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, on the GreyLearning website here:

Update Metadata for Multiple Photos


Today’s Question: I know how to change the metadata for one photo [in Lightroom Classic], but for some reason it doesn’t change the metadata when I select multiple photos. I know I must be missing a simple step, but I have not figured out what that step is.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The simple step in this case is to make sure you are in the grid view when you want to update metadata for multiple photos in the Library module of Lightroom Classic. In the grid view metadata updates will affect all selected photos.

More Detail: The issue outlined in today’s question relates to what I refer to as the “loupe view snafu” in Lightroom Classic. If you select multiple photos but are using the loupe view display, metadata updates will only affect the photo shown in the preview area, not the multiple photos selected on the filmstrip.

The idea is that since the loupe view shows a single photo, you are always updating only that single photo even if multiple images are selected on the filmstrip. When you’re in the grid view, you’re seeing multiple photos, and so if multiple of those photos are selected then metadata updates will affect all selected photos.

When you want to update the metadata for multiple photos I recommend switching to the grid view to select those photos rather than selecting them on the filmstrip. This will help get you in the habit of switching to the grid view when you want to update multiple photos, so you won’t be as likely to have the issue where you’re not updating all selected photos.

Note by the way that it is also possible to turn on automatic synchronization for metadata when you’re in the loupe view. After selecting multiple photos on the filmstrip, you can click the toggle button (it looks like a light switch) to the left of the Sync button. This will cause the button to switch to “Auto Sync”, so that metadata updates will affect all selected photos even though you’re in the loupe view.

However, in my view using the Auto Sync option increases the risk that you’ll forget to check the status of the toggle before applying updates. Therefore, I recommend keeping the Auto Sync option turned off, and instead simply use the grid view when you want to update multiple photos or the loupe view when you want to update a single photo.

Monitor Display Performance


Today’s Question: What differences will be obvious in photo images when viewed on a 4K monitor vs a 2K monitor if both are 27-inch? Does it make any sense to operate a 4K monitor in 2K resolution to improve apparent sharpness / contrast?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key difference between a 4K versus 2K monitor display is the greater sharpness on the 4K display. To me a 4K display set to 2K resolution is optimal, because the interface is a good size, but the image quality is still stunning.

More Detail: A 4K display has a resolution featuring approximately 4,000 pixels across (actually 3,840 pixels in most cases) versus about 2,000 pixels across for a 2K display (usually 1,920 pixels). Therefore, the size of the individual pixels on a 4K display will be smaller than on a 2K display, assuming monitors of the same size.

That means you can display significantly more information on a 4K display, such as being able to see more of a high-resolution image at a 100% zoom setting on a 4K display compared to a 2K display. However, a 4K display set to a 4K resolution, especially on a relatively small monitor, can result in interface elements and text that are so small it can be difficult to work with.

However, a 4K display will present a significantly sharper image compared to a 2K display. Therefore, in my view the optimal approach is to opt for a 4K display but set it to about a 2K resolution (such as 1920×1080 pixels). This will provide you with what I think is a more manageable size for the interface elements and text, while still providing the benefit of superior sharpness for the presentation of images.

Contrast and other display qualities will depend upon the specific specifications of the display, not the resolution. For example, the contrast ratio and color space support determine the dynamic range and color gamut the display can reproduce, regardless of the resolution of the display.

Applying a Preset in Batch


Today’s Question: You mentioned applying a preset to multiple photos using Quick Develop in the Library module in Lightroom Classic. How exactly do you do that?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can apply a preset in batch to multiple images either by using the Saved Preset popup in Quick Develop in the Library module, or by enabling automatic synchronization in the Develop module.

More Detail: When you want to apply a single preset to a batch of photos in Lightroom Classic, I recommend using the Quick Develop section on the right panel in the Library module. Start by selecting all the photos you want to apply the preset to, but make sure you are in the grid view (not the loupe view) so that you’re viewing thumbnails in the main preview area. That will ensure the preset will apply to all selected photos, rather than only a single photo if you’re in the loupe view.

With the photos selected in the grid view display, select the desired preset from the Saved Preset popup in the Quick Develop section of the right panel. The preset will be applied to all selected photos, and you’ll see their thumbnails update accordingly.

It is also possible to enable automatic synchronization when applying a preset in the Develop module. I don’t generally recommend this approach, however, because it is easy to forget that you have synchronization enabled, in which case you would be updating multiple photos when you thought you were working on only the single photo shown in the preview area.

If you want to apply a preset to multiple photos while in the Develop module, select all the photos on the filmstrip on the bottom panel, and then click the toggle switch (it resembles a light switch) on the left side of the Sync button. This will enable automatic synchronization, and the button will now show “Auto Sync”. Then apply the desired preset from the Presets section of the left panel, and all selected images will be updated accordingly.

If you do make use of automatic synchronization in the Develop module, I do recommend turning it off again with the toggle switch on the Sync/Auto Sync button, just to make sure you don’t continue to update multiple selected photos when that wasn’t your intention.

Inverting Negative Images


Today’s Question: Is there a way to create a preset in Lightroom Classic for changing a B&W negative into a positive image? I am scanning my negative film and thought there would be an easier method than using the sliders in the tone curve on each negative to turn it into a positive image.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can create a preset that will streamline the process of converting a scanned negative to a positive image.

More Detail: It is worth noting that in most cases you can have the images inverted at the time of scanning. Scanning software will typically include an option to invert as part of the scanning process, and that often provides a more accurate positive image because it can take into account the fact that the original is a negative, not just an inverted source image.

The easiest way to invert a negative image in Lightroom Classic (or Camera Raw or Lightroom) is to use the Tone Curve using the point curve mode (not parametric mode). Drag the black endpoint at the bottom-left of the Tone Curve line to the top-left, and drag the white endpoint at the top-right of the Tone Curve line to the bottom-right.

You can also create a preset to make this even easier to apply to multiple images. Start by applying the desired adjustments to a sample image. You may want to include other adjustments, such as Clarity and Texture, for example.

When you’re ready to save a preset based on adjustments applied to a sample image, click the plus (+) icon to the right of the Presets heading on the left panel in the Develop module and choose Create Preset from the popup. In the New Develop Preset dialog enter a meaningful name for the preset in the Preset Name field, and choose which group you want to include the preset it from the Group popup.

Next, click the “Check None” button at the bottom-left of the dialog, then turn on the checkboxes for the adjustments you want to include in the preset, such as Point Curve, Clarity, and Texture. Click the Create button to save the preset, which you can then apply to multiple images at the time of import, to multiple selected photos in the Quick Develop section of the right panel in the Library module, or by selecting a preset for an image in the Develop module.

Hiding the Contextual Task Bar


Today’s Question: How do I get rid of the floating toolbar showing “Select subject – Remove background” that now pops up [in Photoshop]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The toolbar in question is the Contextual Task Bar, and you can hide it by clicking the “more” button (with the three dots) and choosing “Hide bar” from the popup menu.

More Detail: The Contextual Task Bar is a relatively new toolbar in Photoshop, which by default will float over an open image. The toolbar is context-sensitive, meaning the specific controls that appear on the toolbar depend on the type of image that is currently active or the task you’re performing.

While the Contextual Task Bar can certainly be helpful in terms of having quicker access to tasks you might perform with an image in Photoshop, it can also be a bit of a distraction. Fortunately, while you can’t dock the Contextual Task Bar to put it in a preferred location, it is possible to hide it altogether.

You can hide the Contextual Task Bar by clicking on the “more” button at the right side of the toolbar and choosing “Hide bar” from the popup menu. You can also go to the menu bar and choose Window > Contextual Task Bar to hide or reveal the toolbar at any time. Once you’ve hidden the Contextual Task Bar it will remain hidden until you re-enable it.

Which Direction Should Subject Face?


Today’s Question: I’m wondering if you’ve ever heard the photo composition advice for birds that one should always make sure that birds are looking left in a photo composition, because it’s more pleasing to the viewer’s eye (since we always start viewing photos from the left to the right. I’ve never heard this advice before, and it certainly is a photo ethics concern for me. Your thoughts?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I have not heard this advice before, though it relates to a portion of the rule of thirds. However, I feel photos generally look better with the subject (bird or otherwise) pointing to the right rather than left.

More Detail: One of the corollaries of the rule of thirds in photography relates to having space in front of the subject, meaning space on the side where the subject is looking or moving toward. You can obviously break the rule of thirds with excellent results, but the principles do provide a good general guide for composition.

For example, if a person or bird is looking to the right side of the frame, you should generally have more space on the right side of the frame than on the left side, which provides the subject with room to look. Similarly, if you photograph an airplane that is flying from left to right, you generally want to have more space on the right side of the airplane, so it has room to move.

Taking that a step further is the notion of whether you should favor having a subject such as a bird facing to the left rather than the right. I have found some folks online who have shared or supported this advice, and even, as noted in today’s question, people who recommend flipping a photo so that the subject will face left rather than right.

Flipping a photo can obviously introduce issues related to photo ethics, with the “right” answer depending in large part on the type of photography and how it is being presented. But keep in mind that in many cases the subject may not look right if the photo is flipped, such as in cases where features are not symmetrical on both sides of the face.

As noted above, in reviewing a large number of photos of varying subjects, I very much prefer to have a subject facing to the right rather than to the left. To my eye it looks more natural to have the subject facing to the right. When a subject is facing to the left the photo looks a little less natural to me, and in some cases has a bit of a sense of tension in the photo (similar to how having a person’s face near the edge of the frame as though they are looking beyond the frame can introduce tension).

I don’t feel that there is universal enough opinion (or awareness) of this issue to warrant going out of your way to have a subject face one direction or the other. And I would generally want to avoid flipping a photo for that purpose. But I’m sure there are many who would disagree with my view that pointing to the right is better, and perhaps even more who wouldn’t feel strongly about favoring either direction for the subject to face.

Long Exposures with Smartphone


Today’s Question: I was reviewing your video course on long exposures [“Creative Blurs”,] and that got me wondering if those types of effects could be created with a smartphone.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, it is possible to get photos with some degree of motion blur effect with a smartphone, but it is very difficult to control enough to get consistently good results.

More Detail: Smartphone cameras don’t enable us to control the exposure settings the same way you can with other cameras, and in many cases if you attempt to photograph a dark scene the smartphone will compensate such as by raising the ISO setting to compensate.

There are some apps that enable you to create long exposure effects with a smartphone. For example, the Lightroom mobile app includes options for adjusting exposure, including shutter speeds of up to one second. However, because you’re not able to adjust a lens aperture to reduce the amount of light, it can be difficult to get a long exposure except under dark conditions or by holding a neutral density filter in front of the lens.

There are other apps that enable you to capture long exposures more consistently, but most of these use a process of capturing a series of photos and blending them together, which doesn’t always result in a long exposure that looks like photos captured with the traditional photographic technique. These apps include Slow Shutter Cam and ProCam 8, for example.

In addition, the default Camera app for iPhone and iPad includes the ability to create a long exposure effect. This can be accomplished by capturing a photo in the Live Photo mode, and then browsing the photo and changing the “Live” popup to “Long Exposure”. This will take the multiple frames captured for the Live Photo and create a motion blur effect based on the variation of the frames.

Ultimately, while you can certainly achieve a long exposure effect with a smartphone, you’ll be able to get much better results using a proper camera instead.

Export versus Workflow


Today’s Question: Thank you for your excellent course on Adobe Bridge. In watching the lessons, I notice that the Export and Workflow features seem to have a lot of overlap, as they both involve exporting copies of photos. Do you recommend one over the other?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I recommend the Export feature over the Workflow feature, in large part because the Export feature is more streamlined and has less potential for confusion.

More Detail: The Export and Workflow features in Adobe Bridge are both focused on enabling you to create derivative copies of photos quickly and easily. In both cases you can define and save the parameters for how you want photos processed for a particular purpose, and then process selected photos in batch. Both are similar to the Image Processor feature in Photoshop that has long been accessible from Bridge as well.

There are two key differences between the Export and Workflow features. First, with Export you define all the settings for processing images within a single dialog, while with the Workflow feature you use a workspace to define individual components of a workflow. This makes the former a little more streamlined in my view, and the latter potentially a bit more confusing and cumbersome.

The other difference is that with the Export feature you don’t have the option to rename as part of the option to export photos. With the Workflow feature you can include a step to rename the copies of the photos you’re creating. However, since the renaming is template-based, this can actually be a bit problematic. For example, there isn’t an easy way to include custom text for each set of photos you create with the Workflow feature. You would need to use a custom workflow each time you wanted a different file naming structure when processing photos.

Therefore, I recommend the Export feature over the Workflow feature. If you also want to rename the photos after processing them with the Export feature, you can simply use the Batch Rename command (Tools > Batch Rename) to rename the exported copies of photos with flexibility, including the ability to use custom text as a component of the filenames.