Color Labels for Folders in Lightroom Classic

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Today’s Question: During your presentation hosted by B&H Photo you demonstrated how you assign a red color label to folders that contain photos you still need to review. I was wondering if you use any other color labels for folders for different purposes in your workflow.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The primary color label I use for folders is the red label, which signifies a folder containing photos I still need to review. When I’m working on a project related to a particular folder or collection, I will sometimes use other colors to indicate the status in the context of the project.

More Detail: I assign a red color label to new photos being imported into my Lightroom Classic catalog to identify the photos I’ve not yet reviewed to decide if they are favorites or outtakes. To help ensure I don’t forget that a given folder contains such photos, I assign a red color label to the folder once I’ve imported new photos into a folder. You can assign a color label to a folder (or collection) in Lightroom Classic by right-clicking and choosing “Add Color Label to Folder” (or Collection) followed by the desired color.

As noted above, I use a red color label for a folder that contains photos I still need to review. When I’m working on a project involving particular photos I will often use a yellow color label to indicate that the project is in progress, and then a green color label to indicate it is completed. These color label assignments are a little more ambiguous, because I don’t often find that I need additional color labels for this purpose.

I do encourage photographers to consider how they might be able to improve their workflow by assigning color labels to folders or collections. If you find that you want to mark the status of a folder or collection or have something of a visual reminder that some work needs to be done within that folder or collection, the color labels can be very helpful.

I’m sure some photographers could find reasons to use perhaps all (or most) of the five color label options for folders and collections in Lightroom Classic. If so, you can come up with definitions for each color label to use for those purposes, so you’ll have a consistent approach to incorporating this helpful feature in your workflow.

Sync Photos to Smartphone

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Today’s Question: I understand your discussion about transferring photos from an iPhone to a computer, especially where you suggest deleting all the photos from the phone. I am wondering if it is possible to transfer photos from a computer to an iPhone. My thought is to transfer all the phone photos to the computer; delete, save, process them; delete them from the phone; and then copy a few back to the iPhone. Can that be done?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, this can be done. You could simply synchronize collections from Lightroom Classic so they are available as albums in the Lightroom mobile app, or you could synchronize folders that contain copies of selected photos directly to your smartphone.

More Detail: As I’ve addressed previously, I prefer to treat my smartphone as a normal camera in the context of my photos, and so I periodically download all photos from my iPhone, import them into my Lightroom Classic catalog, and then delete the source photos from the iPhone.

Naturally, I would like to have some photos available for sharing and other purposes on my phone, so I synchronize selected images for this purpose.

One option is to simply enable synchronization for the collections that contain photos you want to make available on your smartphone. To enable synchronization for a collection in Lightroom Classic you turn on the checkbox to the left of the collection name on the left panel in the Library module. That will cause the photos to be synchronized to your Adobe Creative Cloud account, so that they will then also be available as albums representing the collections in the Lightroom mobile app.

My personal preference is to synchronize folders of derivative photos directly to my smartphone. I export copies of photos as JPEG images at a reduced resolution to an appropriately named folder, with that folder used as the album name on my iPhone within the Photos app. I put those folders in the Pictures folder, which is the default location for synchronizing photos from a computer to an iPhone.

With folders containing the photos I want to synchronize back to my iPhone, I then enable those specific folders for synchronization. You could also enable the option to synchronize all photos in the Pictures folder, but I prefer to enable specific folders.

For Macintosh users you can find your iPhone on the left panel of a Finder window when you have your iPhone plugged in to the computer. Windows users can use the iTunes application. In either case you can then go to the Photos tab for synchronization settings and choose which folders of photos you want to have synchronized to your iPhone.

With this approach, whenever you add photos to one of the folders that has synchronization enabled those photos will be synchronized to your iPhone whenever you synchronize with your computer again.

Image Cleanup on a Path

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Today’s Question: We recently attended your preconference workshop on Photoshop at the NECCC conference in Amherst. You told us about how to use the Pen tool to create and save a path which would then be used by the Healing Brush, a very useful feature especially for removing telephone lines. I understand how to create a path, but my notes are incomplete on how you saved and applied it for the healing brush. Do you have any instructions for that operation?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you need to clean an area of a photo along a straight or curved line (such as for power lines), using the Pen tool to define a path that can then be stroked with an image-cleanup tool such as the Spot Healing Brush can provide an excellent solution.

More Detail: The Pen tool in Photoshop enables you to define a path comprised of straight or curved lines. After selecting the Pen tool from the toolbar, make sure the popup on the Options bar is set to Path. You can then click to define anchor points that will be connected with a straight line, or click and drag to add anchor points that will form a Bezier curve connected to the previous anchor point. When you click and drag the direction you drag will determine the angle that the curve exits from the anchor point, and the distance away from the anchor point that you drag determines how far down the curve the apex will be.

For image cleanup you will obviously want to define the path along the area that needs to be cleaned up. For example, you could click to add an anchor point where a power line enters the frame on the left side of the photo. You could then click-and-hold at the right edge of the photo where the power line exits. Drag with the mouse down to refine the curve so it follows the path of the line you want to clean up.

Once you have defined the path for your image cleanup work, you can use one of the image cleanup tools to remove the blemish defined by that path. I typically use the Spot Healing Brush tool for this purpose, with the Type setting on the Options bar set to Content-Aware.

Next, go to the Paths panel, which you can bring up by choosing Window > Paths from the menu. Select the desired image cleanup tool from the toolbar, such as the Spot Healing Brush tool. I recommend creating a new empty image layer to contain the cleanup pixels if you haven’t already been working on a separate image cleanup layer. Configure the settings for the cleanup tool on the Options bar as needed for the cleanup work.

You can then use the active cleanup tool to stroke the path you defined, so that the area of the image defined by the path will be cleaned up. To automatically stroke the path with the current tool, click the second button (the icon has a solid outline of a circle that is not filled in). The active tool will follow the shape of the path, which in this case will cause the area of the image defined by that path to be cleaned up. You can then delete the path by clicking the trash can icon at the bottom-right of the Paths panel.

Extending the Frame of a Photo

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Today’s Question: You recently addressed cropping to fit a standard print size. But how do you deal with a situation where the image isn’t long enough on one side and you can’t crop further? Is there an easy way to extend the image to fit the intended crop size?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can extend the frame of a photo relatively easily in many cases using a helpful technique in Photoshop. This involves duplicating and flipping an area near the edge of the frame, to provide a good match for pixels for extending the size of the image.

More Detail: As long as the edge of the image you want to extend doesn’t contain too many objects that would stand out if they were duplicated, you can use a very simple technique in Photoshop to extend the frame of an image.

Start by using the Rectangular Marquee tool to select an area on the side of the image that needs to be extended. For example, if you want to extend the left side of the image you would select an area on the left side of the frame that covers the entire height of the image. Make sure the selection is at least as big as the extension you need to create. When in doubt, make the selection larger than you need, as you can always crop the image later.

With the selection active, make sure the applicable image layer is selected on the Layers panel, which you can do by clicking on the thumbnail for that layer. In many cases, for example, that would probably be the Background image layer.

Now you can duplicate the selected pixels by going to the menu and choosing Layer > New > Layer via Copy. Because a selection is active, only those selected pixels will be duplicated to the new layer.

To get a (relatively) seamless match between the existing image and the new image layer, you want the pixels from the outer edge on both layers to align with each other. Since the new layer is going to be moved outward to provide an extension of the image, that means the layer needs to be flipped. In this case the image is being extended horizontally, so from the menu you can choose Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. If you are extending the image vertically you would choose Flip Vertical from that menu.

You can then select the Move tool and drag the new layer outward until the edges of the image match. In this example that means dragging the new layer to the left until the right edge of the new layer aligns with the left layer of the image, with the top and bottom edges lined up as well. At this point, of course, you won’t be able to see the new layer when it is dragged out of the existing image area.

After dragging the new layer into position, you can reveal all the hidden pixels by choosing Image > Reveal All from the menu. At this point you can obviously crop the image to get it back down to the specific output size you needed, if applicable.

You could certainly use other techniques, such as first extending the canvas with the Image > Canvas Size command. You could then create a selection of the added area and use the Edit > Content-Aware Fill command to fill in the new empty pixel area in an intelligent way.

However, I find that in most cases duplicating pixels in the image as outlined above provides at least a great starting point. You can then use image cleanup tools as needed to clean up any obvious areas of duplication or odd shapes that resulted from the duplicated and flipped pixels.

Configuring Photo Info Overlays in Lightroom Classic

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Today’s Question: You mentioned the info overlay for the loupe view in Lightroom Classic in your answer about cropped dimensions for a photo. I never knew about that feature and wonder if you could explain how to configure and use it and whether you have any recommended settings for this display.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The info overlay for the loupe view in Lightroom Classic can indeed be helpful. You can configure the display options in the View Options dialog, and then cycle through the two info overlay displays or no overlay at all by pressing the letter “I” on the keyboard.

More Detail: The info overlay is available in the loupe view display for both the Library module and the Develop module in Lightroom Classic. You can obviously have the info overlay turned off, or you can cycle through two different configurations for the info overlay. The letter “I” on the keyboard can be used to cycle through the first overlay configuration, the second configuration, or to turn off the display.

To configure the display options, start by choosing View > View Options from the menu. On the Loupe View tab you’ll find sections for “Loupe info 1” and “Loupe info 2”, which are the two overlay options that you can configure independent of each other.

Which information you choose to display obviously depends on what information you find most helpful. The overlay presents one line of information at a relatively large size, and two lines below that at a smaller size.

My personal preference is to have the file name for the current photo displayed on top for reference, so I set “File Name and Copy Name” for the first popup, and usually set this for both of the two info overlay configurations. Note that the “Copy Name” portion refers to the name you have assigned (or that was assigned automatically) to a virtual copy. In other words, when viewing a virtual copy both the file name for the source image and the copy name for the virtual copy will be displayed.

I tend to prefer to know the date and time of capture, as well as the general exposure settings. I therefore set the second and third popup for the first info overlay to “Capture Date/Time” and “Exposure and ISO”. For the second info overlay configuration I keep the same options set for the first two popups and set the third popup to “Camera + Lens Setting”. This latter option displays the camera model, the focal length used, and the specific lens used.

There are certainly other options that many photographers may find helpful among the various metadata fields you can display as part of the info overlay. I encourage you to look at the list of options available for the popups in the Library View Options dialog, and find the configuration settings that are most helpful for your specific needs.

Cropped Dimensions in Lightroom Classic

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Today’s Question: Why doesn’t Lightroom Classic have a function where it tells you what size an image has been cropped to? I have to use the crop tool in the Develop module and test the dimensions till it comes close. At least in Photoshop, you can see Image Size. When I go to print my photos, I don’t know what size they are. This seems like a major oversight. Unless there’s a way and I don’t know it. Thoughts?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom Classic will display the cropped dimensions in pixels, though that isn’t the most convenient approach when your intent is to print an image. You can crop to a specific aspect ratio in the Develop module, however, and you can also configure the specific print size in the Print module, cropping the image as part of that process if necessary.

More Detail: When you have cropped an image in Lightroom Classic you can then review the Cropped field to review the cropped dimensions. This Cropped field is displayed in when you have selected Default from the popup to the left of the Metadata heading on the right panel in the Library module. You can also include the Cropped Dimensions option in one of the information overlay templates for the loupe view display, which you can configure by choosing View > View Options from the menu, going to the Loupe View tab, and setting one of the info popups to “Cropped Dimensions”.

Of course, the cropped dimensions reflect the overall pixel dimensions of the image based on how it was cropped. That doesn’t directly translate to a specific print size, but there are ways to ensure you’re getting the right size when printing a cropped image.

To begin with, when cropping a photo in the Develop module you can select a specific aspect ratio for the crop. You can select the “4×5 / 8×10″ option, for example, if you want to crop the image to produce an 8″x10” print.

Perhaps even easier, you can simply use the Print module to prepare your photo for printing, with a print template that includes a cell sized for how large you want the photo to appear on the page. The image will be automatically resized (and further cropped if necessary) based on the position within the cell in order to produce the selected print size.

If you want to more generally translate the pixel dimensions for the cropped image to a print output size, you could also do a little math. A common standard resolution for printing is 300 pixels per inch (ppi), so you could divide each number in the cropped dimensions by 300 to see what the size would be for a standard print scenario. I generally use 360 ppi as the print resolution when printing with a photo inkjet printer.

However, the specific pixel dimensions aren’t critical in terms of matching a specific print size, because you can always have the image scaled to fit the intended size for the printed photo. Obviously you want to be sure that the image has enough pixels to print with good quality at the intended print size, but the pixel dimensions of the image don’t need to exactly match whatever that output size will be.

Resizing for Standard Print Sizes

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Today’s Question: How do you resize and image to fit standard formats such as 8×10?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you want to print a photo at a standard print size that doesn’t match the aspect ratio of your camera, you’ll need to crop the image in addition to resizing it for the intended output size.

More Detail: Many of the “standard” print sizes do not match the aspect ratio of most cameras. For example, the full-frame digital format (like the 35mm film predecessor) has a 3:2 aspect ratio. That means the image would be 3-inches wide for every 2-inches tall.

That 3:2 aspect ratio matches the ratio for a standard 4″x6″ print. However, an 8″x10″ print has a 2.5:2 aspect ratio. If this print size matched the aspect ratio of a full-frame image sensor it would be 8″x12″. The 11″x17″ standard print size is a little closer, with an aspect ratio of about 3.09:2, which would translate to a print size of 11″x16.5″ if the aspect ratio matched a full-frame sensor.

When printing a photo at a size that does not match the aspect ratio of the source image, you’ll need to crop the image to make it fit the intended output size.

In Photoshop, for example, you can use the Crop tool and set the print size as the values for the width and height values on the Options bar. After cropping to that aspect ratio, you could use the Image > Image Size command to resize the image to the specific output size with the intended print resolution.

In Lightroom Classic the process is even easier, since you can simply define the specific aspect ratio for the cell that will contain the image in the print layout. The image placed in that cell can then be moved within the cell to define which specific portion of the image will be printed. So, while you could also crop to a specific aspect ratio in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic, you can also skip that step and allow the image to be cropped as part of the process of creating the print layout in the Print module.

I cover the Print module in detail in Chapter 4, Lesson 2, of my “Lightroom Lectures” course, which is included in the “Mastering Lightroom Classic” bundle that is available here on my GreyLearning website:

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

Options for Sensor Cleaning

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Today’s Question: How can you tell if dust spots are on the sensor or on the lens? For sensor dust, how effective is the in-camera cleaning? Is the dust mapping feature useful? And should I consider cleaning the sensor myself or leave that to the professionals?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you actually see a dust spot in a photo, it is most likely something on the sensor. In-camera sensor cleaning is helpful for basic dust, but won’t resolve all issues. I don’t consider the dust-mapping feature particularly helpful. Instead, I recommend cleaning the sensor yourself if you’re comfortable, or sending the camera in for a professional cleaning if you’re nervous about doing it yourself.

More Detail: When you see a clear dust spot in a photo, it is typically a clear indication that the image sensor on the camera needs some attention. If the dust is on the lens it will most likely not be visible in the photo at all. If it is, it will more often than not appear as an out-of-focus blemish that is darker or brighter than the surrounding area. For example, if there is dust on the lens and you photograph into the sun, those dust spots will create bright areas similar to lens flare.

For a blemish on the image sensor, especially if the lens aperture is closed down to a relatively small size (large f-number), the dust spot in the photo will look relatively crisp and dark (since it is blocking light from getting to the sensor).

The in-camera sensor cleaning can help remove dust that hasn’t gotten too stuck to the sensor yet, such as dry bits of dust that are mostly being held on by static. To assist with this type of dust issue I do recommend enabling the automatic in-camera sensor cleaning, which will generally run whenever the camera is turned off.

However, for dust that has combined with moisture to get stuck to the image sensor, the in-camera cleaning will likely be ineffective. In this situation the sensor needs to be cleaned directly.

If you’re comfortable performing this relatively delicate work yourself, it isn’t too difficult. However, cleaning your own sensor may void your camera’s warranty, and there is obviously a risk that you might damage some of the delicate components in your camera.

If you are comfortable cleaning your own sensor, I recommend the swabs and solution from VisibleDust (https://timgrey.me/visibledust). I use the kit that includes several swabs, the cleaning solution, and a sensor brush. Just be sure to select the correct size for your specific camera, and review some of the videos and other details published by VisibleDust to ensure you’re using the right technique when cleaning the sensor.

When cleaning the sensor yourself you want to use only a very small amount of the cleaning solution, and you should only use the swab with one swipe in each direction before discarding the swab. If that doesn’t resolve the spots on the sensor, use a clean swab to try again.

You can find the VisibleDust sensor cleaning package here, but again be sure to select the correct size for your specific sensor size:

https://timgrey.me/visibledust

And if cleaning the sensor yourself makes you nervous, you can send the camera in to the camera manufacturer or a company that specializes in cleaning camera sensors so that you don’t have to risk damaging your camera.

Importing Photos in Batches

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Today’s Question: Often I will shoot various subjects on a single memory card. When I import into Lightroom Classic I currently import each subject separately but would love to import all the photos at once with appropriate options. For example, I may have flower shots and bird shots on the same card but want them stored, keyworded, and cataloged differently. Is there a method of batching files for import of different subjects or shoots together but identifying and storing them differently if desired?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom Classic doesn’t really support the workflow you’re looking for. It is possible to import portions of the photos from a single memory card with different settings for each group, but I recommend importing all photos from the card into a “temporary” folder in one step, and then processing the batches from that temporary folder based on your workflow preferences.

More Detail: It is possible to import only a portion of the photos on a single memory card into your Lightroom Classic catalog. For example, let’s assume you want to first import the first half of the photos on a card. You could click on the thumbnail for the first photo in the second half, then hold the Shift key and click on the last photo. This would select all the photos in the second half group. You can then click the checkbox for any of those selected photos to turn off the checkbox for all of them, which will cause those photos to not be imported.

However, I don’t recommend this approach because it can create some confusion in terms of which photos have already been imported versus not, especially if you will be importing multiple groups that are not necessarily in contiguous groups on the media card.

Instead, I recommend importing all the photos on the media card into a single “temporary” folder. The photos can then be processed based on your workflow preferences from that folder.

For example, you might import all the photos into a “To Be Sorted” folder. After importing you could divide the photos into subfolders based on topic. Within each of those folders you could assign applicable keywords in batch, and otherwise process the images. When you’ve wrapped up that work you can move the subfolders as needed to a different location, perhaps rename those folders, and perform any other photo-management tasks you need.

To me it makes more sense to get all the photos downloaded and imported in a single import process, so that you don’t inadvertently skip any photos and you also ensure the photos are all backed up as quickly as possible. You can then continue refining the organization of those photos and dividing them into other folders as needed based on your overall organizational workflow.

Remain in Current Folder After Import

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Today’s Question: Is there a way to stop Lightroom Classic from taking me to the “Previous Import” collection when I import new photos? I prefer to continue browsing the current folder rather than the collection.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can prevent Lightroom Classic from automatically navigating to the Previous Import collection after an import by turning off the “Select the ‘Current/Previous Import’ collection during import” checkbox.

More Detail: By default when you initiate the import of new photos into Lightroom Classic you will be taken to an automatic collection that contains the photos from that import. While the import is still active the collection will be called “Current Import”, and as soon as the import is complete the collection will be called “Previous Import”.

The idea is that you likely want to review the most recently imported photos as soon as they are imported, so you’re taken to those photos automatically. Of course, that can be a bit of a distraction if you’re browsing the folder that you’re importing to, or another folder altogether, and you don’t want to be interrupted by being taken to the collection featuring the imported photos.

This behavior can be changed with a setting in the Preferences dialog. Start by going to the menu and choosing Edit > Preferences on Windows or Lightroom Classic > Preferences on Macintosh. Go to the General tab, where you’ll find the “Select the ‘Current/Previous Import’ collection during import” checkbox. Turn the checkbox off if you don’t want Lightroom Classic to automatically navigate to the collection featuring the imported photos, and keep the checkbox turned on if you do want to have the collection selected automatically.