Syncomatic version 3

I’ve just released version 3 of my Syncomatic plugin which syncs metadata between files with matching names or within stacks. The changes are

  • Dialog box settings made “sticky” – ie saved from session to session
  • Added HEIC to list of file types
  • New buttons to allow settings to be quickly cleared or reset

Lightroom 8.4

Another release of Lightroom was announced yesterday and contains a few interesting additions:

  • GPU Accelerated Editing extended to more areas
  • PNG export support
  • Colour Labels for collections – follows labels for folders in 8.3
  • Batch Merge for HDR, Panoramas, and HDR Panoramas

When Lightroom first added GPU support, I invested in a big new card which barely fitted inside my PC, but I’ve never really felt much benefit. I don’t have a 4K screen, and for me the effect of enabling the GPU is oddities like seeing the previously-cropped image for a moment when I begin to crop another image. For me the jury is out on what Adobe have done with the GPU. What seems more important is that the continuing efforts to exploit the GPU are not trivial, so they are a good signal of Adobe’s commitment to classic Lightroom and to improving its performance.

PNG export doesn’t seem earth-shattering, and I tend to do any HDR or Panorama merging one at a time If you do a lot of HDR work, merging a series of stacks at once makes a lot of sense. So again, rather than see it as beneficial to me, it’s more of a good signal to the higher end of Lightroom’s user base.

One feature that has surprised me is the colour labelling of folders, which came in 8.3, and now for collections too.

Unlike the filter boxes at the top of the panels, it wasn’t something that I wanted, and I hadn’t heard many people asking for it. But once we got it, I have found myself labelling a few folders as a quick way to highlight them.

I don’t think it’s a great idea to colour label lots of folders or collections. You can do so if you wish, but in that case I wonder how those of particular importance will stand out. And Adobe has failed to add the colours to folder/collection filter boxes, so you can’t filter on red or green or whatever. It seems best to use the colours only as highlights.

One detail they have got right is that you can now define what the labels mean. Personally, I use red to indicate that I have not finished editing a folder’s photos, and I don’t need to define it. But under Metadata > Color Label Set you can add text explanations for yourself. So here I can right click a folder and Editing in Progress will now be listed in the Add Color Label to Folder context menu.

Incidentally, I also point people to the Mark Favorite menu item which is also relatively new. Favourites can then be accessed quickly from the Filmstrip.

Overall, a decent set of features in 8.4, and it’s good that Adobe’s blog announcement lists the classic Lightroom features first, before changes  affecting the cloud-dependent service. It’s important for Adobe to show  commitment to Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom 8.3

Big new feature is a new slider – Texture. For me it’s a subtler form of Clarity, like a blend of Clarity and Sharpening, and it’s a global or local adjustment.

I like it especially at negative values when you’re trying to soften or blur detail – again, subtle is the word I’d choose – and it’s interesting that it began life as a smoothing tool. Read what developer Max Wendt says.

Import from cards should be much quicker. Instead of copying via the “device” method, it’s now copying files as if they are on a drive – so it should now be a quick as using Explorer/Finder to copy from the card to the hard drive.

There’s nothing else of significance, other than Adobe changing all the LR app names, again – just to make sure everyone is equally confused and no-one feels left out.

“CC” is gone, apparently. What has always been called Lightroom is now officially called Lightroom Classic, losing the CC that it has sported for the last x months. Meanwhile the iOS and Android mobile apps, which everyone was happily calling Lightroom Mobile, are Lightroom iOS and Lightroom Android, which makes some sense. But the 18 month old Mac/PC desktop version of Lightroom Mobile, “Lightroom CC”, is now called “Lightroom Desktop”, despite having been promoted by Adobe as being needed for cloud-centric workflows rather than desktop-centric ones like Lightroom Classic. I’m not even going to try to defend all this, and in the absence of names that make sense to users, I’m sure we’ll just call them what we want. Anyone for Cloudy McLightroomFace?



Lightroom 8.2 Enhanced Details

1:1 view

Lightroom 8.2 came out yesterday with a single new feature worth highlighting – the Enhanced Details commend. This applies AI or machine learning – what I call “educated brute force” – to the process of converting a raw file (more tech info here). To put it in Adobe’s words:

In this release, we’re introducing an all-new Sensei-powered feature, Enhance Details. Harnessing the power of machine learning and computational photography, Enhance Details can now be found in Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic CC, and Lightroom CC for Mac and Windows, and takes a brand new approach to demosaicing raw photos. Demosaicing is an integral process to raw processing and works at the pixel level, converting the information captured by a camera into something that looks like the photos we all expect to see.

The new Enhance Details algorithm enables you to increase the resolution of both Bayer and X-Trans based photos by up to 30%. Enhance Details works on any raw file apart from files converted to a linear raw file, HDR or Panorama merged files (though you can apply Enhance Details to the ingredient files first and then merge), smart proxies, lossy compressed DNGs, or DNGs saved with 1.1 compatibility. Applying Enhance Details to your photos can greatly improve fine detail rendering, improve the reproduction of fine colors, and resolve issues that some customers reported with their Fujifilm X-Trans based cameras.

I guess I am not a pixelpeeper!

I have tried Enhance Details on a lot of images, especially Fuji X-Trans, but while I find the results interesting I find it hard to get very excited about the feature.

It is slow, and the differences are hard to see, so whether it’s worth the time or worth cluttering the catalogue with large duplicate files, for me the jury is out.

But it is worth investigating. I’d just describe Enhance Details as more of a technology preview and I very much agree with Julieanne Kost’s comment:

… I would suggest applying it on an image-by-image basis starting with images that have visible artifacts and which require the highest level of quality (images that will be printed large format, for example)…..

Any Difference?

One thing worth trying is to create the EDNG, then select it and the RAF and send them to Photoshop using Edit In > Edit as Layers in PS.

In the Layers palette, you can set the top layer’s blending mode to Difference.

Black then indicates no difference between the images, and you can see some effects as you zoom in to 1:1.

You can just see there is an effect (benefit?) with pictures like this which have lots of fine detail.But it isn’t clear on many images.

Whether it’s worth the time or cluttering the catalogue with large duplicate files, I’m not sure. But it’s worth investigating.

Or subtract one image from another

There is another way to assess the benefit – Photoshop’s rarely-used Apply Image command.

  1. Make sure nothing else is open in Photoshop, an optional step which keeps things simple
  2. Select the raw file and the EDNG in Lightroom, and choose Edit In > Photoshopso we open the two files
  3. In Photoshop, activate the raw file and choose the menu command Image > Apply Image
  4. From the Source drop-down box, select the other file ie the enhanced version
  5. Set the Blending Mode to Subtract
  6. Scale should be 1
  7. Offset should be 128
  8. Click OK and we’re subtracting one image from another and then adding 50% grey to make it easier to view

Sometimes it’s easier to review differences by subtracting one image’s pixels from another. I don’t usually use this method, since the Difference mode is easier, but it is worth knowing how you can use blending modes for analytical as well as creative purposes.

Search and Replace’s “Workflow filters”

My plugin Search and Replace’s menu command Plugin Extras > Refresh Workflow Filters analyses the selected photos and copies the results to custom fields. These can be used in Smart Collections or added as Library Filter columns, letting you monitor your metadata as you work:





The Date column is standard Lightroom, but notice the Caption*, #Keywords, Keyword chars – these fields are generated by the plugin.

Not everyone will find all this information worthwhile, but some do. Here I can see from #Keywords how many keywords I’ve entered, and those showing 0 or small numbers tell me I’ve work to do! Keyword chars displays the total number of characters of the keywords, a detail that was requested by someone whose stock agency imposes limits.

In this screenshot, what I immediately notice is that 129 images don’t yet have captions. My own practice is that as a minimum every photo should captioned, so Refresh Workflow Filters has pointed out the exceptions.

Also, I spotted “Autumn colours in Mane…” is there twice, which seems odd. So I might change the Library Filter so it has only the Caption* column:

To prove my point, when reviewing this screenshot I noticed the misspelling “Borrwodale” and could quickly filter the grid to correct it.


In this case I can now see that they are genuinely different captions that just happen to start the same. In some cases this analysis reveals typos or other errors.

Collaborative Proofing – Lightroom CC thinking for a Lightroom Classic task?

Click your avatar to enable Technology Previews

You may not have noticed it, but Lightroom Web contains a fascinating feature.

Called Collaborative Proofing, and available as a Technology Preview, it is designed to let you share collections of photos with clients so the client can select the pictures they want. People who photograph weddings and other events do this all the time, for example, but there are many circumstances where we might want to do this.

Such “proofing” workflows are not novel, of course, and fancy professional-oriented versions are already available as part of Photoshelter subscriptions and from Format, for instance. These usually include commercial options like print size choices, online order processing etc. Some are integrated into Lightroom via Publish Services – ie plugins.

But for many people those services are overkill and costly. Adobe really don’t need to replicate these dedicated tools, just offer a basic alternative that comes with the Lightroom subscription.

Update November 28, 2019

Please note that the following comments were made

in the initial post made last December. Some of the issues have been fixed.


Collaborative Proofing offers a simple solution and takes very little effort to set up:

  1. Sync a collection in Lightroom
  2. Go to Lightroom Web and enable sharing
  3. Choose to share it with anyone or only specific email addresses
  4. Enable proofing by clicking an icon at the bottom of the page
  5. Share the proofing URL with the client
  6. The client signs in and can flag photos
  7. You can see their selections in Lightroom Web’s Proofing View
  8. Select the photos they have flagged, and click Create Album to create a new collection with those images
  9. This new album syncs back into your catalogue

One big benefit over those Publish-based methods mentioned earlier is that whenever you tweak photos after sharing them, you don’t need to republish them – your changes are automatically synced. So in terms of the big picture, Adobe seem bang on target. In fact, a proofing workflow is something I have asked Adobe for ever since I first saw Lightroom Web.

Adobe should be onto a winner

But why aren’t Adobe simply knocking it out of the park?

In my view this Collaborative Proofing feature is confused, as if one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. A feature which is inherently for the more demanding “professional” users – the friend who does your wedding or takes pictures at the show – has been implemented as a pale imitation of Facebook or Instagram’s likes.

I can see that someone has liked these images, but not that one client wants one of them, someone else wants the others.

Pretend that you shoot a wedding and let the couple choose which photos they want in the album, or you take pictures at a business show and the boss wants to shortlist pictures for the company magazine, or whatever. Lots of Lightroom users do this kind of thing, sharing collections of photos with “clients” so they can make selections, Sync is simple and efficient, so this could be a very popular feature.

Things are fine if one only shares the pictures with a single person – any likes can only be that client’s choices. But let’s say I share wedding pictures with the couple, and also with the wedding planner. Or it’s the boss and the marketing department. Two “clients” for one collection – not hard to imagine is it?

Unfortunately Collaborative Proofing immediately fails as a workflow tool because it only shows you which photos have been selected – not who wants what. “Photos with Activity” is meaningless without a way to filter it by client since you can’t readily distinguish that the couple wants pictures 5, 8, 12…, and the wedding planner wants 5, 7, 18…. You have to go into each picture in turn, make a note of who wants that picture, and compile your own list of each person’s selections.

That’s perhaps acceptable with just two “clients” and only a few selections, but you might share those wedding pictures with the venue, their work friends too, and there may easily be tens or even hundreds of selections. Time adds up, mistakes creep in, and you send someone the wrong pictures – all because you can’t even see who wants what.

Format’s proofing tool lets you filter selections by individual client.

Now, there is an obvious workaround for these situations – you duplicate the collection, creating one for each client.

So in my example, I start with a collection called Jones Wedding – Couple and duplicate it as Jones Wedding – Planner…. Duplicating is easy, just a right click, and then you have to go into the Proofing tab for each collection, and share its URL. This palaver will work, but you’ve got to admit that is pretty unconvincing.

Where they’ve dropped the ball

These obvious problems are not bugs – they’re a design failure:

  • If more than one client views a collection, the photographer can’t see who wants what
  • One client sees what other clients selected, which is confusing and not confidential
  • No password protection option
  • No watermarking option
  • Clients need an Adobe account
  • Client selections don’t sync to Lightroom “Classic”?

I certainly do not suggest that Adobe should try to compete with dedicated proofing tools, but I feel that somewhere in the design process they have lost the point of proofing workflows. It’s not about counting likes, Instagram-style, it’s about Joe wants 5, 8, 12…, Annie needs 5, 7, 18, and so on.

And yet….

If you agree this Collaborative Proofing feature should have potential, do activate it in Lightroom Web by clicking the LR icon and give it a good try.

At the bottom of the Proofing tab is a feedback link. Technology Preview means the feature is unfinished, so take Adobe at their word and make sure you let them know what you need Collaborative Proofing to be.


Lightroom 8.1

Lightroom 8.1 is out. For me the best new new feature is a detail in Book – photos can now snap to a grid. It’s a small change to describe, and it just works, but it really brings together the other recent changes which provided much more flexibility over book layout.

Another nice detail is that you can ensure that photos added by Auto Import are added to a collection. And while I really can’t see the point, some people may like to reorder the panels in Develop’s right hand side.


LUTs to Lightroom

I tend to use LUT-based profiles mainly for special effects

A few months ago Adobe added the ability to integrate colour lookup tables or “LUTs” into Camera Raw profiles, where they can be used in Lightroom.

Now you can quickly produce looks and styling that previously required you to spend a bit of time working in Photoshop, and I tend to take advantage of this interesting new capability mainly for special effects like the picture on the right, for instance. I don’t often do this kind of thing, but it’s nice to have.

I’m sure the snake oil preset vendors will soon market “artistic” profiles, I wonder why any creative person wouldn’t want to create their own.

Making these LUT-based profiles is documented in the Profiles SDK, which is well-written but is a little obscure. The method involves using the Camera Raw dialog box and is somewhat fiddly, so I don’t think Adobe intend humans to use it! But it is possible.

This is a quick recording that takes you through

  1. creating a simple LUT from Photoshop adjustment layers
  2. creating a new LUT-based profile in Adobe Camera Raw
  3. adding it to a group
  4. giving it flexible options so you can apply it to any image
  5. seeing it in Lightroom
  6. applying it to a whole shoot

It’s only a quickie, so there are minor jumps where I’ve edited out little bits of me “faffing around”, and I’ve not gone over the text annotations – so forgive any typos. It’s best watched full screen – and it’s meant to be silent!


Download the LRT-based profile

If you want the LUT-based profile I created in the video, here it is – B&W posterize.

To get it into Lightroom and other Camera Raw environments, unzip the file to somewhere like the desktop, then use Lightroom’s Profile Browser where there’s an import command. It should be shown in the listing, and you can then delete the copy on the desktop.

Lightroom 8.0

Adobe have just released Lightroom 8. They announce the new features on this page after hyping the cloud-dependent “Lightroom CC”, which I don’t use, so scroll half way down the page to see the new features:

  • Combined HDR-Panorama – I don’t do this
  • Faster and More Reliable Tethered Capture for Canon Cameras – I use Nikon and Fuji
  • Depth Range Masking – my iPhone is one version too old
  • New process version 5 has slightly better noise reduction (less purple in high ISO images)

I don’t see anything interesting in the features and while I’m sure there must be a reason for skipping 7.6 and calling it 8.0, please don’t imagine that I know or care what it may be! The 8 in 2018?

Anyway, I don’t really consider it a full version upgrade in the way we’ve understood them in the past, but that understanding has never really caught up with how new features now come out between full version releases. In fact 8.0 replaces the 7.5 installation exactly as if it had been called 7.6, and you can open your 7.5 catalogue in 8.0 without any catalogue upgrade, then re-open the same catalogue file again in 7.5 without any impact. That means switching to 8.0 is harmless enough – Adobe have just rounded up the numbers.


I’m much more interested in the new stuff in Photoshop, particularly the changes to content-aware fill and the ability to preview blend modes – that’s one I’ve wanted for years and years!


Lightroom and cloud storage

On a forum I answered a question about how Lightroom uses Adobe’s cloud storage, and then thought I’d cut and paste the reply here. An hour later….

With the Adobe subscription you get a certain amount of cloud storage space. Depending on what you pay, this might be terabytes and you might not care about how much you’re using, but it’s more relevant with the standard 20gb.

So, your 20gb consists of two main elements.

  • The first is originals that you synced from any Lightroom app. This doesn’t mean Lightroom Classic which syncs photos as “smart previews”, not as originals, and therefore lets you sync as many photos as you want. The limit only applies to the so-called “Lightroom CC” and the other various Lightroom Mobile apps which you might use to take pictures on your phone or to import files directly from a flash card onto your tablet.
  • The CC storage space also includes things like Libraries which let you use things like custom brushes or logos on different computers. These usually don’t use much space,

    The second group is anything that you have stored in the Creative Cloud folders.People often forget that they have these Dropbox-like folders, syncing to and from their hard drives, and they usually don’t notice that their 20gb also contains files that they deleted.

While one might not want deleted files to use up one’s cloud space, as a Lightroom user with a couple of computers I find it quite valuable. I’ll often come home, import files onto the Mac laptop into the CC folders and edit them during the evening, maybe watching TV or having a glass of wine. I’ll use Cmd S or Ctrl S to save my metadata back to the folders too, and the next day I’ll import everything from the CC folders into my desktop PC and move the photos to their permanent locations.

So if that’s my ultimate aim, why haven’t I got “Lightroom CC” on my laptop and just import the new photos into it? Wouldn’t the photos then automatically appear in Lightroom Classic on my PC? OK, let’s ignore “Lightroom CC”‘s editing and metadata features, which are too weak for me. Just imagine that I make a mistake and delete a photo or two, or just change my mind about what I should keep. Adobe stores photos from “Lightroom CC” safely in its cloud, but if the user deletes them Adobe does the same and provides no way to get them back. So if the original is only in the Lightroom part of Adobe’s cloud, deletion means deletion.

But Adobe handle CC folders differently. If you delete something, it’s kept in its deleted files – and it never hurts to have another layer of backup! So I just leave stuff there until I feel like permanently deleting it – and I try to remember that it’s using my cloud storage allowance. In fact, it’s the biggest chunk of cloud storage that I use.

So what uses your total cloud storage usage is:

  • Files in your Creative Cloud folders on your hard drive
  • Files which were in your Creative Cloud folders on your hard drive but haven’t been permanently deleted
  • Originals uploaded from LRCC Mac or PC
  • Originals taken with the LRiOS or LrAndroid camera
  • Pictures imported into LRiOS or LrAndroi
  • Nothing synced from Lightroom Classic as it only syncs smart previews

Lightroom Web sharing grows up

You can now group photos and add subheadings and explanatory text to collections shared from Lightroom Web

I’ve always liked Lightroom Web, the browser-based way to access photos synced to Lightroom Mobile.

One thing I use it for is to tweak adjustments or add captions to photos when I’m on my laptop. Nothing sophisticated, it’s all about the convenience of making quick changes wherever I happen to be, just like with LrM on my iPad, and knowing those edits will be synced into my catalogue.

A second, less-frequent way that I use LrW is to upload originals, dragging them from Finder/Explorer and dropping them into LrWeb in the browser window. This is handy when I’ve done some editing in Photoshop on the laptop and want that file in Lightroom back on my desktop. This drag and drop means I don’t have to think any more – the file automatically appears in my catalogue.

But what I most is to use LrWeb as an easy way to show or “share” pictures with people, and I do this pretty often:

  • In Lightroom, you just set a collection of photos to sync, set that collection to “public” and email someone the URL – it’s very little effort.
  • If you subsequently easily add new photos, remove some or adjust others, those changes are automatically synced – unlike conventional web sites, you don’t have to export or republish and upload again.

The LrW shared page has always had a plain and simple layout, and that’s fine most of the time. Sometimes though, I might want to break up a longer set of photos into sections and maybe add some explanatory text.

You’ve been able to produce this kind of “story” layout in Adobe’s Express, formerly known as Spark, which is really good for certain purposes and is very customisable. If you’ve not tried it, it’s worth investigating – it comes with your Adobe subscription. But much as I like it. it is a bit more like a conventional web site in the sense that when you change photos in Lightroom, you have to re-upload them to your Express page. I like this kind of task to be automated.

A week ago, without any fanfare, Adobe sneaked out an update for LrW that takes it into that middle ground between its simplicity/automation and Express-style “story-telling”.

It was announced – in LrW go to the Dashboard and see the News and Updates section. Incidentally, it’s always worth checking this as it sometimes highlights details that you may not have noticed, but the post on September 27 entitled “Album Display Updates” is one of the more interesting ones:

What this means in practice is that in the web browser LrW now lets you :

  • Group a collection of photos into sections
  • Add subheadings and explanatory text for each section
  • Choose a light or dark colour scheme
  • Use the cover photo as a background

It’s pretty simple and is all done on the new Display tab: 

It’s great that Adobe have now extended this capability so you can present any collection much more flexibly. It’s not as fancy as Spark, and it’s not a full web site like Portfolio which also comes with your Adobe subscription, but for speed and automation it’s hard to beat.


Lightroom 7.5

Finally you can freely move photos around page and even make them overlap

Lightroom 7.5 is out. See Adobe’s announcement here.

The big changes are in the Book module with more newer Blurb book formats like trade and magazine, layflat paper. I’ve not tried any of these before, but magazine seems interesting.

For me the best thing is much-greater flexibility to move and resize photos around a page. You can now move the cells around naturally and without screwing about with “cell padding”, and photos can be made to overlap as you see in this quick example.

With Apple discontinuing its Photo Books services in September 2018, it’s an ideal time to switch your book making to Blurb and Lightroom.



Lightroom 7.4 released

See the new feature summary here. Not a very exciting release, the best thing is that you can hide the inane built-in presets and all the near-useless minor variations on profiles. Right click either panel and you can manage them in a popup dialog box. From now on you need never again see B&W 01, B&W 02……

The Folders panel now builds much more quickly, and its filter box now works properly and doesn’t prevent you (well, certainly me) from doing anything.

Lightroom 7.3 released

Look out for Lightroom 7.3 today – the official announcement is here.


There’s a very big change in the profiles area. Profiles have moved from the Camera Calibration tab up into the Basic panel and they are greatly extended in scope:

  • New Adobe looks
  • New “creative” looks
  • Profiles can now include LUTs.

The extension of profiles offers excellent creative choices, though I have two big fears about what Adobe have done.

One is that profiles are creeping into the same mental territory as presets, and that while the difference can be explained technically, from a user viewpoint there is no meaningful difference. People will be confused.

Secondly, I think this new emphasis on profiles will delight the snake oil sellers. As always, I do not recommend paying for third party presets or profiles. Save your money!

One very welcome change is that the whole image is now previewed when you move the mouse over a preset or profile (there’s a profile browser in Basic panel).

Face Recognition

Face Recognition has a new engine and on my system it is much, much faster and more reliable at identifying faces. They have also added the ability to rescan a folder.


Also, Adobe have the moved the Dehaze slider up into the Basic panel.

I think this is a bad move, unnecessarily bloating the already-packed Basic panel. But it does make sense in one way – Dehaze readily screws up the other adjustments that are set in the Basic panel. So if you really must use Dehaze on the whole image, at least now you can make the compensating adjustments in the same place as the slider that did the damage.

But I’d always recommend avoiding this global Dehaze slider and using Dehaze as a local adjustment in the brush/radial/grad filters.


There’s some good stuff in LrMobile iOS too:

  • There is now has a left handed mode. I’m not one, but always wondered how left handers used the app when their fingers would cover the photos.
  • Upright adjustments – it’s quite remarkable that we can straighten up raw photos using a phone, don’t you think?

Lightroom 7.2

The new filter box in Folders lets you hide or display folders. Here I only want to see 2018 folders, or I could have entered -02- and seen February over multiple years.

Lightroom Classic 7.2 has been released. The features I like most are:

  • More performance tuning
    • Most noticeable in Import grid, importing, building previews, stepping through in Loupe view, displaying adjustments in Develop, panorama/HDR merges, export
    • Should benefit everyone
    • Biggest benefits for those with more than 12gb RAM and more CPU cores
  • Folder filter
  • Mark folders as favourites
    • Integrated with the Favorite Sources in the filmstrip
  • Create a Collection Hierarchy from a Folder Hierarchy
7.2’s improvements over 7.1 do indicate that it’s a continuing effort, but in my view you can best gauge Adobe’s work on LR performance by comparing 7.2 against how things were when it began – ie against the last version of 6.14 or 2015.14. With an older 4 core PC but with 48Gb RAM, what I am seeing is:
  • 68% faster generating 1:1 Previews
  • 58% faster generating Standard Previews
  • 28% faster in Export speed
  • 26% faster merging 8 frame panorama
  • 12% faster merging 3 frame HDR

In the press

Adobe have “reached out” (I hate that expression!) to a number of photography sites and let them try Lightroom’s upcoming 7.2 release and its performance tuning. According to Tom Hogarty:

I’ve always preferred to demonstrate Adobe’s product direction with product rather than promises of what’s to come. However it’s become clear to the team and my execs that Adobe needs to be more proactive in our communication with customers when it comes to Lightroom.

No kidding!

The main thrust of the 7.2 release is clearly performance, but there is also going to be a way to filter your folders panel by name. Hopefully it will be similar to the ones in Keywording List and in Collections, and it’s going to be great to get something I have been campaigning for – for at least 5 years.

One warning is that the articles focus on export and import speed. That’s not for any reason other than these tasks are specific and measurable. You can’t easily or objectively measure the time you can save from 7.0’s embedded & sidecar workflow or from 7.1’s new Auto treatment.

A second comment is that the articles measure 7.2 against 7.1, and you should really measure Adobe’s efforts against 6.14 if you want to assess their efforts.

So here are the sites in no particular order


Lightroom 7.1

Lightroom 7.1 came out overnight with updates to all parts of the “Lightroom world” – to Lightroom itself (ie the so-called “Classic”) and also to the cloud-dependent iOS, Android and PC/Mac apps. It’s mainly about new camera support, bug fixes, and performance tuning, but I recommend that you check out the one feature that is new – a completely-rewritten Auto button.

The old Auto was always a crude “lucky dip”, wrong at least as often as it was right, but the underlying calculation has been totally changed after a lot of empirical research:

Auto has been completely reworked to create better results, every time. Using an advanced neural network powered by Adobe Sensei, our artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning platform, the new Auto Settings creates a better photo by analyzing your photo and comparing to tens of thousands of professionally edited photos to create a beautiful, pleasing image.  The new Auto is available ecosystem wide, including in Lightroom CC, Lightroom CC for iOS, Lightroom CC for Android, Lightroom CC on the web, Lightroom Classic, and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).

I certainly think Auto’s results are very much better. Maybe the Whites and Blacks are set a bit too aggressively, and bright images such as snow scenes appear to be rendered a little too dark for my taste. One surprise is that Auto now sets the Vibrance and Saturation sliders, and while I don’t completely like this happening (I live in a drab country) I feel I can live with it. If I don’t like how these sliders pump up the colour, I quickly double click the Presence label to reset them to zero. But in general, I feel the new Auto almost always produces a substantially better starting point for editing.

Some other details:

  • New Auto is based on the cropped area, not the full image
  • It reads the WB settings when calculating slider values
  • You can set the Auto values for individual sliders by Shift + double click

The other highlight of the 7.1 release is in LRMobile with the iOS app gaining a long-overdue watermarking feature. For what it’s worth, a couple more missing features have also been added to the new PC/Mac app LRCC Desktop.

In this case the new Auto is much more active, producing a result closer to what I would have done myself. I’m not sure I like it changing Vibrance and Saturation, though here I would accept it.

More about the new Auto

Jeff Schewe says:

[“Get me Closer Quickly”] is the aim of the design of the new AI based Auto. Also, it should be noted that I personally had a bit to do with training the new AI based Auto. I adjusted over 1K of my images from all sorts of situations and conditions including under/over exposures, high ISO, studio and artificial lighting as well as landscape day and nite shots. I was charged with making those adjustments I personally would do for my images (because, well, they were my images).

Yes, the new Auto is a bit conservative with extreme highlights with a tendency of texture and detail being important. Also, the shadows tend to be fairly open…

The goal here is to be consistent in “improving” an image’s global based setting and trying to improve the workflow for selection editing. Some images may need little or no further adjustments…most will need tweaking either globally or locally.

The old Auto was really and old crude and primitive attempt to generally adjust black and whitepoints with little other finesse to other settings. It sucked…it was just about as likely to screw an image up as make an improvement…but the new Auto has made great strides as a first pass adjustment.

“Best photos”

What are the criteria for “best photos” in Lightroom web‘s technology preview?

The precise details aren’t published anywhere, and Adobe haven’t said much apart from saying that their Sensei artificial intelligence tool analyses images uploaded to LrMobile (see the FAQ if you want to opt out). But there’s plenty we can work out for ourselves!

What I think one can see is that it groups photos shot at roughly the same time, and then looks for the best of each group using a range of criteria. User-entered data seems to rank highly, so I have series of almost-identical photos where Sensei always selected the photo which I had starred or flagged. After that we’re just guessing. Maybe it measures qualities like sharpness, and the algorithm could be flexed for any faces identified in a picture. I think I can also show that it includes conformity to composition concepts like the rule of thirds.

Interesting though it is to make educated guesses, maybe we’d be better off asking how well it works? Does it automatically identify your best photos, and would that save you time? I don’t yet know for sure, but it’s certainly interesting as a preview.

In this case Adobe’s Sensei artificial intelligence preferred the photo on the left. Apart from the car’s position everything else is the same in the two pictures and I hadn’t flagged or rated either one, so presumably Sensei chose the one closest to the rule of thirds or some other principle.

Re-editable Silver Efex files

How do you keep Silver Efex-saved files in re-editable form?

Although my starting point is LR, I always launch Silver Efex (SFX) this way, via Photoshop as Smart Object (SO). The flexibility is a big advantage.

Starting from LR, just open an image in Photoshop and convert the Background layer to a smart object (via the right click). If you want to edit the image in Photoshop before going to SFX, eg adding adjustment layers or cloning, you can select multiple layers and convert them into a single smart object.

Still in PS, launch SFX, do whatever you want, and save. Whereas normally you would expect SFX to add a pixel layer, running SFX on the smart object applies its edits as a “smart filter” – a sub item in the Layers panel that you can hide or show, even mask. To change the SFX edits, you just double click the smart filter and SFX launches again with all your control points and other settings available. Fundamentally, that’s it.

The method was slightly fancier in the paragraph you quoted. Instead of just opening in PS, from LR you use Edit > Open as Smart Object in Photoshop. The advantage here is that the SO remains raw and you can change its ACR adjustments by double clicking it. There’s no difference for the SFX part of the workflow.

The smart object/filter technique works with all filters, not just SFX. It’s also a neat way to copy SFX effects between images – you drag the smart filter from a SO in one image and drop it on a SO in the other.

And wasn’t this good news?

I was very pleased to see that Google are letting someone else develop the Nik programs, Silver Efex in particular. See DXO’s announcement :

“The Nik Collection gives photographers tools to create photos they absolutely love,” said Aravind Krishnaswamy, an Engineering Director with Google. “We’re thrilled to have DxO, a company dedicated to high-quality photography solutions, acquire and continue to develop it.”

“We are very excited to welcome the Nik Collection to the DxO family,” said Jérôme Ménière, CEO and founder of DxO. “DxO revolutionized the image processing market many times over the years with its innovative solutions, and we will continue to do so with Nik’s tools, which offer new creative opportunities to millions of photographers. The new version of our flagship software DxO OpticsPro, which is available as of now under its new name DxO PhotoLab, is the first embodiment of this thrilling acquisition with built-in U Point technology.”

The Nik Collection is now available for free through the DxO website – provide your email address and they will send you the download links for all 7 Nik plugins for Photoshop and Lightroom. There will be a new version in 2018.

Lightroom Mobile and Photoshop

If you only look at what Adobe have just done to Lightroom, you might miss that a bit of Lightroom has been added directly to Photoshop 2018. A bit like having your Lightroom Web account available directly inside Photoshop, the Welcome page now lets you directly access photos you’ve synced in Lightroom.

It’s very easy to use. On the left of the Welcome screen there’s a small link to Lr Photos. Clicking it makes Photoshop connect to Lightroom Web and display your collections. You can then go into a collection, or even search for images,select one or more, and open them directly in Photoshop.

So in this example Photoshop is accessing a number of collections that I have synced:

What happens next

If the photo is a raw original or a smart preview, it is opened in Adobe Camera Raw  where you can tweak your adjustments.

When you’ve finished working on the photo, you can save the version back up to Adobe’s Lightroom server via the new Quick Share button.

(NB This works on Mac but on Windows 10 an update is needed  )

As you see here, you can access other services, in this case on my Mac, but the Add to Lightroom Photo sends the finished photo up to the cloud.

The edited photo will be available in Lightroom Mobile, and assuming you are using Lightroom “Classic”, it will sync down to your hard drive.

Pretty elegant!