Pixology Magazine September 2023


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

  • Being Deliberate in Photography: Get tips for being more deliberate in your approach to capturing great photographs.
  • Top Ten Black & White Effects: Learn about creative effects for black and white images.
  • Exporting from Lightroom Classic: Discover the many options available for exporting copies of your photos from Lightroom Classic.
  • Brush Flow and Opacity: Learn about the key difference (and the similarities) between the Opacity and Flow settings for brushes in Photoshop.
  • Photo Story: South Stack: Read the story of seeking out a photo opportunity with the help of a notable local.

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


Resetting Image Cleanup


Today’s Question: After cloning some twigs and branches with Lightroom Classic doing a so-so job, I decided to just take the image into Photoshop to use their tools instead. When I do that, I like to remove all the Lightroom Classic spot removals and start fresh in Photoshop. Is there a way to delete ALL spot removal “spots” (for lack of a better word) rather than having to do them one by one?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can remove all the image cleanup work from an image in Lightroom Classic by clicking the Reset button at the bottom of the controls for the Healing tool.

More Detail: When you clean up a blemish with the Healing tool in Lightroom Classic, a marquee will be added to the image indicating the area you selected for cleanup. You can remove individual cleanup areas by holding the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh while clicking on the cleanup spot within the image.

You can also remove all cleanup areas created with the Healing tool by clicking on the Reset button. With the Healing tool active you’ll see a panel above the Basic section of adjustments, which will include the controls for the Healing tool. At the bottom-right of that panel is the Reset button. Simply click that button and all cleanup areas will be removed from the image.

In general, by the way, if you decide that Lightroom Classic isn’t doing a great job of cleaning up the blemishes in an image, I do recommend resetting the Healing tool before sending the image to Photoshop. That will ensure there aren’t any problematic artifacts in the image that may have been created by the Healing tool. You can then start over with the cleanup work in Photoshop, using the superior and more flexible tools there to clean the blemishes from the image.

Corrupted Raw Captures


Today’s Question: Until recently I had no problems at all when opening raw files in Camera Raw and the videos in Final Cut Pro X. Unfortunately, since a few days ago, here is what I get [random colored pixels in a mostly linear pattern] when opening the raw files in Camera Raw.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The sample images provided along with today’s question demonstrate clear signs of a corrupted raw capture. The key is to determine the component that is causing that corruption.

More Detail: When a raw capture file is corrupted the pixel data can’t be rendered properly. This will generally cause the image to have random patterns of colored pixels in a somewhat linear pattern. The colors will often be highly saturated, and the patterns may cover a portion of the image or the entire image.

Here is a sample of what this corruption can look like:

If a raw capture is corrupted in this way, there isn’t a way to recover the original photo. Instead, you’ll need to try to determine the source of the corruption.

The corruption can be caused anywhere from the camera to the computer, and all applicable devices in between. In other words, the corruption might be caused by the camera, by a faulty memory card, by a damaged card reader or cable used to connect the card reader to the computer, a faulty port on your computer, a faulty hard drive on your computer, or the computer itself.

In most cases I have found that a damaged memory card is the culprit, so I would start by capturing test photos on all cards you suspect may be the source of the problem. After capturing a relatively large number of photos on each card, if you find that photos are corrupted on only one of the cards than there is a very good chance that the card with the corrupted photos is to blame. In this case I would discard the problematic memory card, or see if it is eligible for a refund if it was purchased relatively recently.

If all the memory cards you test end up with corrupted photos, then the camera could be the source of corruption. However, it could also be the card reader or another component on your computer. The corrupted images won’t show any signs of corruption on the camera, because an embedded JPEG is used to show you the preview on the camera.

I would start by testing the captures on a completely different computer with entirely different components. Then gradually introduce the other components, such as your card reader and cable, to determine where the source of corruption is.

As noted above, in most cases the memory card is the source of corruption. Other likely candidates are the card reader and the camera. But it is also possible that any other component involved in writing the file to a new location could be causing the files to become corrupted.

Finding the Dehaze Adjustment


Today’s Question: There’s one filter in Photoshop Elements that I haven’t been able to reproduce in Photoshop. It’s called “Dehaze”, and it really clears up the shot. Is there really nothing in Photoshop that does this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There is indeed a Dehaze adjustment in Photoshop. It is just “hidden” in Camera Raw, which means it is also available in the Camera Raw Filter.

More Detail: The Dehaze adjustment can produce very impressive results, greatly reducing the appearance of haze in a photo. The adjustment is available in Photoshop via Camera Raw, as well as Lightroom Classic and Photoshop Elements.

If you’re processing a raw capture in Camera Raw you can find the Dehaze adjustment in the Basic section of the right panel, grouped with the Texture and Clarity adjustments.

If you’re working directly in Photoshop rather than Camera Raw, such as if you’ve opened a non-raw capture, you can use the Camera Raw filter to access the Dehaze adjustment. If you want to maintain greater flexibility in your workflow you can create a copy of the image layer you want to apply the effect to. With the layer you want to adjust selected on the Layers panel, select Filter > Camera Raw Filter from the menu. When using Camera Raw as a filter you’ll find the same Dehaze adjustment in the Basic section of the right panel.

Regardless of how you’re accessing the Dehaze feature, you can increase the value for the slider to reduce the appearance of haze in the photo. In some cases you may find that this causes the image to look a little too blue, which you can compensate for by shifting the Temperature slider to a higher value toward yellow. You may also find that the shadows get to be a bit too dark, which you can compensate for by increasing the value for the Shadows slider.

Metadata Not Visible Outside Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: The original files and folders I imported into Lightroom Classic are all still visible in Bridge, but many lack metadata entered in Lightroom Classic? Can you help with this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To be able to see metadata updates outside of Lightroom Classic you need to enable the option to automatically write metadata updates to the source images within Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: By default, Lightroom Classic only saves metadata updates within the catalog, not to the source image files on your hard drive. Therefore, other applications such as Adobe Bridge will not display the updated metadata by default.

However, you can enable an option to automatically save metadata updates to the source images, which will both provide a backup of the key metadata you update in Lightroom Classic and enable you to view the updated metadata in other applications.

To enable the option to automatically save metadata updates to the source images, first bring up the Catalog Settings dialog by choosing Edit > Catalog Settings on Windows or Lightroom Classic > Catalog Settings on Macintosh. In the Catalog Settings dialog go to the Metadata tab and turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox.

It is important to understand that enabling this option will not save all metadata from Lightroom Classic to the source images. Metadata fields that are part of established standards, such as keywords and star ratings, will be written to the source files when this option is turned on. Features that are specific to Lightroom Classic such as pick and reject flags, virtual copies, collections, and the history in the Develop module, will not be included in these updates.

Previous Import Confusion


Today’s Question: All the images imported into Lightroom Classic appear in “Previous Import” under Catalog [on the left panel in the Library module]. Only some of the photos appear below in the hard drive folders where the photos had been imported from.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Previous Import collection can contain photos from multiple folders, which can lead to confusion when browsing the individual folders that were the source of the images. You can navigate to the source folder for an image in the Previous Import collection by right-clicking on the thumbnail and choosing “Go to Folder in Library” from the popup menu.

More Detail: If you import photos from multiple folders into your Lightroom Classic catalog with the “Add” option selected at the top-center of the import dialog, the photos will be imported without altering the existing folder structure. For example, if you imported from a parent folder with the “Include Subfolders” checkbox turned on, all photos from all subfolders would be imported.

Let’s assume you had a parent folder that didn’t contain any photos, but that had three subfolders, and that each subfolder contained 100 images. If you imported from the parent folder with the “Include Subfolders” option enabled, the Previous Import collection would contain all 300 photos.

However, the parent folder you imported would contain zero photos, and each of the subfolders would contain 100 photos. Those numbers would be reflected in the Folders section of the left panel in the Library module.

Note, of course, that if you have the “Show Photos in Subfolders” option enabled on the Library menu, the parent folder would show the sum of all photos in the subfolders. In this example that would mean the parent folder would show that 300 photos are included, even though the folder itself doesn’t directly contain any photos.

HUD Brush Controls in Photoshop


Today’s Question: [As a follow-up to the question about the brush settings popup] On Windows when I hold down the Alt key and right mouse button simultaneously, I can change the size of the brush by moving the mouse left or right, and I can change the hardness by moving the mouse up or down. Is that not available on Macintosh?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The interface you’re referring to is the HUD (head-up display) control for brush settings. It can be accessed on Macintosh by holding the Control and Option keys while clicking with the left mouse button. On Windows you hold the Ctrl and Alt keys while clicking with the right mouse button.

More Detail: The HUD interface for adjusting brush settings in Photoshop can be very convenient. When you activate this display, you’ll see a preview of the brush overlayed on the image. You can then drag right or left to increase or decrease the size of the brush and drag up to decrease the hardness of the brush and down to increase brush hardness.

The color overlay that is the key part of this HUD option will indicate the size and hardness of the brush. You can change the color for this overlay on the Cursors tab of the Preferences dialog. To adjust the setting for the overlay color start by choosing Photoshop > Settings > Cursors on Macintosh or Edit > Preferences > Cursors on Windows. In the Brush Preview section click the color swatch and choose the color you’d like to use. I generally recommend using a highly saturated color that doesn’t typically appear in photos, such as a very saturated magenta.

Brush Settings Shortcut


Today’s Question: I am using Photoshop on a Mac, but previously used it on Windows. One feature I really miss is being able to change the brush size or hardness with a right-click while holding the Alt key. Everything I read says you can do the same thing on the Mac with the Control and Option keys, but whenever I press those keys (or actually any combination of the special keys), the brush circle just converts to a move icon. Does this feature not work on Mac or am I doing something wrong?

Tim’s Quick Answer: For Macintosh you can access the brush settings popup quickly by right-clicking on the image (with or without the Option key). You don’t need to include the Control key unless you’ve disabled the right-click feature.

More Detail: On Macintosh you can achieve the same result as a right-click of the mouse by holding the Control key on the keyboard while clicking the left mouse button. This was originally a helpful option for those using a mouse that only included one button. In addition, on Macintosh you can disable the right-click feature if you find it distracting, in which case you could also hold the Control key while clicking to get the same result as you could have with a right-click.

I prefer to have the right-click option enabled, and so I don’t need to use the Control key to access the right-click feature. In other words, if you see a shortcut that calls for holding the Control key while clicking the mouse, you can skip the Control key and just right-click instead.

So, in this case you can simply right-click (or Option+right-click) on the image when using the Brush tool to bring up the Brush properties panel, where you can adjust the brush size, hardness, and other settings.

Metadata Preset Popup


Today’s Question: The popup for Preset in the Metadata section in the Library module [in Lightroom Classic] shows my import preset for some images, but shows “None” for other images. I’m pretty sure I applied the preset to all photos, so why doesn’t it appear for all photos?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Preset popup shows the name of the metadata preset that had been applied to the selected image. However, if you change the metadata for an image after applying a metadata preset, or you neglected to apply a preset to some images, the Preset popup will then show “None”.

More Detail: You can create metadata presets that preserve specific metadata values, such as your copyright and contact information, and then apply a preset to photos to add the applicable metadata. You can apply a preset to all photos during import, for example, or apply a preset to selected photos using the Preset popup found in the Metadata section of the right panel in the Library module.

If you have applied a preset to a photo, the name of the preset will appear on the Preset popup. However, as soon as you add or update metadata for a photo, the popup will change to “None” rather than showing the name of the preset, because the metadata no longer matches what had been assigned using the preset.

For example, I use a red color label to identify photos that need to be reviewed to identify favorites versus outtakes. I use a metadata preset during import to assign the red color label as well as my copyright and contact information. Right after import, the Preset popup therefore shows “Tim Grey Import” as the name of the preset.

If I then remove the red color label from a photo, the Preset popup will then show “None” rather than the name of the preset. Even if I then add the red color label back to the image to get it back to the metadata values assigned by the preset, the Preset popup will still show “None”. I could, of course, choose my “Tim Grey Import” metadata preset from the Preset popup, which will update the image with the metadata included in the preset and show the name of the preset again on the Preset popup.

Opacity versus Fill for Layers


Today’s Question: As something of a follow-up to your answer about Flow versus Opacity for the Brush tool in Photoshop, can you help me understand the difference between Opacity and Fill on the Layers panel? I believe you’ve addressed this in the past, but I can’t figure out the difference.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Both the Opacity and Fill controls on the Layers panel in Photoshop enable you to reduce the opacity of the current layer. When you reduce the value for Fill, however, the opacity of layer effects is not reduced.

More Detail: If you perform a simple test of the Opacity and Fill controls found on the Layers panel in Photoshop, you might reasonably conclude that they both do the exact same thing. With a simple image layer, for example, both of these controls would reduce the opacity of the layer in the exact same way. That’s because both Opacity and Fill will reduce the opacity of pixel layers with the same effect.

However, as noted above, the Fill control will not reduce the opacity of layer effects, such as a drop shadow or border stroke applied to an image layer. So, for example, you could reduce the opacity of the image using the Fill slider and the border effect created with the Stroke layer style would remain at full opacity.

This flexibility can be helpful in creating some interesting effects. With a composite image you can reduce the opacity of one or more image layers using the Fill control so the layer effects you’ve applied at full strength. And of course if you want to reduce the opacity of the layer effects in addition to the pixels, you can use the Opacity control rather than Fill.

One creative way that I sometimes take advantage of the behavior of the Fill control is to apply layer effects to a text layer and then reduce the opacity of the text with the Fill control. This will reduce the opacity of the text, while leaving the layer effects at full strength. Sometimes I’ll even set the Fill setting to 0% so the text completely disappears, but with the layer effects such as drop shadow at full strength. This creates an interesting result where you can only read the text because of the effects that surrounded the text, since the text itself isn’t visible at that point.