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Now that I have finally got back up to date with my processing after falling nearly two years behind because of the course with the Open College of the Arts, printing for the gallery and preparing for the RPS distinction, I thought I would sort out any anomalies in my Lightroom catalog.

It was whilst doing this that I started to look though some of my very early digital images.

 

 

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This image was taken on the island of Rhodes in 2008. It was taken with a tiny Nikon Coolpix 4100 compact which was a 3 megapixels camera that shot only jpg’s. It was during this holiday I had started to enjoy taking photographs again after a few years in the photographic ‘wilderness’ and was contemplating buying a better camera once I was home.

When I got back home I then tried using a piece of software called Lightroom that was still in its first version (in fact Lightroom was 10 years old this January) on the picture. I had no idea what the Lightroom modules were or how it all was supposed to work. I blundered my way through and this was the result.

 

 

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I have no firm data on what I did to the image to get it like this, but I’m pretty sure it was cropped then blasted with the contrast, the vibrance and the sharpening sliders. You can see that it is horribly over-sharpened and full of noise and artefacts.

I then began to wonder what I would do different today, so I used the original and tried processing again. I made less of a crop, and duplicated a balcony in the bottom right corner to get rid of the arch, which distracted the eye too much. After that it was convert to monochrome and then my usual processing workflow. I also used the Photoshop plugin,  Nik Dfine, to get rid of the artefacts and noise. I quite like it now. I call it ‘the Hive’.

 

 

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Why not look back at some really old images and see what you can do to them now to get either a different image or to see how your processing may have improved.

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I decided to bite the bullet a couple of days ago and subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan. What that means is that for the sum of £8.95 per month, I get the use of Lightroom and Photoshop CC.

I went to Adobe, logged on with my Adobe ID (I already had one), gave my Paypal details, downloaded the Creative Cloud app and then installed Lightroom 5.7.1 and Photoshop CC 2014 directly on to my computer.

Photoshop was installed into a new folder on my hard drive, whilst Lightroom was installed over the existing version on my machine. Everything worked immediately with no problems. I installed Google Nik and it was recognized by both programs. According to the licensing, I can also install both programs on my laptop as long as both machines are not used at the same time to access the software.

I already use Lightroom and Photoshop CS6, so why subscribe? Well CS6 will not be updated any further, and that includes Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) for the application. Lightroom will also continue (for the present time anyway) as a ‘perpetual’ license, i.e not subscription based, and will include all Adobe Camera Raw updates. However if Lightroom’s ACR is updated (which it will be at some point) but the ACR for CS6 is not, then it could result in inconsistencies when images are passed from LR to CS6. This would be compounded with newer versions of LR when for example, new tools are added. If files on which these tools are used are then passed to CS6 there could be problems with the latter software unable to apply the LR edits. As someone who uses both LR and Photoshop for processing, this could present problems, hence my subscription to the Creative Cloud.

So how do you know if there is a possible problem with editing a LR file in Photoshop? Well, LR will warn you. You will see what is called the ‘ACR Mis-match Dialog box when you press CTRL+E or ‘Edit in Photoshop’ from within Lightroom.

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This means that Lightroom’s ACR is higher than that of the version of ACR in the Photoshop software that you are using.

If you click on ‘Open Anyway’, then Lightroom would pass the file to Photoshop and the CS version of ACR would open the file. However, as Photoshop’s ACR is an older version than Lightroom’s the results could be inconsistent.

Taking the ‘Render using Lightroom’ route means that LR will render the image itself and then pass a tiff to Photoshop with all the Lightroom alterations added. This means that a tiff file has been created in LR whether or not you decide to continue with the edit after it opens in PS. It’s a file that may or may not be superfluous to you.

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I’m sitting here at my desk currently going through RAW images that I took in June 2014 and wondering why on earth I took them. I know at the time I saw something that I thought was worthwhile recording and then working on, but looking at some of them now I can’t for the life of me think why.

I am unfortunately still a good six months behind with processing my photographs. My time doing University work a couple of years ago really put a stop to processing my own images. I was still taking lots as well as those for the course, but I just didn’t have time to finish my own work off. So I continued to take photographs and cataloguing them in Lightroom, backing them up but not processing them as I was still processing those from months before. So they have built up as this mass of images catalogued into shoots, that all should have a raisons d’être. But some of them are bland, un-creative strangers to me.

I’m a methodical person, so it would go against my nature to immediately work on those images I took, for example, yesterday. I feel if I started doing that then the images from months ago will probably never get processed. There are however exceptions.For example, I have been involved in a book project with other photographers based around the title, ‘The Journey’, so these particular images had to be worked on out of sync as it were. My camera club projects also need to be submitted on time, so they also get completed immediately, but the rest must wait until I can get to them.

So I plod on, and I’m getting up to date, but I just wish I knew why the hell I took that picture of the stupid tree against the sky?

It’s just so rubbish.

 

Below is a picture I took at Charlecote Park on 14 June last year that I have just finished. It’s strange how some photographs can take you right back to the moment you pressed the shutter. I had just taken some images of a herd of deer beneath a tree and turned around to see the light falling on this bench. I remember thinking “oooh I like that”, and taking the photograph.

Photography is fabulous.

Charlecote Park

Charlecote Park

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Since I came back from my trip to Scotland, I have not had the chance to process any of the images. I have a workflow that I like to stick to and that includes working my way through each shoot in chronological order. This is just the way I prefer to approach my processing.

However Martyn, who was on the Scotland shoot, has started to process his images and would like to know if I had any issues in obtaining good results from the images that I took. The day he was talking about in particular was the afternoon we spent on the eastern side of Loch Lomond. The light was incredible. It was a very hazy day with light clouds continually drifting across a watery sun which meant that within the space of a few minutes, the whole of the ambience at the Loch would change.

Martyn has posted an image on Flickr and I think it is a very good atmospheric photograph. He has pulled out some colours in the sky and has made a brooding image, with heavy clouds and still water. This was his vision of the picture and he tailored his processing accordingly.

This is Martyn’s image.

Loch Lomond by Martyn Smith

Loch Lomond by Martyn Smith

I had a look through my RAW images from the day and found one that was taken from almost the same vantage point that Martyn took his from and decided to process it.

This is the Raw Image

Lock Lomond RAW by Clive

Lock Lomond RAW by Clive

It was taken on a Nikon D800 with a 24-120 f/4.0 zoom lens at a 48mm focal length. Then shutter speed was 1/200 at f/13.0

I use Lightroom 5 to administer my image database and also for various parts of my processing workflow

The first thing I did was to inspect the image for dust bunnies. I clicked on the Spot Removal tool and then clicked ‘Visualize Spots’. This is a great tool to help find the marks and bits of detritus that may have found their way on to the camera sensor.

Dust Bunnies

Dust Bunnies

Boy did I find them. I think it’s time the D800 had another sensor clean. I had checked before I went to Scotland – f/22.0 against the sky – and then a good magnified look – and although there were a couple of spots I didn’t think it was too bad. I gave the sensor a blow with air and went on the trip. Looks like I should have cleaned the sensor properly.

So I started work with the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom and got rid of the marks. It was fairly straight forward, but if I had found some difficult to rectify I would have imported into Photoshop to use the Clone tool or the Spot Healing brush.

Once I had got rid of the bunnies I went to Lens Corrections and enabled the profile corrections for the lens and camera. I then went to Camera Calibration and ticked the profile I normally use for the D800 and colour shots.

I decided to crop the image on the left hand side to a 10 x 8 size and to give a more pleasing composition. I adjusted the exposure, whites, blacks, shadows and highlights in the basic panel I then slightly darkened the sky with the graduated filter tool and did the same for the foreground. At that point I imported the image into Photoshop 6.

I then used fifteen or so adjustment layers to burn in and dodge the various parts of the image that I thought needed to be brought out more. Once that was complete I used the NIK Color Efex plugin to set selective tonal detail and sharpening again using layers. In Nik I also set global contrast and removed any remaining colour tint.

I then found I needed to enhance the luminance of the sky and water so enhanced that again using layers and various opacities.

Below is the finished image.

Loch Lomond by Clive Marshall

Loch Lomond by Clive Marshall

It has a different feel to Martyn’s, but neither is right or wrong – just different, according to our vision for the scene.

 

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I started using Lightroom from version 1, and since that time I have always used multiple catalogs. By that I mean that I started a new catalog for each new year. Each of these years’ containing all that particular period’s images were on a separate external hard drive and backed up to another hard drive. Each of these ‘yearly’ catalogs and images were then backed up to another archive hard drive arranged in their year folders and held off site.

However this kind of system of cataloging in Lightroom makes it hard to deal with the full collection of images that I have. So, if for instance, I am looking for some photographs for an exhibition, I may have to look through each of the different catalogs for the years in order to find the images that I want. This is time consuming and frankly a bit of a pain.

I have therefore decided to amalgamate all my images and catalogs into one master Lightroom catalog. This is going to take some time, as I will also need to copy across all the images to the new large drive that I have purchased and then run a backup to the second new drive. All this will then have to be backed up again for a third drive to be stored off-site.

I will still use separate catalogs within Lightroom for individual projects, such as those for 365 and the courses at the OCA.

My RAW files are already stored on their own hard drives and I will continue to archive these as I have always done, split into folders in their years. These drives do actually contain ALL my RAW files. They are placed on to the RAW drive as they come off camera – bad focusing, errors and all. At the same time, these same RAW files are converted into DNG and placed into Lightroom ready for editing.

 

Clive

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