Cropping and Image Degradation in Photoshop


Today’s Question: Does cropping an image in Photoshop, and especially cropping multiple times, degrade the quality of the image?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While aspects of cropping in Photoshop can be performed non-destructively, if you rotate or resize as part of the crop that will slightly degrade the image. Rotating or resizing by cropping multiple times would compound that issue.

More Detail: Today’s question was a follow-up to a recent question about cropping multiple times in Lightroom Classic. As I noted in my answer to that previous question, there is no degradation in image quality caused by adjusting the crop settings multiple times in Lightroom Classic. In effect, only the final settings that are established when you export or otherwise share the image count, as though you had only made one change to the crop settings. This same concept applies when making multiple updates to the crop setting when processing a raw capture in Camera Raw.

In Photoshop things are a little more complicated because you are working on actual rendered pixels rather than a raw capture that has not yet been full processed and rendered.

You can use a non-destructive crop in Photoshop by making sure the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox is turned off on the Options bar when using the Crop tool. When this checkbox is turned off the pixels you crop won’t actually be deleted from the image, but instead will be hidden outside the image canvas area. You could later reveal those cropped pixels by choosing Image > Reveal All from the menu.

However, it is also possible to resize and rotate an image as part of the crop in Photoshop. Those adjustments would alter the actual pixels in the image, which causes at least a minor degradation in image quality. If you resize and rotate multiple times by cropping multiple times with the Crop tool, that degradation will be amplified.

It is important to note that the degradation in image quality here would generally be very minor and difficult to see in the image. I think it is also important to keep in mind that rotating to fix a crooked horizon, for example, is more important than avoiding the very minor degradation in image quality that the rotation might cause.

Considering all the above, however, if I realized I didn’t get the image rotated perfectly with the first crop in Photoshop, I would prefer to undo that crop and apply a new crop with a better rotation setting, just to try to preserve image quality as much as possible.

Extracting Raw from Converted DNG


Today’s Question: I process all my RAW files to DNG when I download them. I would like to revert some of my old files to the original DNG without edits. How do I do I revert the file?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can revert the DNG to the original default settings by using the Reset option in either the Develop module in Lightroom Classic or in Camera Raw if using Photoshop. Also, as long as you had enabled the option to embed the original raw capture in the DNG file, you can extract the original raw capture using the Adobe DNG Converter.

More Detail: An Adobe DNG file behaves essentially the same as any other raw capture format, in terms of being able to apply adjustments with software such as Lightroom Classic or Camera Raw (in Photoshop). With raw processing software you can reset the settings back to the defaults. In Lightroom Classic you can reset the adjustment settings by clicking the Reset button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module. In Camera Raw you can hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, which will cause the Cancel button to change to a Reset button. Simply click the Cancel button while holding the Alt/Option button to reset the adjustment settings.

If you embedded the original raw capture in the DNG upon conversion to DNG, you can also extract that original raw image, which won’t have any adjustments applied to it. The free Adobe DNG Converter software can be used to extract the embedded raw capture.

After launching the Adobe DNG Converter, click the Extract button at the bottom-center. In the dialog that appears first select the folder containing the images you want to extract the raw captures from in section one. Then select the destination folder for the raw captures in section two. Click the Extract button to process the images, extracting the raw captures to the designated folder.

You can download the free Adobe DNG Converter from the Adobe website here:

Browsing Multiple Subfolders


Today’s Question: As a follow-up to the question about browsing only the photos in a parent folder [in Lightroom Classic] is there a way to browse the photos in only the several subfolders without seeing the photos from the parent folder? Sort of the opposite of the option to not show photos in subfolders?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can easily browse only the photos in a group of subfolders without seeing the images from a parent folder by simply selecting the multiple subfolders within the Folders list in Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: Selecting multiple folders in Lightroom Classic is quite simple, but I find it is a feature that many photographers overlook. You can select a group of folders within the Folders list in the Library module in Lightroom Classic in the same way you can select multiple files or folders through your operating system.

For example, if you want to browse the photos within several folders in a range, you can click on the first folder in the range and then hold the Shift key on the keyboard while clicking the last folder in the range, and all folders within that range will be selected.

You can also toggle the selection of multiple folders that are not in a contiguous range using the Ctrl key on Windows or the Command key on Macintosh. While holding the Ctrl/Command key and clicking on a folder, the selection status of that folder will change. So, for example, if you had selected a range of five folders and then held Ctrl/Command while clicking on the middle folder, only four folders (the first two and last two) would be selected.

Once you’ve selected multiple folders you will be browsing the photos in all of those folders. You can even use the filter criteria on the Library Filter Bar to only view photos that meet specific criteria within the selected folders. Note, by the way, that these same options are available for selecting collections in addition to folders.

Hiding Photos in Subfolders


Today’s Question: In Lightroom Classic is there any way to see just the images that are in a Parent folder but are not in any of the Child folders of that parent?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, in Lightroom Classic you can view only the photos in a selected folder without seeing photos from subfolders by making sure the setting to “Show Photos in Subfolders” is turned off.

More Detail: In Lightroom Classic you have the option to either show only photos in the currently selected folder without seeing photos that are in subfolders of the selected folder, or to view both the photos in the current folder and all subfolders within that folder. This option is found on the menu at Library > Show Photos in Subfolders.

When this option is turned on, you’ll see a checkmark to the left of the “Show Photos in Subfolders” command on the menu. When the option is turned off there won’t be a checkmark shown.

For example, when I take a photography trip the photos from that trip will be placed in a single folder. If someone I was photographing with during that trip sends me photos, such as images they captured of me along the way, I put those images in a subfolder within the folder for the trip. I generally only want to see my own photos, so I typically keep the “Show Photos in Subfolders” option turned off. If I want to see both my own photos and the photos sent to me by other photographers, I can turn the option on.

In general, I recommend keeping the “Show Photos in Subfolders” option turned off, because it can lead to confusion about where the photos are actually stored. For example, I’ve known photographers who have accidentally deleted photos because they though copies were in both the parent folder and the subfolder, due to having the “Show Photos in Subfolders” option turned on without realizing it. So if you think you have duplicate photos that can be deleted, check to make sure the option is turned off so you can view only the photos in the specifically selected folder and confirm whether there really are duplicates.

Degradation from Cropping Twice?


Today’s Question: When I shoot sports, I process the raw images in Lightroom Classic and will often crop the first one in a series of 15 or so images and synchronize the adjustments to the other images. I will sometimes find the crop on subsequent images could be improved upon, so I will highlight other images in that same string of 15 and re-crop and sync again. Because I am cropping some images twice, am I degrading the quality of those subsequent images that have had the second crop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There will not be any degradation in the quality of the image in Lightroom Classic no matter how many times you refine the crop or any other adjustment.

More Detail: The adjustments available in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic are nondestructive, meaning the pixels in the source image are not altered. You can think of adjustments in Lightroom Classic as simply being metadata in the catalog. The preview you see is a result of the original image with the effect of the adjustments you’ve applied.

No matter how many times you refine an adjustment in the Develop module, whether directly or by synchronizing adjustments across multiple images, there is no degradation of the image caused by the refinements. In effect, no matter how many times you refine the crop settings, for example, the result is as though you had only ever cropped once to the current settings.

It is not until you export a copy of the image or otherwise share it that adjustments apply to pixel values. Even then, the adjustments are only applied to the output you produced, not to the source image on your hard drive.

Because of this aspect of Lightroom Classic, you should feel completely comfortable refining any and all adjustments for any image until you’re completely happy with the result.

Removing Temporary Catalog Collections


Today’s Question: I tried the technique you shared for finding photos that still have an outdated process version assigned to them in Lightroom Classic. Now that I’m finished with the collection created by that search, is there a way to get rid of it?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes. Any temporary collections created in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module of Lightroom Classic can be removed by right-clicking on it and choosing “Remove this Temporary Collection” from the popup menu.

More Detail: The Catalog section of the left panel in Lightroom Classic includes some “special” collections, which differ from the collections you can create in the Collections section further down that panel.

Some of these collections are permanent, meaning you can’t remove them. These include the “All Photographs” collection that enables you to browse all images in your entire catalog, as well as the Quick Collection that provides an easy way to temporarily group photos together for a short-term project.

Other collections that might appear in the Catalog section are considered temporary and can be removed if you no longer want them to appear there. For example, if you use the Library > Find Previous Process Photos” command to locate all images that have a Develop module process version earlier than the current version, the “Previous Process Photos” collection created in the Catalog section is temporary, and can be deleted. Just right-click on the temporary collection and choose “Remove this Temporary Collection” and it will be removed.

Similarly, if you use the Library > Find All Missing Photos command, a “Missing Photos” collection will be created in the Catalog section. That temporary collection can also be removed with the same command. And there are some other temporary collections that will be created with certain other commands. The key to remember with these collections is that they can be removed when you’re finished working with them.

If you’re not sure whether a collection in the Catalog section is temporary, just right-click on it to see if the “Remove this Temporary Collection” command is on the popup menu. If not, the collection is “permanent” in the Catalog section.

Duplicating Layer Effects


Today’s Question: When creating a composite image in Photoshop, I sometimes want to apply a layer effect, such as a drop shadow, to multiple layers with the same settings. Is there a way to apply a layer effect to more than one layer at a time?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can’t simply apply the same layer effect to multiple selected image layers in Photoshop, but you can copy effects from one layer and paste them to one or more other layers on the Layers panel.

More Detail: Layer effects can be added to the active layer on the Layers panel by clicking the “fx” button at the bottom of the panel and selecting the type of effect you want to apply. While it is possible to select multiple layers on the Layers panel, the layer effects option is not available when you’ve selected multiple layers.

However, you can still copy a layer effect from one layer and then paste those settings to one or more other layers.

Start by applying the layer effects with the settings you’d like to one of the layers. When you’ve finalized the effect, right click on the name of the layer and choose “Copy Layer Style” from the popup menu. If you want to paste the effect to more than one layer, select those layers at this point. Then right-click on the name of the layer (or one of the selected layers) and choose “Paste Layer Style” from the popup menu.

After you’ve pasted the layer style to one or more additional layers, you can still go back and refine the settings for each individual layer. For example, if the various layers contain objects of different sizes you may want to adjust the settings for the layer styles based on that sizing. To change the settings for a layer style for an image layer simply double-click the name of the layer effect below the layer you want to make changes for.

Filtering for Videos


Today’s Question: My hard drive is getting a bit full, so I want to free up some space. I thought I would start with video files, since those tend to be quite large. Is there a way to view just the video clips in a given folder in Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can easily set a filter to only view videos rather than still photos with the video setting for the Kind option on the Attribute tab of the Library Filter bar or among the filter criteria on the bottom panel at the top-right of the filmstrip.

More Detail: Videos are indeed generally among some of the largest files you’ll find on your hard drive, assuming you’re capturing videos of at least a moderate duration. It can therefore be a good strategy to target videos when you want to try to free up hard drive space quickly, although videos do have the added disadvantage of generally needing to be played back to review, which takes longer than reviewing a still photo.

You can set a filter to view only videos in the current location, whether that is an individual folder or even the “All Photographs” collection in the Catalog section at the top of the left panel in the Library module.

The filter option can be found on both the Library Filter bar and among the filter settings found at the top-right of the bottom panel. On the bottom panel you can click the “Filter” text if you don’t see the full range of filter options. When the filter list is expanded, you’ll see a set of three icons toward the far right. The third of these icons is the video option, and you can click that to filter based on videos. The other two button options, by the way, are original photos and virtual copies.

The same control can be found under the Kind heading at the far right of the Attribute tab of the Library Filter bar above the grid view display. If the Library Filter bar isn’t currently displayed, you can enable it by choosing View > Show Filter Bar from the menu. To the right of the Kind label, you’ll find the same set of three buttons, so you can click the far right of those buttons to filter for videos.

Presets for Import


Today’s Question: I recently noticed the “Import Preset” popup at the bottom of the import dialog in Lightroom Classic, though I’m sure it isn’t a new feature. Does it make sense to use an import preset, and if so why or for what purpose?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Creating a preset for the Import dialog in Lightroom Classic is a good way to preserve the settings you use most frequently when importing photos. As with any import, if you make use of a preset you just need to be sure to review all settings so they are correct for the specific photos you’re currently importing.

More Detail: The Import Preset popup is relatively small and perhaps somewhat hidden at the bottom of the Import dialog, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if most photographers don’t even notice it is there. This popup can be helpful in terms of providing a set of baseline settings for an import. Just be sure to review the final settings before actually importing your photos.

To create a preset for Import, start by configuring the settings you want to use within the Import dialog. For example, you can make sure that the primary storage location you use for your photos is set as the destination at the top-right of the Import dialog. For some settings, such as if you want to create a subfolder in the Destination section, you may want to put placeholder text, such as “FOLDER NAME” in all caps so you’ll know to change that to the actual intended folder name before importing.

Once you’ve established the settings you want to preserve with a preset, click the Import Preset at the bottom-center of the Import dialog and choose “Save Current Settings as New Preset” from the popup. In the New Preset dialog, type a meaningful name for the preset, and click Create.

In the future, you can simply select this preset from the popup at the bottom of the Import dialog to quickly establish the settings saved with the preset. Then review and update the specific settings as needed for the current import job and click the Import button.

Note, by the way, that you can create multiple presets for the Import dialog if you have more than one configuration you tend to use during import for different types of photos, for example.

Recovering Accidentally Removed Folder


Today’s Question: While replacing a crashed computer I somehow managed to delete an image folder from the catalog. The image files are OK except that along with the images the folder now contains .xmp files (that’s what leads me to believe the images were once in the catalog). Will anything bad happen if I just reimport the folder?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Nothing bad will happen by importing those photos into Lightroom Classic, though some metadata may be lost in the process depending on your workflow.

More Detail: You can remove an entire folder from Lightroom Classic by right-clicking on the folder and choosing “Remove” from the popup menu. If the folder you remove contains photos, the folder and photos will remain on the hard drive, but those photos and their metadata will be removed from the Lightroom Classic catalog. Note, by the way, if the folder is completely empty and you choose the Remove command the folder will be deleted from the hard drive.

The presence of XMP sidecar files suggests you had enabled the option to automatically save metadata updates to XMP, which is a setting found on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog. If that was the case, standard metadata such as star ratings and keywords would be preserved along with the photos. That, in turn, means that when you import the folder full of images back into your Lightroom Classic catalog, the saved metadata will be imported along with the images.

Interestingly, even though the adjustment settings in the Develop module could certainly be considered metadata that is specific to Lightroom Classic, those details are preserved along with the source image file when you enable the option to automatically write metadata to XMP.

However, there are some features specific to the Lightroom Classic catalog that are not preserved in metadata when you save metadata to the images rather than only having that metadata in the catalog. For example, pick and reject flags, virtual copies, and collections require the Lightroom Classic catalog. Therefore, if you import these photos again and you had taken advantage of these features for those images, that information won’t be recovered.

Regardless, you can safely import the entire folder into your catalog. Be sure to use the “Add” option at the top-center of the import dialog to add the images from their current location rather than copying them to another location. Also make sure the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checkbox in the File Handling section of the right panel in the Import dialog is turned off, just in case the same images are in the catalog based on copies being stored in a different folder. I also suggest making sure the Metadata popup in the Apply During Import section of the right panel in the Import dialog is set to “None”, so that you don’t change any of the existing metadata for the photos during the import process.

Note, by the way, that if it was important to recover the metadata that is specific to Lightroom Classic for these photos, you could go through a more involved process of recovering a backup copy of your Lightroom Classic catalog from before the folder had been removed. You could then use the “Export as Catalog” command to export a copy of that catalog with only the applicable folder of photos, and then import that catalog to the master catalog using the “Import from Another Catalog” command.