iPhone or on a Macintosh computer.

Of course, other software such as Lightroom isn’t able to fully support the Live Photo format. This is one of the reasons I prefer to leave the Live Photo feature turned off, instead choosing whether I want a photo or video for each capture.

The Live Photo feature is enabled by tapping the icon that has a series of concentric circles, forming an icon that looks something like a target. When the icon is yellow the Live Photo feature is enabled. If you want to disable the Live Photo feature, simply tap the icon so it becomes white, indicating Live Photo is inactive.

In the context of Lightroom, you may want to simply delete the video component of the Live Photo captures, and only retain the JPEG images. And, perhaps more importantly, you may want to make sure to leave this feature off to avoid this issue altogether. I do recommend checking the setting periodically in the Camera app, as in my experience this is one of the most common features to get turned on by mistake on the iPhone.

Photos in Two Locations

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Today’s Question: I live in two places (8 months of the year in Alaska and 4 months in Florida). I have desktop computers and work with my images in both locations using Lightroom and Photoshop. I have all my images in both places but after working on some of my images at the location I’m currently at, I’d like to know if it’s possible, expeditiously, to have all the changes I make at that location carry over to the other location. I have too many images to bring them all back and forth.

Tim’s Quick Answer: This is actually the type of scenario where the relatively new cloud-based Adobe Lightroom CC provides some advantages over Lightroom Classic CC. Otherwise, there are options that could help, but the workflow wouldn’t exactly be what I would call “streamlined”.

More Detail: If you opt to use the cloud-based Lightroom CC, you’ll be able to synchronize your photos to cloud-based storage so that all of your images are available from any location with an Internet connection. Of course, the initial synchronization could take a very long time, but after that as long as you have a reasonably fast connect this approach could work pretty well. This would also be the simplest solution in this type of situation, because it wouldn’t involve any special effort to have all of your photos available at all locations you work from.

If you prefer to use Lightroom Classic CC, a common solution to this type of situation would be to keep all of the photos on a single external hard drive, and to keep the Lightroom catalog on that same drive. You could then bring that drive with you when you change locations, so you would always have all of your photos and the information about those photos wherever you are at any given moment. But, as noted in the question, this isn’t a practical solution.

What I would do based on these constraints is import new captures into a separate “temporary” catalog. I would then perform my initial culling, updating, and optimizing work within that “temporary” catalog. This would be slightly inconvenient in terms of new captures being in a catalog separate from all of your existing photos, but it would streamline the next step.

When you are ready to travel from one location to the other, just before leaving you could import the photos from your temporary catalog into your master catalog, using the “Import from Another Catalog” command on the File menu. When you get to the other location, you could perform the exact same step, having traveled with copies of the temporary catalog and new photos. As long as you have an exact copy of your master catalog and all existing photos in both locations when you begin this approach, updating at each location would be as simple as using a temporary catalog for new captures, and importing to both copies of your master catalog when you switch locations.

It is important to note that you would also need to copy your master Lightroom catalog from the location you’re departing to the location you’re arriving at. In other words, you would basically need to update the catalog (with previews) at both locations whenever you traveled. That makes this a rare situation where I would recommend not using the option to automatically write metadata updates to the actual image files, instead keeping everything in the catalog.

Frankly, I would suggest giving serious thought to using the cloud-based Lightroom CC, as that would significantly streamline your overall workflow, and virtually eliminate the risk of any problems created by all of the extra work that would be involved with Lightroom CC in this context.

Lightroom Slider Sensitivity

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Today’s Question: As a longtime user of Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop, I’m only now trying to learn to use Lightroom [Classic CC]. I realize it has some real advantages, but there is one thing about it that really irritates me. Compared to Camera Raw, the sliders in the Develop module are quite small and, in my opinion, overly sensitive. They don’t permit fine adjustments nearly as easily as Camera Raw does. Or have I overlooked some way of changing that in Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are two recommendations I can offer. First, you can enlarge the right panel in the Develop module to make the adjustment sliders larger and therefore less sensitive to small mouse movements. In addition, you can use keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease the value for individual adjustments.

More Detail: The panels in Lightroom Classic can all be resized to make them larger or smaller. You can simply point your mouse at the inner edge of any panel, and then drag to enlarge the panel. So, for example, you could drag the left edge of the right panel in the Develop module toward the left in order to enlarge the panel. This will make it easier to apply adjustments with the mouse, since a larger slider range will create an adjustment that is less sensitive.

In addition, in Lightroom (or Camera Raw) you can use keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease the value for most of the adjustments. As you may have noticed, most of the adjustments include a numeric value that changes as you drag the applicable slider left or right. If you click on a numeric value for a slider you wish to adjust, that value will be highlighted.

You can then use the up and down arrow keys on the keyboard to increase or decrease the highlighted value, respectively. If you hold the Shift key while pressing the up or down arrow key on the keyboard, the value will be increased or decreased to a greater degree. In most cases holding the Shift key will cause the arrow key shortcut to adjust the value by a factor of ten, but this will vary with different adjustments.

With both of these options I think you’ll find that you are able to alter the various adjustment values in Lightroom with the same degree of control that is available in Adobe Camera Raw.

Catalog Backup Options

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Today’s Question: I used to perform my periodic catalog backups in Lightroom [Classic CC] by highlighting All Photographs in my catalog and using the Export as Catalog function. It was my not-very-clear belief that this was the only way to have an exact copy of my catalog that would function just like the original in the event the original was lost or corrupted.

More recently, I have taken to backing up by simply dragging and dropping the Lightroom folder from my main drive to my backup drive to copy it. Backing up this way seems to take less time than using Export as Catalog and to run more smoothly. I can’t see that there’s any difference in the result. Am I missing something?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When it comes to backing up your Lightroom catalog on a regular basis, I actually recommend using the built-in backup feature. It is also important to backup your photos, since that isn’t included in the catalog backup. The “Export as Catalog” command provides an option for backing up both the catalog and all of your photos as one big (and possibly time-consuming) process.

More Detail: The reason I recommend using Lightroom’s built-in catalog backup is that doing so includes the option (enabled by default) to check the integrity of the catalog and to optimize the catalog. This can help avoid (or get an early warning of) potential problems with the catalog file itself, such as corruption of the data file. By default Lightroom will prompt you to backup the catalog once per week, but you can also change the frequency or perform a backup on-demand at any time.

You can certainly drag-and-drop the folder that contains your Lightroom catalog to a backup location in order to copy the entire contents of that folder, including all of the previews associated with the images in your catalog. However, this is not the approach I would generally recommend. Instead, I would suggest including the hard drive where your catalog is stored as part of a general backup process.

The “Export as Catalog” option is not really intended as a backup solution, but since the result is a duplicate catalog, it can certainly be used for backup purposes. To backup all photos in your entire catalog you either need to make sure that no photos are selected before choosing the “Export as Catalog” command from the File menu, or that you have selected all photos from the All Photographs collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. Also, if you want to backup the photos themselves in addition to the catalog, you’ll want to be sure the “Export negative files” checkbox is checked. This will cause the source images to be copied to the selected location, along with a catalog containing all of the metadata for those images.

Of course, all of these various options can be combined as part of a thorough backup workflow. You can backup your catalog and photos as part of a normal backup workflow, you could certainly drag-and-drop the folder containing your catalog at any time to create an ad hoc backup of just the catalog, and you can use the “Export as Catalog” command to create a standalone catalog with copies of photos, either for your entire catalog or for a portion of your images.