Battery Drain with GPS


Today’s Question: I know you’ve talked about making use of a GPS receiver in the camera so that location information is included in metadata automatically. But what impact does this have on the camera’s battery?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Having the GPS receiver active on your camera will cause the battery to become depleted more quickly, and in some cases your battery may drain even with the camera turned off.

More Detail: A GPS receiver can consume a fair amount of battery life, in part because the data from GPS satellites is being received somewhat continuously at a relatively slow data rate. When you activate the GPS feature on a digital camera, the camera is performing work on an ongoing basis, tracking the position of the camera.

In my experience, having the GPS feature enabled on a camera can cause the battery to deplete about 25% to 50% faster than would be the case with the GPS receiver disabled. The actual results will vary, of course, depending on specific usage and how the GPS feature is enabled on the camera you’re using.

Different cameras manage this process in different ways, introducing numerous variables in terms of how much the battery is consumed. In some cases, for example, the camera might not determine the location of the camera on a continuous basis, instead opting to update the location on a periodic basis.

Many cameras with built-in GPS receivers enable you to adjust a setting for how frequently your location should be updated. Reducing the frequency at which your location is updated can help conserve battery power, but can also lead to less accuracy with the GPS coordinates embedded in metadata for your photos.

Making matters worse in terms of battery usage, in many cases a GPS-enabled camera will continue updating the location information of the camera even when the camera is turned off. For example, with my camera if I leave the GPS feature enabled and then turn the camera off and leave it unused, the battery will be dead in about one week.

From my perspective the benefit provided by having location information embedded in the metadata of every photo is greater than the challenges created by reduced battery life. In most cases, for example, I can get through a full day of photography with my digital SLR using a single battery, even with the GPS feature enabled at all times. The only time I tend to use more than one battery in a single day is when I am capturing video in addition to still images, since video capture tends to consume the battery much more rapidly than still captures.

Clone Stamp Outdated?


Today’s Question: With the Spot Healing Brush tool and Content Aware technology in Photoshop, is it safe to say the Clone Stamp is outdated and no longer needed?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While the Clone Stamp tool is certainly less important now that we have more powerful and sophisticated image cleanup tools in Photoshop, there are still situations where the Clone Stamp tool is incredibly useful. In particular, I still employ the Clone Stamp tool in situations where I need to carefully maintain texture detail when performing cleanup work on a photo.

More Detail: To be sure, the technology behind some of the more recent image cleanup tools and features in Photoshop is very impressive. In particular, I would say that the Content Aware technology provides some very impressive results in terms of blending the pixels you’re using to remove a blemish into the surrounding areas of the photo.

However, sometimes those blending capabilities can create more problems than they solve, or at least lead to less than ideal cleanup results.

In particular, the Content Aware technology and the general blending employed with the Healing Brush and Spot Healing Brush tools (among others) can lead to harmful effects for fine textures in a photo. This is commonly seen as a degree of ghosting and texture duplication in areas where you’ve applied a cleanup. In other words, your cleanup work won’t always blend seamlessly into the rest of the photo.

The Clone Stamp tool, by contrast, doesn’t perform any blending into surrounding areas. That can obviously be a challenge in terms of having the brush strokes of your cleanup work be too obvious. But a combination of multiple tools can provide a great solution.

When texture needs to be maintained as part of image cleanup work, I generally start with the Clone Stamp tool. After cleaning up an area as best I can with the Clone Stamp, the texture will have been maintained but the blending won’t necessarily be adequate. I can then using one of the “blending” tools, such as the Spot Healing Brush tool with the Content Aware option selected, in order to blend away areas along the edges of my Clone Stamp brush strokes that reveal an obvious indication of my work.

By combining the absence of blending with the Clone Stamp tool with the Content Aware feature of the Spot Healing Brush tool, I can often achieve results that are superior to what could be accomplished with either one of these tools alone.

Enabling GPS


Today’s Question: I’ll be traveling internationally soon, and am looking for info that I know you have shared before. What is the trick for being able to have my iPhone record location information without risking a big phone bill?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Actually, a relatively recent update to iOS (the operating system for the iPhone) causes the GPS receiver to be active even when the iPhone is in airplane mode. So, you can keep your iPhone in Airplane Mode and your photos will still reflect location information.

More Detail: With older versions of iOS (version 8.2 or earlier), when you enabled Airplane Mode the GPS receiver would be disabled. This created a degree of risk that you could incur significant unintended charges for voice and data if you weren’t careful in how you used your phone.

You could still disable the cellular data feature in Settings for your phone, but there was still some risk of incurring additional charges if you had international service enabled with your cellular provider (and in some cases even if you didn’t enable that service but then sent or received text messages).

As long as you’re using a version of iOS after version 8.2, you can simply leave your iPhone in Airplane Mode and you’ll still have GPS capabilities. That means, for example, that if you capture photos with your iPhone, those photos will have GPS coordinates embedded in metadata.

In addition, even in airplane mode you can use other apps that make use of GPS data, such as GPS navigation apps. For example, when traveling (including a trip I’m on right now) I make use of an “offline” GPS navigation app. This app has maps and other data included, and then the GPS receiver is used to determine your current location. The result is an ability to use GPS features without the need to use cellular data.

I’m not as familiar with other mobile operating systems (such as Android), but I do know that there are similar options for enabling the GPS receiver without having cellular data enabled.

Download Mystery


Today’s Question: When traveling I usually like to download my daily photos to Lightroom on my laptop and the do things like add keywords and star ratings, and start to delete those I do not want. When I download from the same card the next day I find that all my deleted photos reappear. What do I need to do to make sure this does not happen?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It sounds like you’re not reformatting the cards after downloading. So, you either need to format the cards after downloading your photos (making sure you have the photos backed up first!), or employ a workflow that doesn’t involve deleting your photos until the end of your travels.

More Detail: When you import photos into your Lightroom catalog with the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checkbox turned on in the Import dialog, the photos in the location you have set as the source are compared to the photos currently in the catalog. Various file and metadata attributes are compared to determine if any of the photos being imported are duplicates of photos already in the catalog.

If you have deleted photos from the catalog, and then re-import the same photos, the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” feature won’t prevent the photos that had been deleted from being imported again. Put simply, under these circumstances the re-imported photos don’t represent duplicate images based on the current state of your catalog.

It is, of course, perfectly reasonable to not format your digital media cards during a trip, so that you retain an additional backup copy of all of your photos. However, this approach then requires a workflow approach that does not involve deleting unwanted photos from your catalog, at least until you are finished downloading all photos from all cards that contain photos captured during the trip.

Another solution in this type of situation would be to use the “Reject” flag to identify photos you intend to delete later. The Reject flag can be added to a photo by pressing the letter “X” on the keyboard. You could then enable a filter to hide photos with a “Reject” flag, which essentially creates a similar experience to having deleted the photos. And when you are finished with your trip, there is even a “Delete Rejected Photos” command on the Photo menu that makes it easy to delete the photos you would have otherwise deleted along the way.

Adjustment Number Color


Today’s Question: I’ve just noticed that when working in the Develop module in Lightroom some of the numbers next to the adjustment sliders are white, and some are gray. Is there some significance to the color?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There is indeed significance to the white versus gray text for the adjustment numbers in Lightroom’s Develop module. White represents values that differ from the default settings, and gray indicates a value that is still at the default value.

More Detail: In other words, you can think of the white text for an adjustment number as indicating an adjustment you’ve actually made a change to versus those you have not. If the number associated with a slider in the Develop module in Lightroom is white, that setting has been adjusted. If the number is gray, that adjustment has not been adjusted yet.

You will therefore notice that as soon as you make an initial change to a slider value in Lightroom, the numeric text associated with that slider becomes white. If you double-click on the slider handle for the adjustment in order to reset that adjustment to its default value, the text will return to gray.

This is one of the subtle features within Lightroom that can help make streamline your workflow, and speed up the process of evaluating which adjustments have been applied versus left at their default values.

Flipping in Lightroom Redux


Today’s Question: You’re never wrong, but today you’re wrong. It’s easy to flip a photo in Lightroom

Tim’s Quick Answer: I was indeed wrong when I said you couldn’t flip a photo in Lightroom. You can flip by selecting a photo, then choosing Photo on the menu followed by either Flip Horizontal or Flip Vertical. You can also right-click on the full-size image in the Develop module and choose Transform followed by either Flip Horizontal or Flip Vertical from the popup menu.

More Detail: Friday’s edition of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter proves that I don’t always have the answer, or that what I think is the answer is sometimes wrong. And today’s edition demonstrates (hopefully) that I don’t mind admitting when I was wrong. Perhaps it also confirms that if we don’t exercise our brains, some atrophy may occur! I simply forgot about a feature that I have probably never used, even though at one point I knew it was there.

With Monday being the Labor Day holiday in the United States I was going to take the day off from the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, even though I’m not presently in the United States. But with my big error in Friday’s email, I decided a Monday email was necessary, and that it should be sent out early. So here it is!

I appreciate the many (countless!) photographers who sent me an email to (gently, for the most part) point out my error. Thank you! And I’ll certainly try to avoid such mistakes in the future.

In the meantime, rest assured that you can indeed flip a photo in Lightroom without sending it to Photoshop. And also rest assured that when I answer a question incorrectly in the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, more than a few readers will surely let me know, and then I’ll let you know.

Flipping in Lightroom


Today’s Question: I would like to be able to flip an image in Lightroom. Is it possible, or only a Photoshop thing?

PLEASE NOTE: The original answer posted below was incorrect. Details of the correction can be found in a follow-up post here:

Flipping in Lightroom Redux

Tim’s Quick Answer: Flipping an image is not possible in Lightroom, and thus would require Photoshop (or another application). You can rotate an image in Lightroom, but not flip it.

More Detail: Fortunately, it is quite easy to flip an image in Photoshop, and you can send an image from Lightroom directly to Photoshop for this purpose. Just note that in the process a new copy of the image will be created as an additional file on your hard drive.

To get started, select the image in Lightroom that you want to flip. Then choose Photo > Edit In > Edit In Adobe Photoshop from the menu. Once the image is opened in Photoshop, you will want to convert the Background image layer to a normal layer so you can actually flip it. To do so, double-click the thumbnail for the Background image layer on the Layers panel and click the OK button in the New Layer dialog that appears.

You can then choose Edit > Transform from the menu, and then choose “Flip Horizontal” or “Flip Vertical” from the submenu depending on the direction you want to flip the image. After completing any other work you’d like to perform in Photoshop, simply choose File > Save from the menu to save the updated image file, and then choose File > Close from the menu to close that file.

You can then return to Lightroom, and the new copy of the image that has been flipped will appear alongside the original photo within your catalog.

Photoshop Crop Overlay


Today’s Question: Not too long ago you addressed the crop overlay feature available in Lightroom to evaluate which aspect ratio one might want to crop to. Is there a similar feature in Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There is a crop overlay feature for the Crop tool in Photoshop, but it doesn’t enable you to evaluate the effect of different aspect ratios at one time.

More Detail: The overlay feature for the Crop tool in Photoshop is primarily focused on composition. The available overlays, for example, include the rule of thirds, the Golden Ratio, and the Golden Spiral.

If you want to preview a particular aspect ratio, you need to either select that ratio from the Ratio popup on the options bar, or establish your own ratio using the Width and Height fields to the right of the Ratio popup. When you establish an aspect ratio with one of these two options, you’re really just constraining the shape of the crop box for the Crop tool.

As a result, you can only effectively preview a single aspect ratio at a time with the Crop tool in Photoshop. In Lightroom it is possible to overlay multiple aspect ratios on the crop box, so that you can get a sense of which aspect ratio you might want to use. In Photoshop this process would be more challenging, because you would need to switch between different aspect ratios to change the dimensions of the crop box. This can obviously require a bit of trial and error to find the aspect ratio you want to use.

It is worth noting that while Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom share the same underlying processing engine for RAW captures, Adobe Camera Raw only has a Rule of Thirds overlay option for cropping. In other words, the other compositional overlays aren’t available, nor are the aspect ratio overlay options available. So Lightroom certainly has a bit of an advantage with regard to the overlay feature for the crop tool compared to Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw.

Delete Doesn’t Delete?


Today’s Question: I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around what you said about deleting photos. You said “When you delete photos from a card or (in most cases) when you format the card, the information isn’t actually deleted.” Is that really true? Will deleted photos always remain on my media cards?

Tim’s Quick Answer: It is true that in most cases deleting images from a media card or formatting that card won’t truly remove the information from the card. However, in order to be able to recover the information, you need to be sure not to write new information (photos) to the card.

More Detail: When you delete a file from a media card or other storage device, and in most cases when you format that media, the information contained on the media isn’t truly removed. Instead, the “table of contents” for the media is updated to indicate that the space that had been used for photos or other data is now available for use.

Because of this behavior, it is often possible to recover deleted photos (or other data) from storage media. The most important caveat is that if you write new information to the media, that information will replace the space that had been occupied by the deleted information.

For example, if you capture a single photo on a media card, and then format that media card, you could use special software to recover the photo that had been deleted.

If, on the other hand, you capture a photo, format the card, and then capture a new photo, the would not be able to recover the first photo you captured. This example over-simplifies the situation, but I don’t think the more involved technical details would really be helpful here. The bottom line is that as long as you haven’t written new data to the “empty” space on the media, files that had been deleted can still be recovered.

For many years I’ve been recommending PhotoRescue as a great application for recovering photos from media cards. A free trial enables you to see which photos can be recovered from a given media card, so you don’t have to purchase a license until you know what you’ll be able to recover. You can find PhotoRescue here:

Note that some cameras (and most computer operating systems) also include an option to format media in a way that makes it impossible to recover data from the media. For example, some software allows you to perform what is often referred to as a “zero-fill” format, where all available space on the media is filled with the zero character as part of the formatting process. In other words, all “hidden” data is replaced with meaningless data.

But it really is true that as long as you haven’t written new data to storage media, there is a very good chance you’ll be able to recover lost photos or other data from that media using special software such as PhotoRescue.

Recovering Photos


Today’s Question: During the import of images to Lightroom from a card reader, I inadvertently removed the images. I cannot find them anywhere in Lightroom. Is there any way I can retrieve the images? Or they totally lost? To make matters worse, I have reformatted the card.

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are a couple of basic ways you should be able to locate the images from Lightroom, but if they have been removed from the catalog you’ll need to look for them directly on your hard drive. In addition, as long as you haven’t captured new images on the media card, you can recover the photos from that card using special software.

More Detail: The first thing I would do is check the Lightroom catalog to see if the photos simply got imported to a location other than what you were expecting. To begin with, in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module you’ll find a “Previous Import” collection. Clicking on that collection will show you the photos imported during the most recent import operation.

You could also try to locate the images based on filter criteria. For example, you could select the “All Photographs” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module, and then use the Library Filter (View > Show Filter Bar) to filter images based on, for example, the date of capture (or whatever other criteria you know).

If the images were removed from the Lightroom catalog but not deleted from your hard drive, you can re-import those photos from the hard drive. If you know what folder the images had been imported to, you can right-click on that folder in the Folders section of the left panel in the Library module and choose “Synchronize Folder” from the popup menu. In the dialog that appears make sure the “Import new photos” checkbox is turned on, and click the Synchronize button. Any images in the folder that are not in the Lightroom catalog will be added.

If all else fails, it is still possible to recover the photos from the media card, as long as you have not captured new photos on that card. When you delete photos from a card or (in most cases) when you format the card, the information isn’t actually deleted. Special software can recover the photos from the card. For this purpose I recommend a software application called PhotoRescue, which can be found on the DataRescue website here:

Note that there is a free trial version of PhotoRescue, so you can see which images can be recovered before you purchase a license for the software.