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?

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, 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.

 

 

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.

Bbut 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.

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 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 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/ .

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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.

Lightroom Mobile 1.3

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

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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

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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.

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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

SyncomaticI’ve just updated my Syncomatic plug-in to version 2.0.

This plugin already synchronises Library metadata and Develop adjustments between files:

  1. Whose names match
  2. Within a stack

But I recently discovered, to my surprise, that people were trying to use it with LrMobile, so I added a new matching criterion:

3. From the top item of a stack down

I’m happy with the standard method of importing files to LR on the desktop,  and then to Lr Mobile, and I travel with a laptop. So I’ve never really thought about the problem of travelling with only an iPad and trying to process raw files with it.

But others have, and have been trying to use Syncomatic as a workaround. After shooting raw+JPEG, they import the JPEGs into Lightroom Mobile on the iPad, apply star ratings and flags, and make some adjustments.

After getting back to a real computer, they import the raw files into Lightroom as normal, and Lr Mobile would automatically bring in the JPEGs which were processed on the road. Unfortunately these JPEGs’ names no longer match the raw files. So in her book Victoria suggests renaming the files, which would allow Syncomatic to copy Library and Develop work from the JPEGs to the raw files, but quite sensibly she asked me if Syncomatic could avoid that messy renaming step. After all, the JPEGs’ capture times matched those of the raw files.

So Syncomatic 2.0’s new capture time option allows you to use the capture time to sync metadata and adjustments from JPEGs imported directly into Lr Mobile, and copy the work to the corresponding raw files.

Isn’t it nice when people bring you great ideas?

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:
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“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.