Avoiding a Corrupted Backup

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Today’s Question: How do backup programs like GoodSync and Backblaze avoid copying/mirroring corrupted files so that the backups aren’t just copies of corrupted primary files?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In many cases, they don’t. While backup software may use checksums to validate files, they can’t always detect corruption within the file. Therefore, a backup may include the corruption from the original, unless you have a backup from far enough back that it precedes the corruption of the original file.

More Detail: File corruption can be a very tricky issue to deal with. In general, corruption occurs when the information contained in a file is not recorded accurately when the file is moved or copied. While software uses checksums in an effort to prevent these issues, corruption can still occur such as when a storage device has a physical fault.

If a file becomes corrupted, backup software will most likely duplicate that corruption, so that both the original file and the backup copy are corrupted. This creates a problem when you’re trying to salvage an image that has become corrupted. The only real solution is to revert to an older backup copy of the image from before the corruption occurred. In many cases, of course, you may not have an old enough backup copy to recover from.

Many backup software solutions include the ability to retain various versions of files. This can help overcome corrupted images in some situations. For example, Backblaze (https://timgrey.me/onlinebackup) by default maintains versions of files going back thirty days. GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup) also includes an option to maintain versions of files as they are updated.

Of course, a corrupted image won’t always be identified as a different version of an image, so it can be difficult to completely protect against corruption of files. Even though a backup is not a perfect solution, I do recommend backing up regularly. It is also important to maintain an awareness of any odd storage issues or errors, to ensure you catch any issues that might lead to corruption as quickly as possible. You can then, for example, replace a failing hard drive before a significant loss of photos or other data.

Convert Virtual Copy to Master

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Today’s Question: If you make a virtual copy and decide that the virtual copy is your preferred edit can you delete the original file and just keep the virtual copy, or would that cause you to lose all copies of the photo? Would I just need to keep both copies even though I only really want the virtual copy?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this situation you can actually convert the virtual copy to the master, which will cause what had been the master photo to be a virtual copy. That virtual copy can then be removed, retaining what had been the virtual copy interpretation of the photo as the new master version of the photo.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic enables you to have more than one interpretation of the same photo. That is implemented by having a master photo in addition to the option to have one or more virtual copies based on the master photo. For example, you might have a master photo in color, and then a virtual copy for that same photo as a black and white interpretation.

If you were to delete the master photo, all virtual copies based on that master photo would also be deleted. So, in this context you definitely don’t want to delete the master photo.

Instead, you can convert your preferred virtual copy to become the master photo. Simply select that virtual copy and from the menu choose Photo > Set Copy as Original. This will effectively swap the master photo and the virtual copy. In the example above the black and white image would become the master image, and the color image would be the virtual copy.

At that point, since the master image reflects the desired adjustments, you can delete the virtual copy that you now consider an outtake. To remove the virtual copy simply right-click and choose Remove Photo from the popup menu.

I realize this can all be a little confusing. The thing to keep in mind is that adjustments in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic simply represents metadata assigned to the image. Initially the Develop metadata is assigned to the master image. When you create a virtual copy a new set of adjustment metadata is assigned to the virtual copy, but really both are referencing the same image file on your hard drive. As noted above, you can then choose to define a virtual copy as the master image in terms of the adjustments you prefer, and then remove any virtual copies that you no longer want to retain.

Best Tripod for Cold Weather

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Today’s Question: I’ve heard that a carbon fiber tripod is better for use in cold weather compared to an aluminum tripod. Is this true?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, an aluminum tripod will transmit the cold more than a carbon fiber tripod, which can make handling a tripod in cold weather more uncomfortable. But there are a variety of simple ways to work around this.

More Detail: Both aluminum and carbon fiber tripods can be used in cold weather very effectively. However, it can be more comfortable to handle a carbon fiber tripod in the cold because the tripod itself won’t get as cold to the touch as an aluminum tripod.

An obvious solution would be to simply wear gloves when it is cold. That’s a good idea in general, but of course wearing gloves can make it more difficult to handle a tripod and adjust camera settings. As a result, you’ll probably find yourself without gloves for at least a brief period of time when photographing in the cold.

Another great solution is to use leg wraps for your tripod. This can be helpful to avoid directly touching the metal legs of an aluminum tripod, and also makes the tripod more comfortable if you rest it on your shoulder. I recommend the LensCoat LegCoat Wraps, which you can find here (just be sure to get the right size for your specific tripod):

https://timgrey.me/legwraps

White Balance for Blue Hour

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Today’s Question: What should the white balance be set to in the camera for blue hour photography?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While you can simply leave the white balance setting to “Auto” if you are using a raw capture format, in general I recommend using a white balance setting of around 4,000 to 5,000 Kelvin for blue hour photography. This will generally correspond to the “Fluorescent” white balance preset on many cameras.

More Detail: If you use the Auto option for white balance the camera attempts to compensate for the color of light illuminating the scene you are photographing. This can lead to colors that are not as rich as they otherwise would be, such as a more neutral appearance in photos that are captured at blue hour.

If you are using your camera’s raw capture format, this effect of the Auto white balance setting isn’t a significant problem, since you can always refine the white balance value in post-processing. However, using a value that is closer to the final setting you’ll likely use will ensure a better image preview on the camera, and will also ensure more accurate color for non-raw captures.

The specific value for white balance that will produce ideal color will vary with the timing of your blue hour photography. For photos captured relatively soon after sunset, for example, the light will have a warmer tint, and so you’ll likely want a white balance setting closer to 5,000 Kelvin. Photos captured a little later during blue hour may benefit from a setting closer to 4,000 Kelvin.

In general, as noted above, using the Fluorescent preset for white balance will generally provide good results in terms of color. You can also dial in a custom white balance setting based on a Live View preview on your camera’s LCD display. And, of course, for raw captures you can always fine-tune as needed after the capture, with no penalty in terms of image quality.

Storage Transition with Lightroom Classic

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Today’s Question: Say you clone a hard drive to a new one with higher capacity and give the new one the same name as the old drive. Will Lightroom see the files and folders on the new drive properly? That is, the same as it did with the first drive?

Tim’s Quick Answer: As long as the overall path (hard drive identifier and folder structure) remain the same from the original hard drive to the replacement hard drive, Lightroom Classic will be able to keep track of the source photos without any difficulty as part of this overall transition.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic keeps track of your source photos based on the storage location for those photos. This is why it is very important that if you want to move or rename your photos or folders that you do that work within Lightroom Classic.

Of course, if you’re going to be transitioning to a larger hard drive, you may not want to move the photos to the new drive within Lightroom Classic. Instead, you may prefer to copy the photos from the source drive to the new drive, such as with synchronization software like GoodSync (http://timgrey.me/greybackup).

As long as the path to the photos on the new drive is a perfect match to the original drive, Lightroom Classic won’t be confused, and your workflow won’t be interrupted. First, that means making sure that you’re duplicating the folders and photos from one drive to the other with the same overall structure.

Second, you’ll want to make sure that the hard drive itself has the same name. For Macintosh users that means the volume label of the new drive should match the old drive. You can change that volume label by right-clicking on the hard drive and choosing the option to rename. For Windows users you’ll want to change the drive letter for the new drive to match the previous drive using the Disk Management utility.

Planning for the Moon

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Today’s Question: When I have tried to plan a photo that includes the moon, I am always puzzled about selecting the best time for it. Do I photograph at dawn or dusk? And on the day of a full moon or the day before or the day after? Do you choose the time when the sun and moon will rise and set closest to each other? Or select some potential foregrounds and then decide based on the direction you will be facing and how high the effective horizon is?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When planning a photo that includes the moon you’ll often want to prioritize the position of the moon relative to a foreground subject. Secondary considerations that may cause you to alter your plan would include the impact of weather conditions, the convenience of timing, and of course possibly having more than one option in case things don’t go entirely to plan.

More Detail: I use (and highly recommend) the PhotoPills app for iOS and Android mobile devices for planning various aspects of photography, including planning photos that include the sun or moon.

Let’s assume, for example, you want to plan a photo that will include the full moon in the frame. You could photograph the full moon around moonrise or moonset, but each will provide different conditions.

For example, when the full moon is rising in the east and setting in the west, there’s a good chance that one or the other will provide a better foreground subject to include with the full moon. Having said that, it is also possible that you could find different subjects to photograph with the full moon for both moonrise and moonset.

In addition, weather can play a key role in the success of this type of photography. So, if moonrise and moonset are both a good option, I’d tend to try to photograph at both times just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate for one (or both) of those opportunities.

Finally, you may want to consider convenience. If the days are very long, such as in the summer at northern latitudes, the moonrise might be very late, and the moonset might be very early. That may create a challenge in terms of timing, especially if you’d like to get some sleep as well.

So, in general I recommend trying to plan for more than one potential opportunity. If the conditions seem nearly perfect for all options, then I’d favor the timing that is closest to the true full moon. But after weighing the various options, when in doubt I try to take advantage of more than one option in the hopes of getting the best combination of conditions to create a great photo.

5DayDeal Photography Bundle 2021

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The 5DayDeal Photography Bundle is available starting today, but it is only available for five days and then the deal is gone. This year my video course on “Photo Planning with PhotoPills” is included in the Pro Bundle, which is an upgrade from the standard Photography Bundle.

The 5DayDeal Photography Bundle includes over $2,000 in content for just $89. And the Pro Bundle and Complete Bundle upgrade options include additional content representing a significantly greater value.

You can learn all about the 5DayDeal Photography Bundle 2021 here:

https://5daydeal.com/partner/greylearning

But be sure to check it out now, because as the name tells you, the 5DayDeal Photography Bundle is only available for five days, through October 19th.

Moving Metadata with Photos

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Today’s Question: If I move image files from one folder to another within Lightroom Classic, how can I also move an XMP file associated with that image file to the new location? Or does the moving the image file automatically move the associated XMP file along with it?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you move a raw capture from one folder to another within Lightroom Classic, the XMP file associated with that raw capture will be moved along with the raw capture.

More Detail: By default, when you update metadata for a photo in Lightroom Classic, the updates are only applied within the catalog, not for the source photos on your hard drive. However, you can save metadata to selected photos manually by going to the menu bar and choosing Metadata > Save Metadata to File. You can also have these updates applied automatically by turning on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog.

Keep in mind that the XMP sidecar file associated with raw captures can only store standard metadata fields along with Develop module adjustments. So, while the XMP file won’t contain all the information about your photos from the Lightroom Classic catalog, it does provide a good backup of the key information about your photos.

If you move a raw capture within Lightroom Classic (or via Adobe Bridge if you’re not a Lightroom Classic user) the XMP sidecar file will be moved along with the source raw capture. In effect, both Lightroom Classic and Adobe Bridge treat a raw and the associated XMP file as a package that always needs to be moved together. Note that for file formats other than proprietary raw captures, the metadata is saved to the image file itself, not an XMP sidecar file.

It is also important to keep in mind that while Lightroom Classic and Bridge will treat a raw capture and the XMP sidecar file as a pair that belong together, the same is not true for other software or the operating system. Therefore, it is important to use Lightroom Classic or Adobe Bridge rather than other software to move or otherwise make changes to photos. And, of course, if you’re using Lightroom Classic you should only use Lightroom Classic to initiate such changes, not Adobe Bridge.

Export and Add to Catalog

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Today’s Question: When exporting some photos I was going to share online I noticed an option I hadn’t seen before, which enables you to add the exported photos back to the catalog. Since the original photos are in the catalog, why would I want to add the exported copies to the catalog?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general, I recommend that you not add photos that are exported from Lightroom Classic back to your catalog. The only situations where I recommend adding exported photos to the catalog is when you want to be able to manage derivative images, such as copies of source photos used to produce prints at varying sizes.

More Detail: When you export a photo from Lightroom Classic you are making a copy based on the source photo. That exported copy will include, for example, any adjustments you applied in the Develop module. You can also resize the image to specific dimensions during export, such as when you want to create a lower-resolution copy of an image to share online, or when you want to resize for a specific printed output size.

There is also an option to add the exported copy of the image to the catalog by turning on the “Add to This Catalog” checkbox in the Export Location section of the Export dialog. Keep in mind that enabling this option will add the image to the catalog based on the location where the exported image is created, which is often a folder location other than where the source image is stored.

For example, if you export an image to a folder on the desktop within your operating system so it is convenient to locate the file and put it to use. If the image had been added back to the catalog as part of the export process, this folder on the desktop would be reflected within your catalog.

Of course, that also means that if you delete the image or folder from the desktop, it will appear as a missing photo within your Lightroom Classic catalog. And having a derivative copy of a photo in the catalog along with the source image can create a bit of clutter that can lead to confusion about which image you should be using for a given purpose.

So, my general preference and recommendation is to not add photos back to the catalog when exporting a copy of the source photo. Instead, I prefer to return to the source image whenever I need to create a derivative copy. But again, in some cases it may be helpful to manage derivative images within your catalog in addition to the source image. Just be careful not to let that approach lead to confusion due to having more than one copy of the same image in your catalog.

Adobe Color Tool

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Today’s Question: I used Color Themes in Photoshop to get exact complementary colors in my images. Now that Adobe has removed the Color Themes panel is there a work around?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can use the online Adobe Color tool (https://color.adobe.com) to create, locate, and save combinations of colors, including complementary colors that are opposites of each other.

More Detail: I don’t have any insights into why Adobe has discontinued support for the Color Themes panel in Photoshop, but fortunately the same basic feature set is still available in the online Adobe Color tool (https://color.adobe.com). Of course, this online tool requires an internet connection, which can create a slight challenge in some cases.

To create your own color sets, navigate to the Create tab in the Adobe Color tool. You can also use the Explore tab (and the Trends tab) to find color combinations that have been defined by others. In the case of exact opposite colors, you can select the Complementary option on the left side of the Create tab.

Other color relationships can be explored as well, such as the Triad option that involve three colors in a complementary arrangement. Once you’ve selected the color harmony you want to focus on, you can use the color wheel control or the sliders below to define color relationships. When you have found a color combination you like, the Save option enables you to save the color definitions in your library as part of your Creative Cloud subscription.

If you save color combinations using the Adobe Color tool, those saved colors will appear on the Libraries panel in Photoshop, which you can access by choosing Window > Libraries from the menu.

The Adobe Color tool can be helpful for a variety of scenarios. For example, if you’re adding text or graphic elements to a photo you may want to use a specific color relationship in the context of those colors. In addition, getting more familiar with the relationships between colors in general can help you recognize color combinations that can be more compelling in your photography.