Lightroom CC New Pano and HDR Feature

By Mark

LR has always required external programs like Photoshop for more advanced editing techniques.  While that is still true for multi-layer compositing and individual pixel bending, the gap continues to shrink.  User demands for features such as the ability to create panoramas and High Dynamic Range (HDR) images directly have finally been met.   There seems to be broad community consensus that they did a really good job on the panoramas, but that HDR is just so-so.  One of the key technologies Adobe finally took advantage in modern computers was the computational power found on the video cards themselves.  These specialized Graphic Processing Units (GPU) are designed to handle the insane level of demand for modern video games.  Previously, LR was just too slow to handle the massive computations required for edge matching and the masking required for seamless blending of big images. 

The processes for both Panos and HDRs are pretty straightforward. 

Simply select the images you want to use and either from the Photo>>Photomerge Panorama. 

It opens up a new panel allowing you to choose what kind of perspective you want.  Normally, you just want to leave it alone.  One additional useful feature is the auto crop, which will trim off any missing pixels. 

From there you can go back in and conduct any additional editing as it retains all of the .DNG information from the original images. 

For example, you can take your image into OnOne and apply one of my favorite effects- the Tilt-shift perspective.  I like how it makes the image look like a model. 

For HDR images the process is exactly the same. 

It is important to note that the merged image now has the full 32bit depth.  Nifty eh?  Now go play with your images.  

The Big Picture—NYC Pt 2

By Mark

In my view capturing the nature of a city is a photographic challenge. One can approach it on the micro level, recording the myriad of small details and allowing the viewer to put the pieces together.  For much of my photography that is what I prefer.  There is something though about the New York City skyline that demands a different treatment. The Big Apple has an iconic profile which really lends itself to big panoramas.  When you combine the capabilities of the D800’s sensor resolution and the richness of the city, it opens up an amazing window into other people’s windows. 

We have covered how easy it is to create panos with Lightroom and Photoshop on several occasions.  One useful trick when shooting the images is to include your own hand at both the beginning and the ending of a sequence.  This and LR’s stacking feature helps identify which images are supposed to go together.  After you have grouped a sequence into a stack, you can then discard the hand shots.  

Talk to the Hand

Talk to the Hand

Editing the images for a pano is still required.  You want a consistent exposure, tone and sharpening across all the images.  Pick the most representative image, make your adjustments in the develop module and then synchronize those changes across the other pictures. 

There are some great locations around NYC from which to take these kinds of shots.  As an unexpected bonus, our suite at The Frenchman’s Quarter Guest Apartments included a 5th story balcony.  Since we were only a block from the theater district and surrounded by skyscrapers, it provides a good contrast between the old and the new.  

Shooting with a camera that produces 50Mb files means that the file sizes for these images can get a bit large.  

1.21 Gigawatts??? No, but 2.45 GB is still pretty large

1.21 Gigawatts??? No, but 2.45 GB is still pretty large

Once the image has rendered I just use the Ctrl-Alt-Shift-e combination which creates a merged version of all the layers.  I then just delete the layers from the file which saves a lot of space.  I then save it.  You might have to close Photoshop and restart it in order to clear out your working cache space.  

Cityscapes need a little distance to provide some perspective.  You can go out or you can go up.  I did both.   Starting with the view of the lower East Side from the Brooklyn Bridge (no, I didn't buy it) in the early morning.  hours I shot this 11 shot composite.  

Lower West Side from the Brooklyn Bridge

Lower West Side from the Brooklyn Bridge

.  Later that morning we all went to the top of the Empire State building.  The last time I was there was on my honeymoon and although it was a wonderful trip, the weather was a little overcast.  This time the weather was perfect.  These two views look uptown and downtown.

Uptown from the ES

Uptown from the ES

Looking Downtown

Looking Downtown

I talked about the level of detail you get with the D800.  This little snippet is from about 2/3 of the way back in the Downtown image. 

Finally we visited the old Bedloe’s island, where a certain lady hangs out and was able to catch the dynamic waterfront of the lower West Side and Battery Park.

Next week we will look at photographing really familiar places in new ways. 

Looking back at the Lower East Side

Looking back at the Lower East Side

Panoramic Problems

Even though six weeks have passed since we got back from the Southwest I still have not finished processing all the photos.  One of the last things on my list was to put together all the panoramas I shot.  The views are so vast that even with the 16-35mm landscape lens I borrowed from Roger; I couldn’t capture the horizon to horizon detail.  One of the challenges I’d been running into before we left was the file sizes that the D800 produces.  My old computer was a couple of years “overdue” for an upgrade, but it was still working.  Trying to handle multiple 50MB Raw images had visibly slowed the system down and in some instances, forced Photoshop to just quit.   I was just used to the inconvenience.  Fortunately (?), I started getting warnings from one of my hard drives that it was about ready to die.  So I put together a new system with a lot more RAM and it makes a huge difference.

Monument Valley

This is sunset at Monument Valley.  I shot it from our balcony on a tripod at f/8 at 30mm mostly at 1/20 sec.   I loved the moonrise over the butte as the light was fading.  The dust in the air from the blowing sand made the picture a little hazier than I would have wished, but at the same time diffused the colors nicely.   How many images did it take to get this picture?   Remember you want 15-30% overlap between sequential images to help the software work.

Monument Valley Raw shots.PNG

That’s right, this was actually nine shots.  Just select the images you want in LR, and then select Photo>Edit In>Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.   It opens your images as layers in one file and then auto aligns them, creates masks for each layer and blends the edges together based on the best fit of the overlapping segments of the images.  When loaded from LR to Photoshop the file size sprang up to 1.56 GBytes.   One of the techniques I learned at Photoshop world is once the automatic Panorama magic has happened, use the “Mash the left side of the keyboard” shortcut; CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-E to create a flat merged layer on top of all the individual Layers.  You can then go into to the layers palate and just drag the individual layers to the trashcan icon at the bottom.  That will make the final image a lot smaller.  All that is left is to just SAVE the image.  You don’t want to do a SAVE AS, just the plain old save will tell Lightroom to keep this new image with the other images it came from.  As another general good housekeeping rule for my catalog, I then go in and stack  (CTRL-G) all the images together with the panorama on top, so I can both hide the now unneeded files but have access to them if I want to do some different processing on them later. 

I am still working through the images and have not finished yet.  Here is a 12 photo shot from the Grand Canyon.  I confess I applied a little bit of HDR to the image as the mid-day sun took away much of the contrast visible to the naked eye.   I have been working on a 20 image piece, but that overloaded the memory on the computer…here we go again.