List View 1.84 Excel to Lightroom

Post updated 5 March 2016: I’ve just uploaded the next version of ListView and will release it officially when I’m happy it works correctly. If you want to try it though, I would welcome any feedback. Lr 5+ users get more standard-looking scrolling, and I’ve also introduced an option to create tab-separated export. But potentially the most exciting addition is an Excel add-in (included in the zip file) that can send metadata directly from Excel into Lightroom.

It’s important to say that this is a bonus feature only and that it is not suitable for everyone. You will need better-than-average Excel skills such as, for example, knowing how to edit macros. If you only have basic Excel skills, this tool is probably not for you and I cannot support you.

The Excel add-in works by adding a cell function =ListViewValue() to Excel. In your spreadsheet you just create cells with the =ListViewValue formulae and run a “Send to Lightroom” macro. The ListView plugin in Lightroom then receives the formulae values, searches for the photo (using the folder path or UUID) and updates the field in Lightroom. At present not every field is available, but I’m testing it with these important ones – caption, title, headline, country, state, city, location, label, rating, job, instructions, GPS, and keywords.

  • It will only be a bonus feature and I won’t offer step by step instructions or any “official” support
  • Current versions of Excel on both PC and Mac
  • I do not plan to make it work on older Excel versions
  • It will not run under the Excel 64 bit version which Microsoft don’t recommend for general use
  • Won’t work in El Capitan as Apple broke the method used to communicate with Lightroom

Some tips:

  • Keywords will be slower to import than other fields. As guidance:
    • 2 mins to update 1765 photos’ keywords where all keywords were already in the catalogue
    • 5 mins to update 1765 photos’ keywords where all the keywords also needed to be added to the catalogue
    • 25 secs to update 1765 photos’ ratings
  • listview_activity

    The Activity Center shows the import process’s detailed progress

    If sending keywords, try closing the Keyword List

  • Updating may be faster if you don’t have any images selected
  • Updating may be faster if the library Filter panel is not displayed

The idea comes from my former life as a financial IT consultant where I used to do lots of work with Excel’s VBA programming language and encountered a number of similar Excel add-ins which read and wrote to large business systems. So I’m confident it’s a workflow which could be popular, at least among Excel-savvy users. So try it, and let me know it works.

Free Nik

It’s interesting to speculate why, but yesterday Google announced “Today we’re making the Nik Collection available to everyone, for free“:

Starting March 24, 2016, the latest Nik Collection will be freely available to download: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine. If you purchased the Nik Collection in 2016, you will receive a full refund, which we’ll automatically issue back to you in the coming days.

Google may not have made significant improvements to the Nik desktop apps since they acquired them, but I don’t see any downside here. I’ve always been a fan of Silver Efex Pro, and only really questioned its price. Then Silver Efex 2 came out and Nik halved the price, so that was when I bought, and Google followed up their acquisition by giving existing users the entire suite. Now they are giving it away.

The are two aspects of Silver Efex that I particularly appreciate:

  • Its B&W output is great
    • I don’t think SFX produces better image quality than Lr, but….
    • A different tool makes you make different creative decisions and sometimes you’ll prefer the result from SFX over Lr, and vice versa.
  • It’s a really well-designed application
    • One thing it does get wrong is that setting the Color Filter isn’t obviously the first thing you do. I’d recommend you always visit this panel first.
    • Learn how to use control points both to adjust specific areas and to place extra control points to protect nearby areas.
    • If you also have Photoshop, the best workflow is Lr > PS as a Smart Object -> SFX. This “smart filter” method allows you to revisit and fine tune your SFX work afterwards by double clicking the smart filter – all its adjustments remain editable.

Now it’s free, I can’t see any good reasons why you wouldn’t get it. Can you?

 

My other posts on Silver Efex Pro

 

What story are you telling? The Color Filter is like using lens filters with black and white film and makes a massive impact on the picture’s appearance and your greyscale composition.

blocking

Lightroom Web’s new search tool

web_searchLightroom on the Web, the browser-based sibling of Lightroom Mobile, has a new feature or “technology preview” – a search tool. According to Adobe’s official blog:

To access search, launch Lightroom on the web, and log in. Then, click on the Lr menu in the top left to open the menu and select Technology Preview. Toggling Search on will start indexing your photos, which makes it possible for you to search through your photos….

The functionality will also grow and improve before we release it, adding in the ability to search through an image’s metadata and more, making the search even more powerful and able to find a specific image precisely. Try searching your library for things like food, temples, flowers, animals, and more.

To enable it, follow the instructions above.

search_enableNote that the slider next to “Search” isn’t a bit of decoration as I thought at first. It’s what they mean by “Toggling Search”, so you drag it to the right to enable the feature. Then Apply Changes and you should have the Search box.

It’ll take a while to index your photos and my guess is that this will vary depending on how much you’ve uploaded. I’ve about 2000 photos and it took 20 minutes to go live.

Metadata plus intelligence

It obviously uses metadata for searching, but it also uses recognition techniques. With “Bugatti” it scored 100%, probably as the pics are captioned and keyworded, but with “sheep” 6 of the 9 were right. Of course, one doesn’t know which images were missed.

One tip is to search for singular nouns, not plural ones. “Cars” only found 5 photos, while “car” found plenty more.

Searching for “women” worked pretty well too, even detecting photos of women which had no related keywords. Unfortunately it also picked up some long-haired guys and some bearded blokes in kilts! Adobe had better not launch it in Scotland, if they “ken” what’s good for them.

Here I tried a vague term “mountain” that probably isn’t anywhere in the metadata, and I’d say it did a reasonably-good job of finding matching images.

So it’s interesting technology, and pretty useful for a preview.

web_mountain

Panorama Merge and Spot Corrections

Lightroom 2015.5 is released with the usual round of support for new camera and lenses, tweaks and bug fixes – and a feature that I have wanted ever since Panorama Merge was added – correct handling of dust spot corrections.

This may not be sexy-looking like Boundary Warp, and it’s only described by Adobe as a bug fix, but it should have a big impact on the way we use the merge tool, and it is all about efficiency.

In short, from now correct your dust spots before you run the merge.

Do other adjustments when you want

You’ve always been able to adjust the source photos before or after you run Panorama Merge. Of course, you would generally make better decisions once you can see the full, merged image, but nothing stopped you making adjustments before running Panorama Merge. There was no impact on the merge process, and Lightroom would just use the “most selected” photo’s adjustments.

Dust spots are an exception though. Sadly, until now, Lightroom’s Panorama Merge would ignore any spot corrections when producing the merged picture. What made this particularly annoying was that sensor dust does tend to stick in the same spot (forgive the pun) in each source photo, and it would therefore make sense to clean up one photo, sync your corrections to the other frames, and then do the merging. But because Lightroom was ignoring those corrections, each dust spot would reappear in the merged image and would be repeated however many times that image area was used in the panorama. That’s no fun if you have to correct the same dust spot 13 or however many times it appears.

Correct spots in Autosync mode before merging

And that’s why I like the change to Panorama Merge in 2015.5. It simply respects any spot corrections you have already made to each source photo.

So from now on the most efficient workflow is to correct one frame’s dust spots before merging, then Sync those corrections to the others – or use AutoSync mode if you want to be really efficient. Then Panorama Merge will bake those corrections into the merged image.

Frame by frame

One aspect that is especially welcome is that this process does work at the level of individual images. So spot corrections added to each source photo are applied to that photo’s pixels before the merge ever takes place.

This allows for the many occasions where you can’t simply sync spot corrections to every frame. In the example below I can happily use AutoSync to correct dust spots in the sea and the sky, correcting 11 frames each time I click. But with the building on the left, syncing spot corrections may produce funny results in that area. Alternatively, imagine if the sensor dust moved between shots, or if you wanted to clone out a bird or a plane that flew through the scene. So Panorama Merge allows you to correct each frame individually, if you need, and then merge the results.

Lightroom should be about efficiency as well as about image quality. The more sensor dust spots you have, and the more frames you merge, the more time you save. What’s not to like?

1 one element sticks out

Sensor dust spots will be very obvious in the sky and sea, but I might not want to sync spot corrections into the building. Lightroom is perfectly happy with this and handles each photo’s spot corrections individually before doing the merge.

 

Lightroom 6.4

Lightroom 6.4 is now available.

It’s come quite soon after 6.3 partly to get Nikon tethering working on Macs again. Apple’s El Capitan OSX had broken (or “deprecated”) the Nikon code which Lightroom uses for tethering, but Nikon had done nothing to fix it by the time El Capitan was released, leaving many Nikon users blaming… Adobe. Hm.

Other interesting details:

  • There’s also an interesting extension to panorama stitching, boundary warping
  • You can now choose where images imported directly into Mobile are stored, making it easier to integrate photos and videos captured on phones and other mobile devices into your normal folder system.
  • In Export you used to be able to conveniently select Home, Documents, Pictures folders, but this was dropped in Lr4 because of Apple’s App Store terms. It’s now back.

Ten years ago today….

lr1logo

It’s exactly ten years since Lightroom first appeared. As is often my inclination, a scene from Monty Python  comes to my mind. It goes along the lines of OK, apart from helping us manage our photos more efficiently, adjust them better and faster, get prints up on the wall, output pictures to the web, get them off and onto our mobile devices, precisely what have the Romans ever done for us? But of course, that’s the short version of the scene!

Take a look at former Photoshop product manager John Nack’s reminiscences. It’s interesting to see him writing of his “antipathy” towards Apple :

We never looked back, and over the following years, I loved writing about LR kicking Aperture’s ass among pros.

I recall those days very well as I had already written a couple of books and had been invited along to a private UK launch of Apple’s Aperture in November 2005. As a PC user, I remember being repelled by the cult-like whooping at features, and my eyes rolled when a presenter claimed “I’m not buying this for what it is now, but for what it will be at version 3”.

For me it wasn’t a matter of faith. Quite the contrary, for a year or more there had been rumours that Apple were working on a “Photoshop killer” and it was interesting to see how their diagnosis of photographers’ problems coincided with my own. From 2003-4 digital SLRs were really taking off, and we were managing pictures in one app, converting them one-by-one in another, then having to go into Photoshop to perform routine corrections, and struggling to output them more than one at a time. Apple had seen that managing photos was becoming as important as Photoshopping them, and they had also recognised that the solution would unite all tasks in a single application. Fortunately, Adobe weren’t too far behind.

Mac v Windows

usage2015My estimate is that Lightroom use on Mac now outnumbers Windows by 2:1.

This is based on visitor statistics to this site which show 51% Mac, 25% Windows. The balance of 20% iOS and 3% Android is impossible to split between Mac and Windows users, though I’d expect the ratio would be similar.

This 2:1 is very consistent with the trend which had been steadily climbing from 50% in 2012 to above 60% in mid 2013.

While these are only visitor statistics, I think they are representative of Lightroom users, After all, if you aren’t a Lightroom user, you’d be an idiot to visit this site!

That said, I don’t think such numbers are a basis for deciding which computer brand you should buy!

Adobe’s FY2015

adobeq3

Adobe estimate CC subscriptions now account for more than half of their 16.9 million userbase

I always think it’s a good idea to keep a corner of my eye on Adobe’s financial results – after all, it’s goodbye Lightroom if Adobe went belly up. So I notice they just released their  FY2015 year results which appear in line with market expectations and kept the stock price on its upward trend.

One interesting detail in the headline numbers was under “Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Highlights”:

Net new Creative Cloud individual and team subscriptions grew by more than 2.71 million during fiscal year 2015 to 6.17 million.

50% above target

To put that 6.17 million in context, I’ve a post from Dec 2013 saying they had 1.4 million subscribers at the end of FY2013 and were targeting 4 million by now, the end of 2015. OK, published targets tend to be conservative, but it’s still a clear indication of their progress, isn’t it?

35% of user base

Another way to see this 6.17 million is that it represents 35% of their installed base. This comes from slide 22 of their recent investor relations presentation November 2015 where Adobe estimate 16.9 million existing users of CC and CS products. Notice too that 16.9 is up on their May 2013 estimate of 12.8 million (source: investor relations presentation in May 2013).

Of course, you can interpret these numbers however you wish, as signs of their progress, benevolent or not, or as a high watermark. The numbers don’t lie though, do they?

Cropping with Syncomatic

Syncomatic-workflow

Syncomatic is my plugin that syncs metadata and adjustments between files with similar names or within stacks. But one thing has annoyed me ever since I wrote it 6-7 years ago – it couldn’t sync the crop.

I always wanted to do it – why wouldn’t I? – but for reasons best known to themselves Adobe didn’t make crop available and it’s been even more painful since I heard people were using it for a raw+JPEG workflow involving Lr Mobile.

Sadly, possible workarounds involved techniques I disliked, or relied on undocumented features in Adobe’s SDK, and would trigger large and unnecessary backups. And none seemed reliable anyway. So I just kept the idea on my to-do list.

Finally when Lightroom 6 came out someone noticed it included a second SDK method to apply adjustments, so I dug around and saw that it included crop settings. The method is undocumented, and it does only work in Lr6, but it works well enough for crop support to be added in version 2.19 which I have uploaded here ahead of a normal release.

Because it uses undocumented code which I’ve had to figure out, cropping may not be synced correctly in every circumstance, and portrait orientation photos present more difficulties. I’ll continue to work on this area but I may not be able to help you if it doesn’t sync crops correctly for every photo. Still, the worst that can happen is that it may apply an incorrect crop, or none – which seems preferable to never syncing any crop!

Lightroom 6.3 / 2015.3

The changes to the Import dialog in 6.2 caused a lot of fuss, some justified and some little more than cut and paste anguish. There was also unexpectedly-wide instability on the Mac as a result of releasing the version too close to a major operating system update. So as promised, Adobe have just released version 6.3.

It restores the old Import dialog box and appears to be much more stable.

Lightroom 6.2+CC2015.2

IMG_0245

You can now swipe to adjust colour in Lightroom Mobile

Lightroom 6.2 has just been released.

However, with the latest release of MacOSX happening only last week, if you use Mac it may be a good idea to wait before updating. In fact, Adobe are now recommending a delay.

As well as new camera and lens support, there is a new and simplified Import dialog box, which is bound to be controversial.

Creative Cloud subscribers get a nice new feature – Dehaze in local adjustments.

But the most significant changes are in Lightroom Mobile and in Lightroom Web:

  • “Freemium” model for the mobile app
  • Edit images in the web browser

Lightroom Desktop

  • Dehaze is now available in local adjustments – brush, radial, grad filters. Sadly, this is only for CC subscribers. That said, I think those users will be very pleased with it. Dehaze is a powerful tool and can be unsubtle, even brutal when applied to an entire picture. In fact, I’d contend that it’s rare that an entire landscape scene needs the same overall level of Dehaze. So rather like Clarity, I don’t expect to use the global slider very much – targeting it with the local adjustment tools is the right way forward.
  • The new simplified Import dialog is supposed to make importing easier for new users. While I accept the old dialog box was overcomplicated and unintuitive, I find it hard to believe that it is now any more intuitive, and some important features have been removed:
    • Move. You can no longer use the Import step as a proxy for reorganising folders by date. While Import was the wrong place for doing this, there’s no other way to perform this sometimes-important task. Adobe should introduce a Reorganise Masters menu command in Library.
    • Destination panel folders no longer show your folder structure
      • You can’t easily see where your pictures are going
      • So you can no longer filter the Import photos by choosing the destination folder. This was a counter-intuitive place for a filter, but useful when you have large cards and / or don’t reformat them after every import.
    • Eject After Import is gone. Do I care?
    • You can’t easily import duplicate photos. Probably a good thing, but people will still find ingenious ways to tie themselves in knots!
    • Zoom to 1:1. I think this is right – Library is a far better place for deciding whether to keep or delete images.
    • You also have someone else’s photo being used as the dialog box background. There’s no way to change this – yet.

Lightroom Mobile

IMG_0240

The ugly blue bar takes up a lot of space at the bottom of Lightroom Mobile’s screen (this is from an iPhone) but it lets you access the device’s camera.

Lightroom Mobile has some big and welcome changes.

  • iOS Lightroom Mobile is now “freemium”
    • Anyone can download and use the app
    • To use if for free, don’t sign in.
    • If you do sign in by mistake, the app switches to 30 day trial mode
    • You can only go back to free again by removing and re-installing the app. Yes, that isn’t obvious.
    • To sync photos / videos down to to Lightroom Desktop, you need to get a CC subscription
  • iOS Lightroom Mobile can now access the device’s built-in camera
    • You can make exposure adjustments before capturing the photo, though the buttons are fiddly and “mystery meat” in my opinion.
    • Make sure you are in a collection before using this method to take a photo.
    • If not, the new photo is not added to any collection and is a pain to find. You can only unsync it once you have manually (in Desktop or Mobile) added it to a synced collection.
  • Collections are now displayed in a much better columnar layout:
    • Smaller thumbnails mean more collections per screen
    • A single column on iPhone, 2 columns on iPad
    • It’s far easier to access individual collections without lots of scrolling
  • New adjustment features have been added:
    • There is now a Targeted Adjustment Tool, so just like the tool on the desktop you can swipe up and down on an area to detect and change its colour or black and white rendition
    • Dehaze is available
  • No new metadata entry features are yet available. Much as I like Lightroom Mobile, its mix of Library and Develop features is seriously unbalanced.
  • You can now export or share to some new iOS apps:
    • Adobe Premiere Clip which is a new video editing app for iOS. This looks to be a handy way to save a quick slideshow.
    • Adobe Photoshop Fix – I’ve not played with this much yet but will post on it in the next few days

Yes, I know, the new features are mainly in the iOS app but they will no doubt come to Android eventually. And if that makes you feel sore, just consider the iOS users as guinea pigs!

Lightroom Web

Lightroom Web has some very significant changes that begin to bring it close to Mobile’s features:

edit

You can now edit photos in your browser – including colour, brightness and cropping. I wouldn’t use it for serious editing or fine tuning, but it’s effectively access to your desktop catalogue from any computer, and the adjustments are automatically returned to Lightroom on your desktop.

  • You can now edit photos in your browser:
    • It can be pretty slow and seems to vary by browser
    • Even if your browser is colour managed, the Edit window isn’t, so it’s not for fine tuning
    • Adjustments will then sync to your mobile devices and down to Lightroom Desktop.
  • There’s a new Welcome screen which summarizes your synced photos and allows Adobe to alert you about new features. It’s not perfect, but it makes sense, and the one thing I intensely dislike is the background. I really don’t want someone else’s photos to be shoved into my Lightroom experience and so I have blocked it from my web browser using Adblock and a custom filter on cloudfront.net/assets/marketing/lightroom/landing

I think it’s important to put the Mobile and Web changes in context. Once you have synced photos in Lightroom Mobile, you can now edit them on a range of devices including tablets and phones, but also on other computers. We might never see Lightroom catalogues being stored on our own networks, but you can now access your work from multiple computers.

The buck stops here

Adobe have just announced an important change to their camera support policy in CS6:

In order to pursue further innovations in image processing and workflow technology, the next release of Adobe Camera Raw (v 9.1.1) will be the final version available for use with CS6.

DNG-infographicsCustomers can utilize the free Adobe DNG Converter utility to receive the very latest camera support for CS6 and older versions of our software going all the way back to Photoshop CS2 and Lightroom 1.0.

In other words, if you’re using CS6 and your new camera only saves photos in yet another variation of its manufacturer’s raw file format, you will first need to re-save the raw files as DNGs. Just don’t blame Adobe for not supporting these new raw file formats in software that’s now 4-5 years old – blame the camera maker for not offering an option to save your photos as non-proprietary DNGs.

Which chip for Lightroom?

SNAG-0002I’ve not yet digested Puget Systems’ lengthy article on Adobe Lightroom CC/6 CPU Multi-threading Performance but it’s certainly worth a good look. It’s bang up to date, including consideration of Lr6 features.

There’s also an interesting Google spreadsheet to help calculate which CPU is best for how you use Lightroom.

Black and White comes to Lightroom Mobile

When Lightroom 6 was released, Adobe made a distinction between the normal version 6 which you could buy, and the CC version which came with Photoshop by monthly subscription. While 6 would continue to get updates, CC could include new features.

Three months later, Adobe have released an update to Lightroom 6 and we can now see more clearly what this meant:

  • 6.1 includes bug fixes (including to Fuji raw file rendering) and new camera raw file support
  • CC also includes a new feature “Dehaze” [sic] which removes the effect of mist and haze

While I’m sure this will annoy some and delight others, I’m going to put it to one side. Far more interesting is what has been added to Lightroom Mobile 1.5. Video is probably the most surprising new feature, but there’s also a Tone Curve and Hue / Saturation / Luminance adjustment sliders. But best of all, Mobile now has Black and White adjustment sliders.

Video – movies taken on your iPhone/iPad

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 20.46.07

New videos found in Camera Roll can automatically appear in LrDesktop

If you ever recorded video on your iPhone or iPad, it was a pain that you couldn’t use LrMobile to get them into the Lightroom environment.

Perhaps sooner than expected, this obvious gap has now been closed. Movies taken on your iPhone or iPad can now be imported into LrMobile.

What’s best is that you don’t really have to learn anything new. So in LrMobile I already have a collection that automatically imports anything new that might appear in my iPad’s Camera Roll. It previously picked up still photos. Now it also picks up new videos and syncs them down to LrDesktop in the same way as it handles still photos.

Video – movies from your computer

Videos to Lr MobileOne important detail is that at least for now, video import is limited to new videos that are added to the iOS Camera Roll.

Sadly, you can’t yet add a video to a collection in LrDesktop and sync it up to LrMobile.

But this is something I do want to do. For example, I’ve recently been making regular movies and timelapse sequences on my Nikon D800, editing them in Premiere Pro, and would like to see them in LrMobile alongside related still photographs. The same might apply to any movie made with Lr’s Slideshow module.

So what can you do if you have a video on your computer and want it in LrM?

In fact, all you need to do is find some other way to get the video into the iOS Photos app on your iPhone/iPad.

There’s more than one route. You could add the video to the iPhone/iPad using iTunes, but the way I prefer is to use Dropbox. After saving the video file to Dropbox on my PC, I then find it in the Dropbox iOS app and save it to the Camera Roll. LrMobile will then import the video and sync it to LrDesktop.

I admit that this is a workaround, and therefore far from perfect, but I feel it’s good enough for now. I suspect Adobe are already working on the process and I doubt it’ll be too long before videos sync from LrDesktop to LrMobile. It’s such an obvious next step, isn’t it?

Advanced adjustments

1.50 adds some important editing features – Tone Curve, Hue / Saturation / Luminance sliders, and B&W sliders.

I’m delighted by the addition of the B&W adjustments as I do a lot of B&W and just didn’t like using canned presets. They were no substitute for doing B&W properly, choosing how the reds are rendered in greyscale tones, brightening or darkening them, maybe darkening a blue sky, tweaking how the foliage appears….

On the other hand I am less excited by HSL adjustments and the Tone Curve now being in LrMobile. Partly this is because I feel they make the app even more unbalanced, with lots of Develop features and very few ways to perform Library or organisational tasks like adding titles and captions or colour labels.

Secondly, I find I mainly use LrMobile for reviewing pictures and showing my work to people I might encounter. Adjustment is a less important function for me, and I certainly prefer to adjust colour or the tone curve on a bigger, colour-managed screen. When I do adjust pictures or the iPad, I’m usually playing or experimenting and for this reason I’d love to have the ability to create virtual copies in LrM…. IMG_0912

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?

[ros_float title=’Nice details’ text=’Catalogue backups are now zipped, saving 90% of their disc space and stopping idiots opening backup catalogues and doing new work in them…’ width=30%]

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, catching up with 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). Some photographers want it for trivial reasons, some because it saves them time.

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

But to see it in action, go to Julieanne Kost’s video on face recognition.

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Why I am not using face recognition

I am genuinely open-minded about the value of adding this face recognition feature. My doubts are about Lightroom’s recognition system which seems to be unable to distinguish my teenage niece from middle aged guys with bushy beards. While it’s not always so ridiculously unreliable, I’ve little faith in it.

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

In any case I am not very interested in recording exactly where someone is in a photo, and for me it’s sufficient to add keywords as normal.

But I do take advantage of how you can set a keyword to signify a person box. This has practical benefits:

  • 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 also important to you, I suggest you dig into the details for yourself. 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 for recording who is in a photo
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, what I think is important is that Adobe have now established a standard Lightroom way to record who is in a photo, and provided some control over the confidentiality of personal data. In fact, I think this is a big enough deal that I wish Adobe had created a separate People panel.

One point is about where they record the information. I used to think it should be in the IPTC Person Shown field, technically the correct place. 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.

 

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.

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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.

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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

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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 have a CC licence and a perpetual serial number

It’s messy if you have a CC licence and need to install Lr on an extra computer. As you can run CC on two computers, you can always deactivate the CC installation on one computer and activate it on a third. But that’s tedious and so a few people buy an extra, perpetual licnce copy of Lightroom and want to use its serial number to install on the additional computer. The trouble is, the installation routine asks for your Adobe ID, and then recognises you’ve already activated your two installations.

The official solution is in Adobe’s note on mixed licensing considerations (my italics) :

If you have both a membership and serial number for Lightroom CC and want the option to enter a serial number with installation, you will need to sign into [ie install] Lightroom with an Adobe ID that does not have a Lightroom membership associated with it. Simply create a new Adobe ID to sign in with. Logging into[Installing and then starting] Lightroom with an Adobe ID with no active Creative Cloud memberships will allow Lightroom to ask for a serial number.

So create that account, ensure you’re signed into it on the computer which is going to have the serial number Lightroom, and then install Lr. Start it and you should be able to enter the serial number.

Don’t shoot the messenger….

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

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”. What makes it interesting for Lightroom users is how it integrates with Lightroom Mobile.

So, “tell a story”? 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.

So Slate creates a simple, elegant web site with photos and text. You don’t need your own web space, or any web design skills. Just open the app on your iPad, create a new project or story, and then tap the Add Photo buttons. One of the places from where you can choose photos is Lightroom Mobile.

So what might you use Slate for? As your story becomes a standalone mini-site, you might use it for a newsletter or maybe to report an event or an experience – a family trip. 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. It has the usual social links too, so you can cut and paste the story into Facebook and other social media sites, or just add a link to it from your own web site.

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 am someone who can design my own web sites, and I don’t generally create separate sites for events like family parties or trips.

So, while it may not be for me, I can certainly see that Slate has potential and could become quite popular. If you already use Lightroom Mobile, it might be a very convenient way for you to share photos and experiences.

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 and then just typing the text. While I can’t see how I would use Slate, you might.

 

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/ .

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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.