Workflow for HDR Panoramas

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Today’s Question: My question relates to workflow with HDR panoramas. I am a big fan of Aurora HDR 2019 and use it as a plug-in to Lightroom Classic. I am NOT a big fan of the HDR Panorama merge tool in Lightroom, however, because the deghost function is disabled. Should I use the HDR merge in Lightroom for each bracketed image, stitch them together using the Panorama merge in Lightroom, and then send the HDR panorama image to Aurora? Or, should I first use Aurora for the bracketed images and after sending them back to Lightroom, only then use the Panorama merge tool in Lightroom? Or, is there some alternative option that would work better? Let me add that many of my HDR images have movement in the image, which is why I need the deghosting capabilities of Aurora.

Tim’s Quick Answer: My recommendation would be to assemble the HDR images for each frame of the panorama first in Aurora HDR, being sure to use the same settings for all HDR images that will be used for a single panorama. You can then assemble the resulting HDR images into the composite panorama using Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: While I appreciate that Lightroom Classic is capable of assembling high dynamic range (HDR) panoramas in a single step, I agree that it can be problematic that you aren’t able to take advantage of the full set of features that would otherwise be available if you assembled the HDR frames and the composite panorama as two separate processes. Therefore, I do prefer assembling the HDR images first, and then merging those HDR frames into the final panorama.

Obviously you could assemble the HDR frames in Lightroom Classic first, but I agree that Aurora HDR (https://timgrey.me/hdrtrial) often produces a result I am happier with. I recommend using the original raw captures to create the initial HDR, which is why I recommend creating the HDR images in Aurora HDR as the first step in creating an HDR panorama.

To ensure the final panorama will go together smoothly, I also recommend using the exact same settings for each HDR image you are creating for the panorama. That might mean simply using an existing preset for all of the frames, or creating your own custom preset based on the refinements you make to the various settings for the first HDR you assemble for the panorama. For the other frames of the panorama you would want to use the exact same settings so there aren’t any variations across the panorama. When all HDR frames have been created, you can use Lightroom Classic to merge those into the final HDR panorama.

Dimensions for Online Sharing

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Today’s Question: I have a question about the Export settings that I saw from your recent webinar. I noticed that you set up your export preset for Instagram so the long edge of your photos would be 2000 pixels. I am curious about the best settings for other sites such as Facebook. Or is there a good setup for all web sharing?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When sharing photos digitally the pixel dimensions are the only resolution setting you need to concern yourself with. In general, somewhere around 2,000 pixels on the long edge is more than adequate for any online or digital sharing.

More Detail: In the case of Instagram, 2,000 pixels on the long edge is actually larger than you need. Instagram will scale the image down to 1,080 pixels wide and up to 1,350 pixels tall. The reason I use 2,000 pixels for the long edge is that I synchronize the exported photos to my phone, so I can share the images via Instagram as well as directly on my phone.

For digital sharing the key consideration is the resolution of the display being used to present the image. I feel that 2,000 pixels on the long edge is a good setting in general. For more monitor displays or mobile devices, this will provide more than enough resolution to ensure good quality for the image.

Even for displays with a higher resolution, such as high-end 4K monitors, a resolution of 2,000 pixels on the long edge will provide good image quality. Each display configuration may be different, of course, but I feel that 2,000 pixels on the long edge is a good general-purpose setting for digital sharing.

For those interested in seeing the photos I have shared on Instagram, you can find my feed by pointing your web browser here:

https://www.instagram.com/timgreyphoto/

Keywording without Lightroom

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Today’s Question: I am not using Lightroom and was wondering about keywording in Photoshop or Bridge? Or is that a lot more complicated or even available?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can indeed add keywords (and other metadata) to your photos using Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Bridge. If you later decide to use Lightroom Classic (or other software), those keywords will be available in that application as well.

More Detail: Most software that enables you to manage your photos in some way also enables you to add keywords, as well as update other standard metadata fields. As a result, most of the updates you make to metadata for your photos will be available if you use other photo-management applications in the future.

In Adobe Bridge you can find the option to add keywords on the Keywords panel or the Metadata panel. The Keywords panel enables you to add or remove keywords using a keyword list, with checkboxes available to identify which keywords should be assigned to the currently selected image(s). You can also add new keywords by clicking the plus (+) button at the bottom of this panel.

On the Metadata panel in Bridge you can find the Keywords field in the IPTC Core section of metadata. You can edit the keywords in that field, and then click the checkmark icon at the bottom of the panel to apply the changes.

In Photoshop you can update metadata for the current photo by choosing File > File Info from the menu. For keywords you can choose the IPTC tab from the list at the left side of the dialog, and then update the Keywords field as needed. Click OK to apply the changes in metadata for the photo.

I don’t think the keywording options in Bridge or Photoshop are any more complicated than what is available in Lightroom Classic or other software for managing photos. All are relatively straightforward to use once you know where the keywording feature can be accessed.

New “Top Level” Folder

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Today’s Question: Can you remind me how to make a folder at the same level as all of my other folders in Lightroom [Classic]? For example, I want to be able to divide the images in one folder into two folders, so I need to make a folder at the same level as the existing folder.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can create a new “top level” folder by either using the option to create a sub-folder below the higher-level folder (which could be the hard drive itself), or by using the “Add Folder” command to create a new folder anywhere.

More Detail: The “Add Folder” command is perhaps the most flexible way to add a new empty folder that is visible within Lightroom Classic, so you can then drag-and-drop photos into that folder from any other folder being managed by Lightroom. However, as I’ll clarify shortly, it also has the potential to be a little confusing to use.

To create a new folder in this way, you first click the plus symbol (+) to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module, and then choose “Add Folder” from the popup menu.

In the popup menu that appears you can navigate to the location where you want to create the folder. This might mean simply navigating to an external hard drive, for example, or it might mean creating a folder within a “parent” folder such as the Pictures folder on your computer’s internal hard drive.

After navigating to the applicable location, you can click the New Folder button at the bottom-left of the dialog and enter a name for the new folder. Then click “Create” to actually create the new folder and click Choose to finalize the process.

One of the challenges with the “Add Folder” command is that it can be a little confusing to navigate to the correct location where you actually want to create the new folder. Therefore, I generally recommend the “Add Subfolder” command instead.

The key to the “Add Subfolder” command is to select the parent folder where you want to create a new folder. In the case of a “top level” folder, that often means selecting the hard drive itself, which by default won’t be listed among the folders on the Folders list on the left panel. If that’s the case, you can reveal the parent folder (or hard drive) by right-clicking on one of the existing top-level folders and choosing the “Show Parent Folder” command. This will reveal the parent folder (or hard drive) at the top of the list of folders. You can then click on that folder (or hard drive) name, then click the plus symbol (+) to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel. From the popup menu that appears, choose “Add Subfolder”.

With the “Add Subfolder” command all you need to do is enter a name for the new folder, which will become a subfolder of the parent folder (or hard drive) you had selected. In other words, it will be created as a folder at the same level as the existing folder you wanted to split into more than one folder for your photos.

Admittedly, the “Add Subfolder” option probably sounds a bit more confusing than the “Add Folder” option. However, I do find that many photographers find the actual process of using the “Add Subfolder” command less confusing than using the “Add Folder” command.

Aspect Ratios for Printing

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Today’s Question: I have a question around saving photo files for printing in various aspect ratios. I am clear what final print size are applicable for each of the standard aspect ratios provided in Lightroom (i.e. 4×3, 1×1. 3×2, etc.). However, I would like to also provide digital files of my images in an aspect ratio appropriate for printing using the ISO Paper Size (A1, A2, A3…A6) sizes. It is not clear to me what aspect ratio(s) I would need to use in order to provide files which would allow for printing in those sizes.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In my opinion the easiest way to enter the aspect ratio when cropping an image for an output size that is not listed as a standard crop aspect ratio is to use the actual paper dimensions of the paper size you intend to print to.

More Detail: I should hasten to point out that in general my recommendation is to crop based on your artistic preference for the image, and then print to fit the applicable paper size for that crop. This will, of course, possibly result in extra space around the image if the aspect ratio for your crop does not match the aspect ratio of the paper. But to me the artistic preference is more important when cropping than the aspect ratio of the paper you’ll print to.

Of course, sometimes you do want to crop to a specific aspect ratio, such as to fit a specific frame or print size. In those cases, you can crop a photo to any aspect ratio you’d like. The simplest way is to treat the units of measure for the output dimensions as the aspect ratio settings when cropping.

For example, you can get the specific dimensions of the ISO Standard paper sizes for A Series papers on this website:

https://www.papersizes.org/a-paper-sizes-tstb.htm

When you find the specific dimensions in any unit of measure, you can simply use those dimensions as the values for the aspect ratio when cropping. For example, a sheet of A4 paper has dimensions of 210mm by 297mm. You don’t need to worry about the fact that these measurements are in millimeters, even if you’re accustomed to working with inches. You can simply set the crop aspect ratio to 210 by 297.

You could also, of course, convert to inches and set the aspect ratio to 8.3 by 11.7. The point is that you don’t need to worry at all about the actual units of measure. Instead you can focus on the relationship between height and width, entering the values based on any unit of measure as long as you maintain the correct ratio between height and width.

Note, by the way, that in Lightroom Classic, you can choose the “Enter Custom” option from the Aspect popup for the Crop tool in order to bring up a dialog where you can enter specific values for the width and height based on the aspect ratio to which you want to crop the image.

Selective Import

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Today’s Question: Is there a way to select a group of files to import into Lightroom Classic without checking or unchecking each file in the import screen? Example: you shoot a wedding on one card and want the ceremony in one folder, the dancing in another, and the family shots in a third folder. Or you went to five places on a road trip and want the pictures of each place in separate folders. Is there a way to select a group of files for importing without checking or unchecking each file?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To divide photos up into multiple folders you would either need to select a range of photos for import and turn on the checkboxes for those photos in batch, or import to one folder and divide the images into multiple folders after the import.

More Detail: By default when you import photos into Lightroom Classic, all of the photos (and videos) in the selected source location will be imported. However, you can import selectively if you prefer.

It is important to note that you can select a range of photos to be imported relatively easily, making it possible to perform several import operations for various photos in a single source location that you want to import into different destination folders.

First, after bringing up the Import dialog and selecting the source of photos to be imported, you would want to uncheck all photos so that none of the photos are enabled for import. To do so, simply click the “Uncheck All” button at the bottom of the Import dialog.

Next, you’ll want to select the range of photos you want to import. Start by clicking on the thumbnail for the first image in the range of those you want to import. Then hold the Shift key on the keyboard and click on the last photo in the range. Once you have selected all photos you want to import in this way, you can click the empty checkbox for any one of the selected photos, and all selected photos will have the checkbox turned on. In other words, all selected photos would be enabled for import.

You could repeat this process as many times as is necessary, selecting a different range of photos and a different target folder for each batch of photos you want to import.

Another option would be to simply import all of the photos into a single folder, and then make subfolders after the import and move photos to the appropriate folder. You could create a subfolder within the current folder by clicking the plus icon (+) to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module, and then choosing “Add Subfolder” from the popup menu. Enter a name for the new subfolder and click Create, and you can then select photos and drag-and-drop them to the applicable subfolder.

Photos Before Metadata

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Today’s Question: I just listened to your webinar on keywording and it is a great addition to the library. I have a challenge that I assume is not unique: how to organize a library of photos that are scans of slides and photos that were taken in the period long before GPS or even metadata were in use (taken in the period 1940’s through 1980’s). My approach to date is to rename the images to include the year and a very brief phrase on the subject. Then, I have some back-up for reorganizing / keywording in Lightroom. I would appreciate any thoughts or ideas you might have.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The filename you choose for scanned photos can most certainly be helpful as part of your organizational workflow. In addition, changing the capture date to reflect the estimated original capture date can be helpful, and of course keywording and other metadata updates can be useful as well.

More Detail: The metadata that is automatically added by a digital camera can be very helpful for organizing (and later locating) photos. That is something that is missing from older photos scanned from film or prints. However, there are still steps you can take to help keep these photos organized.

First, when the photos are actually scanned, it can be helpful to use a filename that reflects the estimated date of capture for those photos, as noted in today’s question. A brief description as part of this filename can also be helpful.

Placing the images into a folder structure that is based on date, such as folders for years and months, can also help ensure you have a basic organizational workflow beyond metadata.

I think it is also a good idea to update the capture date for these images, which can be done directly within Lightroom Classic, among other software tools. Finally, adding applicable keywords (and possibly updating other metadata fields) can help ensure you are able to locate specific photos later. This can include details such as the names of people who appear in the photos, the location where the photo was captured, and other pertinent information.

These various steps will help ensure you have as much metadata updated for your scanned photos as possible, so that you have more options for locating specific photos later, as well as reminding yourself of details of those photos.

Note that you can view a recording of my full GreyLearning Webinar presentation on “Keywording Strategy and Workflow” on my Tim Grey TV channel on YouTube here:

https://youtu.be/yNXUrIlaYFI

Keyword Tags versus Keywords

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Today’s Question: Are keywords and tags the same thing? I use Photoshop Elements along with Photoshop CS6 and skip Adobe Bridge entirely.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, the Keyword Tags in Adobe Photoshop Elements represent the same metadata field as Keywords shown in other applications. The Photoshop Elements Organizer simply uses different terminology for keywords.

More Detail: While Photoshop Elements may use different terminology for features such as keywording, the features related to metadata do match up with similar features found in other software applications. In other words, much like other software for managing photos, Photoshop Elements primarily makes use of standard metadata fields such as for keywords.

So, the Keyword Tags you can add in Photoshop Elements would ultimately appear in the Keywords field in metadata, which would then be visible to other applications. Note, however, that by default the Elements Organizer does not actually save metadata updates (including keywords) to the actual image files on your hard drive.

If you want to write metadata changes to the actual files on your hard drive, you need to select the images in the Organizer and then go to the menu and choose File > Save Metadata to Files. Oddly, for reasons I don’t understand, if you delete a keyword tag in the Elements Organizer and then write changes to the files on the hard drive, the deleted keyword tags will not be removed. In other words, this option enables you to write keywords to metadata for the files on your hard drive, but not remove those keywords.

Filtering Across All Photos

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Today’s Question: I am struggling with what may seems like a simple problem but is driving me nuts. In the Library module in Lightroom Classic I am unable to show all pictures with a color label of purple unless I am in a collection or folder that only has purple labeled pictures. Hopefully, you can help me could help in my workflow.

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you want to filter your photos based on all images in your Lightroom Classic catalog you need to first choose “All Photos” in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. You can then specify the filter criteria you want to use to locate specific photos.

More Detail: When you apply a filter in Lightroom using the options on the Library Filter bar (View > Show Filter Bar), you will only be filtering based on the photos in the current folder or collection. So, if you choose to filter based on a color label, for example, only images with that color label within the current folder (or collection) will be displayed in the search results.

If you want to filter based on specific criteria for all photos being managed by Lightroom Classic, you can first select the “All Photographs” collection from the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. This will enable you to view all photos in your entire catalog, which means if you then apply filter criteria the results will be based on all photos in your catalog, not just those in the current folder or collection.

Folders Not Shown in Lightroom Classic

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Today’s Question: The Folders list in Lightroom Classic do not display some of the subfolders on my hard drive. How do I update those folders that are present on my hard drive so they are also present in Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Folders list in Adobe Lightroom Classic only displays folders that contain photos being managed by Lightroom. Therefore, to view those folders in Lightroom you would need to import the photos (if applicable) contained within those folders.

More Detail: While the folder structure shown on the Folders panel on the left panel in the Library module of Lightroom Classic will reflect the folder structure of the hard drive where those folders are actually located, there will be some differences based on how Lightroom manages and displays folders.

First, Lightroom will generally only show folders that contain photos you have imported into your Lightroom catalog. If you import photos from a folder representing a trip, that folder will appear in Lightroom. If that folder contains a subfolder that only includes documents that can’t be managed by Lightroom, the subfolder will not appear within Lightroom.

Similarly, if you have two folders on the same hard drive, and you have imported the photos from one into your Lightroom catalog without importing the photos from the other folder, you will only see the first folder on the Folders list in Lightroom.

So, if you are managing photos on a hard drive that contains more than just photos, you will never see the entire folder structure from your hard drive within Lightroom. If folders that contain photos on your hard drive are not showing up in your Lightroom catalog, you just need to import the contents of that folder into Lightroom.

Note that if you are importing photos that are already in the desired storage location, you should use the “Add” option (rather than “Copy” for example) when importing the photos into your catalog.