Ten New Features I Like in Adobe Lightroom 5

Posted June 10th, 2013 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

Lightroom 5 box

Adobe just released Lightroom 5 and it is a really nice upgrade that will make my image editing much more efficient. Here are 10 new features I really like:

1. Advanced Healing Brush. This tool is excellent and allows you to heal large areas and odd shaped. For example, if your subject has a hair out of place, then you can brush over the hair and replace it with a different area of the scene. Access this tool from the normal healing brush tool by painting over the region you want to fix.

Lightroom 5 clone tool.

Here, I’m replacing the branch of a tree by using the advanced clone tool in Lightroom 5.

2. Upright. This tool (found in the lens correction pane) automatically straightens horizons and correct keystone perspective. I’ve tried it on three images so far and it worked perfectly each time. I’ll keep testing it!

3. Radial Gradient. Allows you to emphasize parts of the image by applying fixes (tone, brightness, contrast, saturation, etc.) inside a radial gradient.

4. Smart Previews. This new feature allows you to work on images in the catalog even when your disk drive isn’t connected to the computer. This will be very beneficial for me when I’m traveling. I’ll be able to work on images on the airplane or in the field, then synchronize the results when I return to my office.

5. Full Screen. In previous versions of Lightroom I had to press an entire sequence of buttons to see an image in full screen and lights out mode (Shift-Tab, T, F, F, L, L). Now, in LR5, I just press “F” and it takes care of all the button sequences with one press. Love it.

6. PNG support. Previous versions of Lightroom only supported RAW, TIFF, and JPG images. Now, we have PNG support which makes me supremely happy. No longer do I need to convert PNG files to JPG in order to work on them in Lightroom.

7. Target Collections. LR5 allows you to designate a target collection so you can use a keyboard shortcut “B” rather than dragging images to the desired collection. This will save a bunch of time in my workflow. You’ll designate a collection as a Target Collection when you create it from the collections pane.

8. Soft Proofing. Soft proofing how includes the option to show the current image next to the proof preview image. Press the Y key, to see this action.

9. Crop Guide Aspect Ratios. This allows you to overlay different aspect ratio guide lines on the image, before you crop. That way you can quickly and easily see what the resulting image will look like with various crop ratios, all at the same time. Access this by Tools –> Crop Guide Overlay –> Choose Aspect Ratios…

10. Visualize Spots. This feature allows you to see your image as a super high contrast black and white in order to quickly identify dust spots. Tap the “A” key to access this, or click on the “Visualize Spots” box at the bottom of the picture when you have selected the Healing Brush tool. Now you can easily find and fix dust in an image.

LR5 visualize spots

The Visualize Spots tool allows you to quickly find dust spots in an image. Here, you can see the dust spot on the curved area of the Guggenheim building.

There are a few other improvements to Lightroom 5 that I haven’t had time to test, such as including video in slide shows and the improved photo book creation utility, but I’ll report back on these in future blog posts or newsletter updates.

Here’s a link to buy a boxed version from B&H:

Adobe Lightroom 5

Adobe is allowing users to buy a boxed version or purchase as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. If you are an existing LR4 user, then you can upgrade for $79. New users can purchase the complete version for $149.

Here’s a great set of videos from Lightroom Evangelist Juleanne Kost:



February 2013 Newsletter Posted

Posted February 22nd, 2013 by   |  Photography, video  |  Permalink

Head over to our newsletter page to read the February 2013 Visual Adventures Newsletter.

clearing storm

Clearing tornado storm clouds over Choctawhatchee Bay, Florda.

Topics in this month’s newsletter:

– Greetings
– Stuff I Like This Month
– Iceland and Africa 2013
– December/January GOAL Assignment: Groups
– February GOAL Assignment: Fitness Photography
– eBook Review: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom by Michael Clark
– Product Review: Sunwayfoto Tripod Head Leveling Base
– Digital Tidbits: Should You Use Adobe HDR Pro?
– Workshop and Business Updates

Direct Link: February 2013 Visual Adventures Newsletter

Sunwayfoto with Manfrotto 701HDV

Here’s the rig set up with the Manfrotto 701HDV video head.

Testing Nikon D600 Dynamic Range in Destin, Florida

Posted January 4th, 2013 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

A few days ago I took the new Nikon D600 to Destin, Florida to put it through it’s paces. My kit was simple, consisting of the D600 along with three lenses; the 14-24mm f2.8, the 24-70mm f2.8 and the 70-200mm f2.8.

One of my goals during the photo walk was to get a feel for how the camera worked for HDR photography. The D600 will only auto-bracket three frames in a sequence, compared to 9 frames in a Nikon D800 or D4. Previous Nikon pro-sumer cameras like the Nikon D7000 and the Nikon D90 also bracketed three frames in a sequence, but they were limited to two stops of exposure variation between each frame. A new feature on the D600 is that it allows up to three stops of exposure variation between each frame, which is approaching the bracketing range of the higher-end pro cameras.

I used the bracketing function on the D600 quite a bit and configured the camera to take three images, each 3.0 stops apart. This setting “3F 3.0” is just enough spread to cover most HDR scenarios such as this image of the staircase below. I performed the HDR merge in Nik HDR Efex Pro 2, then converted it to black and white in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

Black and white stairwell

Black and white stairwell along the Destin Harbor boardwalk. Nikon D600, 14-24mm f2.8.

Another one of my goals during the trip was to better understand the dynamic range of the D600 RAW files and see if its images are comparable to the Nikon D800. I’ve been amazed at what I’ve been able to pull out of the D800 (see this D800 post) so I shot a few high contrast images with the D600 that would put the camera to the test. In this first shot of the fishing boat, I shot a single frame in 14-bit RAW, then processed the shot using Adobe Lightroom and the Detail Extractor filter in Nik Color Efex Pro 4. As I expected, the D600 has an excellent ability to capture a full range from shadows to highlights.

offshore fishing boat

Offshore fishing boat in Destin Harbor, preparing to face the storm. Nikon D600, 70-200mm f2.8.

This was a pretty good result, but I wanted to really push the camera to see what was possible. For the next image, I took a severely underexposed image of a hotel and worked it over in Lightroom to see what I could pull out. Sure enough, the RAW file on a D600 had more than enough data to produce a beautiful shot. See the before/after below.

Wyndham Emerald Grande Destin

Here’s the before shot of the Wyndham Emerald Grande. Nikon D600, 14-24mm f2.8.

Wyndham Emerald Grande Destin

After processing in Lightroom 4 and Nik Color Efex Pro 4. Wyndham Emerald Grande, BMW, and palm tree. Destin, Florida. Nikon D600, 14-24mm f2.8.

I’m really liking this little Nikon D600 camera. The 24MP RAW files are excellent and I’m very pleased with the camera’s dynamic range. As I’ve said before, I love the smaller camera body for travel. This camera is a winner.

Thousands of Images, Now What? Shipping

Posted March 21st, 2012 by   |  Photography, Software, Technology  |  Permalink

Our brand new book Thousands of Images, Now What? is shipping. We’ve just received our preliminary copies of the book and will be sending out autographed copies to all of you who pre-ordered. The book looks great and I’m very happy with the final product. You can order autographed copies at our website for Out There Images Books. Or, you can order from Amazon at this link: Thousands of Images at Amazon.com.

Order your copy today of Thousands of Images, Now What? Painlessly Organize, Save, and Back Up Your Digital Photos.

Order your copy today of Thousands of Images, Now What? Painlessly Organize, Save, and Back Up Your Digital Photos.

Reader Question about Thousands of Images, Now What?

Posted February 14th, 2012 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

We have a new book title coming out during March 2012 called Thousands of Images, Now What? One of our newsletter readers asked a great question about the book:



I’m fascinated with your new book to be, “Thousands of Images, Now What?” Also the cover absolutely communicates the message of the book. Very nice.

However, there seems to be a different answer to that question, “Now What?,” depending on which software a person is going to use.

I’ve personally tried Aperture 3, Lightroom, iPhoto, View NX2, Capture NX 2 and Photoshop Elements 10, all of which I’ve used. However, my favorite is Aperture 3.

Could you give me a hint how you’re going to organize the book? Will you be surveying different post-production solutions and delineating the basics that they hold in common? Or what?

Of course, you can tell me to go jump in the lake and be patient until the book comes out.

All the best, David

Hi David –

I can’t have you jumping in the lake! That’s always bad for business, especially during winter.

My book is “software agnostic” meaning that I don’t focus on any one piece of software. Rather, I show examples throughout the book of Lightroom, Aperture, Media Pro, iPhoto, etc. Every person has different needs and personal preferences. The techniques I give pertain to Aperture as well as Lightroom. I laid out the book to show how to create an organized image collection that is independent from whatever software you use. That way, if you decide to change to Lightroom a few years down the road, your archive (images, keywords, metadata) will still be intact after the transition.

Let me know if this is the information you were looking for. If not, I’ll clarify further.

Best regards,

When to Crop in Lightroom, Aperture & Photoshop?

Posted January 13th, 2012 by   |  Photography, Software, Uncategorized  |  Permalink

The Question
Over the last few weeks I’ve been involved with three different conversations with photographers about when to crop a photo in post processing. One person suggested cropping at the beginning of the process, one suggested cropping at the end and the other just wasn’t sure.

I tend to crop differently depending on what software I’m using. The cropping process in Lightroom is different than in Photoshop because of the way they handle your image files. Let me explain:

When using Lightroom or Aperture, I can crop at any point in the process without really worrying about the workflow. The reason why is that all of the edits in LR/Aperture are applied globally and the crop doesn’t affect these settings. If you crop the image at the beginning of the process and then continue editing the image with saturation, contrast and noise reduction, then LR/Aperture allow you to change the crop later on while still applying all your settings to the entire photo.

In other words, crop instructions in LR and Aperture are only a virtual crops. They don’t really remove pixels or image data from the file. For this reason, I often crop at the beginning of the process in LR/Aperture because I know it can be easily changed or reversed.

The workflow in Photoshop is different though. When you crop an image in Photoshop, you are actually eliminating pixels from the picture. Let’s say that you decide to initially crop your photo in a square format, then convert it to black and white. Then, you do some more work on the photo such as cloning out dust or adding contrast. Finally, at the end of the editing process, you decide that you also want to create a 5×7 image with the same settings as the square crop. With Photoshop, you can’t easily to this because you cropped at the beginning. You’ll have to undo all your editing steps, crop it as a 5×7, then re-do all the editing steps. Therefore, in Photoshop, I recommend cropping at the end of the process. That way, all of your edits are in place and you can crop for output as your final step.

Take the image below as a workflow example. Notice the blown-out area of the sky in the upper right corner? I know that this isn’t going to reproduce well when printed, so I’ll need to crop it out. The question isn’t if, but when I should crop. In the Lightroom/Aperture workflow, it doesn’t matter when I crop. I can crop at the beginning or at the end of the process since all the edits I make are just instructions.

Zion Mesa Color. When working on an image in Photoshop, I'll typically apply all my edits to the entire photo, then crop at the end of the process.

Zion Mesa Color. When working on an image in Photoshop, I'll typically apply all my edits to the entire photo, then crop at the end of the process. In LR/Aperture, I'll crop at any time.

On the other hand, if I was working on the image in Photoshop, I tend to wait to the end of the process to crop. That way, my edits are applied to all the pixels, and my final step can be to crop the image for my desired output. This gives me the most flexibility with my files, since I might want to make one image as a panorama and another as a 4″x4″ square with the same settings.

Here's a black and white version of the same photo that I converted to B&W in LR3 then cropped.

Here's a black and white version of the same photo. When working in Photoshop, I crop at the end of the process.

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