Renaming a Catalog

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Today’s Question: I just updated my Adobe CC for Photographers to the 2015 version. In the process of doing that my Lightroom catalog’s name was changed from “LR-5” to “LR-5-2”. Is there some simple way for me to change it to “LR-6”? I want to do that since I plan to use Lightroom for some time to come and I do not want to eventually get some future catalog named “LR-5-2-2” and so forth. Also any thoughts on how to name Lightroom catalogs?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can most certainly rename your Lightroom catalog, but that won’t actually prevent future versions of Lightroom from modifying that name when a catalog is upgraded to a new version.

More Detail: When you upgrade to a new “major” version of Lightroom, your catalog from an earlier version of Lightroom must be upgraded to the new catalog format. This is necessary to support new features and adjustments, among other changes that may have been made to the catalog structure. During this process, rather than modifying your existing catalog, the new version of Lightroom will create a new catalog based on the existing catalog, with a new name for that catalog.

If you want to rename your catalog the first step is to know exactly where your catalog is. You can find this information in the Catalog Settings dialog, which can be accessed by choosing “Catalog Settings” from the Lightroom menu on the Macintosh version of Lightroom or the Edit menu on the Windows Version of Lightroom.

In the Catalog Settings dialog go to the General tab and click the Show button. This will open a window in your operating system showing the location of the folder containing your catalog files, with that folder highlighted.

Before renaming your catalog, you need to close Lightroom. So switch back to Lightroom and quit the application, then return to the window with your catalog folder. Double-click to open the catalog folder, where you will find the files that represent your Lightroom catalog.

You’ll want to start with the file that has the “.lrcat” filename extension, as this is the primary catalog file. Right-click on this file and choose the Rename option, then type a new name. Be sure to keep the “.lrcat” filename extension unchanged as part of the new filename.

You then need to use the new filename as the base filename for the remaining files, keeping the “extra” portion of the filename exactly as it is. You will have, for example, a file that includes the word “Previews” as part of the base filename, with a filename extension of “.lrdata”.

For example, if you renamed the catalog to “My Lightroom Catalog.lrcat”, you would change the Previews filename to “My Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata”.

Once you have renamed the files with the same base filename, you can re-launch Lightroom. By default Lightroom will attempt to open the existing catalog that you just renamed, but of course will not be able to find that catalog because the filename has been changed. In the dialog that appears you can click the “Choose a Different Catalog” button to bring up a dialog where you can once again click the “Choose a Different Catalog” button so you can navigate to the location where the catalog is stored and select the “lrcat” file. Lightroom can then open that renamed catalog, and you can continue working normally.

Note that the process of renaming a catalog in Lightroom is also covered in Lesson 12 of the Lightroom video course “Resolving Organizational Challenges”, available in the GreyLearning video training library. If you are a GreyLearning subscriber, you can view this lesson to see the subject of today’s answer presented in video. And if you’re not already a subscriber, you can get details about accessing all of the courses available in the GreyLearning library here:

http://greylearning.com/

GPS Options

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Today’s Question: My SLR doesn’t include GPS, but I would like to be able to keep track of where I captured my photos without marking spots on a printed map. Is there a good solution, or should I just “upgrade” to a camera that includes GPS capabilities?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are a few options available to you. Obviously you could simply purchase an SLR that includes a GPS receiver. You could also purchase an accessory GPS receiver for your camera if your camera supports this option. And another option is to use a GPS-enabled device (such as your smartphone) to capture reference photos, which I refer to as “location snapshots”.

More Detail: Having GPS built into your camera is most certainly a very convenient solution for photographers (such as myself) who frequently want to be able to keep track of the location where they captured their photos. With the GPS receiver turned on you are most certainly going to cause the battery to discharge more quickly. Therefore, you need to determine whether the location information is worth the reduction in battery life. For me the decision is easy, because I tend to value the location information for my photos. But this is a decision each photographer will need to make based on how they prioritize that information.

For those who have a camera that supports accessory GPS receivers, this provides another solution. These devices generally attach to the flash hot shoe, and then plug into the camera to provide GPS coordinates that are automatically added to the metadata for each capture.

With both of the above options you can then view the GPS coordinates in metadata, or use an application such as Lightroom to plot your photos on the map based on those GPS coordinates.

You can also use another device to track locations for your photos. One solution that works great in many situations is to create what I refer to as “location snapshots”. This was the subject of the article titled “Location Snapshots” in the August 2012 issue of Pixology magazine (http://www.pixologymag.com). With this approach you use a device (such as a smartphone) to capture a reference photo that contains GPS coordinates in the metadata, and then use that photo as a reference for adding (or simply reviewing) location information for your other photos.

In addition, you can use a GPS device (such as a smartphone) to record a track log, and then use software such as Lightroom to synchronize the track log with the photos, adding GPS coordinates to the photos in a relatively automated way.

As you can see there are a variety of solutions for adding location information to your photos. Choosing a solution that works best for you is a matter of understanding the options that are available and comparing those options based on your specific workflow priorities.

File Size Confusion

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Today’s Question: I am limited to an image size of 500 KB when uploading for my blog. I am finding images that appear to be under the limit but are huge. One image shows as 465 KB on my disk but when I open it in Photoshop it is over 2000 pixels wide and around 8.7 MB in size. My online form sees the 465 KB, accepts it and then stalls.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this case the confusion is simply a matter of one way that Photoshop reports the size for an image. The actual file size you’re seeing outside of Photoshop is accurate. The size reported inside Photoshop doesn’t relate to the actual size of the file on the hard drive.

More Detail: When you are limited to a particular file size for an upload, it is the actual size of the file on the hard drive that is the issue. It is important to keep in mind, however, that sometimes that file size is reported in different ways. In other words, there are situations where the file size is below the limit, but the website you are trying to upload to calculates the size differently. I do realize that this seems odd (and it is odd), but this is an issue that we run into at times. (For those interested in the more specific details, as an example one megabyte is sometimes considered to be 1,000 kilobytes and sometimes considered to be 1,024 kilobytes, depending on context.)

When you open an image in Photoshop, the status bar will by default show you the document sizes. This relates not to the actual size of a file stored on your hard drive but rather to the amount of data in the image file itself. This is presented as two numbers. The first number can be thought of as the size the image file would be if you saved the image as a TIFF image without any compression applied, and with all layers flattened into a single layer. The second number represents the image if it is saved as a TIFF image with no compression, but with all layers preserved.

In other words, when it comes to the size of a file on the hard drive, you can largely ignore the document sizes presented in Photoshop, especially if the image will be saved as a JPEG. But it is also important to keep in mind that if the size of that saved JPEG is close to the limit for an upload, it is still possible the upload will fail. And, of course, there are other reasons beyond file size that an upload might fail.

Dehaze Requires Subscription

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Today’s Question: My Lightroom 6 does not have the Dehaze adjustment. Is it only on the Creative Cloud version of Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, it is true that the new (and wonderful) Dehaze adjustment in the latest update to Lightroom is only available with the Creative Cloud (subscription) version of Lightroom and not with the standalone (non-subscription) version of Lightroom.

More Detail: If you want to gain access to the new Dehaze adjustment, you will need to sign up for a Creative Cloud subscription, since the new adjustment is only included in the Creative Cloud version of Lightroom (version 2015.1) and not the standalone update (version 6.1).

There is an apparent workaround that I’ve not tested, involving the creation of a preset that includes Dehaze (using a computer running Lightroom CC) and then installing that preset in Lightroom 6.1. But with the Creative Cloud 2015 (aka version 6) update to Lightroom, only Creative Cloud subscribers will have access to new features. Those who opt for the standalone (non-subscription) version of Lightroom 6 will get access to updates for support of new RAW capture formats and bug fixes, but not new features until the next major release.

Panning within a Photo

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Today’s Question: Every time I retouch a picture in Lightroom with the cloning/healing tool at a 200% zoom view, I can’t find an easy way to pan around the photo. I always have to use the Navigator on the left panel, which I usually hide while retouching to see more of the picture. Is there an easier way?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There is indeed an easier way! Simply hold the Spacebar key on the keyboard while working with the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom, and you will have temporary access to the Hand tool for panning around the photo. While holding the Spacebar key on the keyboard, you can then simply click-and-drag on the image to pan around as needed.

More Detail: This same process works in Photoshop, Adobe Camera Raw, and Lightroom. The Spacebar key on the keyboard serves as a shortcut to the Hand tool, which is a tool that allows you to pan around an image when you have zoomed in beyond the available space within the interface.

In Photoshop the Spacebar keyboard shortcut has a bit more utility than in Lightroom, because when you aren’t working with a tool such as the Spot Removal tool the Spacebar keyboard shortcut will toggle the zoom setting for the image. But when working with image cleanup the Spacebar keyboard shortcut is very helpful, allowing you to pan around to check for additional blemishes as you work to clean up a photo.

New Tool for Haze

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Today’s Question: Can you explain how and when to use the new “Dehaze” control in Lightroom CC (2015)?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The new “Dehaze” adjustment in Lightroom CC 2015.1 is quite remarkable, and as the name implies can be used to dramatically reduce the appearance of haze in images captured under hazy atmospheric conditions. Increasing the value will significantly reduce the appearance of haze in the photo, and reducing the value will increase the appearance of haze in the photo.

More Detail: I had previously referred to the Clarity adjustment in Lightroom’s Develop module as the “haze buster”, but I will no longer refer to it this way now that the Dehaze adjustment has been added to Lightroom. While the Clarity adjustment can certainly help reduce the appearance of haze in a photo, it is really focused on improving mid-tone contrast.

The “Dehaze” adjustment, on the other hand, is specifically focused on reducing the appearance of haze in a photo. Therefore, we can now simply think of the Clarity adjustment as being focused on enhancing texture and detail in a photo, while the Dehaze adjustment allows you to dramatically reduce the appearance of atmospheric haze in a photo.

The results of Dehaze are, in my experience, simply remarkable. If you are a Facebook user, you can see a sample image that shows the original photo, the effect of Clarity, and the effect of Dehaze. You’ll find that image on the wall for my “Tim Grey Photo and Imaging” page here:

https://www.facebook.com/timgreyphoto

The Dehaze adjustment is found in the Effects set of controls. To reduce the appearance of haze in a photo simply drag the Amount slider for Dehaze toward the right. You can adjust the setting based on your own preference, without much risk of any serious problems in the photo. The only thing to keep an eye on is an overly dramatic appearance for the photo, with strong shadows and exaggerated contrast.

With a little practice you’ll get a sense for how much of a Dehaze adjustment might be too much for an image. In some respects the issue here is similar to the processing of high dynamic range (HDR) images, where it is generally preferred to avoid the appearance of “over-processing” for the photo. But used with a degree of self-control, the Dehaze adjustment can create a dramatic improvement in many photos.

Sun Spots

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Today’s Question: I was inspired by your recent photo “Sunrise in the Palouse”, and went out to try capturing photos that include the sun in the frame. I was able to get the exposure pretty good (setting a minus exposure compensation), but ended up with lots of somewhat bright (but not colored) circles in the photo. Is that lens flare of some sort? What can I do to avoid these circles?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Your description sounds like the effect from having dust or other debris on the front element of your lens. When including the sun in the frame (or nearly in the frame) it is critically important to clean the lens. I recommend making use of a lens cloth, brush, blower, or similar device to clean the front of the lens frequently when photographing with the sun in (or near) the frame.

More Detail: Fortunately, in most cases it is relatively easy to clean these spots after the capture, especially if the spots appear in an area of open sky. However, because the sun will cause the dust or other contaminants on the front lens element to “glow” with light, then can interfere with textures and details within the photo. Therefore, it is important to try to avoid this issue in the first place.

I make a point of cleaning the front lens element once I’m ready to capture my shot whenever I’m including the sun in (or near) the frame. I’ll then keep an eye on the front lens element, especially when I’m in a dusty area, and clean the lens as often as is needed (or more often than that!).

The photo referenced in today’s question can be found on my 500px page here:

https://500px.com/photo/111950955/sunrise-in-the-palouse-by-tim-grey

In this case I was working before (and during) sunrise in a very dusty area, and ended up with some of the spots referred to in today’s question even though I had cleaned the lens a few frames before the image seen above was captured. Even though I was trying to be careful, I didn’t get the front lens element completely clean (or more dust accumulated after I cleaned the lens), so I had a bit of cleanup work to do after the capture.

If you are very careful to keep the front lens element clean, you’ll able to minimize the effect of these glowing circles, which can be very distracting in the photo. Lens flare, of course, can’t be completely avoided if you are including the sun in the frame. But even that can often be cleaned up or minimized in post-processing.

JPEG for External Editing?

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Today’s Question: Having added a folder of RAW images to my new Lightroom catalog, I sent a photo to Photoshop to do some edits, then returned to Lightroom. In the process, Lightroom made my picture into a TIFF file, but I would prefer to have it in the more compact form of a JPEG. I don’t see how I can stop Lightroom from converting to TIFF. It seems to offer no option in Preferences for JPEGs. Is there a way?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, it is not possible to send a photo directly from Lightroom to Photoshop and have it created as a JPEG image in the process. The only options within Lightroom are to create a TIFF or PSD (Photoshop Document) when using the External Editing Feature.

More Detail: In theory you could create a workaround here, though it would not be as smooth. Also, I don’t recommend using JPEG images for this purpose, because doing so would create a situation where you are likely going to be re-saving the JPEG image with updates, resulting in a compounded loss of quality due to the JPEG compression.

You could export the RAW capture as a JPEG, adding the JPEG image back to your catalog as part of that process. To do so, turn on the “Add to This Catalog” checkbox in the “Export Location” section at the top of the Export dialog. You can then send the resulting JPEG image to Photoshop using the Photo > Edit In command on the menu. When prompted, you can choose the “Edit Original” option.

It is important to keep in mind that in addition to the issue of compounded loss of image quality when re-saving an updated JPEG image, there are a variety of other benefits you are giving up by using the JPEG file format as an editing format. With a JPEG image you can only work in 8-bit per channel mode (rather than 16-bit per channel mode), increasing the risk of posterization in your images. In addition, with a JPEG image you aren’t able to include multiple image layers, adjustment layers, saved selections, and other features that require the use of a TIFF or PSD image in Photoshop.

In other words, I highly recommend using either the TIFF or PSD file format for the RAW captures you send from Lightroom to Photoshop. I also recommend making use of layers while you are working in Photoshop. Those layers will then be preserved in the TIFF or PSD image, and you can retain access to those layers if you re-send the image to Photoshop using the “Edit Original” option when you use the Edit In command in Lightroom.

Catalog Location when Traveling

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Today’s Question: If I use an external disk [when traveling] for my primary photo files (with a second external disc for backup), should the catalog be also placed on the primary external disk? That would save a step when merging to the home (main) computer, and keep it all together. My laptop has limited storage.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The answer here depends on your priorities. Having the catalog on an external hard drive along with your photos is very convenient when it comes time to transferring the photos to your “master” catalog. However, this approach will also generally have a bit of a negative impact on overall performance in Lightroom.

More Detail: Lightroom makes extensive use of the catalog files, which contain the information about all of the photos being managed by Lightroom. Therefore, having that catalog on a hard drive that provides the best performance possible. In most cases, that translates to having the Lightroom catalog files stored on an internal hard drive.

Of course, it is relatively common that a laptop computer won’t have adequate internal storage for all of the photos you might capture during a trip. In that case, an external hard drive provides an excellent solution for photo storage. In other words, you will have the catalog on your internal hard drive and your photos on an external hard drive. This provides the additional benefit of being able to review your photos (and update metadata for them) within Lightroom even if the external hard drive with your photos is not connected to the computer.

That said, if you have the catalog on the internal hard drive and the photos on the external hard drive, you will likely want to copy the catalog files to the external hard drive in order to have the catalog and photos available on your primary hard drive for purposes of merging your traveling catalog with your master catalog.

In this situation you could simply copy the folder containing your traveling catalog onto the external hard drive that contains your photos, and then import from that catalog on your primary computer. You could also make use of the “Export as Catalog” command (found on the File menu) to help ensure you are copying all necessary files to an external hard drive that can then be connected to your primary computer.

There are obviously a variety of ways you could approach this workflow. You can see my personal approach in the courses “Tim’s Real Organizational Workflow” in the GreyLearning video training library (http://www.greylearning.com). The key is to develop a workflow that makes sense based on your specific needs, and then use that workflow consistently.

Managing Time-Lapses

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Today’s Question: I recently created 80+ time-lapse sequences in Photoshop. Since Lightroom doesn’t handle time-lapse very well is there a good reason to include them in the catalog?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The answer here depends a little bit on your specific workflow needs, but from my perspective it is still helpful to have your time-lapse captures included in your Lightroom catalog. My approach is to put time-lapse captures into a sub-folder within the primary folder (if applicable) that contains other images captured at the same time. But having those photos available provides a number of benefits, so I recommend including them.

More Detail: To begin with, I simply prefer having “everything” in my Lightroom catalog, in terms of all of the photos and video clips I have captured. I even wish Lightroom would enable me to include audio clips that were recorded as part of my overall photography and videography, but that’s a different matter.

I also consider it helpful to have my time-lapse captures in my Lightroom catalog simply so I will remember that I actually have them. I capture a lot of photos, and can’t possibly remember every photograph I’ve ever captured or every trip I’ve ever taken. By having the time-lapse captures (in their own folder) included in my Lightroom catalog, I have a better chance of remembering that the images actually exist.

Perhaps more importantly, I find there is a tremendous workflow advantage to having my time-lapse captures in Lightroom. As you have probably realized by now, when assembling a time-lapse video from a sequence of individual captures, you generally want to apply some batch adjustments to those images. For example, the images should be scaled down to a smaller size, and often cropped, based on the final video resolution you’re going to produce. I also often like to synchronize adjustments to all of the images I’m assembling into a time-lapse, both to correct exposure or color in the photos and also to apply creative effects to the images.

I personally use Apple QuickTime Pro (an older version) to assemble my time-lapse sequences. I therefore employ Lightroom to synchronize adjustments across all of the images in the sequence, and then export those images from Lightroom to create the derivative images that I will actually use to create the time-lapse video.

The bottom line is that I do find it tremendously advantageous to have my time-lapse captures included in my Lightroom catalog. I realize that the notion of having hundreds (or thousands) of “extra” photos in your Lightroom catalog may seem like a disadvantage, but from my perspective the advantages of having those photos included in your Lightroom catalog exceeds the disadvantages.