Lens Elements and Groups


Today’s Question: As I was looking up the number of aperture blades on my lenses, I saw a specification that made me wonder: Do the number of lens elements and number of groups have any effect on bokeh, starburst or other aesthetics?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “simple” answer here would be that no, the number of lens elements or groups of elements wouldn’t have an impact on the creative aesthetic effects produced by a lens. Of course, the real answer is far from simple.

More Detail: There are a variety of factors that impact how many individual lens elements are included within a camera lens. However, aesthetic factors such as the bokeh or starburst effect would not be significantly impacted by the number of lens elements or groups.

What we call a “lens” in photography is actually a piece of sophisticated equipment that includes multiple lens elements. As a very general rule, better image quality and greater light transmission is achieved with fewer lens elements. However, that’s not to say that fewer lens elements will translate to a better lens.

More lens elements are also required to correct for distortion in a lens. In this respect, more lens elements can mean that the overall image quality will be improved, at least in terms of distortion. These types of corrections will often involve pairs of lens elements, which form an individual group of elements. So you can get some sense of the degree of correction being applied within the lens by the number of groups.

However, while the generalizations above may often be true, they are not accurate across the board and therefore can’t be used reliably to make a decision about lens quality or aesthetic results. In other words, I would generally recommend ignoring the number of lens elements and groups, and instead focus on other methods of determining the results you can achieve with a lens, such as reviews the delve into details such as the resolving power of the lens.

Deleting Outtakes En Masse


Today’s Question: I have a fundamental question. I’ve accumulated some 350,000 photos over the past 10 or so years. Many of the photos are missing in my Lightroom Classic catalog. I’d like to take the admittedly drastic step of trashing all photos with no star ratting, around 300k shots in all. Is there a master set of commands that can facilitate my doing this even where the program has lost track of the location of many of the photos without the tedious step of having to first track them down?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you’re confident you want to delete all photos without a star rating, you could simply go to the “All Photographs” collection, set a filter based on no star rating, select all of the photos based on that filter, and delete them.

More Detail: I too have been contemplating a strategy for going back and deleting older outtake photos, since my Lightroom Classic catalog currently contains over 400,000 photos. The key question here is whether you’re confident that deleting a very large number of photos based on specific attributes won’t result in losing photos you’d prefer to keep.

For example, as noted above you could certainly delete every single photo in your entire Lightroom Classic catalog that doesn’t have a star rating assigned to it, all in a single process. For me, and I suspect many other photographers, this would not be a good solution. That’s because over the years I have most certainly neglected to review all of the photos in my catalog. So, I most certainly would have some photos without a star rating that I definitely prefer to keep.

That said, if you have been diligent about reviewing photos, or you embark on that process now so you are confident all “keepers” have a star rating, you can most certainly delete all outtakes in a single process.

First, you would want to be sure you are browsing all photos in your entire Lightroom Classic catalog. Start by selecting the “All Photographs” collection in the Catalog section at the top of the left panel in the Library module. Then switch to the grid view display (you can press “G” on the keyboard to do so) and if you don’t see the Library Filter bar at the top of the grid view press the backslash key (\) to reveal it.

You can then select the particular criteria you want to use to filter the images. For example, in this case you could choose Attribute so you can filter by star rating. To the right of the Rating label click the symbol that appears (such as the “greater than or less than” symbol) to bring up a popup where you can select “Rating is equal to”. To the right of that, make sure no stars are illuminated, which indicates a zero-star rating. If any stars are illuminated, click on the right-most of the illuminated stars to remove that star rating, resulting in a zero-star rating filter.

Once you have established a filter based on the criteria for the images you want to delete, you can choose Edit > Select All from the menu in order to select all images that meet the filter criteria. You can then choose Photo > Remove Photos from the menu. In the confirmation dialog that appears, you can click the “Delete from Disk” button so the source image files will be deleted in addition to being removed from the Lightroom Classic catalog.

Delete from Collection


Today’s Question: [In response to a previous answer about deleting photos while browsing a collection in Lightroom Classic] If you are viewing an image in a collection and you wish to delete the image from both the collection and the folder in which it is stored, you can press and hold Command+Option+Shift on Macintosh (Ctrl+Alt+Shift on Windows) and then press Delete. The selected image(s) will then be moved to the trash.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can indeed delete a photo altogether even if you’re browsing the photo in a collection in Lightroom Classic, as noted in today’s “question”. This is actually a keyboard shortcut I was not aware of!

More Detail: At first glance, it appears that if you want to actually delete a photo in Lightroom Classic you must go to the folder. Deleting from a collection will only remove the photo from the collection, and not actually delete the source image file from the folder on your hard drive.

And, in fact, in an Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter some time ago, I explained a process for navigating to the source image files from a collection so the photos could be completely deleted rather than just removed from a collection.

Fortunately, when I share an answer that is incomplete, I can generally count on one of my readers letting me know about it. Such is the case here, and so I wanted to share this helpful tip.

When you choose to remove a photo from a folder in Lightroom Classic, you’ll be prompted about whether you want to remove the photo from the catalog or delete the file from your hard drive. In general, if your intent is to delete the photo, you would want it removed from the hard drive.

If you’re browsing a collection and choose the command to remove a photo, you aren’t offered the option to delete the source file from your hard drive. Instead, the photo will only be removed from the collection, but will remain as a file on your hard drive and will still be reflected in the applicable folder within your Lightroom Classic catalog.

If you want to delete the photo altogether while browsing within a collection, you can do so by holding Command+Option+Shift on Macintosh or Ctrl+Alt+Shift on Windows while pressing the Delete key, and the photo will then be removed from the collection, removed from the Lightroom Classic catalog, and deleted from the folder on your hard drive. Space permitting, the selected photos will be moved to the Trash (Macintosh) or Recycle Bin (Windows).

Keyword Misspellings


Today’s Question: How do you suggest handling misspelled keywords [in Lightroom Classic]? For instance, suppose in haste I typed “doh” for “dog”. I have done that more times than I would like to admit.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can correct such errors by editing the misspelled keyword on the Keyword List on the right panel in the Library module. Using the Keyword List to add keywords to photos can also help avoid adding misspelled keywords in the first place.

More Detail: The Keyword List in the Library module of Lightroom Classic is one of the most helpful tools for managing keywords.

On the Keyword List you can simply right-click and choose “Edit Keyword Tag” from the popup menu to bring up a dialog where you can correct the spelling for the keyword. This will automatically correct the applicable keyword in metadata for all affected images.

Note, however, that this won’t work if you have both the correctly spelled version of the keyword and the misspelled version. In that case you’ll need to add the correct keyword to all affected images, and then delete the misspelled keyword.

To correct this issue, start by clicking on the right-pointing arrow to the right of the misspelled keyword, which appears when you hover the mouse pointer over the keyword. This will filter the images to show only those that have the misspelled keyword applied.

Next, choose Edit > Select All from the menu to select all of the photos with the wrong keyword. Switch to the grid view display by pressing the letter “G” on the keyboard, and then turn on the checkbox to the left of the correctly spelled keyword. You may need to click the checkbox more than once to get a checkmark, in the event that some of the selected photos already had the keyword and some do not. Then turn off the checkbox for the misspelled keyword to remove it.

At this point the number to the right of the misspelled keyword should be zero, indicating that no images in the catalog have that keyword assigned to them. You can then right-click on the misspelled keyword and choose “Delete” from the popup menu.

Keep in mind that you can help avoid adding misspelled keywords in the first place by using the checkbox to the left of the applicable keyword on the Keyword List to apply the keyword, rather than typing it manually in the Keywords section of the right panel.

Two Views for One Image


Today’s Question: Is it possible in Photoshop to have a duplicate live screen open for an image to see an overall effect [at a lower zoom setting] while working on a small detail way blown up?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can open a second window for an image you’ve opened in Photoshop, then tile the windows so you’re able to see both and set different zoom settings for the same image in the two different windows.

More Detail: I’m sure most photographers who use Photoshop are well aware that you can have multiple images open at one time, and you can adjust the arrangement of those images on the screen. For example, you can have a tabbed display with only one image visible at a time, or you could have several images arranged alongside each other, so they are all visible at the same time. This same capability also applies to having the same image displayed multiple times, and at different zoom settings.

Once you have an image open, you can create a second window that displays the same image by going to the menu and choosing Window > Arrange > New Window for [filename]. Note that this command will include the filename of the current image at the end of the command. When you select this command from the menu, the current image will now be displayed in two windows (or tabs).

Next, go back to the menu and choose Window > Arrange, followed by the desired arrangement for the windows. For example, you might prefer “Tile All Horizontally” or “Tile All Vertically”, which will arrange the windows alongside each other either horizontally or vertically.

With the image displayed in two windows, you can have a different zoom setting for each. So, you can keep one window zoomed out so you can see the entire image area, with the other window zoomed in to evaluate detail as you’re working. Simply switch between the windows to determine which window will be affected by changes in the zoom setting.

Removing Keywords


Today’s Question: What do you do in Lightroom Classic when you want to remove certain keywords from images? I have added keywords in the past that I no longer feel are relevant or are part of a hierarchy which I no longer want to use and wish to remove these from the Keyword List and the subsequent photos. Can I do this easily?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you want to completely remove keywords from all photos in your Lightroom Classic catalog, you can delete those keywords from the Keyword List on the right panel in the Library module. If you want to remove the keywords from only selected photos, you can turn off the checkbox for the applicable keywords on the Keyword List while in the grid view display so all selected photos will be updated.

More Detail: The Keyword List on the right panel in the Library module of Lightroom Classic provides one of the easiest ways to remove keywords from multiple photos. It can also be helpful to add keywords to photos using the Keyword List, in order to help make sure that you always use the same spelling and structure for your keywords.

If you have decided that certain keywords are not needed at all, and you want to remove those keywords from all photos in your Lightroom Classic catalog, that is remarkably simple to accomplish. Simply go to the Keyword List on the right panel in the Library module and locate the keyword you want to remove. Right-click on that keyword and choose “Delete” from the popup menu that appears. Click the Delete button in the confirmation dialog, and the keyword will be removed from the Keyword List and also removed from metadata for all photos that had that keyword assigned.

If you want to remove keywords from only selected photos, first select those photos. Then be sure you are in the grid view display rather than the loupe view display, meaning the main image preview area shows thumbnails rather than a single photo. Then, on the right panel in the Library module, you can turn off the checkbox for any keywords that are applied to photos but that you want to remove.

Note, by the way, that there won’t be a checkmark to the left of keywords that are not assigned, there will be a checkmark to the left of keywords that are assigned, and there will be a dash to the left of a keyword that is assigned to some but not all of the selected photos.

Image Resolution for Digital Display


Today’s Question: I am the projectionist at my camera club. We show digital images on a large screen television using my laptop. I recently purchased a new 13-inch laptop with a 4K screen (3840×2160). My question is, when preparing images to show on the TV monitor, do I use the resolution of the laptop, the resolution of the TV, or some other resolution?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When preparing images for a digital display, they should be prepared based on the actual display that will be used to present the image. So, for example, with a high-resolution laptop display but a moderate-resolution TV monitor, if the TV monitor is going to be used for the actual display than the photos should be prepared based on that lower resolution.

More Detail: When presenting an image on a digital display the resolution of the image should match the resolution of the display, in order to optimize detail and sharpness in the image. The exception, of course, would be if the image would be zoomed in on during the presentation, in which case you would want a higher resolution.

When presenting a slideshow, for example, on a digital display, the image should be resized to fit the actual pixel dimensions of the display. You don’t need to worry about the pixel-per-inch (ppi) resolution for the image, as that only applies when printing the image. Instead, you can simply resize to fit the pixel dimensions of the display.

So, let’s assume your laptop has a 4K resolution, but the display you’ll use for the actual slideshow has a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels. You would want to size the images to fit within dimensions of 2560×1440 pixels, not the higher 4K resolution.

In general, it is also best to convert the images to the sRGB color space, to help ensure more accurate colors in the event the software you’re using to display the images doesn’t support color management.

Number of Lens Aperture Blades


Today’s Question: How does one know how many aperture blades a lens has?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While it can sometimes be a little challenging to find this specification, I’ve found that in general the B&H Photo website is a reliable source for this information. The number of blades is listed on the Specs tab for the product page for lenses, listed as “Diaphragm Blades”. You can see an example by scrolling down and selecting the Specs tab on this page:


More Detail: Today’s question was a follow-up to information I shared about creating a starburst effect with the sun or other non-diffused light source. As many photographers are aware, you can achieve a starburst effect by stopping the lens down to a relatively small aperture size, such as f/16 or f/22.

What I find many photographers are not aware of, however, is how the number of lens aperture blades affects the starburst effect. If there are an even number of lens aperture blades, the starburst effect will have the same number of light rays as there are lens apertures.

If the lens aperture has an odd number of blades, the starburst effect will have twice the number of light rays as there are aperture blades. I’ve cited one example of a photo I captured at sunrise, specifically choosing to use the Tamron 15-30mm lens because it has nine aperture blades, and therefore would provide a starburst effect with eighteen light rays emanating from the light source (in this case the sun).

You can see the photo in question, showing 18 light rays around the sun, on my Instagram feed here:


Another reason to consider the number of blades (and shape) of the lens aperture is the shape of bokeh effects and lens flare. Many photographers prefer a very smooth, rounded bokeh effect for example, which calls for rounded rather than straight lens aperture blade edges. More aperture blades can also result in a smoother lens aperture curvature shape, resulting in smoother bokeh.

So, while the number of blades that makes up the lens aperture in a given lens may seem like a rather esoteric specification, there are certainly scenarios in photography where you may want to consider the details of the aperture configuration for a lens.

Desktop versus Cloud


Today’s Question: Is Lightroom no longer available as a local (desktop) based application, or is it only a cloud only based application?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom Classic is indeed still available as a desktop-based application that does not require cloud-based storage. That is in addition to the cloud-based version of Lightroom that runs on the desktop but revolves around cloud-based storage. As with most Adobe applications, both of these versions of Lightroom require a Creative Cloud subscription.

More Detail: Both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom are desktop applications that run on your computer. There are also mobile and web browser-based versions of Lightroom.

The two desktop applications both require a Creative Cloud subscription, such as the Creative Cloud Photography Plan (https://timgrey.me/ccplans). Both of these applications are able to store photos in the cloud, meaning on servers via an internet connection. The key difference is the way overall storage of your photos is managed.

With Lightroom Classic, you manager your photo storage yourself locally. That would typically mean storing your photos on one or more hard drives, for example. Photos are only synchronized to the Adobe Creative Cloud servers if you add photos to a collection with synchronization enabled.

With the cloud-based version of Lightroom, the cloud-based storage is your primary storage. Provided there is enough storage space on your computer, all of your photos can also be synchronized to the computer. But if there is not enough storage space, all of your photos will be on the Creative Cloud servers, but won’t necessarily be synchronized to your computer. In addition, you don’t have direct control over the folder structure for your photos with the cloud-based version of Lightroom, so you would need to use albums, keywords, and other features in place of a folder structure for organizing photos.

My personal preference is to use Lightroom Classic to manage my workflow, in large part because I prefer to manage my storage locally, and don’t want or need to have every single photo synchronized via the internet. However, each photographer should consider their own priorities when choosing between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom, or different software altogether.

Auto ISO with Manual Exposure


Today’s Question: In semi-automatic modes like shutter priority and aperture priority, we set two of the three important settings for exposure: ISO and either shutter speed or lens aperture. The camera picks the third and has control of the overall exposure. If we use manual exposure but with auto-ISO, doesn’t this become a third semi-automatic mode with the camera having control of one of the three settings? Then it really isn’t manual at all? Is exposure compensation then an important and effective setting just like in the other semi-automatic modes?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, if you enable auto ISO when using the manual exposure mode, the camera is then operating in a semi-automatic rather than fully manual exposure mode.

More Detail: A proper exposure involves the use of a given lens aperture, shutter speed, and ISO setting. There are a variety of ways you can achieve specific settings, including fully automatic, semi-automatic, and manual modes.

In a fully automatic mode, the camera typically chooses all three exposure settings for you. In a true manual exposure mode, you need to adjust all three settings yourself. And in semi-automatic modes you are typically able to select one or two of the exposure settings, with the camera selecting the other setting for you.

So, if you enable auto ISO when using manual exposure mode, the exposure control is no longer fully manual. As you adjust the lens aperture or shutter speed, the ISO will adjust as well to maintain the metered exposure. That also means that exposure compensation become important when using manual mode in conjunction with auto ISO, just as exposure compensation is important with other semi-automatic exposure modes.

Exposure compensation enables you to shift the exposure brighter or darker relative to the exposure calculated by the camera based on the meter reading. Normally when using manual exposure mode, the exposure compensation setting for the camera wouldn’t apply, as you would simply adjust the exposure settings to the desired meter reading. However, with auto ISO you can apply exposure compensation with manual exposure. This would alter the selection of the ISO setting to achieve the target exposure based on compensation, and in conjunction with the lens aperture and shutter speed settings you have selected.