Tag: post-capture

A great way to learn and master Lightroom is here

Coming in April – the Lightroom Visual Guide: a screen-by-screen, module-by-module look at how to make best use of Lightroom.

Lightroom is the tool digital photographers have been waiting for and in version 3, it has matured to become essential for any photographer shooting more than a few hundred images per year. It brings together the power of non-destructive editing based on Adobe Camera Raw with an extensive and powerful database for keeping track of tens of thousands of raw, jpeg, psd and tiff files & videos. But LR is not as easy as dragging a few sliders – there’s a learning curve to customizing your workflow for high quality, repeatable results. The Lightroom Visual Guide will get you there!

In PDF format for use on-screen or printed out, the Lightroom Visual Guide provides panel-by-panel and palette-by-palette assistance to make active use of the many buttons, menus, and options available. Each of the five modules – Library, Develop, Slideshow Print, Web – has dedicated pages with explanations of each of the many palettes and panels. As well, there are pages for setting-up LR preferences, identity plates, renaming templates, exporting and more.

In the Lightroom Visual Guide you’ll find pages dedicated to:

  • Preferences, Set-up & Customization
  • Import View
  • Library Module
  • Develop Module, Palettes & Adjustment Tools
  • Slideshow Module
  • Print Module and Printer settings
  • Web Module
  • Export Options
  • Black & White processing

Everything you need to be successful with Lightroom. And the best part of it is – until March 31st you can purchase the Lightroom Visual Guide PDF for the special pre-publication price of only $5.00.

Visit my website now to download a sample page and place your order. You will not find a simpler, more comprehensive way to finally master what has become the industry-standard for serious and professional digital photographers.

Low Price of Aperture a huge draw

I can’t believe the price of Aperture – since the opening of the new Mac App store, the price has dropped to $79. What a deal and definitely worth the investment if you have a Mac more recent than my MacBook Pro of 2008.

My main complaint with Aperture was its slow response at times – a product of my MacBook more than anything else. In fact, recently, I’ve noticed a slow down and spinning ball with Lightroom at times, to the point where I’ve had to do a Force Quit. Lightroom seems to hang when inadvertently going to Web Module for All Photographs (totally over 20,000).

What I love about Aperture it is fantastic healing brush – far superior to the lame “Spot Removal” in Lightroom. It’s worth having it around just for that feature – but then there are the superb Apple books – unparalleled in the publishing world except at double the price.

December Photo Newsletter is hot off the press!

This Month’s Article

It’s that time of year again – time to look back over the past 12 months to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve left undone. I’m going to do a little of that here, but with a twist.

One of the great features of Lightroom, besides its intuitive Develop, Web, Print and Slideshow modules, is the Metadata section of the Library Module. I’ve been accused of over-analyzing situations, but this is one of those times when I think it’s helpful to throw a bit of analysis into an area that we’ve never really been able to before.

Up until the release of photo library applications like Aperture and Lightroom, photographers could only get a rough idea of “how” they shoot – the lens or focal length and aperture used most often. Now, that data can be quantified.

Read on >> luxBorealis December Photo Newsletter

Lightroom Update

Now that I have over 25,000 images in various Lightroom catalogues, I can perhaps give you a better perspective on how well it’s keeping up.

In a word – amazingly well! Sorry, that’s two words.

Every time I open and work with Lightroom (3.x especially) and push it a little further, I discover nuances in its work flow or tools that make life easier. I am working on a draft of an article describing my Lightroom workflow that, once finished, should help photographers to better understand how and why it is better option than Photoshop (CS or Elements), Picasa, etc.

16.000+ images in one catalogue does not slow it down at all. I do not use a desktop workstation – only a MacBook Pro laptop. To save hard drive space, only my catalogue is on the hard drive – my photos are on a portable (3.5″) 500 GB external USB hard drive which is literally plug-and-play.

For the first time, I have all of my images at my fingertips – anyone or group of which can be called up by keyword or text search in a matter of seconds!! Brilliant!

Some of these images are raw files, tiffs and jpgs made 8 years ago on an early 5MP digital camera. They have come alive in a far superior way and in far fewer key strokes than when I first processed them through Photoshop. It is like re-discovering old negs!

I have a number of different catalogues: a luxBorealis catalogue for my fine art and stock images and a catalogue for each of my clients.

So far, I am, at the touch of a few keys, producing web galleries, prints, slideshows, Flickr uploads and email-sized images. These processes have been customized by creating and tweaking  a number of presets – perhaps Lightroom’s single greatest feature. While I have found presets on the ‘net, they have been most helpful in providing a starting point for fine tuning according to my tastes. The bottom line is that once you have something you like – create a preset of it. Then, when you tweak it to make it even better, right-click and “Update with Current Settings”.

Enough for now. I don’t own shares in Lightroom, nor am I paid by Adobe or anyone else for saying this, but I can’t help thinking how much more productive I am now that I am using Lightroom for processing my images..

luxBorealis Photo Newsletter Hot Off the Press!

Here is the very first issue of what I hope is a monthly photo newsletter. While it is geared to those living in the Guelph – K-W-Cambridge – Hamilton-Burlington area, photographers from all over should find something of interest. It is in PDF format – download it and have a look. Your feedback is welcome!

Here is the link: http://luxborealis.com/newsletter/luxBorealis-2010-06-JuneH.pdf

luxBorealis.com Photo Newsletter - June 2010

iPad for Photographers

A number of people keep asking me how I like Apple’s new iPad. Frankly, I love it and would have one except it’s not quite there, yet, for photographers. To make it truly useful as a content generator (as opposed to its current configuration as a content provider), I think it needs the following:

  • larger HD – 64 GB doesn’t cut it when I have 12GB of music alone,not to mention apps plus docs; photos and slideshows take space!
  • more efficient USB support for external HDs – I keep all my raw images on a portable HD; only my Lightroom catalogue is on the computer but even the data for it takes 8GB
  • multitasking – it appears to be here with iOS 4.0 – we’ll have to see how efficient it is
  • LR for iPad for ingesting images (2 USB ports needed – one for the camera, t’other for the portable HD), cataloguing; even some initial processing should be possible
  • a larger screen would be wonderful – preferably 16:9 ratio.

I know, I’m not asking for much. If you read this Steve, please take note!

Aperture vs Lightroom – Decision Time!

So the winner is…

I’ll get to that in a moment. This process of comparing the two apps has been a great learning process. Each of them has their strengths and weaknesses. What is unfortunate is that although both manage photos very well, surprisingly, neither of them has the processing side nailed down as well as technology current allows. In other words, what is arguable the whole point of this exercise – producing the highest-possible quality of photographs – is not done perfectly in either application.

Both apps are missing what I deem to be a key feature: Transformation. I am not much a city person, but when I photograph buildings, I want to correct the inherent perspective distortion. I don’t usually remove all of it as I do want the give the impression of size and distance. This is only possible in Photoshop. Even Photoshop Elements has it, so Lightroom and Aperture should have it as well!!!

Lightroom lacks a truly useful spotting brush; it is still back in the days of a round-only, spot-only dust removal system. I don;t have a problem with dust – my problem is with errant twigs and stems of grasses. Aperture’s Retouch brush is a true brush that allows you to work with long, thin distractions such as twigs, powerlines and hairs – even iPhoto, Apple’s free photo app, has this feature! C’mon Adobe – this is a no-brainer. Just add your Photoshop Healing Brush to Lightroom!! Again, even Elements has this feature – surely Lightroom should, too!

Aperture is slow to use. I can’t count the number of times I get a spinning ball waiting for full res images to load (MBP 15″ 2.4Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo w/ 4GB RAM and nothing else open!). If I have to wait like this I would never be able to wade through all my images. Aperture has a superior GUI, though; e.g. the image filmstrip comes up on the left side – proportionately, I have more left-right screen real estate so putting on the side makes better use of my space.

I also love Aperture’s brushes and their implementation. Anything can be a brush and can be painted in or out. However,  in Lightroom I find it helpful to be able to turn on or off the mask created through using the Adjustment Brush. As well, having multiple changes using one brush is very helpful; e.g. I can increase exposure and contrast and decrease saturation all in one easily editable brush.

Ultimately, my decision is to use Lightroom for four main reasons:

  • Aperture is too slow in reacting to rather simple changes;
  • Lightroom allows Adjustment Brush “multi-tasking”;
  • Lightroom has a graduated filter – I use graduated filters frequently in landscape images;
  • Lightroom is backwards-compatible with all my previously-processed the raw files created using Bridge and ACR. Switching to Aperture would mean having to redo past images.

So, for those who have been following this saga, there you have it. It’s Lightroom – and, may I point out, Lightroom 2. I have downloaded Lightroom 3 Beta and will commit to it when it is a full version, but this comparison was actually between Lightroom 2 and Aperture 3 – rather telling.

In the near future, I will add a Lightroom workflow to give a sense of how I make use of the app.


The new header was made from within Lightroom 2 using the LR/Mogrify2 plugin from Timothy Armes found at the Photographer’s Toolbox. Great app and it’s donationware, so please donate to Timothy to get full access to it. Wonderful as it is, I still needed Photoshop to create the luxBorealis.com in the font I chose as LR/Mogrify2 only recognizes .ttf fonts and doesn’t, as yet, add stokes to fonts. BTW it would be nice to have drop shadows for fonts and images, too (just in case you’r reading this, Timothy!)


I’ve been taking a bit of heat from the Apple community about not supporting Aperture. Let me assure everyone that I am a staunch Apple supporter and have been for 20 years now, starting with a Mac Classic! I have used Mac and Windows for the same length of time and will always be a Mac.

More on Aperture and Lightroom

Okay – I’m still not satisfied with either.

I just finished an afternoon shoot of 100 shots – all done in raw. I have processed them using 3 different methods: ACR 5.x via Bridge; Lightroom 2.6 and Aperture 3.0. Here’s what I found:

  • In ACR 5.x I zipped through them – mostly because I am thoroughly familiar with the keyboard shortcuts. I did some Exposure correction, some Auto Exposure, some Adjustment Brush, some Graduated Mask very quickly and efficiently;
  • In Lightroom, I was slowed down slightly due to being less familiar with the keyboard shortcuts however I picked them up rather quickly, specifically K for Adjustment Brush and M for Graduated Filter
    • I did find Lightroom a bit frustrating in that I couldn’t simply tab to exposure values like I could in ACR – I had to trackpad over and click in the Exposure box. I found I could use the L and R cursor keys which sped things up somewhat, but I didn’t like the intervals as much
    • I also noticed that the scale for the Graduated Filter changed from whole numbers to decimal numbers – perhaps due to previous masks I created in ACR. It seems odd that the numerical value should change like this.
    • If I want to print jpegs to file, I should be able to save them to a different folder using the same filename – Lightroom won’t let me unless I “Export” the jpegs using a somewhat less sophisticated interface – similar to the ACR interface for saving images. While creating and running a Photoshop action through Bridge may sound intimidating – I can ensure exactly what my output will be like in every regard – but than I can through Export, yet similar to “Print to File” but with the bonus of keeping my naming structure.
    • I still can’t get used to the dark grey interface
    • on my MacBook Pro Intel 2.4GHz laptop, Lightroom still hesitates a few seconds before I can interact with each new raw image – there is no hesitation in ACR 5.x. In fact, ACR, the Adjustment Brush and GRaduated mask pins appear immediately
    • Perhaps it is my incompetence with the Lightroom interface, but I don’t find it intuitive to synchronize adjustments over a series of images without having to create a preset.
    • As with all computer monitors, I have more Left-Right real estate then Top-Bottom so I would like the thumbnails to be along the left like they are in ACR. I like the way they “Hide” along the bottom, but I don’t need the Presets found along the left as often as I need the Thumbnails.
  • In Aperture… WHERE IS THE GRADUATED FILTER?? I’ve just gotten so used to using it. This is pretty much a deal-killer for me using Aperture as a total solution. Also…
    • the Auto Exposure setting does a much better, cleaner job than in Lightroom
    • I don’t like the Hot-Cold cutoffs – even set at 100% I have clipping if any one colour is at 253 pixels. I would prefer to set the Hot and Cold thresholds to Luminance as I have done with the Histogram (why can’t the two settings be tied into one another?)
    • Perhaps it is my incompetence with the Aperture interface, but I don’t find it intuitive to synchronize adjustments over a series of images. With ACR and Lihtroom I set the adjustments for one image, select all and click on “Synchronize” to have one, some or all of the adjustments applied to the other images.
    • Perhaps it is the Browser that could use some work… When I select images,  I don’t see any change to indicate the images that are and are not selected. I iPhoto, a thin yellow line appears around the selected images – in Aperture, nothing. Even Lightroom the borders go light grey to indicate selected image.

So where does this leave me? Well, I’m back to square one – that is, I’m not totally satisfied with either Lightroom or Aperture and I am not yet ready to move from Photoshop-Bridge-ACR to either. If anyone out there has some insights into this I would appreciate hearing from you.

    Getting closer to an Aperture-Lightroom Decision

    I’ve working both sides of the Aperture-Lightroom street as of late and am not totally satisfied with either – yet.

    For example, today I shot some RAW images and thought I would use both to see how they come up. Now, I’m not an entirely stupid person, but I did have some trouble working with IPTC data in both apps. In Aperture, I first had trouble even importing the images from a file that already existed on my hard drive (I uploaded the images through Bridge, first). It kept showing me an empty folder until I closed and re-opened Aperture. Secondly, IPTC data I thought I had added during import didn’t show. Adding it afterwards was no trouble.

    The trouble I had with Lightroom was that data I entered for one image would not copy to other images – syncing metadata just didn’t want to work. I also had trouble de-selecting images after doing a “Select All”. Very frustrating – especially when doing the same in Bridge/ACR is so easy.

    There are a few features that are driving me towards Aperture:

    1. I love the brighter interface of Aperture – I’ve set it to light grey with a white background. I find that if I use a grey or black background in my images, I don’t brighten them enough. Perhaps it’s my grounding in the wet darkroom, but I want to be able to compare the near white in my image to pure white which I get from the background. Lightroom comes across as “Darkroom” – with its dark grey facade, I feel like I am looking down a tunnel or through a cheap pair of binoculars at my image in middle between the Catalogue stuff on the left and the Adjustment panes on the right. So, for now, I am hiding the Catalogue panes in LR.
    2. I love how easy it is to switch between Library, Metadata and Adjustments in Aperture. W-W-W – it is also done with no delay, unlike LR which takes its time to switch modes.
    3. I have found one of the most intuitive ways of adding border and titles to, for my purposes, web images like the one here – a great plugin called BorderFX: http://www.iborderfx.com/. If you are still doing borders and titles with Photoshop – here’s a better way. It was one of the peeves with Aperture that Lightroom seemed to have the edge on (kind of) – but this is even better than LR’s print to file with it’s Identity Plate.
    4. I prefer Aperture’s adjustments and adjustment brushes to LRs in that you can add a brush for anything without leaving where you are.

    However, there are some aspects of Lightroom I like better:

    1. I like the hide-away panels in LR. I prefer editing in full screen mode with a clean desktop – as few distractions as possible. Aperture also gives me that, but having the hide-away filmstrip at the bottom of LR is helpful.
    2. I find creating Presets to be more intuitive in LR.
    3. Also the Print “mode” is wonderful to work with.

    One downer about Aperture is the very slow response time (on my Intel MacBook Duo Core 2.4GHz, 4GB ram) when using a number of operations – especially sharpening with the loupe open. OMG it’s slooooooooow!

    So, where am I going with this – I don’t know quite yet. Overall, Bridge + ACR is still more intuitive to me than either. I print enlargements using an online service and books using full resolution jpegs I import into iPhoto. My cataloguing systems does need an overhaul. I am still suing folders with YYYYMMDD-DescriptiveTitle despite all of my images being keyworded and described. So I am wasting the keywords if I can’t actually search a database for images with specific keywords – so one or t’other would be ideal for that.

    I think I need a few more weeks of playing.

    Lightroom 3 and Aperture 3 – Is it time to switch? – Updated

    What a dilemma…

    First of all, let me explain. For years I have used Photoshop to process my digital photos. Quite simply, it has been the best, albeit not always the most intuitive, method of processing. My roots, however, are as a darkroom practitioner developing black and white RC and fibre-based papers to archival standards as well as colour prints from slides using traditional and Cibachrome processes. In other words, I have a bit of a history but have found that the work I did in the darkroom all those years ago has allowed me to better understand and take advantage of things like colour temperature, colour balance, burning, dodging and , more importantly, layers and masking.

    When Photoshop evolved into CS with Bridge and Camera Raw the ensuing improvements in productivity, efficiency and quality for digital photographers was astounding, especially with the most recent 5.x Camera Raw. So now, all my raw images are processed and quite neatly organized in folders by year and by shooting date – YYYYMMDD-DescriptiveTitle – and visually as jpegs in iPhoto. I can find just about any photo in my collection of thousands within a few key strokes and the popping in of a DVD.

    TMI – right?!? Perhaps, but it’s important to aware of my journey to this point of considering whether or not to adopt Lightroom or Aperture as my primary agent for processing photos. No doubt, many readers have faced the same dilemma or may be facing it now. Or perhaps you’re trying to decide whether or not to upgrade from iPhoto or Photoshop Elements. I realize that “my system” of Bridge-ACR-Photoshop (although much less of Photoshop with recent improvement in ACR) works well for me right now, but I’m curious to know if there are any additional efficiencies and/or image quality improvements available through the use of Lightroom or Aperture. So for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been both apps through their paces. This coincides with my teaching of a Digital Darkroom course that encapsulates best workflow practices that can be applied to any app for digital editing.

    It didn’t take me long to realise the most significant of shortcomings of both Lightroom 3 and Aperture 3. It is, perhaps, the most compelling reason for me not switching previously. I don’t mean to be negative right off the bat, but I don’t want to bore you with the same descriptions everyone else writes of how wonderful the editing features are (and they really are!) only to leave the problems to the end. So here goes…

    The deal killer for me is quite simply the complete lack of perspective and lens correction tools – neither Lightroom 3 nor Aperture 3 have them. Now, I don’t shoot a lot of buildings that require “Free Transform”, “Perspective”, “Skew” and the lot, but I’ll be damned if I spend the money on a high level “Pro” app that doesn’t have it when it’s built into the $99 Photoshop Elements!! This goes for Lens Corrections as well. We all have wideangle zooms that would benefit from a little barrel distortion correction to straighten out curved horizons or sidewalk curbs that are near the top or bottom edge. These problems come with even mid- and high-end zooms – so why does the professional photographic community need to rely on a consumer app like Photoshop Elements to correct for something that fundamentally should be correctable from within Lightroom or Aperture.

    What I love about both apps are the following:

    • having a visual Library or Catalogue of images right at my disposal without having to switch to iPhoto (which I currently use for my visual library since it is free and, actually, quite powerful)
    • seamless and efficient development of images using easy to create and save presets – something ACR is lacking
    • the previews that are provided when I hover over certain selections (e.g Presets)
    • full screen edit modes with few or no distractions
    • great spot removal

    What is surprising is that 95% of the editing I now do is within Camera Raw 5.x (not the one that comes with Photoshop Elements as it lacks some key controls like Adjustment Brushes, Gradients and Snapshots). I really only go into Photoshop now for  initial lens distortion corrections and perspective and some healing brush work that can’t be done in ACR. I also use it, from time to time, to create more striking on-screen and web photos with hairlines, titles and white, matt-like borders around images. But this is a more “graphics” use (as opposed to photo processing) something that PS was designed for.

    Could I live without Photoshop CS4? If Lightroom or Aperture included the deal killers I’ve identified – quite possibly. However, I still might miss the Actions within Photoshop that allow me to quickly create the hairline, title and matt borders around photos for on-screen presentations as well as quick jpeg sharpening and a few other things. I can also do some pretty neat things with art filters. But for straight photography, Lightroom and Aperture are almost there. Of course, I could always make the switch to Lightroom or Aperture and keep a copy of Photoshop Elements on hand for the transformations I still use. But what to do about the actions… hmmmmm.


    Okay – so I’ve figured out how to output jpegs with a hairline, title and white border – at least in Lightroom. Aperture doesn’t have quite this capability. (Surprisingly, Aperture doesn’t have quite the finesse – unusual for an Apple app – it will put a caption or title underneath, centred but only in black type).

    Cooper's Hawk