Getting Started Editing in LR Mobile

By Mark

Late breaking development (so to speak), Adobe today announced that you can now show RAW HDR from the LR Mobile camera app.  Wait, you didn’t know LR Mobile had a camera app?   Well that will be much farther down the listing of topics, giving all of you something to look forward to.

LR Mobile can edit your pictures in a couple of different ways.  First it can serve as a non-destructive method for editing the images on your camera roll.  Secondly, it can edit the photos from your desktop connection which you have chosen to be synchronized.  It is that second category which is amazing, because LR is really working on the very small smart preview file and not on the larger image, but when it synchronizes, the changes you applied are reflected on your image and in the history for that image.

Let’s start with just a basic example.  I shot this not so great image in a restaurant with my iPhone.  The white balance is really off, as my model was not suffering from jaundice.  Just a quick adjustment and now she looks normal, well as normal as our beloved Kaitlyn can be.

Here is a basic image I shot last fall at the LHS football game.  It was a pretty sunset, but the image didn’t quite capture the full range of color.

One of the first editing tasks is usually just selecting and culling the ones you want to work on.  LR allows you to use the same pick or reject flags and/or rating stars.  You then can then filter them quickly, allowing you to focus on only the images worth your time to edit. 

First let’s talk about the basic editing controls at the bottom of the screen:

Filmstrip-does exactly what you expect and opens up a scrollable filmstrip of whatever group of images you are working on.

Crop- allows you to change the aspect ratio of your image using a set of predefined ratios, or you can grab the edges of your image via the control box, or you can rotate the image via the little wheel underneath your image.


Presets- opens up a selection of sub menus with common recipes for adjusting an image; Creative, Color, B&W, Detail, Effect, and Camera

Edit- opens the equivalent of the basic develop module panel from your desktop version.  Over on the left side, underneath the aperture icon are the advanced features we’ll talk about next time.

Everything above applies global changes to the whole image.  They have now added a new Selective control, which lets you apply limited adjustments for those basic panels.  You use your fingers like a brush and can apply multiple fixes. 

That’s a lot of material just in the basic features, so go off and play with your images. Remember, you can’t really hurt anything.

Starting with Lightroom Mobile

By Mark

Last week we started discussing the family of mobile device apps developed by Adobe.  For me, the one I use the most must be LR mobile.  It is not intended to be replacement for the desktop version.  That being said, you can do more and more editing on the app, and with the latest release, Adobe has even introduced their own interface to the device’s camera which shoots and processes native RAW format images.  The app works on iPads, iPhones and Android devices. 

LR Mobile allows you to edit, rate, present images while on the go.  The software doesn’t directly edit your images, aside from the ones taken on your device, instead it works on the “Smart Preview” thumbnail. These are much smaller files, but they are linked back to your main catalog on your computer.  Changes you make in LR mobile, will change those images, once your device is synchronized.  Like all adjustments in LR, any or all of them can be changed back. 

To begin taking advantage of LR mobile, you have to start back on your desktop installation.  Access to your images is based upon setting up and enabling Collections.  Collections, I hope you recall are one of the most powerful features of LR.  No one really wants to see all 5000 photographs of your vacation.  With collections, you can select only the best images of that trip, or set up collections for only your 5 Star portraits, or…, whatever you want to showcase.  Currently, you can’t synchronize Smart Collections, but they are working on that.

It is a simple three step process to begin displaying photos on your devices.  Once LR mobile is installed, just log in to your Adobe account.   Back at your desktop, at the top menu, you will see a “Synchronize with LR Mobile”. 

It will ask you to login again to your Adobe account.  Now, assuming you already have collections set up, you will see an additional check box to the far left of the menu.  Click on them and it will display a bi-directional arrow indicating that LR will synch the images in that collection.    If you want to see how many total images you are sharing, they have added this information to the Topmost Catalog panel.

I mentioned that you can set up your devices to auto upload from the phone/IPad into your LR collection.  Rather than recreating an already created tutorial, here is a link to one from Lightroom Killer Tips.

I have not even started on all the editing tools, but that will have to wait for next week’s blog.   

Let me be Perfectly Clear

By Mark


A thousand years ago, last fall, we attended the Kelby training in DC. We had the chance to visit with Levi Sim and Rich Harrington from Photofocus who were demonstrating their new editing app. Perfectly Clear.  Originally developed to automate and speed up batch processing of photo shoots, they have released it as both as a stand-alone program and as plug-ins for Lightroom and Photoshop. The interfaces are very different from either program and are intended to be much more user friendly.

I've been very impressed at how well the results work and have been reprocessing some of my favorite portraits.  I've always liked the way that OnOne’s Perfect Portrait worked, but in some cases it was a bit over processed and looked too “retouched”.  So far, I've found it easier to get more subtle results much more quickly and in far less time.  Here are the “After “and “Before” images of what I was able to do to a photo of my sister.   

These adjustments took less than 2 minutes of work. 

The user interface is much simpler and the Presets Panel is really the easiest place to start. 

 They have 2 beginning points for people, Beautify and Beautify+.  Since I’m focusing on portraits for this one; this is what they look like when they are applied.   



Beautify+   Looks like a bit too much Botox

Beautify+   Looks like a bit too much Botox

You can tell that Beautify Plus really smooths out the skin, perhaps just a bit too much.

Luckily there is a very easy to use adjustment panel.  

The panel gives you precise control over most of the attributes you are trying to adjust. 

In the “Portrait”  sub-panel you can adjust just how smooth you want the skin to appear, how white you want the teeth to be and it will help you find and treat any pimples or other blemishes.

Face slimming is a smarter and much more controlled way to basically use the PS liquefy filter.  It subtly and realistically narrows the facial features.  It can counteract both camera induced and any natural jowls.

Jawline and collar subtly adjusted

Jawline and collar subtly adjusted

The “Eye” panel brightens the eyes and even fixes the Dark Circles and lines around the eyes. 

Dark Circles effect at 0, or off

Dark Circles effect at 0, or off

Voila--No more circles

Voila--No more circles

The “eye enlarge” helps achieve the popular model effect where bigger eyes are considered prettier.   You can easily go too far.

The SW also automates adding in a “catchlight” into your subjects eyes.   This gives them that extra “pop”, that you see in most magazine shots.

One of the things that make Perfectly Clear stand out is something you may not have noticed in these brief descriptions.  Nowhere along the way are you required to find and carefully select any of these features.   They have designed the algorithms to automatically and very accurately find them and only apply the effects in those areas.   Once you have made adjustments that suit you and your style, then you can save them as your own preset.   The software lets you batch process lots of images in the background, which can really speed up your workflow.     Next time, we will look at the other tools for working on landscapes and the tools for working on really dark images.

For Me, It's Lightroom AND Photoshop

By Roger (17 January 2016)

We talk to many new photographers, and a common question that keeps popping up is the difference between Lightroom and Photoshop. Which one do they need?

Well, I'm not sure why you have to choose one or the other. They are different tools, and both have advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. In the past, Adobe would sell them separately; the pair were expensive, so this question made more sense. But, today, they bundle Photoshop with Lightroom for a greatly reduced price, and they are designed to work together. The simple answer is get both.

That answer may be a little too simple, so let's dig a little deeper.

Photoshop is much older than Lightroom and was created for graphic design professionals, before digital photos were the standard. Lightroom was designed for photographers. This historical fact helps explain some of the complexity of Photoshop and the reasons many of its tools aren't much use for photographers, while Lightroom is often the tool most beginner photographers are told to use.

While Photoshop can do almost anything Lightroom can do, think of Lightroom as a subset of Photoshop tools, specifically for photographers, with a database application for organization. I found Lightroom easier to learn than Photoshop because it seemed more logically designed for my use. The database is, in my opinion, the best part of Lightroom. When you shoot thousands of photos every year, finding a particular one, in sea of hard drive folders, can be difficult.

When you import your photos into Lightroom, the program puts the actual photo files wherever you direct and creates a link, in the database, to that location. When you view your photos inside Lightroom, it doesn't matter where they are located on your hard drive. You can set up any storage system you want for the files, and Lightroom will keep track (as long as you do all your organization within the program.) We recommend you set up a single folder for all your photos and use subfolders how ever you see fit. You could just put all your photos in the main folder and never create a subfolder. I like to create a new subfolder every year; others set subfolders by subjects, or some other method that makes sense to them.

Once your photos are imported into the Lightroom database, you can make lots of adjustments to the photos: color balance; contrast; sharpness; even some limited deletions to items within the photo. The Develop module is arranged in a logical workflow, but you can make the edits in any order that makes sense to you. Lightroom keeps a running history of your modifications; the record is visible and detailed; and all the modifications are reversible. Mistakes are easy to correct.

Lightroom allows you to easily add information to your photos. Keywords, captions, copyright information, city, state, country, GPS readings, and ratings all make finding a specific photo from your database much easier. Many can be added in batches or presets, making data entry consistent and fast. I'm not happy unless my metadata entries are complete.

Lightroom has modules to help you create books and slideshows to show off your work. And, speaking of showing off your work, Lightroom exports your photos in many different formats and file sizes, including, of course, the ubiquitous jpeg, for viewing on web and social media sites. You can, again, create export presets to make exporting one or dozens of photos easy and consistent.

Wow, huh? Lightroom has quite a list of capabilities. What would you need Photoshop for? Well, you don't need it, but it has some great features Lightroom will probably never have.

Photoshop can take your photos so far they don't resemble the original. You can make minute changes no one will even know were made; changes that can have major effects on how the photo is perceived by your viewer.

Unlike Lightroom, you will be changing the pixels in the photo as you work. The most common image manipulations are deleting or adding elements in the photo; pixel level image editing; and creating composites from more than one photo. You create different layers and masks that help you do this. You can keep all those layers, in case you want to make adjustments later, -called non-destructive editing - or collapse the photo down to a single layer, creating a smaller file size.

The tool set in Photoshop is massive and takes time to learn. Take your time; you don't have to know all (or most) of the functions to do common photo editing. Besides the tools we photographers regularly use, there are tools for graphic design, 3D, and video. There are many experts who bend and twist tools designed for one purpose and mix them into other uses. You might be surprised how useful 3D tools can be when you're creating a 2D photo composite.

For most of my images, I just use Lightroom. But I really like to do this stuff, so, probably more often than most people, I'll use both. Here are some examples of the software in action.

How did I miss that stake?

During one of my sesquicentennial trips, I saw this little girl, dressed up like the ladies, in her finest Civil War costume. She was waiting for the pass in review to begin. I couldn't get closer and was already at maximum zoom, so I shot the photo. That ugly green stake marked the boundary to ensure the crowd stayed out of the way of the marching “soldiers.”

This is a perfect example of something Lightroom can handle by itself. I adjusted the colors and sharpness, and, with just a small crop, I was able to get rid of the stake. There certainly was no need for Photoshop.

Cropped and processed with Lightroom

The next photo is of Grace, riding on her own, without someone pulling the pony along. The sun is behind her, which keeps the sun out of her eyes and provides a nice backlighting. I didn't have to coax her for a smile.

Original photo

I did my usual post-processing in Lightroom, but Lightroom can't get rid of the background distractions. Lightroom's healing brush is great for small touch ups, but it isn't going to allow me to make the parking lot of cars disappear. The slope of the far hill side needs to continue down; the clouds need to look natural when I take out the telephone pole. For these types of corrections, you're going to need the better tools in Photoshop. The clone tool and healing brush were the primary tools used here.

No more background distractions

While both Lightroom and Photoshop can create panoramas or high dynamic range photo merges, Photoshop has more tools to modify specific elements or tonal values. For this HDR bridge at sundown photo, I made the standard three exposures: one over-exposed to get the shadow details; one at the camera's solution; and one under-exposed to ensure the highlights weren't washed away.

I can crop in Lightroom or Photoshop to get that wide, panorama look, but I only wanted two of the children for the final photo (Photoshop). I, also, did some work on the bridge to make it stand out more. Only Photoshop can do this.

Newport, RI

Finally, there are some photo tasks where Lightroom is absolutely no help (at least, at this time), like repairing old photographs or colorizing them. These are Photoshop-only tasks. If you want to read an explanation of how to colorize an old black and white photo, you can find that blog here.

So, you can see why I believe you shouldn't choose one over the other; you should use both. They each have their own strengths to help you get that final look you want for your photograph. Lightroom is the easiest place to start for beginners, but, with Adobe's photographer bundle (link), you will get both for a reasonable price.

Or you can use a completely different set of software. We use Lightroom and Photoshop, but they aren't the only options. You can find many fans of other software on the internet. This isn't a political battle for us, any more than which camera is the best camera. One of the hottest photogeek battles these days is whether Lightroom's RAW converter is as good as the converter in Capture One (link). For those who want a free program that can do many of the things found in Photoshop, there is GIMP (link). Try them out and see if you prefer these solutions. I promise you that no one, other than a few photographers (who should be out making photos, instead of arguing over silly stuff), will ask you what software was used to make your photo.

Whatever you use, get out there; make some photos; process those photos; and have fun.