Disabled Graphics Processor


Today’s Question: It might have changed, but I used to not be able to run the Oil Paint filter [in Photoshop] when my graphics card didn’t support OpenCL.  Once I replaced my graphics card with one that supported OpenCL, the Oil Paint filter was no longer grayed out.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Oil Paint filter in Photoshop does indeed require specific capabilities from the display adapter (graphics card) in your computer. If you don’t have a supported display adapter (or if you have turned off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox in the Preferences dialog), the Oil Paint filter will be disabled.

More Detail: This is a follow-up to yesterday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, and as you can see it isn’t actually a question. One of the things I appreciate most about my “Ask Tim Grey” community of photographers is that if I make a mistake (or leave out an important point) I will very likely hear about it from one or more readers.

This is a great example of this benefit. Yesterday I mentioned some of the conditions for using the Oil Paint filter in Photoshop, such as working with an RGB image and selecting an image layer (rather than adjustment layer, for example). However, the Oil Paint filter also requires certain capabilities from the display adapter.

If the display adapter in your computer is not supported, the Oil Paint filter will be disabled on the Filter > Stylize menu. Replacing your display adapter with a compatible model will cause the Oil Paint filter to once again be enabled.

In addition, if you have turned off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox on the Performance page of the Preferences dialog in Photoshop, the Oil Paint filter will be disabled. Turning off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox is a common troubleshooting step. If Photoshop seems to be acting odd or crashing somewhat frequently, turning off this checkbox may help. However, doing so will also disable the Oil Paint filter, along with some other features of Photoshop.

So, if you find that you’re not able to access the Oil Paint filter with an image that should support the use of this filter, you might confirm that your display adapter is supported, and that the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox is turned on in the Preferences dialog.

Oil Paint Disabled


Today’s Question: How do I turn on the Oil Paint filter in Photoshop? Almost everything else is highlighted for use except the Oil Painting when I go to Stylize under the Filter menu.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Oil Paint filter in Photoshop can operate on image layers for RGB images in the 32-bit per channel (for HDR images, for example), 16-bit per channel, or 8-bit per channel mode. As long as those conditions are met, the filter will be available by choosing Filter > Stylize > Oil Paint from the menu.

More Detail: While the Oil Paint filter in Photoshop can be used with most typical images, there are a couple of limitations for working with this filter. When the applicable conditions aren’t met, the Oil Paint filter will appear disabled (dimmed) on the Filter > Stylize submenu.

First, I would make sure you are working in the RGB color mode. If, for example, you had converted an image to the CMYK color mode, you won’t be able to apply the Oil Paint filter. If you are working with a Grayscale image, you can convert to the RGB mode by choosing Image > Mode > RGB Color from the menu. If you are working with a CMYK version of your image, I recommend returning to the source image to create a new RGB interpretation.

Next, make sure you have selected an image layer (rather than an adjustment layer) before attempting to select the Oil Paint filter from the menu. In fact, I recommend either creating a new “stamp visible” layer at the top of the Layers stack, or creating a flattened copy of the master image, before applying the Oil Paint filter.

You can create a “stamp visible” layer (essentially a flattened copy of your image above all of the existing layers) by first clicking on the thumbnail for the top-most layer on the Layers panel. Then hold the Ctrl+Alt+Shift keys on Windows, or the Command+Option+Shift keys on Macintosh. While holding those keys, first press the “N” key to create a new layer, and then press the “E” key to create a “stamp visible” version of the image on that layer.

You could also choose Image > Duplicate from the menu to create a new copy of the current image. In the Duplicate Image dialog you can turn on the “Duplicate Merged Layers Only” checkbox so the copy you create will be flattened, with the layered image remaining open in Photoshop.

With either of these approaches, you can apply the Oil Paint filter either to the “stamp visible” layer you created at the top of the Layers panel stack, or to the flattened copy of the image. Again, as noted above, in either of these cases the image would still need to be in the RGB color mode.

Label versus Title


Today’s Question: What is the difference between the “Label” and “Title” metadata fields?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “Label” metadata field is actually intended for a color label, and the “Title” field is intended as something of a very brief caption, literally serving as a title that briefly describes the image.

More Detail: While you might reasonably assume that the “Label” metadata field could be used to provide a text description of an image. However, this field is actually used as the Color Label. In many photo-management applications you can add a word to the Label field that defines the color of the label to be assigned. Of course, in most cases the word to be added to this field is populated automatically by the software you’re using when you use the built-in feature to assign a color label to a photo.

The “Title” field is defined as part of the IPTC metadata standard as follows:

“A shorthand reference for the digital image. Title provides a short human readable name which can be a text and/or numeric reference. It is not the same as Headline.”

In other words, the “Title” field is essentially a very brief caption. Note that the Title is intended to be used differently from the “Headline” field. The “Headline” field is defined as follows:

“A brief synopsis of the caption. Headline is not the same as Title.”

What all of this boils down to is that the “Description” field is intended to represent what you might think of as the longest form of a caption for the image. The “Headline” field is a medium length form of a caption, and the “Title” field is the shortest form of a caption. In some cases, for example, the filename for the image might be used as the Title.

Of course, for many photographers you don’t need to worry about the specific definitions and intent for the various metadata fields available to you as part of the IPTC or other metadata standard available within various photo-management applications. If, on the other hand, you are submitting images to a journalistic organization or stock agency, the proper use of specific metadata fields can be critical.

Note that you can find definitions of the metadata fields included in the IPTC metadata standard by visiting the IPTC website here:


Video Upside-Down


Today’s Question: I have an iPhone and am using Lightroom Classic. Lately I have noticed that movies and some of the live views are imported either sideways or upside down in Lightroom. Do you know why this is happening and if I can fix in Lightroom? I’m going on a trip soon and don’t want 500 videos to be upside down!

Tim’s Quick Answer: This is (as far as I can tell) a bug in Lightrom. The videos are not actually upside-down, but you can make sure Lightroom doesn’t get confused by always capturing iPhone (or iPad) videos with the “home” button to the right (with the volume buttons pointed down).

More Detail: As you probably already know, digital cameras include a sensor to detect the orientation of the photos you capture, so the photos can be automatically rotated to the correct orientation when viewed on your computer. There is some sort of issue with Lightroom not correctly orienting videos capture with iPhones and iPads.

The actual videos aren’t really the problem. For example, if you right-click on one of the upside-down videos in Lightroom and choose “Show in Finder” (on Macintosh) or “Show in Explorer” (on Windows), you’ll be taken to the actual video file in your operating system. If you open that video with your default video player, you’ll find that it plays correctly. It only appears upside-down in Lightroom.

If you export the video from Lightroom using the “Original, unedited file” option from the Video Format popup in the Export dialog, the copy of your video that is exported will also play normally in applications other than Lightroom. If, however, you export the video with one of the other video formats (DPS or H.264), the video will be rendered by Lightroom and will then play upside-down with other video players.

If you capture video with the iPhone oriented with the “home” button to the right (with the volume buttons pointed downward), the videos will be presented properly in Lightroom. It is only videos that are captured with the “home” button to the left (volume buttons pointed upward) that have this problem in Lightroom.

So, in the short term, you can avoid this issue by always making sure the “home” button is to the right when capturing video on an iPhone or iPad. Of course, that makes it more difficult to use the volume buttons on the device as a shutter release button, which is rather inconvenient. So hopefully Adobe will resolve this issue in Lightroom soon.

Auto Adjustments on Import


Today’s Question: How can I set the “Auto Adjustment” feature as a preset for Import [in Lightroom Classic]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key to applying the automatic adjustments during import is to create a preset with the “Auto Settings” checkbox turned on in the “New Develop Preset” dialog.

More Detail: When you create a new preset, you are really saving existing settings that you’ve applied to an image so that the same settings can be applied to other images. When saving that preset, you have the option of selecting which specific adjustments should be included as part of the preset. In other words, a preset can include just a small number of adjustments, rather than all of the adjustments available in the Develop module.

Furthermore, you can apply a preset to images as they are being imported into your Lightroom catalog. If the preset you apply included the “Auto Settings” option when the preset was created, each image will have the automatic adjustments applied based on an analysis of each individual image.

For example, let’s assume you only wanted to apply the automatic adjustments to images being imported, with all other adjustments left at their default settings. You could go to the Develop module, and click the “plus” (+) button to the right of the Presets heading on the left panel to initiate the process of creating a new preset.

Then, in the New Develop Preset dialog, you could click the “Check None” button to turn off the checkboxes for all adjustment categories. Next, in the Auto Settings section near the top of the New Develop Preset dialog, you could turn on the “Auto Settings” checkbox. Note that the “Process Version” checkbox would also remain turned on, and should be left on in this context.

If needed you could also enable other adjustments in the New Develop Preset dialog. To save the final preset, enter a meaningful name in the Preset Name field, and click Create to save the preset.

The next time you are importing photos into your Lightroom catalog, you can choose the preset you saved as part of the above process from the Develop Settings popup in the Apply During Import section of the right panel in the Import dialog. The automatic adjustments will then be applied to all images when they are imported, based on the preset you applied.

Focus Peaking


Today’s Question: What is “focus peaking”, and why would I want this feature on a digital camera?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Focus peaking is a display on a camera’s LCD or electronic viewfinder that highlights areas of the scene that are in focus. This can be tremendously helpful for establishing or fine-tuning focus.

More Detail: Focus peaking has been common in video capture for quite some time, and I do consider this feature most helpful for video rather than still photography (though it can still be very helpful for still photography). As noted above, a focus peaking feature will highlight areas of the scene that are in focus, and in many cases you can choose the color to be used for the focus peaking presentation on the camera’s LCD display (when using the live view feature) or in the camera’s electronic viewfinder (for cameras that are so equipped).

The reason I consider focus peaking to be especially helpful for video capture is that it enables you to ensure a key subject remains in focus even as that subject gets closer or further away from the lens. It can be much faster and easier to adjust focus based on a focus peaking display rather than on a visual evaluation of the scene through the viewfinder, for example.

That said, focus peaking can most certainly be helpful for still photography. I find focus peaking especially helpful in tricky scenarios, such as in low lighting conditions, when it is difficult to critically evaluate which areas of the scene are in focus. In addition, many photographers with less than perfect vision find focus peaking to be an excellent primary tool for adjusting focus for a scene.

While focus peaking may not be a critical feature for all photographers, I do consider it a feature that can be tremendously helpful. I think it would be beneficial for any photographer who has never seen or used focus peaking to try it out and get a sense of whether they might find this feature helpful enough to add it to the list of “must have” features for their next camera purchase.

Labeling Virtual Copies


Today’s Question: I work in Lightroom and create virtual copies for variations on images. I would like to identify them, such as “more prominence to main subject”, “For client X”, or “cropped for 8×10”. If I change the filename on any of the virtual copies, it changes the filename on all and on the original. How can I label different virtual copies made for different purposes?

Tim’s Quick Answer: For this purpose I would suggest adding text to a field in metadata, such as the “User Comment” field available in the EXIF metadata.

More Detail: Renaming a photo can certainly help provide additional details about an image, but in the context of virtual copies in Lightroom this is not a good solution. Instead, I suggest adding information to metadata to reflect the notes you want to maintain for the image.

As you’ve probably noticed, there are a great many fields available in metadata that you aren’t likely to use. I recommend finding one of these fields that you aren’t likely to use for another purpose, and that makes sense for keeping notes about your photos.

For example, I would not generally recommend using the Title and Caption fields in metadata for this type of note about a photo, because those fields may be used for other purposes. For example, the Title can be used to label an image automatically when you share to online services such as Facebook.

So, the User Comment field is a good fit, I think, and you may find other fields that also represent a good option for this type of note, or for other details you want to remember about a photo.

Advanced Renaming Workflow


Today’s Question: In reference to the question and answer [on March 14th] about adding text to filenames, I wonder if there is any way to use the features of Adobe Bridge and Lightroom together or in conjunction without messing everything up?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is not really possible (at least without creating significant additional work for yourself) to use Adobe Bridge for renaming your photos after you have imported them into Lightroom. However, you could most certainly take advantage of the more advanced renaming options in Bridge before importing photos into Lightroom.

More Detail: Adobe Bridge includes some features for file renaming that go beyond what is available in Adobe Lightroom. For example, in Bridge you can rename through the use of a string substitution option, which is not available in Lightroom. You could use this feature to replace the “IMG_” text that precedes the sequence number in the filename for many camera models with more meaningful text related to your name or photo shoot details, as just one example of how this feature might be useful.

However, if you use Adobe Bridge to rename photos that are being managed by Adobe Lightroom, you’ll quickly create a potentially significant problem for yourself. By renaming photos outside the context of your Lightroom catalog, the photos will suddenly become “missing” within Lightroom, because those photos can’t be located with the filenames that are expected based on your Lightroom catalog. You would need to reconnect all of the renamed photos manually within Lightroom to resolve this issue, which could be time-consuming and frustrating.

Therefore, the only real option that would provide the additional renaming features of Adobe Bridge for photos you wish to manage in Adobe Lightroom would be to rename the photos using Adobe Bridge before importing those photos into Lightroom.

You could, for example, download and rename the photos to the intended storage location using Bridge, and then import those photos into your Lightroom catalog using the “Add” option found at the top-center of the Import dialog in Lightroom. Most importantly, if you’re going to rename your photos (or perform any other work) after those photos have been imported into your Lightroom catalog, that work should be performed (or initiated) from within Lightroom.

Effect of Feathering


Today’s Question: When one makes a selection or layer mask and then feathers it, does the feathering extend only outward from the masked area? Or does it also extend into the masked area?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you apply feathering to a selection or layer mask, that feathering extends both outward and inward relative to the existing edge of the selection or layer mask.

More Detail: If a selection or layer mask does not have any feathering applied, the edge of that selection or layer mask can be thought of as having a crisp edge with no transition. The selected area can be thought of as white, and the non-selected area as black, which happens to be exactly how Photoshop presents a layer mask or saved selection.

When you apply feathering to a selection or layer mask, you are quite literally applying a blur to the selection or mask. That blurring extends in both directions from all contrast edges in the selection or mask.

In other words, when you feather a selection, the selection edge will be enlarged (by virtue of the blurring), and that enlargement will extend in both directions. So the area you selected will be a little less selected within the selection area, and a little more selected in the area outside that selection area.

Because of this aspect of feathering, it is very often necessary to shift the edge of a selection or mask outward slightly after applying feathering. This is one of the reasons I prefer not to feather selections, and instead save that feathering for after a mask has been created based on a selection.

Furthermore, this is one of the reasons I prefer to use the Select and Mask workspace in Photoshop to apply feathering, so that I can also take advantage of the Shift Edge control that enables you to shift the mask edge inward or outward as needed based on the subject area, the amount of feathering applied, and the strength of the adjustment (if applicable) being applied to the area you had selected.

Video Playback not Smooth


Today’s Question: In Lightroom the videos I’ve imported along with my still photos often don’t play very smoothly. Is there something I can do to improve the playback within Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: As you can imagine, upgrading your computer could certainly help. But short of that, I recommend revealing the video file in your operating system and then playing the video from there, outside of Lightroom.

More Detail: Video playback in Lightroom is not always smooth, especially if there are background tasks being performed (such as an import or rendering of previews for images you’ve just imported). Increasing the amount of memory (RAM) in your computer and otherwise upgrading performance can certainly help. But when you’re not able to get smooth playback from within Lightroom, I find you can achieve much better results by going to your operating system instead.

Once you’ve found a video you want to review in Lightroom, right-click on that video and from the popup menu that appears choose “Show in Finder” (for Macintosh users) or “Show in Explorer” (for Windows users). This will bring up a window in your operating system reflecting the folder location of the video file you right-clicked on, and that video file will be highlighted.

You can then double-click on the video file to open it in the default player for your operating system, and at that point you should expect improved video playback performance.