Video in Lightroom

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Today’s Question: Do you see it as realistic to import my video files to Lightroom or should I consider another app and leave Lightroom only for photos?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To me it depends on the nature of the video. My approach is to keep videos that I see as “belonging” alongside my photos in my Lightroom catalog. Videos that are intended for a specific video project (such as training videos in my case) are not imported into Lightroom, and instead are managed through a separate workflow.

More Detail: As I imagine most photographers can appreciate, Lightroom is first and foremost a tool for managing still photos. However, it does support a variety of video formats, and you can import videos right alongside your still photos. You can even apply some basic adjustments and trimming to your video clips within Lightroom.

That said, for “serious” video projects, you would likely be doing the vast majority of your work outside of Lightroom. Perhaps, for example, you might use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit your videos, and perhaps use Adobe Prelude to manage your videos before production. In those types of situations, I wouldn’t import the videos into Lightroom, as they wouldn’t really fit into the context of my Lightroom catalog.

Of course, many photographers (including myself) capture videos that serve as more of a supplement to still photos than as elements of a larger video project. For example, those videos might be used along with still photos as part of a slideshow presentation. These types of video captures were, in my view, captured for much the same reason the still photos were captured. As a result, I import these types of videos into my Lightroom catalog right along with my still photos from the same trip or photo shoot.

So, while I do feel that all of my still photos belong in Lightroom simply because they’re my photos, the same isn’t necessarily true for video captures. For video I recommend considering the context (and intent) for those videos before deciding whether to import them along with your still photos into your Lightroom catalog.

Archive Adjusted Images?

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Today’s Question: Do you export photos that you have changed in the Develop module [in Lightroom]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I do not export copies of my photos from Lightroom unless I specifically need a new image file for some purpose, such as to share the image with others. That said, I do understand the motivation of some photographers to export images in order to preserve their adjusted images beyond the Lightroom catalog.

More Detail: When you apply adjustments in Lightroom, by default the adjustment settings are only saved in the Lightroom catalog, and do not alter the original image file on your hard drive. That is a good thing in terms of providing a non-destructive workflow, but it also means you are dependent upon the Lightroom catalog for the information about the “final” appearance of your optimized photos.

You can save the metadata for your images out to the actual image files, which will include the adjustment data from the Develop module. This can be done by enabling the option to automatically write changes to XMP, found in the Catalog Settings dialog, or by choosing Metadata > Save Metadata to File from the menu (for selected images).

The shortcoming of this approach is that the adjustments that would be preserved in this manner can only be understood by Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. In other words, if the reason you were preserving this adjustment information was to provide an alternative in case you could no longer use these Adobe applications (such as canceling your Creative Cloud subscription) you would effectively lose your adjustments.

For this reason, some photographers prefer to export a full-resolution TIFF image from Lightroom for the images they optimize (or at least their most important among those images). This provides a high-quality copy of the image with all Lightroom adjustments included, that can be opened with virtually any image-editing software.

While I’m generally paranoid when it comes to protecting my photographs, my feeling is that if I ever decided to discontinue my use of Lightroom I could simply export copies of my photos in bulk at that time, in order to preserve the adjustments from Lightroom for my photos. But I certainly understand those who want to perform this work along the way, rather than taking a risk of potentially losing the adjustments for their images.

Adding Notes

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Today’s Question: I would like to make notes about adjustments I’ve made in Lightroom or Photoshop. Is there a place for this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In Lightroom you could add these details into one of the existing text fields in metadata, such as the Caption field if you’re not using that for other purposes. In Photoshop, you might want to use the Note tool, which is designed for exactly this type of purpose.

More Detail: In Lightroom there isn’t exactly a “notes” feature, but you can add information about your adjustments to another metadata field you’re not using for another purpose. If you’re not using the Caption field for other purposes, this can be a good choice because the textbox size for this field is a little larger than other metadata fields. Other good options would include the “User Comment” field found in the EXIF metadata, or the “Instructions” field in IPTC metadata (under the Workflow section).

In Photoshop, the Note tool is well suited for your intended purpose. This tool isn’t especially well known, in part because it is somewhat “hidden”. To access the Note tool, you can first right-click on the Eyedropper tool on the toolbox to bring up a popup of additional tools. From that popup choose the Note tool.

After selecting the Note tool, to actually add a note to the current image simply click anywhere within the image. The Notes panel should appear automatically at this point, but it is also accessible by choosing Window > Notes from the menu, or by clicking the Notes Panel button on the Options bar.

Within the Notes panel, simply add the desired text to the note field. Note that you can cycle through multiple notes if you have added more than one to the image, and delete a note, using the buttons at the bottom of the Notes panel.

It is important to note (no pun intended) that in order to save notes added to an image using the Note tool, you must save the image as either a Photoshop PSD document or a TIFF file.

Maintaining Folder Structure

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Today’s Question: I currently use Camera Raw for editing (same options as Lightroom), but I would like to use Lightroom, IF I can find a way not to give up my current file organization in my folders.  Is this possible?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes! With Adobe Lightroom Classic CC you can import (and maintain) your existing folder structure, and continue using the same folder strategy moving forward. With the new cloud-based Lightroom CC, however, your photos are organized with a date-based folder structure.

More Detail: One of the most common areas of confusion related to Lightroom Classic CC relates to your existing storage structure and strategy. When you import existing photos into Lightroom, you can simply add those images to the catalog without moving or copying them to a different location. Your existing folder structure for those photos would therefore be reflected in the Folders list on the left panel in Lightroom’s Library module.

When you import new captures from a media card or camera, you can specify the folder structure you want to use. In other words, you can continue using the same approach you’ve already been using for your folder structure.

The only thing to keep in mind in this context is that once you start using Lightroom, it is important to initiate all tasks within Lightroom. So if you wanted to rename or move folders (or photos), that should be done within Lightroom, not from the operating system. The changes you make to your folder structure within Lightroom will be reflected in your operating system as well.

As noted above, the new Lightroom CC (which focuses on cloud-based synchronization of all of your photos) does not maintain your existing folder structure. Instead, it uses a date-based folder system. Therefore, for photographers who want to manage their own folder structure locally, Lightroom Classic CC (rather than the new Lightroom CC) would be the better choice.

Mask Overlay Display

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Today’s Question: In the develop module of Lightroom Classic when I use the Adjustment Brush tool I just see the pink mask and can only see the effect after I close the window [by clicking the Done button]. How can I preview with the effect without closing?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can turn off the translucent red mask overlay when working with any of the targeted adjustment tools in Lightroom by turning off the “Show Selected Mask Overlay” checkbox on the toolbar below the image.

More Detail: When working with any of the targeted adjustment tools (Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, or Adjustment Brush) in Lightroom’s Develop module, you have the option of displaying a translucent red overlay on your image to indicate the mask area. The red overlay appears on areas affected by your adjustment, with the rest of the image appearing normally. When this option is enabled, you won’t see the effect of your targeted adjustments.

The mask display can certainly be very helpful as you work to improve the accuracy of the mask that is being used to define which portions of the image will be affected by your targeted adjustment. But it can obviously be a bit of an impediment when it comes time to actually apply an adjustment.

You can turn off the mask overlay by turning off the “Show Selected Mask Overlay” checkbox on the toolbar below the image preview area. If you don’t see that toolbar, simply press the letter “T” on the keyboard to toggle its visibility.

My personal preference is to keep this checkbox turned off. In fact, I find it is more helpful to apply an exaggerated Exposure adjustment, and use the effect of that adjustment to show me the shape of my mask. When I’m finished getting my mask cleaned up, I then reset the exaggerated adjustment and fine-tune as needed.

If you just want to view the mask overlay temporarily, note that you can also just hover your mouse pointer over the edit pin that appears on the image for each mask you define for a targeted adjustment. I find it easier to simply hover over that edit pin when I want to see the mask overlay, rather than toggling the “Show Selected Mask Overlay” checkbox.

“Destructive” Adjustments

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Today’s Question: From Tuesday’s eNewsletter: “By default, as with other filters in Photoshop, the Camera Raw Filter will directly alter pixel values.” I know this is true but I would be hard pressed to explain it to anyone using Photoshop. Can you discuss this effect?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When pixel values in an image are modified directly, this is often referred to as “destructive” processing. What this means is that the pixel information in the source image is being altered directly. The alternative would be a non-destructive workflow, where the adjustments are saved as information separate from the underlying pixel information.

More Detail: As noted in Tuesday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, filters in Photoshop directly alter pixel values. This approach can reduce the flexibility of your workflow, which is why I generally recommend a non-destructive approach to optimizing your photos whenever possible.

The key risk of a destructive workflow is that you won’t be able to return to an earlier version of a photo. For example, let’s assume you applied the Camera Raw Filter directly to an image rather than as a Smart Filter. If you use the filter to convert the image to black and white, and then save and close the image, you will have permanently removed the color information from that image. Unless you have another copy of the image you won’t be able to create a color interpretation anymore.

By contrast, if you apply the Camera Raw Filter as a Smart Filter (as outlined in Tuesday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter), you can later return to the filter settings to refine your work or return to an earlier version of the image.

It is worth noting that when you process an original raw capture (such as with Camera Raw, rather than the Camera Raw Filter) you are always working non-destructively. That is because the adjustments you apply with Camera Raw in this context are used to render a new image based on the original raw capture, and do not overwrite the pixel information contained within the raw capture itself.

Round Trip to Photoshop

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Today’s Question: What is your recommended workflow for sending photos from Lightroom to Photoshop and back? Specifically, I’m looking for an efficient way to edit in Photoshop without the file being flattened upon return to Lightroom. I currently do this with Save As in Photoshop and then I have to synchronize the catalog back in Lightroom. This sometimes leads to metadata mismatch. Is there a more seamless way to do this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key to a seamless round trip workflow from Lightroom to Photoshop is to use the “Save” (not “Save As”) command when you’re finished working in Photoshop. Then, when you send a layered image from Lightroom back to Photoshop, choose the “Edit Original” option.

More Detail: When you want to use Photoshop to work on a photo that is being managed in Lightroom, it is important to use the correct workflow to ensure you are able to retain layers in the image and avoid confusion in Lightroom.

When you first send a photo from Lightroom to Photoshop, you can simply select the image and go to the menu and choose Photo > Edit In > Edit In Adobe Photoshop. If the image is a raw capture, it will be opened in Photoshop directly without any additional steps. If it is a different image type (such as a JPEG) then you will be asked how you want to edit the image. Generally at this point you would want to choose “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments”, but note that when you later re-send a layered image to Photoshop you won’t want to use this option.

After performing any work you’d like to apply to the image in Photoshop, save the changes by choosing File > Save (not “Save As”) from the menu. You can then close the image and return to Lightroom, where you’ll see a TIFF or PSD version of the photo (depending on the setting you have established in Preferences).

The next time you want to send a layered image to Photoshop, you can once again choose Photo > Edit In > Edit In Adobe Photoshop from the menu. In this scenario, however, you’ll want to choose the “Edit Original” option in the Edit Photo dialog. While the TIFF or PSD is a derivative copy that you probably wouldn’t normally think as the “original” version of your photo, the “Edit Original” option will cause the selected image to be opened, rather than having yet another copy created for editing.

By opening the TIFF or PSD image with the “Edit Original” option, any layers you had previously added to the image in Photoshop will be there when you open the image again. When you’re finished working in Photoshop, once again choose the Save (not “Save As”) command and close the image. The preview for that image will then be updated in Lightroom.

By following this approach, you’ll ensure that you are able to successfully send an image from Lightroom to Photoshop anytime you need to perform work that goes beyond what is available for optimizing photos in Lightroom.

Image Border

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Today’s Question: How do you make a black frame or border in Photoshop? Can it be done in Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you want a relatively thin border around the photo, adding a Stroke effect will work well. You can easily add a Stroke to any image in Photoshop, and this feature is also available when sharing photos in Lightroom via the Slideshow, Print, or Web modules.

More Detail: A Stroke effect is a simple border around a photo, and with some limitations this effect provides a great way to add a colored border around an image.

In Photoshop you can add a Stroke as a Layer Style for an image. If you’re working with a Background image layer, you’ll first need to convert that layer to a “normal” layer. To do so, double-click on the thumbnail for the Background image layer on the Layers panel, and then click OK in the New Layer dialog that appears.

Next, click the “Add a Layer Style” button (the “fx” icon) at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose “Stroke” from the popup menu. In the Layer Style dialog, make sure the Position popup is set to “Inside” so you can actually see the effect. Note that this will cover up the outer portion of the image. You can then adjust the Size and Color settings (among other options) to adjust the appearance of the border effect.

Note that while it is possible to place the Stroke effect outside the image (so none of the image is blocked,) doing so will result in rounded corners for the border. In this case, you are better off expanding the size of the document with the Image > Canvas Size command to create space for a border effect outside the image area.

In Lightroom a similar set of options are available within the Slideshow, Print, and Web modules. You can turn on the Stroke Border checkbox on the right panel in the applicable module, and then set the color (by clicking the color swatch) and size (using the Width slider). This Stroke Border option is, unfortunately, not available when exporting images from Lightroom.

Camera Raw versus Filter

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Today’s Question: I am a Lightroom user and of course know that when I process a picture the changes are stored to be available in Lightroom, but a second file is not created. I need to understand using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) from Photoshop CC. It seems that when I go to the ACR Filter and process an image, raw or not raw, it also stores the changes for later access in ACR. Is this true and can you provide some more details?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you use Adobe Camera Raw to process a raw capture, the adjustment settings are indeed preserved with the image in an XMP “sidecar” file. Lightroom similarly preserves the adjustment settings you apply in the Develop module. When you use the Camera Raw Filter directly on an image in Photoshop, however, the actual adjustment settings are only preserved if you use that filter as a Smart Filter.

More Detail: Provided you’re using comparable versions of the two tools, you will find the exact same adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw and in Lightroom’s Develop module. Thus, you can achieve the exact same results when processing a raw capture by using either Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw.

When you apply adjustments with either Lightroom or Camera Raw, the adjustment settings are preserved so you can revisit your adjustments later. In Lightroom those settings are saved in the catalog, but you can also save them to an XMP sidecar file by either choosing Metadata > Save Metadata to File from the menu, or by enabling the option to have Lightroom automatically save metadata (found in the Catalog Settings dialog).

The Camera Raw filter in Photoshop is a little different. This filter enables you to make use of the adjustments found in Camera Raw, but applied directly to pixel values within Photoshop rather than being used to process a raw capture. By default, as with other filters in Photoshop, the Camera Raw Filter will directly alter pixel values. However, you can also apply this filter as a Smart Filter to preserve greater flexibility in your workflow.

To employ a Smart Filter, first click on the thumbnail for the Background image layer on the Layers panel to select that layer. Then choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters from the menu to convert the Background image layer to a Smart Object. Then choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter. The Camera Raw dialog will appear, where you can apply any adjustments you’d like. When you’re finished, click the OK button to apply the changes. Later, if you want to refine your adjustments, simply double-click on the “Camera Raw Filter” text below the Smart Filters layer on the Layers panel, in order to bring up the Camera Raw filter with your existing adjustments available for refinement.

Elliptical Challenge

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Today’s Question: I often struggle to create an elliptical selection using the Elliptical Marquee tool in Photoshop, such as when I want to apply an effect to the edges of an image. Do you have any tips for getting the selection in the right position?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are two key tricks that can be especially helpful for the Elliptical Marquee tool in Photoshop. First, while still holding the mouse button down to create the initial selection, you can hold the Spacebar on the keyboard to enable you to move the selection around while you’re creating it. Second, you can move or transform the selection, such as with the Select > Transform Selection command.

More Detail: The Elliptical Marquee tool in Photoshop is virtually identical to the Rectangular Marquee tool, with the difference being that the selection will be in the shape of an ellipse rather than a rectangle. Thus, the same basic options are available with both of these tools.

One of the biggest challenges with using the Elliptical Marquee tool is in getting the selection into the right position. It can be helpful to think about drawing a rectangle that contains an ellipse when creating a selection using the Elliptical Marquee tool. That said, it can still be challenging to get the selection in just the right place.

If you realize that the selection isn’t in quite the right place while you’re still drawing the selection (with the mouse button still held down), you can simply hold the Spacebar key on the keyboard (while continuing to hold down the mouse button). Then drag the selection into a different position. When you release the Spacebar key you can continue refining the shape of the selection. This enables you to switch back and forth freely between resizing and moving the selection, until you release the mouse button to actually create the selection.

If you’ve already created the selection, you can still move it around easily. With the selection tool still active, make sure the mode is set to “Create New Selection” rather than add or subtract, for example. Then point the mouse inside the selection, and click and drag to move the selection.

If you need to resize (and possibly move) the selection, you can use the transform command. Once you’ve created the initial selection, choose Select > Transform Selection from the menu, and a transformation bounding box will appear around the image. You can then adjust the overall size and shape of the selection by dragging the edges or corners of the bounding box. You can also move the selection by dragging within the interior of the bounding box.

Note, by the way, that you can also have a selection grow outward from the point you initially click on rather than having that initial point serving as one of the corners of the rectangle that will define the overall elliptical shape. To do so, start drawing your selection with the Elliptical Marquee tool, and then while you are still holding down the mouse button press and hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh while continuing to drag. This will cause the selection to grow outward from the original point you clicked, provided you keep holding the Alt/Option key until you release the mouse button.