Dehaze

I’m not at all sure it’s a word, but a feature called “Dehaze” is soon coming to Lightroom and seems to be a way to eliminate mist in landscape photos. See Terry White’s sneak peek:

Eric Chan on GPU

See Adobe’s Eric Chan’s post GPU notes for Lightroom CC (2015) for a behind-the-scenes explanation of how Adobe are adding GPU support:

Lr can now use graphics processors (GPUs) to accelerate interactive image editing in Develop. A big reason that we started here is the recent development and increased availability of high-res displays, such as 4K and 5K monitors. To give you some numbers: a standard HD screen is 2 megapixels (MP), a MacBook Retina Pro 15″ is 5 MP, a 4K display is 8 MP, and a 5K display is a whopping 15 MP. This means on a 4K display we need to render and display 4 times as many pixels as on a standard HD display. Using the GPU can provide a significant speedup (10x or more) on high-res displays. The bigger the screen, the bigger the win….

let’s be clear: This is the beginning of the GPU story for Lightroom, not the end. The vision here is to expand our use of the GPU and other technologies over time to improve performance. I know that many photographers have been asking us for improved performance for a long time, and we’re trying to respond to that. Please understand this is a big step in that direction, but it’s just the first step. The rest of it will take some time.

Also see Eric’s comments here and though I’ve already linked to it, Adobe’s GPU Troubleshooting & FAQ is also important.

This is Lightroom 6

CC-Photography-plan-1024x768

Lightroom CC is Lightroom 6 plus the mobile features

The rumours have been bubbling around for a while, and in the last couple of days the news has been dribbling out in not the most elegant way….

But now one can say officially that Lightroom 6 is here. See this post on Adobe’s own Lightroom Journal.

After a few years of confusing people with the clumsy-sounding “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom” they are now calling this new version “Lightroom CC” and frightening those who are already disconcerted by the lurch towards subscription-limited software. However, you still have the choice to buy Lightroom 6 normally.

Adobe’s focus is certainly on workflows such as I described in my recent post on Adobe Slate and on Adobe Comp which require the subscription version Lightroom CC.

Integrating these cloud workflows is something Adobe are doing across their product range, not just with Lightroom, and you should keep an eye on posts I’ve been making about LrMobile and LrWeb which may give you ideas about where these developments may benefit you.

These apps aren’t just for trivial things like posting to Facebook, if that is indeed trivial, but they already allow “pro” workflows such as a basic client proofing system or remote review of your pictures.

So, what do I think?

Nice details

Catalogue backups are now zipped, saving 90% of their disc space and stopping idiots opening backup catalogues and doing new work in them...

There are headline features which are needed to shift boxes or drive subscriptions, but with new versions it’s often the smaller details that make the real difference when you’re using the program. In fact, I wish Adobe would put much more effort into those usability tweaks. So in this article I don’t intend to itemise the headline features. Instead I want to convey which ones I like and point to some of the smaller details that are worth trying for yourself.

So in descending order:

  1. Radial and graduated filters – fine tune the area they affect
  2. Panorama and HDR Merge – create panorama stitches and HDR blends inside Lightroom
  3. GPU acceleration – speed up Develop, 5k screens, and more will come – quietly
  4. Collections filter – manage your Collections panel
  5. Import – add new items to a collection
  6. Slideshow – Ken Burns and multiple music tracks
  7. Tethering – share new photos via LrMobile and LrWeb
  8. Face recognition – glad it’s there, but it doesn’t work for me

Brushing radial and graduated filters

adjustment

You can now fine tune the areas affected by graduated and radial filters. If you want to restore a filter’s original state, just hit Reset Brushes.

Each of these tools now has an extra brush option (top right of panel) that lets you modify the area affected by the graduated or radial filter adjustment.

This addition is not, of course, a big surprise as it had already appeared in the version of Adobe Camera Raw available with the subscription Photoshop CC, but I suspect it will be a hugely welcome in Lightroom.

I seem to use it mostly to erase the effect of graduated or radial filters, much less to extend adjustments. So as this example shows, I might have darkened a sky with a graduated filter adjustment but didn’t want to darken items that extend above the horizon.

So I’ll either click the Erase button, or use the Alt/Option key as a quick way to switch between extending and erasing.

One little detail is the Reset Brushes button at the bottom left. This is for those times when you’ve done too much brushing and you just want to get back to the filter’s original state. I often use it when I’ve synced adjustments from one picture to another, and then find the brushing is in the wrong place. It’s a nice touch.

Panorama and HDR Merge

Although each of these is worthy of being a headline item, I’ll group Panorama and HDR into one as I think they’ll generally be viewed as a single “Merge” feature.

While welcome, and surprisingly quick, I think it’s worth pointing out a few details. Firstly, Merge feels more like a plugin experience – you open a modal dialog box rather than a Lightroom-style window – and it’s in Library too, not Develop. It doesn’t matter in the end, but it’s not as elegant as one expects.

Secondly, what happens is that Lightroom bakes an entirely new file, a big DNG containing data from all the original component frames. This DNG is a demosaiced linear DNG but Adobe don’t change the post de-mosaic data so effectively you’re still editing the raw data.

Unfortunately you still have all the component frames cluttering up your catalogue, as well as the new merged monster. So Merge doesn’t handle the merge as a parametric edit (ie like other adjustments) and simply add a virtual copy to the catalogue. Apparently speed was the deciding factor. Nor does it zip the component files into the big DNG so you can extract them in future – you need to keep the component frames. Adobe don’t even stack the new merged file with its components. You can’t use Library Filter to distinguish these DNGs from others – except by using the suffix on the file name, which isn’t a robust method. So they’ve done a good job of the processing, but left you with the problem of managing the clutter.

Adobe aren’t going to please everyone. You’re not going to be pleased if you’re into your recti-spherical-Mercator-curvilinear projections that straighten your fisheye lens frames into a perfect panorama, and equally Lightroom’s not really the tool for the grungy monstrosities that give HDR such a bad name. In those cases, stick to third party specialist tools.

Instead, Lightroom’s two Merge tools are designed for what most people need, and I must admit that I don’t think most people want to be bothered with projections you’ve never heard of. They just want simple guidelines such as overlapping by 30% when shooting a panorama, and they want a Merge tool that doesn’t frighten them. That’s what they’ve got.

Merge first, adjust later – or the other way round? The easiest way is to merge first, and then adjust the merged image (also Julieanne Kost’s preference), but it doesn’t really matter.

GPU acceleration – don’t expect performance boosts everywhere

gpu

Get a recent generation card with at least 2Gb of memory such as the AMD R9 2xx series or nvidia’s Geforce 700 or 900

For a long time the best advice has been that Lightroom didn’t require you to spend much money on the graphics card. Lightroom didn’t exploit the GPU’s resources and Adobe have said that pushing data to the display simply wasn’t the bottleneck, while processing raw image data isn’t suitable to graphics hardware acceleration.

With Lightroom 6 the advice is changing, but it’s important to note that this is not a general application of GPU acceleration. Don’t expect to see performance improvement in every area of the program. Instead Adobe have begun by targeting areas where the GPU can offer benefits:

  • Develop’s After window – so look for faster screen updating after dragging a slider or changing a dust spot
  • Support for 5K monitors
Ongoing improvements….

Adobe should be able to add GPU acceleration in Lightroom 6.1 and other “dot releases”. Unlike the brushing of graduated and radial filters, which couldn’t be introduced until 6.0 because of Adobe’s accounting policies, performance tuning doesn’t count as a new feature and can be implemented whenever it becomes available.

Where you won’t see any change

  • Sadly there’s no Photo Mechanic speed browsing of embedded previews. Will there ever be?
  • It won’t work with older graphics cards

Supporting GPUs opens up a hardware support can of worms, so which graphics cards will give you most benefit?

  • Adobe aren’t going to try to make GPU acceleration work on older cards. Adobe are saying you need a graphics card that runs on OpenGL 3.3 and later. See Adobe’s GPU FAQ.
  • If you’re thinking about what card to buy, you don’t need to go for a high end one, although that may future proof your spending.
  • Get a recent generation card with at least 2Gb of memory such as the AMD R9 2xx series or nvidia’s Geforce 700 or 900.
  • Ensure your card is running the latest drivers. On Mac, that’s done by updating to the latest operating system updates. On Windows, you need to download and install the latest drivers from the card manufacturer’s site.

Slideshow

slideshow

Sync Slides to Music lets you sync slides to the beats or rhythms in the music

Slideshow has had the complete rewrite that was long overdue. While most of the work has been “under the hood”, there are significant new features:

  • Multiple music tracks
  • A Ken Burns effect

I’m pleased with both of these additions, because for a long time they forced me to use Aperture or other tools for producing slideshows.

But something almost-as-important remains missing – a timeline that lets you to vary the duration of individual slides. Rewriting Slideshow was a great opportunity to include this key feature for audiovisual presentations, and maybe it’s been written but held back so it can be popped into Lr7, but one suspects it’ll now be a few versions before it appears. If so, that’s a shame.

Import to Collection

importIn the Import dialog box you can now specify a collection to which the imported photos should be added.

That may seem only a small change, but as I said earlier it’s often the little improvements that matter most.

It’s nice enough that you can now automatically add new pictures to the Project XYZ collection, for instance, or maybe to a Current Work collection if you use a system like my Workflow Smart Collections.

But you can also choose a collection that is synced to LrMobile, meaning that Import automatically brings the files into your catalogue and sends them to Lightroom Mobile.

Tethered capture – direct to LrMobile

tethered

Combine tethered shooting with LrMobile and newly-taken frames can be reviewed on devices or remotely via web browsers

I bet every other review of Lr6 will miss this one (it’ll be amusing to see), but it could be a real beauty for anyone who uses Lightroom for tethered shooting. You can now specify a collection to which newly-captured images will be added.

While this may seem like a repetition of the previous point, this little feature becomes much more exciting when you imagine how the tethered photographer could use it in combination with LrMobile and LrWeb. Automatically adding new photos to a synced collection makes this feature Adobe’s answer to CaptureOne’s Capture Pilot app:

  • A client could review and choose new pictures, even if the client is elsewhere
  • An assistant could be making broad adjustments and crops

Setting up this workflow is very easy. Before you start the tethered session:

  • Set up a collection such as my Client ABC (screenshot)
  • Sync it to LrMobile
  • Make it “public”
  • Share its URL with the client

You can now go back to shooting, and the client can watch newly-taken images appear – even if they are far away from your studio – and make selections by identifying “favourites” or send comments on photos. The client may be sitting in your studio and using LrMobile on your iPad, but they could also be sat at their desk in another country using LrWeb to view 2048 pixel colour- managed images on a colour managed screen.

There could be many permutations, but just imagine this scenario. In the studio one client watches you shoot and reviews the new pictures appearing full screen on the monitor. Meanwhile your assistant uses LrMobile on your iPad to make broad adjustments and crops which soon appear on the studio screen – and via LrWeb on the screen back in the client’s office where their art department are watching the results and making their choices. This could be a big winner.

Collections filter

collections_filter

Notice the handy new filter box at the top of the Collections panel

Another really handy little feature is that a filter box has been added at the top of the collections panel.

I’m one of those people who has lots of collections and like then grouped (or hidden)  in collection sets. So instead of digging around and remembering shortcuts like Alt/Option click (which opens or closes entire sets) it’s now very easy to search for the collection you want to use.

One little detail is that there’s a little drop down icon below the filter’s magnifying glass. This allows you to make the collections panel show you only those collections that you’ve synced to LrMobile. I suspect that Sync is the reason why Adobe added this filter box, but I use it all the time for other reasons.

What’s sad is that Adobe could have enhanced other panels where users often have unmanageably long lists. Since Lr4 there has been a similar feature in the Keyword List panel and it’s proved incredibly useful. It’s a real shame they didn’t take the opportunity to do the same for Folders and Develop Presets.

Face recognition

Upon startup you get this clear message. In my view it's better to choose the second option.

Upon startup you get this clear message. In my view it’s better to choose the second option.

Face recognition is one of the most-frequently requested features on Adobe’s feedback forum – including from those who make their living from photography.

To my mind, that fact alone justifies its addition to Lightroom. It isn’t just bloat, copying other apps like Aperture or Picasa, and it isn’t just a trivial toy for Facebookers. In fact, it doesn’t even integrate with Facebook and tag people when you post photos to your social media friends.

Personally I am undecided about its value and I have disabled it in the catalogue settings.

 

 

 

 

Why I don’t use it

I am genuinely open-minded about face recognition’s value, but in practice I’ve found Lightroom’s recognition system is unable to distinguish my teenage niece from middle aged guys with bushy beards.

beards

You can try Find Similar Faces, and there are other pictures of Sophie in this set of photos, but none of the suggestions is her.

faces

I have so little faith in the face recognition that I have disabled it

Seriously. OK, it’s not always so unreliable, but I’ve not much faith in it and don’t bother using it.

In any case I am not usually interested in recording where someone is in a photo, so I just add keywords as normal and ensure that I identify them as Person keywords.

SNAG-0015This last point, checking the new keyword’s Person box has practical benefits because it means:

  • When you export a photo, information about people is not included in exported file’s metadata.
  • In export, you can uncheck the option Remove Person Info box and names will then be included in exported file’s metadata as
    • keywords
    • IPTC Extension Person Shown
    • Metadata Working Group Regions
    • The keyword appears in the Person tab if the Keyword List

If these metadata aspects are important to you, I suggest you export a photo with Remove Person Info unchecked and then examine its metadata carefully in the Advanced tab of Bridge’s File Info dialog box, or in some other metadata tool.

Setting a standard
people

A standard way to record who is in a photo is as important as Face Recognition that barely works.

While I don’t use the face recognition feature, I do think it is important that Adobe have now established a standard way to record who is in a photo, and established some related controls over exporting personal data. And I think that is a big enough deal for Adobe to have created a separate People panel.

I used to think Adobe should record the information in the IPTC Person Shown field, which is technically the correct place for it. But while Lightroom was ahead of the game in supporting these IPTC Extension fields, there is little sign of their widespread adoption and I accept it’s best that Adobe chose to use keywords. They then made a wise move by distinguishing People keywords from regular keywords, so you can easily filter the Keyword List.

See Julieanne Kost’s video on face recognition.

Buy or rent – a mess of Adobe’s own making?

Perpetual licences remain available but are fxxxing difficult to find on Adobe’s site. Sadly, that seems deliberate. But you can find it if you look carefully, and one place to buy the perpetual licence is by going to Adobe’s Products page ( USA UK ). More info here.

SNAG-0013

You can still buy a standard perpetual licence

Boxed versions remain available. However, full versions are only from third parties such as Amazon, while Adobe are only selling upgrades to boxed purchases (click Buy then change it to an upgrade).

Summary

Some very nice details, some important new features, some missed opportunities.

Buying Lightroom normally

Adobe have said “Future versions of Lightroom will be made available via traditional perpetual licenses indefinitely” and they have continued to offer the standard, perpetual licence for Lightroom 6. However, it is fxxxing difficult to find on Adobe’s site.

SNAG-0012

Make sure you click the Buy button

If you want to buy Lightroom with a normal, perpetual licence, don’t try going via Lightroom’s main page – it will only lead you off into the cloud.

Instead, you need to go to Adobe’s Products listing page.

Here are the steps….

1. Go to the Products page for your country or region:

  • USA
  • UK Italy Germany France
  • For other countries, follow the USA link and select Choose Your Region
  • If you don’t see Choose Your Region, and an incorrect local office is shown, choose Change
 

SNAG-0013

2. Make sure you click the Buy button. Don’t click the link to Photoshop Lightroom 6 as that just takes you back to Adobe’s standard Lightroom page where you get pushed towards CC. Instead, click Buy which brings up this much more obvious screen:

3. Choose the Full or Upgrade version as appropriate. I think the purchase should be obvious from there, and you should get a serial number.

4. When you install Lightroom, you will have to sign into Adobe Creative Cloud.

5. You may be lucky and notice a Licence this Software button – if so, ignore this step. But if you do find you’ve already gone into Lightroom, go to the Help menu and make sure you sign out.

HelpSignoutEdit

6. Restart Lightroom and you should be asked to Sign In. The next screen is this, so click License This Software:

LicenseThisSoftware

7. Now enter your serial number and you should be good to go.

Serial

If you’re still in trouble….

I recommend looking at Adobe’s licensing help page:

Adobe Comp and Lightroom

Another newly-released iOS app that can access your Lightroom Mobile photos is Adobe Comp.

It’s quite a clever iPad app for creating layouts and lets you draw shapes, photos and add text, then save the composition to the cloud. What’s quite startling – at least the first time you see it – is that you can even send the composition from your iPad directly to your main computer, launching Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator.

While Comp’s likely user seems to be the graphic designer (apparently it’s an “ideation” app), I can imagine a Lightroom Mobile user stuck on the train or enjoying a lonely pint and putting together a custom page layout with overlapping photos, maybe background art too, and then using the composition in Print or Book.

Comp and LrMobile

Follow my Comp to Photoshop steps in this presentation
– which I made on the iPad with Slate and LrMobile

I decided to put together a simple layout which would have a photo inside a circular frame. To see screenshots of the process, see this presentation.

Once I’d added the circular placeholder, and repositioned it with the smart guides, I then tapped its photo button, and looked for Lightroom Mobile.

There’s no Lightroom logo but all the photos you synced to Lightroom Mobile are in fact available – LrM is just one way of accessing files stored in Adobe’s cloud.

You just tap the My Files option, which has Adobe’s Creative Cloud logo. The Photos category then displays all the collections you uploaded to Lightroom Mobile. So you can now choose the picture to add to your composition.

Sending to Photoshop

One aspect that surprised me was how you can get your composition from your iPad to Photoshop CC. The boring way is to save your composition to the cloud, then open it in Photoshop (yes, I said that was boring).

The cool way is to tap Comp’s Share button on the iPad. You then choose Photoshop, and the composition automatically opens on your computer.

Attention to detail

It’s when you examine the PSD in Photoshop that you can see the developers’ good attention to detail.

Individual photos are added as smart object layers, so you can edit each layer and resize them (2048 pixel images are in the smart objects), and their position and the circular framing are implemented by vector masks which also can be resized or removed.

LrMobile’s ecosystem

CompCC_1-150x150I have quickly gained a good impression of Adobe Comp and feel it’s one of the more potentially-useful apps that Adobe have floated.

Regardless of its merits though, what seems most interesting about Comp for Lightroom users is how it’s another example of Adobe’s plans for the wider ecosystem of which LrMobile is only one part. You’re going to be able to use your photos in places you might never expect.

Why can’t LrMobile do what Comp does?

A parting thought is that I particularly liked sending a composition to Photoshop and wondered about a Lightroom equivalent? Might it be an identical “share with Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator” feature? Or imagine using the iPad on the train/plane and sending instructions to Lightroom Desktop so that when you return home, Lightroom automatically opens at the collection/photo you were working on.

Adobe Slate and Lightroom

slate

Here I’m setting the picture on the site’s opening page and can use photos I’ve already uploaded to Lightroom Mobile.

Adobe Slate is a new iPad app that makes it very easy to “tell a story”. But what makes it interesting for Lightroom users is how it integrates with Lightroom Mobile.

So, “tell a story”? Apparently what that means in English is that it creates a simple, elegant web site with photos and text. You don’t need web design skills, or your own web space as it’s hosted by Adobe. You just open the app on your iPad, you create a new story, add a title, and then tap the Add Photo buttons. Lightroom Mobile is one of the places from where you can choose photos.

So what might you use Slate for? Your “story” becomes a standalone mini-site, so you might use it for a newsletter or maybe to report some event or an experience. You can then embed your story in social media or as a link from your own web site if you wish. The site can be made public and included in Adobe’s searchable gallery of Slate sites, or you can keep its URL private and share it only with the people you want.

Adobe’s Ely Greenfield, senior principal scientist for Voice describes Slate as:

a really safe, creative environment where people can explore different options without worrying about getting lost in a dizzying sea of conflicting design choices. Both Voice and Slate are designed for people who don’t have the design or technical expertise to tackle some of our more professional products. The best option of course will always be to work with a professional designer, but not every project has the time or budget to make that possible.

Here I’ve tapped the Add Photos button, chosen the photo grid, and then just selected the pictures I have already uploaded to LrMobile

I must admit, I haven’t yet found a use for Slate. But I can design my own web sites and I don’t generally create separate sites for events like family parties or trips. So while I feel it’s not for me, I can see Slate has potential and could be quite popular. If you already use Lightroom Mobile, it might be a very convenient way for you to share photos and experiences, and it’s also an interesting taster of where Adobe are going by connecting other applications to Lightroom’s cloud services. For instance, you might imagine online book or print vendors could step up and offer services that integrate with Adobe’s service.

If youslate want to see the story I created here, follow this link. It’s very rough – a couple of minutes’ tapping on the iPad.

 

Read more about it here and download the app from Apple’s AppStore.

Import raw files into LR Mobile?

Drag photos from Explorer/Finder and drop them in a collection in your browser. Copies of the originals will then be uploaded to Adobe’s cloud.

How do you import raw files into LR Mobile on location?

You can’t do this. LR Mobile is not designed to import raw files and is not (yet) intended to make your iPad a laptop replacement. If you need laptop features when you’re travelling, take a small laptop.

But there is a workaround which uses a new feature in Lightroom Web – dragging and dropping files into the browser.

First you need to get the photos onto a proper computer. Then you just log into Lightroom Web in a browser and drag the photos from Explorer/Finder and drop them in a collection in the browser window. The files will then be uploaded – as copies of the originals – to Adobe’s cloud.

When you return to LR Mobile the photos will soon be synced down to your device. You can then make adjustments, add flags and ratings, and these will be synced to Adobe’s cloud as normal.

When you return home, the new photos will then be synced down into LR Desktop, together with the work done on your iPad/Phone. It’s worth adding that these photos are in the original format, so you wouldn’t need to copy the files from your laptop or flash cards.

While this drag and drop feature wasn’t specifically designed for raw files and works with other file formats, it is interesting and not yet very well-known. Even if you don’t use it for raw files, you might be able to find other uses.

Alternatively, you can shoot Raw+JPEG, import the JPEGs into LrM via the Camera Roll and make adjustments, add ratings etc. When you’re back home and import the raw files, you can use my Syncomatic plugin to sync the work from the JPEGs to the corresponding raw files. I’ve not done this myself but I have heard of a few people doing this.

LR Web – clients don’t have an Adobe account?

How can a friend or client review and comment on a shared LrWeb collection without having to set up an Adobe account?

Lightroom Web is the browser-based part of Lightroom Mobile. When Lightroom uploads photos (smart previews) to Adobe’s servers for Mobile, they can also be made available to other clients such as a web browser, and that’s what’s being done at https://lightroom.adobe.com/ .

SNAG-0002

When you share a collection via LrWeb, the thumbnails are displayed in this columnar style.

LR Web is designed with a Facebook-like mechanism for allowing friends/clients to mark pictures as “Favorites”, and you can use this feature to allow them to select images they might want. These choices appear automatically in LR, and you can add your own responses in LR.

One awkward detail is that the client needs an Adobe account. This feature is pretty new and has already changed quickly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it changes to allow other ways of authenticating comments. But it’s easy to imagine people may be reluctant to sign up, even if the account is free.

For now, you can always set up a dummy account and tell people to log in using that user name and password.

If you need more than one person to view a set of images, just duplicate the collection and sync it too (this doesn’t mean extra uploading). So, for example, client John might log in using mydummyadobeID and has the URL from the Shoot-John collection, while client David would use exactly the same ID to view the Shoot-David collection.

Lightroom Mobile 1.3

Lightroom Mobile 1.3 has just been released, and as Sharad Mangalick writes, it adds three significant improvements:

66e0-046b-d29b-b451

You can now copy adjustments from one image to another

  • Edit images faster by copying image adjustments and pasting them onto another photo
  • Easily find your favorite images ! The new Segmented view in Collections gives you a different way to view and engage with your photos.
  • Want to pass your device around the family to look at your photos? With Presentation Mode, you can do that without worrying about your flags, ratings and adjustments being accidentally changed.
Adjustments

Being able to copy adjustments between images seems indicative of Adobe’s ambition for this app.

If you’re puzzled at that comment, and wondering why I would edit photographs on a device I cannot calibrate, I think it’s worth adding that I was recently asked this question and my response was that it’s because you don’t use it for the finest level adjustment that requires a colour managed environment. Instead you do broad brush adjustments when you just find yourself with a few minutes on the train or in the pub. This means that once you are back in your colour managed environment, some of the donkey work and also contemplation is done, and all your desktop time can then go into the fine tuning. In a sense, I think it’s right to see a comparison with Quick Develop, though the adjustments are more precise and you can crop images too. On the iPad I can often readily identify that an image needs a bit more exposure, that dragging back highlights will bring detail in the sky, that I want to do it B&W…. These are the kinds of adjustments I might just make on the iPad when I have the inclination and a bit of time.

Now, I wouldn’t do these kinds of adjustments when a set of pictures has a deadline. That’s simply not the point of Mobile – in those cases, I’m literally immobile and remain chained to my desk.

segment

You tap the subheadings to change how the grid is divided

Segmenting

I’m less sure about the value of segmenting a collection, and perhaps it’s trickier than it needs to be. As with filtering, you go into a collection and tap the title at the top of the screen – you can then choose between a flat and segmented view.

Some collections will immediately be segmented by useful periods. So I have one collection of photos taken over 17 years which defaults to annual segments. But this collection was shot over two days and segmenting by day is less interesting than breaking down the pictures by hour.

The trick is to tap-hold the subheading and you can then choose year / month / day / hour.

It’s (almost) safe to hand your iPad to your friend’s too-smart teenager

But for me the last item, Presentation Mode, is the most welcome. A few months ago I was at a large table in a restaurant and a friend’s teenage son asked to see a set of pictures I’d been talking about. So while we enjoyed our lunch, I handed him my iPad and let him flick through the pictures. Only later that evening did I notice that he’d figured out how to add ratings (swipe up on the right hand side) and had even managed to make a few adjustments. Isn’t youthful curiosity a wonderful thing? Anyway, no great harm was done, and in Lightroom Desktop I could sort by Edit Time and use the History panel to remove his handiwork.4369-c8ec-3074-d951

But that’s what Presentation Mode is designed to prevent. Before handing over the iPad, I would go into the Share menu, and choose Present. I’d prefer something less fiddly, like a multi-finger gesture, but it’s probably a good enough solution.

Lightroom Mobile now on Android phones too

mobile_workflow

The workflow is between the computer and the iPad – not, as some expect, from camera to iPad to computer

Adobe always prioritised Lightroom Mobile’s iOS version – iOS is disproportionately dominant among Lightroom users – but they’ve always said Android was planned. Although Sharad Mangalick’s post is dated Jan 8, it’s just been released for phones:

Tonight we’re announcing the immediate availability of Lightroom mobile for Android phones.

Lightroom mobile extends your existing workflows beyond the desktop, allowing you to utilize your Android phone to review and edit your images and have the changes sync back to your Lightroom catalog at home, including:

  • access images in your Lightroom catalog

  • make selects, reject unworthy photos

  • apply a preset

  • fine tunes your images using the Basic panel

  • import new photos directly from the Gallery

List View 1.80 lets Excel send text to Lightroom

I’ve just uploaded the next version of ListView here and will release it officially when I’m happy it works correctly. If you want to try it though, I would welcome any feedback.

One change is that Lr 4/5 users get more standard-looking scrolling, and I’ve also introduced an option to create tab-separated export. But the most exciting addition is an Excel add-in (included in the zip file) that can send metadata directly from Excel into Lightroom.

For the technically-minded, the Excel add-in works by adding a cell function =ListViewValue() and a macro which reads the spreadsheet and communicates directly with the open Lightroom catalogue, effectively asking Lightroom to “find the picture this file path and set its title to XYZ” (for example). So in your spreadsheet you just create cells with the =ListViewValue formulae and run the macro.

It’s worth adding that I’m not doing anything dubious like hacking into Lightroom’s SQL database or XMP files – Excel is communicating with Adobe’s authorised method, the SDK. In my former life as a financial IT consultant I used to do lots of work with Excel’s VBA programming language and this method is very similar to how Excel communicates with many business systems. So I’m confident it’s a workflow which will will be popular, at least among Excel-savvy users.

I’ve tested it with the current versions of Excel on both PC and Mac. But for technical reasons I do not plan to support older Excel versions or the special Excel 64 bit version for PC. Just in case that last comment is confusing, on Windows Microsoft offer a 32 bit Excel version which runs under 32 or 64 bit Windows 7/8, and this is the version most people use, but there is also a 64 bit Excel which is not recommended by Microsoft for general use.

I probably won’t offer step by step instructions either. Here I don’t want to be patronising, but this tool is likely to be useful only if you have advanced Excel skills and can figure out what you need from the video (which is best viewed full screen).

So try it, and let me know it works.

 

Aperture-like projects and Lightroom

How would I replicate my Aperture projects in Lightroom?

I think it’s helpful if you can try to remember that Lightroom’s Folders panel hasn’t got a real equivalent in Aperture. You don’t see the actual physical location of files in Aperture’s interface, and the nearest you get is the Relocate Originals menu command. This dialog box is for managing the physical location of files – not for managing projects or categorising your pictures. In Lightroom, the Folders panel may be a major element in the interface, but like Reorganise Masters it’s all about the physical location and safekeeping of your photos – the Folders panel is not about project organisation or categorisation.

So one can summarise how Lightroom’s main “containers” compare with those in Aperture:

  • Folders = (approx) Relocate Originals

  • Collection Sets + Collections = Projects, Albums, Books, Slideshows etc

projects

An Aperture-like project structure in Lightroom collections, not folders

So if Folders are not for project organisation in Lightroom, what about Collection Sets and Collections?

Well, it’s not very different from what you had in Aperture. For example:

  • I have an overall project called “Lake District”
  • All Lake District photos will share certain keywords like “Lake District”, so I gather them with a Smart Collection called “All photos”
  • There are other Smart Collections for a sub-project on mining, and another which groups all the Photoshopped versions
  • Notice how a Collection can contain books and other “output collections” like slideshows or web galleries
  • Like Aperture, here you don’t see which folders contain the pictures – for what it’s worth, they are in dozens of date-based folders

As a general observation, Lightroom users tend to make more use of traditional IPTC fields for structuring and organising their catalogues, and I’d recommend ex-Aperture users adopt this practice (if you ever leave Lightroom, IPTC fields are easier to take with you). For example, I’d recommend the Job field for project names – eg Lakeland sports, Grasmere Show 2014 etc.

But to conclude, you can have an Aperture-like project structure providing you don’t make the mistake of thinking Lightroom folders are Aperture projects. So I’ll repeat again:

  • Folders = (approx) Reorganise Masters

  • Collection Sets + Collections = Projects, Albums, Books, Slideshows etc

Traffic

trafficI’m really not obsessed with traffic to this site, and I rarely look at the statistics, but because of my Moving from Aperture to Lightroom page I expected a spike in visitors after the news that Apple had finally stopped developing Aperture.

I won’t disclose exact numbers – and I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s because of commercial confidentiality or embarrassment – but the spike was roughly 15 times the normal level and traffic now seems to be running at about 4 times what it was before. Thanks Apple PR.

 

Goodbye Mr Damocles?

Lightroom 5.5 brings a hugely-surprising – and very welcome – change to how Lightroom behaves once you stop subscribing or after a trial ends.

lr55_licencing

To appreciate the importance of the change, just imagine a couple of scenarios:

  • You might try Lightroom for 30 days, import and work on photos, then decide not to buy the program – but the trial ended before you had printed some pictures you had adjusted.
  • Potentially much more calamitous is if you had been subscribing to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, either the full version or the Photoshop+Lightroom bundle, and then stopped your subscription for whatever reason. You might have had a lot of hours or years tied up in Lightroom, but suddenly all your work would become inaccessible.

Adobe have now addressed what many regarded as a particularly-objectionable aspect of the subscription model, and it’s clear they have been thinking about this for some time – see John Nack’s post here. You can now breathe a lot more easily.

What Adobe have said

From the official statement from Adobe’s Tom Hogarty:

With the latest update to Lightroom 5.5 I believe we’ve also addressed a lingering concern in the community: What happens to my photographs after my membership ends?  With Lightroom 5.5, at the end of a membership, the desktop application will continue to launch and provide access to the photographs managed within Lightroom as well as the Slideshow, Web, Book or Print creations that we know many photographers painstakingly create. The Develop and Map modules have been disabled in order to signal the end of the membership and the need to renew in order to receive Adobe’s continuous innovation in those areas. Access to Lightroom mobile workflows will also cease to function.

Everything except Develop and Map

So even if Lightroom is no longer licensed, it will continue to open catalogues and almost all the important features will remain available. Adobe have also kept it nice and simple – Develop and Map are disabled, as is Mobile. But you can do everything else, and after a 30 day trial or a subscription expires you’ll continue to be able to use Lightroom to import new photos, find and organise them, apply keywords and other metadata, use them in books or slideshows, print and export them.

Quick Develop and Presets

What if you want to make more adjustments? Well, while you won’t be able to use the Develop module, you can still adjust your photos through Library’s Quick Develop panel or by applying presets – the only thing that’s really unavailable is cropping.

What do you think?

In fact, I’m actually quite surprised at what seems a very generous move. What do you think?

Apple kills Aperture

If you’re a refugee from Aperture, see my Moving from Aperture to Lightroom page

It’s been obvious for a while that Apple couldn’t be making money from Aperture and that they were no longer investing in developing new versions, but finally the sword has fallen. Apple To Cease Development Of Aperture:

With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture. When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.

Even before that announcement, consistently the most-visited page on this site was my Moving from Aperture to Lightroom. If that’s what brought you here, moving to Lightroom is not too difficult a process. I’d just say that with these things the devil is always in the detail, so as well as reading the article  I would encourage Aperture refugees to read the comments where some of the individual insights might prove particularly helpful.

 

 

Syncomatic and LrMobile

I’ve 20140622_syncomaticjust updated my Syncomatic plug-in to version 2.0.

This plugin synchronises Library metadata and Develop adjustments between pairs of files:

  1. Whose names match
  2. Or from the top item of a stack to the other stacked items.
  3. New – based on identical capture times

The idea occurred when Victoria Bampton mentioned a potential workflow involving Lightroom Mobile for users who want to import raw files directly to the iPad.

This was a surprise to me. I’m happy with the standard method of importing files to LR on the desktop,  so I’ve never really thought about the problem or wondered about workarounds.

But others have. You can shoot raw+JPEG, import the JPEGs into Lightroom Mobile on the iPad, apply star ratings and flags, even make adjustments. When you return to your computer, you can import the raw files into Lightroom as normal, and LrM would automatically bring in the JPEGs which were processed in LrM. Unfortunately the JPEGs’ names no longer match the raw files. In her book Victoria suggests renaming the files, but quite sensibly asked me if Syncomatic could avoid that step.

So Syncomatic 2.0’s new capture time option allows you to sync the metadata from the JPEGs to the raw files.

Any thoughts?

One big folder?

Scott Kelby says put all images in one folder first. I want to stay with two folders. Is LR still appropriate?

Ignore Scott’s advice. Forget the idea about putting your images in one folder, if it’s indeed what he says, and you can certainly have two or more main folders with subfolders beneath them.

In general, I think it’s fair to say that for all his many strengths, advice on organising photos isn’t one of Kelby’s strong points. But the idea of putting everything in a single folder seems so ludicrous I find it hard to believe he’s not been misquoted.

However, the advice isn’t completely off-target if you re-interpret it to mean avoiding overcomplicated folder systems. After all, every so often I encounter someone who says he has some pictures on this drive, others on that drive, others….oh, and the 2009 vacation are still on the old laptop. If you have anything like that kind of patchwork “organisation” of your photos, trouble is lurking somewhere down the line.

Instead a simple system of one or two main top level folders, and then a third next year when you need another disc, means that at any moment you can say all my pictures are under control, they’re all recorded in Lightroom, you know they’re all backed up, and you waste no time finding ones you need because they’re all in Lightroom. So if Scott does advise “one folder”, it’s all about keeping your photos in as few places as you can, no more.

Long term thinking

Maybe the most common response to yesterday’s announcement of Lightroom Mobile has been annoyance at it being tied to a subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. I won’t defend that other than by saying that it was pretty inevitable given Adobe’s sudden switch to subscription sales and also results from the nature of the service. But I did think it worth pointing you to some recent commentary on Adobe’s finances and in particular Forbes magazine’s response to an Economist puff piece about how the drop in Adobe’s profits since CC’s launch had been accompanied by a rise in its stock price. Steve Denning writes:
20140322_WBC548

“Wall Street isn’t entirely stupid,” Roger Martin commented to me. “If a cogent argument is made for a different business model, then it will listen.  Most such company arguments lack cogency and that’s why they fall on entirely deaf ears. This is particularly interesting because it has long been thought that a traditional license-selling software company can’t cross the chasm into a Software as a Service (SAAS) model because the transitional hit on revenues is just too brutal. Once you get to the other side, it is great and arguably a superior model with a recurring revenue base. But it is brutal to build up that base. It’s important for Adobe to succeed because it will help Wall Street understand that it is doable. Others will then follow.”

While it’s heartening to see Wall Street for once not totally obsessed by the short-term, one can also ask: is this a bold, creative customer-friendly management decision, as The Economist suggests? Or could it be a desperation move in the form of a financial gadget that is aimed at covering up a lack of innovation?

I think it’s worth making a couple of other points. Notice the word “desperation”, which is quite similar to my view last year – Adobe may feel they have no alternative to going down the subscription route. Secondly, as a former corporate financial planning cubicle worker, innovation is just one approach to pressures on profitability – cost-cutting is another.

Lightroom for the pub?

Last September Adobe’s Tom Hogarty demonstrated a Lightroom app on the iPad, and a couple of months ago what looked like a draft announcement made a brief appearance on Adobe’s web site. It was promptly removed, but not before people had taken screenshots saying it would be available at $9.99 a month. That seemed a lot for an iPad app on its own, but it was clear something was coming and wasn’t too far away.

More recently Adobe had failed to released a Lightroom 5.4 Release Candidate at the same time as the corresponding betas of Adobe Camera Raw and the DNG Converter. Early adopters of the Nikon D4s and Fuji’s XT1 were left unable to process their shiny new raw files in Lightroom, and of course they blamed Adobe for their slowness rather than Nikon and Fuji for their failure to offer DNG as an option. I had a few emails asking why Adobe hadn’t rushed out a Lightroom 5.4 beta. Clearly, there was something unusual happening.

The answer came last night – 5.4 has been released with an iPad app, Lightroom mobile.

I quite like it, even if I think Adobe have made some avoidable mistakes, but I’m going to focus on the gotchas. After all, there will be enough gushing stuff elsewhere, or tap by tap instructions and even books on it. So it’s gotchas here….

What it’s for

mobile_workflow

The workflow is between the computer and the iPad – not, as some expect, from camera to iPad to computer

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking Lightroom mobile is any substitute for the full Lightroom experience. It isn’t and it doesn’t claim to be so. See this explanation of why the workflow isn’t camera > LrM > desktop.

Photo editing need not mean exactly the same work that you would do with all that desktop horsepower. The space for tablets is quick and dirty broad adjustments, done at your leisure in moments when you’re not chained to your computer. Doing broad adjustments on the iPad and (just-as-importantly) thinking about the picture’s needs, you can put your serious face on again later when you are back in front of your colour-managed monitor – all that’s left to do is the fine tuning.

Secondly, the app really isn’t just about editing. I find its best use is presentation – just running a quick slideshow on the TV or showing your pictures directly on the iPad. Yes, I know there are apps that do this (I have 3-4 of them), and it’s not rocket science to get pictures into them from LR via Dropbox or whatever (I figure it out afresh each time I tweak my iPad portfolios), but when IT-savvy people like me find that a pain…. None of these methods is remotely as simple as clicking a button next to the collection.

Third, its best use is for casual activity, just flicking through images when you’ve escaped from the desk and deciding which you like or not. Here Adobe dropped the ball – you can only use flags – but it can still be used.

So that’s why I think of it as Lightroom for the pub or for the train or for when you’re sitting in the garden. Use it for:

  • Basic panel adjustments
  • Pick and reject flags
  • Running slideshows on TV

A reason to subscribe?

One of the most obvious points is that Lightroom Mobile is only available with a Creative Cloud subscription. The leaked $9.99 per month standalone app had never looked credible, and including Mobile as part of the CC subscription always made much more sense.

  • For one thing, on a technical level some kind of cloud or network would be required to sync photos between desktop and iPad. Allowing users to sync via Dropbox or via a local network might be technically feasible, but would it be economic? In any case, sync is too critical to Mobile for the service to be outside Adobe’s control.
  • Just as important, you’ve got to see the iPad app as a benefit for existing subscribers and an inducement to subscribe to the CC. Whatever people think of subscription-limited software, that’s the way Adobe wants to drive its customers – and there’s got to be carrot as well as stick.

Only for iPad?

As someone who owns an iPad 2, I am pleased Adobe decided to Mobile would be supported on any iPads capable of running iOS 7, but plenty of people have questioned the lack of an Android version. Well, I certainly can’t be categorised as pro-Apple – quite the contrary – and yet I think it’s quote easy to defend the decision.

The truth is that whatever the wider ratio of Android and iOS tablets may be, the iPad is overwhelmingly the most common tablet owned by Lightroom users. As evidence for that statement, take this site’s stats which show 60% of mobile visitors here use iPads, 23% iPhones, and the top Android device, the Galaxy, accounts for just 3%. These stats are remarkably similar to Victoria Bampton’s Lightroom Queen site and Lightroom Forums, and I don’t think it’s unlikely that they must be equally representative of the Lightroom user base. After all, you’d have to be pretty weird to spend time on any of these sites if you weren’t a Lightroom user. So it’s a fair bet that upwards of 60% of tablet-owning Lightroom users have iPads, and I’ve no doubt Adobe have done plenty of market research along similar lines. Limiting Mobile to the iPad, at least for now, will be a cold business decision.

Pressing Reset

Before moving on to look at the features, it’s worth giving a tip for older iPad users, or users of older iPads. We all know image processing loves as much memory as it can throw at pictures, but the iPad 2 only has a 512k chip which has been upgraded in the latest generations of iPad. So if you  have an iPad 2 and experience crashes with Mobile (or any other app), there may be “low memory errors”. If you want to look at them, they will be listed in the iPad’s log files in Settings > General > About > Diagnostics & Usage > Diagnostics & Usage. But in any case, if you experience crashes I strongly recommend resetting the iPad. It doesn’t do any harm and may well solve low memory crashes caused by Lightroom mobile or any other app.

IMG_0664

Basic panel adjustments are available by dragging the slider along the bottom of the image. In many ways it’s remarkable.

An unbalanced set of features?

I like the features that Mobile offers. You can:

  • View images with the results of all the adjustments you’ve made in Lightroom Desktop
  • Apply basic panel adjustments by dragging sliders
  • Apply Adobe’s built-in presets
  • Apply pick / reject flags
  • Create new collections
  • Automatically sync pictures from the camera roll (it’s how I got the screenshots here)
  • Automatically sync your Mobile edits with Lightroom back to your desktop

Yet while that’s a handy set of features, I am rather disappointed that they appear unbalanced – saying it’s only a 1.0 is not that great an excuse, is it?

So what do I mean by “unbalanced”?

Well, it’s not that I expect to replicate Lightroom Desktop on the iPad. Apart from the lack of horsepower, I simply don’t think people use iPads in circumstances where they expect as powerful a range of features as on a proper computer. You’re in the pub, on a train, pretending to be sociable by sitting with the family as they watch some talent show on the television etc – and to be honest you’re only pretending not to be watching that drivel. I think it makes sense to limit adjustments to those found in the Basic panel.

And there’s plenty you can accomplish with these Basic panel adjustments and Adobe’s built-in presets. You can’t do proper B&W, or use your own presets, and the 1.0 excuse can apply to gradients and local adjustment brushwork which would seem very suitable to touch screens. But for the kind of editing you might do on the iPad, Adobe have provided a good range of adjustments.

IMG_0655

Lightroom Mobile includes the Basic panel adjustments from Develop but only allows you to flag pictures – not rate them or apply other metadata. It’s as if if offers the features that are the most difficult to code, but fails to provide the easy stuff.

The imbalance is that you wouldn’t just use iPad time for making basic adjustments – you’d do Library as well as Develop tasks. While you’re enjoying your second pint, or when they changes channel for the other talent show, you can happily review your pictures and decide which to keep or reject. So Mobile lets you swipe up and down to apply pick or reject flags – great. But that’s all it offers.

The lack of star ratings seems a glaring omission as I think people typically use flags and ratings in concert, and it’s good that Adobe are going to add ratings. Flags identify which pictures to keep or reject, and then star ratings further refine the keepers. Coloured labels are a less serious omission, but I find it hard to explain why they aren’t there.

Similarly I doubt people would use iPads for much metadata entry. Applying keywords seems too serious for iPad time, but you can’t even edit existing captions or fix typos.

It’s all Develop, not much Library. The technically-difficult features are there, but the quick win Library features are very thin,  and that’s why I continue to feel the app is unbalanced.

What good is it if there’s no colour management?

The iPad doesn’t offer colour management, so you are going to be disappointed if you expect to use Lightroom Mobile to fine tune your pictures. That doesn’t make the app useless, as I’m sure some will claim.

Mobile is for the kind of quick and dirty adjustments you do when you’re half drunk or stuck waiting for the train home. You don’t do those? Well, I don’t really believe you, or at least I don’t think you’re representative. Most people do have time away from the computer when they can make rough adjustments and try things, and it’s pretty sweet to get back to the big computer and see those adjustments have been automatically applied to the pictures. A bit of sophisticated colour-managed fine tuning and you’re done. So it’s about making the most of your time.

Slideshow

Running slideshows on the TV is nothing particularly new, and you can easily use a laptop to show pictures directly from Lightroom itself, but something I particularly like about Lightroom Mobile is using it for slideshows. Unlike the laptop, the iPad is rarely out of reach and is much less obtrusive. As I have an Apple TV, it’s just 3 or 4 swipes and the pictures are on my 40″ screen.

Mystery meat navigation

mystery_meat

Look for the three dots in the collection’s bottom right corner. Tap them and the panel flips over and provides access to its settings. Enable Offline Editing is probably the most useful and downloads the smart previews (boiled down versions of your originals) directly onto your iPad.

I’ve always argued that Lightroom’s interface is unhelpfully gloomy, and Lightroom Mobile retains the same grey-on-grey tones.

Also, like a lot of touch apps it adopts a “mystery meat” approach to navigation. The result is that a lot of its features are harder to discover – or read – than they might be.

Learn your gestures

Lightroom Mobile, like any touch-driven interface, is driven by swipes and taps – “gestures”. So another big tip is to make an effort to learn your gestures.

gestures

Hidden in the app’s settings is a list of gestures. You can also reset the tips here.

But this is where “mystery meat” bites back. Lightroom Mobile’s gestures are nicely highlighted the first time you use the app, but only the first time, and afterwards it’s very easy to forget the tricks and it’s not obvious where to find a list.

In fact you need to tap your account info at the app’s top left. This opens the settings – see what I mean about mystery meat – and you get access to a list of gesture shortcuts. It’s in very small grey text on slightly darker grey text, so

Where to get it

Lightroom mobile is available on the Apple App Store. You need:

  • iPad 2 and above
  • iOS 7

Is there an easier way to get text into Lightroom?


Updated video

Coming soon to my ListView plug-in, automatic updating from Excel to Lightroom. Have you ever seen an easier way to get text data into Lightroom?

For the technically-minded, it’s an Excel macro which reads the spreadsheet and communicates directly with the open Lightroom catalogue. In my former life as a financial IT consultant I used to do a lot of work with Excel’s VBA programming language, and the use of a custom formula is very similar to how Excel communicates with many business systems, so I’m confident it’s a solution which will work.

It’s worth adding that I’m not doing anything dubious like hacking into Lightroom’s SQL database or XMP files – the automation is entirely via Adobe’s authorised method, the SDK.

I will need testers – ideally existing ListView users. It will only work with Lightroom 5 and you would need to have one of the very latest versions of Excel – definitely Office 2011 on Mac as the previous version omitted VB. If you want to try it in advance of release, let me know by email or by adding a comment to this post.

Update

See List View 1.73 imports from Excel