Extra-Low ISO Settings


Today’s Question: I am curious about the option on my Nikon D7500 to use an ISO setting BELOW the last numbered ISO of 100 (Lo 0.3 to Lo 1.0, equivalent to ISO 80-50). I am wondering what if any effects on recorded image quality this extra-low ISO option might have?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general, I would opt not to use special ISO settings that go below the base level for a camera, as it will generally result in reduced dynamic range.

More Detail: Various camera models from several manufacturers include special ISO settings that are below the base level. When an extended ISO setting that is below the base ISO for the camera is used, the image is over-exposed and then adjusted in-camera to darken the image. This results in slightly reduced dynamic range and a risk of clipping in bright highlights. Noise levels are not impacted by using these lower ISO settings.

While in general these extended low ISO settings produce good results, I personally prefer to avoid them in the interest of maintaining dynamic range. The main reason to use one of these extended low ISO settings would be to achieve a longer exposure duration. However, with most cameras the most you can go below the base ISO by up to one stop, which I don’t find to be compelling considering the minor risks to image quality.

Instead of using the ISO settings below the base setting, I recommend using a solid neutral density filter when you need a longer exposure. Otherwise, I would stick with the base ISO setting whenever possible to minimize noise, and a higher ISO setting as needed for a faster shutter speed.

Virtual Copy Without Edits


Today’s Question: If I edit my original photo [in Lightroom Classic] and then make a virtual copy, the copy will inherit the edits from the original (as your article in Pixology noted). Is there any way at that point to make a copy of the unedited original?

Tim’s Quick Answer: After creating a virtual copy based on an original image you’ve already edited in Lightroom Classic you can then reset the Virtual Copy to return it to the default adjustment settings.

More Detail: You can create a virtual copy of an image in Lightroom Classic by right-clicking on the image and choosing “Create Virtual Copy” from the popup menu. When you do so that copy inherits the metadata and adjustment settings from the image you created the virtual copy from.

With the virtual copy selected, if you then click the Reset button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module, the virtual copy will be reset to the default adjustment settings. You could then start applying a new set of adjustments to the virtual copy.

If you wanted some but not all the adjustments from the original image applied to the virtual copy you could still reset the settings for the virtual copy as above, but then synchronize adjustments from the original image to the virtual copy. To do so select both the original image and the virtual copy, and then click the thumbnail for the original image so it is the active image. Then click the “Sync” button at the bottom of the right panel. In the dialog that appears turn on the checkboxes for only the adjustments you want to copy from the original to the virtual copy, and click the Synchronize button.

Adobe Bridge is Free


Today’s Question: I searched through the Adobe website and found it difficult to get this simple question answered: “Is Adobe Bridge free to download and install when using Photoshop Elements or Photoshop/Lightroom?”

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, Adobe Bridge is available for free for anyone to download and use. It does, however, require a (free) Adobe ID account.

More Detail: Adobe Bridge is completely free, but you do need an Adobe ID in order to install the software. If you’re starting without an Adobe ID, I recommend making sure that you simply create a new Adobe ID account rather than starting a free trial. If you start a free trial you would need to be sure to cancel it within seven days to avoid being charged.

You can get started by pointing your web browser here:


At the top-right corner, click the “Sign In” button. On the “Sign In” page that appears, click the “Create an account” text to get started setting up your free account. Once you’ve created that free account, you can sign in here to find the applications, including Adobe Bridge, that you have access to with a free account:


A free Adobe Creative Cloud membership includes additional benefits beyond free access to Adobe Bridge. You can learn about those benefits here:


Reposition Image in Photoshop


Today’s Question: Is there a way to have the document window in the workspace automatically align to top left instead of center when using the “fit on screen” or “print size” options?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While you can’t have the image automatically aligned differently within the canvas, you can move the image into a different position with the Hand tool as long as you enable the “Overscroll” setting.

More Detail: When you use the “Fit on Screen” or “Print Size” commands from the View menu in Photoshop, the image will be centered in the canvas area. While you can’t change this behavior within Photoshop, you can move the image into a different position using the Hand tool.

First, you need to make sure the “Overscroll” checkbox is turned on. Bring up the Preferences dialog by choosing Edit > Preferences > Tools on Windows or Photoshop > Settings > Tools on Macintosh. On the Tools tab find the “Overscroll” checkbox, and turn it on if it isn’t already. Then click the OK button to close the Preferences dialog.

You can then select the Hand tool from the toolbar, or by pressing the letter “H” on the keyboard. With the Overscroll option turned on, the image can be dragged around within the canvas area with the Hand tool, positioning the image anywhere you’d like. This isn’t as convenient as if you could change the automatic positioning of the image, of course, but it does provide a similar result.

Note, by the way, that you can also move the image around within the canvas by switching to a floating window rather than a docked image. You can put the image into a floating window by choosing Window > Arrange > Float in Window from the menu.

Converting to CMYK


Today’s Question: Is it possible in Lightroom Classic to convert a file to CMYK as can be done in Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, it is not possible to convert an image to CMYK color in Lightroom Classic, so you would need to use other software such as Photoshop.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic does not support the CMYK color mode. This might seem odd considering you can print photos from Lightroom Classic to printers that use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) inks. However, these printers still process RGB rather than CMYK color data, so CMYK color is not used in the workflow for printing a photo to a photo inkjet printer.

When exporting photos from Lightroom Classic you have the option to select a color profile to assign to the image, but that list will only include RGB profiles, not CMYK profiles. Therefore, if you need to convert an image to CMYK, you’ll need to use other software such as Photoshop.

If you need to convert an image to CMYK I strongly recommend obtaining a profile for the specific output conditions, and then converting to that profile. You can perform this conversion in Photoshop by choosing Edit > Convert to Profile from the menu. You can then select the profile from the Profile popup in the Destination Space section of the Convert to Profile dialog. You can configure the other settings in the Conversion Options section, and then click the OK button to convert the image.

In general, you should not use the Image > Mode > CMYK Color command, as this simply converts the image to the CMYK color space based on the CMYK working space profile defined in the Color Settings dialog. Unless you’ve configured the CMYK working space profile based on the output you’re producing, this would not yield good results.

I should hasten to add that in most cases I don’t recommend that photographers convert images to CMYK in the first place. For most output you can employ RGB images. If CMYK files are required, I generally recommend having the provider who will be printing the images perform the CMYK conversion, as they will generally have the expertise to ensure optimal results for the specific output conditions.

Pixology Magazine May 2023


The May 2023 issue of Pixology magazine is now available, featuring the following articles:

  • Blend Modes in Photoshop: Explore adjustments and creative possibilities using layer interactions.
  • Guided Upright for Perspective: Learn how you can solve a common perspective problem with remarkable ease.
  • Spot Metering: Learn to leverage the benefits of setting exposure based on a small area of a scene.
  • Photo Versions in Lightroom Classic: Learn about different options fr exploring different possibilities for a photo.
  • Photo Story: Wet Feet: Sometimes you have to get your feet wet to find the best light.

Pixology magazine is included in the GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle, and is also available as a standalone subscription here:


Drop Shadow for Printing


Today’s Question: Can you tell me how to add a drop shadow to an image before printing from Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can add a drop shadow to an image with the Layer Style feature, but first I recommend that you prepare a copy of the image for output.

More Detail: While it is rather easy to add a drop shadow (or other effect) to an image using the Layer Style feature, it can be a little more complicated when you take into account the Background image layer that will generally be present for any photo you’re working on in Photoshop.

When the drop shadow is intended as a creative effect such as when printing an image, I recommend creating a copy of the image for this specific purpose. Start by opening your master image with all layers intact. Then go to the menu and choose Image > Duplicate. In the Duplicate Image dialog you can update the default document name for the new image if you’d like. Then be sure to turn on the “Duplicate Merged Layers Only” checkbox, which will cause the duplicate to be a flattened copy. Click the OK button to create the copy.

Next, double-click on the thumbnail for the Background image layer for your new flattened image. In the New Layer dialog you can update the Name field for the layer if you’d like, then click the OK button.

You can then click the “fx” button at the bottom of the layers panel to bring up the Layer Style (or effects) popup, and choose “Drop Shadow” from that popup. This will bring up the Layer Style dialog, with the Drop Shadow effect highlighted.

At this point you won’t see the drop shadow effect in the image, because it will fall outside the document canvas. You can use the preview on the right side of the Layer Style dialog as a basic guide, however, and establish initial settings for the drop shadow effect. Then click the OK button to apply the initial effect.

Now go to the menu and choose Image > Reveal All. This will enlarge the canvas so you can see the full drop shadow effect. Then, on the Layers panel, double-click the Drop Shadow effect below the image layer to bring the Layer Style dialog up again. Refine the settings as you’d like based on an updated view of the image.

If you enlarge the drop shadow effect you can use the Image > Reveal All menu command to enlarge the canvas so the full effect will be visible. If you reduce the size of the drop shadow effect so it doesn’t extend all the way to the edge of the canvas, you can use the Image > Trim command. After choosing this command choose the Transparent Pixels option in the Trim dialog and click OK to apply the change.

You can continue refining the settings for your drop shadow effect, using the Reveal All and Trim commands as needed to adjust the canvas size with ease. When you’ve finalized the effect you can simply print the image as you otherwise would.

Blend Mode for Image Alignment


Today’s Question: I recall quite a while ago you demonstrated how you could align the frames of a composite panorama in Photoshop using a technique that involved making the overlapping areas black, but I can’t remember the details. Could you remind me of how to use this trick for image alignment?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key to getting optimal alignment among image layers, such as with a composite panorama, is to use the Difference blend mode for comparing the overlap between layers.

More Detail: While there are various ways to automate the process of assembling a composite panorama, in many cases it can be helpful to use a manual approach. While this provides you with greater flexibility, it also means you need to do more work to ensure proper alignment. The Difference blend mode is perfectly suited to this task.

When you initially assemble the frames of a composite panorama in Photoshop, and before you start adding layer masks to actually blend the layers, you can use the Difference blend mode to achieve optimal alignment for each image layer.

I generally establish the lowest layer on the Layers panel as the reference layer, and work my way up from there. So, for the second image layer from the bottom of the Layers panel you can change the blend mode to Difference. The blend mode popup is found at the top-left of the Layers panel, and has a default value of Normal.

The Difference blend mode causes pixel values that are an exact match to appear black, with non-matching pixels indicated with a value representing the difference between pixel values. You can then use the Move tool to adjust the position of the upper layer to maximize the amount of black. Furthermore, the mismatched pixels can be helpful in terms of evaluating which direction you need to move the layer to achieve better alignment. Note, by the way, that you can use the arrow keys on the keyboard to nudge the layer position when the Move tool is active.

Once you’ve aligned the bottom two layers, you can change the blend mode back to Normal for the upper of those two layers, and then set the layer above that to Difference. Continue aligning one layer at a time in this way until all layers are positioned well. You can then add layer masks to each layer to blend the resulting panorama into a seamless image.

Remove Catalog from “Open Recent”


Today’s Question: Is there a way to remove a catalog from the Open Recent menu in Lightroom Classic? I have one master catalog (as you recommend), but I also have a “test” catalog that I use for testing out features without risking my main catalog. I switch between catalogs by choosing File > Open Recent from the menu. But on that menu is an out-of-date catalog from an older version of Lightroom Classic, and I’m worried I might accidentally choose that catalog at some point.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can remove a catalog from the “Open Recent” list by moving the catalog to a different location, renaming it, or deleting it. When you then restart Lightroom Classic, that catalog will no longer appear on the list.

More Detail: The list of catalogs shown on the File > Open Recent menu is based on catalogs you’ve opened in Lightroom Classic and that are still located in the expected location. If you open a catalog, such as to check to make sure a backup is working properly or to check the contents of an older catalog, that catalog will then appear on the “Open Recent” list.

Within Lightroom Classic there isn’t an option to remove catalogs from the Open Recent list. Instead, you need to cause the catalog to no longer appear where it is expected.

If you’re certain you don’t need the catalog at all, you could simply delete the catalog and related files. Just be very careful to only delete files associated with that catalog that you don’t need. If you’re not sure, you might delete files that are associated with a different catalog, which could cause serious problems.

Therefore, I recommend that you instead rename or move the catalog that you don’t want to have appear on the Open Recent list. That will take the catalog off the list, while leaving the files behind just in case you removed the wrong catalog.

You could, for example, simply rename the catalog file, which is the file with the “lrcat” filename extension. I typically add the word “BACKUP” in all caps to the beginning of the filename, so that the filename no longer matches the original and there is a clear indication of the status of that catalog.

You can also simply move the catalog files to a different location, such as within a “Backup” folder in the same location as the other catalog files. If the catalog you want to remove from the list is in its own folder without any other catalogs, you could also move or rename that entire folder.

Once you’ve moved, renamed, or deleted the applicable catalog, restart Lightroom Classic and the catalog in question will no longer appear on the Open Recent list.

Unable to Disable Adjustments


Today’s Question: With a recent update to Lightroom Classic I’m not longer able to turn off a section of adjustments in the Develop module. The toggle switch that used to appear to the left of the section headings has been replaced by an eye icon. If I click that eye, the adjustments are disabled, but as soon as I release the mouse the adjustments are turned back on. Is there no longer a way to turn off a section of adjustments?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is still possible to turn off a section of adjustments on the right panel in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic. A recent update just changed how this feature operates.

More Detail: In previous versions of Lightroom Classic there has always been a toggle switch to the left of the heading for all sections except “Basic” on the right panel in the Develop module. These toggle switches enabled you to turn off all adjustments in a given section, which could be helpful for a “before and after” review or for simply turning off adjustments you decided you don’t want to have applied to an image.

With a recent update those toggle switches have been replaced with an eye icon to the left of the heading for all sections on the right panel in the Develop module. If you click on the eye icon the adjustments in that section will be disabled for a “before” view, but as soon as you release the mouse the section will no longer be disabled so you’re back to the “after” view with all adjustments enabled.

However, you can get the previous toggle switch functionality by simply holding the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh. While holding the Alt/Option key, the eye icons to the left of each heading will change to the previous toggle switch. While holding the Alt/Option key you can then click on the toggle switch for a section to disable the adjustments in that section.

Note that while there is an eye icon for the Basic section, enabling you to use a “before and after” view for that section, the toggle switch option is not available for the Basic section. In other words, it is not possible to permanently disable the adjustments in the Basic section, since they represent the fundamental adjustments for interpreting an image.