Bad Import Update?

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Today’s Question: I haven’t yet upgraded to the latest update for Lightroom, but heard that the Import experience changed dramatically. Can you provide input on whether I should upgrade now, and how best to prepare for the new Import features?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I am not a fan of the new Import experience introduced with Lightroom 6.2 (2015.2 for CC users), and frankly I consider the new experience to be a bit dangerous for those who don’t realize that additional options are available. Adobe has announced that a future update will revert Lightroom to the previous Import experience, and so unless you need updated RAW support or other new features, I might suggest waiting for the next update before upgrading.

More Detail: My primary concern about the new Import experience introduced in Lightroom 6.2 is that if you don’t access the settings panel all of your photos will be downloaded into the “Pictures” folder for your operating system, without a customized folder structure. This can lead to some serious organizational challenges if you imported various sets of photos without being aware of the settings panel.

In addition, the update to a new Import experience removed the option to automatically eject the media you were downloading cards from. I considered that to be a very helpful feature, and was sorry to see it disappear.

The new Import experience also removes the option to preview what your folder structure will look like after the import, which can present a challenge to some users.

Understandably, many photographers were far more concerned about Lightroom crashing more frequently after the version 6.2 update. While these crashes seem to have affected a relatively small percentage of Lightroom users, there was most certainly a very significant issue for those who did experience the crashes. My understanding is that these issues have been resolved for most users via the version 6.2.1 (2015.2.1) update.

And, as noted above, Adobe has indicated that they will be reverting to the prior version of the Import experience with an upcoming “dot” release (presumably a version 6.3 update, but in any event a version later than 6.2.1). For those who don’t otherwise have a need to update to an interim version of Lightroom, I would suggest waiting until the update with a reversion to the prior Import experience.

I suspect the Import experience will change again in the future, as Adobe is obviously looking for ways to improve this feature. Even the prior Import experience could be a little bit cumbersome for some users, so a more elegant solution would be welcomed by many photographers, I’m sure. Hopefully we’ll see more significant improvements (without the loss of any features) in a future update to Lightroom.

Keywording Challenges

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Today’s Question: I photograph a number of events and have dozens and dozens of people’s names entered in Lightroom as keywords. I use first-name-first because I don’t want to try to put a comma into a last-name-first entry. If I enter a name for someone who may be a keyword already, I have to remember that person’s first name and whether I entered it as Robert, Rob, Bob or something else. Spouses are a problem, since I probably know one member of the couple but can’t remember the other’s first name. Entering the last name into the keyword entry box does not bring up the keyword. There does not seem to be a sort option as you would find in an address book to sort by last name. I know I can search by last name, but I am more concerned about entering the names. Is there anything I can do to simplify entering names of people other than reentering them all as last name, first name without any punctuation?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I think the Keyword List option in Lightroom is your best solution for adding keywords. This option enables you to filter keywords by text (such as last name in your example) and simply turn on a checkbox to add a keyword to the current image (or multiple selected images in the Grid view display).

More Detail: First off, I certainly recommend using the “full name” approach to adding keywords for the names of people. Adding keywords with the last name and first name separated by a comma is really a matter of adding two separate keywords. I prefer to have the full name reflected, since this approach provides more flexibility.

To begin with, when searching for images that contain particular keywords, you can use the “Contains” option on the Text tab of the Library Filter bar so that you can search for any text (such as first name or last name) that appears within the Keywords field.

In addition, you can filter the list of keywords in the Keyword List section of the right panel in the Library module, allowing you to filter by any text that appears in keywords for any photos. So, for example, when it comes to people names you could type the last name into the “Filter Keywords” field in the Keyword List section of the right panel, causing only keywords that include that text to be displayed. In other words, in the context of full names added as a keyword, you could type only the last name and see all people with that last name. You could then simply turn on the checkbox for the applicable names in order to add that keyword to the current photo (or selected photos in the Grid view).

So, by using full names you are maximizing your flexibility. And by using the Keyword List as a primary method of adding keywords, you can make sure you’re adding keywords consistently while also reminding yourself of names for specific people who might appear in your photos.

Cropped Print

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Today’s Question: I shoot with a Nikon 800 full frame camera and edit my photos in Lightroom. When I export my images as JPGs I can see a full picture but when I go to print 8×10 prints the picture is cropped significantly. What’s going on?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are two basic factors here. First, the aspect ratio of the images you are capturing is 2:3, which translates to a print size of 8”x12”. Second, you are printing at a size of 8”x10”, which requires that two inches of the “long side” of the image be cropped. The key is to disable that cropping, which in Lightroom translates to turning off the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox.

More Detail: When you are printing a single image in Lightroom, most of the templates will cause the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox to be turned on. This relates to the way Lightroom defines image sizes for printing via a cell size. A cell is defined for each image to be printed on the page, and the photo will be fit within that cell. The question is whether the image will be cropped in order to completely fill that cell.

For example, when you choose the 8”x10” template in Lightroom’s Print module, the cell size containing the image is exactly 8”x10”, and the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox is turned on. As a result, the photo will be printed at exactly 8-inches by 10-inches, with two inches cropped from the full image. That cropping is literally performed as a “zoom”, so that in this example you would be cutting off one inch on the left and right edge of the photo.

If you want the entire image to be printed without cropping, you can turn off the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox in the Image Settings section of the right panel in the Print module. That will cause the image to be sized within the boundaries of the cell, but with the entire image visible. So, for example, and image that would normally print at a size of 8”x12”, but that is being fit into a cell that is 8”x10”, would print at about 6.7”x10”.

Ultimately, your options when printing involve either showing the full image but not necessarily at what might be a desired aspect ratio, or printing at a desired aspect ratio but cropping the photo in the process. My general preference is to ignore aspect ratio and print the photo in its entirety based on the way I chose to crop my photo. But of course there are certainly situations where a specific aspect ratio is needed for a print, in which case cropping is going to be involved.

Missing Metadata?

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Today’s Question: I updated from Lightroom 5 to Lightroom CC. All seemed to go well, except I had notes regarding my specific Lightroom Print Adjustments for various papers in my Metadata section of Lightroom 5 under Comments. This section is not in Lightroom CC and the data didn’t transfer. Would you have any ideas how to recoup this data?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Your metadata didn’t disappear. It is simply “hiding” at the moment. It sounds like you are using the “User Comment” field of metadata, which is part of the EXIF metadata standard. You can find that field by clicking the popup to the left of the Metadata header on the right panel in the Library module and choosing “EXIF” or “EXIF and IPTC”.

More Detail: Lightroom enables you to choose which metadata information is displayed for your photos, so that you are able to get to the information you need without necessarily being overwhelmed by information you don’t need to see (or don’t need to see very often).

While you’re not able to pick and choose the specific metadata fields you want displayed in the Metadata section of the right panel in the Library module, you can choose among several different categories of metadata using the popup to the left of the Metadata header on the right panel.

Choosing the “EXIF” option, for example, presents the EXIF metadata fields, which primarily consist of the information recorded at the time of capture, such as the equipment and camera settings used to capture the photo.

So, if you don’t see a particular metadata field you are interested in, you can simply choose a different option from the popup to the left of the Metadata header. I generally prefer to use the “EXIF and IPTC” option, though admittedly this results in a significant amount of information being displayed for the current photo. In any event, you can change the display option, or even collapse the Metadata section when you don’t need to view the information about your photos and want a cleaner display within Lightroom.

Image Processing

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Today’s Question: It’s clear to me that when I shoot a JPEG in camera the JPEG image is created from the RAW capture with the camera’s internal “formula”.  But what “formula” is being used with either the Image Processor in Photoshop or in the Save Image approach in Adobe Camera Raw? And can that formula be adjusted?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “formula” used to create a JPEG image from a RAW capture when using Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, or Lightroom is essentially the “Adobe Camera Raw” formula. And yes, you can most certainly adjust that formula at least in terms of refining the settings for RAW processing for the photo before creating the JPEG image.

More Detail: I think one of the things that photographers don’t always realize about a RAW capture is that there isn’t a single “correct” method for processing that RAW capture. Obviously there is a degree of artistic interpretation the photographer can apply, but in addition different software will interpret the same RAW capture in different ways.

Thus, the software you’re using to process RAW captures will generally produce a different (and sometimes very different) result compared to the preview you see on the camera’s LCD display. The underlying software algorithms are different from one RAW processor to the next, the available controls may be different, and of course you may apply the various adjustments in different ways.

When a RAW capture is processed in Lightroom or Photoshop, the underlying “engine” for processing that RAW capture is Adobe Camera Raw. Thus, the result you will see when you create a derivative image (such as a JPEG file) based on a RAW capture will depend upon the underlying settings for Adobe Camera Raw. That may translate into the adjustments you’ve applied in the Develop module in Lightroom, the settings you’ve applied in Adobe Camera Raw, or simply the default settings if you haven’t actually modified the adjustments for the image yet.

You can adjust the settings by first applying adjustments in Lightroom or in Adobe Camera Raw, though you obviously can’t change the underlying algorithms within these applications. But by applying adjustments in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw before creating a derivative image using Lightroom, Adobe Bridge, or Photoshop, the derivative image you create as part of that process will reflect the adjustments you applied to the original RAW capture.

Image Corruption

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Today’s Question: I have attached an image file with color bars at the lower right hand corner. I was wondering if you have seen this before and can identify the source of the problem. I have experienced this probably about three times over the last 6 months. I have a Canon 5D MKIII camera and used my Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 lens for this shot. Is my camera sensor starting to go bad, lens problem, bad memory card, etc.? Any help is appreciated.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The image provided by the photographer who submitted this question demonstrates the classic symptoms of a corrupted capture. This type of issue is generally caused by a problem when the file is written to the card, or when the file is copied to your computer. Thus, the key is to isolate the specific cause of the issue.

More Detail: Identifying the source of file corruption for a digital capture can be a little bit of a challenge, with some misleading information along the way. For example, an uncorrupted image displayed on the camera’s LCD does not necessarily indicate that the image file isn’t corrupted, because what you’re seeing is the JPEG image rendered by the camera, not the actual RAW capture.

It is possible that the source of this problem is the camera itself, the card being used to store the photos, the card reader you are using to download the photos, any of the cables used to connect the camera or card reader, or the computer itself, among other possible causes.

As soon as this sort of issue starts to show up, it is important to try to isolate the problem as quickly as possible. This involves keeping track of what equipment is in use when the problem occurs, and trying to isolate the specific source. So, for example, you can test different cards, different card readers, and possibly even different cameras to try to identify the cause.

Once this sort of issue arises I’m not comfortable trusting the components involved. To be sure, it is possible that the corruption was created by ejecting a card from the camera before the file had been completely written. But if you’re confident that wasn’t an issue, there is likely a hardware problem at play. I would tend to stop using any card that exhibits this sort of corruption. But again, the key is to test out different hardware to isolate the specific source of corruption. This can be a time-consuming process, especially if the problem only occurs sporadically. But in most cases if the problem is not a matter of user error it is caused by hardware problems, so you’ll want to find the source as quickly as possible so you can capture new images with confidence.

You can learn more about the issue of corrupted captures in my article titled (appropriately enough) “Corrupted Captures” that appeared in the April 2015 issue of Pixology magazine. If you’re not already a subscriber you can sign up at http://pixologymag.com, and I would be happy to send you the back issues at no additional cost.

Reverting Lightroom

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Today’s Question: I updated Lightroom CC yesterday and now I have a complete mess on my hands. The software doesn’t run. It opens for a second or two then crashes. I have restarted, shut down, reinstalled the software, and still nothing. Any thoughts on where to go next?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you’re able to get to the Preferences dialog, I would try turning off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox on the Performance tab. I have also received a report that turning off the “Show ‘Add Photos’ Screen” checkbox on the General tab of the Preferences dialog has helped prevent crashes. If you’re not able to get there or turning off this option doesn’t resolve your issue, I would suggest uninstalling the latest update and then downloading and installing the initial Lightroom 6 release as an initial step in reverting to an earlier update.

More Detail: I have received more than a few emails from readers who are having difficulty with the latest update to Lightroom (version CC 2015.2 or 6.2). These users are reporting frequent crashes. I am using the latest update, and am not experiencing any problems myself, but clearly the latest update has created some problems for a number of users.

I’ve found that in general disabling the “Use Graphics Processor” option can be helpful for those experiencing crashes with Lightroom. This option is found on the Performance tab in the Preferences dialog, which can be accessed by choosing Lightroom > Preferences from the menu on the Macintosh version of Lightroom or Edit > Preferences on the Windows version of Lightroom.

As noted above, I’ve also received reports that turning off the “Show ‘Add Photos’ Screen” checkbox on the General tab of the Preferences dialog has helped resolve issues with Lightroom crashing. So I would certainly recommend turning that option off if you are having issues with the latest Lightroom update.

If turning off checkboxes doesn’t provide a solution (or you’re not able to get to this option), you may want to revert to an older version of Lightroom. Start by uninstalling Lightroom 6/CC. Then download the original Lightroom 6 version from this page on the Adobe website:

https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/lightroom-downloads.html

You can then install the original Lightroom 6/CC release, using your Adobe ID to sign in during the installation process to validate your CC version of Lightroom. I would then suggest waiting for another update beyond the 2015.2 (or 6.2) release of Lightroom. Hopefully that update will be arriving very soon, and will resolve the crash issues that some users are reporting.

Metadata for Derivative Images

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Today’s Question: I follow your suggestions where my “master” file is a Photoshop PSD file and I make JPEG images from the master files. Is there a way in Lightroom or Bridge to “mark” a photo (flag, color, stars, etc.) and have that information stay in the metadata of the exported image?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can most certainly add metadata to the “master” image, and have that information included in any derivative images you create. This is the default behavior when using, for example, the Image Processor from within Adobe Bridge. When exporting from Lightroom you can also enable the option to retain metadata for the exported images.

More Detail: If you’re using Adobe Bridge to create JPEG images from your “master” photos, I recommend the Image Processor utility as the most convenient option for creating derivative JPEG images. Simply select the photos you want to process, then choose Tools > Photoshop > Image Processor. You can specify the settings to be used and then process your photos to create JPEG derivative images that will include the metadata from the source photo.

The same option is available when exporting photos from Lightroom. Simply select the photos you want to process and click the Export button at the bottom of the left panel in the Library module to initiate the process. Use the various options available to specify how you want your derivative images to be created. In this case, the key setting is the “Include” popup in the Metadata section of the Export dialog. In this case you would probably want to use the “All Metadata” option so that all of the metadata from the source images will be included in the derivative images being created.

Keep in mind that only “standard” metadata can be included with this process. That means that Pick (or Reject) flags added in Lightroom will not be included in the derivative image. However, star ratings, color labels, and other standard metadata can be included in the exported images files, as long as the appropriate option for metadata is selected in the Export dialog.

Image Protection

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Today’s Question: Can you give us suggestions on copyrights, image size, watermarking, etc. when posting images to Facebook? In other words, how do we protect our images from being used (or used effectively) without our permission?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In my mind there are three basic approaches when it comes to the notion of protecting your photos from theft when sharing your images online. First, you can mark the photos with a watermark that makes them let useful to a would-be image thief. Second, you can keep the image size small enough that it can’t really be used for any significant purpose. Or third (my preferred approach) you can choose not to worry about image theft too much, on the assumption that sharing your photos represents (hopefully!) greater value than the negative consequences associated with the theft of your photos.

More Detail: From my perspective, there is really no such thing as completely protecting your photos from theft that still preserves what I would consider to be a good user experience in terms of enjoying your photos. So we’re mostly talking about compromise here.

In general I prefer not to include a visible watermark on a photo, except for situations where I feel that watermark may be advantageous as a promotional tool. For example, in some cases I might include my website address as a watermark on the image. In this case, I try to make the watermark as unobtrusive as possible, while still being visible enough to provide some promotional value.

I do generally try to keep photos I share online at a reasonably small size. Doing so can minimize the risk of photos being stolen for purposes of printing. For example, an image that is resized to about 1000 pixels on the long side can only really be printed at a size of about 3-inches by about 5-inches while retaining good quality for close examination. Keep in mind, however, that when you post an image online, it can most certainly be used in other digital forms at the same size. A photo resized to “only” 1000 pixels on the long side could very easily be used in a typical slideshow presentation, for example, or included in a high-definition (HD) video.

While there are a handful of methods available for protecting photos you share online, most of those methods are either not especially effective or create what I consider to be a less-than-ideal viewing experience for those interested in your photos.

So, again, my approach is to try to keep in mind that sharing photos online will (hopefully!) provide promotional value for me as a photographer (or as a photographic educator). My intent when sharing photos online (beyond simply enjoying the process of sharing) is for the promotional benefit of sharing exceed whatever harm may come from having my photos stolen.

I fully realize that for many photographers image theft is a very real concern. However, I think it is important to realize that generally speaking if you share your photos online they are never completely safe from theft. So, I recommend using a modest watermark, keeping image sizes relatively small, and trying not to worry too much about the risks of online theft.

Partial Pixels?

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Today’s Question: Zooming all the way in [in Photoshop], you can see each individual pixel. But I’m able to place a guide at different locations within a pixel. How can this be? You can’t cut within a pixel, can you? Shouldn’t the Guide snap to the boundary of that pixel?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is indeed possible to place a guide in a position that does not align with the edge of the pixels in your image, which I agree is a bit unusual at least in the context of a raster (pixel based) image. However, it is possible to have your guides “snap” to the edges of pixels in an image.

More Detail: For those not familiar, Guides in Photoshop allow you to position non-printing horizontal or vertical lines within an image. Those Guides can then be used to align objects, force objects to snap to a specific position, keep track of margins or borders in an image, and more.

There are several steps required in order to force new guides you create on an image to snap to the edge of the pixels in the image. The first is to make sure the “snap” behavior is enabled. To do so, you can confirm that there is a checkmark icon to the left of the Snap item on the View menu in Photoshop. If there isn’t a checkbox shown to the left of “Snap”, that indicates the feature is disabled, and you can select Snap from the View menu to turn this feature on.

Next, you need to make sure that the unit of measure for the Rulers feature is set to Pixels. If you haven’t already displayed the Rulers for the image, you can choose View > Rulers from the menu to turn on the Rulers display. You can also press Ctrl+R on Windows or Command+R on Macintosh to toggle the Rulers display. Then right-click on one of the Rulers (at the top or left edge of the image) and choose Pixels from the popup menu that appears. Note that you can also change the unit of measure for the Rulers on the “Units & Rulers” page of the Preferences dialog.

With these two options set, you will be able to create a new Guide that snaps to the edge of the pixels within the image. A Guide can be created by simply clicking on one of the Rulers and dragging into the image. To force that Guide to snap to the edge of pixels, hold the Shift key while dragging the mouse to the position where you want the Guide created. The new Guide will then “snap” to a pixel boundary as long as you’re holding the Shift key when you release the mouse to place the Guide.

So, in concept all you need to do to snap a guide to the pixel boundary is hold the Shift key while dragging from a Ruler to create a Guide. However, you also need to be sure the Snap option is enabled, and that the unit of measure for the Rulers is set to Pixels.