The Rise of Computational Photography

Computational photography is coming up more and more as a topic these days, driven largely by developments in the smartphone world. Apple and Google, specifically, have worked diligently over the past few years to overcome the inherent limitations in the cameras of their pocket-size phones—small sensors and tiny lenses—to produce better images than would be available solely from the phones’ optics alone. By using custom chips, advanced software, dual lenses (in the case of newer iPhones and some Android phones) and more, these phones can create photographs that once required high-end cameras or painstaking compositing to produce. (For more, see Jeff Carlson’s piece on DPReview.com about the computational aspects of the iPhone XS.)

The result is that our phones now use this technology to provide impressive images, ones combined in the phone from multiple “shots.” They include things like automatic high-dynamic range (HDR) photos, seamless panoramas, and portraits with shallow depth of field. Sure, you can find many online commenters who rail against the bad portrait shots and wonky panos as proof that this iPhone or that Pixel is not as good as a basic SLR or mirrorless camera, but that misses the point (something we talk about extensively in Taking Better Pictures Doesn’t Mean a New Camera). Read more »

Jeff Carlson on Lightroom CC 2.0

Jeff Carlson has a look at the new features in Lightroom CC 2.0 over on DPReview.com. Version 1.0 was announced last year at the annual Adobe MAX conference, and Jeff looks at what’s new in the second generation of the cloud-centric image management and editing app. He also talks about what’s missing, and where he thinks Adobe might be headed with Lightroom CC:

Adobe is wisely undertaking a more gradual transition, continuing to develop both Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic simultaneously without an apparent rush to supplant the latter….

Will Lightroom CC ultimately become the one true Lightroom in the future? I believe so, but Adobe doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get there yet. In the meantime, I think Lightroom CC is becoming more compelling, but Lightroom Classic photographers, especially if they rely on Classic-only features, will continue to watch for it to get more interesting.

 

Matt K’s Lightroom Crash Course

Matt K Lightroom Crash CourseMatt Kloskowski is one of the best Lightroom (and Photoshop) trainers out there, bar none. He has all the hallmarks of a great trainer, including an innate capacity to learn from his students as well as to teach them, and he understands where many users get lost in the weeds with photo editing software.

Over the years, he and I have had a few conversations about the difficulties that some new users run into when setting Lightroom up, and why they never really use the app to the best of its capabilities. To that end, Matt has released a 60-minute Lightroom Crash Course, designed solely to help people get over those initial hurdles when learning Lightroom Classic CC:

This course is meant to cut through all of the thousands of features that Lightroom has and get you feeling good about getting your photos in to it, and (most importantly), to start editing those photos and having some fun. My personal goal in teaching photo editing is to get you editing and enjoying your photography as fast as possible and that’s exactly what this 60 minute crash course will do.

This course is great if you have thought about jumping into Lightroom Classic, or if you’ve played around with it and are confused about things like where your photos are, or how to edit your photos effectively. Despite the course’s short length, Matt also talks about Lightroom features like brushes and graduated filters and how to export and print your photos. In addition, all of the sample photos used in the course are included for you to follow along.

For $50, the Lightroom Crash Course is darn close to a perfect hour (well, an hour and two minutes). And, if you want a deeper dive into Lightroom Classic, check out Matt’s much more comprehensive Lightroom System course, which is currently priced at $150. I highly recommend both courses, although all of Matt’s training—including his courses on Photoshop and ON1’s Photo Raw—is top-notch.

Adobe updates Lightroom ecosystem

Today, Adobe released updates to its Lightroom family of apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices. The majority of the updates center around Lightroom CC, but Lightroom Classic also got a little bit of love as well, and many of the options will also trickle to the browser-based version of Lightroom. Here are the main features in the release:

  • The Lightroom CC mobile apps can now create presets. And, with this addition, presets (and profiles) can now be synchronized across all platforms—desktop, mobile, and web. This includes your own custom presets and any third-party presets you’ve added, anywhere in the Lightroom CC app world. (If you’re using Lightroom Classic, Julianne Kost posted a cool tip on how to synchronize presets and profiles between Classic and Lightroom CC mobile devices.)
  • A Manage Preset option has been added to the entire ecosystem, letting you show or hide presets by installed category.
  • The mobile apps also get the Healing Brush tool and chromatic aberration correction. The iOS version of Lightroom CC also has a Long Exposure Technology Preview (for iPhone 7 and up only).
  • You can now copy and paste edit settings inside the Lightroom CC desktop app. And, as you can with Lightroom Classic, you have the option to choose which settings you wish to copy.
  • Lightroom Classic’s HDR and Panorama merge features now include an option to automatically stack the images used and place the finished image at the top of the stack.
  • The Mac versions of Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC also get support for the High Efficiency Image Format (HEIC), currently used by Apple with their latest iPhone and iPad cameras. This is supported on the Mac for now, but as acceptance grows, it should move to other platforms as well. [For more on HEIC, see this page.]
  • Adobe also added a few new web-portfolio sharing options from within Lightroom CC, letting you control image downloads, and whether metadata and location information is viewable.

Read more »

DxO releases Nik Collection 2018

DxO Labs has released its first version of the Nik Software plug-ins since acquiring the suite last year from Google. Nik Collection 2018, provides compatibility with the current versions of Photoshop CC, Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop Elements, and includes 64-bit support for both macOS and Windows; there are no other new features. According to a company spokesman,

“It was necessary to recover and recompile source code that had not been maintained for a long time in order to make it compatible with the latest versions of Adobe products and the latest Apple OS updates. This is a first step that allows us to start afresh.”

The seven plug-ins included with the Nik Collection—Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro, Analog Efex Pro, Viveza, Dfine, and Sharpener Pro—perform color and black and white effects, selective color editing, noise reduction and sharpening to your images. Originally created by Nik Software, the plug-ins were acquired by Google when the company purchased Nik in 2012, and were left to languish as Google’s photo priorities changed. (Google originally sold them for $150, and ultimately made them free, but as time went on, they became incompatible with newer versions of the CC apps.)

 

Rolling Your Own Lightroom Creative Profiles

Following up on the recent Lightroom announcements, Adobe’s Josh Haftel has posted a step-by-step video for making your own creative profiles for use with Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, and Adobe Camera Raw. It is well worth watching, if you’re a bit technically inclined; even if you don’t think you’re going to make your own, it’s a fascinating look at what these profiles do.

And, if you’re a Lightroom user, the Lightroom team’s YouTube channel is an excellent source of videos on Lightroom topics. We’re big fans of Benjamin Warde’s Lightroom Coffee Break videos (playlist), which are short—most are 60 seconds or less—little tips for getting the most out of Lightroom. Warde is great at shedding light into a few of Lightroom’s hidden corners, like the recent one below, which shows how to selectively use Lightroom’s Auto setting in the Develop module.

Lightroom CC, Classic updates add profile enhancements

Adobe Lightroom profiles menuAdobe released simultaneous updates this week for Lightroom CC (desktop and mobile) and Lightroom Classic, with a number of new features and enhancements. The biggest feature is an expanded set of profiles for rendering raw files with camera-specific styles and artistic effects.

At their simplest, profiles are the initial transformation of tone and color characteristics to a raw image (before editing), and Adobe historically has applied a default profile (Adobe Standard) to every raw image processed in Lightroom. If people knew about profiles—which was rare—it was most often to apply a camera-specific profile to a photo inside Lightroom. These additional profiles would correspond to the image settings you would find in your camera; my Sony A7RII, for example, has built-in profiles, with names like Deep, Clear, Portrait, Landscape, and I could apply those profiles either in-camera or in Lightroom Classic. Adobe would add those profiles to Lightroom as part of regular Camera Raw updates, and those profiles were tied to the camera used to take the photo.

Profiles have been around for some time, buried at the bottom of the Lightroom Develop panel, in the Camera Calibration pane. Read more »

Using DNG Converter with Lightroom 6 (and Elements) and new cameras

Lightroom 6 has reached the end of its road, so it’s all gravel lane from here on out. The last perpetual revision, Lightroom 6.14, was released on December 19, 2017, and Adobe isn’t going to update or support it going forward. The app still works fine, however, so if you’ve chosen it over Adobe’s subscription offerings (Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC), you shouldn’t see much of a difference for the time being.

Unless you buy a new camera.

If you’re shooting with a camera released after that date, Lightroom 6 won’t recognize those raw files. Camera manufacturers tweak the raw recipe for each camera model, which is why you frequently see updates to Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop and Lightroom that add new raw formats. Since Adobe ended support for Lightroom 6 at the end of 2017, the software will no longer receive those updates. Read more »

Matt K on advanced brush settings in Lightroom & Camera Raw

Oneonta Falls, ©Matt Kloskowski (via 500px)

If you’re using adjustment brushes inside Lightroom (Classic or CC) or Adobe Camera Raw, check out Matt Kloskowski’s latest video tutorial, Advanced Brush Settings in Lightroom and Photoshop, which talks about how to use the Flow and Density settings to get better targeted adjustments during your editing sessions. Matt’s explanation of why you want to play with those (rarely discussed) settings is spot-on, and he even includes a sample file for you to follow along with his edits.

Matt is one of the best post-processing and photography instructors out there—as well as an excellent photographer, workshop leader and all-around good guy—and he’s worth following, especially if you’re inside the Adobe ecosystem. He regularly posts great short videos on his site and his Facebook page, and his Photoshop System and Lightroom System courses are the best comprehensive video courses in the market.

Take Control of Lightroom CC ebook

Amidst the fury that surrounded Adobe’s fall Lightroom announcements (see The Cost of Software for details), it was easy to miss the fact that there are people who actually want to use Lightroom CC, especially for its promise of a cloud-based, device-independent workflow.

We honestly remain on the fence about the bifurcated Lightroom platform, but we’ve also run into more than a few people who expressed interest in—and asked questions about—Lightroom CC. Most of the questions are about the future of CC, especially since the core app’s feature set at launch was anemic in places. That said, Adobe has posted one major update to Lightroom CC since its release in mid-October, adding curves-based editing and split tone controls, as well as a new Auto image enhancement feature (which also was added to Lightroom Classic in December).

Read more »