Clarity in Photoshop


Today’s Question: I am working with architectural abstractions doing most of the work in Photoshop CC. I often have to take the files back into Lightroom to use the clarity feature to gain mid-tone contrast. Is there an approach in Photoshop that would achieve the same results?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can actually access the Clarity adjustment in Photoshop by applying the Camera Raw filter to any image layer in Photoshop.

More Detail: As many photographers are aware, Adobe Camera Raw includes all of the same adjustments found in the Develop module in Lightroom. While Camera Raw was originally intended for processing proprietary raw captures, it can also be used for other image file formats, and is also available as a filter in Photoshop CC.

Since the Clarity adjustment is included in Camera Raw, that also means you can access the Clarity adjustment by simply applying the Camera Raw filter to any image.

To get started you may want to create a duplicate of your Background image layer, by selecting that layer on the Layers panel and then choosing Layer > New > Layer Via Copy from the menu. You could also convert an image layer to a Smart Object so you can apply the Camera Raw filter as a Smart Filter. To do so, select the applicable layer on the Layers panel, and then choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters from the menu.

To apply Camera Raw adjustments as a filter, go to the menu and choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter. This will bring up the Camera Raw dialog, where you can apply a variety of adjustments (including the Clarity adjustment that is the subject of today’s question).

The availability of Camera Raw as a filter in Photoshop CC makes it much easier to apply some of the adjustments that are unique to Camera Raw at any point in your overall workflow for optimizing your photos.

You can learn more about my preferred workflow for using Camera Raw (including a lesson on using Camera Raw as a filter in Photoshop CC) in my “Optimizing with Adobe Camera Raw” video course available here:

Impact of Canceling Lightroom


Today’s Question: What happens to Lightroom Classic, my photos and catalog, if I cancel my subscription for the rest of the year?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you cancel a subscription that includes Lightroom Classic CC, you will actually be able to continue using most of Lightroom to manage your photos. Only the Develop and Map modules will stop being available when you cancel your subscription, and of course you won’t be able to install future updates.

More Detail: It is understandable that photographers would be concerned about losing all of the metadata for their photos if they discontinued their subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. With applications such as Photoshop, discontinuing your subscription means the software will simply stop working. You can’t use Photoshop at all if you don’t have a current Creative Cloud subscription.

With Lightroom Classic, however, because it is a tool for organizing your photos, Adobe has ensured that you won’t lose access to the information about your photos.

As noted above, you won’t be able to adjust the appearance of your photos in the Develop module after you discontinue your Creative Cloud subscription. You also won’t be able to access the map in the Map module. In addition, online services (such as the synchronization of images in collections) will no longer be available.

You will, however, continue to be able to launch Lightroom, and work in the Library module. That includes the ability to update metadata for your existing images. You can even continue to print from the Print module. Of course, since you won’t have access to future updates, you won’t gain access to any new features. You also won’t receive updated support for new proprietary raw capture formats.

The most important consideration here, of course, is that you won’t lose access to your photos, and you won’t lose access to the metadata about your images. Obviously if you cancel your Creative Cloud subscription you are likely using an alternative software tool to manage your photos. But during the transition away from Lightroom, you won’t lose any of the information about your photos just because you canceled your Creative Cloud subscription.

Adding Face Regions


Today’s Question: I noticed an icon I have not seen before [during a recent webinar presentation]. Near the flags and ratings on your screen there was what looks like a square with four points on each corner with a face in the middle. What is this for?

Tim’s Quick Answer: That button is the “Add Face Region” button, which enables you to manually identify a person’s face within an image. This is a supplement to the people recognition feature in Lightroom, which is something of an automated tool for adding keywords to identify the people who appear in your photos.

More Detail: Lightroom includes a feature that performs image analysis to identify faces within your photos. Beyond simply being able to identify where a face is visible within a photo, it can actually perform a degree of facial recognition, so that Lightroom can detect when the same face appears in multiple photos. That, in turn, can be used to identify the name associated with the face, which will result in a keyword being added for the image.

If you use the face recognition feature to have Lightroom identify where faces occur within your images, a face region will be added automatically to the area where the face appears in the image. That, combined with the keyword representing the name of the person identified by a given face region, enables you to browse by person, which provides a method for locating photos based on the people who appear within those photos.

In some cases, of course, Lightroom may not be able to identify a face for a person. This might be the case, for example, if the person was photographed in profile rather than from the front. When that is the case, you can use the Draw Face Region button to manually add a face region to identify where a person appears in an image. You can then associate a name with that face region, in order to actually identify the person in the image, and add a keyword for their name in the process.

I covered this face recognition feature in an article called “Face Recognition in Lightroom Classic”, which appeared in the November 2017 issue of Pixology magazine. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can get Pixology magazine for half price by following this link:

Print Without a Crop


Today’s Question: How can you send images to labs so they do not get cropped?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The first step is to crop the image precisely the way you want it printed, and to resize the image to fit within the final print size. Even better, if possible you should employ a “canvas” for the image so that the cropped image fits completely onto the canvas, with that canvas sized based on the actual final print size.

More Detail: When you print an image that is not cropped to the same aspect ratio as the paper you’re printing to, you will have two options for how the image will fit on the printed page. You can either fit the image within the limits of the paper size, or crop the image to fill the available space.

For example, let’s assume you have retained the original aspect ratio for an image when cropping, but will be printing to an 8″x10″ sheet of paper. For simplicity, we’ll assume a print where the image extends all the way to the edge of the paper. At the original aspect ratio, you will have likely an image that is sized to about 6.7-inches by 10-inches.

In other words, your options are to have empty space of about 0.67 inches on both sides of the shorter dimension of the print, or to crop the image so you are losing one inch at both ends of the longer dimension of the print. Of course, as noted in today’s question, the intent is to not have the image cropped based on the print size.

So, the first approach would be to simply size the image so it will fit on the intended paper size. For an 8″x10″ sheet of paper, for example, you might resize to 10-inches on the longer dimension (or likely a little smaller to provide some space around the print), letting the shorter dimension fall wherever it does based on the cropped aspect ratio. In other words, you simply resize the image to fit the size of the paper it will be printed on. Then you would need to make sure to communicate to the print lab that you want the image printed to fit the page, not enlarged to fill the entire printable area of the page.

You can help improve the chances that the image will indeed be printed without cropping, however, if you enlarge the canvas size for the image based on the paper size that image will be printed to. For example, if you have an image cropped and resized to dimensions of 6.67 inches by 10 inches, you could enlarge the canvas size to a full 8″x10″ so the image will print properly on the paper size to be used for the print.

In Photoshop it is quite easy to enlarge the canvas after cropping and resizing the image you are preparing for print. Simply choose Image > Canvas Size from the menu, and set the desired dimensions.

Lightroom doesn’t offer a simple way to accomplish this same task, but one approach you could use would be to configure a print in the Print module, and then save the result as a JPEG image for printing. You could configure the paper size and place a single cell on the page to print at the desired dimensions, and then make sure the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox in the Image Settings section of the right panel is turned off. When you have configured the print as desired, in the Print Job section of the right panel you can choose “JPEG File” from the Print To popup, and then click the “Print to File” button at the bottom of the right panel to save the print layout as a JPEG image that can then be sent to the lab.

Creating a New Folder


Today’s Question: How do you create a new folder from within Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can create a new folder in any location by choosing “Add Folder” from the popup associated with the “plus” (+) button to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module in Lightroom. You can add a folder within the currently selected folder by choosing “Add Subfolder” from that popup.

More Detail: There are a variety of reasons you might want to create a new folder from within Lightroom. You might simply want to create a folder so you can divide images from one folder into multiple folders. You might also need to create a new folder in order to be able to move photos to a different storage location, such as to move some (or all) photos to a new (and perhaps larger) external hard drive.

If you want to create a folder within an existing folder, you can use the “Add Subfolder” command found on the popup associated with the “plus” (+) button to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel in the Library module. Before choosing this command you’ll want to select the folder where you want to create the new folder, as that new folder will be placed inside the currently selected folder.

So, for example, you may want to place a subset of photos from a given trip into a subfolder. Perhaps you took a side trip to a different location, and just want to organize the photos from that side trip into a subfolder. Simply select the desired “parent” folder, and choose the “Add Subfolder” command to define a name for the new folder that will be created inside the selected folder.

In some cases you may want to add a new folder in a location that isn’t currently visible on the Folders list. This would be the case, for example, if you’re adding a new external hard drive to your overall storage structure, and you want to be able to move photos to that drive. Because Lightroom is initially not managing any photos on that new drive, you won’t see the drive or any folders on that drive within Lightroom. If you create a new folder on that drive from within Lightroom, however, that folder will be visible so you can move photos to that drive.

To create a new folder, click on the “plus” (+) button to the right of the Folders heading on the left panel, and choose “Add Folder” from the popup that appears. In the dialog that is presented, navigate to the location where you want to create the new folder. Then click on the “New Folder” button at the bottom-left of the dialog and provide a name for the new folder. When you are finished creating that folder (and click the “Choose” button to close the dialog), the new folder will appear in the applicable location in the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module.

Once creating a new folder, of course, you can drag and drop photos or folders to that new folder location to refine your overall organizational structure.

Presets for Raw+JPEG


Today’s Question: I import both RAW and JPG files [into Lightroom]. Do Develop presets apply to JPG files when imported even though the photos had in-camera adjustments made such as aberration and distortion corrections?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Develop presets applied during import would affect all photos regardless of file format. However, the net result will be different since the JPEG captures will have had in-camera adjustments applied, while raw captures would not have.

More Detail: Quite frankly, as a general rule I recommend not using the Raw+JPEG capture option in the camera if you’re using Lightroom to manage your photos, other than to serve a specific purpose such as to provide a reference from the in-camera adjustments to be used while optimizing your raw capture.

By default, Lightroom actually doesn’t import JPEG images that are part of a Raw+JPEG pair. In order to actually import those JPEG captures into your Lightroom catalog you need to turn on the “Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos” checkbox in the General tab of the Preferences dialog in Lightroom.

If you apply the same preset during import (or later in your workflow) to both images in a Raw+JPEG pair, the same adjustments will (for the most part) be applied in the same way. Of course, there are some adjustments that apply based on the actual image, such as the “Auto” adjustment for the Basic adjustments.

Of course, for many of the other adjustments, you could be doubling up on the effect. In many cases that doubling up of adjustments won’t cause any significant issues. For example, applying the chromatic aberration correction twice shouldn’t result in any problems in the photo. But for more general adjustments, there could be issues.

And, of course, the simple fact that applying the same preset to both a raw and a JPEG image from the same capture pair will result in images that don’t match each other could create confusion or other challenges in your workflow.

In general though, I don’t consider there to be a significant advantage to importing both the raw and the JPEG of a Raw+JPEG pair into Lightroom. I prefer to simply work with the original raw captures, optimize to suit my vision for the photo, and then export copies of the image (such as to create a JPEG copy) as needed when sharing the images.

Dealing with a Soft Proof


Today’s Question: [In regards to soft proofing covered in a prior Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter], is the idea to make adjustments to the soft proof so it looks like the finalized original?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Conceptually, soft proofing does indeed provide the opportunity to apply adjustments to the image in order to ensure the print will be as accurate as possible. In actual practice, I tend to think of it more as a tool for understanding what to expect rather than for necessarily changing the actual output.

More Detail: As noted in a previous Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, soft proofing involves software altering the appearance of an image on your display in an effort to simulate what the actual print will look like. This preview is based on the specific printer, ink, and paper combination you will intend to use to print the image.

Just to illustrate the point, imagine a scenario where you were printing a color image to a printer that only includes black ink. A profile for that particular printer (taking into account the ink set for the printer as well as the type of paper you’re printing to) would reflect the grayscale capabilities of the printer. That, in turn, means that soft proofing would cause the preview of the image on your monitor to appear in black and white rather than color.

The soft proofing preview can be helpful for understanding what to expect in your final print. For example, an uncoated matte paper will produce a print with less contrast and saturation than a glossy print, and the soft proofing preview would reflect that.

Conceptually you can also use the soft proofing display as the basis for adjustments to compensate for the output conditions. For a print to a matte paper you might boost the contrast and saturation of the image, for example. Or the soft proof preview might show a color shift, which you can compensate for with adjustments.

However, it is important to keep in mind that issues discovered via the soft proofing preview may not be issues that can actually be overcome. In the example scenario of soft proofing a color photo with a profile for a black and white printer, for example, no amount of adjustment to the image will cause the print to be produced in full color.

Similarly, if a printer is not able to produce highly saturated colors in the paper you’re using for printing, increasing the saturation would magically improve the capabilities of that printer.

That said, within reason adjustments you apply based on the soft proof preview can indeed help improve the appearance of the final print. It is just important to keep in mind that soft proofing provides a preview of what the printer is capable of, not a magical way to overcome limitations of the printer, ink, and paper combination you’re using to print a photo.

Original without Adjustments


Today’s Question: After completing a lot of adjustments [in Lightroom], where do I find my original?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Because Lightroom employs a non-destructive workflow, your original capture remains unaltered on your local storage. In addition, you can always reset the adjustments (perhaps using a virtual copy as part of this process) to return to Lightroom’s original version of your capture.

More Detail: One of the features of Lightroom that is arguably one of the most important features is a non-destructive workflow for optimizing your photos. Note, by the way, that this same non-destructive workflow is applicable in Adobe Camera Raw.

A non-destructive workflow means that your original capture is not actually altered when you apply adjustments to an image. In the context of Lightroom, what that means is that all of your adjustments are really just metadata updates, preserved in your Lightroom catalog (and possibly in an XMP sidecar for your raw captures if you have chosen to save metadata out to the image files).

As a result, you could always return to your original capture by navigating directly to the applicable image on your hard drive. Of course, in the context of a Lightroom-based workflow, you would not really want to work directly with your image files (unless you’re very careful about how you approach the task).

You can, however, create a virtual copy so you can have a non-adjusted version of the photo in question. Naturally you could simply use the “before and after” view option if you just wanted to see what the original looked like. In the Develop module, for example, you can press the backslash key (\) on the keyboard to switch between the “before” and “after” versions of the current photo.

A virtual copy enables you to have two (or more) versions of a photo in Lightroom. To create a virtual copy, simply right-click on the image and choose “Create Virtual Copy” from the popup menu that appears.

Assuming you’ve already applied adjustments to the image, the new virtual copy will include those adjustments. If so, you can then select the new virtual copy and then click the “Reset” button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module to reset the virtual copy (or the original) to the original interpretation of the image with no additional adjustments applied.

In this way you can have an adjusted version as well as an “original” version of the image, switching back and forth as needed. Note, of course, that even with all of the adjustments in Lightroom reset to the defaults, you’re still seeing Lightroom’s default interpretation of the original image, which is certainly not the same result you would achieve if you used, for example, the software from the manufacturer of your camera to interpret the same raw capture.

Photos to the Map


Today’s Question: How do I add a photo to a place on the map [in Lightroom] if the photo doesn’t have any GPS info?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Put simply, in the Map module in Lightroom you can add location information to the metadata for a photo by dragging the photo from the filmstrip to the correct location on the map.

More Detail: Some photos, of course, will appear on the map in Lightroom automatically, if they have been captured with a camera that includes a GPS receiver. You might also use the option to synchronize a GPS track log (assuming you have recorded such a log) to add location information to a group of photos, and therefore add them to the map. But you can also manually add location information to photos by simply dragging and dropping them to the map.

To get started, make sure you can view the photos you want to work with on the filmstrip. That may simply mean navigating to a specific folder, but you might also want to use various filter criteria. Then switch to the Map module so you can view the map and add photos to the map.

Next, navigate to the correct location on the map. You can use the zoom controls for the map, and also click-and-drag on the map to move to the intended location. In addition, you can use the Search field at the top-right of the map to navigate more quickly to a specific location.

When you can view the correct location on the map display, you’re ready to drag-and-drop photos to the map. You can first select multiple photos if they were captured in the same location on the map. Then drag and drop the selected photo (or photos) from the filmstrip to the correct position on the map.

When you drop one or more images on the map, the GPS coordinates for that position on the map will be added to the metadata for the images.

Updated “Auto” Adjustments


Today’s Question: I saw some information that suggested a recent update to Lightroom provided a big improvement to the “Auto” adjustment option. With this update, do you now recommend using the Auto adjustment?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While I’m generally not a big fan of “automatic” adjustments, I do have to admit that the recent update to Lightroom did greatly improve the utility of this feature. I actually think it may now be worthwhile to apply as a standard adjustment during import, for example.

More Detail: One of the problems I’ve always had with “automatic” adjustments for photographic images is that these adjustments are based on specific algorithms, which aren’t really able to take into account the specific nature of the photo or your specific intent for the interpretation of the photo.

That said, the new Auto adjustment feature in Lightroom (and Adobe Camera Raw) is quite impressive. This new update makes use of the Adobe Sensei technology, employing a neural network with artificial intelligence and machine learning, to make the most of these adjustments. What that really means is that Adobe is able to analyze a huge number of images, along with the adjustments that had been applied to them, to better calculate the optimal adjustment settings for a given image.

Perhaps most importantly, the automatic adjustments simply involve changing the existing settings for the slider controls found in the Basic section of adjustments on the right panel in the Develop module. In other words, you can always refine those adjustment settings later, with no penalty in terms of image quality.

Because of these latest updates to the “auto” adjustment, I actually feel that for many photographers it may be worthwhile to include this automatic adjustment for all images upon import. The result will generally be an image with a bit more “pop”, with the flexibility to refine those adjustments later in your workflow.