Blog entries from May, 2014

A little bit more on that false dichotomy

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 at 02:30pm

I was sorting through some old files (yes, a lot like xkcd 1360) and I came across a PDF of a getting started guide for Lightroom. It is old (version 1.1) but while skimming through it I noticed this overview of the workflow:

Lightroom workflow overview

The particular thing that caught my eye was the blue “Export to Photoshop” circle to indicate that Photoshop is not the end point, this is what I was saying in my recent post about the false dichotomy between Photoshop and Lightroom.

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How I print and mount photos

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 at 09:23pm

Last night I lugged a bunch of stuff – computer, printer, mat cutter, supplies, past images – up to the camera club to do a demonstration on how I print and submit images for the monthly competitions. While I rambled on and showed things in a non-sequential manner I think that at least a couple of people got something out of the night.

In case this might be useful at other times, here are some notes from my process: (with the disclaimer that this is just my process, there are other ways to print images)

  • I was very lucky that at the time I decided to start printing my own images I was able to pick up a secondhand printer at a reasonable price.
  • From the beginning I decided to stick with genuine Epson inks.
  • I got a sample pack of different Ilford papers and did some test prints with both these and some Epson papers.
  • I decided to just use Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl paper, even though some types of images can benefit from certain types (matt, gloss, art, metallic) of paper. I looked around online to get A3+ paper at a good price.
  • Ensure that you use the profile for your paper/printer combination, you get these from the paper manufacturer.
  • I do not try to match the print against my screen, instead I care about a print that looks good.
  • Do a nozzle check if it has been a while since you last used the printer. The one time I forgot to do this there was a blocked nozzle (fixed by a head clean) that ruined a full size print.
  • Any unused areas of the A3+ sheet are salvaged into 6×4″ pieces. Test prints are made on these before committing to a full size print.
  • The size of the printed image is worked out based on the size and orientation of the mat board, the border width and allowing for a small overlap.
  • Leave a small margin above the image on the paper, this is the area that will be used for tape later.
  • Mark everything out on the back of the mat board. These markings are then lined up with the edge of the rail in the mat cutter. I cut slightly longer (both before and after) to ensure a clean cut in the corners with no tear out.
  • Only use tape across the top of the image, this allows it to float between the mat and backing, otherwise it might buckle.
  • I use double sided tape (squares in the corners, spots along the edges) to attach 3mm foam core board as the backing. As no tape is exposed it cannot peel up and cause damage when in the box with other prints.
  • The foam core board is larger than the 16×20″ mat board, this is attached and then trimmed down to the size of the mat board instead of trying to align exactly.

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Some Lightroom things

Saturday, May 10th, 2014 at 11:28pm


Back when I last upgraded my desktop I made the choice to put my “todo” photos on the SSD which I thought gave a significant speed improvement. I was wrong and over time I came to realise that the real speed improvement was on existing images, not any of the new images, they still had a small ‘Loading…’ delay.

Once I got around to looking into it I found the Lightroom Help / Optimize performance page which is a good starting point. These other 10 tips were also helpful.

Apart from tweaking settings such as the preview size, the biggest change to my process is that I intentionally render 1:1 previews. These previews are stored in the cache which is on the SSD. As the photos didn’t benefit from being on the SSD, all my photos are back on to a single drive (a WD Black so decent speeds) which benefits my import process and also the “todo” to “done” move of the photos.

Lens correction by default

A few months ago I started to apply lens correction and removal of chromatic aberration to all of the new photos. For a while I would do this by going to the first image in the import, checking the two boxes and then syncing the settings to the other images.

To automatically turn on the correction there seems to be two common methods, create a preset to use when importing or to change the default develop settings. As I don’t actually use the import workflow I opted for the latter, so from last week any image taken with a Canon 7D will have correction applied.

Convert to DNG

Whether or not to convert RAW files to DNG is one of those questions with no clear answer. Hence why I currently use RAW files, but as an experiment I will convert the photos from my next outing into DNG.

I expect to get a small (but it will add up) benefit from the slightly smaller file (around 2MB per), but the main benefit should be the embedded fast load data. Time will tell…

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The false dichotomy of “Photoshop or Lightroom?”

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 at 11:52am

If you are talking about photography post processing (be it in a camera club or online) then it is inevitable that you will be part of a debate about whether you should use Photoshop or Lightroom. As there is no simple answer don’t be surprised if things get heated.

The flaw in these debates is that Photoshop and Lightroom are not alternatives for each other. While Photoshop is a massively powerful image editor, you don’t use it to manage your photo library. On the other side while Lightroom has a great library module and gives many adjustment options, it is not an image editor.

So Photoshop and Lightroom and not alternatives, they complement each other and that shows through in how they integrate together. If you need to do something that is beyond the adjustments built into Lightroom then you can take the image out to Photoshop (or other program) and then bring it back to Lightroom for exporting or printing.

Keeping within the realm of Adobe products, instead of comparing Lightroom to Photoshop, the valid comparison is Lightroom against the combination of Bridge and Camera Raw.

So what is the harm in arguing over Lightroom or Photoshop? Apart from the time that is wasted, it can also provide incomplete information to the inexperienced photographer. This may have a greater negative impact in the long run.

What do I mean? Well, at the camera club we want to encourage beginners to be out there taking photos and submitting them in our monthly competitions with the critique feeding back into better photos in the future. To me this includes talking about concepts and effects, not the specific steps in a particular tool.

I have seen an experienced photographer demonstrate to a beginner how to add a vignette to a photo via a complex series of steps (selection, feathering, new layer, fill, opacity blending, etc) in Photoshop. The same vignette could be added in Lightroom (or Camera Raw) by moving a slider which means that the beginner could take in more about why to use a vignette than how to apply it.

My view is that a beginner should start with Lightroom to manage their photos and apply adjustments. It is only once they are much more experienced and are pushing the limits of the Lightroom adjustments that they should consider Photoshop. And don’t forget that taking the right photo in the first place is better than fiddling with post-processing.

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