Calibration Frequency

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Today’s Question: In Friday’s answer you said that it isn’t necessary to calibrate your monitor “with great frequency”. How often do you recommend calibrating?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Today’s digital displays are actually quite stable, so once you have calibrated and profiled to ensure an accurate display, calibrating every few months will generally be perfectly adequate, as long as you don’t adjust any of the controls affecting the display itself.

More Detail: In the “early” days of digital photography, we were working on analog monitor displays. Not only would these displays tend to get more dim over time, they would also tend to shift color due to variable wear on the components producing different wavelengths of light (red, green, and blue colors).

Today’s digital displays, by comparison, are very stable. They tend to be about a full stop too bright right out of the box, but the luminance doesn’t fade significantly over time, until the display starts to get relatively old.

The color stability of modern displays is even more stable. That means that right out of the box the color tends to be reasonably accurate. More importantly, once you have calibrated and profiled the display, the color is not likely to shift much at all.

It is still a good idea to periodically calibrate the display, just to make sure it remains accurate. If I forgot to calibrate for six months, I wouldn’t be alarmed at all. But I would calibrate again just to be sure I could remain confident in the accuracy of my display.

One of the most important things is to make sure you don’t adjust the brightness, contrast, or color on the display. If you do, it is best to run the calibration again so you can adjust everything back to an accurate appearance, and build a new profile for the display.

Calibration Reminders

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Today’s Question: I acquired ColorMunki Smile after reading one of your answers to a question about color management for a monitor. I have but one problem with this program. It seems to want a lot of attention, kinda like a 3-year-old. A window will pop up, side across the screen for me to run the program again and this happens about every two to three days. Any way to stop this from happening so often?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can disable the calibration reminders for this and other monitor calibration tools, or change the frequency of the reminders.

More Detail: The ColorMunki Smile (https://timgrey.me/smile) is a great affordable option for display calibration. Like other calibration tools, the software included in the ColorMunki Smile package will remind you to calibrate. That, of course, is a good thing, but you certainly don’t need to be reminded to calibrate with great frequency.

You can adjust the frequency of reminders with the ColorMunki Smile software, just as you can with most other display calibration tools. In the case of the Smile software, you can click the gear icon within the software to get to the settings, where you’ll find an option to select the reminder frequency, with settings for every week, every two weeks, every month, or never.

In addition, you can configure the reminder within the ColorMunki Smile Tray application, which gets installed alongside the ColorMunki Smile software used for the actual calibration. If you have the Tray application running you can click its icon and choose Preferences from the popup. You can then change the reminder frequency using the popup, or turn off the checkbox if you don’t want to be reminded at all.

Other calibration software tools have similar options for changing the frequency of reminders, or disabling them altogether.

Bracketed Focus Stacking

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Today’s Question: If I manually bracket three images using Exposure Compensation (such as meter, +2 stops, -2 stops) and I also adjust the focus point to a different position in the frame for each set of bracketed exposures to achieve a focus stack, how can I successfully blend the images in Lightroom or Photoshop or with DxO plugins to achieve both purposes?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you both bracket the exposures and capture for focus stacking at the same time, I recommend creating the focus-stacked images first, and then combine the results in to the final HDR (high dynamic range) images.

More Detail: It is generally possible to create an HDR with focus-stacking in either order. In other words, you could create the HDR images for each bracketed shot in the stack, or focus stack the images for each exposure of the HDR. However, I would favor creating the focus stacked images before assembling the HDR.

The reason for this is that in general I find focus stacking to be a process that is much less tolerant of small errors. In other words, it is generally more difficult to create a high-quality focus stack than it is to create a high-quality HDR image.

So, I would create the focus stacks for each exposure that will be used for the HDR image. In this case, with a “dark”, “medium”, and “bright” image for each focus setting, you’ll need to create a focus-stacked image for each of those three. So you would take all of the images exposed at minus two stops and create a focus stack of those, and then repeat the process for the even exposure and for the “plus two” exposure.

I recommend using Helicon Focus from Helicon Software (https://www.heliconsoft.com) to assemble the focus-stacked images. You can then use your preferred HDR software to assemble the stacked images into the final HDR. For this purpose I recommend Aurora HDR (https://timgrey.me/hdrtrial), though there are obviously other solutions available, including Lightroom and Photoshop.

Lightroom Import Clarification

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Today’s Question: Can you import from an SD card [into the “cloud” version of Lightroom]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can import into the cloud-based version of Lightroom (as well as into Lightroom Classic) from an SD card or any other media card. Only the primary storage is affected when you choose between Lightroom (cloud-based) and Lightroom Classic, not where you are able to import photos from.

More Detail: Today’s question is a follow-up to a previous question I addressed about the differences between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom (cloud). With both desktop applications in the Lightroom family, you are able to import any support image formats into your catalog from a memory card or other storage device.

The core difference as it relates to storage is what happens after you have imported your photos. With both versions of Lightroom, the files will initially be copied to the hard drive you have designated for local storage. With Lightroom Classic, the photos will remain on that local storage device, and will not be synchronized to the cloud unless you add photos to a collection that has synchronization enabled.

With the cloud-based version of Lightroom, cloud-storage is really intended to be your primary storage. So all photos will synchronize automatically to the cloud, and be available from any device (computer, smartphone, or tablet, for example) that you use to access your Lightroom catalog. Photos may be removed from local storage if there is not enough available space. But even if that happens, all photos will still be stored (and backed up) in the cloud if you’re using the cloud-based version of Lightroom.

So, the core difference between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic is that with Lightroom Classic you are directly managing all of your storage, while with Lightroom (cloud) your storage is primarily being managed in the cloud for you. With both versions, however, you can import photos from a variety of different sources.

Removing Batteries

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Today’s Question: I have heard that you should remove the battery from your camera (in this case, Sony mirrorless) when not using it, because leaving it in harms the camera in some way. Do you agree? Also, does removing the battery improve the battery life in any significant way?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is recommended that you remove the battery from your camera if it won’t be used for an extended period, to help prevent any potential damage to the camera. In addition, removing the battery may help the battery hold a charge longer.

More Detail: I really don’t consider it to be a great risk to leave a battery in the camera when the camera isn’t in use for an extended period of time, but there are some minor risks. Therefore, I would say it is a good idea to remove the battery from your camera when you’ll put the camera away for an extended period of time, but I wouldn’t worry about it if I forgot to remove the battery.

Frankly, the bigger issue in my mind relates to draining the battery, not putting the camera at risk. Many cameras will still cause the battery to be drained when it is in the camera, even if the camera is turned off. For example, I leave the GPS feature active on my camera, even when the camera isn’t in use, in large part so I don’t forget to turn the feature on again later.

With the GPS active even with the camera turned off, it is surprising how fast the battery will completely lose its charge. Therefore, I prefer to pop the battery out of the camera when I know I won’t use it for a while, primarily to retain a charge in the batter for a longer period of time.

Batch Correction for Capture Time

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Today’s Question: I believe you taught me at one time that you need to be in the Grid view, not the Loop view to reset these [the capture time] all at once [in Lightroom Classic].

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, just as with other metadata updates, if you want to adjust the capture time you’ll want to be in the grid view display in Lightroom Classic before using the Edit Capture Time command.

More Detail: Today’s “question” is a follow-up to an earlier Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, where I explained how you can adjust the capture time for a group of photos. The specific example involved two cameras, one of which had a time that was off by about five minutes compared to the camera that had an accurate time setting.

In my answer I explained a process for filtering the images to those captured only with the camera that had the time set incorrectly. Part of that process involved accessing the Library Filter bar that is available in the grid view (but not in the loupe view). However, I didn’t explicitly state that it was necessary to be in the grid view in order to adjust the capture time for multiple photos.

So, I thought it was worthwhile to amplify the point about the difference between the grid view and the loupe view displays in Lightroom Classic when you have selected multiple images.

By default, even if you have selected multiple photos on the filmstrip, if you are in the loupe view Lightroom Classic assumes you are working with a single image, and updates you apply (such as adding keywords or adjusting capture time) will only apply to the single image shown in the loupe view display.

Therefore, it is necessary to be in the grid view (not the loupe view) if you want to select multiple photos and apply metadata updates to all of those selected images. I should add that it is possible to enable automatic metadata synchronization when you are in the loupe view display, but I don’t recommend taking advantage of this option because there is a risk of forgetting to turn it on, or of forgetting that it is on. In my mind it is more obvious that you are working with multiple images when you are in the grid view, and I prefer to maintain consistent behavior in the loupe view.

Alignment Correction

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Today’s Question: When photographing a completed puzzle it is almost impossible to hold the iPhone [or any camera] parallel to the image. I remember that you have suggested perspective correction in Photoshop with Free Transform. Trouble is I can’t seem to get decent results. Perhaps I am doing something wrong. Any suggestions?

Tim’s Quick Answer: For this type of scenario I highly recommend using the Guided option for the Transform adjustment, which is available as part of the Camera Raw Filter in Photoshop, and in the Transform section of the Develop module in Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: It can indeed be very difficult to get the camera lens aligned perfectly orthogonal to the surface of a flat object you are photographing, such as a jigsaw puzzle or document. Fortunately, the Guided option for the Transform adjustment in Camera Raw or Lightroom provide an excellent solution.

In the context of Photoshop you can use the Camera Raw Filter. Start by selecting the image layer on the Layers panel (if you have added additional layers) and choosing Filter > Camera Raw Filter from the menu. Then click on the Transform button on the small toolbar across the top of the Camera Raw interface. The Transform button has an icon showing a box set at an angle.

On the right panel in the Camera Raw dialog, you’ll now see the Transform heading, with the Upright options directly below that heading. Click the button at the far right, with four overlapping lines, which represents the Guided option.

You can now drag and drop to draw lines that align with the edges that should be perfectly horizontal or perfectly vertical. You need to add at least two lines, and can add up to four. Typically, for example, you would draw two lines that correspond to lines within the image that should be perfectly horizontal (or vertical) such as the top and bottom edges of a puzzle or document.

In addition to the first two lines, you can add one or two more to further refine the result. In a situation such as the example of a puzzle, I would add four lines: one each for the top, bottom, left, and right edges of the puzzle.

Once you’ve finished drawing the lines for the Guided transformation, you can click the OK button to apply the change. At that point (or within the Camera Raw Filter) you’ll likely want to also crop the image, and possibly apply additional adjustments.

Lightroom Classic versus Lightroom

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Today’s Question: When Lightroom CC came out I had been using Lightroom (Classic) for Years. I looked at Lightroom CC and didn’t find nearly the functionality I was used to. How would you compare the two Lightrooms nowadays?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The cloud-based version of Lightroom has gotten closer to parity with Lightroom Classic in terms of core features, but is still missing more than a few features that are available in Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: To be sure, Lightroom (cloud-based) has been catching up with Lightroom Classic in terms of core features. But many features available in Lightroom Classic are still not available in Lightroom. More importantly, the core storage architecture is very different between these two versions of Lightroom.

The adjustments available for optimizing your photos essentially have parity between the two versions of Lightroom. Most of the organizational features are mostly equivalent, at least in terms of the intended workflow for Lightroom (cloud). For example, you can’t manage folders in Lightroom (cloud), but that is by design since your photos are stored primarily in the cloud with this version of Lightroom.

There are a few other omissions from an image management standpoint, such as the lack of color labels as well as a variety of other metadata fields within Lightroom, which are available in Lightroom Classic.

The key area where Lightroom is significantly limited compared to Lightroom Classic relates to sharing photos. You aren’t able to print photos from Lightroom, and the features of the Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web modules are unavailable. The only real option for sharing photos from Lightroom is to sync to a web browser or mobile device, or to export a copy of the photo.

For many photographers, the lack of some key features in Lightroom will cause them to prefer Lightroom Classic. More importantly in my mind, however, is that these two versions of Lightroom take a completely different approach to photo storage. For a variety of reasons I want to manage the storage of my photos on my own local devices, not with cloud-based storage. Therefore, I expect that the cloud-based Lightroom will never truly meet my workflow needs, while Lightroom Classic serves my needs very well.

Previews from Camera

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Today’s Question: I know you have explained that adjustment settings in the camera don’t affect raw captures. But they do affect the preview you see on the camera’s display. Is there a way to preserve those previews when you import the photos into Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can (at least temporarily) retain the preview from your camera, which will include in-camera adjustments, if you use the “Embedded & Sidecar” option from the Build Previews popup during import into Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: As I’ve discussed in previous answers, the adjustments such as saturation and contrast applied in the camera won’t actually affect raw captures. Those adjustments will, however, affect the preview you see on the camera’s LCD display.

So, for example, if you set your camera to capture in black and white (monochrome), the preview on the camera will indeed appear as black and white, but when you process the raw capture there will still be color information available.

When Lightroom Classic renders previews for your images, they are based on the adjustment settings in the Develop module. That means the in-camera adjustment settings will not be reflected in the preview you see in Lightroom. So, in the case of having your camera set to capture in black and white, the preview in Lightroom will appear in color.

However, if you choose the “Embedded & Sidecar” option for the image previews during import, the preview generated by your camera will be reflected for the images you import. In this example that would mean the photos would appear as black and white versions, essentially reflecting the in-camera adjustments. In addition, you will see a banner indicating “Embedded Preview” for the image, so you know the preview was not generated by Lightroom.

Note, however, that if you switch to the Develop module, the preview will be updated (even in the Library module) to reflect the adjustment settings in Lightroom. For example, the black and white preview will be replaced by a color preview, based on the Develop settings.

While making use of the embedded preview option during import is a somewhat temporary solution, it does enable you to see the camera’s interpretation of your photos based on the in-camera settings you had selected.

Artist Metadata Correction

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Today’s Question: Actually, in Lightroom Classic, if you change the name in the Creator field, it changes the Artist name accordingly.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, indeed! I was not aware of this, but while the Artist metadata field appears read-only in Lightroom Classic, changing the value in the Creator field will also update the Artist field to the same value.

More Detail: This was a follow-up to a previous question about the Artist field in metadata, which is read-only in Lightroom Classic. In my original answer, I explained that the value for the Artist field is generally set by the camera, using software from the camera’s manufacturer.

There are also third-party software tools that enable you to modify metadata values, even if they are generally not editable in other software applications such as Lightroom Classic.

I’m grateful to the reader who pointed out this detail, which I had not been aware of (obviously) when I answered the original questions. As I’ve said before on more than one occasion, one of the things I love about publishing the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter is that if I make an error in one of my answers, many readers are happy to let me know about it. And of course I’m more than happy to acknowledge when my answers aren’t entirely accurate, and make sure I’m sharing the best information for my readers.

So, if you need to update the Artist field in metadata for your photos, just update the Creator field and the Artist field will be updated as well.

And once again, thank you to reader Randy Finch, who let me know about this issue. You can check out Randy’s photography on Flickr here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rcfinch/collections/