TALKING IMAGES 26 – ADOBE LIGHTROOM: HINTS

 

 

rush-hour-victoria-street

Rush hour, Victoria Street

I’m sure that many of you have been using Adobe Lightroom (LR) for longer than I have, and know far more about it than I do.  However here are some simple points that may be new (and, hopefully, useful) for some, especially those just starting out with the package.  Some of these points have been prompted by an excellent book on LR, which I certainly recommend to those of you wanting to go into things in more depth – this book is full of useful, practical, well-explained detail –  The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 Book by Lightroom guru Martin Evening  The details are: ISBN-13 978-0-133-92919-5; softback; US $59.99 – in real money I paid about £25 for it from Amazon. 

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But I’m careful not to treat this wonderful book as 100% gospel, I’ve noticed other writers (slightly) contradicting it – see the sections on black and white photography, and on noise, below, with info from Amateur Photographer magazine.

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As it is, I only ever feel the need to use two of LR’s modules – Library and Develop.  I hope these points are of some use.

 

Earlier posts  mentioning LR can be found through here.

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EXPANDING THE WIDTH OF THE SLIDERS IN THE DEVELOP MODULE

The various adjustment sliders in LR’s Develop module are laid out in a vertical panel on the right of the Develop screen, to the right of the image being worked on.  This is the panel with the Histogram at the top.  When I first opened this module, the width of this panel of sliders was adequate.

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But the wonderful book referred to above has a useful hint – if you position your mouse’s cursor over the left margin of this panel, i.e. where it comes up against the image widow, your cursor changes to a two-headed arrow which, by holding down your left mouse button, you can drag to the left – and as you do so the width of the slider panel increases.  You can’t increase the width of this panel indefinitely, but you can increase it quite a bit – and the thing is that this panel’s increase in width makes all the sliders just that little bit easier and more accurate to use – you’re able to make finer, more precise adjustments with the now longer sliders.  This technique also works in the Library module.

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RETURNING THE SLIDERS TO THEIR INITIAL VALUES

When you open an image in the Develop module for the first time, i.e. before you have in any way used the module to alter the image, many of the sliders are at their central i.e. zero positions.  But some of the sliders are at non-zero positions – for example the Temp and Tint sliders at the top of the panel, and the Sharpening and Noise sliders further down.

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You then move some of the sliders to adjust the image to your liking.  But, sometimes, your adjustment may not be to your satisfaction, such that you want to return the slider to its initial position.  This is easy if fiddly to do for those sliders initially set at zero – but for the sliders not initially set to zero, you have to remember their initial values, which is awkward.

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For both types of slider, i.e. those initially set at zero and those not, simply double-clicking on the sliders’ names, e.g. Temp and Tint, and (Sharpening’s) Amount, Radius and Detail, return’s them to their initial positions whether they were initially set to zero or not – which is a great time saver, i.e. rather than clicking Reset and starting processing the image all over again.

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woman-on-steps-smoking-mono

Woman on steps, smoking

AVOIDING LR’s INITIAL SPLASH IMAGE

By default, LR displays a splash image when it is opened.  Well, I suppose this appears good and professional, but it doesn’t actually do anything else, so I’ve chosen to bypass it – click onto the Edit command in the toolbar at the top of LR’s screen, and choose Preferences.  Select the General tab (which will probably already be selected), and in the Settings, which are immediately below Language, take the tick out of the check box for “Show splash screen during startup”.  Click OK at the bottom of the screen.  The splash screen can be reinstated at any time.

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AN EASIER WAY OF REVIEWING IMAGES

I find looking through the grids of images in LR’s Library module visually confusing.  And then when I do manage to find an image that I think may show promise, double clicking on it to fill the screen using LR’s FIT option makes it too large – an image’s size dictates the distance from which it should be viewed, if an overall view and understanding of the image is the aim.

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So my solution is to set LR’s Library module to display smaller versions of single images (I use the 1:8 viewing ratio), and then I go through these single images one at a time using the keyboard’s left and right arrow keys.  Reviewing images one at a time allows me to fully concentrate on each one >>> which is also the reason why most of my blog posts contain only a single image.

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And seeing each image at smaller size on the screen, rather than having it filling the screen, allows me to appreciate the whole image without having to move my eyes around it – I find that this gives me a much better idea of its overall appearance and composition.

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taking-flight

Taking flight

LR AND BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY

On occasion, I do use LR to create black and white photographs, but I use the Black & White option in the Basic panel of LR’s Develop module far more often to gain a quick impression of how the image looks in mono, as a guide to whether it might be worth looking at it further in that format.

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Most often, when making mono images, I process them to greater or lesser extents in LR, and then export them as 16-bit TIFFs for further processing in Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2.  I really do recommend this software for creation of black and white images, and the more so if you are looking for creative effects – letting your creative hair down! – rather than straight black and white representations of colour scenes.  Similarly, for creative colour, Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4.

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In a recent issue of AP (18 Feb 2017), David Tipling, a very well known wildlife photographer, reveals that he uses Silver Efex for his black and white conversions too.  Here is what he says:

Once a candidate for black & white treatment has been identified, there are myriad ways to make the conversion.  My mantra has always been to keep it simple.  Where once I fiddled with multi-step conversions in Photoshop, I now use Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2.  A free download from the Nik collection, this software is a plug-in to Photoshop and offers the ability to finely an image to give the exact look you desire.  A big attraction is the preset examples provided for each image you open, from very modern to vintage looking results.  They give a fast way of assessing whether the image is worth processing.

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David is talking about Photoshop here, and I think the same factors apply to generating black and white images in Lightroom too.  I use Silver Efex as a plug-in to Photoshop Elements but, other than that, don’t use Elements at all.  I could use Silver Efex as a Lightroom plug-in.

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And – boy, oh boy!!! – do I agree with David’s advice to keep things simple!!!

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USING LR TO REDUCE IMAGE NOISE

I’ve been doing quite a bit of high ISO photography recently – before sunrise in both the city and countryside.  And so, good as the Nikons and the newer Fujifilm cameras are at controlling noise at high sensitivities, my images still have it to high degrees.  A recent issue of Amateur Photographer magazine (AP) (4 Feb 2017) thought a combination of LR’s noise reduction tools and shooting in Raw as the best solution for most photographers – although DxO OpticsPro11 Elite was considered the top noise control software overall, if you don’t mind the extra time and expense involved.

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Another issue of AP (7 Jan 2017) described a simple way of using LR’s noise reduction tools, which I find effective.  Once in LR’s Develop module, change the view of your image to 1:1, rather than FIT, so that all image noise is clearly visible.  Then find the noise reduction tools in the panel on the right of LD’s Develop screen.

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You will find the Noise Reduction Color slider set to a default of 25.  Drag it left to zero, and then move it right until the colour noise – visible as coloured speckles in the image – disappears.  This disappearance of the speckling ought to occur somewhere in the 10 to 20 range on the slider, but sometimes may require higher degrees of noise reduction.

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You will find the Luminance slider set to a default of zero.  Drag it to the right, and a value of 20 to 40 ought to reduce luminance noise substantially – beware higher values, which can affect overall image appearance.  Increasing the Detail slider can restore some detail, and use of the Contrast slider can restore contrast in areas of continuous tone.

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Finally, ALWAYS sharpen your images AFTER noise reduction has been applied!

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going-to-work-9-mono

Going to work 9

 

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

17 Responses to TALKING IMAGES 26 – ADOBE LIGHTROOM: HINTS

  1. Sonali Dalal says:

    Awesome. I will treasure this. I have been using LR since long time , but didn’t know few things you mentioned here 🙂

    Like

  2. bluebrightly says:

    Lots of tips! I’ll comment more later – didn’t know about double clicking the slider…don’t have a splash image, mine’s a pretty Chrysanthemum, so it’s OK….have to open LR to see what size thumbnails I use, but they’re pretty small, and I’m used to them like that, and I just click on them or arrow through after loading/importing to see each one, and delete….the firs things I do with images are to assign an attribute value – mostly 2 stars to start, then 3 or 4 for the ones I want to work on – and keywords.
    I too prefer Silver Efex and use it in PS, and don’t otherwise use PS! Seems silly. Maybe we should look into getting Silver Efex into LR?
    I’ll have to come back to image noise when I have more time. Thanks for putting this together – it beats wading through a manual. 🙂

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Glad this is useful, Lynn – I’m into wading through manuals, my nerdy side!!!, tho I don’t do a lot of it. One thing: I often find that its good to leave images to “mature” after taking them, I often come back to them much later and find new things – so that deleting some immediately after getting them into LR to me seems rather an irrevocable step. 🙂

      Like

  3. Excellent points and photos!

    Like

  4. Great article. You can set “edit in” to allow you to go to silver efx and. Back to lightroom, without exporting from lightroom, it’s a plug in.

    Like

  5. paula graham says:

    Interesting and in depth articles about the virtues of LR…goes to show that most of what you need to know is all there, on the internet…if you can find it!!.

    Like

  6. Sue says:

    Some interesting points….I have yet to use LR, as I am still using Aperture….but need to make the transition soon

    Like

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