Masking in Lightroom Classic 11

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Today’s Question: I see that Adobe announced big changes to local corrections in Lightroom Classic 11. Do you think these updates make Photoshop less important for photographers?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, I do think the new changes to targeted adjustments (local corrections) in Lightroom Classic are significant and mean that photographers will be less likely to need to send photos to Photoshop for applying targeted adjustments.

More Detail: The new version 11 of Lightroom Classic represents a substantial change to how targeted adjustments are applied. There are new powerful options for automatically selecting the sky or a key subject in a photo, and very flexible options for assembling compound masks for photos.

While there are still situations where you will want to send a photo to Photoshop for some of the more powerful selection and masking features there, the new updates in Lightroom Classic 11 mean that more often than not you’ll be able to apply the targeted adjustments directly in Lightroom Classic.

These new features can be a little daunting at first, but rest assured that I have new content to help you master these new features. That includes new lessons on “Applying Targeted Adjustments” and “Updating Metadata for Your Photos” in my new “Lightroom Lectures” course. That course is included in the “Mastering Lightroom Classic” bundle, which you can find here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/lightroom-classic-bundle

Options for Synchronizing Adjustments

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Today’s Question: I know I can copy settings to multiple images using copy settings in Lightroom Classic. Synchronize seems to do the same thing. Is there a difference?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The only difference is how you initiate the task of synchronizing the adjustment settings in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic. In other words, it is mostly a matter of personal preference in the context of your current workflow.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic includes a variety of ways that you can copy the adjustments settings from one image to one or more other images. All of these achieve the same goal, so it mostly depends on your personal preference, partially based on where you’re at in the workflow.

If you had just applied adjustments to a similar image before selecting an image that would benefit from the same adjustments, you can click the Previous button at the bottom of the left panel in the Develop module to apply those previous adjustments to the current image.

If you anticipate that you want to apply the same settings in real time to multiple images, you can select those images, and then turn on the Auto Sync feature by clicking the switch button on the left side of the Sync button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module.

If you want to synchronize to multiple photos after applying adjustments to a single photo, you can select all the photos you want to apply the same adjustments to, with the photo you already adjusted as the active image (the image showing in the preview area). Then click the Sync button at the bottom of the right panel and you’ll be able to select the adjustments you want to synchronize to all the selected photos.

You can also copy and paste the adjustment settings. Simply right-click on an image that has been adjusted and choose Develop Settings > Copy Settings from the menu. This will enable you to select the settings you want to copy, as with the Sync button noted above. Then select the photos you want to apply the same adjustments to, right-click, and choose Develop Settings > Paste Settings.

All of these options are the same in general in terms of being able to duplicate adjustment settings from one image to others. Of course, the Sync and Paste options include the option to selectively choose which adjustments you want to synchronize across multiple photos, which provides a bit more flexibility in that regard.

Risk to Long-term Online Backup

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Today’s Question: I signed up for the Backblaze online backup at your recommendation and received an offer to upgrade to a one-year version history. Do you recommend this option, and if so, why?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you will be traveling or otherwise will have external hard drives disconnected from your computer for more than thirty days, I do recommend the extended version history option from Backblaze (https://timgrey.me/onlinebackup) to ensure your backups are not deleted from the Backblaze servers after the standard 30-day limit.

More Detail: Backblaze operates by more or less continuously scanning your system and backing up new or updated files to the Backblaze servers. This provides an offsite backup that you can recover from in the event that your local storage and local backup copies are lost.

With the default version history, Backblaze will only retain data that it has had access to on your storage devices within the last thirty days. What that means is that if, for example, an external hard drive has not been connected to your computer for more than thirty days, the backup from that drive on the Backblaze servers and won’t be recoverable.

If you’re not able to connect all of the external hard drives that you’re backing up with Backblaze at least every thirty days, this can become a problem. For example, at times I have trips that last more than thirty days, during which I leave some of my external hard drives at home. With the default version history Backblaze would delete the backups of those external hard drives during the trip.

Fortunately, by upgrading to the one-year version history option, you extend that thirty-day limit to a one-year limit. There is also a lifetime option so that your backups are never deleted, but keep in mind that this involves not only a higher subscription rate, but also a charge based on how much storage your backup consumes.

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.