Big PSBs and fooling Lightroom

I don’t often use the PSB file format which Photoshop requires for files bigger than TIF and PSD can support, so I was unmoved by 9.2 adding support for PSB files.

The problem of managing PSBs remains for any PSBs which are bigger than LR’s 65,000 pixels long edge or 512 megapixels limits. But maybe my indifference was deepened by knowing that there was already a way to manage PSBs and that it can help with files of any size.

Essentially, you can create a proxy file representing the PSB and catalogue the proxy, be it a JPEG or whatever. In my view it’s more effective to take advantage of Photoshop’s File > Place Linked command and place a link to the big PSB in a smaller TIF or PSD which LR can catalogue and even adjust.

So here on my desktop (left column) you can see a 60k*40k PSB that I couldn’t import into LR, but which I added to a 6k*4k PSD using File > Place Linked. And in LR I’m making adjustments to the PSB.


As an alternative, you can get the proxy file into LR, then make it go missing and fix the missing link by pointing to the PSB. So here you can see how I renamed the PSD on my desktop, and then pointed LR to the PSB. The advantage is that I have the actual PSB catalogued in LR, so I can see and manage it, but metadata won’t save to the file and I can’t adjust it in LR.

I’d go for the first method, but I just wouldn’t hold my breath waiting until there’s no need for any such stopgap.


Search & Replace 1.7 (ie 2.0)

Build 37 Jan 7, 2021

I said April, and it’s the 30th, so here is Search & Replace 1.7 with extra features and general tidying up to make it more intuitive to use.

This will be called 2.0, but first please just use it as you would normally do, and let me know of any problems. I am not expecting anything but I have made a lot of changes, so if the problem is serious I’ll fix and update the plugin as quickly as possible. After all, I am at my desk….

Try enabling the highlight new features button, or take a look through this list of changes:

  • Reset buttons added to plugin panel in Plugin Manager
  • IPTC locations to keywords updated with do-no-export at each level
  • Added This Photo button to search/append/transfer only for selected photo
  • Auto-completion of text in Search tab
  • Changed layout of Append tab
  • Added box for a space between text and sequential number on Append tab
  • Stopped workflow filters from creating Unknown state and city levels
  • Transfer to keywords rebuilt – more fields, top level group keyword
  • New ways to change case of field and added previewing
  • Replaced case change button with checkboxes
  • New checkbox to highlight new and reworked features
  • New checkbox shows summary of Before
  • Button to swap over search and replace fields
  • Moved iView tab into its own file and wrapped it in a function
  • When only one photo is selected, the annoying message has be replaced by buttons to select all.
  • Smart collection panel added
  • Trial mode warnings made more obvious
  • Information about separator character improved
  • Added ability to select the plugin’s custom fields as target fields
  • Added ability to select any plugin’s custom fields as source fields
  • Fixed bug affecting Favourites on Transfer tab
  • Added Switch button on Transfer tab which switches the source and target fields
  • Added change log in Plugin Manager
  • Added more logging, listing system and preferences
  • Tidied up the Workflow Filters tab and added some buttons from the floating dialog
  • Disabled main buttons on SR and A tabs when keywords selected as target field – misleading as plugin doesn’t change these fields


The new On this Date feature

Give this a good workout! Here you can see a great example of what I want it to do, so reading from the top:

  • Create a smart collection based on the capture date (edit date is the alternative)
  • Target the 27th April, or “In range” let’s you specify a range of dates, while “Days” produces one smart collection for each day in the range
  • Do every year from 2005-2020 – this is in the After panel
  • Include criteria from a previous smart collection called “One star”  – shown in the Before panel
  • Save it in the Best collection set and call it April 27 – the little “!” button calculates this if you don’t want to type




Capture Time to EXIF 1.26

I’ve just released version 1.26 of my plugin Capture Time to EXIF which lets you write to EXIF fields by sending commands from Lightroom to Exiftool. In no particular order, these are the changes:

  • Updated Exiftool for Catalina
  • How to Use button – links to video on operation and troubleshooting
  • Added more EXIF fields to Metadata panel so more fields like camera can be written by the plugin
  • Fixed bug creating batch file
  • Improved preview when user chooses to use the Capture Date entered in the Metadata panel
  • Save Exiftool Commands are now sticky
  • Added Change Log in Plugin Manager
  • Added Troubleshooting tips in Plugin Manager
  • Refined handling of raw files – Exiftool also rewrites any xmp file
  • Added Plugin Manager option to use your own copy of the Exiftool app

And video!

While I try to make my plugins as intuitive as possible, what seems intuitive to one person isn’t necessarily true for others. And although I seek to ensure that they work properly, I can only anticipate so many variations and possibilities, so sometimes stuff will go harmlessly wrong. Documentation can help, but seeing something in operation is often more useful, and during the Coronavirus or Covid-19 lockdown I am recording a few videos as well as updating some plugins,

I’ve just uploaded video showing Capture Time to EXIF and demonstrating basic operation and debugging:

  • Updating a scanned photo with the camera make and model
  • Using the command line preview to debug Exiftool problems

It’s recorded on Windows but I mention some Mac-specific details and will add some Mac recordings as soon as I can.

And by public demand (why? why? why?) you do hear the sound of my voice. For now I’ve resisted the terrifying temptation to record a piece to camera, but you never know….


Open Directly 2.0 (beta)

Last week someone emailed me asking for an improvement to my plugin Open Directly. This plugin allows you to send raw files directly to other programs. For example, let’s say you want to process a photo in Capture One. If you followed Lightroom’s External Editor method, Lightroom would first convert raw files to PSD or TIF and would defeat the purpose of sending them to Capture One. The Open Directly plugin simply sends the photo directly to the other program.

As I was already working on big improvements to the Search and Replace plugin, it was a perfect time to ask – I have the time, and needed a change. The request was only whether I could increase the number of supported apps from 6, and that was pretty easy, and I ended up polishing a few other aspects of the plugin.

Quick menu names can display the name of the app which they launch – previously you had to remember which app would be launched

So version 2 has a range of enhancements:


  1. Number of apps increased from 6 to 15
  2. Second quick menu added, so you can send a photo to an external app without going through the dialog box
  3. The user can choose which apps can be launched via each quick menu
  4. Quick menu names can display the name of the app which they launch
  5. Added reset buttons in Plugin Manager
  6. Added a change log

Try it now and let me know if you find any problems.

This new file is called version 1.7 but will be released as version 2 later this week. If you already own it, the upgrade will be free.

As they say, the devil makes work for idle hands….

The right hand column lets you decide which apps will be available in the quick menus

JPEGs sidecar killer

As I have written in another post, I am a big advocate of importing files using the Embedded and Sidecar Preview workflow. With my Fuji X-T2 set to Raw+JPEG, it allows LR to quickly display full resolution previews from the sidecar JPEGs.

But once I have reviewed the pictures I no longer need the JPEGs for any purpose, and they use up storage space, so for a couple of years I have been using this little JPEGs sidecar killer script.

It simply loops through the selected raw files, looks in the Explorer/Finder folder for JPEGs with corresponding names, and deletes any it finds. Other JPEGs, for example ones which you shot on the phone and don’t match a raw file, are ignored.

Two little details:

  • The script can’t tell Lightroom that the JPEG has gone, so you’ll still see RAW+JPEG on thumbnails. You can get rid of this by either:
    • Doing a Folder > Synchronize – which is what I do
    • Running batch rename – what I used to do
  • As far as I can tell, once LR has built its own previews from the sidecar files, there is no longer any role for the JPEGs. So if you do import with the Embedded and Sidecar Preview option, you can delete the JPEGs immediately afterwards.

It’s free and therefore not supported.

Installation instructions are at the start of the file.



ISO-dependent presets

When Adobe revealed the new way to set ISO-dependent defaults, I was glad they hadn’t added a slick UI for a task that people might only perform once or twice, if at all.

But I was quite surprised that they expected users to hack xmp files using text editors. As with the move to profiles, Adobe seem to have wanted to get this done quickly and for all Adobe Camera Raw-based apps at once, whatever the rough edges for individual apps.

This got me thinking though. Forget fancy AI-driven stuff or machine learning, why not let the user select images that they edited previously and generate the xmp preset by averaging the slider values for each ISO speed?

That was effectively how I created my own new defaults. In fact I used my plugins to tabulate the sharpening and noise reduction values by ISO, then slotted the numbers into the xmp file, and I don’t know why Adobe didn’t offer more assistance to those who are disinclined to mess around like this.

You can try this little average sharpening and noise reduction script which follows up on this idea of generating the preset’s ISO lines from one’s previous editing. You select a bunch of edited photos, run the script, and it puts the ISO-dependent lines in a text file on the desktop – you slot these into the xmp preset file. Setup instructions are at the top of the file.

I see this as a curiosity, something one might do once, and not get too obsessed by the detail.

Merge to Panorama

While this site is about Lightroom, I thought this article From the ACR Team: Merge to Panorama was worth pointing out as it combines in-house knowledge about the LR/ACR processes with thoughts about using the camera to take advantage of them.

You may have noticed something a little different about my panorama workflow in ACR compared to what you may have done with other stitching tools. I did all my editing, including choosing a raw camera profile, after stitching the panorama. The Merge features in ACR work their magic at a very early stage in our raw processing pipeline. This means two things: 1. The image created by the merge should be treated just like any other raw file as far as editing is concerned and 2. You can (and should) save your editing for the merged result. As a photographer, I love this order of operations because I much prefer making my edit decisions while viewing the final panorama and giving up the flexibility of a raw file is not something I want to do until I have to. Some of the edits you may have made on the original images are copied to the result, but only a couple are actually “baked in” and not editable after the merge.

One of those crucial “baked in” edits is dust spotting. I’d always try to correct dust spotting before merging because spots typically recur at the same place in each frame. Selecting all of the frames and using LR’s AutoSync mode, I can correct the spots on one frame and AutoSync automatically syncs the correction to the others. That’s a lot more efficient than leaving dust spot corrections until afterwards and correcting that same spot of dust on 5, 10, 15 or however many places it occurs.

Also see Julieanne Kost’s article Improvements to Content Aware Fill, Lens Blur, and more in Photoshop v21.1. It’s only a small detail, but I love the new Apply button in Content Aware Fill as it makes it so easy to keep each correction in its own layer.

And there’s an interesting Paul Trani video on sharing from Photoshop. I’ve always used Generate a lot, mainly for web design work, but the sharing of Photoshop Cloud Documents is new and could be handy. Maybe you never needed that feature and you will soon forget just how it works. But the key is simply to remember that xyz can be done. If you just remember that possibility and keep it somewhere in the back of your mind, on the day that you do suddenly see a need for it, figuring out how it works will be easy.

Lightroom 9.2

You can see Classic Lightroom product manager Lisa Ngo’s announcement here.

New method of setting defaults

I think this is probably the most eye-catching of the changes in 9.2 – a new section in Preferences where you can set the default profile or preset for raw files. Apart from being much more obvious than the old way of Alt clicking the Reset button, it also provides a mechanism to automatically fine tune the default noise reduction as your ISO increases, and I’ll come to this later.

In one particular way this marks a big change for Adobe. For years camera makers have offered built-in looks called “picture styles”, “picture controls”, “film simulations”…. and Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw steadfastly ignored them. Then a couple of years ago Adobe added the “camera-matching” profiles which was their attempt to render raw files corresponding to the camera makers’ styles.

Maybe the introduction of these profiles signposted where Adobe planned to go, and I might speculate that this move might be linked to the growing popularity of mirrorless cameras. Electronic viewfinders display the camera maker’s built-in look when you make the photo, and it’s natural to expect to see similar colours in Lightroom. This was certainly my own experience with my Fuji, and I found it frustrating that Lightroom ignored that I’d chosen the B&W Red Filter film simulation for some of the day’s photos, for others a Green Filter, for others the Astia Soft look. You still had to apply the profiles yourself. That’s what led to my X-LR plugin which reads the raw files and automatically applies the correct camera-matching profiles.

So what is new is the panel’s option to set the default to Camera Settings and make Lightroom automatically apply the correct camera-matching profiles. You can do this at the overall or Master level, or for individual camera bodies. If you’re a mirrorless camera user who uses the picture styles, this may be the setting you should choose.

I’m going to have to think what that means for my plugin!

Here Lightroom’s default is set to the camera-matching profiles, which reads the settings from the raw files. But I have then told it to use Adobe Default for the Nikon D800.


ISO-dependent defaults

Unusually perhaps for Adobe, their new mechanism simply breaks the old default settings, which is annoying for those who had already had raw defaults for various ISO values, most commonly bumping up noise reduction. Previously you used to need to create one default for each ISO that you used, which was awkward if you set your camera’s ISO to Auto and therefore generated a variety of ISO values. If you’d put a lot of time into getting this working, I can’t blame anyone for feeling that these defaults should have been automatically converted rather than discarded. But once you set it up, the new method is better. Now you just define a range of ISO values and settings for Lightroom to interpolate. So let’s say you define ISO 400 to have 0 Luminance, and 1600 to have a value of 30, but import an image shot at 800. This will get a value of 15 (interpolation uses stops rather than averaging).

You have to edit an xmp file in a text editor. While some of us can do that with ease, it’s a geeky solution and to be frank, I doubt it will be left like this.

One tip is to be very careful with the xmp file (I think you only need one). Never rename it or update in in LR, always using a text editor, because updating or renaming it with LR will overwrite any ISO settings in the file. So always keep extra backups of it, just in case you forget this advice.

The new defaults apply to other Adobe Camera Raw apps on the same computer. So if you open a RAF directly in Photoshop, it will use the default you had defined in LR (or in ACR).

PSBs can be imported

I rarely use the PSB file format which is for very large Photoshop files, but multi-layer 16 bit files can easily grow beyond TIF/PSD 4gb limits and it has been frustrating that you might send a file from Lightroom to Photoshop but be unable to continue managing it in Lightroom. That block on the PSB file type is now gone.

However, the limits on maximum dimensions remain 65,000 pixels on the long edge or 512 megapixels. That won’t please some people.

Of course, I am glad that PSB file types can now be managed, but I think Adobe continue to miss an opportunity. it’s my long-standing view that Lightroom should simply catalogue all file types. It doesn’t need to adjust PSBs or PDFs or Word or Excel files, just allow you to manage them.

AutoSync safeguards

AutoSync is the fastest way to work in Lightroom when you’re working with multiple photos. Select them all, drag the slider, and the adjustment is applied to all the selected photos – that’s much quicker than Sync Settings which is more like copy and paste.

So I leave AutoSync enabled all the time, and always keep an eye on which images are selected. Whenever I only want to adjust the selected photo, I’ll either select that photo or temporarily disable AutoSync, make my adjustment, then enable it again. Leave it enabled all the time, or leave it disabled and never use it – don’t confuse yourself.

Some people do make mistakes, forgetting they have AutoSync enabled and then noticing that they’ve accidentally applied an adjustment to lots of photos. Often that’s too late to use Undo.

In this release Adobe have made it harder for those mistakes to happen. Now in AutoSync mode the button is highlighted. But better than this is something I suggested long ago – there’s an on screen message any time you adjust multiple images.

More control over second monitor

I’m sure this must interest someone!

Lightroom 9.0 and folder/collection labels

Lightroom’s latest update came out earlier this week. Features are now released every few months, so I wouldn’t read much if anything into Adobe calling it Lightroom 9.0. The new features that I like most are:

  • Content aware fill for panorama edges. This doesn’t always work perfectly but can be great when used in combination with the boundary warp and clever use of the spot healing tool.
  • Run multiple export presets can be handy if you want to run a few exports and then leave the computer. I don’t often need this, but it’s a sensible extension of the export function.
  • You can now filter folders and collections by label colour.

I would not claim that filtering folders and collections by label colour is an exciting addition, no more than I would call the folder and collection labels exciting. But I would say that these little features really punch above their weight in allowing you to manage large numbers of folders and collections. And the easier you can manage your photo collection, the more time you have for the creative aspects.

I’ll just add a few words on how I use labels, just in case you find it useful. It’s worth stating that much as I like it, I happen to think that the feature is over-engineered. I don’t think Adobe needed to let you change the labels from Red… Purple to terms that mean something. It’s very easy – you use the Metadata > Color Label Set menu command – but I feel it’s overkill. While it is relatively new, my preference is just to leave the labels as they are, and I simply remember that I use Red to mean “unfinished”, Blue for video projects and timelapses, and the others… well, I’ve not yet settled into any habits. I have a client who took a different view and set up terms for each colour, and I don’t see this as anything more than personal preference. The great thing is that it’s now a couple of clicks to find all my Red folders, or for him to find all his Client Review folders.

So filtering folders and collections by label colour is probably Lr9.0’s most-generally useful addition. After all, if you can’t filter by a colour, why bother adding the colour in the first place? Filtering by colour makes this feature coherent.

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.