Missing Thumbnails


Today’s Question: I understand the exclamation point in Lightroom’s grid view (I think) but I thought that I should still be able to see a preview even if hard drive containing image was disconnected. Can you offer a solution?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Under “normal” circumstances you should indeed be able to see the thumbnails (and even the larger previews) for all of the images in your Lightroom catalog, even when the source images are not available. For any images for which a thumbnail or preview is not displayed, rendering new previews when the source images are available should solve the problem.

More Detail: Generally speaking, the previews for your photos are generated when the images are imported into your Lightroom catalog. I recommend using the “Standard” option for previews during the import process. If you have considerable free hard drive space you can also use the “1:1” option. As long as this process completes before you quit Lightroom (or disconnect an external hard drive) the previews will be available and visible whenever you have that catalog open in Lightroom.

When thumbnails and/or previews are not available for some of the images in your Lightroom catalog, you can simply render new previews for those images. You do need to have the images available for that process to work, which means you can’t have any images that display the exclamation point indicating the source file is not available.

So, for example, if all of your photos are stored on an external hard drive, you’ll first need to connect that hard drive. You could then select the images that need to have previews rendered, but in most cases I find it easier to simply select all photos within a folder that has some missing thumbnails or previews. You could navigate to a folder with some missing previews, then choose Edit > Select All from the menu (or press Ctrl+A on Windows or Command+A on Macintosh). Then, while in the Library module, choose Library > Previews > Build Standard-Sized Previews from the menu (if you prefer full resolution previews you can choose “Build 1:1 Previews” from that menu instead).

Lightroom will show you the progress of the preview rendering on the identity plate at the far left of the top panel. When that process is complete, all of the images you build previews for will have both thumbnails and previews visible even when the source images are not currently available.

Discontinuing Creative Cloud


Today’s Question: [As a follow up to yesterday’s question about the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plans] If I don’t connect to the Internet or, maybe more to the point, if I cancel my monthly payment, what happens to the installed software on my computer and iPad?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you discontinue your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you will still have access to your original and derivative image files, but you will (for the most part) not have access to the software applications included in your Creative Cloud subscription. That applies whether you discontinue the subscription or Adobe is not able to validate that your subscription is current.

More Detail: First, allow me to underscore the point that if you discontinue your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plan you will not lose access to your source images stored on your local hard drives. If you had saved copies of your photos on Adobe’s servers as part of your online storage allowance, those files would no longer be available. And in some respects the copies of your photos used to synchronize to mobile devices would be unavailable. But your source images would not be affected by this change, and would remain on your local hard drives.

If you discontinue your Creative Cloud subscription, you won’t have access to the applications included in your subscription, such as Photoshop and Lightroom if you signed up for the Creative Cloud Photography Plan. The specific behavior differs from one application to the next. Photoshop would simply not be able to launch, for example. You would still be able to launch Lightroom, but would not be able to adjust your photos in the Develop module, among other limitations.

The applications installed on your iPad would still be available, but without a current Creative Cloud subscription plan the synchronization services would no longer be available, causing those applications to no longer be very useful.

Note that one of the terms of a Creative Cloud subscription plan is the need to connect to the Internet at least every thirty days in order to validate your subscription. In other words, if you have Creative Cloud applications installed on a computer that is offline for more than thirty days, those applications will no longer be available as outlined in the description above.

So, the bottom line is that if you discontinue your Creative Cloud subscription you will still have access to your own files, but not to the Adobe software included in your subscription plan. For Photoshop PSD files or layered TIFF images, of course, that means you may not have any software available that can properly open the files. That said, if you still have a version of the software applications that precedes the Creative Cloud versions (such as Photoshop CS6 for example) and that software still runs properly on your computer, that would enable you to mitigate most of the issues involved with no longer having access to the Creative Cloud applications.

In other words, the Creative Cloud subscription plans are really designed for you to continue paying a monthly subscription fee indefinitely, until you decide you no longer need to access the applications included in that subscription plan.

Understanding the Creative Cloud


Today’s Question: My question may seem naive but I’m only just now getting involved with the Adobe Creative Cloud. Where are my pictures located once I start using Lightroom, and how are my devices known?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This question relates to what is perhaps the greatest source of confusion regarding the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plans. With the Creative Cloud plans, the software applications you’ll use (such as Lightroom) are still installed on your computer as “normal” software, and your photos will still reside on your local hard drives based on where you have stored those photos.

More Detail: The Creative Cloud plans really only change two things compared to the “old” method of buying a license for individual software applications.

First, instead of having the option to buy the software on a DVD or other media in a retail store, or to have that media shipped to you from an online retailer, the applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud plans are downloaded from Adobe servers in order to be installed on your local hard drive. In other words, the software is still installed in the exact same way. You’re simply downloading the software for installation rather than receiving that software on a DVD or other media.

Second, the Creative Cloud plans offered by Adobe include online file storage and synchronization services. These options are in addition to your local file storage, not in place of your local storage. So, for example, you would still store all of your photos on a local hard drive, but you would have the option to save some of your files to your Creative Cloud online storage so they could be accessed from other locations, or to synchronize some of your photos so they could be accessed from Lightroom on a mobile device or through a web browser.

You don’t actually need to be connected to the Internet to make use of the various software applications (such as Lightroom) that are included in the Creative Cloud plans. You do need to connect to the Internet at least once very thirty days so Adobe can confirm that your Creative Cloud plan has not expired, but otherwise you can continue to work with the installed software applications while offline.

So, the Creative Cloud plans change the licensing structure from a per-upgrade price to a monthly subscription fee, they change the way the software is delivered for installation, and they provide some additional online benefits. But once you have installed one or more applications that are included in your Creative Cloud plan, those applications will operate as “normal” applications just like any others you’ve installed on your computer, and your photos will remain wherever you’ve stored them.

Evaluating Sharpness


Today’s Question: In your “Evaluating Photos” video you discuss zoom for sharpness and you say that you should always zoom to a 1:1 ratio when doing so. Does the absolute need for sharpness have any relation to the eventual size of your print? That is, if I am going to print a 4×6, can I get away with the photo being not quite as sharp as when I am going to print larger sizes? At what size, if any, does sharpness become an absolute necessity?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I would say that the size of the print doesn’t change the need for sharpening, but rather changes the nature of the sharpening you should apply. For a larger print, for example, you will need stronger sharpening than would be necessary for a smaller print. But in almost all cases, sharpening is a necessary step in preparing a photo for print.

More Detail: When sharpening a photo that you are going to print, you’re not just compensating for the factors that reduce sharpness in the original capture, but also for the factors that reduce the apparent sharpness of the final print. Those factors contribute to a situation where it can be very difficult to evaluate sharpening settings for a photo without actually printing that photo.

The size of the final print certainly has a big impact on the sharpening settings, because it has an impact on the size of transitions for the detail and texture in your photo. There is also a secondary impact due to the viewing distance, since larger prints tend to be viewed from a greater distance (though that obviously is not always the case).

In addition, you need to consider the print process you are using. This includes a consideration of the type of printer being used, the type of ink being used, and the paper surface you are printing to. As just one example, in general you will need to apply stronger sharpening to a photo being printed to a matte paper surface than you would need to apply to the same photo being printed to a glossy paper surface. That is because with matte papers the inks will generally spread out more when they come in contact with the paper (this behavior is generally referred to as “dot gain”).

Even with a photo that was captured with perfect sharpness, you will still generally need to apply sharpening to the final image based on the output size and print conditions. Because of these factors, it is difficult to evaluate the sharpening settings based on a review of the photo on your computer’s display.

However, with a bit of experience you’ll start to understand the degree to which you need to “over-sharpen” the image based on the on-screen appearance in order to produce the best print for the output size and paper type you’re printing to, for example. With that experience, I do recommend evaluating the image at a 1:1 (100% zoom) setting in order to ensure the most accurate evaluation of the sharpening effect. But again, it does take some experience to be able to effectively evaluate those results based on the display of the image on your computer monitor.

Filtering by Date Range


Today’s Question: You said [in yesterday’s edition of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter] that you could easily filter photos by date or by a date range. I’m stuck on the “date range” part. I’m using Lightroom, and sometimes want to be able to see photos from several days within a single trip. How can I filter by a date range in Lightroom?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When using the Metadata options for the Library Filter in Lightroom, you can easily select multiple criteria within a given column. To select a range of value, click the first value and then hold the Shift key and click on the last value, and all values in between will be selected. To toggle the selection of an individual item on a list, you can hold the Ctrl key on Windows or the Command key on Macintosh while clicking on an item to select or deselect that item.

More Detail: In the context of dates, you have considerable flexibility in terms of being able to select ranges of dates or a collection of random dates, as well as being able to select dates based on year, month, or day.

So, for example, you could filter images so you can see only those from 2013, 2014, and 2015 by first clicking on 2013 and then holding the Shift key and clicking in 2015. This will cause all of the years in between to be selected as well, so that you’ve defined a range of years.

You could also select individual years, months, or days within the range for the currently available images. So, for example, if you wanted to see the photos from Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a given photo trip, you could click on the applicable Monday date, then hold the Ctrl key on Windows or the Command key on Macintosh while clicking on Wednesday, and then hold the Ctrl/Command key again and click on Friday.

Note, by the way, that you can click the “spinner” control (the triangle icon) to the left of any year or month in order to expand or collapse the dates below. So, for example, if you collapse all of the years using the applicable spinner controls, you could have a list of only years. Or you could expand the years and all of the months so you can see the dates for all photos on a per-day basis.

By adjusting which values you’re able to see at any given moment on the date list, and then select specific ranges or individual values by using the Shift key to define ranges or the Ctrl/Command key to toggle additional values. The list of photos displayed will be filtered based on the criteria you have selected within the Library Filter controls.

Organizing Files by Type


Today’s Question: I used to take everything in JPEG, then I moved to taking everything in JPEG and RAW, and now I take everything in RAW only. So I have a mix. What do you think is the best way to manage a mix of JPEG, RAW, and video captures in terms of folder structure? Do you suggest keeping individual folders for the RAW, JPEG, and video files, or would you mix RAW and JPEG in the one folder for the one shoot?

Tim’s Quick Answer: My personal preference is to use my folder structure as an organizational tool on a per trip or photo shoot basis, and not divide my photos up any further based on date, file format, or other criteria. So in this type of situation I would keep all of the photos from a given shoot, whether RAW, JPEG, or video clips, in the same folder.

More Detail: It is important to keep in mind that with today’s image management software we are able to filter our photos and video clips in a wide variety of ways. You can filter by date of capture, by file type, by camera model, by lens model, and any of a number of other factors. This plays a significant role in my decision to keep all photos and videos from a given shoot in the same folder. This approach provides greater flexibility, in my view.

When I want to see all of the photos from a given shoot, I can simply select that folder and turn off any filters. When I want to filter the images based on particular criteria, I can very easily do that. So to me it simply makes more sense (and helps avoid confusion) to use folders only for dividing images based on a trip or photo shoot, and to use filters to otherwise choose which specific images I’m able to see at a given moment.

Part of my motivation here is to streamline my workflow, and to ensure that I am not duplicating criteria unnecessarily. For example, I don’t need to divide the photos from a single trip into individual folders by date, because I can very easily filter by date (or a date range) once I have navigated to a given folder. And in situations where I want to be able to search among all photos from a given multi-day trip, having a single folder from the trip provides a benefit.

To be sure, different photographers have different perspectives and different priorities when it comes to organizing their photos and video clips. You may read my explanation here and decide you want to take a very different approach to folder structure. Frankly, I consider any folder structure that works for you is a great solution. I just feel it is important to consider the factors involved and make sure the approach you’re using really is the best approach based on your individual needs and preferences.

Disable Photos Auto-Launch


Today’s Question: I use Lightroom on a Macintosh, which means I also have the Apple Photos app, which I don’t use. Do you know of a way to stop the Photos app from launching every time I connect a camera or insert a card in a card reader?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The solution here is to turn off the “Open Photos for this device” checkbox on the Import tab in Photos. The catch is that you’ll need to do this for every photo device you might connect to the computer. The alternative is to remove the Photos application altogether.

More Detail: You may have been simply closing the Photos application each time it launches, meaning you may have never actually gotten into the “full” application. So, next time you connect a camera or other device with photos, go ahead and click the “Get Started” button to enter the full application. Then, in the Import tab you’ll see your device listed on the toolbar, with a checkbox for “Open Photos for this device”. Turn off that checkbox, and Photos will no longer launch when you connect that specific device.

Again, as noted above, you’ll need to repeat this step for every photo device (cameras, smartphones, card readers, etc.) that you connect to your computer. But once you’ve turned off the “Open Photos for this device” checkbox for all devices the Photos application won’t launch when you connect those devices to your computer.

And, of course, if you’re not going to use the Photos application at all, you could uninstall it from your computer. Of course, chances are a future operating system update will cause Photos to be installed yet again.

Image Size versus Canvas Size


Today’s Question: I was wondering if you could explain the differences in Photoshop of canvas size and image size. I am confused as to their differences especially when printing. For example I would like to print as an 8×10 on 11.5 x 8.5 with an even white border all around. Is that possible?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Both the Image Size and Canvas Size commands in Photoshop allow you to change the overall dimensions of an image, but they operate in different ways. I think the best way to understand each of these commands is to consider when you would use each of them. The Image Size command is used when you want to change the size of an image, such as to print at a different size than the native pixel dimensions of the image. The Canvas Size command is used for adding space around a photo or essentially cropping the image by reducing the available space.

More Detail: For example, let’s assume you have an image that is currently sized at 8-inches by 12-inches at 300 pixels per inch (2,400 by 3,600 pixels). If you want to print that image at 20-inches by 30-inches, you need to change the pixel dimensions of the actual image. In other words, the image needs to be “stretched” to contain 6,000 by 9,000 pixels. In the process, pixel values need to be calculated for all of the “in between” pixels that are created when the photo is enlarged.

The Canvas Size command allows you to add space around an image, or to effectively crop an image. So, for example, let’s assume you want to print a photo at 11-inches by 17-inches, but on a 13-inch by 19-inch sheet of paper. This doesn’t actually require you to add canvas around the photo. If you print an image sized at 11×17 inches to a sheet of paper that is 13×19 inches, centering the printed image will automatically result in empty space around the photo.

However, let’s assume you want to have a colored border around the outside of the image, to simulate an effect similar to matting the image. You could use the Canvas Size command to add two inches to the width and height of the image, using an underlying color layer to apply the color to the “extra” space that is created around the photo.

What all of this really means is that for most photographers with typical workflows, the Image Size command is the only command you need when you need to adjust the output size of a photo. The Canvas Size command, however, can be very helpful in certain specialized situations, where you’re essentially going beyond simply working with the image and instead performing some tasks related to page layout.

15 Years of Ask Tim Grey!


Today marks the 15-year anniversary of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter.

cropped-ATGLogoCircle1.pngI had no idea what I was getting myself into when I sent out that first email newsletter. Little did I know I would still be answering questions from photographers through that email newsletter fifteen years later, and that writing those emails would become a major focus of my working life. The time has flown by very quickly, and we’ve seen so much change along the way!

Early questions in the email newsletter (which was called “Digital Darkroom Questions” way back then) related mostly to scanning slides, processing scanned slides in Photoshop, and understanding the potential of digital cameras and when they might replace film.

Today, many of the questions relate to image management, photography, and better understanding the technologies that influence our photography. We’ve transitioned from low-resolution (and heavy!) digital SLR cameras that seemed better at generating noise than creating photographs, to smartphones with greater resolution and higher image quality that fit in our pocket.

I’ve written over 3,000 editions of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter (3,029 as of now, to be exact). I don’t know how any photographers find the time to read the emails, much less how I manage to find the time to write them. But it is so wonderful to have photographers tell me they appreciate the effort.

On more than one occasion when I’ve missed a day or two of the email newsletter due to a hectic schedule, I’ve had photographers write to make sure I was OK, indicating they were worried at the absence of the emails. And a great many photographers have told me how much they enjoy reading the daily emails with their morning cup of coffee.

As a way of celebrating this milestone, I’ve teamed up with some partners to provide discounts on products and services I’ve become a fan of over the years. I am also providing a special offer on a GreyLearning subscription.

You can get all of the details about special “15-Year Anniversary” discounts here:


I am extremely grateful to all photographers who let me into their Inbox with the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter. I appreciate the support I have received and the kind words I’ve heard from photographers for fifteen years and counting. Thank you so very much.

Here’s to another fifteen years!

Tim Grey

Tim Grey

Version Mismatch


Today’s Question: With Adobe not updating Photoshop CS6 with the new profiles, but updating them in Lightroom 6 I now have some questions to ask. When I want to edit an image in Lightroom 6 using Photoshop CS6, I get three options:

1) Render using Lightroom (which gets me a file by the name of filename-Edit.psd)
2) Open Anyway (which gets me a file by the name of filename.psd)
3) Cancel

What is happening with 1 & 2? What conversion am I getting with each?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The choices presented to you translate into whether you want Lightroom (the first option) or Photoshop (the second option) to process the RAW capture. In this case Lightroom has a more recent version of Camera Raw, so you are better off using the “Render Using Lightroom” option.

More Detail: The core issue here is that Lightroom and Photoshop do not have the same version of Camera Raw. As you may be aware, both Photoshop and Lightroom use Camera Raw as the processing engine for RAW captures. When both Lightroom and Photoshop are using the same version of the underlying Camera Raw engine, you will get the exact same results when processing a RAW capture in either Photoshop or Lightroom, and all of the same features will be available.

When there is a mismatch between the version of Camera Raw available in Photoshop and Lightroom, you need to choose which version should be used to process your RAW capture. In this case Lightroom will have a later version of Camera Raw than Photoshop CS6 will have, and so you are better off using Lightroom to process the RAW capture in order to ensure that all of the adjustments you’ve applied within Lightroom will actually be applied to the rendered image.

If you’re concerned about the “-Edit” being added to the filename by Lightroom, that is easy to remove. For derivative images that have already been created, you can simply choose the Rename Photo command from the Library menu after selecting an image in Lightroom. To cause Lightroom to no longer add the “-Edit” text to the filename of derivative images, you can change the Template settings in the Preferences dialog.

To change the file naming template for derivative images, first choose Preferences from the Lightroom menu on the Macintosh version of Lightroom or from the Edit menu on the Windows version of Lightroom. Click the button for the External Editing tab in the Preferences dialog, and then choose Edit from the Template popup at the bottom of the dialog.

In the Filename Template Editor dialog that appears, you can then change the settings for the filename template for derivative images. For example, you could simply remove the “-Edit” text from the template if you want to retain the base filename with a new filename extension (TIF or PSD depending on which file format you’ve chosen to use). Then click the Done button to close the Filename Template Editor dialog, and close the Preferences dialog. Images sent to any external editor (including Photoshop) from that point forward will be named based on the changes you’ve made.