Photo Preview Settings

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Today’s Question: I am using Photoshop and working on images for my soon-to-be-published book. My book cover designer sent me the cover image for the new book and it appears more saturated in Photoshop than the image when opened in Preview [in the operating system]. I just now realized I have View set to “Working CMYK”. Is this correct? What view setting should I be using for general photo editing?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The image preview in Photoshop can be more accurate, assuming there is an embedded profile for the image, and especially if the image has been converted to the CMYK color mode. The Proof Setup option on the View menu will only alter the appearance of the image if you have the “Proof Colors” option turned on.

More Detail: When you view an image within your operating system, the embedded color profile will generally be taken into account. In other words, you can expect an image viewed in the operating system versus in Photoshop to appear about the same (and possibly identical).

With CMYK images (rather than RGB images), things tend to be a bit different, with the image viewed in the operating system generally being a bit less saturated and potentially appearing a bit “muddy”, with lower contrast.

In this case I suspect the image had been converted to CMYK already, since it has been prepared for publication in a printed book. Therefore, I would expect the preview in the operating system to be less accurate, and the preview in Photoshop to be more accurate.

Of course, in this case “accurate” is a somewhat relative term. Keep in mind that an image in print will generally not appear as saturated as an image displayed on a computer display. This is where soft proofing comes into play. If you configure the Proof Setup option in Photoshop to the output profile that will be used for printing, you can then turn on the “Proof Colors” option to get a preview of the printed result on your monitor display.

You can learn more about the overall issues related to color management for photographic images in my “Color Management for Photographers” course in the GreyLearning library here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/color

Display Problems in Lightroom

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Today’s Question: I am getting the unusual behavior in the Develop module [in Lightroom Classic]. The functionality of the Develop module works normally for the first image after starting Lightroom. When I select a different image and click on the Develop module the central image display area goes black and stays black, while the side panels show the usual Develop module functionality. The only way I can then process that image in the Develop Module is to shut down Lightroom and start it again. Should I delete the Previews and let the system rebuild the Previews from scratch?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this case I recommend turning off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox in the Preferences dialog. I would then also check to see if updated drivers are available, which might make it possible to enable that feature again.

More Detail: Many software applications (including Adobe Lightroom Classic) make use of the graphics processor for some processing, in order to improve overall performance. This includes, for example, processing in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic.

When there are unusual display issues or crashing with Lightroom Classic, it is a good idea to turn off the use of the graphics processor (GPU) as a troubleshooting step. In Lightroom Classic you can find this option in the Preferences dialog. Go to the Lightroom menu on Macintosh, or the Edit menu on Windows. Choose Preferences, and then navigate to the Performance tab within the dialog. Turn off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox, close the dialog, and restart Lightroom.

This will generally solve the types of issues described in today’s question. Once you confirm this solves the problem, I highly recommend updating the drivers for your display adapter. These drivers have a reputation for sometimes being buggy, and they tend to be updated relatively frequently.

So, check the website for the manufacturer of the display adapter in your computer, and see if new drivers are available. If so, install the latest version of those drivers, and re-enable the “Use Graphics Processor” option. Obviously if the problem persists you can turn the feature off again. But once you get updated drivers that do solve the issue, you’ll be able to maximize performance by having the “Use Graphics Processor” option turned on.

Why Focus Stack?

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Today’s Question: Why would you even focus stack in the first place? This is the first I’ve ever heard of this process. And why is an app like Helicon Focus advisable?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Focus stacking enables you to achieve greater depth of field when it would otherwise be impossible with a single photo. Focus stacking is especially helpful in macro and closeup photography, but can be helpful in other scenarios when you are focusing relatively close to a subject.

More Detail: Today’s question is a follow-up to a recent question about assembling HDR images that include focus stacking. Focus stacking is somewhat similar in concept to exposure bracketing. The difference is that with focus stacking you are essentially bracketing the focus setting, rather than the exposure. You can then assemble the “bracketed” focus captures into a single image with extensive depth of field.

When you capture the original images for focus stacking, you adjust the focus for each exposure. For simplicity, let’s assume you’re focusing on a close subject and even stopping down to the minimum aperture size you achieve one foot of depth of field. Let’s further assume you want to achieve five feet of depth of field.

You could start focusing at the very front of the subject. Then adjust the focus manually to shift the depth of field further away from you, overlapping with the depth of field from the first shot. Repeat this process until you have covered the full range of desired depth of field with your focus stacking captures. With this example you might initially assume that to cover five feet of depth of field you would need five photos that each of one foot of depth of field. In reality, you would need more shots, because you need to overlap the depth of field.

After capturing the focus stack images, you of course need to assemble them into a single image that includes the extended depth of field. It is possible to assemble the focus stacked image in Photoshop, by my experience has been mixed (but mostly not great) using Photoshop to assemble a focus stack. I have had excellent experience, however, with Helicon Focus, which you can find here:

https://timgrey.me/helicon

Calibration Targets

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Today’s Question: Thanks a lot for addressing the issue regarding “how often the monitor could/should be calibrated”. In this relation, would you be so kind to give your view about what is a recommended set up for a calibration? Should I choose D65 or D50, Gamma 2.2 or another one, etc.). Thanks for your feedback in this direction (or do you have any video in your library about that, please?).

Tim’s Quick Answer: I recommend setting your display calibration to a target color temperature of 6500 Kelvin (D65), a Gamma setting of 2.2, and a luminance target of around 120 candelas per square meter.

More Detail: When you calibrate a monitor display, you can actually choose what values you want to target for color and tone. That means you could target different values depending on your personal preferences, but I recommend that all photographers use the same target values for display calibration.

The illumination standard in a color-managed workflow for evaluating prints is a color temperature of 5000 degrees Kelvin. However, if you calibrate your monitor display to 5000 Kelvin, the display will be a bit too warm (yellow) in appearance. That, in turn, means you will process your images to a cooler (more blue) appearance, which means your prints won’t look accurate.

A color temperature of 6500 Kelvin is closer to the native white point for most monitor displays, and therefore provides a better target value for calibration. This target is often referred to as “D65” in the software used for display calibration.

The other option available to you is the Gamma setting, which can be thought of as something of a contrast setting. I recommend a target value of 2.2, which provides a moderately high contrast for the display. The other common value is 1.8, but to me this provides a much too washed out appearance for the display.

Finally, you have the option to set the target luminance (brightness) value for the display. For most users I recommend a value of about 120 candelas per square meter. If you are working in a very dark environment you may prefer a lower value of around 90 candelas. If you work in a bright environment, you may prefer a brighter setting, perhaps as high as 150 candelas. In general though, I recommend 120 candelas as a good target, in a moderately dark environment.

You can learn much more about color management in photography with my “Color Management for Photographers” video course. This course is included in the GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle at no additional cost, or you can purchase the individual course on the GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/color

Calibration Frequency

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Today’s Question: In Friday’s answer you said that it isn’t necessary to calibrate your monitor “with great frequency”. How often do you recommend calibrating?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Today’s digital displays are actually quite stable, so once you have calibrated and profiled to ensure an accurate display, calibrating every few months will generally be perfectly adequate, as long as you don’t adjust any of the controls affecting the display itself.

More Detail: In the “early” days of digital photography, we were working on analog monitor displays. Not only would these displays tend to get more dim over time, they would also tend to shift color due to variable wear on the components producing different wavelengths of light (red, green, and blue colors).

Today’s digital displays, by comparison, are very stable. They tend to be about a full stop too bright right out of the box, but the luminance doesn’t fade significantly over time, until the display starts to get relatively old.

The color stability of modern displays is even more stable. That means that right out of the box the color tends to be reasonably accurate. More importantly, once you have calibrated and profiled the display, the color is not likely to shift much at all.

It is still a good idea to periodically calibrate the display, just to make sure it remains accurate. If I forgot to calibrate for six months, I wouldn’t be alarmed at all. But I would calibrate again just to be sure I could remain confident in the accuracy of my display.

One of the most important things is to make sure you don’t adjust the brightness, contrast, or color on the display. If you do, it is best to run the calibration again so you can adjust everything back to an accurate appearance, and build a new profile for the display.

Calibration Reminders

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Today’s Question: I acquired ColorMunki Smile after reading one of your answers to a question about color management for a monitor. I have but one problem with this program. It seems to want a lot of attention, kinda like a 3-year-old. A window will pop up, side across the screen for me to run the program again and this happens about every two to three days. Any way to stop this from happening so often?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can disable the calibration reminders for this and other monitor calibration tools, or change the frequency of the reminders.

More Detail: The ColorMunki Smile (https://timgrey.me/smile) is a great affordable option for display calibration. Like other calibration tools, the software included in the ColorMunki Smile package will remind you to calibrate. That, of course, is a good thing, but you certainly don’t need to be reminded to calibrate with great frequency.

You can adjust the frequency of reminders with the ColorMunki Smile software, just as you can with most other display calibration tools. In the case of the Smile software, you can click the gear icon within the software to get to the settings, where you’ll find an option to select the reminder frequency, with settings for every week, every two weeks, every month, or never.

In addition, you can configure the reminder within the ColorMunki Smile Tray application, which gets installed alongside the ColorMunki Smile software used for the actual calibration. If you have the Tray application running you can click its icon and choose Preferences from the popup. You can then change the reminder frequency using the popup, or turn off the checkbox if you don’t want to be reminded at all.

Other calibration software tools have similar options for changing the frequency of reminders, or disabling them altogether.

Bracketed Focus Stacking

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Today’s Question: If I manually bracket three images using Exposure Compensation (such as meter, +2 stops, -2 stops) and I also adjust the focus point to a different position in the frame for each set of bracketed exposures to achieve a focus stack, how can I successfully blend the images in Lightroom or Photoshop or with DxO plugins to achieve both purposes?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you both bracket the exposures and capture for focus stacking at the same time, I recommend creating the focus-stacked images first, and then combine the results in to the final HDR (high dynamic range) images.

More Detail: It is generally possible to create an HDR with focus-stacking in either order. In other words, you could create the HDR images for each bracketed shot in the stack, or focus stack the images for each exposure of the HDR. However, I would favor creating the focus stacked images before assembling the HDR.

The reason for this is that in general I find focus stacking to be a process that is much less tolerant of small errors. In other words, it is generally more difficult to create a high-quality focus stack than it is to create a high-quality HDR image.

So, I would create the focus stacks for each exposure that will be used for the HDR image. In this case, with a “dark”, “medium”, and “bright” image for each focus setting, you’ll need to create a focus-stacked image for each of those three. So you would take all of the images exposed at minus two stops and create a focus stack of those, and then repeat the process for the even exposure and for the “plus two” exposure.

I recommend using Helicon Focus from Helicon Software (https://www.heliconsoft.com) to assemble the focus-stacked images. You can then use your preferred HDR software to assemble the stacked images into the final HDR. For this purpose I recommend Aurora HDR (https://timgrey.me/hdrtrial), though there are obviously other solutions available, including Lightroom and Photoshop.

Lightroom Import Clarification

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Today’s Question: Can you import from an SD card [into the “cloud” version of Lightroom]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can import into the cloud-based version of Lightroom (as well as into Lightroom Classic) from an SD card or any other media card. Only the primary storage is affected when you choose between Lightroom (cloud-based) and Lightroom Classic, not where you are able to import photos from.

More Detail: Today’s question is a follow-up to a previous question I addressed about the differences between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom (cloud). With both desktop applications in the Lightroom family, you are able to import any support image formats into your catalog from a memory card or other storage device.

The core difference as it relates to storage is what happens after you have imported your photos. With both versions of Lightroom, the files will initially be copied to the hard drive you have designated for local storage. With Lightroom Classic, the photos will remain on that local storage device, and will not be synchronized to the cloud unless you add photos to a collection that has synchronization enabled.

With the cloud-based version of Lightroom, cloud-storage is really intended to be your primary storage. So all photos will synchronize automatically to the cloud, and be available from any device (computer, smartphone, or tablet, for example) that you use to access your Lightroom catalog. Photos may be removed from local storage if there is not enough available space. But even if that happens, all photos will still be stored (and backed up) in the cloud if you’re using the cloud-based version of Lightroom.

So, the core difference between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic is that with Lightroom Classic you are directly managing all of your storage, while with Lightroom (cloud) your storage is primarily being managed in the cloud for you. With both versions, however, you can import photos from a variety of different sources.

Removing Batteries

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Today’s Question: I have heard that you should remove the battery from your camera (in this case, Sony mirrorless) when not using it, because leaving it in harms the camera in some way. Do you agree? Also, does removing the battery improve the battery life in any significant way?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is recommended that you remove the battery from your camera if it won’t be used for an extended period, to help prevent any potential damage to the camera. In addition, removing the battery may help the battery hold a charge longer.

More Detail: I really don’t consider it to be a great risk to leave a battery in the camera when the camera isn’t in use for an extended period of time, but there are some minor risks. Therefore, I would say it is a good idea to remove the battery from your camera when you’ll put the camera away for an extended period of time, but I wouldn’t worry about it if I forgot to remove the battery.

Frankly, the bigger issue in my mind relates to draining the battery, not putting the camera at risk. Many cameras will still cause the battery to be drained when it is in the camera, even if the camera is turned off. For example, I leave the GPS feature active on my camera, even when the camera isn’t in use, in large part so I don’t forget to turn the feature on again later.

With the GPS active even with the camera turned off, it is surprising how fast the battery will completely lose its charge. Therefore, I prefer to pop the battery out of the camera when I know I won’t use it for a while, primarily to retain a charge in the batter for a longer period of time.

Batch Correction for Capture Time

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Today’s Question: I believe you taught me at one time that you need to be in the Grid view, not the Loop view to reset these [the capture time] all at once [in Lightroom Classic].

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, just as with other metadata updates, if you want to adjust the capture time you’ll want to be in the grid view display in Lightroom Classic before using the Edit Capture Time command.

More Detail: Today’s “question” is a follow-up to an earlier Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, where I explained how you can adjust the capture time for a group of photos. The specific example involved two cameras, one of which had a time that was off by about five minutes compared to the camera that had an accurate time setting.

In my answer I explained a process for filtering the images to those captured only with the camera that had the time set incorrectly. Part of that process involved accessing the Library Filter bar that is available in the grid view (but not in the loupe view). However, I didn’t explicitly state that it was necessary to be in the grid view in order to adjust the capture time for multiple photos.

So, I thought it was worthwhile to amplify the point about the difference between the grid view and the loupe view displays in Lightroom Classic when you have selected multiple images.

By default, even if you have selected multiple photos on the filmstrip, if you are in the loupe view Lightroom Classic assumes you are working with a single image, and updates you apply (such as adding keywords or adjusting capture time) will only apply to the single image shown in the loupe view display.

Therefore, it is necessary to be in the grid view (not the loupe view) if you want to select multiple photos and apply metadata updates to all of those selected images. I should add that it is possible to enable automatic metadata synchronization when you are in the loupe view display, but I don’t recommend taking advantage of this option because there is a risk of forgetting to turn it on, or of forgetting that it is on. In my mind it is more obvious that you are working with multiple images when you are in the grid view, and I prefer to maintain consistent behavior in the loupe view.