Preview Changes for the Worse

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Today’s Question: When first import new images into Lightroom Classic they look great, then almost immediately the preview changes to something not so great. Can you help so the initial preview doesn’t change?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The solution here is to update the default settings so that the interpretation for the images in Lightroom Classic is closer to the interpretation from your camera.

More Detail: When you initially browse images with Lightroom Classic, Adobe Bridge, and some other applications, the preview will be based on a JPEG that is embedded in the raw capture by the camera. Shortly thereafter, the preview will be updated based on the interpretation of the raw capture by the software. In some cases, this can result in a preview that doesn’t look quite as good as the preview that was embedded in the image.

In Lightroom Classic you can improve the preview by applying different settings from the Develop module. I recommend using a preset for this purpose, which you can apply as part of the process of importing new photos into your catalog. That will result in improved previews right from the start of your workflow.

You can work with a sample image in the Develop module to create the new preset. I suggest looking at the profiles available in the Basic section of the right panel as a good starting point. In particular you might look at the “Camera Matching” section, since those are most likely to represent a closer match to the preview generated by the camera.

You can also apply other adjustments, such as to increase the value for Vibrance to boost the colors, and increase the value for Clarity to enhance midtone contrast. Any adjustments that provide a better starting point for the image can be applied as part of this process.

When you are happy with the adjustments you’ve applied, you can click the plus symbol (+) to the right of the Presets heading on the left panel in the Develop module. Choose “Create Preset” from the popup to bring up the “New Develop Preset” dialog.

Enter a meaningful name in the Preset Name field, and choose the Group you’d like to include the preset in. Then make sure the checkboxes are turned on for all adjustments you want to include in the preset. If you’re going to apply this preset when importing new photos, you can simply click the “Check All” button to enable all adjustments for the preset. Click the Create button to create the new preset.

This preset can then be applied at import, or at any time later in your workflow by selecting the preset from the Presets list in the Develop module. This will update the settings for the images, so you’ll have a better preview and a better starting point for further refining the adjustments for the image.

Extract Raw from Smart Object

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Today’s Question: Is there a way to extract the original raw capture from a smart object layer in a Photoshop PSD?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can extract the original file from an embedded smart object in Photoshop using the Export Contents command.

More Detail: When you open a raw capture in Photoshop via Camera Raw or Lightroom Classic you have the option to open that raw capture as a smart object. What that means is that the raw capture file will be embedded in the smart object. This provides a variety of potential benefits, including being able to edit that embedded raw capture within the layered file, and therefore have the existing layers continue to affect the interpreted raw capture.

If you later are unable to locate the original raw capture that was used to create the smart object, you can simply extract the original file from the layered document in Photoshop. Note that this same process works for any type of image that had been converted to a smart object layer in Photoshop, not just raw captures.

To extract the original file, open the layered image and make sure the smart object layer is selected on the Layers panel. Then go to the menu and choose Layer > Smart Objects > Export Contents. This will bring up the Save dialog so you can choose where you want to save the file that is being extracted and update the filename if you’d like. After designating the location and filename, click the Save button and the original image file used to create the smart object will be extracted as an additional file.

Note that extracting the original file in this way will not remove the image from the smart object layer. It is simply creating a copy of the embedded image as a separate file.

Compression for Raw Captures

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Today’s Question: For raw captures do you recommend lossless compression or uncompressed, and would there be a quality difference between the two?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general, I recommend using the lossless compression option for raw captures if your camera supports this, as it can significantly reduce file size without degrading image quality.

More Detail: Some cameras offer options related to the raw capture format in terms of whether compression is applied. With some cameras you can even choose between lossless compression and lossy compression.

Lossless compression operates by recording image data more efficiently, resulting in smaller file sizes. This compression does not alter the original capture data, it simply encodes the data in a way that requires less storage space. This enables you to take advantage of the benefits of raw capture while being able to store more images on a given media card. The only real drawback is that the compressed raw captures will be a little slower to process because the data needs to be decoded as part of that task. In general, you would not likely notice a significant performance issue related to lossless compression.

Lossy compression, on the other hand, further reduces file size by altering the original capture data to some extent. While this compression is generally of very good quality, there is some loss of fidelity. Out of an abundance of caution when it comes to maximizing image quality, I don’t recommend using lossy compression for raw captures.

Uncompressed raw captures could be a little faster to process when optimizing the image, but the file sizes will be considerably large than with a raw capture with lossless compression applied. Therefore, I prefer lossless compression for raw captures, but I would acknowledge that using uncompressed raw is the more conservative approach.

New Raw Format with Old Software

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Today’s Question: I currently use the older Lightroom standalone version 6.14. I’m thinking of purchasing a Sony Alpha 1 camera and I want to continue shooting in raw. How can I import these files into Lightroom without upgrading to the subscription version of Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To import raw captures that aren’t supported by your version of Lightroom (including newer updates to Lightroom Classic) you can convert the captures to the Adobe DNG format using the free Adobe DNG Converter.

More Detail: Even if you’re using the latest version of Lightroom Classic, with a newer camera you may run into a situation where the updated raw capture format is not yet supported by Lightroom Classic. This is obviously especially true for those who have not purchased a subscription for Lightroom Classic and are therefore no longer receiving software updates.

The Adobe DNG Converter is often updated to support new raw capture formats more quickly than Lightroom Classic. This provides an option for working with your raw captures before they are supported by your software.

My personal preference is to retain the original raw captures as they came from the camera. Therefore, I prefer to treat the Adobe DNG Converter as a temporary solution while waiting for software to be updated to support the latest raw capture formats. However, for those who have decided to use the non-subscription version of Lightroom for as long as possible, the Adobe DNG Converter does provide a way to work with raw capture formats that will not be supported unless you subscribe to Lightroom Classic or switch to other software.

You can get more info and download the free Adobe DNG Converter on the Adobe website here:

https://helpx.adobe.com/camera-raw/digital-negative.html#downloads

Pixology Magazine February 2023

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The February 2023 issue of Pixology magazine is now available, featuring the following articles:

  • Watched Folder Import: Learn to automatically import photos into Lightroom Classic by simply adding them to a specified folder.
  • Lensbaby Effect: Recreate the unique look of a fun lens using Photoshop.
  • GoodSync Backup: Leverage the benefits of a synchronized approach to backing up your photos.
  • Storage Upgrade: Learn how to transition to a larger hard drive with Lightroom Classic.
  • Photo Story: Unexpected Waterfall: Luck and curiosity make up for a lack of planning on an unintended route.

Pixology magazine is included in the GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle, and is also available as a standalone subscription here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/pixology-magazine

Confusion with Remove from Collection

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Today’s Question: I am so confused by the question I’m asked when I am removing a synced photo from a collection [in Lightroom Classic, relating to the “All Synced Photographs” collection]. All I want to do is remove the photo from the collection. I want it to stay in all the other folders and places that I have it which includes the folder it was saved into when created.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In my view if you are removing a photograph from a collection that has synchronization enabled, then you don’t want the photo to remain in the “All Synced Photographs” collection. Therefore, I suggest clicking the “No” button.

More Detail: Confusion is understandable because the workflow for photos synchronized to the cloud in the Lightroom ecosystem is somewhat inconsistent.

The message referred to in today’s question appears when you remove a photo from a collection and the collection has synchronization enabled. The dialog that appears asks, “Do you want synced photos to remain in All Synced Photographs?”, which refers to a collection found in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module in Lightroom Classic.

Within the Lightroom ecosystem, synchronized photos are stored in the cloud so they can be accessed from virtually anywhere, such as with the Lightroom app on a mobile device or in a web browser pointed to https://lightroom.adobe.com. One of the ways you can have photos synchronized to the cloud is to add them to a collection that has synchronization enabled.

The confusion arises when you remove a photo from a collection that has synchronization enabled. Lightroom Classic will ask if you want the photo to remain in the “All Synced Photographs” collection. Adding more confusion, if you click “No” indicating you want the photo removed from “All Synced Photographs”, it will only actually be removed if it isn’t also in another collection that has synchronization enabled.

My view is that if you remove a photo from a synchronized collection and it is not in any other synchronized collection, then it should be removed from the “All Synced Photographs” collection. This ensures the photo will not be synchronized to the cloud unless you specifically choose to synchronize it via a collection. Therefore, I recommend clicking the “No” button so the photo will be removed as long as it isn’t synchronized with another collection.

Unfortunately, this option isn’t always offered. For example, if you turn off synchronization for a collection the photos will still remain in your cloud storage and will also remain in the “All Synced Photographs” collection. In other words, even if you turn off synchronization for all your collections in Lightroom Classic, the photos in those collections will still be stored in the cloud even though in my view they no longer should be.

Because of these issues, I’m sure many photographers have photos stored in the cloud within the Lightroom ecosystem even though they don’t actually want those photos in the cloud. To remove them from the cloud you can remove them from the “All Synced Photographs” collection.

Rest assured, by the way, that removing a photo from a collection (or stopping it from being synchronized to the cloud) won’t remove the actual source image file on your hard drive. Your local storage is not affected by cloud-based synchronization, nor by collections in general within Lightroom Classic.

Free Space When Deleting Photos

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Today’s Question: I have my Lightroom Classic catalog on an SSD [solid-state drive]. When I delete photos from the catalog and disk, does it free up cells on the SSD to allow other photo data to fill that space?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, with one caveat. When you delete photos from Lightroom Classic the files will initially go to the Recycle Bin (Windows) or Trash (Macintosh). Once you empty that temporary holding area, the space will be freed up on the drive.

More Detail: When you remove photos from Lightroom Classic the default option is to remove them from the catalog but leave them on the hard drive. I don’t recommend this option, because it means you’ll have photos taking up space on your hard drive that you never know are actually there because they aren’t represented in your catalog.

Instead, I recommend choosing the “Delete from Disk” option in the confirmation dialog when you choose to remove photos from your catalog. This will delete the photos from the drive, in addition to removing them from the catalog.

Of course, when you delete files on Windows or Macintosh the space on the drive isn’t immediately made available. Instead, the files will be placed in the Recycle Bin (Windows) or Trash (Macintosh) so you can recover them if they were deleted accidentally. By default, deleted files will be permanently removed from these temporary holding areas after 30 days.

If you empty the Recycle Bin or Trash with the SSD connected, then the deleted files will be permanently deleted so that the space on the drive taken up by those files will be made available.

Adding to the Keyword List

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Today’s Question: Regarding the helpful option to search for keywords you addressed [using Lightroom Classic], what happens if you search and find that the keyword isn’t on the list? Can you add a keyword right from the Keyword List or do you have to go to the Keywording section?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can add keywords in the Keyword List section of the right panel in the Library module in Lightroom Classic by clicking the plus symbol (+) to the left of the Keyword List heading. This is the approach I consider the best option when it comes adding new keywords.

More Detail: There are several ways you can add new keywords and assign those keywords to photos in Lightroom Classic. I recommend using the Keyword List when it comes to adding new keywords in order to ensure you are being consistent in terms of creating new keywords.

As today’s question indicates, I previously discussed the option to search the Keyword List using the search field at the top of the list. This makes it easy to quickly locate a keyword you want to assign, and also provides the opportunity to determine if a keyword already exists. For example, if you intended to add the keyword “oxen” to a photo you might search for “ox” and discover that you already had “ox” as a keyword. You may therefore decide there is no need to add the plural form, since the singular form of the word is already a keyword in use.

Similarly, you might discover through a search that the keyword you want to add isn’t already present on the Keyword List. In that case you can simply click the plus symbol (+) to the left of the Keyword List label to bring up the Create Keyword Tag dialog.

In the Create Keyword Tag dialog you can enter the keyword into the Keyword Name field. If there are synonyms for the keyword you can add those to the Synonyms field. For example, I often include the local language as a synonym for keywords representing the name of a country. When adding “Italy” as a keyword I would therefore add “Italia” (the Italian spelling) as a synonym for the keyword.

You can also choose the preferred options for including the keyword when exporting an image using the three checkboxes representing those options. If the keyword is for a person you want to identify using the People view, you can turn on the Person checkbox.

Finally, you can turn on the “Add to selected photos” checkbox if you would like the new keyword you’re creating to be added to the currently selected photos. Then click the Create button to create the new keyword, which will then of course be added to the Keyword List.

Searching the Keyword List

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Today’s Question: I have many photos of birds whose names I have largely forgotten. I am adding keywords to them in Lightroom Classic as I go along. When I come across another one of these birds, I don’t remember the specific species but I know it is a stork, for example. I’d like to enter “stork” and have a list of storks come up in the keyword entry window from where I can pick the one I want. Is there any way I can add the correct keyword without knowing the precise first word?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can filter the list of keywords using the search field at the top of the Keyword List on the right panel in the Library module.

More Detail: At the top of the Keyword List section (not the Keywording section) on the right panel in the Library module you’ll find a search field. You can click in that field and type the text you want to search for, such as “stork” in this example. The Keyword List will then be filtered to only display keywords that include the text you typed.

You can then turn on the checkbox to the left of the applicable keyword to apply it to the current image. You can also apply keywords to multiple images at once by selecting the applicable images, making sure you’re in the grid view rather than loupe view, and then turn on the checkbox for the keyword.

In addition to making it easier to track down specific keywords on the Keyword List by using the search field, this approach also provides the benefit of not having to type the keyword to add it to the current image. That, in turn, can help ensure you don’t accidentally spell a keyword incorrectly when typing it in the Keywording section rather than simply turning on a checkbox for the correct keyword.

Synchronizing a Catalog to Two Computers

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Today’s Question: I use two computers to work on Lightroom Classic: a desktop and a laptop. When I edit on the desktop computer and then “synchronize” the catalog on both computers, I don’t see the file as changed on the laptop, including the settings changed in the Develop module. Can I use Lightroom Classic on two computers and see all updates on both computers?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can work with a single Lightroom Classic catalog on two computers, and when doing so I recommend storing the catalog files (and photos) on an external hard drive that you move between computers.

More Detail: While it is possible to synchronize the Lightroom Classic catalog files across more than one computer, this isn’t an approach I really recommend because of the risk of getting out of sync between the two computers.

In order to synchronize the catalog files, you would need to make sure that you quite Lightroom Classic and update the synchronization every time you use Lightroom Classic on either computer. Using an online cloud-based synchronization service for this type of workflow isn’t something I recommend, as there is a risk that you’ll update different files on different computers before the online synchronization has completed, resulting in out-of-sync data.

Therefore, I strongly recommend not using synchronization to transfer updated catalog files between computers. I am even more strong in my recommendation to not manually copy the catalog files between computers, because in this case I feel there is even greater risk of getting out of sync.

Instead, I recommend that if you want to be able to work with Lightroom Classic on more than one computer that you store the catalog files on an external hard drive. You can then connect that external hard drive to the computer you want to work on and open the catalog from the external hard drive, without having to worry about anything getting out of sync.

Note that I also recommend keeping the photos stored on the same external hard drive for convenience, and of course you’ll still want to maintain a good backup workflow to back up this hard drive and any other important data.