Original versus As Shot

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Today’s Question: When cropping a photo in Lightroom, one is given the option of “As Shot”, “Original”, or “Custom”. What is the difference between the first two, and when would one use one rather than the other?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “As Shot” crop option in Lightroom is for supported images from cameras that enable you to choose a crop that differs from the native aspect ratio of the sensor. With such a capture, the “As Shot” option would activate the crop aspect ratio set at the time of capture, and the “Original” option would activate the full image based on the sensor dimensions.

More Detail: For many photographers the “As Shot” and “Original” crop aspect ratio options will produce the exact same result, either because their camera does not offer the option to alter the capture aspect ratio, or because Lightroom is not able to access that information in the metadata for the capture.

When you select an in-camera crop aspect ratio that differs from the full aspect ratio of the sensor, you are of course capturing an image that does not contain all of the available pixels based on the sensor in the camera. With a raw capture, however, that crop setting is just a metadata value, and the full range of pixels available on the sensor will actually be included in the raw capture.

With supported capture formats, Lightroom is able to access the in-camera crop setting, and make that available with the crop tool. So, if you have taken advantage of this option with a camera that is supported for this feature in Lightroom, you can choose whether or not to crop to that aspect ratio setting based on the availability of the “As Shot” crop aspect ratio option in Lightroom.

Retaining Proprietary Raw

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Today’s Question: I am using latest version of Lightroom Classic. How do I discontinue Import DNG Creation? Under preferences, File Handling, I am unable to disable this feature. Hence, my images are no longer available in Canon Raw. I’m missing something, obviously.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The option to create Adobe DNG (Digital Negative) files upon import is found at the top-center of the Import dialog. Simply choose the “Copy” option (rather than “Copy as DNG”) and your proprietary raw captures will be retained without being converted to DNG.

More Detail: When importing new captures into Lightroom, you’ll generally want to copy your images from their current storage (such as a media card from your camera) to a hard drive. However, there are actually two “copy” options when importing your photos.

At the top-center of the Import dialog you can choose whether you want to copy the photos being imported, move those photos, or simply import from the current location using the “Add” option. When downloading from a media card, of course, you would want to copy the images to a hard drive.

If you prefer to make use of the Adobe DNG format (rather than your camera’s proprietary raw capture format) you can choose the “Copy as DNG” option at the top-center of the Import dialog. Of course, if you don’t want to convert your images to DNG (or you want to import the proprietary raw captures and convert to DNG at a later time) you will want to use the “Copy” option.

So, next time you import photos, you can simply change the import setting from “Copy as DNG” to simply “Copy”, and you’ll be once again copying your proprietary raw capture files without converting them to the Adobe DNG format.

Creating JPEG Copies

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Today’s Question: I often submit images to camera club competitions. I shoot in RAW and only use Photoshop (not Lightroom). I must resize the image and convert the image from PSD to JPEG. Do you think it makes a difference which is done first: resize or conversion?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In concept I would perform the resizing step before saving the image as a JPEG. But in reality I would recommend using the Image Processor feature in Photoshop to help automate this task (even if you are only processing a single image).

More Detail: As noted above, conceptually I would want to resize the image before saving a JPEG copy, rather than saving as a JPEG and then resizing that image. In reality the differences in terms of image quality would be virtually non-existent, especially in the context of an image that will be impacted by the quality loss involved with JPEG compression.

In any event, you can make the overall process of creating JPEG copies of your master images by using the Image Processor feature in Photoshop. You can find this feature on the menu by choosing File > Scripts > Image Processor. However, I recommend using Adobe Bridge to first select your photos. Within Bridge you can then choose Tools > Photoshop > Image Processor to send the selected photos to Photoshop and bring up the Image Processor dialog automatically.

Within the Image Processor dialog you can first select where you want to save the copies of your images that will be created. You can then turn on the “Save as JPEG” checkbox, and turn off the checkboxes for the PSD and TIFF file formats. Below the “Save as JPEG” checkbox you can then set the other options for the JPEG images, including a setting for resizing the images, setting the quality level, and converting to the sRGB color space profile (which I do recommend doing).

Once you’ve established the desired settings in the Image Processor dialog you can click the Run button to process the images you had selected. The resulting files will be saved in the destination folder you specified. Note that if you chose the option to save the images in the same location as the source images, they will actually be saved in a folder by file type (such as “JPEG” in this case).

Auto-Level Images

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Today’s Question: Is there a way to use the leveling tool in the crop menu on auto import?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can have your images automatically rotated (such as to straighten a crooked horizon) during the import process by using a preset that includes the Upright mode set to “Level”.

More Detail: The Crop tool in Lightroom enables you to adjust the rotation of the image to straighten a line that should be perfectly vertical or horizontal, such as a horizon line. There is even an Auto button that enables you to apply the rotation to the image automatically based on image analysis.

As you may have noticed though, you’re not able to save crop settings as part of a preset in the Develop module in Lightroom. That means the leveling feature of the Crop tool can’t be applied as a preset in the Develop module or upon importing new images. You can, however, achieve the same leveling result by creating a preset that includes the Upright Mode option, with the Upright feature set to “Level”.

To create a preset that includes automatic leveling, be sure to first click the “Level” button under the Upright heading in the Transform section of the right panel in the Develop module in Lightroom. Then, when saving a new preset, be sure to turn on the “Upright Mode” checkbox under the Transform checkbox within the New Develop Preset dialog.

If you apply that preset within the Develop module or using the Develop Settings popup in the Apply During Import section of the right panel in the Import dialog, the preset will apply the Upright correction to rotate automatically based on an analysis of the image. Note that you could also apply more sophisticated transformations by using the Vertical or Full options for the Upright adjustment, for example.

Options for Developing

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Today’s Question: If I understand correctly Adobe Camera Raw includes all of the adjustments found in the Develop module in Lightroom. If that’s the case, is there any reason I should consider using Lightroom to process my images rather than continuing to rely on Camera Raw?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Develop module in Adobe Lightroom Classic does provide the same adjustments found in Adobe Camera Raw, so you could achieve the same results with either. Therefore, in my view the only reason to consider using Lightroom rather than Camera Raw is to take advantage of the image-management (and sharing) features available in Lightroom.

More Detail: When it comes to a comparison between a workflow that revolves around Lightroom Classic CC and the combination of Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, and Camera Raw, in my mind the key differentiator is the overall workflow.

As noted above, Adobe Camera Raw provides the same adjustments available in the Develop module in Lightroom, so there isn’t a real advantage in terms of using Lightroom instead of Camera Raw for optimizing your photos. Quite frankly, many (though certainly not all) of the organizational features available in Lightroom are also available in Adobe Bridge. So you could absolutely manage and optimize your library of photos using Adobe Bridge and Photoshop, rather than Lightroom.

To me the key advantage of Lightroom relates to the catalog that is used to manage the information about your photos. To be sure, if you haven’t learned to truly understand how Lightroom works, you can create a huge mess in your Lightroom catalog. That is perhaps why my “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom” video course (included in the “Mastering Lightroom” bundle at https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/lightroom) has been my most popular course on GreyLearning.

In addition to the use of a catalog for managing your photos, I consider Lightroom to provide a more seamless workflow solution. These are the key reasons I prefer to use Lightroom to manage my own library of photos.

Ultimately, I think the decision about whether or not to use Lightroom depends on your workflow priorities. If you prefer to have a streamlined workflow that is especially helpful when you need to work seamlessly with images across a variety of different folders, I think Lightroom provides a good solution. But if you want to avoid the use of a catalog for managing your photos, the various tools that revolve around Adobe Photoshop certainly provide options suitable for many photographers.

Preset for Every Import

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Today’s Question: Can import presets [in Lightroom Classic] be set as the default settings every time I want to import or do I need to choose these import settings each time?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can’t exactly establish default settings to be used automatically for every import into your Lightroom Classic catalog. However, when you select a Develop preset during import, that setting will remain in place for future import operations as long as you don’t change the setting. In addition, you could create an import preset to preserve (and reset) your preferred import settings.

More Detail: Most of the settings within the Import dialog in Lightroom are “sticky”, meaning when you initiate an import most of the settings in the Import dialog will match those used for the previous import.

Therefore, if you have created a preset in the Develop module that you want to apply to all images during import, you could select that preset from the Develop Settings popup in the Apply During Import section of the right panel in the Import dialog. After that import task is complete, the next time you bring up the Import dialog the same preset will be selected on the Develop Settings popup.

If you want to preserve your preferred import settings, you can also create an import preset. After establishing the desired settings in the Import dialog, click the Import Preset popup at the bottom-center of the dialog. From that popup select the “Save Current Settings as New Preset” option. In the dialog that appears you can enter a meaningful name for this import preset, and click the Create button to save that preset.

In the future, if you need to re-establish your preferred import settings, you can select your saved preset from the Import Preset popup at the bottom of the Import dialog.

Disappearing Dehaze?

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Today’s Question: I just installed the latest version of Lightroom, and the Dehaze adjustment appears to have disappeared! What happened to this great adjustment?

Tim’s Quick Answer: With the latest release of Lightroom Classic CC (and Camera Raw) the Dehaze adjustment has been relocated to the Basic set of adjustments, alongside the Clarity adjustment.

More Detail: I can certainly understand being a little alarmed if you noticed that the Dehaze adjustment was no longer in the Effects set of controls. After all, Dehaze is a remarkably powerful adjustment that can greatly improve many images. Fortunately, the Dehaze adjustment was not removed, but rather relocated to a different adjustment category.

I’ve actually long hoped that Dehaze would be moved to the same set of adjustments as the Clarity adjustment, since these two adjustments fit into the same general category of effect (at least in my mind). So I’m very happy that the Dehaze adjustment is now a little more accessible and in a position that I consider to be more logical.

If I apply a Dehaze adjustment to an image, I find that I very often want to also apply a Clarity adjustment, in order to emphasize some of the finer textures and details in the photo.

So, rest assured that Dehaze is still very much available in Lightroom and Camera Raw, it has just been moved to a different location among the adjustments.

Sky Color Gradient

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Today’s Question: I have a photo where the sky is a bit lacking in color, and I would like to use a gradient in Photoshop to add some color. But since the Gradient tool requires me to select use two colors, my entire image gets covered up by the gradient. Is there a way to make only half of a gradient, so I don’t need to use a layer mask to hide part of the gradient?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can actually define a gradient that transitions from sky blue to transparency, enabling you to use the Gradient tool to add color to the sky without altering the rest of the photo.

More Detail: The Gradient tool in Photoshop is often used to draw a gradient that transitions from one color to another, for a total of two colors with a smooth gradation in between. It is also possible to define a gradient that includes multiple colors for a more complex result. In addition, it is possible to include transparency as part of a gradient.

There are two basic settings you’ll need to use with the Gradient tool in Photoshop to draw a gradient that transitions from a color to transparency. The first step (after selecting the Gradient tool) is to choose the “Foreground to Transparent” preset from the popup toward the left end of the Options bar. The “Foreground to Transparent” preset is the second option on this popup, right after the “Foreground to Background” preset.

Also, you’ll need to be sure that the “Transparency” checkbox is turned on. This checkbox can be found at the far right of the controls on the Options bar.

Once you have configured the Gradient tool to include transparency, you can define the color you want your gradation to start with. The foreground color is used for the “Foreground to Transparent” preset, so you can simply define the desired foreground color to configure your gradient. To do so, click the color swatch associated with the foreground color near the bottom of the toolbox. In the Color Picker dialog that appears you can select the desired foreground color.

Once you’ve configured the Gradient tool and selected the desired foreground color, you can create a new empty image layer to use as the destination for your gradient, and then click and drag across the image to draw that gradient. In this type of scenario you may also find it helpful to use the Color (or Color Burn) blend mode, which can be selected from the popup toward the top-left of the Layers panel.

Zoom Lock Limitations

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Today’s Question: Am I missing something, or should I be able to lock the zoom for my lens at any focal length? Why does the lens only lock when it is at the shortest focal length? I think it would be helpful to be able to lock at the longest focal length, or anywhere in between.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Most zoom lenses only lock at the shortest focal length, in large part so the lens can be stored more safely without the risk of the lens extending or contracting. However, there are some zoom lenses that enable you to lock the zoom at any focal length.

More Detail: Many zoom lenses don’t have a locking mechanism at all, and most of those that do have a locking mechanism only allow you to lock the lens at the shortest focal length (the smallest overall size for the lens). This can help protect the lens in storage or in transit. I find this to be most useful when I’m carrying a camera and lens using a camera strap, and I don’t want the zoom lens to extend while I’m walking around.

Of course, a lens locked at the shortest focal length doesn’t provide as much utility as we might hope for. Being able to lock at any focal length could help prevent “lens creep”, for example, with lenses that are a little loose especially when pointed downward toward a subject.

However, some lenses do enable you to lock the zoom at any focal length. For example, I’ve been using the Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens somewhat extensively during my current travels (Nikon version here: https://amzn.to/2pVGZ5C, and Canon version here: https://amzn.to/2GNPUzW).

This lens is an example of one that enables you to lock the zoom at any focal length. In fact, there are two locking mechanism. There is of course the “normal” lock that keeps the lens secured at the shortest focal length. In addition, however, you can lock the zoom at any setting by sliding the zoom barrel forward. When you want to shift the lens to a different zoom setting, simply slide that barrel backward again to unlock.

There are other lenses that incorporate this same feature, and I do find it helpful in a variety of situations. That said, I have found that a relatively small number of zoom lenses actually incorporate this clever option that enables you to lock the zoom at any focal length setting.

Filter Limitations

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Today’s Question: Are there other Photoshop filters that behave the same way as the Oil Paint filter [in terms of the limitations addressed in the last to editions of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are a handful of filters that have similar limitations, such as only working with RGB images, not working with 16-bit per channel images, or having certain display adapter requirements. However, that list of filters is relatively short.

More Detail: If you don’t have a supported display adapter or have turned off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox on the Performance page of the Preferences dialog, a handful of filters will not be available. That includes the Oil Paint filter mentioned above, as well as the Flame, Picture Frame, Tree, and Lighting Effects filters.

Additional filters that do not support CMYK images include the 3D and Video filter submenus, and the Lens Flare filter.

In addition, the Extrude, Tiles, and Wind filters (found on the Stylize submenu where the Oil Paint filter is found) only support 8-bit per channel images.

I’m sure there are some other variations in terms of system configuration or image modes that I’ve not addressed here. But the above filters represent the limitations I am aware of. As you can see, the affected filters are relatively few in number. I think it would also be fair to say that the filters with these limitations are not the most commonly used filters in Photoshop, which I suspect is part of the reason that they have not yet been updated with broader support. Note that some of this support also has a significant impact in terms of overall performance, such as with support for higher bit depths.