Anti-Fog Wipes

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Today’s Question: I’ve seen lens wipes advertised as preventing lenses from fogging up. Do you have any experience with these to know if they actually work?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, in my experience the wipes that are promoted as being “anti-fog” do not prevent lenses from getting fogged up. Instead I recommend getting the lens to match the ambient temperature to minimize the risk of fogging.

More Detail: In most cases lens fogging is the result of the lens being cold in a humid environment. In my experience the most typical scenario is coming out of an air-conditioned building into a warm and humid environment. The cold lens (and other gear) causes condensation in conjunction with the humidity in the air.

I generally find that in this type of situation, I’m not really able to plan ahead. For example, if it was possible to leave my camera outdoors safely, that would have ensured the camera was not colder than the ambient air, and thus condensation would be less likely to form.

If you’re able to plan ahead, warming up your camera either by taking it outdoors before you plan to start photographing, or using a hair dryer to warm up your camera gear, can help minimize the risk of fogging.

Otherwise, I will simply wait for my camera gear to warm up, which generally takes about five minutes. In extreme cases it may be necessary to use a lens cloth to wipe excess moisture from the lens elements. But very often simply waiting will resolve the issue.

If anyone knows of lens wipes that actually provide an anti-fog capability, please let me know. All of the wipes I’ve tested were not able to prevent fogging at all.

Previews Disappeared

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Today’s Question: The other day I launched Lightroom only to see a message that there was a problem with my catalog and it needed to be checked. When the check was complete, Lightroom indicated that the catalog was damaged and needed to be repaired. Thankfully that was successful, but in the process all of the previews for my images changed to gray rectangles. As I browse folders the previews are being rebuilt, but is there a way to build previews for all images at one time?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can indeed build previews for all images in your Lightroom catalog. Simply navigate to the All Photographs collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module, select all images, and then go to the menu and choose Library > Previews > Build Standard-Sized Previews.

More Detail: While I’ve certainly known photographers who have ended up with a Lightroom catalog that was corrupted to the point of not being able to be recovered, in many cases Lightroom will be able to repair whatever problems occurred with the catalog so you can get back to work without losing any information. Of course, this underscores the importance of backing up your Lightroom catalog on a somewhat regular basis.

When a catalog is repaired, I have found that the previews file becomes problematic. Fortunately, it is very easy to generate new previews for all images in your Lightroom catalog.

As noted above, the “All Photographs” collection found in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module enables you to view all images in your entire Lightroom catalog. You can then select all of the images by choosing Edit > Select All from the menu.

It is important to note that in order to note that in order for Lightroom to build previews for your photos, the source image files must be available. For example, if your photos are stored on external hard drives, those drives must be connected to the computer in order to build previews.

To build previews for the selected photos, you can then choose the appropriate option from the Library menu. When you navigate to the Library > Previews submenu, you’ll see that you can build Standard previews or full resolution 1:1 previews. Select the option that makes the most sense to you, and Lightroom will get to work.

The process of building previews for an entire catalog can take considerable time. Obviously, the specific time will depend upon how many images are in your catalog. However, you can expect the process to require several hours, and possibly a full day or more. Fortunately, photos that already have previews will be skipped, meaning that Lightroom won’t waste time building previews unnecessarily. That also means you can cancel the task and restart it at a later date if needed.

Better Cropping

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Today’s Question: Which program gives you a better image when cropping, Lightroom or Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In the context of simple cropping, both Lightroom and Photoshop provide comparable (and potentially non-destructive) results. My feeling is that a decision should be made based on workflow considerations and personal preference.

More Detail: The simple act of cropping a photo does not cause any change to the image itself, other than removing (or hiding) pixels from view based on your crop. That said, it is worth noting that if you are resizing as part of the crop, there will be some minor differences in the quality of that resizing from one software application to another. Of course, both Lightroom and Photoshop do an excellent (and comparable) job of resizing photos.

In the context of your source image file, cropping (along with all other adjustments) within Lightroom is non-destructive. What that means is that the original image file is not altered in anyway, as the actual adjustments are essentially metadata updates within Lightroom. Of course, when you actually export the image to create a derivative copy, that copy will reflect the adjustments and the cropping, meaning the pixels you cropped out within Lightroom are not included in the derivative image.

Within Photoshop it is also possible to perform a crop non-destructively. When you select the Crop tool you’ll see a “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox on the Options bar. Make sure this checkbox is turned off before applying a crop to a photo, and the crop will not actually remove the pixels outside the crop box. Instead, the canvas size for the image will be adjusted to hide the pixels from view. At any time you could choose Image > Reveal All from the menu to enlarge the canvas to reveal all of the hidden pixels in the image.

Because of the similarities of both Lightroom and Photoshop when it comes to cropping, I would say there isn’t a strong reason to choose one over the other for this purpose.

Personally, I tend to perform most of my photo optimization work in Lightroom, and so if I am cropping for aesthetic purposes I would tend to apply that crop in Lightroom’s Develop module. Most of my printing, on the other hand, is initiated from Photoshop, in part because I prefer to have the extra control over output sharpening that Photoshop provides. If I also want to crop as part of that print process, then I would generally use Photoshop to apply that crop.

The bottom line is that you don’t need to worry about overall image quality issues when it comes to choosing to crop in Lightroom versus Photoshop. Therefore, you can let workflow considerations and personal preference guide your decision.

Filter for Absent Keyword

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Today’s Question: I use a keyword to identify photos I have shared online, for example. When looking for new images to share, I want to see only those I haven’t shared before. I know in Lightroom I can search for images that contain a given keyword. But is there a way to filter out the photos that already contain the keyword that indicates a photo has already been shared?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can indeed filter out images that contain a specific keyword by using the “Doesn’t Contain” option when using a text search based on the Keywords field.

More Detail: Most of the methods for filtering images in Lightroom based on keywords involve viewing images that actually contain a specific keyword (or keywords). For example, you can use the Metadata section of the Library Filter bar to select keywords for the images you want to view.

It is also possible, however, to filter based on the absence of a keyword. This can be done using the Text section of the Library Filter bar, or by creating a Smart Collection that includes similar criteria.

You’ll first want to make sure the Library Filter bar is visible. You can enable it by choosing View > Show Filter Bar from the menu, or by pressing the backslash (\) key on the keyboard. Then choose the Text option on the Library Filter bar to display the text search controls. Set the first popup to “Keywords”, and the second popup to “Doesn’t Contain”. Then type the keyword you want to use for your filter in the textbox to the right of the popups. This will filter the current images (based on the folder or collection you are browsing) so that only images without the keyword you entered will be displayed.

If you then enable the “lock” option at the top-right of the Library Filter bar, you can switch among other folders or collections to view images based on your filter. You could also add other criteria, such as star ratings on the Attributes section of the Library Filter bar, so that you filter your images more effectively. In this way, using the example from the question, you could search for some of your best images from various folders, while only viewing images that do not yet have the keyword that is used to identify images that have been shared.

And, of course, this same concept could be used in a wide variety of other situations, where you want to view images that match certain criteria, but that do not contain one or more keywords you specify.

Rich Tooltips

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Today’s Question: With a recent Photoshop update, when my mouse is over a tool on the toolbox I get a large popup with a video in it. Is there a way to disable this popup?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can disable these animated “tooltips” by turning off the “Use Rich Tooltips” checkbox on the Tools page of the Preferences dialog. You can also turn off the standard tooltips by turning off the “Show Tooltips” checkbox on the same page.

More Detail: Tooltips are intended to provide contextual information within a software application. Within Photoshop, for example, the standard tooltips will indicate the name of a tool when you hover your mouse over the button for that tool, along with an indication of the keyboard shortcut for the tool.

While these tooltips can certainly be helpful when you’re initially learning a software application such as Photoshop, they can also be a bit distracting. With the Photoshop CC 2018 update, Adobe added a “rich tooltips” option, which displays an animation demonstrating the basic use of a tool, along with the name of the tool, the keyboard shortcut, and a brief description.

The rich tooltips are controlled by the “Use Rich Tooltips” checkbox on the Tools page of the Preferences dialog. You can get to that page by going to the menu and choosing Edit > Preferences > Tools in the Windows version of Photoshop, or by choosing Photoshop > Preferences > Tools in the Macintosh version. With the “Use Rich Tooltips” checkbox turned on you will see the “rich” version of tooltips, and with it turned off you will see the standard version.

Of course, if you prefer to turn off tooltips altogether, there is an option for that as well. Simply turn off the “Show Tooltips” checkbox on the Tools page of the Preferences dialog, and you won’t see any tooltips at all within Photoshop (rich or otherwise).

Discarding Previews Manually

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Today’s Question: It takes me longer than 30 days to be finished with my 1:1 previews in Lightroom [Classic CC] so I have to delete them manually. When photos are in a stack within a folder and I delete the 1:1 previews for that folder, are the 1:1 previews of the images in the stacks deleted?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Photos that are in a stack will only be selected (and therefore affected by deleting the 1:1 previews) if the stacks are expanded for the folder before you select the images within the folder. Note, however, that you also have the option to remove 1:1 previews for all photos within a folder, even if you did not select all of those photos initially.

More Detail: Lightroom will generate a 1:1 preview for an image when you zoom in on the image. You can also generate these full-resolution previews during import, or later in your workflow using the command found on the Library > Previews submenu.

By default Lightroom will remove 1:1 previews if you have not accessed them within thirty days. In addition, you can choose to have those previews discarded after one week or one day, or to never discard the 1:1 previews automatically. This setting is found on the File Handling tab of the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom.

If you want to retain 1:1 previews longer than thirty days, you can select the “Never” option from the “Automatically Discard 1:1 Previews” popup in the Catalog Settings dialog. You can then choose when you want to discard those previews manually in order to free up hard drive space.

So, when you are finished with your review work for a given folder, you could select all images within the folder that you want to remove the previews for. If you want to remove previews for all images in a folder, you don’t actually need to select all of the photos first. Simply choose Library > Previews > Discard 1:1 Previews from the menu, and in the dialog that appears choose the option to discard previews for all images in the folder rather than only the selected images.

If you want to remove these previews for only certain photos, you do need to select those photos individually first. If some of the photos are in stacks, you do need to select all of the images within the stack, rather than only selecting the stack itself. You can streamline this process by expanding all of the stacks within the current folder. To do so, go to the menu and choose Photo > Stacking > Expand All Stacks. You can then select the specific photos you want to remove the 1:1 previews for, and then select the menu command to actually discard previews for the selected images.

Focal Length Overlap

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Today’s Question: I need to replace my standard zoom lens, and am trying to decide between the 24-70mm lens versus the 24-105mm lens. My next lens in terms of focal length is a 70-200mm. So, should I choose the 24-70mm to avoid overlap between lenses, or opt for the lens with the greater range even though there is an overlap with the 70-200mm lens?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this case, all other things being equal, I would opt for the 24-105mm lens rather than the 24-70mm lens. The reason is that I would rather have greater utility with a given lens, in order to reduce the frequency with which I need to switch lenses.

More Detail: There are, of course, more than a few factors to consider when choosing a lens. For purposes of today’s question, I will therefore assume the two lens options are essentially equal in all aspects other than focal length (recognizing that there will generally be at least a weight difference involved when talking about two lenses with different focal length ranges).

For me personally, for most photography trips a lens with a range of around 24-105mm tends to be my most-used lens. As a result, I’m particularly interested in having as much utility with that lens as possible. That means I would tend to favor the 24-105mm lens over a 24-70mm lens, assuming my next lens in terms of focal length is a 70-200mm lens.

In other words, I’d rather have a little bit of overlap between my lenses, to help reduce the number of times I might need to switch lenses.

That said, it is also important to consider other factors. In many cases you may find that a 24-70mm lens provides improved sharpness, and possibly a larger maximum aperture size. In addition, a 24-70mm lens will generally be lighter compared to a 24-105mm lens (though not always, based on a variety of factors).

Ultimately, I encourage you to consider which specifications for a given lens are most important to you. But if two lenses meet your needs somewhat equally other than focal length, I would tend to favor the lens with a greater range, due to the increased utility for that lens.

In-Camera Cropping Strategy

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Today’s Question: How do you feel about cropping in-camera versus taking advantage of the huge number of sensor pixels and zooming out 5-10% in order to be able to do the perfect crop (sometimes needing to rotate a few degrees)?

Tim’s Quick Answer: From a philosophical perspective, I prefer to get everything “perfect” in the camera. But from a pragmatic perspective, I prefer to leave a little room for correction of crop and rotation for after the capture.

More Detail: In an ideal world (at least theoretically), I’d prefer to never have to perform any processing of my photos after the capture. Every photo would come out of the camera exactly the way I wanted it to look. But in the real world it can be challenging to get all aspects of a photo perfect right from the start. Cropping (or overall framing) is exactly such an issue.

To begin with, many cameras don’t include a 100% viewfinder, so you’re not always seeing the image exactly the way it will appear in the actual capture. The photo you capture will have a little more space around the edges, based on the viewfinder cropping your view slightly.

In addition, if you need to rotate the image slightly, cropping will be involved to maintain the rectangular shape of the image. It can be very helpful to have a little extra room to work with when you need to rotate an image, and you may simply want to adjust the overall cropping for aesthetic purposes.

My general approach depends on my sense for the scene I’m photographing. If I feel very confident about how I am framing the scene based on what I see in the viewfinder, I will generally crop tightly in the camera, with just a tiny bit of space around the edges to account for any rotating or crop refinement I want to apply later.

If I’m a little uncertain of how I want to frame up the scene, but I don’t want to waste a lot of time in front of that scene trying to make a decision, I’ll crop less tightly in the camera. That’s not to say I would use an extreme wide angle lens when I intend to extract a small portion of the scene, but I would give a little bit of extra room around the scene so I have more flexibility when cropping later.

With practice I think you’ll find that you can crop the scene reasonably tight based on your final intent for the image. But when in doubt, I think it makes perfect sense to include a little bit of extra space. That is especially true, by the way, when photographing a scene with a wide-angle lens where you think you’ll want to perform some perspective correction in post processing. In those situations it can be especially important to have a bit more extra room for cropping the photo later.

Lightroom Upgrade

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Today’s Question: If I already have Lightroom Classic version 5 on my computer can I subscribe to Lightroom CC as well? Would there be any conflicts? My plan would be to use the version on my computer to manage my current portfolio and use the online version to manage my new images.

Tim’s Quick Answer: It would be possible to use the cloud-based Lightroom CC to manage all new images, and your existing Lightroom version 5 catalog to manage all existing photos. Just note that this approach would involve having two separate catalogs for “old” versus “new” photos, whereas it would be possible to have a more integrated workflow if you opted to subscribe to a plan that includes both Lightroom Classic CC and adequate storage for the cloud-based Lightroom CC.

More Detail: Older versions of Lightroom Classic (before Lightroom Classic CC) do not include the ability to synchronize images to the cloud. As a result, if you are using an older version (such as Lightroom 5), you would not be able to synchronize existing images to a Lightroom CC catalog. There would not be any conflicts with this approach, since your Lightroom 5 catalog would not be synchronized, and your Lightroom CC catalog would be synchronized.

If you would like to have a more streamlined workflow, you might consider an approach that includes both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC. You could start by upgrading your existing Lightroom 5 catalog to Lightroom Classic CC. At that point you could choose which existing images you want to be able to view in Lightroom CC using the desktop application, mobile app, or through the Adobe online portal. Those photos can be synchronized from within Lightroom Classic CC by adding them to a collection and then enabling synchronization for that collection.

You could then use Lightroom CC to manage all new captures, so that all of those images would be synchronized to the cloud. This would enable you to see those images from virtually anywhere, as well as to see images from your Lightroom Classic CC catalog that you’ve chosen to synchronize.

This hybrid solution would provide a more seamless workflow, in terms of being able to manage your images in a more comprehensive way, rather than having two distinct platforms for different sets of photos. The only caution I would add is that if you’re going to use both Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC, you need to be sure you are always aware of which application you are importing new photos to. In other words, you’ll want to make sure you have defined a clear workflow, so you don’t get confused with the additional layer of complexity.

Workflow Troubles

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Today’s Question: My workflow works for me, except:

I start by downloading from my memory card to Lightroom. I then rename each photo on the hard drive (the Windows explorer way). Next I open the raw files in Photoshop, work on them, and save them. Now I have exactly what I want on my hard drive, but can’t access the photos through a metadata search in Lightroom.  I keep digging this hole deeper day by day, GB by GB (actually TB by TB now). But I really like the workflow. How can I import the original and edited photos back into Lightroom? Help!

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key to a workflow in Lightroom that includes the use of other tools (such as your operating system or Photoshop) is to either perform work outside of Lightroom before importing photos into your catalog, or to ensure you initiate all tasks related to your photos from within Lightroom.

More Detail: If you prefer to rename your photos outside of Lightroom (rather than taking advantage of Lightroom’s ability to rename your photos for you), I recommend performing that work before importing the photos into your Lightroom catalog. For example, you could download the photos from your media cards to your hard drive, rename those photos within your operating system, and then import the photos (with the “Add” option if you’ve already copied them to the intended storage location) into your Lightroom catalog.

If you rename photos outside of Lightroom after importing the photos into your Lightroom catalog, it is possible to synchronize the folder to recover the photos that will have gone missing in the process. However, you will most likely lose some of your metadata updates in the process.

If you want to use Photoshop to optimize your photos, I recommend that you consider using Lightroom’s Develop module for the initial adjustments, which are the equivalent of using Adobe Camera Raw. You can then use the Photo > Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop command to send a copy of the image (as a TIFF or PSD, depending on your Preferences settings) to Photoshop. When you’re done working with this image in Photoshop, you can simply choose File > Save followed by File > Close in order to save the updated copy of your photo, with that derivative copy included within your Lightroom catalog.

While there are some ways to mostly work around the process of initiating all tasks within Lightroom, that type of approach includes the very real risk that you will lose metadata for your photos, or have that metadata get out of sync in terms of your Lightroom catalog compared to the files on your hard drive. In other words, if you don’t initiate your workflow tasks within Lightroom, you could be creating a mess for yourself.

My recommendation is to either implement a workflow that truly revolves around Lightroom, or to no longer use Lightroom and instead implement a workflow that perhaps revolves around Adobe Bridge and your operating system.