Output Sharpening Workflow


Today’s Question: I seem to recall your preference or advice to do sharpening in Photoshop, rather than in Camera Raw or Lightroom Classic – or is my memory incorrect? Or was this before this more recent option of Masking while Sharpening was available?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I do still prefer to use Photoshop for output sharpening, but I’m perfectly happy with the initial sharpening available when processing images in Camera Raw, the Develop module in Lightroom Classic, or in Lightroom.

More Detail: In the context of Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic, and Lightroom, you can think of there being two steps to sharpening. The first is the sharpening you apply with the initial raw capture, and the second is the final sharpening when preparing an image to be shared, especially for print. You could also say there is a third stage of creative sharpening in between, which could take the form of adjustments like Clarity and Texture, for example.

When it comes to output sharpening, there isn’t much flexibility and there isn’t a preview with the Adobe applications mentioned above. Rather, you choose the output type (such as glossy or matte paper) and the strength (low, standard, or high). While this sharpening does a good job overall, I prefer to be able to exercise more control by using Photoshop, at least for photos I’ll print. This is in part due to the fact that you don’t get a preview when applying output sharpening in Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic, or Lightroom.

For images shared online, I think the option to choose “Screen” (meaning a monitor display, for example) as the output type and then choosing a strength (I typically use “Standard”) is perfectly adequate. However, when it comes to preparing an image for print, I prefer the flexibility and control provided by Photoshop’s sharpening filters, such as Smart Sharpen.

The masking features for targeted adjustments in Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic, and Lightroom, along with the option to hold back sharpening in smooth areas with the Masking slider for the normal sharpening adjustment certainly helps. I just feel it is important to exercise maximum control when sharpening for print, and that it is helpful to have a preview available when applying output sharpening. I therefore prefer the use of Photoshop for the final sharpening of photos I’ll be printing, even though you can certainly get good results with the normal output sharpening options with the other Adobe applications.

Lightroom Virtual Summit 2024


I am happy to announce that I will be presenting three classes as part of the Lightroom Virtual Summit 2024, which is a free online event that will be held May 20th through the 24th.

I’ll be presenting on “Lightroom Classic and the Cloud”, “Managing Folders and Collections”, and “Advanced Color Adjustments”, all focused on Lightroom Classic. My classes are just three out of a total of 45 classes from a variety of instructors.

Best of all, you can attend all of the online classes for free from virtually anywhere with an internet connection.

In addition to the free registration there is also a VIP Pass option, which provides you with lifetime access to recordings of all presentations, and a variety of special VIP bonus content and benefits.

You can register for free and learn about the special VIP Pass, by following this link:


I hope you’ll join me for my three classes as part of the upcoming Lightroom Virtual Summit!

Large DNG from Enhance Command


Today’s Question: I love the Enhance function to remove noise in Lightroom Classic. But the resulting DNG file is huge. Is there a way within Lightroom Classic to convert the DNG to a TIFF or high-resolution JPEG without a round trip to Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can indeed very easily create a derivative image based on the enhanced DNG image. Just keep in mind that if you save it as a TIFF the file will likely be even larger, and if you save it as a JPEG there could be issues with compression artifacts.

More Detail: The reason the Adobe DNG file created with the Enhance feature in Lightroom Classic, Lightroom, or Camera Raw, is considerably larger than a source raw capture is that the DNG will contain demosaiced capture data. In other words, rather than one color value for each pixel, it will have all three, causing the DNG file to be about three times larger than the source raw capture.

You could certainly create a TIFF copy of the DNG file, but it will likely be at least a little larger than the DNG, even with ZIP compression applied. You could also create a JPEG image file, but that would result in an image with only 8-bit per channel (which could lead to a loss of smooth gradations if strong adjustments are applied) and that could have some visible artifacts from the JPEG compression.

That said, you can certainly create a derivative copy of an image and add it back to the Lightroom Classic catalog without using Photoshop, using the Export feature.

To get started, select the DNG file and click the Export button at the bottom of the left panel in the Library module. In the Export dialog, set the Export To popup to “Same folder as original photo” and turn off the “Put in Subfolder” checkbox. Then turn on the “Add to This Catalog” checkbox.

You can then configure any of the other settings in the Export dialog based on the file type you want to create and the attributes for the image. Then click the Export button and a new image file will be created based on your specifications. The image will be stored in the same folder as the original and will be added to your Lightroom Classic catalog.

Options for Online Sharing


Today’s Question: I am not necessarily looking to sell my work – if that comes about, fine. But I think it would be good for me to have a good way to show my work if only to family and friends. I am wondering what you might suggest as to the best way to go about doing that.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this type of scenario, I suggest considering either a basic photo sharing service, a social media platform, or possibly shared collections in Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: You can obviously build a sophisticated website to share your photos, and doing so can be relatively easy. For example, I’ve built website using SquareSpace (https://www.squarespace.com) and Wix (https://www.wix.com), and these provide great tools for building a good website to showcase your photos. But you’ll also have to pay for the service, which isn’t necessarily the preferred approach for basic online photo sharing.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can share your photos online for free.

If you’re somewhat serious about sharing your photos and would like for them to be discovered by others beyond just friends and family, one good option is to use an online photo sharing service. For example, I’ve used 500px (https://500px.com) and Flickr (https://www.flickr.com) in the past to share photos. Both offer a free plan, with 500px limiting free accounts to 21 image uploads per week, and Flickr limiting free accounts to no more than 1,000 photos in total. You could always upgrade later to a paid plan if you attracted a following, for example.

Another option is to use a social media platform. For example, Instagram (https://www.instagram.com) is very popular for sharing photos, videos, and more. One drawback is that Instagram revolves around sharing photos through their mobile app, which isn’t always the most convenient approach. There are some workarounds that enable you to share through a web browser, however, such as services like Later (https://later.com). When sharing through a social media platform you can encourage friends, family, and others to follow you, so they’ll be more likely to see photos you add to your feed.

If you’re using Lightroom Classic to manage your photos, you can also enable synchronization for a collection that contains photos you want to share. While browsing a synchronized collection in the grid view, you can then click the “Make Public” button at the top-right of the grid view, which will cause a link to appear to the left of the button (which will then be the “Make Private” button). You can right-click on the link and choose “Copy to Clipboard” so you can then paste the address to an email, for example, for sharing.

These are just a handful of the options I recommend using for online sharing of photos, and there are of course many other options you might consider as well.

Why Use Drop Shadows?


Today’s Question: Why would someone put a drop shadow on a print? I’ve never heard of this.

Tim’s Quick Answer: A drop shadow can add a sense of dimension to a photo, so that it seems to be suspended over the paper. However, it should be noted that many consider the drop shadow to be a somewhat dated effect, and many designers insist it should never be used.

More Detail: A drop shadow is an effect whereby a shadow seems to be cast behind an image element, such as having a shadow around a photo on the printed page. The shadow creates something of a three-dimensional effect, where the image seems to float over the page. A drop shadow can also help make an image stand out better, such as to help frame up a relatively bright image printed on white paper.

While a drop shadow effect can add a nice visual effect to an image, the effect can also be quite controversial. Many graphic designers say a drop shadow should never be used. I think the better way to think of the use of a drop shadow is that it should be relatively subtle in most cases and shouldn’t be used indiscriminately with every image.

So, if you’ve never thought about using a drop shadow, it might be best to avoid them. And if you like drop shadows, you should probably keep in mind that it is generally better to keep them relatively subtle, similar to how a vignette effect is often best when it is subtle.

But I also think that a photographer should make their own decisions about how they want to express their creativity, and so if you love drop shadows and want to put them to use with your photos, that is probably the right answer for you. Just don’t be surprised if some folks react negatively to that drop shadow, even when it is subtle.

Eclipse Trail Composite


Today’s Question: I am planning to shoot the solar eclipse. One plan is to shoot with a wide angle and create a “trail”. How does one, quickly and easily, blend these images to create the trail?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can blend a series of eclipse photos together in Photoshop by assembling them into a single layered document, moving them into the correct position for alignment, and changing the blend mode for all layers to Screen. Add a black background layer to fill in the blank areas, and that’s about it.

More Detail: Creating a composite image that includes a sequence of images forming a trail representing the progression of a solar eclipse can help emphasize the drama of such an event. With Photoshop it is actually quite easy to create this type of composite.

The first step is to get the individual images into Photoshop as layers. If you’re using Lightroom Classic you can select the full range of images you want to include and then go to the menu and choose Photo > Edit In > Open as Layers in Photoshop. You can also select the images in Adobe Bridge and then from the menu choose Tools > Photoshop > Load Files into Photoshop Layers.

With the images assembled into a single document in Photoshop as individual layers, you can then change the blend mode for all those layers to Screen. To do so, click the thumbnail for the top-most layer and then hold the Shift key on the keyboard and click the thumbnail for the bottom-most layer. Then change the popup at the top-left of the Layers panel that has a default value of Normal to Screen.

Next, choose the Move tool from the toolbar (or by pressing the “V” key on the keyboard, and select each layer in turn and move it into the appropriate position. As you drag a layer outside the current image area, choose Image > Reveal All from the menu to expand the canvas so you can see all areas of all image layers. You can repeat this command as needed as you continue spreading out the individual layers.

Once you’ve finished getting all the layers into the right position, click on the thumbnail for the bottom-most layer on the Layers panel. Then hold the Ctrl key on Windows or Command key on Macintosh while clicking on the “Create New Layer” button (the plus symbol in a square) at the bottom of the Layers panel. This will add a new layer below the selected layer. Then choose Edit > Fill from the menu, set the Contents popup to Black, make sure the Mode popup is set to Normal, and click the OK button to fill the new layer with black.

With the layers arranged into the right positions and the blend mode for each set to Screen, the images will blend together to form a trail of the stages of the eclipse. You can then apply any additional adjustments, crop the image, or otherwise finalize to your liking.

Lens Corrections on Import


Today’s Question: In your Pixology article on lens corrections, at the end you said that you apply this adjustment to every photo you import into Lightroom Classic. Can you explain how you do that?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To apply a profile-based lens correction to all photos on import into Lightroom Classic, you first need to create a preset in the Develop module that includes the adjustment. You can then apply that preset in the Apply During Import section of the right panel in the Develop module.

More Detail: I find it tremendously helpful to apply a Develop preset during import, basically to apply preferred adjustments that differ from the default settings in the Develop module. A preset gives me the flexibility of choosing whether I want to apply a preset during import and which specific preset I want to use.

Start by selecting a sample image in the Develop module. Then turn on the “Enable Profile Corrections” checkbox on the Profile tab of the Lens Corrections section. I also turn on the “Remove Chromatic Aberration” checkbox. From the Setup popup choose “Auto”. You can also apply any other adjustments you’d like to apply during import along with the profile-based lens corrections.

Next, click the plus (+) icon to the right of the Presets heading on the left panel and choose “Create Preset” from the popup menu. In the New Develop Preset dialog enter a meaningful name for the preset in the Preset Name field, so you can select the preset by name, and select the group you want to include the preset in from the Group popup. Then click the “Check None” button to turn off all adjustments. Then turn on the checkboxes for only the adjustments you want to apply during import, such as “Enable Profile Corrections” and “Remove Chromatic Aberration”. When you’ve turned on the checkboxes for the adjustments you want to include, click the Create button.

When importing photos, you can select the applicable preset from the Develop Settings popup in the Apply During Import section of the right panel in the Import dialog. That will cause the selected preset to apply to all imported photos as part of that import process.

Note that the full import process is covered in detail in my lesson “Importing Photos and Videos”, which is the first lesson in chapter two of my comprehensive video course “Mastering Lightroom Classic”. You can find this course on the GreyLearning website here:


Webinar: “Noise Be Gone!”


Live Online Presentation:
“Noise Be Gone!”
Friday, April 19, 2024

12pm to 1pm Eastern Time

In my next (free) live online presentation as part of the “GreyLearning Live!” webinar series I’ll share tips on avoiding noise in the original capture and reducing noise after the capture.

You can register to join me (or gain access to a recording of the full presentation) by completing the form here:


Impact of Discarding JPEGs


Today’s Question: Will cleaning the JPEGs out of the Raw+JPEG pairs really “move the needle” at the multi gigabyte level, or am I destined to buy another terabyte of cloud storage pretty soon anyway?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While the specific details will vary, in general I would say that deleting the JPEGs from Raw+JPEG pairs will save about 15% of storage. So, for example, if you have filled a 1TB hard drive with Raw+JPEG pairs, deleting the JPEGs would result in about 150GB of free space.

More Detail: The actual size of a JPEG image can vary significantly, based in large part on variations in the content of the photo along with the quality setting that affects how aggressive the compression is.

Because JPEG compression works by simplifying the contents of a photo, the simpler the content of a photo is to begin with the smaller the file size. For example, a photo that includes nothing but the clear blue sky will result in a JPEG file that is considerably smaller than one with very complex textures. In general cameras default to using reasonably high quality for JPEG captures, but this setting can significantly impact file size as well.

That said, with my library of almost 400,000 photos I have quite a bit of variety, so I have a reasonably good sense of the differences in file sizes. I’ve found that JPEG captures tend to be about one-sixth the size of a raw capture. There will be considerable variation among cameras and based on different camera settings, but this is a reasonably good baseline to work from in my experience.

Taking into account that you would be deleting the JPEG of a Raw+JPEG pair, the space savings represents the percentage of the total file sizes for both the raw and the JPEG. That works out to savings of around 14-15% of storage space when it comes to deleting the JPEGs from Raw+JPEG pairs.

If all your photos were captured with Raw+JPEG mode, that means you might save a total of 15% of your storage capacity, which might very well be worthwhile. If the Raw+JPEG captures represent a relatively small percentage of your overall library of photos, it might not be as worthwhile in terms of saving storage space.

Of course, if you’re like me, it might not be entirely about saving storage space, but also about reducing clutter in your workflow. Plus, in the process of going through your Raw+JPEG captures to confirm that the applicable JPEGs can be deleted, you may very well find other photos you can delete, leading to more savings in storage space.

Reducing Appearance of Smoke


Today’s Question: Is there a range mask that would eliminate the smoke from a picture of fireworks and, if so, what are its settings?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While a luminance range mask can potentially be helpful in this scenario, you’ll very likely find that simply using the Dehaze adjustment can greatly diminish the appearance of smoke in photos of fireworks.

More Detail: More often than not, fireworks are photographed in dark (or relatively dark) conditions. Therefore, the background including the sky tends to be quite dark, the fireworks are of course very bright, and the residual smoke is somewhere in between in terms of luminance values.

While these tonal ranges do point to the use of a range mask based on luminance in Lightroom Classic, Lightroom, or Camera Raw, in many cases a simple Dehaze adjustment will provide a great solution. I therefore suggest starting with Dehaze, which is found in the Basic section on the right panel in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic, or in the Effects section of the Edit panel in Lightroom or Camera Raw. Increasing the value for Dehaze, potentially by a large amount, can significantly reduce the appearance of smoke in photographs of fireworks.

A range mask for Luminance can also be helpful with many photos of fireworks, since the tonal range for the smoke will tend to fall well between the bright fireworks and the relatively dark background.

To use a range mask in this case go to the Masking controls and create a new mask for Luminance Range. I recommend making sure the Show Overlay checkbox is turned on so you’ll have a better sense of which portion of the image will be affected. Then drag the slider handles below the Luminance Range control inward so that the mask overlay only appears in the smoke area of the photo, not the dark background or bright fireworks. Then pull those handles back outward slightly, so there is some transition between the areas being affected versus not.

Once you’ve refined the mask, you can then apply adjustments to that area to reduce the visibility of the smoke. That would likely include increasing the value for Dehaze, reducing the value for Exposure so the smoke blends better into the dark background, and any other adjustments that help refine the targeted portion of the image.

I have covered masking for these types of targeted adjustments in my comprehensive video courses on “Mastering Lightroom Classic”, “Mastering Adobe Lightroom ‘Cloud'”, and “Photoshop for Photographers”. You can find all of these courses (and the GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle that includes them all, http://timgrey.me/atg99bundle) on the GreyLearning website here: