Automattic, Cork, Ireland, Photography, Words

How to develop an underexposed photo in Lightroom

I had fun rescuing this really underexposed landscape photo in Lightroom.

It’s a photo of Kilcrea Friary in Co Cork and I went out there one September evening in 2015 with a few others from Blarney Photography Club to shoot the sunset. I remember the day was somewhat cloudy so I hoped there would be a magnificent backdrop of yellows and oranges to shoot the friary against. It was not to be. It was a solid mass of grey and darker grey. We took a number of photos from this side of the building, but for this shot I was experimenting and completely messed up the settings. It was a 61 second exposure but should have been almost twice that. Luckily I shoot in RAW so there was plenty of data for Lightroom to work with. This short video shows how I developed and rescued the photo.

I posted the photo of Kilcrea Friary last December. Here’s what the finished photo looks like.

kilcrea-friary-at-sunset

This video was shot at the Automattic grand meetup of 2015. This is a gathering of everyone (or nearly everyone) who works at Automattic. All attendees have to give a short talk. Some people love public speaking, but most of us don’t, so this is the hardest part of the meetup for many. The talks are called “flash talks” because they have to be completed within a certain length of time. A few years ago it was five minutes and the limit wasn’t enforced, but because the company is so much bigger now the talk must be four minutes or less, with someone holding up a sign warning when you hit the three minute mark!

This one was filmed in Park City, Utah in the United States at an altitude of around 1,000m so the air is thinner and I hoped I wouldn’t run out of breath like I did the previous year. This time I had forgotten I was due to talk until about 5 minutes before and had to run halfway across the hotel to get my notes, running down stairs, up other stairs, sprinting along corridors and then back, doing the same. Finally seated in the conference room my bottle of water spilled it’s contents on to the carpet, my stress levels were rising and then it was my turn to give a flash talk. That was practically a relief after the hectic activity of the previous few minutes!

A few days later I gave an hour long workshop on Lightroom, sharing tips, tricks and techniques that improve the look and feel of photos. That was fun as I could go more slowly and into more detail explaining the various tools in the app.

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Photography, Photos, Words

More fun with long exposure stacking of photos

A few months ago I experimented with Imagemagick by using it to merge very similar photos of flowing water to give the impression of a longer exposure.

Here are a few more examples.

By merging a series of thirty photos taken two seconds apart I created a pleasing image that looks like a sixty second exposure. The day I took these photo was overcast and dull, but not dark enough to do an actual long exposure like that without the help of some fairly dark filters. I used the intervalometer in Magic Lantern to shoot this so I didn’t even need a remote release. My camera did all the work! This was created using the following Imagemagick command line:

convert *.jpg -average average.jpg

2015-11-27-2608-m

2015-11-27-2637-m

average

I combined 60 long exposure shots of the night sky in the mountains of Utah (during the Automattic Grand Meetup a few weeks ago) to create a single long exposure of the stars moving through the sky. Thanks mkaz for publishing this post on interval shooting where I got this command line:

convert *.jpg -evaluate-sequence max combined.jpg

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2015-10-15-9757-m

combined

Finally, another series of sixty shots taken in Utah. The same convert command line was used to process these.

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2015-10-15-9817-m

combined

In the image above I should have cloned out the wires in the bottom left of the image. Lightroom makes it easy to make the same modifications to every image. Work on one image, then select all the ones you need and click “Sync Settings”.

It can be frustrating taking these types of photos as your camera is shooting a long series of very ordinary shots, and the final result can’t be seen until the images are processed correctly but it’s certainly worth it.

Update on December 1st: here’s one that didn’t work out so well. It was so windy the camera shook the whole time.

combined photo

Aperture ƒ/4
Camera Canon EOS 6D
Focal length 17mm
ISO 1600
Shutter speed 30s
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Photography, Words

The Limits of Lightroom’s Smart Previews

I just stretched the limits of Lightroom’s Smart Previews this morning.

After editing the following image I decided to see what it looked like as a smart preview. I pushed the image quite a bit, exposing the colour in the sky as the sun set behind me in Lanzarote a few days ago.

Lightroom - original image

The original image is dull and lacks contrast but with a little work I was able to expose the lovely shades of magenta and orange present. Here’s what it looked like when Lightroom was editing a DNG file:

Lightroom - dng

But when I removed the file and Lightroom had to use the smart preview this is what that lovely colour gradient looked like:

Lightroom - smart preview

There’s visible compression artefacts visible that aren’t in the original and it looks more pronounced in Lightroom. I didn’t push the image too much, but these sort of artefacts can be seen in Jpeg images of smooth colour gradients like a blue sky has. They’re really visible if you push the contrast at all, or modify the colours in the gradient like I did with this image.

Smart previews create images that are 2500px wide or tall which is a good compromise between full size RAW and not being able to edit the image at all, but on a high resolution screen like a Macbook Retina screen you won’t be able to zoom much.

I will continue to use smart previews. My 1TB+ photo archive can be crunched down to less than 200GB which is within the reach of a laptop, and still leave free space. Once I plug my external drive back in and fire up Lightroom I can then export the images and be sure that the final image is what I want.

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Photography, Words

Lightroom Tips and Videos

At the recent Automattic Grand Meetup in Utah I presented a Lightroom tutorial. During the course of the tutorial I went through the various Develop panels explaining what (most of) the sliders did, offering some advice sometimes on how to use them.

Here’s a few tips from the night and links you’ll find useful:

  • Use ALT/OPTION to tune the white and black sliders to see how much the highlights are blown or shadows totally black.
  • Hold down SHIFT and double click the white and black slider titles to auto set them. Be warned that Lightroom will stretch the histogram to do this and avoid losing data but that might not be what you want to do.
  • Use the Upright tool (lens correction) to correct distortions and horizons.
  • Don’t overdo “clarity”. It’ll introduce halos.

When editing a photo it’s useful to begin by setting highlights to -100, shadows to +100, and adjust the whites/blacks using one of the techniques above. Pull back the highlights and shadows to suit your taste, and increase the contrast.

Lightroom Basic Panel

Serge Ramelli has a great Youtube channel. He has an over abundance of “subscribe to my newsletter” and “buy my course” notifications but his videos are still worth watching. If you want to download the RAW files he uses you’ll find them here. I enjoy his sunset tutorials and videos:

And I love what he did with this:

I think I discovered his channel first by searching for black and white tutorial videos. This one got me hooked:

Also check out Anthony Morganti’s channel. His video on sharpening and noise reduction is excellent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imYJccSKx3E

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 6D
Focal length 82mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/200s
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Tutorials, Words

Use Lightroom Collections to Publish Photos

Since I started posting photos online I’ve always created two images:

  1. A web sized version to go online.
  2. A full size version for my archive.

This has served me well as I have from time to time changed the software I use to develop photos. Otherwise, I might have the web version and not be able to recreate a full size version for printing or other uses.

Up until very recently after I worked on an image I would add it to an “inphotos” default collection (press B), then right-click and export twice. Once for web, once for full size. I had to do this for each image. Sometimes I could select a bunch of them and export if I knew I had a number of “keepers” from a shoot but otherwise it was tiresome.

Collections

I’m now experimenting with smart collections in a Hard Drive Publish Service. I still have an inphotos.org collection, but I added another one called, “Published inphotos”. That’s a smart folder that contains all the published photos that have already gone up on the site. That folder contains every image that comes from the inphotos.org collection and is labelled Yellow.

Aside: I also added a “Potential” smart folder for photos I’d like to work on. Labelling a photo RED will put it in this folder.

Lightroom_collections

Obviously I haven’t added every published photo to it and I probably won’t. I don’t have time to, but I will fill in older photos when I have a spare moment.

If you’re not familiar with collections here are two videos from Adobe on ordinary collections and smart collections that are worth watching:

 

Publish Services

I then created two publish services. One for full size images, the other for web images.

Lightroom_publish_services

The 00-inphotos and 00-Large smart folders initially contained every image that is in the inphotos.org collection. I soon realised I’d have a problem with the web sized 00-inphotos folder. If I published a photo how would I remember that event easily? In the past I moved the file into a different physical folder, but I wanted Lightroom to track this. To do this I decided to add a yellow label to every photo I published. I created a new “00-published” smart folder. This folder collects every image that is labelled Yellow from the inphotos.org collection.inphotos_published_smart_folder_settingsI modified the 00-inphotos smart folder so it contained every image except those labelled Yellow.inphotos_smart_folder_settings

So, when I published an image I went into the inphotos.org collection in Lightroom and labelled the image yellow by pressing “7”. This would cause the 00-inphotos smart collection to delete the image, and the image would be added to the 00-published smart collection. I just had to hit Publish on each of them and the file would be “moved” from one physical folder to the other.

It’s early days yet and I’ve only posted a few photos using this method but it works well. Editing photos and adding them to the inphotos.org collection is a breeze but this is a process that’s not set in stone and will be refined with time. If it’s too awkward I’ll move on to something else.

I use the WordPress “new post” interface to make new posts, or if I have time to do so, I’ll schedule a number of posts using Postbot.

How do you use Lightroom to post to your blog or social media site?

Aperture ƒ/7.1
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 18mm
ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/125s
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Cork, Ireland, Photography, Photos

I may have dust on my camera sensor

One of the downsides of being able to change lens is the ever present danger of dust getting into the camera and coating the sensitive sensor. Every time the lens is taken off there’s a chance that dust will swirl into the cavity of the camera, attracted by the charged sensor on the back wall behind the mirror.

I took this photo sometime last year but never noticed the dust until later. I had a blower and soft brush with me so it was easy to clean the sensor.

Luckily removing the dust spots is fairly easy in Lightroom or any photo development application but this was easily the most dust I ever saw and was a rain pain to go over the whole image. (made easier by page up/down and the “visualise spots” setting, but still..)

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Words

Quickly Match Exposures in Lightroom

I had no idea this existed, but then I’ve rarely had to match the exposures of multiple files. When I used the GIMP to edit photos I would play around with multiple exposures more often but Lightroom can extract so much information from RAW files it covers 99% of my image development.

tl;dr – fix the exposure of one image, select other relevant images and click on Settings->Match Total Exposures.

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